Page images
PDF
EPUB

that all who cursed the first Khalífs should be beaten. He began to walk frequently about the town, by night and by day, often unattended. The Jews, as though not sufficiently outraged and degraded, were now commanded to wear little bells around their necks. Hákim forbade astrology to be spoken of, (a natural measure in a hated tyrant, whose death was earnestly desired,) banished all astrologers, and prohibited fortune-telling, or occult charms for the discovery of stolen goods.

At this time some feeling of remorse appears to have affected his mind, and he restored the lands he had confiscated. An instance of his capriciousness, or insanity, is recorded as occurring about this time. Offended with a certain Káid, or noble, and his secretary, he cut off both the hands of the latter, and one of the hands of the Káid himself. Changing his mind, he attempted to make amends to the Káid by sending him presents of gold and rich dresses; but, again returning to his first feelings, he then cut out his tongue. An instinctive feeling of insecurity now prompted several measures, but was insufficient to restrain the effects of his insane prejudices. He suppressed several imposts. Then again, enraged with the canine race as unclean, he ordered another massacre of dogs. He began to promenade more frequently on horseback, in order to observe if his orders were obeyed. He renewed his decrees prohibiting the appearance of women in the streets. Finding, probably, that these decrees were evaded, he shut up the women's baths, and enjoined the shoemakers not, for the future, to make or sell women's shoes. In a fit of motiveless liberality (and indeed all his actions were destitute of intelligible motive) he manumitted many slaves. Perhaps, however, this was done in order to secure friends in the event of a popular insurrection; and, to crown his absurdities, he, to the utter astonishment of

-Al Kophdee , Po القناعي or قبر الفقاعي) ,at a sepulchre

the grave Moslem, paraded the city, both by night and by day, six times on horseback, once on an ass, once in a litter, once in a boat on the Nile; each time without his turban. This last practice proved fatal to him. Having, one night, promenaded as usual, being upon an ass, and accompanied by two attendants, (two of the same Rikabee or running-footmen against whom his rage had been directed some years before,) he arrived, towards morning,

a , cocke,) near which was a fountain. Here, the men asserted, the Khalíf sent them back to the city. Not returning the whole of the ensuing day, his attendants proceeded, in the evening, to search for their master. They proceeded as far as the mountain Asfán (clame) and there saw the ass on which Hákim had been riding, with the fore-legs cut through, but still saddled and bridled. Following the marks of footsteps, they arrived at a small lake, or piece of water, by the side of which were lying the Khalíf's clothes, consisting of seven woollen vests, which had evidently been stripped from his body at once, and not separately, and in which were found rents and holes, evidently caused by the thrusts of poignards. Satisfied of the death of their master, the attendants returned to Cairo. This event happened A.H. 411, when Hakim was thirty-seven years old, and had reigned twenty-five.

The character of this Khalíf scarcely admits of accurate description. He is said to have been liberal and generous: he was skilled in astronomy, and indeed appears to have possessed some abilities, although deformed and perverted by his lively and restless inconstancy and caprice. Our indignation at his cruelties may be tempered by compassion, if we admit, whát was probably the fact, that he suffered

under a partial derangement of mind. He resembles, in many respects, Peter of Castile, and Paul of Russia ; and, like them, forms an example of the disastrous effects, both to the governors and the governed, of that jealous despotism which makes no provision for the possible mental incapacity of the monarch. The contrivers and perpetrators of this assassination are not known. Makrízí tells us, that the imputation of fratricide was thrown upon his sister : but he denies that the report was well-grounded; and, on the contrary, declares that in the reign of Hakim's son and successor, a man, taken prisoner for some crime, confessed himself the assassin of the Khalíf. Being asked the motive of this murder, he replied, that he was indnced by the glory of God and the good of Islám; and when requested to declare how he slew Hákim, he replied, “Thus !” and at the same time stabbed himself with a dagger to the heart. Both these accounts are reconcileable. Hákim's sister assumed the regency after his death, in the minority of his infant son-a proof, in an Eastern country, of the possession of remarkable talents--and by her arrangements contributed to heal the wounds that Hákim's absurd policy had inflicted. Nothing can be more probable than that she may have concerted with the chiefs of Egypt the means of the removal of so ruinous a tyranny. We may hope also, that self-preservation decided or originated the resolution of the princess to take advantage of the imprudent habits of her brother, and to employ the hand of some secret unsuspected assassin. That fickle and unreasonable jealousy which had long tortured Hákim's unhappy subjects may have appeared, to an acute mind, to be gradually verging towards his own family and Harem. In such a contingency, a sad alternative alone remained, and the doom of death must be'endured or inflicted. It is one of the many blessings of

Christianity and civilization, that most of those occasions are, by their prevalence, removed, when men are called upon to become either the perpetrators or the victims of crime.

Page 463. There is much in the historical traditions of nations to lead us to the conclusion that the mythological religion professed by most of them is a superaddition to a simpler system. The Hindú religion is not so ancient as is sometimes supposed : the Cingalese, Chinese, Tibetians, Tartars, &c. practise rites more recent even than those of the Hindús. This simpler system, which formed the groundwork of superstitions successively engrafted, was probably founded upon the adoration of the elements, and was in effect an atheistical confusion of nature with God. The Cingalese and Chinese, as well as the Buddhists, &c. still assert this terrible principle. It was the principle of the old philosophers and of the Eleusinian Mysteries. Perhaps in this chiefly consisted the first grand defection of men from truth, both before and after the Flood. Perhaps also, the principle of distinction and separation may have been at first divinely implanted in the minds of men, as a means of enabling them to separate between right and wrong, sacred and profane ; and when 'men forsook God and truth, they either rejected the principle altogether, or disjoined it from its intended object, perverting it to sanction castes and customs, instead of moral obedience. The system of feudality bears some resemblance to the system of castes and distinctions. It is remarkable that feudal institutions prevail in Hindostan among the Rajpoots. Perhaps the system may have been introduced in Europe by means of the Muhammadan Spaniards.

Page 476. Abú Sufián entreated, it is said, of Muhammad three favours :--That he would grant him the command of his army; that he would appoint his son Moawiyah secretary ; and that he would marry his second daughter, having already married one. Muhammad agreed to all these, ex

cept the last.

اے ہو

Page 477. It is curious, that a different plirase is used in expressing nominal conversion to Muhammadanism, and sincere conversion. Of one who merely embraces Islám, it is said paliw “ he hath become Moslem ;” but of the same man it

--Us may subsequently be observed that takel aus! “ he hath made good his faith sincere.” Muhammad was satisfied with the first; but intercourse with him often led to the second step. Many of the Koraish, for good reasons, thus cordially embraced that which had at first been forced upon them. There is a passage in the fifth chapter of the following translation, which asserts the descent of some verses after the decease of Muhammad. Perhaps this instance is not singular; and many alterations may have been made.

Page 478. The account of the conversion of the renowned Khálid, given by the author of The History of the Afghans,' (Dorn's Translation, Part i. p. 27.) but quoted by him from an Arabian work, exhibits this warrior as acknowledging his motives with sufficient frankness : 66 I contrived all means to lay violent hands on the prophet, but was unable to effect this design; a circumstance that led me to the conviction that God was his protector, and that he would soon overcome us, and the Kuraish lose their whole power and strength. When peace

had been restored between them and the

« PreviousContinue »