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dear," said he, "no one will then feel any inclination to laugh." According to the Koran, an angel will weigh both men and women in a great balance: this idea, too, is taken from the Magi. He also stole from them their narrow bridge which must be passed over after death, and their elysium, where the Mussulmen Elect will find baths, well-furnished apartments, good beds, and houris with great black eyes. He does, it is true, say that all these pleasures of the senses, so necessary to those who are to rise again with senses, will be nothing in comparison with the pleasure of contemplating the Supreme Being. He has the humility to confess that he himself will not enter paradise through his own merits, but purely by the will of God. Through this same pure Divine will, he orders that a fifth part of the spoil shall always be reserved for the prophet.
It is not true that he excludes women from paradise. It is hardly likely that so able a man should have chosen to embroil himself with that half of the human race by which the other half is led. Abulfeda relates, that an old woman one day importuned him to tell her what she must do to get into paradise. good lady," said he, "paradise is not for old women." The good woman began to weep; but the prophet consoled her by saying, "There will be no old women, because they will become young again." This consolatory doctrine is confirmed in the fifty-fourth chapter of the Koran.
He forbade wine, because some of his followers once went intoxicated to prayers. He allowed a plurality of wives, conforming in this point to the immemorial usage of the Orientals.
In short, his civil laws are good; his doctrine is admirable in all which it has in common with ours; but his means are shocking-villainy and murder!
He is excused by some, on the first of these charges, because, say they, the Arabs had a hundred and twenty-four thousand prophets before him, and there could be no great harm in the appearance of one more: men, it is added, require to be deceived. But how are we to justify a man who says, "Believe that I
have conversed with the angel Gabriel, or pay me tribute?"
How superior is Confucius-the first of mortals who have not been favoured with revelations ! He employs neither falsehood nor the sword, but only reason. The viceroy of a great province, he causes the laws to be observed, and morality to flourish; disgraced and poor, he teaches them. He practises them alike in greatness and in humiliation; he renders virtue amiable; and has for his disciples the most ancient and wisest people upon earth.*
In vain does Count de Boulainvilliers, who had some respect for Mahomet, extol the Arabs. Notwithstanding all his boastings, they were a nation of banditti. They robbed before Mahomet, when they adored the stars; they robbed under Mahomet in the name of God. They had, say you, the simplicity of the heroic ages; but what were these heroic ages?-times when men cut one another's throats for a well or a cistern, as they now do for a province?
The first Mussulmen were animated by Mahomet with the rage of enthusiasm. Nothing is more terrible than a people who, having nothing to lose, fight in the united spirit of rapine and of religion.
It is true that there was not much art in their proceedings. The contract of marriage between Mahomet and his first wife expresses, that while Cadisha loves him, and he in like manner loves Cadisha, it is thought meet to join them. But is there the same simplicity in having composed a genealogy which makes him descend in a right line from Adam, as several Spanish and Scotch families have likewise been made to descend?
The great prophet experienced the disgrace common to so many husbands, after which no one ought to com
* The partiality of Voltaire to the Chinese is well known; the picture in his time was comparatively new and dazzling. A better acquaintance has not confirmed it; a remark, howeyer, which is made without disparagement to the merited character of Confucius.-T.
plain. The name of him who received the favours of his second wife, was Assam. The behaviour of Mahomet, on this occasion, was even more lofty than that of Cæsar, who put away his wife, saying, "The wife of Cæsar ought not to be suspected." The prophet would not suspect his. He sent to heaven for a chapter of the Koran, affirming that his wife was faithful. This chapter, like all the others, had been written from all eternity.
He is admired for having raised himself, from being a camel-driver, to be a pontiff, a legislator, and a monarch; for having subdued Arabia, which had never before been subjugated; for having given the first shock to the Roman empire in the East, and to that of the Persians; and I admire him still more for having kept peace in his house amongst his wives. He changed the face of part of Europe, one half of Asia, and nearly all Africa; nor was his religion unlikely, at one time, to subjugate the whole earth.* On how trivial a circumstance will revolutions sometimes depend! A blow from a stone, a little harder than that which he received in his first battle, might have changed the destiny of the world!
His son-in-law Ali asserted, that when the prophet was about to be inhumed, he was found in a situation not very common to the dead. The words of the Roman sovereign might be well applied in this caseDecet imperatorem stantem mori."
Never was the life of a man written more in detail than his; the most minute particulars of it were regarded as sacred. We have the names and the numbers of all that belonged to him-nine swords, three lances, three bows, seven cuirasses, three bucklers, twelve wives, one white cock, seven horses, two mules, and four camels, besides the mare Borac, on which he
* Gibbon observes that, but for the timely victory of Charles Martel over the invading army of the Saracens of Spain, all France might have been Mahometanised, and even our English Oxford have ultimately been distinguished by mosques in lieu of temples-simple fatalism and clear water, instead of highchurch politics and muddy port,
went to heaven. But this last he had only borrowed; it was the property of the angel Gabriel.
All his sayings have been preserved. One was, that the enjoyment of women made him more fervent in prayer. Besides all his other knowledge, he is said to have been a great physician; so that he wanted none of the qualifications for deceiving mankind.
Ir is no longer allowable to speak of Alexander, except in order to say something new of him, or to destroy the fables, historical, physical, and moral, which have disfigured the history of the only great man to be found among the conquerors of Asia.
After reflecting a little on the life of Alexander, who, amid the intoxications of pleasure and conquest, built more towns than all the other conquerors of Asia destroyed, after calling to mind that, young as he was, he turned the commerce of the world into a new channel, it appears very strange that Boileau should have spoken of him as a robber and a madman. Alexander, having been elected at Corinth captaingeneral of Greece, and commissioned as such to avenge the invasions of the Persians, did no more than his duty in destroying their empire; and, having always united the greatest magnanimity with the greatest courage having respected the wife and daughters of Darius when in his power, he did not in any way deserve either to be confined as a madman or hanged as a robber.
Rollin asserts, that Alexander took the famous city of Tyre only to oblige the Jews, who hated the Tyrians it is, however, quite as likely that Alexander had other reasons; for an able commander would not leave Tyre mistress of the sea when he was going to attack Égypt.
Alexander's friendship and respect for Jerusalem were undoubtedly great; but it should hardly be said that the Jews set a rare example of fidelity-an example worthy of the only people who at that time had the knowledge of the true God, in refusing to furnish Alexander
with provisions, because they had sworn fidelity to Darius. It is well known that the Jews took every opportunity of revolting against their sovereigns; for a Jew was not to serve a profane king. If they imprudently refused contributions to the conqueror, it was not with a view to prove themselves the faithful slaves of Darius, since their law expressly ordered them to hold all idolatrous nations in abhorrence: their books are full of execrations pronounced against them, and of reiterated attempts to throw off their yoke. If, therefore, they at first refused the contributions, it was because their rivals, the Samaritans, had paid them without hesitation, and they believed that Darius, though vanquished, was still powerful enough to support Jerusalem against Samaria.
It is wholly false that the Jews were then the only people who had the knowledge of the true God, as Rollin tells us. The Samaritans worshipped the same God, though in another temple; they had the same Pentateuch as the Jews, and they had it in Tyrian characters, which the Jews had lost. The schism between Samaria and Jerusalem was, on a small scale, what the schism between the Greek and Latin churches is on a large one. The hatred was equal on both sides, having the same foundation-Religion.
Alexander, having possessed himself of Tyre by means of that famous causeway which is still the admiration of all generals, went to punish Jerusalem, which lay not far out of his way. The Jews, headed by their high-priest, came and humbled themselves before him, offering him money-for angry conquerors are not to be appeased without money. Alexander was appeased, and they remained subject to Alexander and to his successors. Such is the true as well as the only probable history of this affair.
Rollin repeats a story told about four hundred years after Alexander's expedition, by that romancing, exaggerating historian, Flavius Josephus, who may be pardoned for having taken every opportunity of setting off his wretched country to the best advantage. Rollin repeats, after Josephus, that Jaddus the high