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and he Ortght have been ranked amongst the gieatest princes, had not, says Abulfeda, the eternal order decreed that momen'; for the ruin of his family; a decree against which all human fortitude and prudence must struggle in vain. The orders of Mervan were mistaken, or disobeyed: the return of his horse, from which he had dismounted on a necessary occasion, impressed the belief of his death; and the enthusiasm of the black squadrons was ably conducted by Ab dallah, the uncle of his competitor. After an irretrievab defeat, the caliph escaped to Mosul; but the colors of the Abbassides were displayed from the rampart; he suddenly repassed the Tigris, cast a melancholy look on his palace of Haran, crossed the Euphrates, abandoned the fortifications of Damascus, and, without halting in Palestine, pitched his last and fatal camp at Busir, on the banks of the Nile.37 His speed was urged by the incessant diligence of Abdallah, who in every step of the pursuit acquired strength and reputation: the remains of the white faction were finally vanquished in Egypt; and the lance, which terminated the life and anxiety of Mervan, was not less welcome perhaps to the unfortunate than to the victorious chief. The merciless inquisition of the conqueror eradicated the most distant branches of the hostile race: their bones were scattered, their memory was accursed, and the martyrdom of Hossein was abundantly revenged on the posterity of his tyrants. Fourscore of the Ommiades, who had yielded to the faith or clemency
comparison of Homer, (Iliad, A. 557, <fec.,) and both will silence the moderns, who consider the ass as a stupid and ignoble emblem, (D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient, p. 558.)
l' Four several places, all in Egypt, bore the name of Busir, or JJusiris, so famous in Greek fable. The first, where Mervan was slain was to the west of the Nile, in the province of Fium, or Arsinoe; the uecond in the Delta, in the Sebennytic nome; the third near the pyramids; the fourth, which was destroyed by Dioclesian, (see above, vol. ii. p. 130,) in the Thebais. I shall here transcribe a note of the learned and orthodox Michaelis: Videntur in pluribus ^Egypti superioris urbil is Busiri Coptoque arma sumpsisse Christiani, libertatemque de relig me sentiendi defendisse, sed succubuisse quo in bello Coptus et Busiris diruta, et circa Esnam magna strages edita. Bellum narrant sed causam belli ignorant scriptores Byzantini, alioqui Coptum et Busirim non rebellasse dicturi, sed causam Christianorum suscepturi, (Not. 211, p. 100.) For the geography of the four Busirs, see Abulfeda, (Descript. .<Egypt. p. 9, vers. Michaelis, Gottingae, 1776, in 4to.,) Michaelis. (Not. 122—127, p 58—63,) and D'Anville, (Memoire sat I'Egypte p. 85, 147, 205.)
of heir foes, wsre invited to a banquet at Damascus. The laws of hospitality were violated by a promiscuous massacre: the board was spread over their fallen bodies; and the festivity of the guests was enlivened by the music of their dying groans. By the event of the civil war, the dynasty of the Abbassides was firmly established; but the Christians only could triumph in the mutual hatred and common loss of the disciples of Mahomet.38
Yet the thousands who were swept away by the sword of war might have been speedily retrieved in the succeeding generation, if the consequences of the revolution had not tended to dissolve the power and unity of the empire of the Saracens. In the proscription of the Ommiades, a royal youth of the name of Abdalrahman alone escaped the rage of his enemies, who hunted the wandering exile from the banks of the Euphrates to the valleys of Mount Atlas. His presence in the neighborhood of Spain revived the zeal of the white faction. The name and cause of the Abbassides had been first vindicated by the Persians: the West had been pure from civil arms; and the servants of the abdicated family still held, by a precarious tenure, the inheritance of their lands and the offices of government. Strongly prompted by gratitude, indignation, and fear, they invited the grandson of the caliph Hashem to ascend the throne of his ancestors; and, in his desperate condition, the extremes of rashness and prudence were almost the same. The acclamations of the people saluted his landing on the coast of Andalusia: and, after a successful struggle, Abdalrahman established the throne of Cordova, and was the father of the Ommiades of Spain, who reigned above two hundred and fifty years from the Atlantic to the Pyrenees.89 He slew in battle a lieutenant of the Abbassides, who had invaded his dominions with a fleet and army: the head of Ala, in salt and camphire, was
88 SeeAbulfeda, (Annal. Moslem, p. 136—145,) Eutychius, (AnnaL torn. ii. p. 392, vers. Pocock,) Elmacm, (Hist. Saracen, p. 109—121,) Abulpharagius, (Hist. Dynast, p. 134—140,) Roderic of Toledo, (Hist. Arabum, c. xviii. p. 33,) Theophanes, (Chronograph, p. 356, 357, who speaks of the Abbassides under the names of Xwpaoavrai and M.avpxp5p>i,) and the Bibliothequo of D'Herbelot, in the articles Ommiades, Abbassides, Mcervan, Ibrahim, Saffah, Abou Moslem.
89 For the revolution of Spain, consult Roderic of Toledo, (c. *viii.
£, 84, Ac.,) the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispana, (torn. ii. p. 30, 198,) and ardonne, (Hist, de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, torn. i. p. 180—197, 20$ *72, 323, Ac.)
suspended by a daring messenger before the palace of Mecca , and the caliph Almansor rejoiced in his safety, that he wac removed by seas and lands from such a formidable adversary. Their mutual designs or declarations of offensive war evapo rated without effect; but instead of opening a door to the conquest of Europe, Spain was dissevered from the trunk of the monarchy, engaged in perpetual hostility with the East, and inclined to peace and friendship with the Christian sove eigns of Constantinople and France. The example of the Dmmiades was imitated by the real or fictitious progeny of Ali, the Edrissites of Mauritania, and the more powerful Fatimites of Africa and Egypt. In the tenth century, the chair of Mahomet was disputed by three caliphs or commanders of the faithful, who reigned at Bagdad, Cairoan, and Cordova, excommunicating each other, and agreed only in a principle of discord, that a sectary is more odious and criminal than an unbeliever.40
Mecca was the patrimony of the line of Hashem, yet the Abbassides were never tempted to reside either in the birthplace or the city of the prophet. Damascus was disgraced by the choice, and polluted with the blood, of the Ommiades; and> after some hesitation, Almansor, the brother and successor of Saffah, laid the foundations of Bagdad,41 the Imperial seat of his posterity during a reign of five hundred years.4*
40 I shall not stop to refute the strange errors and fancies of Sir William Temple (his Works, vol. iii. p. 371—374, octavo edition) and Voltaire (Histoire Generale, c. xxviii. torn. ii. p. 124, 125, edition de Lausanne) concerning the division of the Saracen empire. The mistakes of Voltaire proceeded from the want of knowledge or reflection; but Sir William was deceived by a Spanish impostor, who has framed an apocryphal history of the conquest of Spain by the Arabs.
41 The geographer D'Anville, (l'Euphrate et le Tigre, p. 121—123,) and the Orientalist D'Herbelot, (Bibliotheque. p. 167, 168,) may suf fice for the knowledge *I Bagdad. Our travellers, Pietro della Valle. (torn. i.p. 688—698,) Tavernier, (torn. i. p. 230—238.) Thevenot, (part ii. p. 209—212,) Otter, (torn. i. p. 162—168,) and Niebuhr, (Voyage en Arabie, torn. ii. p. 239—271,) have seen only its decay ; and the Xu bian geographer, (p. 204.) and the travelling Jew, Benjamin of Tuleda (Iticerarium, p. 112—123, a. Const. PEmpereur, apud Elzevir, 1633,' are the only writers of my acquaintance, who have known Bagdad un d^r the reign of the Abbassides.
"The foundations of Bagdad were laid A. H. 145, A. D. 761 MosAsem, the last of the Abbassides, was taken and put to dtatn M tfce Tartars, A H. 656, A- D. 1258, the 20th of February.
The chosen spot is on the eastern bank of the Tigris, about fifteen miles above the ruins of Modain: the doible wall was of a circular form; and such was the rapid increase of a capital, now dwindled to a provincial town, that the funerai of a popular saint might be attended by eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women of Bagdad and the adjacent villages. In this city of jwace*' amidst the riches of the Bast, the Abbassides soon disdained the abstinence and frugality of the first caliphs, and aspired to emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings. After his wars and buildings, Almansor left behind him in gold and silver about thirty millions sterling: ** and this treasure was exhausted in a few years by the vices or virtues of his children. His son Mahadi, in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six millions of dinars of gold. A pious and charitable motive may sanctify the foundation of cisterns and caravanseras, which he distributed along a measured road of seven hundred miles; but his train of camels, laden with snow, could serve only to astonish the natives of Arabia, and to refresh the fruits and liquors of the royal banquet.4* The courtiers would surely praise tho liberality of his grandson Almamon, who gave away four fifths of the income of a province, a sum of two millions four hundred thousand gold dinars, before he drew his foot from the stirrup. At the nuptials of the same prince, a thousand pearls of the largest size were showered on the head of the bride" and a lottery of lands and houses displayed the
43 Medinat al Salem, Dar al Salem. Urbs pacis, or, as it is more neatly compounded by the Byzantine writers, Ei'pijwjit.jxh, , (Irenopolis.) There is some dispute concerning the etymology of Bagdad, but the first syllable is allowed to signify a garden in the Persian tongue; the garden of Dad, a Christian hermit, whose cell had been the only habitation on the spot.
44 Reliquit in aerario sexcenties millies mille stateres. et quater et vicies millie8 mille aureos aureos. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen, p. 126. I have reckoned the gold pieces at eight shillings, and the proportion to tin silver as twelve to one. But I will never answer for the number! of Erpenius; and the Latins are scarcely above the savages in the language of irithmetic.
46 D'Herbelot, p. 530. Abulfeda, p. 154. Nivem Meccani appor Uvit, rem ibi aut nunquam aut rarissime visam.
4' Abulfeda (p. 184, 189) describes the splendor and liberality of Aim anion. Milton has alluded to this Oriental custom :— Or where the gorgeous East, with richest hand, Showers on her kings Rurburic pearls and gold. I l»Ye used the modern word lottery to expt ess the Mvdlia of tjba
capricious bounty of fortune. The glories of the court were brightened, rather than impaired, in the decline of the empire, and a Greek ambassador might admire, or pity, the magnificence of the feeble Moctader. "The caliph's whole army," says the historian Abulfeda, "both horse and foot, was under arms, which together made a body of one hundred and sixty thousand men. His state officers, the favorite slaves, stood near him in splendid apparel, their belts glittering with gold and gems. Near them were seven thousand eunuchs, four thousand of them white, the remainder black. The porters or door-keepers were in number seven hundred. Barges and boats, with the most superb decorations, were seen swimming upon the Tigris. Nor was the palace itself less splendid, in which were hung up thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, twelve thousand five hundred of which were of silk embroidered with gold. The carpets on the floor were twenty-two thousand. A hundred lions were brought out, with a keeper to each lion.47 Among the other spectacles of rare and stupendous luxury was a tree of gold and silver spreading into eighteen large branches, on which, and on the lesser boughs, sat a variety of birds made of the same precious metals, as well as the leaves of the tree. While the ma chinery affected spontaneous motions, the several birds warbled their natural harmony. Through this scene of magnificence, the Greek ambassador was led by the vizier to the foot of the caliph's throne."48 In the West, the Ommiades of Spain supported, with equal pomp, the title of commander of the faithful. Three miles from Cordova, in honor of his favorite sultana, the third and greatest of the Abdalrahmans constructed the city, palace, and gardens of Zehra. Twentyrive years, and above three millions sterling, were employed by the founder: his liberal taste invited the artists of Conetantinople, the most skilful sculptors and architects of the
Roman emperors, which entitled to some prize the persor who caught them, as they were thrown among the crowd.
47 When Bell of Antermony (Travels, vol. i. p. 99) accompanied the Russian ambassador to the audience of the unfortunate Shah Hussein of Persia, two lions were introduced, to denote the power of the king over the fiercest animals.
48 Abulfeda, p. 237. D'Herbelot, p. 590. This embassy was received at Bagdad, A. H. 305, A. D. 917. In the passage of Abulfeda, I have used, with some variations, the English translation of th« learned and amiable Mr. Harris of Salisbury, (Philological Enquiries p. 363, 364.)