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country, took Sidonia by storm, and surprised Seville while in a state of unsuspecting security.
Abderahman put himself at the head of his faithful Zenetes, and took the field in person. By the rapidity of his movements, the rebels were defeated, Sidonia and Seville speedily retaken, and Casim was made prisoner. The generosity of Abderahman was again exhibited toward this unfortunate son of Yusuf. He spared his life, and sent him to be confined in a tower at Toledo.
The veteran Samael had taken no part in these insurrections, but had attended faithfully to the affairs intrusted to him by Abderahman. The death of his old friend and colleague, Yusuf, however, and the subsequent disasters of his family, filled him with despondency. Fearing the inconstancy of fortune, and the dangers incident to public employ, he entreated the king to be permitted to retire to his house in Seguenza, and indulge a privacy and repose suited to his advanced age. His prayer was granted. The veteran laid by his arms, battered in a thousand conflicts; hung his sword and lance against the wall, and surrounded by a few friends, gave himself up apparently to the sweets of quiet and unambitious leisure.
Who can count, however, upon the tranquil content of a heart nurtured amid the storms of war and ambition ! Under the ashes of this outward humility, were glowing the coals of faction. In his seemingly philosophical retirement, Samael was concerting with his friends new treason against Abderahman. His plot was discovered ; his house was suddenly surrounded by troops; and he was conveyed to a tower at Toledo, where, in the course of a few months, he died in captivity.
The magnanimity of Abderahman was again put to the proof, by a new insurrection at Toledo. Hixem ben Adra, a relation of Yusuf, seized
upon the Alcazar, or citadel, slew several of the royal adherents of the king, liberated Casim from his tower, and, summoning all the banditti of the country, soon mustered a force of ten thousand men.
Abderahman was quickly before the walls of Toledo, with the troops of Cordova, and his devoted Zenetes. The rebels were brought to terms, and surrendered the city, on promise of general pardon, which was extended even to Hixem and Casim. When the chieftain saw Hixem and his principal confederates in the power of Abderahman, they advised him to put them all to death. A promise given to traitors and rebels,' said they, “is not binding, when it is to the interest of the state that it should be broken.'
• No ! replied Abderahman, 'if the safety of my throne were at stake, I would not break my word.' So saying, he confirmed the amnesty, and granted Hixem ben Adra á worthless life, to be employed in farther treason.
Scarcely had Abderahman returned from this expedition, when a powerful army, sent by the caliph, landed from Africa on the coast of the Algarves. The commander, Aly ben Mogueth, Emir of Cairvan, elevated a rich banner which he had received from the hands of the calipb. Wherever he went, he ordered the caliph of the East to be proclaimed by sound of trumpet, denouncing Abderahman as a usurper, the vagrant member of a family proscribed and execrated, in all the mosques of the East.
One of the first to join his standard, was Hixem ben Adra, so recently pardoned by Abderahman. He seized upon the citadel of Toledo, and repairing to the camp of Aly, offered to deliver the city into his hands.
Abderahman, as bold in war as he was gentle in peace, took the field with his wonted promptness ; overthrew his enemies, with great slaughter, drove some to the sea-coast to regain their ships, and others to the mountains. The body of Aly was found on the field of battle. Abderahman caused the head to be struck off, and conveyed to Cairvan, where it was affixed at night to a column in the public square, with this inscription : Thus Abderahman, the descendant of the Omeyas, punishes the rash and arrogant.'
Hixem ben Adra escaped from the field of battle, and excited farther troubles, but was eventually captured by Abdelmelee, who ordered his head to be struck off on the spot, lest he should again be spared, through the wonted clemency of Abdarahman.
Notwithstanding these signal triumphs, the reign of Abderahman was disturbed by farther insurrections, and by another descent from Africa, but he was victorious over them all; striking the roots of his power deeper and deeper into the land. Under his sway, the government of Spain became more regular and consolidated, and acquired an independence of the empire of the East. The caliph continued to be considered as first pontiff and chief of the religion, but he ceased to have any temporal power over Spain.
Having again an interval of peace, Abderahman devoted himself to the education of his children. Suleiman, the eldest, he appointed Wali, or governor, of Toledo; Abdallah, the second, was intrusted with the command of Merida ; but the third son, Hixem, was the delight of his heart, the son of Howara, his favorite sultana, whom he loved throughout life with the utmost tenderness. With this youth, who was full of promise, he relaxed from the fatigues of government; joining in his youthful sports amidst the delightful gardens of Cordova, and teaching him the gentle art of falconry, of wbich the king was so fond, that he received the name of the Falcon of Coraixi.
While Abderahman was thus indulging in the gentle propensities of his nature, mischief was secretly at work. Muhamad, the youngest son of Yusuf, had been for many years a prisoner in the tower of Cordova. Being passive and resigned, his keepers relaxed their vigilance, and brought him forth from his dungeon. He went groping about, however, in broad day-light, as if still in the darkness of his tower. His guards watched him narrowly, lest this should be a deception, but were at length convinced that the long absence of light had rendered him blind. They now permitted him to descend frequently to the lower chambers of the tower, and to sleep there occasionally, during the heats of summer. They even allowed him to grope bis way to the cistern, in quest of water for his ablutions.
A year passed in this way, without any thing to excite suspicion. During all this time, however, the blindness of Muhamad was entirely a deception; and he was concerting a plan of escape, through the aid of some friends of his father, who found means to visit him occasionally. One sultry evening in midsummer, the guards had gone to bathe in the Guadalquiver, leaving Muhamad alone, in the lower chambers of the tower. No sooner were they out of sight and hearing, than he hastened to a window of the stair-case, leading down to the cistern, lowered himself as far as his arms would reach, and dropped without injury to the ground. Plunging into the Guadalquiver, he swam across to a thick grove on the opposite side, where his friends were waiting to receive him. Here, monnting a horse which they had provided for an event of the kind, he fled across the country, by solitary roads, and made good his escape to the mountains of Jaen.
The guardians of the tower dreaded for some time to make known his flight to Abderahman. When at length it was told to him, he exclaimed : ‘All is the work of eternal wisdom ; it is intended to teach us that we cannot benefit the wicked, without injuring the good. The flight of that blind man will cause much trouble and bloodshed.'
His predictions were verified. Muhamad reared the standard of rebellion on the mountains; the seditious and discontented of all kinds hastened to join it, together with soldiers of fortune, or rather wandering banditti, and he had soon six thousand men, well armed, hardy in habits, and desperate in character. His brother Casim, also, réappeared about the same time, in the mountains of Ronda, at the head of a daring band, that laid all the neighboring valleys under contribution.
Abderahman summoned his alcaydes from their various military posts, to assist in driving the rebels from their mountain fastnesses into the plains. It was a dangerous and protracted toil, for the mountains were frightfully wild and rugged. He entered them with a powerful host, driving the rebels from height to height, and valley to valley, and harassing them by a galling fire from thousands of crossbo'ws. At length, a decisive battle took place near the river Guadalemar. The rebels were signally defeated; four thousand fell in action, many were drowned in the river, and Muhamad, with a few horsemen, escaped to the mountains of the Algarves. Here he was hunted by the alcaydes from one desolate retreat to another; his few followers grew tired of sharing the disastrous fortunes of a fated man; one by one deserted him, and he himself deserted the remainder, fearing they might give him up, to purchase their own pardon.
Lonely and disguised, he plunged into the depths of the forests, or lurked in dens and caverns, like a famished wolf
, often casting back his thoughts with regret to the time of his captivity in the gloomy tower of Cordova. Hunger at length drove him to Alarcon, at the risk of being discovered. Famine and misery, however, had so wasted and changed him, that he was not recognized. He remained nearly a year in Alarcon, unnoticed and unknown, yet constantly tormenting himself with the dread of discovery, and with groundless fe: of the vengeance of Abderahman. Death at length put an end to his wretchedness.
A milder fate attended his brother Casim. Being defeated in the mountains of Murcia, he was conducted in chains to Cordova. On coming into the presence of Abderahman, his once fierce and haughty spirit, broken by distress, gave way; he threw himself on the earth, kissed the dust beneath the feet of the king, and implored his cle
mency. The benignant heart of Abderahman was filled with melancholy, rather than exultation, at beholding this wreck of the once haughty family of Yusuf a suppliant at his feet, and suing for mere existence. He thought upon the mutability of fortune, and felt how insecure are all her favors. He raised the unhappy Casim from the earth, ordered his irons to be taken off, and, not content with mere forgiveness, treated him with honor, and gave him possessions in Seville, where he might live in state conformable to the ancient dignity of his family. Won by this great and persevering magnanimity, Casim ever after remained one of the most devoted of his subjects.
All the enemies of Abderahman were at length subdued; he reigned undisputed sovereign of the Moslems of Spain ; and so be. nign was his government, that every one blessed the revival of the illustrious line of Omeya. He was at all times accessible to the humblest of his subjects; the poor man ever found in him a friend, and the oppressed a protector. He improved the administration of justice ; established schools for public instruction ; encouraged poets and men of letters, and cultivated the sciences. He built mosques in every city that he visited ; inculcated religion by example as well as by precept; and celebrated all the festivals prescribed by the Koran, with the utmost magnificence.
As a monument of gratitude to God for the prosperity with which he had been favored, he undertook to erect a mosque in his favorite city of Cordova, that should rival in splendor the great mosque of Damascus, and excel the one recently erected in Bagdad by the Abassides, the supplanters of his family.
It is said that he himself furnished the plan for this famous edifice, and even worked on it, with his own hands, one hour in each day, to testify his zeal and humility in the service of God, and to animate his workmen. He did not live to see it completed, but it was finished according to his plans by his son Hixem. When finished, it surpassed the most splendid mosques of the east. It was six hundred feet in length, and two hundred and fifty in breadth.
Within were twentyeight aisles, crossed by nineteen, supported by a thousand and ninetythree columns of marble. There were nineteen portals, covered with plates of bronze, of rare workmanship. The principal portal was covered with plates of gold. On the summit of the grand cupola, were three gilt balls, surmounted by a golden pomegranate. At night, the mosque was illuminated with four thousand seven hundred lamps, and great sums were expended in amber and aloes, which were burnt as perfumes. The mosque remains to this day, shorn of its ancient splendor, yet still one of the grandest Moslem monuments in Spain.
Finding himself advancing in years, Abderahman assembled in his capital of Cordova the principal governors and commanders of his kingdom, and in presence of them all, with great solemnity, nominated his son Hixem as the successor to the throne. All present made an oath of fealty to Abderahman during his life, and to Hixem after his death. The prince was younger than his brothers, Soleiman and Abdallah; but he was the son of Howara, the tenderly
beloved sultana of Abderahman, and her influence, it is said, gained him this preference.
Within a few months afterward, Abderahman fell grievously sick at Merida. Finding his end approaching, he summoned Hixem to his bed-side : ‘My son,' said he, the angel of death is hovering over me; treasure up, therefore, in thy heart this dying counsel, which I give through the great love I bear thee. Remember that all empire is from God, who gives and takes it away, according to his pleasure. Since God, through his divine goodness, has given us regal power and authority, let us do his holy will, which is nothing else than to do good to all men, and especially to those committed to our protection. Render equal justice, my son, to the rich and the poor, and never suffer injustice to be done within thy dominion, for it is the road to perdition. Be merciful and benignant to those dependent upon thee. Confide the government of thy cities and provinces to men of worth and experience; punish without compassion those ministers who oppress ihy people with exorbitant exactions. Pay thy troops punctually; teach them to feel a certainty in thy promises ; command them with gentleness but firmness, and make them in truth the defenders of the state, not its destroyers. Cultivate unceasingly the affections of thy people, for in their good will consists the security of the state, in their distrust its peril, in their hatred its certain ruin. Protect the husbandmen who cultivate the earth, and yield us necessary sustenance; never permit their fields, and groves, and gardens to be disturbed. In a word, act in such wise that thy people may bless thee, and may enjoy, under the shadow of thy wing, a secure and tranquil life. In this consists good government; if thou dost practice it, thou wilt be happy among thy people, and renowned throughout the world.'
Having given this excellent counsel, the good king Abderahman blessed his son Hixem, and shortly after died; being but in the sixtieth year of his age. He was interred with great pomp; but the highest honors that distinguished bis funeral, were the tears of real sorrow shed upon his grave. He left behind him a name for valor, justice, and magnanimity, and forever famous as being the founder of the glorious line of the Ommiades in Spain.