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CHAP. 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 Bo. chara to Fez and Cordova. The visir of a sultan consecrated 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 six 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. In 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 splendidly 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, Almeria, 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 coæval 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.54 Their real In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, progress in

the far greater part of the innumerable volumes were possessed only of local value or imaginary merit." The

the sci.


54 These literary anecdotes are borrowed from the Bibliotheca Arabico. Hispana (tom. ii

. p. 38. 71. 201, 202), I.eo Africanus (de Arab. Medicis et Philusiphis, in Frabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. xiii. p. 259.298. particularly p. 274), and Renaudot (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 274, 275. 536, 537), besides the chronological remarks of Abulpharagius.

55 The Arabic catalogue of the Escurial will give a just idea of the propor56 As for instance, the fifth, sixth, and seventh books (the eighth is still wanting) of the Conic Sections of Apollonius, which were printed from the Florence MS. 1661 (Fabric. Bibliot Græc. tom. ii. p. 559). Yet the fifth book had been previously restored by the mathematical divination of Vi. viani (see his eloge in Fontenelle, tom. v. p. 59, &c.)

shelves were crowded with orators and poets, whose style CHAP.

LII. was adapted to the taste and manners of their countrymen; with general and partial histories, 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 theological tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and moralists, the first or the last of writers, according to the different estimate of sceptics 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, 56 which possessed and studied the writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Euclid and Apollonius, of Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen.57 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 asterwards restored by the Mahometans of Spain to the Latin schools.58 The physics, both of the Academy tion of the classes. In the library of Cairo, the MSS. of astronomy and medicine amounted to 6500, with two fair globes, the one of brass, the other of sil. ver (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i.

57 'The merit of these Arabic versions is freely discussed by Renaudot(Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. j. p.812...816), and piously defended by Gasira (Bi. bliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 238...240). Most of the versions of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, &c. 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 of a school or manufacture of translations, and the works of his sons and disciples were published under his name. See Abulpharagius (Dynast. p 88. 115. 171...174. and apud Asseman, Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii. p. 438), d'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 456), Asseman, (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii. p. 161), and Casiri (Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 238, &c. 251. 280...200. 302. 304, &c.)

58 See Mosheim, Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 181.214. 236. 257.315. 338.396. 438, &c.

p. 417).

CHAP. and the Lycæum, as they are built, not on observation, but LII.

on argument, have retarded the progress of real knowledge. The metaphysics of infinite, or finite, spirit, have too often been enlisted in the service of superstition. But the human faculties are fortified by the art and practice of dialectics; the ten predicaments of Aristotle collect and methodise our ideas, 59 and his syllogism is the keenest weapon of dispute. It was dextrously wielded in the schools of the Saracens, but as it is more effectual for the detection of error than for the investigation of truth, it is not surprising that new generations of masters and disciples should still revolve in the same circle of logical argument. The mathematics are distinguished by a peculiar privilege, that, in the course of ages, they may always advance, and can never recede. But the ancient geometry, if I am not misinformed, was resumed in the same state by the Italians of the fifteenth century; and whatever may be the origin of the name, the science of algebra is ascribed to the Grecian Diophantus by the modest testimony of the Arabs themselves. They cultivated with more success the sublime science of astronomy, which elevates the mind of man to disdain his diminutive planet and momentary existence. The costly instruments of observation were supplied by the caliph Almamon, and the land of the Chaldæans still afforded the same spacious level, the same unclouded horizon. In the plains of Sinaar, and a second time in those of Cufa, his mathematicians accurately measured a degree of the great circle of the earth, and determined at twenty-four thousand miles the entire circumference of our globe.61 From the reign of the Abbassides

59 The inest elegant commentary on the Categories or Predicaments of Aristotle, may be found in the Philosophical Arrangements of Mr. James Harris (London, 1775, in octavo), who laboured to revive the studies of Grecian literature and philosophy.

60 Abulpharagiis, Dynast, p. 81. 222. Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom. i. p. 370, 371. In quem (says the primate of the Jacobite) si immiseric se lector, oceanum hoc in genere (algebræ ) inveniet. The time of Diophanius of Alexandria is unknown, but his six books are sullextant, and have been illustraied by the Greek Planudes and the Frenchman Meziriac (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. iv. p. 12...15);

61 Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 210, 211. vers. Reiske) describes this operation according to Ibn Challecan, and the best historians. This degree most accurately contains 200,000 royal or Hashemite cubits, which Arabia had de. rived from the sacred and legal practice both of Palestine and Egypt. This ancient cubit is repeated 400 times in each basis of the great pyramid, and seenis to indica e the primitive and universal measures of the East. See the Metrologie of the laborious M. Paucton, p. 101...195.



to that of the grand-children of Tamerlane, the stars, with- CHAP. out the aid of glasses, were diligently observed; and the astronomical tables of Bagdad, Spain, and Samarcand,62 correct some minute errors, without daring to renounce the hypothesis of Ptolemy, without advancing a step towards the discovery of the solar system. In the eastern courts, the truths of science could be recommended only by ignorance and folly, and the astronomer would have been disregarded, had he not debased his wisdom or honesty by the vain predictions of astrology.63 But in the science of medicine, the Arabians have been deservedly applauded. The names of Mesua and Geber, of Razis and Avicenna, are ranked with the Grecian masters; in the city of Bagdad, eight hundred and sixty physicians were licensed to exercise their lucrative profession:64 in Spain, the life of the Catholic princes was entrusted to the skill of the Saracens,6s and the school of Salerno, their legitimate offspring, revived in Italy and Europe the precepts of the healing art.66 The success of each professor must have been influenced by personal and accidental causes; but we may form a less fanciful estimate of their general knowledge of anatomy,67 botany,68 and chemistry,69 the threefold basis of their theory and practice. A


62 See the Astronomical Tables of Ulugh Begh, with the preface of Dr. Hyde, in tiie ist volume of his Syntagma Dissertationum, Oxon, 1767.

63 The truth of astrology was allowed by Albumazar, and the best of the Arabian astronomers, who drew their most certain predictions not from Venus and Mercury, but from Jupiter and the sun (Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 161. ...163). For the state and science of the Persian astronomers, see Chardin (Voyages en Perse, tom. iii. p. 162...203).

64 Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, tom. i. p. 438. The original relates a pleasant tale, of an ignorant but harınless practitioner.

65 In the year 956, Sancho the fat, king of Leon, was cured by the physicians of Cordova (Mariana, l. viii. c. 7. tom. i. p. 318).

66 The school of Salerno, and the introduction of the Arabian sciences into Italy, are discussed with learning and judgment by Muratori( Antiquitat. Italiæ Medii Ævi, tom. iii. p. 932...940.) and Giannone (Istoria Civile di Napoli,

. tom. ii. p. 119...127).

67 See a good view of the progress of anatomy in Wotton (Reflections on ancient and modern Learning, p. 208...256). His reputation has been unwor. thily depreciated by the wits in the controversy of Boyle and Bentley.

68 Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 275. Al Beithar of Malaga, their greatest botanist, had travelled into Africa, Persia, and India.

69 Dr. Watson (Clements of Chemistry, vol. i. p. 17, &c.) allows the original inerit of the Arabians. Yet he quotes the modest confession of the fa. inous Geber, of the ixth century (d'Herbelot, p. 317), that he had drawn most of his science, perhaps of the transmutation of metals, from the ancient sages. Whatever might be the origin or extent of their knowledge, the arts of chea mistry and alchymy appear to have been known in Egypt at least three hun. dred years before Mahomet (Wotton's Reflections, p. 121...133. Pauw, Recherches sur les Ez;ptiens et les Chinois, tom. i. p. 376...429).


CHAP. superstitious reverence for the dead confined both the Greeks

and the Arabians to the dissection of apes and quadrupeds; the more solid and visible parts were known in the time of Galen, and the finer scrutiny of the human frame was reserved for the microscope and the injections of modern artists. Botany is an active science, and the discoveries of the torrid zone might enrich the herbal of Dioscorides with two thousand plants. Some traditionary knowledge might be secreted in the temples and monasteries of Egypt; much useful experience had been acquired in the practice of arts and manufactures; but the science of chemistry owes its origin and improvement to the industry of the Saracens. They first invented and named the alembic for the purposes of distil. lation, analysed the substances of the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction and affinities of alcalis and acids, and converted the poisonous minerals into soft and salutary medicines. But the most eager search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals, and the elixir of immortal health: the reason and the fortunes of thousands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchymy, and the consummation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of mystery,

fable, and superstition. Want of But the Moslems deprived themselves of the principal erudition,

benefits of a familiar intercourse with Greece and Rome, the taste, and freedom. knowledge of antiquity, the purity of taste, and the freedom

of thought. Confident in the riches of their native tongue, the Arabians disdained the study of any foreign idiom. The Greek interpreters were chosen among their Christian subjects; they formed their translations, sometimes on the original text, more frequently perhaps on a Syriac version : and in the crowd of astronomers and physicians, there is no example of a poet, an orator, or even an historian, being taught to speak the language of the Saracens.70 The mythology of Homer would have provoked the abhorrence of those stern fanatics: they possessed in lazy ignorance the colonies of the Macedonians, and the provinces of Carthage and

70 Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 26. 148.) mentions a Syriac version of Homer's two poems, by Theophilus, a Christian Maronite of mennt Libanus, who professed astronomy at Rola or Edessa towards the end of the viiith rentury. His work would be a literary curiosity. I have read somewhere, but I do not believe, that Plutarch's Lives were translated into Turkish for the use of Ma. homet the second.

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