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principle for which France, England, and Turkey rush to arms to-day is this :-Shall Russia be permitted arbitrarily and with impunity to make war on all the world in an age which wishes for peace?
Our business is not to discuss the question of peace or war, but to obtain some glimpses of the characteristics of the Turks, or some correct conceptions respecting the elements of the Oriental problem, which will remain for solution after the best they can do has been done, by the victories of the sword and the treaties of the pen. Possibly, indeed, the war may cease sooner than is expected by the intervention of the German powers, but the appearances and the probabilities indicate one of those wars which remodel the globe, and which one generation begins and another generation ends. Yet the questions will certainly recur again and again, what are to be the future relations between the Greek majority and the Turkish minority on the banks of the Bosphorus ? and what is the fate in store for Mahometanism in Europe?
Oriental scholarship and ethnological observation render it probable that the human family started, in their emigrations to people the globe from Tartary or Central Asia; and the three religions, it is certain, which have most powerfully swayed the destinies of mankind arose on the coasts of Syria and Arabia. The history of the Arabs commences with Hagar sitting weeping in the desert, a bowshot off from the boy she had laid under one of the shrubs, that she might not see him die of thirst, and God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.' The wild, sarcastic, aggressive, defiant, and conquering spirit of Ishmael, is apparent in all his celebrated descendants, in Mahomet and the caliphs, and in their Tartar successors Othman and Timor, hordes and hosts of conquerors, who have been the scourges of a third of the population of the earth, planting tyrants of their race in China, in India, and in Greece, over the vast regions which stretch from Spain to Japan, from the Pillars of Hercules to the Straits of Malacca. There have been no conquerors surpassing these conquerors. The houses of Hapsburg, Romanoff
, and Buonaparte dwarf when placed beside the tent of Ishmael. Every other imperial sovereignty, every other sword of terror, has been a petty thing compared with the symbols of the domination of the sons of the outcast from the household of Abraham. No other people have ever cast out so many nations. Conquest may be called Ishmaelism. However, a strange revolution is witnessed in their destinies in our day. The overturning hand of Providence which has laid low their power in India is simultaneously shaking it to its downfall in China and Turkey. Thoughtful men are asking each other with the same breath, - can the children of Timor hold their ground at Pekin ?—and is it possible the sons of Othman can preserve their despotism at Constantinople ?
A word in passing on the religion of conquerors. Deism was the religion of Mahomet, Timor, and Buonaparte. We have heard a fanatical follower of the first Napoleon unconsciously repeat the doctrine which Timor taught at Samarcanda, — There is but one master in heaven, and there ought to be but one master on earth.' The idolatries, superstitions, absurdities, dreams, and impostures prospering on human credulity inspire the deist with a contempt for mankind. This vast contempt is opposed to humane and Christian pity, and is already in the minds which feel it a source of indifference for human life-a species of mental massacre. Mahomet rebuked himself for feeling emotion at the grave of his mother because she had lived and died an idolater. Timor told his cavalry to trample to death under the hoofs of their horses the children who had been sent to implore his mercy, and who were the offspring of worshippers of idols. In the Parisians who seek the cure of their diseases from the bones of Saint Genevieve, Buonaparte saw nothing better than food for cannon.
Ishmael worshipped the god of his father Abraham. According to the Arabic historians Abraham made two visits to his son Ishmael in the desert, with the permission of Sarah, which was granted on the jealous condition that he should not dismount from his horse at the residence of the son of Hagar. On the first occasion Ishmael was absent, and his wife Amara came to the door. Where is Ishmael ? asked the patriarch. · He is at the chase,' answered his wife. Have you anything to give me to eat ?' asked Abraham, 'for I cannot come down from my horse.' 'I have nothing,' answered Amara; 'this country is a desert.' Very well, continued Abraham. Describe me to your husband, and tell him that I advise him to change the threshold of his door.' Ishmael, indignant at the refusal of hospitality to his father, put away Amara, and took another wife named Sayda, from a different tribe. When Abraham came again his son was again absent. A woman, young, slender, and graceful, answered this time the call of the stranger. “Have you any food to give me ? asked Abraham of his daughter-in-law, without making himself known or placing his foot upon the ground. Yes, replied she instantly, and brought him some cooked kid, milk, and dates. Abraham tasted them and blessed them, saying, May God multiply these three kinds of food in this country!' After the repast Sayda said to Abraham, - Come down from your horse that I may wash your head and beard.' 'I cannot,' answered the patriarch; but placing one foot on a large stone beside the door, and keeping the other leg across the saddle, he
bent down his head to the hands of the young woman, who washed his eyes and beard.
• When your
husband comes back,' said Abraham, describe my face to him, and say from me that the threshold of his door is now equally brilliant and solid, and he ought never to change it.' When Ishmael beard these words he said, 'You have seen my father, and he commands me to keep you for ever.' 'Sayda became the mother of the race of Ishmael. Arabic traditions pretend that the first kaaba or square house at Mecca having been destroyed by the Deluge, Abraham and Ishmael erected the second. Ishmael hewed the stones, and Abraham built the temple, while the sacred black stone, probably an aerolithe, is said to have been contributed by an angel !
Long prior to the time of Mahomet the worship in the kaaba of Mecca had degenerated into an idolatrous medley addressed to three hundred and sixty idols, including probably effigies of Jesus and his mother
Jehovah, Jove, or Lord.' Mahomet re-established the worship of one immaterial God. The Arabian poets had, by their celebrations of the gods and heroes of the tribes by satires and songs, given them a common language, and Mahomet added the boon of unity of religion. Hardened and brutified by the misery of their deserts, the Arab tribes destroyed each other by feuds and wars. Destitute of industry and commerce, they were frequently reduced to live upon insects and serpents, and in their scorn for the female sex, and ravenous jealousy of a share of their scanty meals, buried their superfluous daughters alive. Unity of language combined, strengthened, and excited them to go forth in emigrations and invasions to conquer fertile lands for themselves, and followers for their faith. As grandson of Abdelmontaleb, the Pontiff of Mecca, and having himself risen to wealth and repute before he was forty, Mahomet would have become without an effort the greatest man in Mecca. But he was animated by the ambition of the reformer and the conqueror.
Arabian women had no protection against ill-treatment except the fear of the vengeance of their relatives. Mahomet restrained the unlimited licence he found by making legal and religious ceremonies of marriage and divorce necessary to the formation and dissolution of unions, while surrounding the persons and property of women with safeguards superior in some respects to those they enjoy in many Christian countries. Cleanliness he made an article of religion, as a symbol of the purity of the soul. Abstinence from fermented liquors secured to his followers the superiority of reason over their enemies, and protected them against crimes of passion
and violence, and the poisons which destroy their victims, whether artisans of cities or tribes of the deserts, with the rapid mortality of epidemics. He enjoined respect for bodily and mental disease; surrounded his dwelling with huts for the poor, old, and imbecile ; and went his round every evening amongst them, soothing their sufferings, listening to their complaints
, and supplying their wants. A child climbed upon the back of Mahomet while his head was on the ground at prayers, and he did not move until the mother of the child took it away. A Bedouin, who saw him playing with a flock of children, said disdainfully, 'I have had many of these sheep, but instead of caressing them I buried them alive.' •Wretch ! cried Mahomet, ‘you know nothing of the sweetest feelings of the human heart. The apprenticeship of orphans to handicrafts, and the education of every child in reading, writing, religion, and laws are commanded by the Koran.
A reformer, a statesman, a general, a conqueror, an orator, Mahomet compiled and adapted to the use of his countrymen the Judæan, Grecian, and Christian ideas he had collected during his travels with his caravan, or from the pilgrims to Mecca, and his Christian acquaintance Bahira, the Arabian monk, and Djaber, the Greek goldsmith. For ten years, from the age of forty to fifty, he tried to accomplish his reforms by preaching in Mecca and its neighbourhood. After being nearly stoned to death, his spirit or his plans changed; he resolved to enforce his ideas by the sword, and fled to join the enemies of his tribe and city at Medina. Negotiations opened with him by Christians were closed by his emphatic rejection of the divinity of Jesus Christ. Although publishing the Koran verse by verse, according to circumstances, he never afterwards swerved from his gospel nor his apostle; and his gospel was deism, and his apostle the sabre !
Mahomet was pitifully weak in regard to the fair sex. Up to the age of fifty he was the irreproachable husband of one wife, who was older than himself; but during the last sixteen years of his life he was continually marrying young wives, and spent the intervals between fainting fits, in quarrels in his harem, declamations in the temple, and conflicts in the battle-field. Possibly a great man may be a hero to his valet; but after fifty, or indeed at any age, it is impossible to be anything but a fool in a harem of young wives. Ayesha was his favourite Mahomet pretended to receive guidance from angels in his domestic affairs; yet he appears to have been treated like an ordinary man by the blind god and a cunning beauty. Ayesha shall herself in her spoken memoirs tell us her own tale
When the prophet of God,' says Ayesha, 'left Medina on an expedition against his enemies, or on a journey, he took with him one of his wives. She followed him, accompanied by several of his slaves, in
a grated litter, covered with a veil, and suspended to the side of a camel
. This lot had fallen upon me during the campaign against the infidel Abdallah. On leaving in the morning, or in the night, I left my tent, and according to the precepts shunned the looks of men. I lay down in my litter, and two slaves took it up and attached it to the side of the camel. A similar litter, occupied by one of my women, made a counterpoise on the opposite side. I weighed little when lifted on account of my tender youth and my extreme sobriety,-a virtue which was then common among almost all the women of Arabia.
On returning from the campaign, and as the army came to the last station before Medina, they made a halt in the evening, and erected their tents to rest themselves during half the night.
Before day break the Prophet gave the signal to raise the camp. While the army defiled after him, and they tied up the luggage, I went away alone for a moment into the country. On returning towards my tent, I perceived that I had lost an onyx necklace of Jaffa, which had loosened and fallen from my neck during my walk. I quickly retraced my steps, to search in the sand. I lost time in this search, and at last having found my necklace I ran back towards the camp. The army was no longer there; my tent was taken up, and my camel gone. The slaves ordered to attach the litter had taken it up and tied it to the sides of the animal without perceiving that I was not within. When I arrived I found nobody. Stupefied and frightened I wrapped myself in my veil and sat down on the ground, hoping that they would perceive my absence and come in search of me. They did not; and continued their march without suspecting that the litter was empty.
• While I was worn with waiting, the son of Moatal, Safwan, passed near me, mounted on his camel. He recognised me, having seen me often in the house of the Prophet prior to the time when the Koran forbade us to let ourselves be looked upon by strangers. He made an exclamation of astonishment to God, and cried, “ Is it possible ?-it is the wife of the Prophet!"
*He dismounted from his camel, made kneel before me, and begged me to mount in his place. I swear by Heaven that he did not say one word more. He stood aloof respectfully while I climbed up upon the camel, and then he took hold of the halter of the animal and walked in silence before it. We could not rejoin the army before broad daylight, at the time of the morning halt. On seeing us thus reappear together, they whispered a thousand things against us. The calumnies spread from mouth to mouth, and mounted up to the ears of the prophet.
* After returning to Medina, I fell ill from excitement and fatigue. I remarked that the Prophet did not show me the tenderness which he had usually shown when I was ill. If he came into my chamber he confined himself, without speaking to me, to saying to my mother, who watched by my bedside, “How is your daughter ?" I was hurt at this unaccustomed coldness, and I said to him one day, “ Apostle of God, I wish, if you will permit it, to be nursed among my family ?” “Willingly," replied he. They carried me into my mother's house.
'I remained there three weeks without seeing the Prophet. One day, when I was better, one of my friends, who came to see me,