Imágenes de páginas

lessness without an object, which are characteristic of our reading age. of these Since the study of eastern literature began abortions of the press we may say, borrow- to attract the attention of Europe, that of the ing Dante's words

Arabs has naturally taken the foremost

place, if not in esteem, at least in considera“Non ragioniam di lor, ma guarda e passa.” tion. We say naturally, inasmuch as,

brought into early contact with our foreAmong the historians our author men; fathers in the days of the crusades, geogrations Zschokke, Schiesser, Raumer, and phically situated in the centre of states Rotteck. Of dramatists he notices Raupach, that, however equal or superior in antiquity, Immermann, Count Platen, Grabbe, and had yielded their records to the common Brentano; of the lyric poets Koerner, doom of mortality, and left their language Schwab, and Uhland; of the novelists A. as a doubt, their existence as a dream of Lafontaine, Hauff, Alexis, Spindler, Van time's earliest morning ;-the Arab, who der Velde, Steffens, Mesd. von Schopen- derived his source from patriarchal times; hauer, and Caroline Pichler, Achim von whose language had imbibed and retained Arnim, Novalis, and Chamisso, and he the profuse varieties of a hundred tongues; speaks very highly of the last three. Ot whose knowledge had been schooled in the Heine our author observes that

learning of Egypt, the traditions of Syria,

and Hebrew revelation; who had treasured “ The Reisebilder contains the whole of from infancy the science of Chaldæa, prehis political, religious, and literary faith; served the recollections of Assyrian greatin politics a bitter hatred against despotism, and a warm sympathy for liberty ness, and, amidst the waves of Edom, and and progress; in religion à vague and the rocks of Petra, caught the living acconfused Deism; in literature a total in-cents of Nabathæan lore; to whom the undependence of rules and coteries; but known Ethiopian was a brother, the Armeabove all that old rancorous feeling of nian a subject, and the wild wanderer of liberalism whose shafts are deadly, and Southern Persia a friend, and often a purwhich strikes its enemy to the heart. His chaser ;---who had spread commerce along satire is full of originality, but he seems to the African shores, and brought the jewels forget at times the rules of good taste and and muslins of India, and the rich produce of literary convenance."

of Ceylon, to the homes and desires of the Börne, another champion of ultra-liber.western world; who, in a period of darkness, alism, has assumed as his peculiar mission had acknowledged and enshrined the intelto abuse all that is doing in Germany

lectual wealth of Greece, and lent to eastern

fable the splendours of his own imagination; “In his bitter invectives against his —the Arab, we may justly admit, was encountrymen, he attacks both sovereigns titled to claim the first attention of Europe. and people, the learned and the journal- The fame of his language, literature, and ists, by bitter and contemptuous sarcasms; creed, no less than the remembrance of his he sneers at diplomatists, charges even valour and magnificence, inclined our minds violent demagogues with servility, and to listen to his voice, and ask the details of upon every occasion quotes France as the model country, as the sun-dial of Europe; of which had been so scantily preserved by

those mighty deeds and days, the fragments he has entrenched himself within Paris as in a citadel from which he keeps up a the careless and ignorant inappreciation of constant fire against the country of his the classical writers. Europe, indeed, not birth.”—p. 488.

unreasonably expected that a nation so learn

ed, so famed, and so situated, uniting so high We now

take leave of M. Peschier's a degree of intell ual civilization with so work, which we can conscientiously recom- much of luxury, and so undisturbed a remend to those who wish to form an idea of tention of patriarchal simplicity and freeGermany, its people, and literature. dom, must have necessarily become in the

course of


the very storehouse of antiquity-at once the depot and the carrier, it we may so use the term, of archaiology as of merchandize.

It is incumbent on us now to confess that Art. VIII.-Lettres sur l'Histoire des these great anticipations have not been al

Arabes avant l' Islamisme. Par Ful- together realized, and in truth that they have gence Fresnel. (Letters on the History been disappointed to a considerable extent. of the Arabs before Islamism. By Ful. On the causes we cannot and need not enter gence Fresnel.) 1836. Paris. here; it will suffice to observe in passing,

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that the historians of Arabia, though highly Of the latter country it is remarkable,
useful to a certain degree, yet do not furnish that in spite of our commercial interests and
us with sufficient information to render us slowly increasing acquaintance with her
fully cognizant of the real value of their language and literature, no work upon
works. They are generally curious rather Chinese history, from authentic Chinese
than interesting, imaginative rather than historians, has been attempted in England,
skilled in antiquity, and deriving their to whom Europe looks for such a present.
knowledge of the past from traditions, and But this is beyond the limits of the view to
generally from sources unexplained to us which we have here endeavoured to turn
at present; so that, though they assist our attention, and we must return to the volume
imagination certainly, and sometimes our that forms the subject of our article.
reason, they nevertheless fail in satisfying The poem of Schanfara is chiefly, though
our judgment. The excessive diffuseness imperfectly, known to Europe by the Chres-
and difficulty also of their wonderful lan- tomathie Arabe of the Baron Silvestre de
guage, so uiterly opposite in principle to Sacy. Many passages, however, were in
European speech ;-the elaborate diversity such a state that none more than that emi-
of their grammatical forms, and the infinite nent scholar could desire their farther ex-
variety of the dialects they control; with amination and illustration. M. Fresnel
the boast that they may be acquired in six likewise felt this ; and whilst prosecuting
years, but mastered in not less than ten; his researches in Egypt, his friend, a Syrian
all these offer so formidable an array of ob- gentleman, M. Faris Schidyaq, discovered
stacles to our more intimate acquaintance in the divan of Ezbekawi, a modern poet, a
with their lore, that we generally are tempted commentary on the Lamiyat-al-Arab, at
to pause, even within the threshold of learn- tributed to Mouhammed, son of Yahiya,
ing, to ask what is the value of that which surnamed Moubarrid. As M. Fresnel had
must be purchased at such a price; and it his doubts regarding the sense of some ver-
is often, we opine jus ly, relinquished with ses of the poem of Schanfara, he procured
the doubt that untying, unravelling its Gor- a copy from M. Faris.
dian intricacies will not obtain us the de "We must,” he proceeds, “ have medi.
sired World, of antiquity.

tated for years upon a point of physics or
We must confess ourselves of the number philology, to know how the heart beats at
of those who have taken this desponding opening the volume, whether of nature or
view of Arabian literature, though the cause tradition, that contains a solution of our
has only latterly become obvious to the doubts. A real lover of truth would read
mind; and it is, amongst others, the work with the same candor whether his views are
before us, together with the later researches confirmed or corrected.” M. Fresnel has
of some of the highest Arabic scholars, that also consulted, and carefully we must say,
has produced a conviction now so different the ancient glosses of the text; but he has
from our earlier and fonder belief; nor need not always followed their interpretations,
we hesitate to point amongst those to whom since Arabian, like other, commentators,
Arabia, equally with Europe, is deepest in- have their strong and weak points, and he
debted for the profoundest researches into has therefore trusted his own judgment in a
her records and language, to the living and great measure.
venerated name of De Sacy, as one of the The chef d'auvre of Schanfara affords a
bases of our scepticism; and since even his specimen of ancient history; and, according
investigations, and those of our own great- to M. Fresnel, of the prose of the heroic
est scholars, have failed to induce the de- times, being the most ancient monument of
gree of elucidation expected, we are irre-Arabian literature that exists. But the fact
sistibly drawn towards the conclusion, that must not raise expectation of antiquity too
these have failed to discover it only because high; for of the period cotemporary with
it had no existence. The West, in truth, the heroic ages of Israel, the history ap-
has for some time felt, if not acknowledged, pears lost for ever, with the exception of a
this conviction, and inqniry has turned from few traditions, scattered over an immense
Arabia to explore the treasures that may be space. The really existing Arabian monu-
hidden by the Guebre veil of the Persian, ments date only from the century before Ma-
or stored in the sanctuaries of Sanscrit an- homet: but as the simplicity of ancient man-
tiquity; or haply scattered in dust through ners remains long amongst nomade tribes,
the various nations that tread the Tatar de the term heroic may be applied to those of
serts or people Hither and Farther India, the Arabs even at the period when they first
from the inhospitable Exuxine and the mould- attract our notice in a regular form. The
tring relics of Bactria, to the vaunted and sus prose referred to is of that period, accompa-
picious reservations and reluctance of China. I nied with fragments of poems. Djellal-

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Addeen Assoutiyy informs us that before Ma The events are called in Arabic Ayam, homet, the Arabs (of the tribe of Maad) had which may be freely rendered in English, no other annals than their short poems. "At Exploits. "The Bedouins, in Mahomet's that time,” he observes, “ when a Bedouin re- time, so called not only their battles and lated an historical fact that was new to his combats, but even their skirmishes and maauditory, they never failed to say to him, rauding expeditions. Nor only this: a Recite us some verses to support thy narra- biraz, or single combat; an assassination tive.” From which it is evident that, con- (the act simply, without the attendant hor. trary to our own practice in modern times, ror) sufficed to constitute an Ayam, which poetry was considered the legitimate vehicle took its name from the place where it ocof historical truth, and prose but as its fan. curred. Before Islamism, however, the ciful embellishment.

Arabs rarely dealt with death on a large A curious speculation might be raised scale. Ælius Gallus, it will be remember. upon the comparative justice of the ancient ed, in Strabo, lost but seven

men by the or the modern notion : but we have no room hands of the Arabs in a six months' camfor such, and must proceed with our imme-paign, commenced in Arabia Petræa and diate object; observing with the author, and concluded in Yemen. In one battle the in reference to this subject, that the Arabian Roman general affirms that he killed 10,poems are not epopea, like those of Homeric 000 Arabs, and lost but two men himself. antiquity, but simply odes, or songs, alluding Such, if we can believe it, were the ancesto events generally known in the poets' ageand tors of those who overran the Old World country, but generally unknown elsewhere. from the Ganges to the Loire: but the war

The historical personages who figure in riors who figure in the pages before us octhis history are, M. Fresnel remarks, partly cupy an intermediate space, and nearer to the same as those of the historical and chi- the conquerors themselves than to their valrous romance of Antar—"that Orlando forefathers. of the Desert, who wanted but an Ariosto" The mode of preserving history in Ara(a common want, we think). "to become an bia is somewhat novel to Europeans, and is epic, and to fill up one of the two lacunes in fact conclusive as to the mooted preservawhich appear, to our surprise, in Arabian tion of long poems of celebrity. It is therehistory. When the rhapsody aforesaid, fore well worth consideration. which, it is said, is about to be printed at Boulaq, shall have been translated, it will ploits are told, and whose own words are

“The narrator, on whose faith the exbe curious to compare the history with the given by the compiler, is en général, Abou romance: perhaps the child inay assist to Oubaydah Mamar, the son of Mouthanna, recover some traces of the parent.

a contemporary of Haroun Alraschid. It The Arabs, however, who possess this is, however, necessary to observe here, series of tales from tradition, regard with that the prose of the narrator does not be scorn the well known romance of Antar.

long to him, any more than to the compiler.

“ Abou Oubaydah did not attempt to The causes which they assign we can easily draw up the history of the Arabs. Far feel and understand, since their traditions from this, all his merit, in the eyes of his preserve a far more patriarchal impress contemporaries, and of the Caliph, his than that celebrated fiction, and strip off far disciple, consisted in the talent of repeatmore effectually the fanciful traits which ing, word for word, without the omission, imagination so long had bestowed on the addition, or transposition of a single letter Arabs, their chivalry, generosity, high faith, narrated by a schaik (or doctor of his own

all that he himself had previously heard and freedom from many of the vices of civil- class); the latter being, in like manner, ized life. Several of our recent travellers but the repeater of a more ancient schaik, have found mournful evidence that such as- and so on, successively, up to the author sociations must henceforth be disconnected of the recital, whom we may place a cenfrom the children of Ishmael; and it is in a tury and a half, or two centuries, before great measure owing to the new view given Abou Oubaydah; so that the prose I now by M. Fresnel's volume of the real state of read with my own schaik is of the same the desert tribes, that we have devoted so age as the facts it relates, excepting only much space to his work, and also from the appertain to the narrator or the compiler,

a very few observations, which evidently fact of its not being generally accessible, but generally to the former. Men like but published privately by the author for Abou Oubaydah were called rouwah the use of his friends alone. The high During a long course of centuries, nepraise bestowed upon the work by one of made Arabia possessed no other historithe best English judges of the subject, and ans; and we should have no reason to who resided long in Egypt

, is the surest complain of this, had they thought sometestimony in favour of M. Fresnel's labors. ' precious deposit intrusted to their memo

what earlier of committing to paper the



too late, and when the recollections extant the verses of our Poets, and talk of what were nothing in comparison with what had passed in our times of ignorance. ries. Unfortunately, they recurred to this “Some one has said, I wish we pos st 58• been forgotten. Abou Oubaydah was ed in our Islamism the generosity of our one of the first who put down in writing forefathers in their Paganism. Antarah the historical traditions of the Desert.” of the cavaliers was a Pagan, and AlhaIn fact, the only difference between the çanthe son of Hani, a Mussulman. Well!

Antarah was retained within the bounds language of these documents and that of the of duty by his honor, and Alhaçan, son Moallakat is that the latter is verse, and the of Hani, was not restrained by his reliformer prose, mingled with verse however. gion. Antarah has said in his verses,

The MS., it seems, contains eighty Ex ' And I close my eyes when the wife of ploits, written without any assignable order, my neighbor is about to appear, until and entitled “ Exploits and Encounters of her tent veils from my glances my neigh

bor's wife.' the Arabs." M. Fresnel has lately pro

“But Hassan, son of Hani, has said, cured a perfect copy of this work, of which

even in the bosom of Islamism, he possessed originally but a small portion. “Youth sustained my effrontery; * *

We must refer the reader to the work it. This led me to enter at night, when all the self for some highly interesting particu- world was buried in sleep, the dwelling of lars, and shall be happy again to meet our

whose husband

was from learned and ingenious author when he has

home.'); completed his announced labors on the

We quote the above principally to refer History of the Age which preceded and to the very able notes of the editor on the prepared for Mahomet


" What treasures,” | foregoing ; full of information on the sub he exclaims in transport, "unknown from ject of facts and manners, and which showFez and the Escurial to Bockhara, and from that in Arabia, as elsewhere, apparently Oxford to the heart of Yemen !" Even if slight niceties of distinction often involve insufficient for a complete history of that material differences of fact. Taken into poetic period which, in expiring, gave birth consideration, too, with the not critically exto Islamism, a collection of authentic tradi- plained biblical usage of the term thy tions, mounting up to that epoch will alneighbor's wife," and the coeval antiquity ways have its value, both as forming in it of the Arabian nation, it may be thought self a picture of manners, and as referring to to throw a light upon a passage of Scripthe classical poems of Arabia.

ture. Again, The difficulties which M. Fresnel finds, however, with his materials for translation,

“Mouhalhil was the first Arabian poet are not, in our opinion, such as need deter who composed more than two or three any one from the task, and seem rather cal-Verses in a single vein, or on a single culated to impress European than Asiatic soutiyy); the first who lied, i. e. introdu

theme (according to Djellal-Addeen Asreaders. The classical Arabic is not an ced Hyperbole into Poetry, according to unknown tongue, nor insuperable, as he the author of the Aghani." seems to call it. The confusion of letters and want of vowels or distinguishing points,

A poem improvised by this novel Orpheus though a serious obstacle, yet is daily les is undoubtedly a curiosity, as M. Fresnel sened, by a more intimate acquaintance with conceives. He gives us two, one a funeral the language, to a certain degree. The oration, the other a chant of menace. MSS. the translator has acquired, and will “Oh Koulayb! there is nothing good in acquire hereafter by research, will assist to the world, nor in its inhabitants, since supply the sense in some places and the la- thou hast abandoned it. cuna in others: and practice will render “Oh Koulayb! what man can ever rival translation, even into his native tongue, thee in value or power? Who can comhowever adverse its idiom, easy to his un- pare with thee in holding the cup, under doubted talents, ardor and learning. But the roof of the drinkers, under the might

of the cupbearer! we must turn to his work, and, in offering

“When the Heralds of Death had made some portion of it, are sure we do but direct me hear the name of Koulayb, I said to attention to a labor that will amply repay them: And Earth is not shaken! and the curiosity by novel information. The first mountains still stand! extract refers to the well known Antar. “Did he not maintain all in its place?

Was it not he whose might and resoluPreamble of the Arabian Compiler. tion. . . . Oh! my brethren, I cannot num“It was said to one of the companions ber hi virtues. of the prophet of God: On what subjects “ Who like him could curb the horse, do your conversations turn in your pri- and make both horse and horsemen meavate meetings? He replied: We recite sure their pace amidst wildest alarms!


“ Thus, as the maiden stains her fingers Among the Bakride Princes who had with the juice of henna, we have not a refused their aid to the Banou-Schayban, warrior whose spear-point is not stained was Al Harith, the son of Qubad, one of with an enemy's blood.

the most illustrious chiefs of the tribe of “ The lances borne by the children of Bakr. So far was he from making war Taghlib are of fine Indian shafts; · the against the Taghlibides, and so strongly knots are ash grey ; they are prepared at was he impressed with the justice of their Khatt Hadjar, and surmounted with blue cause, that when Moulhalhil (in revenge iron.

for his brother Koulayb) had slain his " When they bring them to the waters, son Boudjayr, on receiving the intel(or place for putting in water,) the iron is ligence of his child's disaster, Al Harith white; it is red when taken away.* exclaimed: Blest be the death which re

“Why has not Heaven fallen, to crush stores peace between the two daughters all it covers? Why has not Earth open (tribes) of Wail! He had imagined that ed, nor dissolved like a cloud ?

Moulhalhil, taking into consideration the The curse of God fall on those who nobility of his race, would regard Koulayb shall essay to restore peace between Bakr as sufficiently avenged by the death of and Taghlib while the sun rolls his Boudjayr, whose blood, in the opinion of course."

the Bakride prince, was worth that of the

most powerful king of all the Arabias. Song of Menace.

But when he learned that Moulhalbil had

disdained this new victim, inasmuch as, “I had passed a long night at Anamayn, on slaying the young prince he had said watching the course of the Stars, and ur- to him, ' Thy death may atone but for the ging by my impatience their slow descent. sandal-ties of Koulayb—Koulayb is yet to

“For how could I take a night's repose be avenged: when this was reported to while the blood of a son of Wail claims Harith, he became furious. He mounted the blood of another son of Waïl?

his mare Anaâmah (the ostrich,) placed “ Tihamah was long the common sojourn himself at the head of all the forces of of the tribes sprung from Maad. They Bakr, and, falling on the Taghlibides, came there to winter in peace.

made such carnage, and threw them into " But the Children of one Father have such total disorder, that Moulhalhil himdrenched each other with a bitter draught. self sought to fly; but he was made priThe strong slays the feeble now in the soner by Harith, who knew him only by plains of Tihâmah!

his reputation. The hero-poet's name . . Day comes at length, was in reality Adiyy; Moulhalhil was and we early hail the Banou-Loudjaym, only his sobriquet. Harith, in ignorance, with blows that never fall on the head said to his prisoner, ' Show me Adiyy, son without leaving it indented at least. of Rabiah, and I release thee.'-Adiyy an

They durst not come down to the swered, “Thou engagest then to release field, and mate themselves with us, body me if I show thee Adiyy ??--'Yes:' "Well to body; but we went down. He is a then, I am he ;' and Harith released him warrior who dares come down to the field. accordingly, after subjecting him to the They made their bow-strings vibrate

tonsure, to render it unquestionable that

he had been his prisoner. from afar: but we cast ourselves upon them, as vigorous stallions fall upon their rivals.

We quote elsewhere the author's inter“When they had slain their master esting note on the Arabs of Yeman or JocKoulaybin an access of frenzy, they said : tanides, and the self confessed inferiority of All is done; we shall not know a master the Desert tribes, to those Arabs par excelagain.

lence; and also the singular doubt he “They have lied, by all that is Holy and Profane ! They have lied! And we will throws from their own traditions on the prove it, by wresting from their most se-claim of the Moustaribe (Arabs) to their decret retreats their ornaments spotted with scent from Ishmael: a doubt that must henna:

make a copsiderable impression on the de“Shedding such fear on their souls, that|gree of confidence to be placed henceforth the embryo shall die in the womb: steep in the genealogies of the Children of the ing with their blood our spears and our Desert. We must pass on to some extracts horses."

from the narratives themselves, and to the The following is characteristic of Ara- Lamiyat-al-arab, or poem of Schanfara, bian desert manners:

which has only been given in a mutilated
and very incorrect state by the author to
his friends hitherto: but which he has now

taken the first opportunity of presenting in
* Les fers de lance sont bleuâtres à l'état loyal its proper form to the public. We take of
et marchand: éinolumus, ils sont blancs : à la
guerre ils deviennent rouges.

necessity one of the shortest of the Exploits,
as best adapted to our pages; and this is

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