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CHAP. ed the dangerous license of visiting the banks of the Nile,

and the villages of Syria and Palestine. The life of a wandering Arab is a life of danger and distress; and though sometimes, by rapine or exchange, he may appropriate the fruits of industry, a private citizen in Europe is in the possession of more solid and pleasing luxury than the proudest emir, who marches in the field at the head of ten thousand

horse. Cities of

Yet an essential difference may be found between the Arabia.

hords of Scythia and the Arabian tribes,since many of the late ter were collected into towns, and employed in the labours of trade and agriculture. A part of their time and industry was still devoted to the management of their cattle: they mingled, in peace and war, with their brethren of the desart; and the Be. doweens derived from their usefulintercourse,somesupply of theirwants, and some rudiments of art and knowledge. Among the forty-two cities of Arabia, 14 enumerated by Abulfeda, the most ancient and populous were situate in the happy Yemen; the towers of Saana,'and the marvellous reservoir of Me. rab, were constructed by the kings of the Homerites; but

their profane lustre was eclipsed by the prophetic glories Mecca; of Medina 17 and MECCA,'near the Red Sea, and at the

14 Yet Marcian of Heraclea (in Periplo, p. 16. in tom. i. Hudson, Minor, Geograph), reckons one hundred and sixty-four towns in Arabia Fælix. The size of the towns might be small...the faith of the writer might be large.

15 It is compared by Abulfeda (in Hudson, tom. iii. p. 54), to Damascus, and is still the residence of the Iman of Yemen (Voyages de Niebuhr, toin. i. p. 331...342). Saana is twenty-four parasangs from Dafar (Abulfeda, p.51), and sixty-eight from Aden (p. 53).

16 Pocock, Specimen, p. 57. Geograph. Nubiensis, p. 52. Meriaba, or Merab, six miles in circumference, was destroyed by the legions of Augustus (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32), and had not revived in the fourteenth century (Abul. fed. Descript. Arab. p. 58).

17 The name of city, Medina, was appropriated, xut' sto mnv, to Yatreb (the latrippa of the Greeks), the seat of the prophet. Thedistances from Medina are reckoned by Abulfeda ir stations, or days Journey of a caravan (p. 15): to Bahrein, xv; to Bassora, xviii; to Cusah, xx; to Damascus or Pa. festine xx; to Cairo, XXV; to Mecca, x; from Mecca to Saana (p. 52.) or Aden, xxx; to Cairo, xxxi days, or 412 hours (Shaw's Travels, p. 477): which, according to the estimate of d'Anville (Mesures Itineraires, p 99), al. Sows about twenty-five English miles for a day's journey. From the land of frankincense (Hadramant, in Yemen, between Aden and Cape Fartasch) to Gaza, in Syria, Pliny (Hist. Nat. xii. 32.) computes sixty-five mansions of ca. mels. These measures may assist fancy and elucidate facts.

18 Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians (d’Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 368...371. Pocock, Specimen, p. 125...128. Abulseda, p. 11...40). As no unbeliever is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent; and the short hints of Thevenot (Voyages du Levant, part i. p. 490), are taken from the suspicious mouth of an African renegado. Soins Persians counted 6000 houses (Chardin, tom. iv. p. 167).


distance from each other of two hundred and seventy miles. CHAP.

L. The last of these holy places was known to the Greeks under the name of Macoraba ; and the termination of the word is expressive of its greatness, which has not indeed, in the most flourishing period, exceeded the size and populousness of Marseilles. Some latent motive, perhaps of superstition, must have impelled the founders, in the choice of a most unpromising situation. They erected their habitations of mud or stone, in a plain about two miles long and one mile broad, at the foot of three barren mountains : the soil is a rock; the water even of the holy well of Zemzem is bitter or brackish ; the pastures are remote from the city; and grapes are transported above seventy miles from the gardens of Tayef. The fame and spirit of the Koreishites, who reigned in Mecca, were conspicuous among Ara. bian tribes; but their ungrateful soil refused the labours of agriculture, and their position was favourable to the enter. prises of trade. By the sea-port of Gedda, at the distance her trade. only of forty miles, they maintained an easy correspondence with Abyssinia; and that Christian kingdom afforded the first refuge to the disciples of Mahomet. The treasures of Africa were conveyed over the peninsula to Gerrha or Katif, in the province of Bahrein, a city built, as it is said, of rocksalt, by the Chaldean exiles:"and from thence, with the native pearls of the Persian Gulf, they were floated on rafts to the mouth of the Euphrates. Mecca is placed almost at an equal distance, a month's journey, between Yemen on the right, and Syria on the left, hand. The former was the winter, the latter the summer, station of her caravans; and their seasonable arrival relieved the ships of India from the tedious and troublesome navigation of the Red Sea. In the markets of Saana and Merab, in the harbours of Oman and Aden, the camels of the Koreishites were laden with a precious cargo of aromatics; a supply of corn and manufactures was purchased in the fairs of Bostra and Damascus; the lucrative exchange diffused plenty and riches in the streets of Mecca; and the noblest of her sons united the love of arms with the profession of merchandise.20

19 Strabo, l. xvi. p. 1110. See one of these salt houses near Bassora, in d'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 6.

20 Mirum dictâ ex innumeris populis pars æqua in commerciis aut in latro.


CHAP. The perpetual independence of the Arabs has been the

theme of praise among strangers and natives; and the arts

of National

controversy transform this singular event into a prophesy independ- and a miracle, in favour of the posterity of Ismael.2' Some ence of the Arabs.

exceptions, that can neither be dissembled nor eluded, render this mode of reasoning as indiscreet as it is superfluous: the kingdom of Yemen has been successively subdued by the Abyssinians, the Persians, the sultans of Egypt, 22 and the Turks:23 The holy cities of Mecca and Medina have repeatedly bowed under a Scythian tyrant; and the Roman province of Arabiaat embraced the peculiar wilderness in which Ismael and his sons must have pitched their tents in the face of their brethren. Yet these exceptions are temporary or local; the body of the nation has escaped the yoke of the most powerful monarchies: the arms of Sesostris and Cyrus, of Pompey and Trajan, could never achieve the conquest of Arabia; the present sovereign of the Turks may exercise a shadow of jurisdiction, but his pride is re


ciniis degit (Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 32). See Sale's Koran, Sural cvi. p. 503. Pocock, Specimen, p. 2. D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 361. Prideaux's Life of Maboinet, p. 5. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 72. 120. 126, &c.

21 A nameless doctor (Universal Hist. vol. xx. octavo edition) has formally demonstrated the truth of Christianity by the independence of the Arabs. A critic, besides the exceptions of fact, might dispute the meaning of the text (Genes. xvi. 12). the extent of the application, and the foundation of the pedigree.

22 It was subdued, A. D. 1173, by a brother of the great Saladin, who founded a dynasty of Curds or Ayoubi'es (Guignes, Hist. des Huns, tom. i. p.

. 425. D'Herbelot, p. 477).

23 By the lieutenant of Soliman I. (A. D. 1538) and Selina II. (1568). See Cantemir’s Hist. of the Othman Empire, p. 201. 221. The Pasha, who resided at Saana, commanded twenty-one Beys, but no revenue was ever remitted to the Porte (Marsigli, Stato Militare dell' Imperio Ottomanno, p. 124), and the Turks were expelled about the year 1630 (Niebuhr, p. 167, 168).

24 Of the Roman province, under the name of Arabia and the third Palestine, the principal cities were Bostra and Petra, which dated their æra from the year 105, when they were subdued by Palma, a lieutenant of Trajan (Dion. Cassius, l. Ixviii). Petra was the capital of the Nabathæans; whose name is derived from the eldest of the sons of Ismael (Genes. xxv. 12, &c. with the Commentaries of Jerom, Le Clerc, and Calmet). Justinian relinquished a palm country of ten days journey to the south of Elah (Procop. de Bell. Persic.l. i c 19), and the Romans maintained a centurion and a custom-house (Arrian in Periplo Maris Erythræi, p. 11. in Hudson, tom. i), at a place (Acuxn xwfen, Pagus Albus Hawara) in the territory of Medina (d'Anville Memoire sur l’Egypte, p. 24.3). These real possessions, and some naval inroads of Trajan Peripl. p. 14, 15), are magnified by history and medals into the Roman conquest of Arabia.

25 Niebuhr (Description de l'Arabie, p. 302, 303. 329...331). affords the most recent and authentic intelligence of the Turkish empire in Arabia.



duced to solicit the friendship of a people, whom it is dan. CHAP. gerous to provoke and fruitless to attack. The obvious causes of their freedom are inscribed on the character and country of the Arabs. Many ages before Mahomet,26 their intrepid valour had been severely felt by their neighbours in offensive and defensive war. The patient and active vir- . tues of a soldier are insensibly nursed in the habits and discipline of a pastoral life. The care of the sheep and camels is abandoned to the women of the tribe; but the martial youth under the banner of the emir, is ever on horseback, and in the field, to practise the exercise of the bow, the javelin, and the scymetar. The long memory of their independence is the firmest pledge of its perpetuity, and succeeding generations are animated to prove their descent and to maintain their inheritance. Their domestic feuds are suspended on the approach of a common enemy; and in their last hostilities against the Turks, the « zravan of Mecca was attacked and pillaged by fourscore the vsand of the con. federates. When they advance to battle, i'e hope of victory is in the front; in the rear, the assurance of a retreat. Their horses and camels, who in eight or ten days can perform a march of four or five hundred miles, disappear before the conqueror; the secret waters of the desart elude his search; and his victorious troops are consumed with thirst, hunger, and fatigue, in the pursuit of an invisible foe, who scorns his efforts, and safely reposes in the heart of the burning solitude. The arms and desarts of the Bedoweens are not only the safeguards of their own freedom, but the barriers also of the happy Arabia, whose inhabitants, re. mote from war, are enervated by the luxury of the soil and climate. The legions of Augustus melted away in disease and lassitude ;27 and it is only by a naval power that the re. duction of Yemen has been successfully att:mpted. When Mahomet erected his holy standard, 28 that kingdom was a


26 Diodorus Siculus (tom. ii. l. xix p. 390...393. edit. Wesseling) has clearly exposed the freedom of the Nabathæan Arabs, who resisted the arms of Antigonus and his son.

27 Strabo, l. xvi. p. 1127...1129. Plin. Hist. Natur. vi. 32. Ælius Gallus landed near Medina, and marched near a thousand miles into the part of Ye. men between Mareb and the Ocean. The non ante devictis Sabeæ regibus (Od. i. 29), and the intacti Arabum thesauri (Od. iii. 24). of Hurace, attest the virgin purity of Arabia.

28 See the imperfect history of Yemen in Pocock, Specimen, p. 55...66. of

CHAP. province of the Persian empire; yet seven princes of the L

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 di. vided 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 Hira 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, in 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 tribes 29 were confounded by the Greeks and Latins, under the general appellation of SARACENS, 30 a name which every Christian mouth has been taught to pro

nounce with terror and abhorrence. Their do. The slaves of domestic tyranny may vainly exult in their mestic freedom

national independence; but the Arab is personally free; and and cha- 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 sheich and emir invariably descend in this chosen race ; but the order of succession is loose and precarious; and the most


Hira, p. 66...74. of Gassan, p. 75...78. as far as it could be known or preserved in the tiine of ignorance.

29 The Σαρακηνικα φυλα, μυριάδες ταυτο και το πλεισoν αυτων ερηNovoros xa adec Toto), are described by Menander (Excerpt. Legation, p. 149), Procopius (de Bell. Persic. I. i. c. 17. 19. 1. ii. c. 10); and, in the most lively colours, by Ammianus Marcellinus (1. xiv. c. 4), who had spoken of them as early as the reign of Marcus.

30 The name which, used by Prolemy and Pliny in a more confined, by Ammianus and Procopius in a larger, sense, has been derived, ridiculously, from Sarah, the wife of Abraham, obscurely from the village of Saraka peta NæBATAIRS. Stephan. de Urbibus), more plausibly from the Arabic words, which signify a thievish character, or Oriental situation (Holtinger, Hist. Oriental. 1. i.c.i. p.7, 8. Pocock, Specimen, p 33...35. Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 567). Yet the last and most popular of these etymologies, is refuted by Polemy (Arabia, p. 2. 18. in Hudson, tom. iv), who expressly remarks the western and southern position of the Saracens, 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.

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