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manners; and in each community, the jurisdiction of the magistrate was mute and impotent. Of the time of ignorance, which preceded Mahomet, seventeen hundred battles are recorded by tradition: hostility was imbittered with the rancour of civil faction; and the recital, in prose or verse, of an obsolete feud, was sufficient to rekindle the same passions among the descendants of the hostile tribes. In private life, every man, at least every family, was the judge and avenger of its own cause. The nice sensibility of honour, which weighs the insult rather than the injury, sheds its deadly venom on the quarrels of the Arabs: the honour of their women, and of their beards, is most easily wounded; an indecent action, a contemptuous word, can be expiated only by the blood of the offender; and such is their patient inveteracy, that they expect whole months and years the opportunity of revenge. A fine or compensation for murder is familiar to the Barbarians of every age; but in Arabia the kinsmen of the dead are at liberty to accept the atonement, or to exercise with their own hands the law of retaliation. The refined malice of the Arabs refuses even the head of the murderer, substitutes an innocent for the guilty person, and transfers the penalty to the best and most considerable of the race by whom they have been injured. If he falls by their hands, they are exposed in their turn to the danger of reprisals: the interest and principal of the bloody debt are accumulated: the individuals of either family lead a life of malice and suspicion, and fifty years may sometimes elapse before the account of vengeance be finally settled. This sanguinary spirit, ignorant of pity or forgiveness, has been moderated, however, by the maxims of honour, which require in every private encounter some decent equality of age and strength, of numbers and weapons. An annual festival of two, perhaps of four, months, was observed by the Arabs before the time of Mahomet, during which their swords were religiously sheathed both in foreign and domestic hostility; and this partial truce is more strongly expressive of the habits of anarchy and warfare.

But the spirit of rapine and revenge was attempered by the milder influence of trade and literature. The solitary peninsula is

encompassed by the most civilized nations of the ancient world: the merchant is the friend of mankind; and the annual caravans imported the first seeds of knowledge and politeness into the cities, and even the camps, of the desert. Whatever may be the pedigree of the Arabs, their language is derived from the same original stock with the Hebrew, the Syriac, and the Chaldæan tongues: the independence of the tribes was marked by their peculiar dialects; but each, after their own, allowed a just preference to the pure and perspicuous idiom of Mecca. In Arabia, as well as in Greece, the perfection of language outstripped the refinement of manners; and her speech could diversify the fourscore names of honey, the two hundred of a serpent, the five hundred of a lion, the thousand of a sword, at a time when this copious dictionary was intrusted to the memory of an illiterate people. The monuments of the Homerites were inscribed with an obsolete and mysterious character; but the Cufic letters, the ground-work of the present alphabet, were invented on the banks of the Euphrates; and the recent invention was taught at Mecca by a stranger who settled in that city after the birth of Mahomet. The arts of grammar, of metre, and of rhetoric, were unknown to the freeborn eloquence of the Arabians; but their penetration was sharp, their fancy luxuriant, their wit strong and sententious, and their more elaborate compositions were addressed with energy and effect to the minds of their hearers. The genius and merit of a rising poet was celebrated by the applause of his own and the kindred tribes. A solemn banquet was prepared, and a chorus of women, striking their tymbals, and displaying the pomp of their nuptials, sung in the presence of their sons and husbands the felicity of their native tribe; that a champion had now appeared to vindicate their rights; that a herald had raised his voice to immortalize their renown. The distant or hostile tribes resorted to an annual fair, which was abolished by the fanaticism of the first Moslems; a national assembly that must have contributed to refine and harmonize the Barbarians. Thirty days were employed in the exchange, not only of corn and wine, but of eloquence and poetry. The prize was disputed by the generous emulation of the bards; the

victorious performance was deposited in the archives of princes and emirs; and we may read in our own language, the seven original poems which were inscribed in letters of gold, and suspended in the temple of Mecca. The Arabian poets were the historians and moralists of the age; and if they sympathized with the prejudices, they inspired and crowned the virtues, of their countrymen. The indissoluble union of generosity and valour was the darling theme of their song; and when they pointed their keenest satire against a despicable race, they affirmed, in the bitterness of reproach, that the men knew not how to give, nor the women to deny. The same hospitality, which was practised by Abraham, and celebrated by Homer, is still renewed in the camps of the Arabs. The ferocious Bedoweens, the terror of the desert, embrace, without inquiry or hesitation, the stranger who dares to confide in their honour and to enter their tent. His treatment is kind and respectful: he shares the wealth, or the poverty, of his host; and, after a needful repose, he is dismissed on his way, with thanks, with blessings, and perhaps with gifts. The heart and hand are more largely expanded by the wants of a brother or a friend; but the heroic acts that could deserve the public applause, must have surpassed the narrow measure of discretion and experience. A dispute had arisen, who, among the citizens of Mecca, was entitled to the prize of generosity; and a successive application was made to the three who were deemed most worthy of the trial. Abdallah, the son of Abbas, had undertaken a distant journey, and his foot was in the stirrup when he heard the voice of a suppliant. "O son of the uncle of the apostle of God, I am a traveller, and in distress!" He instantly dismounted to present the pilgrim with his camel, her rich caparison, and a purse of four thousand pieces of gold, excepting only the sword, either for its intrinsic value, or as the gift of an honoured kinsman. The servant of Kais informed the second suppliant that his master was asleep; but he immediately added, "Here is a purse of seven thousand pieces of gold (it is all we have in the house); and here is an order, that will entitle you to a camel and a slave :" the master as soon as he awoke, praised and enfranchised his faithful steward,

with a gentle reproof, that by respecting his slumbers he had stinted his bounty. The third of these heroes, the blind Arabah, at the hour of prayer was supporting his steps on the shoulders of two slaves. "Alas!" he replied, "my coffers are empty! but these you may sell: if you refuse, I renounce them." At these words, pushing away the youths, he groped along the wall with his staff. The character of Hatem is the perfect model of Arabian virtue: he was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet, and a successful robber: forty camels were roasted at his hospitable feast; and at the prayer of a suppliant enemy he restored both the captives and the spoil. The freedom of his countrymen disdained the laws of justice: they proudly indulged the spontaneous impulse of pity and benevolence.

EDMUND BURKE.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

AMONGST the orators and politicians of the eighteenth century, no one occupies a more distinguished place than Edmund Burke. He was born in Dublin in 1730, and was the son of a respectable and opulent solicitor. After having received the rudiments of education at the village school of Castletown-Roche, and at a private academy in the county of Kildare, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, at the age of fifteen. His university career was creditable, but not brilliant; and he did not, during his academical course, exhibit any great promise of those commanding powers of mind which afterwards shone forth so conspicuously in him.

In 1750 he came to London, and began to keep his terms at the Middle Temple. He was an ardent and diligent student; but his attention was not given exclusively, or even chiefly, to law. He was, indeed, gradually acquiring that vast and varied store of knowledge of which he afterwards made such splendid use in his writings and orations. He never became a profound lawyer, and he very soon abandoned the vocation altogether, and applied himself to literature and study, as a preparation for political life. In 1756 he published his first work, entitled, A Vindication of Natural Society; written in imitation of the style and reasoning of Lord Bolingbroke. In the same year he also gave to the world bis famous essay on The Sublime and Beautiful. Very soon after this he married. About this time also he made the acquaintance of Dr. Johnson, Soame Jenyns, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and other eminent men. In conjunction with Reynolds he established the Literary Club, which numbered amongst its members most of those at that time eminent in literature.

At length the day arrived when Burke was to enter into that great arena for which he had long been training himself. His political career commenced under the auspices of the Marquis of Rockingham, to whom he was appointed private secretary. Through the interest of Lord Verney, he took his seat in Parliament for the borough of Wendover. He entered the House of Commons at a critical

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