BLTC Press Titles


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Esoteric Buddhism

A. P. Sinnett


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Lewis Carroll


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde


The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite


History of the Moors of Spain

by Florian

Excerpt:

c

arm her soldiers against the destroyers of her gods; Mohammed, sword in hand, dispersed their armies, seized upon their cities, and won the affections of the people whom he subdued, by his clemency, his genius, and his fascinating address.

A legislator, a pontiff, the chief of all the Arab tribes, the commander of an invincible army, respected by the Asiatic sovereigns, adored by a powerful nation, and surrounded by captains who had become heroes in serving under him, Mohammed was on the point of marching against Heraclius, when his designs were for ever interrupted by the termination of his existence. This event took place at Medina, A.D. 632, Hegira 2, and was the effect of poison, which had, some time before, been administered to this extraordinary man by a Jewess of Rhaibar.

The death of the Prophet arrested neither the progress of his religion nor the triumphs of the Moslem arms.

Abubeker, the father-in-law of Mohammed, became his successor, and assumed the title of Caliph, which simply signifies vicar. During his reign the Saracens penetrated into Syria, dispersed the armies of Heraclius, and took the city of Damascus, the siege of which will he for ever celebrated in consequence of the almost superhuman exploits of the famous Kaled, surnamed the Sword of God*

Notwithstanding these successive victories, and the enormous amount of booty thus taken from the enemy and committed to his keeping, Abuheker appropriated to his own particular use a sum scarcely equivalent to forty cents a day.

Omar, the successor of Abubeker, commanded Kaled to march against Jerusalem. That oity soon became the prize of the Arabs; Syria and Palestine were subdued; the Turks and the Persians demanded peace; Heraclius fled from Antioch; and all Asia trembled before Omar and the terrible Mussulmans.

Modest, in spite of the triumphs that everywhere attended them, and attributing their success to God alone, these Moslems preserved unaltered their austere manners, their frugality, their severe discipline, and their reverence for poverty, though surrounded by the most corrupt of the nations of the earth, and exposed to the seductive influences of the delicious climates and the luxurious pleasures of some of the richest and most beau* See Note B. nage 206.

tiful countries in the world. During the sacking of a city, the most eager and impetuous soldier would be instantly arrested in the work of pillage by the word of his chief, and would, with the strictest fidelity, deliver up the booty he had obtained, that it might be deposited in the general treasury. Even the most independent and magnificent of the heroic chiefs would hasten, in accordance with the directions of the caliph, to take the command of an army, and would become successively generals, private soldiers, or ambassadors, in obedience to his slightest wish. In fine, Omar himself—Omar, the richest, the greatest, the most puissant of the monarchs of Asia, set forward upon a journey to Jerusalem, mounted upon a red camel, which bore a sack of barley, one of rice, a well-filled water-skin, and a wooden vase. Thus equipped, the caliph travelled through the midst of conquered nations, who crowded around his path at every step, entreating his blessing and praying him to adjudge their quarrels. At last he joined his army, and, inculcating precepts of simplicity, valour, and humility upon the soldiers, he made his entrance into the Holy City, liberated such of its former Christian possessors as had become the captives of his people, and commanded the preservation of the churches. Then remounting his camel, the representative of the Prophet returned to Medina, to perform the duties of the high-priest of his religion.

The Mussulmans now advanced towards Egypt. That country was soon subdued. Alexandra was taken by Amrou, one of the most distinguished generals of Omar. It was then that the famous library was destroyed, whose loss still excites the profound regrets of the learned. The Arabians, though such enthusiastic admirers of their national poetry, despised the literature of all the rest of the world. Amrou caused the library of the Ptolemies to be burned, yet this same Amrou was nevertheless celebrated for his poetical effusions. He entertained the sincerest affection and respect for the celebrated John the Grammarian, to whom, but for the opposing order of the caliph, he would have given this valuable collection of books. It was Amrou, too, who caused the execution of a design worthy of the best age of Rome, that of connecting the Red Sea with the Mediterranean by means of a navigable canal, at a point where the waters of the Nile might be diverted from


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