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APPEARANCE AND CHARACTER OF MOHAMMED.
GIBBoN’s “DECLINE AND FALL of THE Roman EMPIRE.”
The career and the character of Mohammed are among the phenomena of history. So singular a blending of enthusiasm and fanaticism has rarely been exhibited in the character of a single individual. There are some points of resemblance, strange as the comparison may seem, between Mohammed and Joan of Arc. Mohammed's conquests were wonderfully rapid, and included an immense area. Large parts of Asia are subject to the Mohammedan faith, and even in Europe the Turks still preserve their empire and their creed.
According to the tradition of his companions, Mo-1 hammed was distinguished by the beauty of his person— an outward gift which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused. Before he spoke, the orator engaged on his side the affections of a public or private audience. They applauded his commanding presence, his majestic aspect, his piercing eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his countenance that painted every sensation of the soul, and his gestures that enforced each expression of the tongue. In the familiar offices of life he scrupulously adhered to the grave and ceremonious politeness of his country: his respectful attention to the rich and powerful was dignified by his condescension and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca; the frankness of his manner concealed the artifice of his views, and the habits of courtesy were imputed to personal friendship or universai benevolence. His memory was capacious? and retentive, his wit easy and social, his imagination sublime, his judgment clear, rapid, and decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action ; and, although his designs might gradually expand with his success, the first idea which he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of an original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was educated in the bosom of the noblest race, in the use of the purest dialect of Arabia; and the fluency of his speech was corrected and enhanced by the practice of discreet and seasonable silence. With these powers of eloquence, Mohammed was an illiterate barbarian; his youth had never been instructed in the arts of reading and writing; the common ignorance exempted him from shame or reproach, but he was reduced to a narrow circle of existence, and deprived of those faithful mirrors which reflect to our mind 8 the minds of sages and heroes. Yet the book of nature and of man was open to his view, and some fancy has been indulged in the political and philosophical observations which are ascribed to the Arabian traveler. He compares the nations and religions of the earth; discovers the weakness of the Persian and Roman monarchies; beholds with pity and indignation the degeneracy of the times, and resolves to unite, under one God and one king, the invincible spirit and primitive virtues of the Arabs. Our more accurate inquiry will suggest that, instead of visiting the courts, the camps, the temples of the East, the two journeys of Mohammed into Syria were confined to the fairs of Bostra and Damascus; that he was only thirteen years of age when he accompanied the caravan of his uncle, and that his duty compelled him to return as soon as he had disposed of the merchandise of Cadi4jah. In these hasty and superficial excursions, the eye of genius might discern some objects invisible to his grosser companions; some seeds of knowledge might be cast upon a fruitful soil, but his ignorance of the Syriac language must have checked his curiosity, and I can not perceive in the life or writings of Mohammed that his prospect was far extended beyond the limits of the Arabian world. From every region of that solitary world the pilgrims of Mecca were annually assembled, by the calls of devotion and commerce: in the free concourse of multitudes, a simple citizen, in his native tongue, might study the political state and character of the tribes, the theory and practice of the Jews and Christians. Some useful strangers might be tempted or forced to implore the rites of hospitality; and the enemies of Mohammed have named the Jew, the Persian, and the Syrian monk, whom they accuse of lending their secret aid to the composition of the Koran. Conversation enriches the understanding, but solitude is the school of genius; and the uniformity of a work denotes the hand of a single artist. From his earliest youth Mohammed was 5 addicted to religious contemplation: each year, during the month of Ramadan, he withdrew from the world and from the arms of Cadijah; in the cave of Hera, three miles from Mecca, he consulted the spirit of fraud or enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens but in the mind of the prophet. The faith which, under the name of Islam, he preached to his family and nation, is compounded of an eternal truth and a necessary fiction—that there is only one God, and that Mohammed is the apostle of God.
CONQUEST OF JERUSALEM BY THE CRUSADERS, io99 A. D.
GIBBon's “DECLINE AND FALL of THE ROMAN EMPIRE.”
The Crusades were undertaken by the nations of Europe, for the purpose of getting possession of Jerusalem, the sacred city, and affording Christian pilgrims access to the places consecrated by the life and sufferings of our Lord. Hundreds of thousands of lives
were lost in the Crusades, and although Jerusalem was captured from the Saracens, the followers of Mohammed, it was not permanently held by the Christians. The Crusades, though failing to accomplish their principal object, exerted a decided influence in rousing the European intellect. They brought Europe into contact with the Eastern world, and produced an effect similar to that produced by foreign travel on the minds of those who have never been beyond the range of their own neighborhood. The student should consult Michaud's “History of the Crusades,” Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” Guizot's “History of Civilization.”
1 JERUSALEM has derived some reputation from the number and importance of her memorable sieges. It was not till after a long and obstinate contest that Babylon and Rome could prevail against the obstinacy of the people, the craggy ground that might supersede the necessity of fortifications, and the walls and towers that would have fortified the most accessible plain. These obstacles were diminished in the age of the crusades. The bulwarks had been completely destroyed and imperfectly restored; the Jews, their nation and worship, were for ever banished; but nature is less changeable than man, and the site of Jerusalem, though somewhat softened and somewhat removed, was still strong against the assaults of an 2 enemy. By the experience of a recent siege, and a three years' possession, the Saracens of Egypt had been taught to discern, and in some degree to remedy, the defects of a place which religion as well as honor forbade them to resign. Aladin of Iftikhar, the caliph's lieutenant, was intrusted with the defense; his policy strove to restrain the native Christians by the dread of their own ruin and that of the holy sepulcher; to animate the Moslems by the assurance of temporal and eternal rewards. His garrison is said to have consisted of forty thousand Turks and Arabians; and if he could muster twenty thousand of the inhabitants, it must be confessed that the besieged were more numerous than the besieging army. Had the di-3 minished strength and numbers of the Latins allowed them to grasp the whole circumference of four thousand yards—about two English miles and a half—to what useful purpose should they have descended into the valley of Ben Himmon and torrent of Cedron, or approached the precipices of the south and east, from whence they had nothing either to hope or fear? Their siege was more reasonably directed against the northern and western sides of the city. Godfrey of Bouillon erected his standard on the first swell of Mount Calvary; to the left, as far as St. Stephen's gate, the line of attack was continued by Tancred and the two Roberts; and Count Raymond established his quarters from the citadel to the foot of Mount Sion, which was no longer included within the precincts of the city. On the fifth day, the crusaders 4 made a general assault, in the fanatic hope of battering down the walls without engines, and of scaling them without ladders. By the dint of brutal force, they burst the first barrier, but they were driven back with shame and slaughter to the camp; the influence of vision and prophecy was deadened by the too frequent abuse of those pious stratagems, and time and labor were found to be the only means of victory. The time of the siege was indeed fulfilled in forty days, but they were forty days of calamity and anguish. A repetition of the old 5 complaint of famine may be imputed in some degree to the voracious or disorderly appetite of the Franks, but the stony soil of Jerusalem is almost destitute of water; the scanty springs and hasty torrents were dry in the summer season; nor was the thirst of the besiegers relieved, as in the city, by the artificial supply of cisterns and aqueducts. The circumjacent country is equally destitute of trees for the uses of shade or building, but