« PreviousContinue »
the course of time with holys autho
may be the tenor of such a command, the devout Mussulman kisses it as soon as it is presented to him, and piously wipes the dust from it with his cheek. The Pashas who rebel against his authority are careful to mention his name with holy reverence; and, during the course of their disobedience, scrupulously comply with his orders in every point, except when he requires a resignation of their independence, or some sacrifice injurious to it. When he sends his executioners to despatch a rebellious chieftain, it is not uncommon to see the mere production of the imperial mandate, unaided by any force, silence all opposition, and command obedience from the rebel and his followers. Frequently, indeed, the executioner is stopped in his attempts to gain admittance, and himself put to death. But if he once performs his office, and the insurgent leader falls, there is no instance of his troops revenging his death on the bearer of so sacred a commission, though he comes singly, and trusts himself among an armed multitude of men, the moment before in the act of rebellion. Rycaut affirms, though Mr Thornton calls it an exaggerated picture, that the emperor would be obeyed, were he "to command whole armies to precipitate themselves from a rock, or build a bridge with piles of their bodies for him to pass rivers, or to kill one another to afford him pastime and pleasure.
“ The disciple of Mahomet is educated in a haughty belief of the superiority of his own faith, and a suitable aversion towards all infidels.- ? I withdraw my foot and turn away my face,' says the prophet, ' from a society in which the faithful are mixed with the ungodly.'- . “The prayers of the infidel are not prayers, but wanderings.'- Pray not for those whose death is eternal; and defile not thy feet by passing over the graves of men the enemies of God and his prophet.' The example of the prophet himself, who is recorded to have fre
quented the society of infidels, is of no avail in counter: acting those insolent precepts; and the more other nas tions have distinguished themselves from the Turk by their progress in wisdom and civility, the more obdurate has been his determination to keep within the pale of his own faith, and to despise their advances. The spirit of proselytism has been shown, not in any attempts to convert by argument: the extension of dominion was the only object of the prophet in proclaiming rewards to such as propagated the faith. Whoever refused the proffered creed was either to be cut off, or reduced to the state of a vassal paying tribute; and those who die in this holy war pass immediately into paradise. Wash not their bodies,' says the prophet ; ' every wound which they bear will smell sweeter than musk in the day of judgment. While to Jews and Christians the alternative of conversion or tributary vassalage was held out, the idolater was doomed to death. “Kill and exterminate all worshippers of plurality,' says the Koran ; and this command has not infrequently been literally complied with. The Persians are, however, held in peculiar abhorrence; and it is deemed more praiseworthy in the sight of God to kill a single worshipper of fire than seventy infidels of any other religion.
“ The Turks abhor the worship of images, yet think it decent to reverence departed saints, and to visit their tombs. They chiefly invoke the names of Mahomet and his four immediate successors. They conceive idiots to be favoured by Heaven, from their apparent insensibility to the evils of life, and their indifference to its enjoyments. They prize relics, or substances which have been in contact with persons of extraordinary piety; and ascribe to them cures and other miracles, similar to those which the Roman Catholic superstitions inculcate.
They dread the effect of sorcery, and provide against it by much the same contrivances as are used in the
northern countries of Europe and Asia. They carefully observe dreams, and other accidental notions, as ominous of future events; and have a superstitious aversion to all pictures of the human body, believing that angels cannot enter the house where these are. The pilgrimage to Mecca is well known; they believe that it cures all former transgressions, and hold that a man should set about it as soon as his means are double the expense of the journey. Such, at least, is the injunction of the Koran ; and only necessary impediments, as blindness, poverty, lameness, &c. are deemed to justify a Mussula man in neglecting this act of devotion. The black stone at Mecca is an object of peculiar reverence; it is expected to be endowed with speech at the day of judgment, for the purpose of declaring the names of those who performed the pilgrimage. The sanjac-sherif, or standard of Mahomet, being the curtain of the chamberdoor of his favourite wife, is kept as the palladium of the empire, upon which no infidel can look with impunity. It is carried to battle with great formality before the sultan or vizier; and its return is hailed by all the Mussulmans of the capital going out to meet it.”
second The ta shes ival pe literar
When Egeria had read these passages, she returned the book into its place, and took down the twentysecond volume of the Quarterly Review.
“ The two greatest literary journals of the present time,” said she," perhaps of any epoch, are undoubtedly the rival publications of Edinburgh and London. In point of literary merit I am sometimes at a loss which to prefer. The northern luminary is, I believe, regarded as the most ingenious of the two, and the southern as the most learned, especially in subjects of classical interest. Perhaps they may be considered as affording, in their respective merits,
fair specimens of the difference in effect between the systems of education cultivated in England and in Scotland. But at hap-hazard I will open this volume, and I doubt not that the first article which meets my
view will present an agreeable and characteristic con· trast to the general observations and metaphysical reflections of the paragraphs which I have just read.” She accordingly opened the book and read
. POPULAR MYTHOLOGY. “Tales of supernatural agency are not read to full advantage except in the authors by whom they are first recorded. When treated by moderns, much of their original character must necessarily evaporate ; "like tombs, which lose their venerable sanctity when removed from the aisles of a cathedral, and exposed in a museum. We reason where the writers of former days believed, and the attention of the reader is rivetted by the earnestness of their credulity. Besides which, the very outward appearance of their volumes diffuses a quiet charm; the mellow tint of the pages, the full glossy black letter, the miniated capitals, the musky odour of the binding, all contribute to banish the present busy world, and to revive the recollection of the monastic library. And once within the cloistered precinct, we are reluctant to doubt the veracity of that grave friar, the venerable Henry Institor, seated at his .desk in the sunny oriel, and devoutly employed in describing the terrific Sabbath of Satan, and the nocturnal flights and orgies of his worshippers.
“When the fables of popular superstition are con. templated in detail, we discover a singular degree of uniformity in that realm wherein most diversity might be expected in the ideal world. Imagination seems to possess a boundless power of creation and combination;
and yet the beings which have their existence only in fancy, when freely called into action, in every climate and every age, betray so close an affinity to one another, that it is scarcely possible to avoid admitting that imagination had little share in giving them their shape and form. Their attributes and character are impressed by tokens, proving that they resulted rather from a succession of doctrines than from invention ; that they were traditive, and not arbitrary. The vague credulity of the peasant agrees with the systematic mythology of the sages of primeval times. Nations whom the ocean separates are united by their delusions. The village gossip recognises, though in ignorance, the divinities of classical antiquity, and the Hamadryads of Greece and the Elves of Scandinavia join the phantoms who swarm around us when, under the guidance of the wizard, we enter that gloomy dell..
- " Where the sad mandrake grows,
“ Amidst the evanescent groups, whose revels are embodied in the noble lines of the moral dramatist, the Fairies are the most poetical and the most potent; and many theories respecting their origin have been founded on their names. Morgain la Fay has been readily identified with Mergian Peri. We may, however, be