Page images
PDF
EPUB

fatigue and privations of every kind, and taught them to perform the mot long and difficult journeys, mounted, two on one camel. From this time, the Wahabis were enabled to cross the desert with rapidity, to endure without a murmur both hunger and thirst, and to surprise their enemies whilst unsuspicious of attack, and unprepared for resistance. In various harangues, Ebn Sehoud inspired his fanatic soldiers with a perfect contempt of death ; their swords, he declared, would render them rich at the expense of others, and he promised that ķings should tremble before them. The new Pontiff, or Prophet, seconded the arguments of his prince“ The Almighty,” said he, “combats on your side, and it is his divine will that all should perish who do not acknowledge the true faith ; on earth you will be recompensed by the plunder taken from your enemies, and the eternal enjoyments of Paradise await you in the other world.”

After accomplishing many of his ambitious projects, Ebn Sehoud died, and bequeathed to his son, Abdalaziz, a path ready opened, which might lead him to the universal dominion of Arabia. This active prince followed the track of his father, and soon overcame all those tribes who had hitherto resisted. Nothing is more prompt, nothing more efficacious, than the Wahabis mode of fighting. Believe or die,” is the motto they have adopted, like the early Musulmans, when they attacked with the Koran in one hand, and the sword in the other.

If any tribe opposed the arms of Abdalaziz, he slew all the men, and their wealth became a prey to the conquerors ; but the Wahabis have always respected the honor of females; if, on the contrary, a tribe submitted in good time, he appointed a governor to preside over them, and required a tenth of all their property, focks, herds, furniture, and articles of every description; he even obliged one Arab out of

every ten to serve, gratuitously, in his victorious ranks. Thus did Abdalaziz amass prodigious treasures, and soon found himself Chief of a mighty nation, composed of warriors anxious for his signal to rush upon new conquests : from this time, according to Arabian accounts, his smallest army contained an hundred thousand, or an hundred and twenty thousand men.

Among those converted to the new faith, are the Nejedis, part of the Anazeh tribe. The Beni-Gerbés, a conside able race, who lately separated themselves from the Wahabis, and having submitted to the government of Bagdad, passed the River Euphrates; many of these reside in Mesopotamia, and wear the appearance rather of brutes than of men : in their manners most savage, ignorant of agriculture, they have nothing like bread, but live on camels' milk, and whatever the earth furnishes of herbage, or of animals, and like their own dromedaries, they can support hunger and thirst whole days successively. These Gerbés allow their hair to grow, and blend it over the face and neck with their bushy beards, which gives to their coun. tenances such an expression of ferocity, as disconcerts for a moment the traveller who chances to meet them.

The Muntefiks are, also, in part subject to the new sectaries; many of this powerful tribe are under the government of Bağdad, and amployed in defending Bassorah against any attempts of the Wahabis.

1

The Beni Giullas, a mixed tribe, have become converts to WahaBism, also the Beni-Defirs, the Beni-Khaleds, the Ben-Shehers, the Beni-Sabehs, otherwise called Haderün, the Beni-el-Fedouls, the Beni-al-Hefians with about four and twenty other tribes.

The Wahabis, as we have already observed, reject the Musulman traditions, although they retain the Koran ; they do not acknowledge Mohammed as a prophet, and they reduce the formula, or profession of faith, to these words, “There is no other God but Godthey forbid the worshipping or honoring of any created being, but they practise circumcision, and use the same form of prayers, ablutions, and fasts, as the Musulmans ; but their Mosques are without any decoration whatsoever, even minarets or cupolas. An Imam, or Priest, Teads certain passages of the Koran, and every one performs his Teligious duties without once mentioning the name of Mohammed Indeed, they hold in such abhorrence the disciples of this false prophet

, that intolerance respecting them is an absolute precept of their law, and most rigorously observed. Towards Christians and Jews they act with less severity; and it is well known, that any who visit countries subject to the Wahabis, are never persecuted, these sectaries not thinking the conversion of such infidels an object worth their trouble.

Bread, often made of barley, dates, locusts, fish, and sometimes (but rarely) rice, with sheep's flesh, constitute the diet of Wahabis, who are in general extremely frugal; coffee is forbidden amongst them, and smoking is a custom quite unknown; they have no personal distinctions, no titles; one is equal to another; they live like brothers, and even towards their Chief behave with rustic familiarity, although they execute his commands with the most implicit obedience. So far from treating with respect the names of Musulman, Sheikhs, and Imams, they consider it a religious duty to demolish the monuments and chapels which have been erected in memory of those prea tended saints. The Wahabis, however, allow that the pilgrimage to Mecca is a meritorious act, on account of the veneration in which they hold the Caaba, regarding it as the most ancient temple built in honor of God.' They inter their dead without any funeral pomp, covering the bodies with a little earth, and they condemn those nations which lavish ornaments on tombs. The utmost simplicity pervades their dress and mode of living in every respect ; at meals, they recline, nearly after the old Roman fashion, and instead of tables, they use sheep-skins, cut into a circular form. Accustomed from infancy to fatigues and privations, they en oy sound health and vigor; grave, phlegmatic, rude, proud, and fanatical, they despise all such customs of other countries as differ from their own, and haughtily reject whatever is above the sphere of their own knowledge.

When they meditate an expedition, two skins, or bladders, one containing water, the other four, and placed on their dromedaries,

'It is supposed to have been erected by Abraham, and his son Ishmael; and it contains the celebrated black stone, which, at the creation of the world, was placed there by an angel ; for many centuries before the Molunuedan Æra, the Caava was a Temple, consecrated to the worship of idols.

furnish their only food, and this they prepare by simply mixing toge. ther a little flour and water, which they swallow without any further process; if water fails them, they supply its place with the urine of their camels, and, in fact, can resist the strongest calls of hunger and thirst for many days.

In war, they face danger and death with all the intrepidity which fanaticism inspires; and if to these physical and moral qualities, were united a knowledge of regular military tactics and discipline, we might regard them as almost invincible, and nothing could save all Asia from their yoke. Whilst they could invade, according to their usual mode of warfare, the surrounding nations, their own desert plains, their barren mountains and valleys, parched by the burning sun, would effectually prevent an enemy from retaliating. Nature has surrounded their country with the strongest barriers ; but even should the foe be successful, the Wahabis would abandon, without the least regret, their miserable habitations, and take refuge among places inaccessible to other men.

This immense tribe may be divided into three classes, the guezous, or military, the laborers, and artists. Some travellers have noticed their dislike to agriculture, but it is certain that they are not less addicted to it than the other inhabitants of the desert ; they cultivate likewise a few mechanical arts, and the author of this memoir has seen specimens of their ingenuity in basket-work, in the manufactory of wool and cotton, and even in the use of iron and of

copper,

which proved them fully equal to the other Arabs.

Conscious of the horror with which most nations regard them on account of their cruelty, therWahabis seldom address themselves to strangers, unless to purchase powder, lead, arms, or such other articles as their own country does not afford, and then they borrow the character of Eguellis, or Muntefiks. Turkish and Hungarian coin, Venetian Sequins, and Spanish patachs, are generally in use among them; they have besides a particular kind of copper money, established by Ebn Sehoud.

Until the year 1801, no measures were adopted to check the alarming progress of these new sectaries by the Ottoman government; at last, Suleiman, Pasha of Bagdad, received an order to attack them, and a combined army of Turks and Arabs, under Ali Kiaya, penetrated, although with much loss and considerable difficulty, into the district of Lahsa, but Abdalaziz, the Wahabi Chief, having bribed Shawi-zadeh, the principal adviser of Ali Kiaya, this Musulman General retreated to Bagdad at the moment when he might have triumphed over his enemies; the treason, however, was soon discovered, and when Ali Kiaya became Pacha himself, Shawi-zadeh was put to death. A few months after this retreat of Ali Kiaya, the ferocious Wahabis surprised and pillaged Imam Hussein, where they perpetrated the most horrible cruelties; they also demolished the chapel which contained the tombs of Ali's sons; so venerated by all Persians, and returned to Drehyeh with two hundred camels bearing their immense booty.

This occurrence spread consternation all over Bagdad, and at

9

Tehran, (the capital of Persia,) whence Feth Ali Shah wrote a letter of reproach to Suleimaa Pasha, and threatened that he would send an army of his own Persians to exterminate those new enemies of the Musulman religion, The Pasha, in reply, assured his Majesty, that he would be more vigilant in future, and act with unremitting activity against the common foe; yet Abdalaziz every day became more formidable, and extended his dominion over many towns which the fate of Imam Hussein deterred from opposition.

These successes encouraged the Wahabis to greater achievements, and the severest wound which could be inflicted on the Mahomedan faith, was the surrender of Mecca, the holy city ; where, as the inhabitants had not resisted, their lives were spared, with the exception of twenty Sheikhs, who had publicly declaimed against the new religion. The Wahabis were induced, on this occasion, to act with less cruelty than usual, by the respect which they entertain, as we before mentioned, for the Caaba. In the midst of this successful career, Abdalaziz was assassinated, (November 13, 1803,) by a Persian, who had lost his three sons in the massacre at Imam Hussein, and from a desire of revenge had assumed the character of a Wahabi: he was burnt alive, but the Musulmans, who regard him as a holy martyr, declare that the flames not having deprived him of life, he was delivered to an executioner, and suffered decapitation..

Sehoud was proclaimed successor to his father Abdalaziz, by the unanimous suffrages of the Wahabis, and he continues to preserve amongst them such a spirit of religious fanaticism, and ambition of conquest, as not only renders them a terror to bordering nations, but seems to insure them the universal monarchy of Asia. In the mean time, their respect for the English will be sufficiently evinced by the following anecdote :-Some Wahabis of the desert having intercepted 2 messenger from Mr. Manesty, the British agent at Bassora, detained one of his letters ; this gentleman complained of the insult, and demanded satisfaction in a high tone.

The Sheikh exerted himself to discover the guilty person, and having found him, cut off his head, then dipped his hand in the unfortunate Wahabi's blood, impressed his sanguinary fingers on the letter, and sent it to Mr. Manesty, desiring him to consider the marks which it exhibited as proofs of his attachment, and of his promptness in punishing the culprit.

During the year 1806, several of those pious Musulmans, who formed the caravan of Tajis, or pilgrims, on their way to Mecca, were massacred by the Wahabis ; these sectaries levied a heavy contribution on those whom they suffered to live and broke the sacred mahmel, or box, containing the Grand Signior's offerings to the tomb of Mohammed, a circumstance regarded by the Turks at Aleppo as portending the fall of Musulmanism. The few pilgrims who were permitted to enter Mecca, had the mortification of finding all the Mosques destroyed; the exterior ceremonies of their worship abolished, and the ministers of their holy religion exterminated ; the Caaba alone remained uninjured.:

Medina has since become a prey to these fanatics, and although they have experienced occasional repulses, yet there is reason to apprehend that Syria and Mesopotamia will also yield to their power. Bagdad,

Bassora, Mousul, Aleppo, and Damascus, the principal cities of those provinces, bowever fortified they may be, cannot long resist the overwhelming torrent; for although the Wahabis never think of besieging a place accord ng to the rules of military art, yet by plundering the villages, stripping all caravans, and preventing all means of obtaining relief or provisions; their enterprises are generally rendered successful.

In 1807, the town of Ana, situated on the River Euphrates, was sacked by the Wahabis; who destroyed by fire and sword, not only the place, but most of the male inhabitants; carrying off immense - booty, and a great number of women and children, whom they keep as slaves.

NOTICE OF ANIMADVERSIONES IN JUVENALIS SATIRAS, SIVE CENSURA

EDITIONUM RUPERTIANARUM, AUCTORE J. R. AvG. HEINECKE, Halis Sax. 1804. Octavo, pp. 108.

[ocr errors]

The Student, who wishes to inake himself a master of Juvenal

, will find it worth his while to pay some attentiou to these few pages, which successfully illustrate many a difficult passage in this popular, but obscure author. They will at the same time enable our readers to make a proper estimate of Ruperti's edition, which lias always appcared to us to enjoy a higher reputation than its merits ought to have secured to it, partly from the pompous recommendation of its own utility and pretensions by the Author himself, partly from the circumstance of its being a bulky volume, which seems to contain every thing valuable in the preceding commentators, and partly from the circumstance of its being published by one of the Germans, upon whose industry, learuing, and knowledge of their subject, we are accustomed to rely, and especially by a man, who bad been previously introduced to our notice. The Clarendon-Press, by the recent republication of Ruperti's own epitome (with but few additions and alterations) in one volume octavo, has made our countrymen more familiar with Ruperti's work, and we are therefore the more anxious to pat the Student upon

his guard. Conforipably to the plan, which we have adopted in our sketch of Kuster's Edition of Xenophon's Economics, we shall cite the whole Preface with the introductory stricture, and then make 'sonie other extracts from the Work, without any comments, to prove the

« PreviousContinue »