ePub 版

Constantinople. Our authors, much should happen, let an arbiter be chosen more numerous than the Janissaries, had } from your own family, and one from hers. no great difficulty in ranging our women

5. on their side; they persuaded them that Mahomet looked upon them merely as four, but never more.

Take one wife or two, or three, or

But if you doubt intelligent animals ; that, by the laws of the Koran, they were all slaves, having several, take only one.

your ability to act equitably towards

Give them a no property in this world, nor any share suitable dowry, take care of them, and in the Paradise of the next. The falsehood of all this is evident ; yet it has all speak to them always like a friend. been firmly believed.

6. It was, however, only necessary, in

You are not permitted to inherit from order to discover the deception, to have your wife against her will ; nor to prevent read the fourth sura or chapter of the her from marrying another after her diKoran, in which would have been found vorce, in order to possess yourself of her the following laws, translated in the same dower, unless she has been declared manner by Du Ryer, who resided for a guilty of some crime. long time at Constantinople ; by Ma

When you choose to separate yourselt racci, who never went there; and by } from your wife and take another, you Sale, who lived twenty-five years among must not, though you have even given the Arabs.

her a talent at your marriage, take any

thing from her. Mahomet's Regulations with respect to

7. Wives.

You are permitted to marry a slave,

but it is better that you should not do so. 1.

8. Never marry idolatrous women, unless they will become believers. A Mussul

A repudiated wife is obliged to suckle man servant is better than an idolatrous her child until it is two years old, during woman, though of the highest rank.

which time the father is obliged to main

tain them, according to his condition. If 2.

the infant is weaned at an earlier period, They who, having wives, wish to make it must be with the consent of both faa vow of chastity, shall wait four months ther and mother. If you are obliged to before they decide.

entrust it to a strange nurse, you shall Wives shall conduct themselves to make her a reasonable allowance. wards their husbands as their husbands conduct themselves towards them.

Here, then, is sufficient to reconcile 3. You may separate yourself from your used them so hardly as he is said to have

the women to Mahomet, who has not wife twice ; but if you divorce her a

done. We do not pretend to justify third time, it must be for ever ; you must either his ignorance or his imposture; either keep her humanely or put her but we cannot condemn his doctrine of away kindly. You are not permitted to

one only God. These words of his 122nd keep anything from her which you have

sura, « God is one, eternal, neither begiven to her.

getung nor begotten; no one is like to 4.

these words had more effect Good wives are obedient and attentive, than even his sword in subjugating the even in the absence of their husbands. East. If your wife is prudent, be careful not to Still his Koran is a collection of ridihave any quarrel with her ; but if one culous revelations and vague and inca

him ;'

herent predictions, combined with laws certain man who labours with him
which were very good for the country in composing the Koran. But how can this
which he lived, and all which continue man, to whom they attribute my works,
to be followed, without having been have taught me, speaking, as be does, a
changed or weakened, either by Ma- foreign language, while the Koranis
hometan interpreters or by new decrees. written in the purest Arabic ?".
The poets of Mecca were hostile to Ma- He who, it was pretended, assisted
homet, but above all the doctors. These Mahomet, was a Jew named Bensalen or
raised the magistracy against him ; and a Bensulon. It is not very likely that a
warrant was issued for his apprehension Jew should have lent his assistance to
as one duly accused and convicted of Mahomet in writing against the Jews;
having said that God must be adored, and } yet the thing is not impossible. The
not the stars. This, it is known, was the monk, who was said to have contributed
source of his greatness. When it was seen to the Koran, was by some called Bohaira,
that he could not be put down, and that his by others Sergius. There is something
writings were becoming popular, it was } pleasant in this monk's having had both
given out in the city that he was not the a Latin and an Arabic name.
author of them, or that at least he was As for the fine theological disputes
assisted in their composition by a learned which have arisen amongst the Mussul-
Jew, and sometimes by a learned Chris- mans, I have no concern with them, I
tian,-supposing that ihere were at that leave them to the decision of the mufti.
time learned Jews and learned Christians. In The Triumph of the Cross (Le

So, in our days, more than one prelate Triomphe de la Croir ) the Koran is said has been reproached with having set to be Arian, Sabellian, Carpocratian, monks to compose his sermons and fu- Cardonician, Manichean, Donatistic, Orineral orations. There was one Father genian, Macedonian, and Ebionitish. Hercules (Père Hercule) who made Mahomet, however, was nothing of all sermons for a certain bishop, and when this; he was rather a Jansenist, for the people went to hear him preach, they foundation of his doctrine is the absolute used to say, “Let us go and hear the degree of gratuitous predestination. labours of Hercules."

To this charge Mahomet gives an answer in his 16th chapter, occasioned by a This Mahomet, son of Abdallah, was gross blunder he had made in the pulpit, a bold and sublime charlatan. He says, about which a great deal had been said. { in his tenth chapter, “Who but God can Ile gets out of the scrape thus :- have composed the Koran ? Mahomet,

“When thou readest the Koran, ad- you say, has forged this book. Well; dress thyself to God, that he may preserve { try then to write one chapter resembling thee from the machinations of Satan. it, and call to your aid whomsoever you He has power only over those who have please.” In the seventeenth he exclaims, chosen him for their master, and who } Praise be to Him who, in one night, give associates unto God.

transported his servant from the sacred “When I substitute one verse for ano- } temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem !" ther in the Koran (the reason for which This was a very fine journey, but changes is known to God) some unbe- { nothing like that which he took the very lievers cry out, Thou hast forged those same night from planet to planet. He verses ; but they know not how to dis- pretended that it was five hundred years' tinguish truth from falsehood. Say ra- } journey from one to another, and that he ther that the Holy Spirit brought those cleft the moon in twain. His disciples verses of truth to me from God. Others who, after his death, collected, in a 80say, still more malignantly, there is a lemn manner, the verses of this Koran,

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

suppressed this celestial journey, for they < decrees the primum mobile of all. A reii. dreaded raillery and philosophy. After gion so simple and so wise, taught by one ail, they had too much delicacy; they who was constantly victorious, could might have trusted to the commentators, } hardly fail to subjugate a portion of the who would have found no difficulty earth. Indeed the Mussulmen have whatever in explaining the itinerary made as many proselytes by their creed Mahomet's friends should have known as by their swords ; they have converted by experience that the marvellous is the the Indians and the negroes to their rereason of the multitude: the wise con- } ligion ; even the Turks, who conquered tradict in silence, which the multitude them, submitted to Ismalism. prevent them from breaking. But while Mahomet allowed many things to reihe itinerary of the planets was sup- main in his law which he had found pressed, a few words were retained about established among the Arabs—as cirthe adventure of the moon : one cannot cumcision; fasting; the pilgrimage to be always on one's guard.

Mecca, which was instituied four thouThe Koran is a rhapsody, without con- sand years before his time ; ablutions, nection, without order, and without art. so necessary to health and cleanliness in This tedious book is, nevertheless, said to a burning country, where linen was unbe a very fine production, at least, by the known; and the idea of a last judgment, Arabs, who assert that it is written with } which the Magi had always inculcated, an elegance and purity which no later and which had reached the inhabitants of work has equalled. It is a poem, or sort | Arabia. It is said, that on his announcof rhymed prose, consisting of three thou- Jing that we should rise again quite naked, sand verses. No poem ever advanced his wife Aishca expressed her opinion the fortune of its author so much as the that the thing would be immodest and Koran. It was disputed among the dangerous : “Do not be alarmed, my Mussulmen whether it was eternal, ordear,” said he, “no one will then feel God had created it in order to dictate it any inclination to laugh.According to to Mahomet. The doctors decided that the Koran, an angel will weigh both men it was eternal; and they were right; this and women in a great balance : this idea, eternity is a much finer opinion than the too, is taken from the Magi. He also stole other, for with the vulgar we must always from them their narrow bridge which adopt that which is the most incredible. must be passed over after death, and their

The monks who have attacked Ma- elysium, where the Mussulmen Elect homet, and said so many silly things will find baths, well-furnished apartabout him, have asserted that he could ments, good beds, and houris with great not write. But how can we imagine that black eyes. He does, it is true, say a man who had been a merchant, a poet, } that all these pleasures of the senses, a legislator, and a sovereign, did not so necessary to those that are to rise know how to sign his name? If his book again with senses, will be nothing in is bad for our times and for us, it was comparison with the pleasure of convery good for his contemporaries, and his į templating the Supreme Being. He religion was still better. It must be ac- has the humility io confess that he knowledged that he reclaimed nearly the himself will not enter paradise through whole of Asia from idolatry. He taught his own merits, but purely by the will of the unity of God, and forcibly declaimed God. Through this same pure Divine against all those who gave him associates. } will, he orders that a fifth part of the lle forbade vsury with foreigners, and spoil shall always be reserved for the commanded the giving of alms. With prophet. him prayer was a thing of absolute ne- It is not true that he excludes women cessity, and resignation to the eternal í from paradise. It is hardly likely that so able a man should have chosen to em- say you, the simplicity of the heroicayes; broil himself with that half of the human but what were these heroic ages ?-times race by which the other half is led. Abul- when men cut one another's throats for feda relates, that an old lady one day a well or a cistern, as they now do for a importuned him to tell her what she must province ? do to get into paradise. “My good lady,” The first Mussulmen were animated said he, “paradise is not for old wo- by Mahomet with the rage of enthusiasm. men.” The good woman began to weep; Nothing is more terrible than a people but the prophet consoled her by saying, { who, having nothing to lose, fight in the “ There will be no old women, because united spirit of rapine and of religion. they will become young again.” This It is true that there was not much art consolatory doctrine is confirmed in the in their proceedings. The contract of fifty-fourth chapter of the Koran. marriage between Mahomet and his first

He forbade wine because some of his wife expresses, that while Cadisha loves followers once went intoxicated to prayers. him, and he in like manner loves Cadishu, He allowed a plurality of wives, con- it is thought meet to join them. But is forming in this point to the immemorial there the same simplicity in having comusage of the Orientals.

posed a genealogy which makes bim deIn short, his civil laws are good; his scend in a right line from Adam, as doctrine is admirable in all which it has several Spanish and Scotch families have in common with ours; but his means likewise been made to descend ? are shocking-villainy and murder! The great prophet experienced the dis

He is excused by some, on the first of grace common to so many husbands, after these charges, because, say they, the which no one ought to complain. The Arabs had a hundred and twenty-four name of him who received the favours of thousand prophets before him, and there his second wife, was Assam. The becould be no great harm in the appear- haviour of Mahomet, on this occasion, ance of one more : men, it is added, re- was even more lofty than that of Cæsar, quire to be deceived. But how are we who put away his wife, saying, “The to justify a man who says, Believe that wife of Cæsar ought not to be suspected.” I have conversed with the angel Gabriel, The prophet would not suspect his. He or pay me tribute ?"

sent to heaven for a chapter of the Koran, How superior is Confucius—the first affirming that his wife was faithful. This of mortals who have not been favoured chapter, like all the others, had been with revelations ! He employs neither written from all eternity. falsehood nor the sword, but only reason. He is admired for having raised him

The viceroy of a great province, he causes self, from being a camel-driver, to be a the laws to be observed, and morality to pontiff, a legislator, and a monarch ; for flourish ; disgraced and poor, he teaches having subdued Arabia, which had never them. He practises them alike in great- { before been subjugated : for having given ness and in humiliation ; he renders virtue the first shock to the Roman empire in amiable; and has for his disciples the the East, and to that of the Persians; most ancient and wisest people on the and I admire him still more for having earth.

kept peace in his house amongst his wives. In vain does Count de Boulainvilliers, He changed the face of part of Europe, who had some respect for Mahomet, ex- one half of Asia, and nearly all Africa ; tol the Arabs. Notwithstanding all his nor was kis religion unlikely, at one time, boastings, they were a nation of banditti, to subjugate the whole earth. On how They robbed before Mahomet, when they trivial à circumstance will revolutions adored the stars : they robbed under Ma- sometimes depend! A blow from a stone, homet in the name of God. They had, a little harder than that which he received in his first battle, might have changed } having always united the greatest magnathe destiny of the world!

nimity with the greatest courage-having His son-in-law Ali asserted, that when respected the wite and daughters of Dathe prophet was about to be inhumed, he rius when in his power, he did not in any was found in a situation not very com- { way deserve either to be confined as a mon to the dead.. The words of the madman or hanged as a robber. Roman sovereign might be well applied Rollin asserts, that Alexander took the in this case—“ Decet imperatorem stantem famous city of Tyre only to oblige the mori."

Jews, who hated the Tyrians : it is, howNever was the life of a man written } ever, quite as likely that Alexander had more in detail than his ; the most minute other reasons; for a naval commander particulars were regarded as sacred. We would not leave Tyre mistress of the sea, have the name and the numbers of all} when he was going to attack Egypt. that belonged to him-nine swords, three Alexander's friendship and respect for lances, three bows, seven cuirasses, three Jerusalem were undoubtedly great; but bucklers, twelve wives, one white cock, it should hardly be said that the Jews seven horses, two mules, and four camels, } set a rare example of fidelity-an erbesides the mare Borac, on which he went ample worthy of the only people who to heaven. But this last he had only at that time had the knowledge of the borrowed ; it was the property of the true God, in refusing to furnish Alerangel Gabriel.

ander with provisions, because they had All his sayings have been preserved. sworn fidelity to Darius, It is well One was, that the enjoyment of women known that the Jews took every oppormade him more fervent in prayer. Be- tunity of revolting against their sovesides all his other knowledge, he is said reigns; for a Jew was not to serve a to have been a great physician ; so that } profane king. If they imprudently rehe wanted none of the qualifications for fused contributions to the conqueror, it deceiving mankind.

was not with a view to prove themselves

the faithful slaves of Darius, since their ALEXANDER.

law expressly ordered them to hold all It is no longer allowable to speak of idolatrous nations in abhorrence: their Alexander, except in order to say some- books are full of execrations pronounced thing new of him, or to destroy the fables, against them; and of reiterated attempts historical, physical, and moral, which to throw off their yoke. If, therefore, have disfigured the history of the only } they at first resused the contributions, it great man to be found among the con- was because their rivals, the Samaritans, querors of Asia.

had paid them without hesitation, and After reflecting a little on the life of } they believed that Darius, though vanAlexander, who, amid the intoxications quished, was still powerful enough to of pleasure and conquest, built more support Jerusalem against Samaria. towns than all the other conquerors of It is wholly false that the Jews were Asia destroyed,--after calling to mind then the only people who had the knowthat, young as he was, he turned the com- ledge of the true God, as Rollin tells us. merce of the world into a new channel, The Samaritans worshipped the same it appears very strange that Boileau should God, though in another temple; they had have spoken of him as a robber and a { the same Pentateuch as the Jews, and madman. Alexander, having been elected they had it in Tyrian characters, which at Corinth Captain-general of Greece, and the Jews had lost. The schism between commissioned as such to avenge the in- Samaria and Jerusalem was, on a small vasions of the Persians, did no more than scale, what the schism between the Greek his duty in destroying their empire ; and, } and Latin churches is on a large one.

« 上一頁繼續 »