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age; and the ouildings were sustained or adorned by twalv<< hundred columns of Spanish and African, of Greek and Italian marble. The hall of audience was incrusted with gold and pearls, and a great basin in the centre was surrounded with the curious and costly figures of birds and quadrupeds. In a lofty pavilion of the gardens, one of these basins and fountains, so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished not with water, but with the purest quicksilver. The seraglio of Abdalrahman, his wives, concubines, and black eunuchs, amounted to six thousand three hundred persons: and he was attended to the field by a guard of twelve thousand horse, whose belts and cimeters were studded with gold.4*
In a private condition, our desires are perpetually repressed by poverty and subordination; but the lives and labors of millions are devoted to the service of a despotic prince, whose laws are blindly obeyed, and whose wishes are instantly grat■ ified. Our imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture; and whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there are few among us who would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and the cares of royalty. It may therefore be of some use to borrow the experience of the same Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has perhaps excited our admiration and envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial which was found in the closet of the deceased caliph. "I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to Fourteen :—O man! place not thy confidence in this present world!"60 The luxury of
49 Cardonne, Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, torn. i. p. 330— 836. A just idea of the taste and architecture of the Arabians of Spain may be conceived from the description and plates of the Alhambra of Grenada, (Swinburne's Travels, p. 171—188.)
60 Cardonne. torn. i. p. 329, 330. This confession, the complaints of Solomon of the vanity of this world, (read Prior's verbose but eloquent poem,) and the happy ten days of the emperor Seghed, (Rambler, No. 204, 205,) will be triumphantly quoted by the detrac tors of human life. Their expectations are commonly immoderate. their estimates are seldom impartial. If I may speak of myself, (the only person of whom I can speak with certainty,) my happy hours tare far exceeded, and far exceed, the scanty numbers of the calipli
the caliphs, so useless to their private happiness, relaxed Um nerves, and terminated the progress, of the Arabian empire. Temporal and spiritual conquest had been the sole occupation of the first successors of Mahomet; and after supplying themselves with the necessaries of life, the whole revenue was erupulously devoted to that salutary work. The Abbassides were impoverished by the multitude of their wants, and their Attempt of oeconoiny. Instead of pursuing the great object [)f ambition, their leisure, their affections, the powers of their mind, were diverted by pomp and pleasure: the rewards of valor were embezzled by women and eunuchs, and the royal camp was encumbered by the luxury of the palace. A similar temper was diffused among the subjects of the caliph. Their stern enthusiasm was softened by time and prosperity . they sought riches in the occupations of industry, fame in the pursuits of literature, and happiness in the tranquillity of domestic life. War was no longer the passion of the Saracens;. and the increase of pay, the repetition of donatives, were insufficient to allure the posterity of those voluntary champions who had crowded to the standard of Abubeker and Omar for the hopes of spoil and of paradise.
Under the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of the Moslems were confined to the interpretation of the Koran, and the eloquence and poetry of their native tongue. A people continually exposed to the dangers of the field must esteem the healing powers of medicine, or rather of surgery; but the starving physicians of Arabia murmured a complaint that exercise and temperance deprived them of the greatest part of their practice." After their civil and domestic wars, the subjects of the Abbassides, awakening from this mental letfc argy, found leisure and felt curiosity for the acquisition of profane science. This spirit was first encouraged by the caliph Almansor, who, besides his knowledge of the Mahom etan law, had applied himself with success to the study of astronomy. But when the sceptre devolved to Almamon, the seventh of the Abbassides, he completed the designs of his
♦f Spain; and I shall not scruple t3 add, that many of them are du« o the pleasing labor of the present composition.
61 The Guliston (p. 29) relates the conversation of Mahomet and a physician, (Epistol. Renaudot. in Fabricius, Bibliot. Grac. torn, i p. 814.) The prophet himself was skilled in the art of medicine; and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, torn. iii. p. 394—405) has given an extrnci of the aphorisms which are extant under his name
grandfather, and invited the muses from their ancient seaU His ambassadors at Constantinople, his agents in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt, collected the volumes of Grecian science . at his command they were translated by the most skilful interpreters into the Arabic language: his subjects were exhorted assiduously to peruse these instructive writings; and the successor of Mahomet assisted with pleasure and modesty \t the assemblies and disputations of the learned. "He was flot ignorant," says Abulpharagius, "that they are the elect of God, hit best and most useful servants, whose lives are demoted to the improvement of their rational faculties. The mean ambition of the Chinese or the Turks may glory in the' industry of their hands or the indulgence of their brutal appetites. Yet these dexterous artists must view, with hopeless emulation, the hexagons and pyramids of the cells of a ^eehive : M these fortitudinous heroes are awed by the superior fierceness of the lions and tigers; and in their amorous enjoyments they are much inferior to the vigor of the grossest and most sordid quadrupeds. The teachers of wisdom are the true luminaries and legislators of a world, which, without their aid, would again sink in ignorance and barbarism." ** The zeal and curiosity of Almamon were imitated by succeeding princes of the line of Abbas: their rivals, the Fatimites of Africa and the Ommiades of Spain, were the patrons of the learned, as well as the commanders of the faithful; the same royal prerogative was claimed by their independent emirs of the provinces; and their emulation diffused the taste and the rewards of science from Samarcand and Bochara to Fez and Cordova. The vizier of a sultan con
M See their curious architecture in Reaumur (Hist, des Insectes torn. v. Memoire viii.) These hexagons are closed by a pyramid; the angles of the three sides of a similar pyramid, such as would accomplish the given end with the smallest quantity possible of materials, were determined by a mathematician, at 109 degrees 26 minutes for the larger, 70 degrees 34 minrtea for the smaller. The actual measure is 109 degrees 28 minutes, 70 degrees 32 minutes Yet this perfect harmony rai -es the work at the expense of the artist he bees are not masters of hanscendent geometry.
M Sacd Ebn Ahmed, cadhi of lYledo, who died A. H. 462, A. D. 069, has furnished Abulpharagius (Dynast, p. 160) with this curious passage, as well as with the text of Pocock's Specimen Historiae Arabum. A number of literary anecdotes of philosophers, physicians, Ac, who have flourished under each raliph, form the principal merit of thf Dynasties of Abulpharagius.
lecrated a sum of two hundred thousand pieces of gold to the foundation of a college at Bagdad, which he endowed with an annual revenue of fifteen thousand dinars. The fruits of
instruction were communicated, perhaps at different times, to 6ix thousand disciples of every degree, from the son of the noble to that of the mechanic: a sufficient allowance was provided for the indigent scholars; and the merit or industry of the professors was repaid with adequate stipends. Ir. every city the productions of Arabic literature were copied and collected by the curiosity of the studious and the vanity of the rich. A private doctor refused the invitation of the sultan of Bochara, because the carriage of his books would have required four hundred camels. The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of one hundred thousand manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splend'dly bound, which were lent, without jealousy or avarice, to the students of Cairo. Yet this collection must appear moderate, if we can believe that the Ommiades of Spain had formed a library of six hundred thousand volumes, forty-four of which were employed in the mere catalogue. Their capital, Cordova, with the adjacent towns of Malaga, Alrneria, and Murcia, had given birth to more than three hundred writers, and above seventy public libraries were opened in the cities of the Andalusian kingdom. The age of Arabian learning continued about five hundred years, till the great eruption of the Moguls, and was coeval with the darkest and most slothful period of European annals; but since the sun of science has arisen in the West, it should seem that the Oriental studies have languished and declined.*4
In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, the far greater part of the innumerable volumes were possessed only of local value or imaginary merit." The shelves were crowded with orators and poets, whose style was adapted to
** These literary anecdotes are borrowed from the Bibliotheca Atabieo-Hispana, (torn. ii. p. 38, 71, 201, 202,) Leo Arricarius, (de Arab. Medicis et Philosophis, in Fabric. Bibliot. Grsec. torn. xiii. p. 869—298, particularly p. 274,) and Renaudot, (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. D 274, 275, 536, 537,) besides the chronological remarks of Abulpharagkis.
** The Arabic catalogue of the Escurial will give a just idea of thf oroportion of the classes. In the library of Cairo, the MSS of astron omy and medicine amounted to 6500, with two fair globes, the one oi mrass, the other of silver, (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp, torn. L p. 417.)
the taste and manners of their countrymen; with general and partial nistories, which each revolving generation supplied with a new harvest of persons and events; with codes and commentaries of jurisprudence, which derived their authority from the law of the prophet; with the interpreters of the Koran, and orthodox tradition; and with the whole theologif al tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and moralists, the fi:st cr the last of writers, according to the different estimates of seep tics or believers. The works of speculation or science may be reduced to the four classes of philosophy, mathematics*, astronomy, and physic. The sages of Greece were translated and illustrated in the Arabic language, and some treatises, now lost in the original, have been recovered in the versions of the East,64 which possessed and studied the writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Euclid and Apollonius, of Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen." Among the ideal systems which have varied with the fashion of the times, the Arabians adopted the philosophy of the Stagirite, alike intelligible or alike obscure for the readers of every age. Plato wrote for the Athenians, and his allegorical genius is too closely blended with the language and religion of Greece. After the fall of that religion, the Peripatetics, emerging from their obscurity, prevailed in the controversies of the Oriental sects, and their founder was long afterwards restored by the Mahometans )f Spain to the Latin schools.6" The physics, both of the Academy and the Lycaeum, as they are built, not on observa
*8 As, for instance, the fifth, sixth, and seventh books (the eighth is still wanting) of the Conic Sections of Apollonius Pergaeus, which ■vere printed from the Florence MS. 1661, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. torn •i. p. 559.) Yet the fifth book had been previously restored by the mathematical divination of Viviani, (see his Eloge in Fontenelle, torn, v. p. 59, etc.)
7 The merit of these Arabic versions is freely discussed by Renaudot, (Fabric. Bibliot. Graec. torn. i. p. 812—816,) and piously defended by Casiri, (Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, torn. i. p. 238—240.) Most of the versions of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, <fec, are ascribed to Honain, a physician of the Nestorian sect, who flourished at Bagdad in the court of the caliphs, and died A. D. 876. He was at the head >f a school or manufacture of translations, and the works of his sons ir 1 disciples were published under his name. See Abulpharagius, (Dynast, p. 83, 115, 171—174, and apud Asseman. Bibliot. Orient torn. ii. p. 4i3,) D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 456.) Asseman. (Bibliot. Orient, torn. iii. p. 164,) and Casiri, (Bibliot. Arab. Hispam, torn. i. p 238, &c. 251, 286--290, 302, 304, Ac.)
*» See Mosheim, Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 181, 214, 236, 257, 315, l*\ »»« 438. etc.