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distrust in England; but not because the British empire in India has been endangered by it. The alarm about India is a mere chimera; and ages must roll away, and one career of wild ambition be succeeded by another, before a Russian Genghis would venture to‘stray into India with his countless hosts of vagrant conquerors. No! The points of collision are much nearer, less magnificent in extent, but yet immediate and important. The command of the Archipelago may be disputed between those who protect the Ionian Isles and the fosterer of independent Greece. England and Russia, the great European rivals, are, indeed, themselves at the extremes of the continent; but the states which are their respective clients, are situated almost side by side, and a predominant influence in the Ionian Isles is more than counterbalanced by the cluster of Greek islands in the Egean, and the deep harbours and noble bays of continental Greece.
On the whole, the peace of Adrianople is favourable to the best interests of civilization and humanity. Regions, on which nature in her kindest mood has lavished all the elements of prosperity, are now permitted in security to profit by their natural advantages. Servia gains a respite from oppression; the means of eventually securing her independence; and an opportunity of developing her vast, and, as yet, almost wholly unexplored resources. The principalities may now prosper like our own blooming states to the north of the Ohio; the desolate majesty of those rich but wasted countries shall yield to the gentle influences of accumulated wealth and protected industry. But above all, Greece is restored to the affections of humanity. Favoured by Providence in its situation and climate beyond any portion of Europe, its prosperity must be rapid and cheering. If local influences, the temperature and soil of a country, decide on the occupations, and in some measure on the character of its inhabitants, the virtues and genius of antiquity will under some aspect re-appear. However much the forms of empires may have changed, the great features of nature remain unimpaired. The same bright sun, which shone on Plato and Phidias, on the heroes of Salamis and the orators of the Athenian democracy, still rolls with undiminished splendour through the clear sky of Hellas. The streams of the Ilyssus and the Eurotus flow in their wonted channels. The olive of Minerva still ripens its fruits, and ripens them once more for peaceful citizens, who, in their turn, have struggled against the barbarian for their domestic liberties. It is, indeed, Greece, and living Greece. She re-appears to take her place in the family of nations. Her star ascends brightly through a sky that no longer lowers.
The remainder of European Turkey lies at the mercy of its conqueror. If it had strength to commence the recent struggle, it has, in the present treaty of peace, resigned every hope of future successful resistance. Indeed the whole empire of Turkey is as decidedly prostrated before the czar, as Persia has been since the termination of its late war with Russia. The influence of Nicholas prevails from the frozen sources of the Torneo to the Persian Gulf. His ships ride triumphantly in all the Turkish waters; the lives of his subjects are charmed against every aggression and violence throughout the Ottoman dominion. He has won every thing which was essential to the prosperity of the provinces which acknowledge his sway. He has done something for the cause of humanity. But now the world has a yet deeper interest in the wise administration of the internal concerns of Russia, and in the personal character of her sovereign. Since it would be idle to wish for her many provinces that highest good which comes from the conflict of free opinions, we will hope, that the mild virtues of an Antonine may be emulated by her sovereign, rather than the less arduous and less rare distinction which follows on extensive conquest.
ART. III.-MOHAMMEDAN HISTORY.
1.–Réponse à la question, quelle a été, pendant les trois pre
miers siècles de l'hégire, l'influence du Mahométisme sur l'esprit, les maurs, et le gouvernement des peuples chez les
quels il s'est établi ? Par M. DE HAMMER : Vienna. 2. —Memoirs of the principal events in Mohammedan Histo
ry, from the death of the Arabian Legislator, to the accession of the Emperor Akbar, and the establishment of the
Mogul Empire. London: 4 vols. 4to. 3.-Histoire des Arabes sous le gouvernement des Califfs. Par
M. MARIGNY. Paris : 4 vols. 12mo.
Few names upon the roll of kings have more associations in their favour, than that of the eccentric Caliph Harun Alrashid ; and fewer still, have owed their reputation to an humbler source. Notwithstanding the extent of his dominions, and the splendour of his court, his sagacious policy, his military prowess, and, above all, his munificent encouragement of learning and the arts, we doubt whether he would ever have attained the posthumous celebrity which he enjoys in Europe, had not accident, tradition, or caprice, created him the hero of the Thousand and One Nights. On the history and merits of this celebrated story
book, we have dwelt at length, in a former article; nor have we the least wish to obtrude any further disquisition, in relation to that subject, on the patience of the reader. We mean merely to avail ourselves of the associations which the previous discussion cannot fail to have suggested, as a pretext for passing, by a natural transition, from the enchanted ground of Oriental romance, into the adjacent fields of Oriental history. We are too well aware of the interest which mixed or historical romance imparts to the realities which serve as its foundation, not to seize with eagerness on every opportunity to press the one into the service of the other. We have recurred, therefore, to the Arabian Nights, not with any thought of continuing our observations on those captivating fictions, but merely for the purpose of enlisting the attention of our readers to the corresponding portion of authentic history. No one can read these tales without forming, as it were, an intimate acquaintance with the whimsical and violent, yet generous Alrashid; and we may add, without feeling some curiosity to view the same figure in the less glaring and illusive light of historic verity. In reviewing Dr. Scott's translation of the Thousand and One Nights, we had occasion to bestow a passing notice on this point. But as the design of that article forbade any minute attention to the subject, and as the subject itself is sufficiently interesting to deserve a separate discussion, we make no apology for once more bringing Alrashid into view. All that we have to say of the Thousand and One Nights at present, will be said in reference to him.
We have spoken of Alrashid as the hero of these tales. The expression is, of course, not to be understood too strictly. The Thousand and One Nights, if brought to the standard of our popular romance, will be found to have no hero. The characters who figure at the commencement and the close, are by no means the most interesting in the dramatis personæ. It is also true, that a large proportion, even of the stories in our popular translations, (which, as we have said before, contain but a small part of the whole,) have nothing ostensibly to do with Harun or the age in which he lived. The scene is laid, sometimes in Tartary, sometimes in China, and sometimes in regions altogether fabulous. All that we mean, then, is, that amidst this variety of heterogeneous dates, scenes, and characters, the reign of Alrashid, the city of Alrashid, and Alrashid himself, are decidedly most prominent. In the wildest tales, the author judiciously selects a distant spot, and lets the date alone; but when he comes home to real life, he almost always uses this incipient formula, “In the reign of the Caliph Harun Alrashid at Bagdad.” It is worthy of observation, too, that these last are almost the only cases, in which there is any apparent disposition to paint character and manners, any further than is necessarily involved in the
VOL. VII.-NO. 13.
process of the narrative. In these Bagdad stories, there is manifested a personal familiarity with topographical details and local customs, which would seem to indicate the Bagdad origin of these parts of the work at least; while the constant disposition to make Harun act a part in every bye-play, comic, farcical, or tragic, appears to justify the inference, that they were first conceived, if not first written, in that caliph's reign. On any
other supposition, it is hard to account for this exclusive preference of him and his times, to all that went before and followed after him. In particular qualities, many other monarchs of the house of Abbas far surpassed him. His own son, Almamun, was a better soldier and a wiser man; and more than one of his lineal descendants quite eclipsed him, by their romantic heroism and profuse munificence. To romancers of a distant age, these would have offered more attractions. But Harun was a favourite with his own dependants. The compound of strange qualities which formed his character, particularly the eccentric turn which led him into acts and situations more romantic than dignified, endeared him to the imaginative and vulgar of his capital. His adventures became the theme of conversation in their makâmât, or popular conversazioni, and, as a necessary consequence, of their traditionary tales. His name was handed down in the bazar and in the harem, as the name of the best of kings and the merriest of wags. The practical jokes which he perpetrated or witnessed in disguise, became heirlooms in every family, and at length, his title to the hero's place in every story, new or old, that had Bagdad for its scene, was established so completely by prescription, that none of his successors, by dint of merit, extravagance, or wickedness, could supplant or supersede him.
This may be thought a sufficient explanation of the prominence given to this caliph in the Thousand and One Nights ; but another reason yet remains, consistent with the supposition, that the tales themselves were of a later date; and it is to this that we wish more particularly to direct the attention of the reader. The truth is, that the accession of Alrashid to the throne of Bagdad, was a most important era in the annals of the Moslem empire; a point at which a change came over the aspect of affairs, and the current of events began to set in a new direction. During the century and a half which intervened between the flight of Mohammed and the birth of Harun, an essential change had been effected in the tenure by which the Moslem pontiffs held their office, in the principles upon which that office was administered, in the views entertained of public policy, religion, learning, and the arts. These mutations were, of course, not without their influence upon the manners of the people, and the relations which subsisted between the caliphat and foreign powers. The Arabs had, in fact, now reached the point, where the details of history and public biography begin to become interesting. The increase of wealth and knowledge had quickened the progress
of refinement on the one hand; while, on the other, the period had not yet come, when this mighty empire, at once weakened and corrupted, was to be dismembered by its want of principle, and prostrated by its want of strength. At this point, nothing seemed wanting but a prince wise enough to know the worth of learning, and both liberal and rich enough to patronise it, with sufficient popularity to sanction his proceedings-nothing else seemed wanting to open a new scene in this imposing drama. Such a prince was Harun, and such a scene was opened upon his accession. In his reign, a wise and liberal foreign policy was first introduced into the counsels of the caliphat. While his pacific envoys exchanged tokens of amity with those of Charlemagne, his armies carried a successful war into the heart of the empire of the East; and while his military missionaries preached the Koran from the Atlantic to the Indus, Christianity was wisely tolerated even at the palace gates in Bagdad.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the legends of the East should set forth Harun in such strong relief as a hero of romance; and without attempting further explanation of a circumstance so natural, we shall proceed to view the subject in another light. A history of the Eastern Caliphs, derived immediately from Oriental sources, and so constructed as to exhibit and illustrate the influence of the Mohammedan religion, upon political society and the condition of the world, is still a desideratum, though there is no unexecuted work for which the materials exist in more abundance. The philosophy of history is wholly unknown to Oriental writers. Their historians may be divided into two great classes. The first, of which Ibn Arabshah* is a very favourable and imposing specimen, are florid and verbose declaimers, who delight in lashing up the peaceful and majestic stream of historical truth, into an ocean of rhetorical foam and froth. The other, and we believe by far the more numerous, are laborious retailers of minutiæ, without the least pretensions to original reflection, or philosophy of any sort. It seems as if these indefatigable chroniclers could be satisfied with nothing short of a precise and scrupulous detail of all matters of fact, whatever their relative importance, which could possibly be scraped into connexion with their subject. Such microscopic fidelity to fact is, of course, incompatible with the higher qualities of historical composition. Accordingly, we find, in the works to which we have alluded, no attempts either at rhetorical embellishment, or philosophical disquisition. They present
• Author of the celebrated History of Timur.