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horses and camels, who, in eight or ten days, can perform a march of four or five hundred miles, disappear before th« eonq leror; the secret waters of the desert elude his search, and his victorious troops are consumed with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, in the pursuit of an invisible foe, who scorns his efl'oits, and safely reposes in the heart of the burning solitude. The arms and deserts of the Bedoweens are not only the £afeguards of their own freedom, but the barriers also of the happy Arabia, whose inhabitants, remote from war, are enervated by the luxury of the soil and climate. The legions of Augustus melted away in disease and lassitude;" and it is only by a naval power that the reduction of Yemen has been successfully attempted. When Mahomet erected his holy standard,-'" that kingdom was a province of the Persian empire; yet seven princes of the Homerites still reigned in the mountains; and the vicegerent of Chosroes was tempted to forget his distant country and his unfortunate master. The historians of the age of Justinian represent the state of the independent Arabs, who were divided by interest or affection in the long quarrel of the East: the tribe of Gassan was allowed to encamp on the Syrian territory: the princes of Jliro were permitted to form a city about forty miles to the southward of the ruins of Babylon. Their service in the field was speedy and vigorous; but their friendship was venal, their faith inconstant, their enmity capricious: it was an easier task to excite than to disarm these roving barbarians; and, it. the familiar intercourse of war, they learned to see, and to despise, the splendid weakness both of Rome and of Persia. From Mecca to the Euphrates, the Arabian tribes39 were con
47 Strabo, 1. xvi. p. 1127—1129. Plin. Hist. Natur. vi. 32. J3hu» Gall us landed near Medina, and marched near a thousand miles into the part of Yemen between Mareb and the Ocean. The non ante devictis Sabese regibus, (Od. i. 29,) and the intacti Arabum thesauri <Od. iii. 24) of Horace, attest the virgin purity of Arabia.
M See the imperfect history of Yemen in Focock, Specimen, p. 53 —66, of Hira, p. 66—74, of Gassan, p. 75—78, as far as it could he known or preserved in the time of ignorance.*
The ^jiiO'ixrjyivd 0vXu, uvfiaScs Tclvth, r.til To nXttarov avruw itir, M.u'fyoi, nal hii.twarot, are described by Menander, (Excerpt Lrgatioa p 149,) Procopius, (de Bell. Persic. 1. i. c. 17, 19,1. ii. c. 10,) and, is Hie most lively colors, by Ammianus Marcellinus, (1. xiv. c 4,) wh« had spoken of them as early as the reign of MarciP*.
* Compare the Hist. Yemariae, published by ,1 ibannnei at Bvun particularly the translator's preface.—M.
founded by the Greeks and Latins, under the general appellation of Saracens,'0 a name which every Christian mouth has been taught to pronounce with terror and abhorrence.
The slaves of domestic tyranny may vainly exult in their national independence: but the Arab is personally free; and he enjoys, in some degree, the benefits of society, without forfeiting the prerogatives of nature. In every tribe, superstition, or gratitude, or fortune, has exalted a particular family above the heads of their equals. The dignities of sheick and emir invariably descend in this chosen race; but the order of succession is loose and precarious; and the most worthy or aged of the noble kinsmen are preferred to the simple, though important, office of composing disputes by their advice, and guiding valor by their example. Even a female of sense and spirit has been permitted to command the countrymen of Zenobia.31 The momentary junction of several tribes produces an army: their more lasting union constitutes a nation; and the supreme chief, the emir of emirs, whose banner is displayed at their head, may deserve, in the eyes of strangers, the honors of the kingly name. If the Arabian princes abuse their power, they are quickly punished by the desertion of their subjects, who had been accustomed to a mild and parental jurisdiction. Their spirit is free, their steps are uncon
,0 The name which, used by Ptolemy and Plinw in a more confined, by Ammianus and Procopina in a larger, sense, has been derived, ridiculously, from Sarah, the wife of Abraham, obscurelv from the village of Saraka, (^cni Naffarat>vs. Stephan. de Urbibua,) more plausibly from the Arabic words, which signify a thievish character, or Orientrt situation, (Hottinger, Hist. Oriental. 1. i. c. i. p. 7, 8. Pocock, Specimen, p. 33, 35. Asseman. Bibliot. Orient, turn. iv. p. 5*iT.) Yet the last and most popular of these etymologies is refuted by Ptolemy, (Arabia, p. 2, 18, in Hudson, torn, iv.,) who expressly remarks the western and southern position of the Saracen«, then an obscure tribe on the borders of Egypt. The appellation cannot therefore allude to any national character; and, since it was imposed by strangers, it must be found, not in the Arabic, but in a foreign language.*
S1 Saraceni . . . mulieres aiunt in eos regnare, (Expositio totiu* Mundi, p. 3, in Hudson, torn, iii.) The reign of Mavia is fhmous la acrlesiastical story Pocock, Specimen, p. 69, 83.
* Of Clarke, (Travels, vol. ii. p. 491,) after expressing contemptuous
Bitj fin Gibbon's ignorance, derives the word trom Zara, Zaara, Sara, th« lesert, whence Saraceni, the children of the Desert. De Maries adopt* the derivation from Sarrik. a robber, (Hist, des Arabes, vol. i. p 36^ St Martin from Scharkioun. or Sharkim, Eaoioru. vui. xi. p. 55.— M.
fined, the desert is open, and the tribes and families are helc together by a mutual and voluntary compact. The softer natives of Yemen supported the pomp and majesty of a mon arch; but if he could not leave his palace without endanger* ing his life,'8 the active powers of government must have been devolved on his nobles and magistrates. The cities *f Mecca and Medina present, in the heart of Asia, the form, or rather the substance, of a commonwealth. The grandfather of Ma hornet, and his lineal ancestors, appear in foreign and domestio transactions as the princes of their country; but they reigned, like Pericles at Athens, or the Medici at Florence, by the opinion of their wisdom and integrity; their influence was divided with their patrimony; and the sceptre was transferred from the uncles of the prophet to a younger branch of the tribe of Koreish. On solemn occasions they convened the assembly of the people; and, since mankind must be either compelled or persuaded to obey, the use and reputation of oratory among the ancient Arabs is the clearest evidence of public freedom.38 But their simple freedom was of a very different cast from the nice and artificial machinery of the Greek and Roman republics, in which each member possessed an undivided share of the civil and political rights of the community. In the more simple state of the Arabs, the nation is free, because each of her sons disdains a base submission to the will of a master. His breast is fortified by the austere virtues of courage, patience, and sobriety; the love of independence prompts him to exercise the habits of selfcommand; and the fear of dishonor guards him from the meaner apprehension of pain, of danger, and of death. The gravity and firmness of the mind is conspicuous in his outward demeanor; his speech is low, weighty, and concise; he is seldom provoked to laughter; his only gesture is that of stroking his beard, the venerable symbol of manhood; and
M 'ek roiv 0aai\eiojv fti] i^XOetv is the report of Agatharcides, (de Mari Rubr: p 63, 64, in Hudson, torn, i.) Diodorus Siculus, (torn, i L iii c. 47, p. 2*5,) and Strabo, (1. xvi. p. 1124.) But I much suspect that this is one of the popular tales, or extraordinary accidents, which the credulity of travellers so often transforms into a fact, a custom, and i law.
"Non glonabantur antiquitus Arabes, nisi gladio, hospite, et doquentia (Sephadius apud Pocock, Specimen, p. 161, 162.) This gift of speech they shared only witli the Persians; and the sententious Arabs would p obably have disdained the simple and sublime logic of Denostheues.
the sense of his own importance teaches him to accost hu equals witho it levity, and his superiors without awe.*' The liberty of the Saracens survived their conquests: the first caliphs indulged the bold and familiar language of their subjects; they ascended the pulpit to persuade and edify the congregation; nor was it before the seat of empire was removed to the Tigris, that the Abbasides adopted the proud and pompous ceremonial of the Persian and Byzantine courts.
In the study of nations and men, we may observe the cause* that render them hostile or friendly to each other, that tend to narrow or enlarge, to mollify or exasperate, the social character. The separation of the Arabs from the rest of mankir.d lias accustomed them to confound the ideas of stranger and enemy; and the poverty of the land has introduced a maxim of jurisprudence, which they believe and practise to the present hour. They pretend, that, in the division of the earth, the rich and fertile climates were assigned to the othei branches of the human family; and that the posterity of the outlaw Ismael might recover, by fraud or force, the portion of inheritance of which he had been unjustly deprived. According to the remark of Pliny, the Arabian tribes are equally addicted to theft and merchandise; the caravans that traverse the desert are ransomed or pillaged; and their neighbors, since the remote times of Job and Sesostris," have been the victims of their rapacious spirit. If a Bedoween discovers from afar a solitary traveller, he rides furiously against him, crying, with a loud voice, "Undress thyself, thy aunt [my wife) is without a garment." A ready submission entitles him to mercy; resistance will provoke the aggressor, and his own blood must expiate the blood which he presumes to shed
M I must remind the reader that D'Arvieux, D'Herbelot, and Niebuhr, represent, in the most lively colors, the manners and government of the Arabs, which are illustrated by many incidental passages in the Life of Mahomet*
35 Observe the first chapter of Job, and the long wall of 1500 stadia which Sesostris built from Pelusium to Heliopolis, (Diodor. SicuL torn. i. 1. i. p. 67.) Under the name of Hycsos, the shepherd kings, ihey had formerlv subdued Egypt, (Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 98— 163) Ac)t
* See, likewise the curious romance of Antar, the most vivid and an tbentic picture :jf Arabian manners.—M.
t Tlis origin of the Hycsos, though probable, is by no means so certain here is some mucin for supposing them Scythians.^M
in legitimate defence. A single robber, or a few associates, are branded with their genuine name; but the exploits of a numerous band assume the character of lawful and honorable war The temper of a people thus armed against mankind was doubly inflamed by the domestic license of rapine, murder, and revenge. In the constitution of Europe, the right of peace and war is now confined to a small, and the actual ixercise to a much smaller, list of respectable potentates; but ach x\rab, with impunity and renown, might point his javelin against the life of his countrymen. The union of the nation consisted only in a vague resemblance of language and manners; and in each community, the jurisdiction of the magistrate was mute and impotent. Of the time of ignorance which preceded Mahomet, seventeen hundred battles" are recorded by tradition: hostility was imbittered with the rancor of civil faction; and the recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete feud, was sufficient to rekindle the same passions among the descendants of the hostile tribes. In private life every man, at least every family, was the judge and avenger of his own cause. The nice sensibility of honor, which weighs the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadh venom on the quarrels of the Arabs: the honor of their women, and of their beards, is most easily wounded; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of revenge. A fine or compensation for murder is familiar to the Barbarians of every age: but in Arabia the kinsmen of the dead are at liberty to accept the atonement, or to exercise with their own hands the law of retaliation. The refined malice of the Arabs refuses even the head of the murderer, substitutes an innocent for the guilty person, and transfers the penalty to the best and most considerable of the race by whom they have been injured. If he falls by their hands, they are exposed, in their turn, to the danger of reprisals, the interest and principal of the bloody debt are accumulated: the individuals of either family lead a life of malice and suspicion,
m Or, according to another account, 1200, (D'Herbelot, Bibliothequ* Orientale, p. 75 :) the two historians who wrote of the Ayam al Arab, \hi battles of the Arabs, lived in the 9th and 10th century. Th« fiunous war of Dahes and Gabrah was occasioned by two horsey lasted forty vears, and ended in a proverb, (Pocock, Specimen, p 48 I