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tendencies of his religion. “My investigations,” he writes, “ have resulted in the conviction that Islamism sprang, not froin the will of man, but from the necessities of the time." A long residence in India, and a patient study of the sources of Arabic literature, a singular familiarity with the character of the Eastern mind, — with its mysticism and vagueness, with its spiritual cravings and its underlying pantheism, — together with a certain freedom from prejudice and a critical yet philosophic temper, cannot fail to give authority to his opinions, while they assure the accuracy of his facts. But a more clumsy book than his “Life and Doctrine of Mohammed ” * was, doubtless, never put together. Ambitious at once to attract the general reader, and to satisfy the Oriental scholar, the author has added to the chapters of the general narrative vast appendices of abstruse, and, as he confesses, often irrevelant matter, — in the hope thus better to reproduce the age of which he treats, thus to construct, as it were, a background for the picture which he aspires to paint. A difficult plan, — of which we have only to say, that the author breaks down wholly in the execution. Yet he may rightly claim the merit of having, in a degree, enlarged our knowledge of the age of Mohammed and of the origin of Mohammedanism, if not the greater honor of breaking the ground for a fresher and fuller study, for a juster and more philosophical contemplation, of the religion and literature, of the manners and morals and mode of thought, of the Arab races and the Eastern world.
“ Islâm is the verb, and Moslim the participle, from the same root from which is derived the well-known word Salâm, health, peace. Islâm means, therefore, to render one content, and that through submission.” The key-note of Mohammedanism is, indeed, subjection — to one creed and one ritual. A dogmatic, proselytizing religion, - confounding forms with faith, relentless and cruel in its assertion, corrupt and barbarous in its exercise of power, — Islamism went hand in hand with Oriental Christianity in extinguishing the last remains of the more genial philosophy of paganism, and in delivering the world over to a ihraldom of superstition which still threatens its progress and still darkens its life. “At its first appearance by no means a dry, philosophical system,” says Sprenger, “ not even a seeking after truth, but a religion of ceremonies, of ascetic practices and superstition," Islamism has preserved the character, and illustrated the influence, of a stern, unyielding faith, which, in commanding homage, will not permit inquiry,
- the same to all lands and all generations, out of the reach of change, nothing if not divine. The moment it ceased to spread, it began to perish. The fire which it kindled in the soul for aggressive activity, for swift and terrible conquest, consumed itself in the wasting apathy of peace. A civilization developed only by war or by material progress turns to barbarism when the outlets of its mental life are choked by the rubbish of worn-out creeds, or barred by the power of an arro
* Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad nach bisher grösstentheils unbenutzten Quellen bearbeitet von A. SPRENGER. Erster Band. Berlin : Nicolais’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung. (G. Parthey.) 1861.
gant faith. Thus it is with Islamism to-day. Decrepit, toitering, doomed, it writes its own story of decay, while it reads to us a weighty lesson on the impotence of dogmas to preserve a religion, and the inevitable tendency of fanaticism to destroy a nation.
In its intensity and its corruption, in its ceremonial and its superstition, Mohammedanism exhibits at once the impassioned character and the degrading arts of its founder. Yet to deny that Mohammed was a prophet is not to prove him an impostor. Without question, there were in him the elements of a strange power, the tokens of a mysterious influence; for thus to sway the faith of men, to lead captive the souls of nations, is evidence of a mightier genius than the conquest of states or the founding of empires. To affirm that he was an impostor ensnared by his own devices, will account for his marvellous success as little as it will accord with his peculiar mission. Less than a prophet and more than an impostor, he was a man of soaring ambition, of vast capacity, and of terrible will. The religious element in his character - nurtured by all the subtile influences which pervade a nation's life when it first awakes to the consciousness of a new career, and is struggling with a sense of a loftier destiny, and developed by the cravings and the necessities of the time, which he alone could foresee and fathom — assumed at last the mastery of his life, and swept him on in his daring career, the incarnation, as it were, of the spirit of his age, the instrument of its superstition, and the victim of its delusion.
The peculiar hallucination under which Mohammed labored bas • been made by Sprenger the subject of an exhaustive and not unsatisfactory inquiry. He finds it to have been a psychological disease, aggravated or accompanied or caused by physical disorder, exhibiting itself in visions and convulsions, in feverish transports and vague utterances. “ Glowing enthusiasm allied with vulgar cunning, pure devotion to a higher aim united with grovelling selfishness, obsequiousness, even dependence upon others, accompanied with obstinacy and craft, acquiescence with treachery, — such are some of the contradictory psychical symptoms of the disease under which Mobammed labored." It is a disease known by various names, not infrequent with women, but more rarely found among men. Schönlein calls it hysteria muscularis. It manifests itself for the most part in paroxysms, with a contraction and expansion of the muscles when the attack is slight, - the lips and tongue trembling as if wanting to taste something, the eyes rolling, and the head moving automatically, the convulsion being in some cases subject to the will, but in severer attacks wholly independent of it. Mohammed suffered also, it is affirmed, from pains in the head (husteria cephalica), — followed by catalepsy when the paroxysm was violent, — falling upon the ground like one intoxicated, his face red, his breath drawn with difficulty, snorting like a camel.” But he does not appear in these cases to have lost his consciousness; and in that respect these attacks differed from epilepsy. It was directly after these “ visitations of the angel,” it is to be remembered, that he delivered always to those who stood about him one of his revelations from
Heaven. It is thus, also, that his irresistible tendency to sensuality in his later life — symptom and proof of his psychical disease - is reconciled with the fact of his earlier virtue.
To pass, in this state of trance, from the seeing of visions to the uttering of prophecies, is a natural and easy process. Yet it is not pretended, even by Sprenger, that Mohammed was not at first aware of the utter falsehood of the communications which he delivered as divine. Driven on by the secret impulses of the age; overcome with the grandeur of the mission to which he was appointed; mistaking the passions with which he was inflamed for the inspiration he craved ; reckless, daring, subtle, — he preserved, in the midst of his delusions, in all the confusion of his teeming fancies, in all the disorder of his wild ambition, that steadiness of purpose, that marvellous wisdom, that just conception of the tendency of the age and of the wants of his nation, and that absorbing identification of his mind with its mind, of his will with its will, - that profound understanding of the influences which controlled it, of the passions which deformed and the virtues which ennobled it, — which would have made him one of the greatest of sovereigns, if he had not succeeded in becoming one of the greatest of reformers. As he grew to manhood and came forward into life, six centuries had elapsed since the birth of Christ; and during that period Christianity had failed to escape many of the corruptions of the paganism it assailed. Its simple doctrines were perverted, its spirit almost destroyed, by the dreary refinements or the baser superstitions to which it was subjected or exposed. In Arabia it had made but insignificant progress, already encumbered as it was with theological machinery too obscure for the easy comprehension or the satisfactory solace of those fiery sons of the desert, who, in the midst of their idolatries, had never wholly lost sight of the Jewish conception of One God. Christianity had to plant itself in the hearts of the nations it subdued. Mohammedanism was already existing. It was but roused by Mohammed to a newer life, — quickened by a fresher impulse. The fire, once kindled, spread rapidly and far. The heart of the East throbbed fast. Fired by the visions of the future which opened upon their fevered eyes, the armies of the Prophet swept over Western Europe, till, struck down in their drunken career by Charles Martel, they reeled away forever. It is thus, in the previous history of Arabia, in the religious condition of its people, that the chief explanation of Mohammed's success is to be found. Other men may have been as great, but the sphere was wanting for the exhibition of their power. Revolutions which are to have a significance in the history of the world, which mark phases of progress and constitute epochs of change, never fail to develop remarkable characters, — to perplex us again with the mystery of genius. But without this worldwide meaning, a revolution is but a whirlwind or a disease, and dies away from the memory of man as swiftly as it came. Thus in all this long history of the East, among these ancient races, through these countless ages, there is but one name to attract, one career to instruct us, - the life of Mohammed and the doctrines of Islam.
GEOGRAPHY AND TRAVELS.
The Canadian government commissioned Professor Ilind to examine the country between Lake Superior and Selkirk settlement, to establish a route across our continent wholly within the British dominions; especially, to investigate the resources of the valleys of the Red River and the Saskatchewan. The work fell into the right hands.* The learned Professor seems to have enjoyed his experiences of frontier life, to have let no opportunity of knowledge escape him, and to have satisfied his own mind of the feasibility of regular communication between the Atlantic and Pacific without passing through any part of the United States. He gives the impression of an immense and unoccupied region in the Northwest, with a soil generally productive, fields yielding without manure fifty bushels of wheat to the acre, streams readily traversed by the laden canoe, and prairies offering no unusual obstacles to the passage of heavy wagons or the transmission of a regular mail. The Indians seem generally friendly ; the climate healthful; the hardships no more than belong to all pioneers ; the scenery very various, and sometimes very beautiful. But when the winter thermometer sinks forty degrees below zero, the aspect of things must change entirely, and the prospect of reclaiming this vast wilderness must seem hopeless indeed. Evidently, the game is rapidly decreasing, and, with the disappearance of his main stay, the Indian will disappear too ; without whose guidance and help these immense rivers and trackless prairies would be impassable. Besides this, the demands of commerce appear to have settled the matter, and taken advantage of the Mississippi River for the transaction of the immense business of the Hudson's Bay Company, now employing 100,000 Indian hunters, and extending its sway across 4,500,000 square miles of territory. On the 1st of June, 1860, a weekly express began to run from St. Paul, the head of river navigation on the Mississippi, to Fort Garry on the Red River; and its enterprising conductors engage to transport goods from England in bond, and deliver them at this remote trading-post, occupying but nine days in the passage from river to river. This easy, regular, and rapid communication is to Professor Hind's route like a summer picnic to a voyage round the world.
Professor Hind's narrative is, of course, full of scientific details : he would have failed entirely of his purpose had he endeavored to make merely a pleasant book of adventures ; but the second volume espe. cially has attractive views of Indian life, and the whole is superbly illustrated and enriched with maps and indexes so as to be a work of standard value, unsurpassed in its kind. One peculiarity of the Professor's views is his faith in the reclamation of the Indians through wise missionary effort. He holds it to be established that compact reservations, surrounded by whites favor Indian civilization, and even secure their increase. He depends chiefly on the school-house for success. He would give every head of a family a fixed portion of land ; would keep them away from the stations of fur-traders ; would banish intoxicating liquors, and gradually extinguish the organization of tribes. These safeguards, under the quickening influence of an intelligent, devoted missionary, would, he thinks, save the Indians from disappearing entirely, and even recruit their numbers, and enable them to take a place with the civilized race upon the soil once exclusively their own.
* Narrative of the Canadian Red River Exploring Expeditions of 1857 and 1858. By llenry Y. HIND, Professor in Toronto College. 2 vols. London : Longmans. 1860.
WHATEVER else may be said of the American Diary of Mr. William H. Russell,* no one can deny that it is a very interesting book. Its conclusions will not be palatable to many on this side of the ocean ; nor will all its criticisms to fair-minded men seem perfectly just. But, on the whole, the reasonable verdict of candid readers will be, that it is in most particulars a truthful book. Perhaps the open mention of so many names is not in the best taste; and it is hardly a fit return for hospitalities to show so widely the faults and eccentricities of distinguished men. There is nothing in the book, however, to show that, in all the large gallery of portraits which this book contains, the author has intended to draw any one with exaggerated traits, or to gratify his spite by making an enemy ridiculous. He may be accused of ingratitude and of impudence in these minute personal sketches, but he cannot be justly accused of partiality.
A great merit of this book, in our judgment, is its bluff English honesty and manliness. Its author is not afraid to say just what he thinks, whether it offend or not. In fact, he only says openly what most of us say in private, only chastises in vigorous rhetoric what we confess as our shame and almost as our despair. The American convulsion is no proof of the unsoundness or the failure of democratic institutions, even of our particular form of federal union; yet we can hardly blame an Englishman, in the view of the events of the last two years, for coming to such a conclusion. It is to be regretted that the ablest writer who has described this country to Englishmen in these last years should have failed to visit “the swarming communities and happy homes of the New England States.” Such a visit might have mitigated the severity of his judgment concerning the land.
In one respect, the impression of Mr. Russell's book is very positive, and to us very satisfactory. Its descriptions of Southern landscape, Southern manners, Southern life, and Southern men completely sustain all that Mr. Olmsted, Mr. Kirke, or Mrs. Stowe have written. No kindness of reception, no show of the comforts of plantation life, no logic of aristocracy, no conviction of the greater fitness of negro labor for the culture of sugar, rice, and cotton, could prevail to warp the moral sense of one who saw in slavery, even in its best form, only a solecism, a wrong, and a lie. If the North get little comfort from the prophecies of this book, the South get no support whatever; it is a damaging blow to its cause, and must turn aside from it the sympathies of thousands which it had almost secured.
* My Diary, North and South. By William Howard Russell. Boston: T. 0. H. P. Burnbam. 1863. 12mo. pp. 602.