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city the productions of Arabic literature were copied and collected by the curiosity of the studious and the vanity of the rich. A private doctor refused the invitation of the sultan of Bochara, because the carriage of his books would have required four hundred camels. The royal library of the Fatimites consisted of one hundred thousand manuscripts, elegantly transcribed and splendidly bound, which were lent, with jealousy or avarice, to the students of Cairo. Yet this collection must appear moderate, if we can believe that the Ommiades of Spain had formed a library of six hundred thousand volumes, fortyfour of which were employed in the mere catalogue. Their capital, Cordova, with the adjacent towns of Malaga, Almeria, and Murcia, had given birth to more than three hundred writers, and above seventy public libraries were opened in the cities of the Andalusian kingdom. The age of Arabian learning continued about five hundred years, till the great irruption of the Moguls, and was coeval with the darkest and most slothful period of European annals; but, since the sun of science has arisen in the West, it should seem that the Oriental studies

have languished and declined. 64 Their real In the libraries of the Arabians, as in those of Europe, the the scien" far greater part of the innumerable volumes were possessed

only of local value or imaginary merit.85 The shelves were crowded with orators and poets, whose style was adapted to the taste and manners of their countrymen; with general and partial histories, which each revolving generation supplied with a new harvest of persons and events; with codes and commentaries of jurisprudence, which derived their authority from the law of the prophet; with the interpreters of the Koran and orthodox tradition; and with the whole theological tribe, polemics, mystics, scholastics, and moralists, the first or the last of writers, according to the different estimate of sceptics or believers. The works of speculation or science may be reduced to the four



84 These literary anecdotes are borrowed from the Bibliotheca Arabico-Hispa na (tom. ii. p. 38, 71, 201, 202), Leo Africanus (de Arab. Medicis et Philosophis, in Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. xiii. p. 259-298, particularly p. 274), and Renaudot (Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 274, 275, 536, 537), besides the chronological remarks of Abulpharagius.

65 The Arabic catalogue of the Escurial will give a just idea of the proportion of the classes. In the library of Cairo, the Mss. of astronomy and medicine amounted to 6500, with two fair globes, the one of brass, the other of silver (Bibliot. Arab. Hisp. tom i. p. 417).

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classes of philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and physic. The sages of Greece were translated and illustrated in the Arabic language, and some treatises, pow lost in the original, have been recovered in the versions of the East, which possessed and studied the writings of Aristotle and Plato, of Euclid and Apollonius, of Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen.7 Among the ideal systems, which have varied with the fashion of the times, the Arabians adopted the philosophy of the Stagirite, alike intelligible or alike obscure for the readers of every age. Plato wrote for the Athenians, and his allegorical genius is too closely blended with the language and religion of Greece. After the fall of that religion, the Peripatetics, emerging from their obscurity, prevailed in the controversies of the Oriental sects, and their founder was long afterwards restored by the Mahometans of Spain to the Latin schools.68 The physics both of the Academy and the Lyceum, as they are built, not on observation, but on argument, have retarded the progress of real knowledge. The metaphysics of infinite or finite spirit have too often been enlisted in the service of superstition. But the human faculties are fortified by the art and practice of dialectics; the ten predicaments of Aristotle collect and methodize our ideas, and his


** As, for instance, the fifth, sixth, and seventh books (the eighth is still wanting) of the Conic Sections of Apollonius Pergæus [flor. circa, 200 B.C.], which were printed from the Florence Ms. 1661 (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. ii. p. 559). Yet the fifth book had been previously restored by the mathematical divination of Viviani (see his Eloge in Fontenelle, tom. v. p. 59, &c.). [The first 4 books of the kwik Otoixeia are preserved in Greek. Editions by Halley, 1710; Heiberg, 1888.)

& The merit of these Arabic versions is freely discussed by Renaudot (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. i. p. 812-816), and piously defended by Casiri (Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 238-240). Most of the versions of Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Galen, &o., are ascribed to Honain [Ibn Ishak, a native of Hira), a physician of tbe Neatorian sect, who flourished at Bagdad in the court of the caliphs, and died A.D. 876 (874). He was at the head of a school or manufacture of translations, and the works of his sons and disciples were published under his name. See Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 88, 115, 171-174, and apud Asseman. Bibliot. Orient. tom. ii

. p. 438), d'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 456), Asseman (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iii. p. 164), and Casiri, Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 288, &c., 251, 286290, 302, 304, &c. [See also Wenrich, de auctorum Græcorum versionibus et commeoteriis Syriacis, 1842; J. Lippert, Studien auf dem Gebiete der griechisch. anbischen Uebersetzungs-Litteratur, pt. 1, 1894 ; Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, i. 201 899. On Arabic versions from Latin, see Wüstenfeld, Die Lebersetzungen arabischer Werke in das Lateinische seit dem xi. Jahrh., in Abh. d. k. Ges. d. Wiss. zu Göttingen, vol. 22, 1877.]

** See Mosheim, Institut. Hist. Eccles. p. 181, 214, 236, 257, 315, 338, 396, 438, &c.

** The most elegant commentary on the Categories or Predicaments of Aristotle may be found in the Philosophical Arrangements of Mr. James Harris (London,


syllogism is the keenest weapon of dispute. It was dexterously wielded in the schools of the Saracens, but, as it is more effectual for the detection of error than for the investigation of truth, it is not surprising that new generations of masters and disciples should still revolve in the same circle of logical argument. The mathematics are distinguished by a peculiar privilege that, in the course of ages, they may always advance and can never recede. But the ancient geometry, if I am not misinformed, was resumed in the same state by the Italians of the fifteenth century; and, whatever may be the origin of the name, the science of algebra is ascribed to the Grecian Diophantus by the modest testimony of the Arabs themselves. They cultivated with more success the sublime science of astronomy, which elevates the mind of man to disdain his diminutive planet and momentary existence. The costly instruments of observation were supplied by the caliph Almamon, and the land of the Chaldeans still afforded the same spacious level, the same unclouded horizon. In the plains of Sinaar, and a second time in those of Cufa, his mathematicians accurately measured a degree of the great circle of the earth, and determined at twenty-four thousand miles the entire circumference of our globe. From the reign of the Abbassides to that of the grandchildren of Tamerlane, the stars, without the aid of glasses, were diligently observed; and the astronomical tables of Bagdad, Spain, and Samarcand,72 correct some minute errors, without daring to 1775, in octavo), who laboured to revive the studies of Grecian literature and philosophy.

70 Abulpharagius, Dynast. p. 81, 222. Bibliot. Arab. Hist. tom. i. p. 370, 371. In quem (says the primate of the Jacobites) si immiserit se lector, oceanum hoc in genere (algebrae) inveniet. The time of Diophantus of Alexandria is on. known (probably 4th century A.D.), but his six books are still extant, and have been illustrated by the Greek Planudes and the Frenchman Meziriac (Fabric. Bibliot. Græc. tom. iv. p. 12-15). [His work entitled 'Api@untiká originally consisted of 13 books; only 6 are extant. Meziriac's ed. appeared in 1621, and Fermat's text in 1670; but these have been superseded by P. Tannery's recent edition.]

71 Abulfeda (Annal. Moslem. p. 210, 211, vers. Reiske) describes this operation according to Ibn Challecan and the best historians. This degree most accurately contains 200,000 royal or Hashemite cubits, which Arabia had derived from the sacred and legal practice both of Palestine and Egypt. This ancient cubit is re. peated 400 times in each basis of the great pyramid, and seems to indicate the primitive and universal measures of the East. See the Métrologie of the laborious M. Paucton, p. 101-195. (See Al-Masūdi, Prairies d'or, i. 182-3; and cp. Sedillot, Hist. Générale des Arabes, ii. Appendice 256-7. There seems to be no mention of the degree in Tabari. There is a mistake in Gibbon's reference to Abulfeda, which the editor is unable to correct.]

72 See the Astronomical Tables of Ulegh Begh, with the preface of Dr. Hyde in the first volume of his Syntagma Dissertationum, Oxon., 1767.



renounce the hypothesis of Ptolemy, without advancing a step towards the discovery of the solar system. In the eastern courts, the truths of science could be recommended only by ignorance and folly, and the astronomer would have been disregarded, had he not abased his wisdom or honesty by the vain predictions of astrology.73 But in the science of medicine, the Arabians have been deservedly applauded.74 The names of Mesua and Geber, of Razis and Avicenna, are ranked with the Grecian masters; in the city of Bagdad, eight hundred and sixty physicians were licensed to exercise their lucrative profession; 75 in Spain, the life of the Catholic princes was entrusted to the skill of the Saracens,78 and the school of Salerno, their legitimate offspring, revived in Italy and Europe the precepts of the healing art.7 The success of each professor must have been influenced by personal and accidental causes; but we may form a less fanciful estimate of their general knowledge of anatomy,78 botany, and chemistry, so the threefold basis of their theory and practice. A superstitious reverence for the dead confined both the Greeks and the Arabians to the dissection of apes and quadrupeds; the more solid and visible parts were known in the time

7* The truth of astrology was allowed by Albumazar, and the best of the Arabian astronomers, who drow their most certain predictions, not from Venus and Mercury, but from Jupiter and the sun (Abulpharag. Dynast. p. 161-163). For the state and science of the Persian astronomers, see Chardin (Voyages en Perse, tom. tii. p. 162-203).

7*(Wüstenfeld, Geschichte der arabischen Aerzte.]

7s Bibliot. Ara bico-Hispana, tom. I. p. 438. The original relates a pleasant tale, of an ignorant but harmless practitioner.

76 In the year 956, Sancho the fat, king of Leon, was cured by the physicians of Cordo78 (Mariana, 1. viii. c. 7, tom. i. p. 318).

77 The school of Salerno, and the introduction of the Arabian sciences into Italy, are discussed with learning and judgment by Muratori (Antiquitat. Italiæ Helii Evi, tom. iii. p. 932-940) and Giannone (Istoria Civile de Napoli, tom. ii. p. 119-127). The school of Salerno was not under the influence of Arabic medicine. See below, p. 197.]

* See a good view of the progress of anatomy in Wotton (Reflections on ancient sad modern Learning, p. 208-256). His reputation bas been unworthily depreci. sted by the wits in the controversy of Boyle and Bentley.

** Bibliot. Arab. Hispana, tom. i. p. 275. Al Beithar (Abd Allāh al-Baitar] of Malaza, their greatest botanist, had travelled into Africa, Persia, and India.

$ Dr. Watson (Elements of Chemistry, vol. i. p. 17, &c.) allows the original merit of the Arabians. Yet he quotes the modest confession of the famous Geber of the ninth century (d'Herbelot, p. 387), that he had drawn most of his science, perhaps of the transmutation of metals, from the ancient sages. Whatever might be the origin or extent of their knowledge, the arts of chemistry and alchymy appeared to have been known in Egypt at least three hundred years before Mahomet Woitoa's Reflections, p. 121.133. Pauw, Recherches sur les Egyptiens et les Chinois, tom. i. p. 376-429). [The names alcali, alcobol, alembic, alchymy, &c., sboxe the influence of the Arabians on the study of chemistry in the West. I

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of Galen, and the finer scrutiny of the human frame was reserved for the microscope and the injections of modern artists. Botany is an active science, and the discoveries of the torrid zone might enrich the herbal of Dioscorides with two thousand plants. Some traditionary knowledge might be secreted in the temples and monasteries of Egypt; much useful experience had been acquired in the practice of arts and manufactures; but the science of chemistry owes its origin and improvement to the industry of the Saracens. They first invented and named the alembic for the purpose of distillation, analysed the substances of the three kingdoms of nature, tried the distinction and affinities of alcalis and acids, and converted the poisonous minerals into soft and salutary medicines. But the most eager search of Arabian chemistry was the transmutation of metals and the elixir of immortal health; the reason and the fortunes of thousands were evaporated in the crucibles of alchymy, and the consummation of the great work was promoted by the worthy aid of mystery, fable, and superstition.

But the Moslems deprived themselves of the principal benefits taste, and of a familiar intercourse with Greece and Rome, the knowledge

of antiquity, the purity of taste, and the freedom of thought. Confident in the riches of their native tongue, the Arabians disdained the study of any foreign idiom. The Greek interpreters were chosen among their Christian subjects; they formed their translations, sometimes on the original text, more frequently perhaps on a Syriac version; and in the crowd of astronomers and physicians there is no example of a poet, an orator, or even an historian being taught to speak the language of the Saracens.si The mythology of Homer would have provoked the abhorrence of those stern fanatics; they possessed in lazy ignorance the colonies of the Macedonians, and the provinces of Carthage and Rome: the heroes of Plutarch and Livy were buried in oblivion; and the history of the world before Mahomet was reduced to a short legend of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the Persian kings. Our education in the Greek and Latin schools may have fixed in our minds a standard of exclusive taste; and I am not

Want of erudition,


81 Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 26, 148) mentions a Syriac version of Homer's two poems, by Theophilus, a Christian Maronite of Mount Libanus, who professed astronomy at Roba or Edessa towards the end of the eighth century. His work would be a literary cariosity. I have read somewhere, but I do not believe, that Plutarch's Lives were translated into Turkish for the use of Mahomet the Second.

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