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“ He occupied bimself with this labour for more than fifteen years, without relaxation, ceasing not to examine by biniself all geographical questions, to seek the solution of them, and to verify the exactness of the facts, in order to obtain completely the knowledge which be desired.
"After this he wished to know positively the longitudes and latitudes of the places and the respective distances of the points upon which the testimony of the above mentioned travellers was unanimous. For this end he bad a table prepared for drawing; he had traced there one by one, by means of the iron compass, the points marked out in the works consulted, and those which had been fixed upon according to the different assertions of their authors, and of wbich the general confronting bad proved the perfect exactness. Then he ordered that they should found in silver, pure and without alloy, a planisphere of an enormous size, and of the weight of four hundred and fifty Roman pounds, each pound weighing one hundred and twelve drachms. He had graven there by expert artists the configuration of the seven climates, with that of the regions, the countries, the shores near to or distant from the sea, the arms of the sea, the seas and the water courses ; the indication of desert and cultivated countries, of their respective distances by frequented routes, eitber in determined miles or in (other) known measures, and the designation of the ports, prescribing to these workmen to conform themselves scrupulously to the model traced upon the drawing table, without in any manner deviating from tbe configurations therein indicated.
"He caused to be composed, for the understanding of this planisphere, a book containing the complete description of the cities and territories, of the nature of the cultures and babitations, of the extent of the seas, the mountains, the rivers, the plains and the marshes. This book was to treat besides of the species of grain, of fruits, and of plants wbich each country produces, of the properties of these plants, of the arts and trades in which the inhabitants excel, of their export and import commerce, of the curious objects which are remarked or are celebrated in the seven climates, of the state of the populations, their external form, their customs, religions, dress, and idioms.
“I have given to this work the title of 'Recreations of the Man desirous of perfectly knowing the Different Countries of the World.
“This work was terminated in the last days of the month of Shewál, in the year 548 of the Hijra (answering to the middle of January of the year of Christ 1154.)"
After this introduction (à propos of which we 'must remark however that if King Roger's planisphere is faithfully represented in his panegyrist's maps, its accuracy is somewhat overstated) after this introduction our author gives a general notion of the figure of the globe, and of the division of its circumference into 360 degrees, each degree containing 25 fursungs (the parasang of the Persians according to the Greek spelling), each fursung twelve thousand cubits, every cubit 24 fingers (breadths), and every tinger six grains of barley, not laid end to end as in our ancient popular scale, but side by side. He states that no lands are habitable
VOL. XXVII. NO. LIV.
beyond 64° N. Jatitude, and that the southern hemisphere is altogether unpeopled, for the reasons already alluded to. The seven climates are then described, and after that the principal seas, wbich, with the well-known oriental predilection for that number, are made to be also seven: mells the Sea of Sin or Indian
کر جرجان Sea of Pontus
Sea of Jorjan (Caspian). Then we have a description of the division of the work into seven climates, and of each climate into ten equal sections, corresponding to parallelogrammatic divisions, or nearly such, of the climates, following one another on the map and in the description from west to east. Of each of these sections the author informs us he has drawn a plate, making 70 such illustrations in the whole; these are to be found in a MS. in the University of Oxford, and in one of the Bibliothèque Royale. Of these plates M. Jaubert has given three, with the colours, lettering and gilding, “barbaric gold,” of the original. Our taste would have led us to prefer a plain lithograph of the whole map, either in as many plates as the original or in a reduced size, say 10 on a sheet. This could hardly have been much more expensive than the certainly magnificent specimens given. They afford us, it is true, an idea of the style of the original drawings, but on the plan suggested we should have had, it may be presumed, a copy of the silver map of Roger; a map in fact of the 12th century, and one which might be fairly supposed justly to represent the geographical knowledge of that period. It is scarcely fair however to quarrel with M. Jaubert, or his “fautores,” the executive of the Société Géographique, on a matter which, after all, is a point of taste.
Our limits will not permit us any detailed analysis of the portion of Edrisi relating to Africa, with an account of the most southern portion of which known to him our author begins his description. This indeed is the less necessary, as this first part of the book is probably better known than any other division, from the excellent abstract and commentary of Hartmann. The natural products of this part of central Africa, the arins, food, manners, and dress of the inhabitants, are often minutely described, and with an individuality which gives the description something of the air of Herodotus's charming gossip. The description of Gana, a central province, whose king and inhabitants are described as Mussulmans, reminded us strongly of Major Denham's interesting account
of the Sheikh of Bornou and his policy. Gana however, as far as we can gather from our author, is considerably to the west of the kingdom where our enterprising traveller found an organized army; and cavaliers clad in mail inhabiting a territory bounded by deserts and countries of savages. There is much talk, in this part of the narrative, of gold, of which the Sultan of Gana is said to have possessed a natural lump weighing 30 lbs. Denham or Clapperton, we forget which, inquired in vain for Wangara, a country mentioned by Edrisi as conterminous with Gana, and concluded, from certain indicia, that Wangara was a general name for a country producing gold. Unfortunately we have very little etymological knowledge on which to try the validity of such a conjecture. Our travellers have not been philologists, nor our philologists travellers. Even the Berber, the most cultivated and accessible of the native African languages, is still almost sealed to us. A vocabulary of the language in the Bibliothèque Royale, a translation of the Gospels and part of the Book of Genesis in the library of the British and Foreign Bible Society, a geographical fragment in the possession of the Asiatic Society, and perhaps a few other similar specimens, are all the materials we know of for the study of it in Europe. Talking of Berbers, our author has a curious story of one of them, who predicted the speedy arrival of a caravan at a watering place by taking up and smelling to the sand. This surpasses all we ever heard of savage acuteness of sense, but our geographer certainly avails himself at times of the traveller's privilege, unless indeed we should rather blame the informats of King Roger, on the “ perfect agreement” of whose accounts was founded this veritable history. Begharmah, which figures so conspicuously in recent accounts of Bornou, comes next in order, and this also is said to be inhabited by Berbers, not a very probable assertion, but perhaps Edrisi has been misled, like some later writers, by the name of a Nubian race, the Barabras. The Nubian women are highly praised for their beauty, for which and for their accomplishments they are said to be eagerly sought after by the great men of other countries. We have an account of a certain wood which possesses an extraordinary power to counteract the venom of serpents, and even to deprive them of their power of injuring a man who carries it about with him. The story of the Psylli among the ancients naturally occurs to us upon the reading of this account. In our own days individuals in some parts of Africa pretend to the power of handling serpents with impunity and profess to impart it to others. An offer was made of this boon to one of Napoleon's savans, if we mistake not, but his love of science was not strong enough to carry him through the preliminary process, in which it
was necessary that the adept should spit into the mouth of his disciple.
The long sought fountains of the Nile are thus described, with that daring license of invention which the Arab often displays, loading an uncertain subject with more matter of doubt, telling, as worthy Mr. Oldbuck in the Antiquary phrases, it“ a lie with a circumstance."
“To this section belongs the place where the two branches of the Nile separate ; that is to say-Firstly, the Nile of Egypt, which traverses tbat country, running from south to north, on whose banks and on the islands which it forms, most of the towns of Egypt are built; and, secondly, the branch which sets out from the east, and runs towards the remotest extremity of the west : on this branch of the Nile are situated all, or at least the greater part, of the cities of Soudan. The source of these two branches of the Nile is in the Mountains of the Moon, whose commenceinent is 16° beyond the Equinoctial. The Nile takes its origin from this mountain by ten fountains, of wbich five flow away and gather in a great lake; the otbers descend also from the mountain towards another great lake. From each of these two lakes issue three rivers, which at length unite and flow into a very great lake, near which is situate a city nanied Tarfi, populous, and its environs fertile in rice. On the bank of this Jake is an idol holding its hands lifted to its breast; they say that this is Masakh (or Masneh), and that he was thus transformed because he was a wicked man.”—vol. i. pp. 27, 28.
After the cataracts of the Nile, which are slightly alluded to, we have a curious account of a race or tribe of predatory horsemen called El-belioun, who are described as black (a word which admits of no palliation of meaning from an Arab's pen), clad in steel armour, and, mirabile dictu, as Christians and of Greek descent! It is curious enough that in the account of Denham and Clapperton's Journey we have mention of certain mountain-dwelling tribes south of Bornou, some of whom came on an embassy to the Bornoniese camp while Major Denham accompanied it and sued for peace. These were some of the Kafirs, whom the true believers were wont to carry away as slaves, and these wretched creatures, by no means such brilliant robbers as El-belioun, our traveller was required to acknowledge as fellow Christians. He parried this compliment by pleading that they had begged a dead horse for food the day before, but was reminded that he himself, by eating swine's flesh, was guilty of an equal abomination. The word translated Greek (Rūmi) is of very indefinite application in Arabic, and sometimes means nothing more than European Christian. It would be singular enough to find that Edrisi had here recorded the existence of a remnant of Romans or Vandals. Another race of Christians is again mentioned on the coast of the Red Sea, though in his account of their migration thither our author is guilty of an anachronism, a besetting sin of Mahom. medan historians. The iron and gold mines of Sofalah come in for a somewhat lengthened description, and we then, according to the plan already described, are carried eastward to India, Ceylon and China. The account of the Indian castes is tolerably correct, the names being either like the Sanscrit appellations or reducible to them by allowing for copyists' errors. The license of the Indian worship, the dancing girls attached to the temples, and other features of the Brahminical cultus, are touched upon. In the description of Ceylon the famous peak and footprint of Adam are mentioned, but the standard of size furnished by the latter is wofully belied by an estimate immediately following of the length of the patriarch's stride, a length which would much more than satisfy the most unconscionable advocate for the gradual diminution in size of the human race. The notion of sacred footsteps is very general in the East, and traces of it appear in Europe and America.
Passing from India to China we quote a description of the mode of administering justice in this latter nation, which is curious at least, though we apprehend that in the days of Edrisi, as in our own, the paternal majesty of the empire was more prompt in administering, or causing to be administered, the bamboo to the delinquent, than in listening to the appeals (or peals, as they are here represented) of the oppressed for justice.
“ It is reported that there are in China three hundred flourishing cities, governed by princes who are all under obedience to the Baghbough, who is called, as we have just said, the King of Kings. He is a prince of pure morals, just towards his people, endued with a high solicitude for their welfare, powerful in his government, wise in his projects, provident in his enterprises, firm in his designs, facile in his administration, mild in his commands, generous in his gifts, attentive to the affairs of strangers and of distant countries, considering the end of things, and occupying himself with the interests of his subjects, who can come to him without intermediate agent and without hindrance.
“ This prince has a hall of audience whose walls and roof are constructed in a manner equally solid and elegant. In this hall is a throne of gold on which the king sits surrounded by all his vizirs ; above his bead is a bell whence hangs a chain of gold artfully disposed, which falls on the outside of the building and the end of which reaches the basis of the edifice. When any one has a subject of complaint to expose, he comes with a written request to this chain and pulls it. Then the bell moves, a vizir puts his hand out of the window, which is as much as saying to the complainant, come up to us. He goes up in fact by a staircase expressly destined to this object [literally to the oppressed]. Arrived in the presence of the king, the complainant prostrates him