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hammad and his religion have scarcely sufficed to clear the subject from some considerable degree of obscurity and incorrectness. There is a spirit of laboured and eager partizanship,—a want of philosophical calmness and clear induction of facts, sometimes also of sincerity—to be observed in some of the above writers, which leaves the mind of the reader in a state of uneasy dissatisfaction and painful confusion, far removed from resolute conviction. Much of this result may be attributed to the age and circumstances of the respective authors. Dean Prideaux lived at a period when infidel sentiments began to be more openly and systematically expressed; and he naturally felt much indignation at the invidious attempts to exalt the character of Muhammad. That character must surely be estimated by the moral standard set before him, and the moral opportunities afforded; and is only so far important, as it affects his veracity in claiming to be a divine teacher. When, however, it was covertly and insincerely portrayed in bright colours, in order to mislead the uninformed, Dr. Prideaux rightly endeavoured to counteract such an impression ; and, if we judge by the rule of enlightened Christian morality, has not misrepresented the pseudo-prophet : but his coarseness revolts us, and seems unsuitable when applied to a
poor illiterate Arab factor, bred amidst the debasing examples of a fierce and corrupted race. Sale and Ockley wrote at a time when (as Bishop Butler observes) the question of Christianity was generally, among the upper and better-informed classes, regarded as decided in favour of scepticism. They therefore enter but little into a causa finita, although Sale's notes and dissertation are very useful as a popular introduction to the subject; and he is not fairly described by Gibbon as a half-Musalmán. Gagnier, rather an elegant writer (although accused of inaccuracy), was contemporary with Sale, and (perhaps for the reason just hinted) appears to decline much discussion. The learned author of the Decline and Fall’ regarded the introduction of a new religion as a matter so easy as scarcely to merit much investigation ; and by this unfortunate opinion was drawn aside from an inquiry to which he would have brought, certainly, considerable ingenuity and erudition, however misdirected and misleading Mill, again, although he treated the subject of Muhammadanism in a distinct work, and although evidently capable of writing powerfully, is in general very vague, and content to offer, in the room of original discussion, ill. digested extracts and second-hand Gibbonism. The eloquent White seems to have given more
attention to his periods than to his facts: he is painfully inconclusive and unsatisfactory; and no writer ever presented more valuable points of attack to an adversary. Scarcely any writer appears to enter upon the discussion in a calm, unprejudiced spirit. There is a lurking insincerity to be traced, and a mere desire of victory which is most especially unpleasing: nor is there wanting much of that virulence and ill-will which Orientalists have been accused (not wholly unjustly) of entertaining towards one another.
The Rev. Charles Forster, chaplain to Bishop Jebb, published, about 1828, a work intitled • Muhammadanism Unveiled. The design of this learned writer is to examine, in fuller and more accurate detail, the causes of the origin and progress of that religion ; and he has so far succeeded in the undertaking, as to have directed attention to the proper objects of inquiry, to have unfolded many new and original views, and to have placed the discussion upon a right and profitable basis. Whatever light may yet be thrown upon this subject, Mr. Forster may claim to have led the way in illuminating one of the obscurest regions of literary curiosity. Still, it is to be regretted that this author should have determined to pursue his researches in a manner so exclusively theological. As far as the history of Muhammadanism is con
nected with that of the Jewish and Christian religions, it is plain that it must be considered as a theological subject : but why did Mr. Forster embarrass and restrict himself by entering into theories and disquisitions connected with prophecy—a province of dogmatical divinity ? Very probably, perhaps doubtless, the origin and success of Muhammadanism were objects pointed out by prophetical inspiration : but before we adapt prophecies, we should ascertain facts; and it would seem that our facts, as relates to early Muhammadanism, are as yet not so fully classed and verified, as to warrant us in forming a decision from them upon any minute accomplishment of prophecy. That is a task which may well be delayed for a season, until the literary and theological world, whose attention has been drawn to the subject, have sufficiently weighed the mass of matter presented to them, and augmented it. The result of a too premature recurrence to prophecy by Mr. Forster is, that a cloudy, unsatisfactory indecision oppresses the reader throughout a considerable portion of his otherwise excellent work. Resolved to confirm a doubtful theory (for to his interpretation of the prophecy of Daniel there are endless objections), he exaggerates or misplaces facts, or adds to certain facts an undue importance, or suppresses at one time facts which he
brings forward prominently at another. To mention but one instance :-Considering the ‘king of fierce countenance,' (Daniel viii, 23.) as Muhammad himself, and hence as a personification of his religion, he desires to explain how “he by peace shall destroy many;"-certainly a strange distinguishing mark of the author of the Surát of “ The Sword” and the " Warrior Faith.” He refers for this purpose to certain treacheries and cruelties perpetrated by the Moors in Spain upon their Christian subjects. Now, not to mention the comparative small importance of Spain, compared with the immense Saracenic empire, we may justly imagine that the brief words of a prophetical definition would point to a grand and marked outline of the distinguishing, uniform features of character, or policy, by which we might at once recognise the object of the prediction. But Islám was neither established nor promulgated by peace; nor did the Moslems, generally, practise treachery; but, on the whole, observed the faith of treaties with much sincerity: and Mr. Forster, subsequently finding it necessary, for the interpretation of another part of his prophetical theory, to exclude Spain from the list of Musalmán possessions, does not hesitate to remove a point necessary to establish the truth of his position, in order thereby to introduce another