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soon disdained the abstinence and frugality of the first caliphs, and aspired to emulate the magnificence of the Persian kings. After his wars and buildings, Almansor left behind him in gold and silver about thirty millions sterling ; 54 and this treasure was exhausted in a few years by the vices or virtues of his children. His son Mahadi, in a single pilgrimage to Mecca, expended six (Al-Mahdi) millions of dinars of gold. A pious and charitable motive may sanctify the foundation of cisterns and caravanseras, which he distributed along a measured road of seven hundred miles; but his train of camels, laden with snow, could serve only to astonish the natives of Arabia, and to refresh the fruits and liquors of the royal banquet. The courtiers would surely praise the liberality of his grandson Almamon, who gave away four-fifths of the income of a province, a sum of two millions four hundred thousand gold dinars, before he drew his foot from the stirrup. At the nuptials of the same prince, a thousand pearls of the largest size were showered on the head of the bride, 66 and a lottery of lands and houses displayed the capricious bounty of fortune. The glories of the court were brightened rather than impaired in the decline of the empire; and a Greek ambassador might admire or pity the magnificence of the feeble Moctader.
“ The (Al Mukta caliph's whole army," says the historian Abulfeda, "both horse and foot, was under arms, which together made a body of one hundred and sixty thousand men. His state-officers, the favourite slaves, stood near him in splendid apparel, their belts
round city of Al-Mansür had long ago been absorbed into the great capital, which murered ground measuring about five miles across in every direction, and the arcular walls must, at an early date, have been levelled. The four gates, how. ever, bad remained, and had given their names to the first suburbs which in time had been absorbed into the Western town and become one half of the great City of Pence." Le Strange, Journal As. Soc., cit. supra, pp. 288, 289-290.]
S* Reliquit in ærario sexcenties millies mille stateres, et quater et vicies millies mille aureos aureos. Elmacin, Hist. Saracen. p. 126. I have reckoned the gold pieces at eight shillings, and the proportion to the silver as twelve to one. Bat see Appendix 2.) But I will never answer for the numbers of Erpenius; and the Latins are scarcely above the savages in the language of arithmetic.
** D'Herbelot, p. 530. Abulfeda, p. 154. Nivem Meccam apportavit, rem ibi 401 aunquam aut rarissime visam.
** Abulfeda, p. 184, 189, describes the splendour and liberality of Almamon. Muitop has alluded to this Oriental custom :
-Or where the gorgeous East, with richest hand,
Showers on her kinge Barbaric pearls and gold. I have used the modern word lottery to express the Missilia of the Roman emperors, which entitled to some prize the person who caught them, as they were brown among the crowd.
glittering with gold and gems. Near them were seven thousand eunuchs, four thousand of them white, the remainder black. The porters or door-keepers were in number seven hundred. Barges and boats, with the most superb decorations, were seen swimming upon the Tigris. Nor was the palace itself less splendid, in which were hung up thirty-eight thousand pieces of tapestry, twelve thousand five hundred of which were of silk embroidered with gold. The carpets on the floor were twentytwo thousand. An hundred lions were brought out, with a keeper to each lion.57 Among the other spectacles of rare and stupendous luxury, was a tree of gold and silver spreading into eighteen large branches, on which, and on the lesser boughs, sat a variety of birds made of the same precious metals, as well as the leaves of the tree. While the machinery affected spontaneous motions, the several birds warbled their natural harmony. Through this scene of magnificence, the Greek ambassador was led by the visir to the foot of the caliph's throne.” 58 In the West, the Ommiades of Spain supported, with equal pomp, the title of commander of the faithful. Three miles from Cordova, in honour of his favourite sultana, the third and greatest of the Abdalrahmans constructed the city, palace and gardens of Zehra. Twenty-five years, and above three millions sterling, were employed by the founder : his liberal taste invited the artists of Constantinople, the most skilful sculptors and architects of the age; and the buildings were sustained or adorned by twelve hundred columns of Spanish and African, of Greek and Italian marble. The hall of audience was encrusted with gold and pearls, and a great bason in the centre was surrounded with the curious and costly figures of birds and quadrupeds. In a lofty pavillion of the gardens, one of these basons and fountains, so delightful in a sultry climate, was replenished not with water, but with the purest quicksilver. The seraglio of Abdalrahman, his wives, concubines, and black eunuchs, amounted to six thousand three hundred persons; and he was attended to the field by a guard of twelve thousand horse, whose belts and scymetars were studded with gold.59
37 When Bell of Antermony (Travels, vol. i. p. 99) accompanied the Russian ambassador to the audience of the unfortunate Shah Hussein of Persia, two lions were introduced, to denote the power of the king over the fiercest animals.
58 Abulfeda, p. 237 ; d'Herbelot, p. 590. This embassy was received at Bagdad A.H. 305, A.D. 917. In the passage of Abulfeda, I have used, with some variations, the English translation of the learned and amiable Mr. Harris of Salis. bury (Philological Enquiries, p. 363, 364).
In a private condition, our desires are perpetually repressed Its consoby poverty and subordination; but the lives and labours of private and millions are devoted to the service of a despotic prince, whose piness laws are blindly obeyed, and whose wishes are instantly gratified. Our imagination is dazzled by the splendid picture; and, whatever may be the cool dictates of reason, there are few among us who would obstinately refuse a trial of the comforts and the cares of royalty. It may therefore be of some use to borrow the experience of the same Abdalrahman, whose magnificence has perhaps excited our admiration and envy, and to transcribe an authentic memorial which was found in the closet of the deceased caliph. “I have now reigned about fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honours, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot: they amount to FOURTEEN :O man! place not thy confidence in this present world !”60 The luxury of the caliphs, so useless to their private happiness, relaxed the nerves, and terminated the progress, of the Arabian empire. Temporal and spiritual conquest had been the sole occupation of the first successors of Mahomet; and, after supplying themselves with the necessaries of life, the whole revenue was scrupulously devoted to that salutary work. The Abbas
" Cardonne, Histoire de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, tom. i. p. 330-336. A just idea of the taste and architecture of the Arabians of Spain may be conceived from the description and plates of the Alhambra of Grenada (Swinburne's Travels, p. 171-188). (Owen Jones, Plans, elevations, sections and details of the Alhambra, 2 vols., 1842-5. On Saracen architecture and art in general, see E. 8. Poole's Appendix to 5th ed. of Lane's Modern Egyptians, 1860. Architecture in Spain may be studied in the colossal Monumentos Architectonicos de España (in double elephant folio). For a brief account of Saracenic architecture in Spain, see Burke's History of Spain, vol. ii. p. 15 899.]
*** Cardonne, tom. i. p. 329, 330. This confession, the complaints of Solomon of the vanity of this world (read Prior's verbose but eloquent poem), and the happy ten days of the emperor Seghed (Rambler, No. 204, 205), will be triumphantly quoted by the detractors of human life. Their expectations are commonly im. moderate, their estimates are seldom impartial. If I may speak of myself (the only person of whom I can speak with certainty), my happy hours have far exceeded, and far exceed, the scanty numbers of the caliph of Spain; and I shall not scruple to add that many of them are due to the pleasing labour of the present composi,
Introduction of learning
A.D. 754, &c. 813. &c.
sides were impoverished by the multitude of their wants and their contempt of economy. Instead of pursuing the great object of ambition, their leisure, their affections, the powers of their mind, were diverted by pomp and pleasure; the rewards of valour were embezzled by women and eunuchs, and the royal camp was encumbered by the luxury of the palace. A similar temper was diffused among the subjects of the caliph. Their stern enthusiasm was softened by time and prosperity: they sought riches in the occupations of industry, fame in the pursuits of literature, and happiness in the tranquillity of domestic life. War was no longer the passion of the Saracens; and the increase of pay, the repetition of donatives, were insufficient to allure the posterity of those voluntary champions who had crowded to the standard of Abubeker and Omar for the hopes of spoil and of paradise.
Under the reign of the Ommiades, the studies of the Mos
lems were confined to the interpretation of the Koran, and the Arabians. eloquence and poetry of their native tongue. A people continu
ally exposed to the dangers of the field must esteem the healing powers of medicine or rather of surgery; but the starving physicians of Arabia murmured a complaint that exercise and temperance deprived them of the greatest part of their practice. 61 After their civil and domestic wars, the subjects of the Abbassides, awakening from this mental lethargy, found leisure and felt curiosity for the acquisition of profane science.
This spirit was first encouraged by the caliph Almansor, who, besides his knowledge of the Mahometan law, had applied himself with success to the study of astronomy. But, when the sceptre devolved to Almamon, the seventh of the Abbassides, he completed the designs of his grandfather, and invited the muses from their ancient seats.
ts. His ambassadors at Constantinople, his agents in Armenia, Syria, and Egypt, collected the volumes of Grecian science; at his command they were translated by the most skilful interpreters into the Arabic language ; his subjects were exhorted assiduously to peruse these instructive writings; and the successor of Mahomet assisted with pleasure and modesty
61 The Gulistan (p. 239) relates the conversation of Mahomet and a physician (Epistol. Renaudot. in Fabricius, Bibliot. Græc. tom. i. p. 814). The prophet himself was skilled in the art of medicine; and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 394-405) has given an extract of the aphorisms which are extant under his
at the assemblies and disputations of the learned.
“He was not ignorant,” says Abulpharagius, “that they are the elect of God, his best and most useful servants, whose lives are devoted to the improvement of their rational faculties. The mean ambition of the Chinese or the Turks may glory in the industry of their hands or the indulgence of their brutal appetites. Yet these dexterous artists must view, with hopeless emulation, the hexagons and pyramids of the cells of a bee-hive : 62 these fortitudinous heroes are awed by the superior fierceness of the lions and tigers; and in their amorous enjoyments they are much inferior to the vigour of the grossest and most sordid quadrupeds. The teachers of wisdom are the true luminaries and legislators of a world which, without their aid, would again sink in ignorance and barbarism.” 83 The zeal and curiosity of Almamon were imitated by succeeding princes of the line of Abbas; their rivals, the Fatimites of Africa and the Ommiades of Spain, were the patrons of the learned, as well as the commanders of the faithful; the 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 Bochara 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; & sufficient allowance was provided for the indigent scholars; and the merit or industry of the professors was repaid with adequate stipends. In every
See their curious architecture in Réaumur (Hist. des Insectes, tom. v. Mémoire viii.). These hexagons are closed by a pyramid; the angles of the three sides of a similar pyramid, such as would accomplish the given end with the smallest quantity possible of materials, were determined by a mathematician, at 109 degrees 26 minates for the larger, 70 degrees 34 minutes for the smaller. The actual measure ix 109 degrees 38 minutes, 70 degrees 32 minutes. Yet this perfect harmony raises the work at the expense of the artist : the bees are not masters of transcendent geometry. [An attempt has recently been made to show that there is no dis. erepency between the actual dimensions of the cells and the measures which would require the minimum of material.]
63 Said Ebn Ahmed, cadhi of Toledo, who died A.1. 462, A.D. 1069, has furnished Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 160) with this curious passage as well as with the text ot Pocock's Specimen Historiæ Arabum. A number of literary anecdotes of philosophers, physicians, &c., who have flourished under each caliph, form the principal merit of the Dynasties of Abulpharagius.