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exclaimed suddenly, interrupting the conversation, “Cursed be the calumniators !” “What do you say ?" I answered. She then told me the rumours which circulated respecting my encounter with Safwan, and how it was ascribed to a guilty understanding between us. I blushed; I burst into tears; I rose up and threw myself upon my mother. “May God forgive you," said I. “What! they tear my reputation into pieces, and you allow me to be ignorant of it all ?” “ Be calm,” said my mother. “It is very rare indeed that a young woman who is beautiful and adored by her husband, and who has rivals in his heart, escapes defamation.”
“The rumour against me and Safwan was so great in Medina that the Prophet, afflicted by the scandal, ascended the pulpit in the Mosque and justified us,-being indignant, he said, against those who calumniated a person of his house, who was so dear to him, and a brave soldier, from whom he had received nothing but services.
“These words, as they made one person justify himself from the charge of calumny at the expense of another, only increased the noise. The Prophet, upon the advice of Ali, made my servant appear before him, to be interrogated respecting my conduct. In spite of the blows which Ali gave her to force her to make avowals against me, she swore that I was pure. The Prophet, who was then tranquillized, came to see me.
'He found me weeping with my father, my mother, and a female friend, who could not console me. He sat down beside me, and said, “You know, Ayesha, the stories which run against you. If you have committed a fault, confess it to me with a penitent heart, for God is indulgent, and pardons upon repentance.” My sobs hindering me from answering for a long time, I hoped that my mother or father would answer for me ; but seeing they kept silence, I made a violent effort, and I said, "I have done nothing to repent of. If I accused myself, it would be against my conscience. On the other side, however much I might deny the thing of which I am accused, I shall not be believed. I will say like” . . . . Here I stopped for an instant, the trouble in which I was made me forget the name of the patriarch Jacob, which I sought for in vain. "I will say, like the father of Joseph,” I recommenced, “ patience, and may God justify me!”
• At this moment the Prophet, himself over-excited, fell into one of those fits, during which heaven communicated its inspirations to him. I put a cushion under his head, and waited without anxiety until he should awake, being sure that heaven had absolved me by its revelations. But my father and my mother less certain than myself of my innocence, with what anxiety did they wait for the end of the swoon, and the first words of the Prophet! I thought they would die of terror.
* At last the prophet came to his senses, wiped his brow, which was covered with sweat, although it was winter, and said to me—“ Rejoice, Ayesha, thy innocence has been revealed to me on high.” “Thank God," cried I. “And the Prophet going out, immediately went and published the verse of the Koran which attests my innocence." ;
A cross-examination by a skilful nisi prius barrister would
not, we fear, have left much of this young lady's story hanging together. The sure rule in regard to doubtful matters is to interpret equivocal appearances by the well-known tenor of the lives of the parties.Ali left behind him the character of a generous and just man. Ayesha, by a series of conspicuous facts, proved herself to be guilty of great hypocrisy, indefatigable intrigue, and implacable cruelty. She was rebuked for her public conduct, after the death of Mahomet, by a man of Bassora, in these terms: 'Shame on thee, O mother of the Faithful! The murder of the caliph was a grievous crime, but was a less abomination than thy forgetfulness of the modesty of thy sex. Wherefore dost thou abandon thy quiet home, and thy protecting veil, and ride forth like a man, barefaced, on that accursed camel, to foment quarrels and dissensions among the faithful ?
We turn from these glimpses of the Arabs and their Prophet, without stopping amidst the wild vicissitudes of the history of the caliphs, and pass rapidly to the origin of the Tartar tribe, who have become memorable in Europe under the name of the Turks, or Ottomans. Organizing armies to victory on a religious principle, Mahomet was the Cromwell of the Arabs, with less of self-denial and of military genius than ennobled the Puritan. Appropriating the ideas which he found ripe for legislation, and turning them into laws, his Koran is the Code Napoleon of the East; and if he finds a modern parallel in Buonaparte, in his boundless lust for conquest, we know of none for his phenomenal sensuality, the description of which would task the congenial imaginations of a Lord Byron or a George Sand. The sins of great men become the ruin of empires, and as the French sayNous verrons.
Dreams prefigured the triumphs of the Turks, oriental dreams of a kind which may be explained some day, when mental philosophy shall have given us a satisfactory theory of the phenomena of dreaming. Ertogrul dreamt that he spent a whole night reading the Koran, and was rewarded for his reverence towards the eternal word' by the promise that his children, and the children of his children, should always be honoured on the earth. His son Othman had also his dream. Compelled to pass two years, in rivalry with other young men, courting the hand of Malkatoun, daughter of the Sheik Edebali
, a celebrated Syrian beauty, he is said to have gained the prize by reciting the following dream :
He thought he saw the moon come out of the breast of Edebali, and repose upon his own bosom. A tree then spread out its branches before him over lands and seas to the farthest limits of Europe, Asia, and Africa. Four great mountains—the Caucasus, Atlas, Taurus, and Hemus-supported the heavy
branches; and on the sides of the mountains flowed four rivers, the Tigris, the Euphrates, the Nile, and the Danube. Their course watered plains green with pastures, yellow with harvests, black with forests; and bore vessels to four seas. Towers, towns, domes, pyramids crowned with crescents, elevated themselves from among the roses and cypresses of the valleys. Invitations to prayers spread from the monuments like the melodies of celestial nightingales. Suddenly the twigs and leaves of the tree flashed like the blades of lances and sabres ; and the breeze turned them towards Constantinople. This capital, which is situated between two seas, sparkled like a sapphire upon a ring between two emeralds. It was the ring of the nuptials of Othman with the capital of the world.
The histories of Othman, and his sons Orkhan and Aladdin, show how hardy habits, cunning, courage, the passion for conquest, and an enthusiasm for the unity of God, enabled a tribe of mountaineers to found an empire. Old Ertogrul used annually to feed his flocks in the neighbourhood of the fortress of Angelocoma on Mount Olympus. His shepherds complained of being insulted and robbed by the occupants of the fortress; who, in their turn, retorted upon his armed shepherds the charge of having been the aggressors. Ertogrul disarmed his men, and consented to send every year the women of his tribe to deposit valuable pledges; goats'-hair carpets, sheep-skins, horse harness, cheese, and honey in the fortress as security for the good conduct of his shepherds, while his flocks browsed on the green pastures of the Lord of Angelocoma. His son Othman, however, planned and executed a perfidy which the Byzantine lord had from the first suspected, without, as often happens, taking precautions against it. Sixty warriors, disguised in the mantles and veils of women, entered the fortress, carrying in the sacks borne by their camels, arms instead of presents, and suddenly seized the castle. The Greek nobleman, returning from an expedition, was the same night waylaid, surprised, and defeated by Othman in the pass of Eremeni. Othman next attacked and seized KaraHissar, or the Black Fortress, which he made his capital, and which obtained for him the title of Emir or Prince, from the nominal sultan of all the Turks. This sultan, Aladdin III., dying without a successor, and Othman having surprised JarHissar, killed his rivals, and extended the terror of his name, was left without a superior in Syria, and without an equal among the Turkish emirs. His effigy was struck
His effigy was struck upon the money, and his name was mentioned in the public prayers of the mosques. Othman, his name, signifies bone-breaker. When he was a boy, the governor of Kepri-Hissar, the Castle of Bridges, had given him an entertainment, but had presented him his hand to kiss.
When his uncle Dündar, a venerable man, nearly a hundred years old, reproved his intention of revenging this imaginary affront of his childhood, he killed the old man with a blow of his bow. Kepri Hissar fell before his armies. Two victories gained successively over the Heteriarch, who commanded the guards of the Emperor of Byzance, and over the army of the Governor of Broussa, gave Othman the whole of the plain which is bounded by the river Rhyndacus. Othman swore that neither his soldiers nor his flocks should ever cross the bed of this river, and he pretended he had faithfully kept his treaty, when they passed over to the prohibited side, along the shore, and at the mouth where the river runs into the sea.
The lieutenant of Othman, Kara-Ali, conquered the beautiful island of Kalolimno, which seemed a step from Asia to Europe. Othman rewarded him with the most beautiful Greek girl of the island. The boats found in the bays of Kalolimno conveyed the Ottoman pirates to the island of Chio, renowned as the garden of the East, and for its odoriferous gums and lovely women.
A nocturnal surprise, massacre, and pillage, made them masters of Chio. Some of the inhabitants escaped to sea in boats, and perished in a tempest, within view of their country in flames. A small number only succeeded in reaching a citadel, the gates of which they closed against the pirates of Othman, who extended their ravages throughout the whole Archipelago, from the Gulf of Satalia to the Gulf of Mount Athos. The Greek emperor, Andronicus, sought the protection of a Turkish emir, Khodabenda, to whom he gave his sister in marriage, and who
promised to restrain his countrymen, and especially Othman. Detained, himself, at Jenischyr, by gout, Othman sent his son Orkhan against Broussa, which the emperor Andronicus authorized to capitulate, on condition of paying annually thirty thousand golden ducats to the successors of Othman, a ransom which was paid for three hundred years. The messenger who carried to Othman the news of the victory of Orkhan, met messengers carrying to the latter the news of the approaching death of his father. The conquest of Broussa had been the life-dream of Othman, and he begged his son with his dying breath to bury him there. His double-edged sword is to this day a symbol on the Ottoman standards; one edge of it threatening Asia, and the other Europe. He made a public profession of repentance for the murder of his uncle, and ordered his secretaries to record his shame in his history, as a warning against anger. Oddly enough, the Turks call him Othman the Mild,' and whenever a new sultan is crowned, the people cry aloud to heaven to give him the mildness of Othman !
Orkhan and Aladdin, the two sons of Othman, divided between
them, without jealousy, the government of the new empire. The eldest, recognized as supreme, devoted himself to the executive, and his brother as vizer, or burden bearer, undertook the legislative functions. Orkhan spent his life in extending the empire, and Aladdin spent his in consolidating it. The governor of the fortress of Semendria, two hours' march from Scutari, having opened his gates to let out the funeral of his son, the Turks rushed in and took the town. The daughter of the Greek governor of Aïdos, smitten with the beauty of Abderrahman, whom she had seen fighting on horseback under the walls of the town, threw him a letter attached to a stone, which informed him of a secret passage through which he might pass and seize the garrison asleep. The son of this woman, by her Turkish lover, called KaraAbderrahman, became a dreadful scourge to the Greeks.
The sultans call themselves Osmanli, or sons of Othman or Osman. The organization of the future empire was the business of Aladdin. An idea borrowed from the caliphs of Bagdad suggested the formation of the corps of Janissaries, or new soldiers. They consisted of the sons of Christians who had embraced Islamism, and who could recommend themselves to their new masters only by acts of furious zeal against their old faith.
Just as springs and weights serve to show the strength of mechanical forces, there are certain facts and practices which measure moral forces. The tremendous force of the lust for power in the breast of Othman and his successors is apparent in the institution of fratricide as a 'kanun,' or fundamental and constitutional principle, in regulating the succession and securing the stability of the throne. Fratricide is an imperial law. In the constitution of Othman it is written :- A majority of the legislators have declared it is permissible that whoever of my illustrious children and grandchildren mounts the throne, should order his brothers to be assassinated, in order to preserve the peace of the world ; let them, therefore, act in accordance with this.'
Fratricide has accordingly prevailed in the families of the sultans from the time of Amurat down to our day. Bajazet committed the first fratricide in extraordinary circumstances. The Hungarians, Albanians, Epirotes, Bosnians, and Servians, had taken up arms in defence of their countries and their religion. They occupied the vast plain of Cossova, and were greatly more numerous than the Turks. When Bajazet, the son of Amurat, was advised to place his camels in advance, he rejected the proposal as unworthy of the conquerors of Asia. Victory,' said he,
belongs to him who believes himself victor, and not to him who fears to be vanquished. Ali Pasha declared that he had turned up texts in the Koran which promised him victory. Amurat sought in the combat the glory of martyrdom, and himself led on