Imágenes de páginas

Dagbistan implies ; the plain that runs along the shore being a narrow strip. It is usually divided into the following small states ; namely, Lesgestan, Schamgal, the khanships of Derbund, and the domain of Tabasseran. Lesgestan is a stupendous range of mountains, running in a south-easterly direction, of great length, but of inconsiderable breadth, and forming the whole north-east frontier of Georgia. The inhabitants are a wild, savage banditti, divided into different tribes, whose habitations are secluded in the depths of the mountains, on the loftiest summits, or over the most frightful precipices. The country is rugged and impracticable; the soil is scanty; and the level ground being insufficient to enable the proprietor to raise the means of subsistence, he increases the surfaces, to the very summits of the heights, by graduated terraces. These rude tribes of the mountains are the terror and scourge of all the neighbouring countries, as they sally down from the mountains, laying waste villages, and carrying off or murdering the inhabitants. The other districts are of the same mountainous character : that of Tabasseran is covered with wood, but the vallies are beautiful and fertile. The greater part of the country is still terra incognita to the traveller, especially the region indicated."

The precarious tenure by which Russia holds the Trans-Caucasian provinces in which Daghistan is situated, is thus forcibly pointed out:

“ The Russians, as I remarked before, have contracted the limits of the independent tribes between the Euxine and the Caspian, and according to the working of that colossal and dangerous power, bave largely succeeded in doing so. But to reduce them to real subjection is beyond the power even of Russia. Nearly half the country of the Ackbar is marked as subject to Russia in the maps of these provinces ; but in fact the garrison of Sookoom-Kirluab live as in a besieged city, and their authority is regarded no further than tbeir guns can reach. Swanati too has the same mark of subjection ; though it is well known that the Swani confine themselves to the neighbourhood of the perpetual snows of Elburg, in order not to compromise their liberty. Two passes also through the mountain are marked as Russian soil; but not even the weekly mail is sent through that of Dariel without an escort, amounting sometimes to a hundred soldiers, two field-pieces and several cossacks. If an occasional traveller wishes to try the pass of Derbund, which is in Daghistan, be is not considered safe without a similar guard."

Whilst Mr. Samuel was at Teheran, he called on the Russian anibassador, Graf Simonitch-the same who was subsequently disavowed by his court for his intrigues against England -and obtained from him permission to visit Daghistan, a permission which in all probability the ambassador was not authorized to grant. He thus narrates his visit and the consequences that resulted from it :

“In conversation with the ambassador concerning one of the objects of my mission, bis excellency informed me, that about five years previously the Russian government had sent a commission into Georgia, to investigate the character and circumstances of the Caucasian Jews, The individuals sent returned without being able to give any satisfactory account of the object they were sent to inquire into; their qualifications not being such as to enable them to throw any light on a question of this character. His excellency perceiving my ardent curiosity and interest in what relates to the Jewish people, and in particular as to any facts which might illustrate the fate of the long lost tribes, spontaneously offered ine every assistance in his power if I would 'undertake to follow up these inquiries, laying no other obligation upon' me than to furnish him with a copy of my journal when I should publish it, containing investigations through the east on this important subject t'i 301 leroy

“ Having consulted her Britannic Majesty's minister at the court of Persia, and obtained bis sanction, I received from bim a letter of pro, tection, on which I could depend in the critical circumstances of the country at that time. The Anglo-Indian army was preparing to march towards Cabul, and all individuals in connection with England were under strong suspicion. This letter of protection was of the utmost importance, as it enabled me to resist and overcome the intrigues and repugnance of the Russian government of the Trans-Caucasian provinces, at my presence during the military operations against Khiva at this crisis; and I shall not soun forget the impressions left upon 'me at Tiflis after I entered upon my investigations, when summoned before the governor of those provinces. Every effort was made to daunt my courage by an array of military consisting of Cossacks and gens d'armerie), drawn up in front of the palace; the object of which was to expel me from the country, or to induce me to retire., I was enabled however, in the strength imparted to me at that trying hour, to maintain an independence of spirit I trust not unbecoming a British subject, and to read such a lesson to General Radifinitzki (son of the celebrated diplomatist), in the presence of the Russo-Georgian court, which he will 'pot easily forget." :: ii : “ His Excellency (Graf Simonitch) furnished me with letters to the Governor-General, Baron Rosen, General Brechoft; Commander in Chief of Georgia, and Civil Governor Palewandeoff. All these letters, though of importance, weighed as nothing beside the simple pass of the Britishi ambassador.'l » Lista . We do not exaggerate in stating the number of Jews now under the dominion of Russia to be three inillions, upon a population of fifty millions. What will be their lot at no very distant period? We venture to predict that it will prove much worse, since the Jew, however degraded, is still superior to a Russian subject, 'even to a noble. May a light descend upon those 'gloomy regions, for as yet struggles the twelfth hour of the night; birds of darkness are on the wing, spectres rise up, the dead walk, the living dream. Thou, Eternal Providence, wilt cause the day to dawn.”*. .. . - i. ;'sir

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...', ! "Jennyos rinjev; 13:13 List ART. II.-Géographie d'Edrisi ; traduite de l'Arabe en Français

d'après deux Manuscrits de la Bibliothèque du Roi, et accompagnée de Notes, par M. Ainédée Jaubert. (Recueil de Voyages et de Mémoires publié par la Société de Géographie. Tom. V. and VI.) Paris. 1836, etc. .' ' piu

141, 'a,,? If we could take a correct inventory of the acquirements, whether of an individual or a nation, we should often be struck with the extraordinary want of balance, to use a technical term, which the several members of the whole amount would be found to hold, to each other. We do not mean merely that the poet would be found deficient in mathematical knowledge, or that the mathema: tician would be so devoid of poetical taste as to inquire, according to the college jest, what the Æneis proved; this sort of deficiency seems to us natural enough, and we regard it rather as a 'proof of the consistency of a mind or a national character with itself. But if the mathematician should be proved ignorant of the commonest facts of geography, or if a nation whose literati and Mæcenases have taken the trouble to translate the works of half the Greek mathematicians should yet be unable to draw a map of the coun. tries immediately adjacent to their own, we should surely be scarcely able to restrain our laughter at an incongruity as glaring as the composition of Horace's mermaid. Yet such is pretty much the position in which stand the Arabs; the inventors, or disseminators, of the decimal system of notation--the cultivators of mathematical science during the dark ages of Europe, the link, as it were, between the science of Greece and that of modern Europe. That they should deny the habitability of the southern hemisphere is conceivable, for the dogma was a legacy of their masters, the Greeks, in spite of the much-disputed Periplusthat they should imagine an island of Wakwak in the extreme east of Asia, where a tree bore human heads, may be excused to a poetical people, the staple of whose poetry was the marvellous, and to whom the site of the wonderful sylva alluded to, and of a fauna equally miraculous, was almost forbidden ground; but why a nation whose arms at one time almost girded the Mediterranean, and whose ships held undisputed passage through its length and breadth ---why such a nation should never have been able to produce a chart of the coasts of that sea which might not serve equally well for a map of the United States, is al problem of somewhat difficult solution. No doubt, however, a partial explanation of this phenomenon may be found in the national pride of the Arab and Persian, and the religious exclusiveness of the Mahommedan, Themselves inhabiting the favoured regious where the patriarchs and prophets had walked, which the last of the holy number had sanctified by his presence--even the richest provinces of Europe, and those which most excited their cupidity of possession, were considered as of very secondary importance in comparison with their own native country; and for the rest it was a matter of little interest to them, beyond the mere question of utility, what was the precise boundary of the nation with whom they permitted themselves a grudging commerce, or hailed with gladness a hearty and remorseless war.

Perhaps also much of this ignorance may be attributed to a defect inherited by the Arabs from their Greek masters--an inaptitude to put their theoretical knowledge to a practical use. In the case of the Greek philosophers, indeed, this was not in their own eyes a defect; they would have been much more likely to give that name to the cui bono spirit of modern times, and of none more than our own. The Greek's high intellectual developement, and foodness for pure abstract reasoning, gave him a certain horror of what we call the mixed mathematics ; whilst they tended to form his taste for that beautiful system of pure geometry which more than fifteen hundred years have done little if anything to improve. The Arabs were but the apes of their nobler predecessors; they were notoriously imitators rather than originators, and a certain oriental want of energy produced in them somewhat the same effect as that caused by the fastidiousness of the ancients. As Mahommedans too they were averse to innovations; the division of the earth into climates, the firm belief that the countries south of the Line were uninhabited, and many similar practices and notions, having been hallowed by their adoption by the men of the seventh and eighth centuries, were doubly worthy of the notice of the ninth, and the revolution of ages did but serve to strengthen them.

The grand problem, too, of the discovery of the longitude reduced itself among the Arabs to the mensuration of distances on a given rhumb line, by miles, fursungs, or the more doubtful quantity of days' journeys; these latter requiring of course to be determined very much by the nature of the ground passed over, and the greater or less facility it afforded for rapidity of travelling. Clocks they had none none at least which could be applied to the comparison of time in different places; the clepsydra, more or less artificially constructed, being the utmost limit of eastern horology.

So much for the general character of Arabic geography, but there is a bright as well as a dark side to the picture. Though the “ paynim” could never draw a passable map. even of the countries they themselves possessed, they yet had facilities for acquiring valuable geographical knowledge which were denied to more enterprising nations, and for want of which the bones of many an ardent adventurer are now bleaching in the sands of Africa. That immense peninsula, which has so long stood in the immediate vicinity of Europe, as if only to mock and baffle those powers of enterprise which have “ put a girdle round about the earth”-of which little more than the coasts have been touched by Christian powers, with the exception of predatory slave excursions into the interior, or of rare visits from missionary labourers -Africa was penetrated by Mahommedan adventurers from the first establishment of Islam, and in fact before the death of its founder. From a more recent but still very remote period, Arabic traders have trafficked continually in the northern portions of central Africa; the Mahommedan religion, that strange freemasonry which has at one time or other bound together in a chain of common interest nearly half the old world, has long been established among the most important negro nations; and during the Moorish occupation of Spain, a Berber, or north African race, once shared the dominion with the invaders of Arabic descent. This last-mentioned tribe (the Berbers) are in many points of view by much the most interesting portion of the aboriginal inhabitants of Africa. Their language, which in spite of a strong admixture of Arabic in some of its dialects, is an original and marked tongue, is spoken with slight variations from the shores of the Atlantic on the west to Egypt on the east, and from the Barbary states to the great desert of Sahara; and such rempants as have been preserved of the language of the Guanches, or aborigines of the Canaries, show that they too spoke the same widely extended dialect.

From the preceding very general remarks on the Arabic geography, it will not be supposed that much reliance can be placed upon the unsupported testimony even of their most respectable writers; since credulity on the one hand, and imperfect and mistaken theories on the other, disfigure the works of them all. The Arabian Nights themselves are not more fabulous than many statements gravely repeated in scientific works-and these too sometimes confirmed by a closing paragraph warning the reader against fables. Indeed, wild as are the topographical notions embodied in the Mahommedan fictions, they are often only literal transcripts of what is taught in the writings of bearded doctors; the route of Sinbad, for instance, may be traced almost point by point on a map of eastern construction cannibal islands, magnetic mountains and all; just as the inexplicable wanderings of one of Ariosto's knights might be laid down upon a map of the middle ages. A brief sketch of the world according to this system is

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