« PreviousContinue »
universal passion is to be exhibited. He has sketched it in its purest and its grossest shapes; the timorous flutterings of the young heart, when first disordered by the delicious poison; and mad pulsation of the voluptuary's veins, inflamed by new charms, and used to conquest; the fondness that feeds on every look, to which a frown is misery, and separation death; and the sublime passion, that prefers the glory of its object to possession, or to life: the impatient jealousy that demands an unbounded despotism over the soul ; and the meek devotedness, that would be a rival's handmaid, for the ample recompense of a distant gaze : all are painted, in poetry, and from nature; nor is there an attribute of the blind deity for which he has not furnished a worthy hymn of celebration. We appeal to the characters of Massina and Sophonisba ; Ziphares, Semandra, Mithridates, and Monima ; Varanes and Athenais; Cyara, Gloriana, and the Princess of Cleves ; in proof of our remarks. Especially has he succeeded in depicting that deep, gentle, unpresuming, inextinguishable passion of woman's heart, which will exist even without hope, by which all other passions are absorbed, and, 'in its strength, all sufferings endured; which can neither be inflamed by jealousy, nor chilled by coldness; which feeds on the heart in which it is inshrined, and consumes its devoted and patient victim in the intensity of her own feelings. Such is Narcissa, in Gloriana ; and, in a less degree, Cyara and Monima. He is little to be envied, whatever be his general estimate of the merits of Lee's dramas, who can read the scenes in which they appear, without emotion. We challenge any one, of common sensibility, to the trial. We are not afraid of introducing them with the appeal of the Roman orator, “ If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.” The author made no unbecoming or unwarranted boast, when he said, “Such characters every dauber cannot draw.” We are of his opinion. And though he is seen to a disadvantage in extracts, by which, indeed, the real and peculiar beauties of dramatic composition, those which belong to character and passion, rather than to mere sparkling expression or felicitous imagery, can be but imperfectly exhibited in any case, yet we think those which we have presented to our readers may probably give sufficient pleasure, to occasion their enjoying the higher gratification of perusing entire, at least, his Theodosius, Mithridates, and Brutus. If they have hitherto rested in the common prejudices against the author, we have no doubt of having earned their gratitude.
ART. V. Monteville, compose par Messire Jehañe Monteville,
Chevalier Natif d'Angleterre de la ville de Saint Alain: le q'l parle de la terre de promission de Hierusalem, et des plusieurs pays, villes, et isles de mer, et des diverses et estranges choses, et du voyage de Hierusalem. Q’to: Imprime à Lyon, par Barnabe
Chaussart. The Voiage and Travaille of Sir John Maundeville, Knt, which
treateth of the way to Hierusalem, and of Marveiyles of Inde, with other Islands and Countryes. Now published entire from
an original MS. in the Cotton Library. Octavo. London, 1727. Des vortrefflich welterfahrnen auch hoch und weit berühmten Her
ren Doctor und Engländischen Ritters Johannis de Montevilla, kurieuse Reisebeschreibung, wie derselbe in das gelobte Lund Palästinam, Jerusalem, Egypten, Türkey, Judäam, Indien, Chinam, Persien und andern nah und fern anund abgelegene Königreiche und Provinzen zu Wasser und Land angekommen, und fast den ganzen Weltkreis durchzogen seye. Von
ihme selbst beschrieben. Köln am Rhein und Nürnberg. Joanne de Mandavilla, nel quale si contengono molte cose Mara
vigliose. Venet. 1567. 12mo.
Among the numerous literary and scientific obligations of Europe to the talent and industry of the Mahometans during the earlier portion of the middle ages, none ought to be more gratefully acknowledged than their labors in the cultivation of geographical science, and their zeal in observing and describing the manners, customs, and natural history of the countries over which their dominion extended. Their schools at Salernum and Cassino, at Cordova, Toledo, and the other Spanish universities, grace a splendid period of learning and civilization. They occupy a space between the distant shores of ancient and modern literature, which would otherwise have been a dreary void. For a long series of years, their translations and expositions were the only channels for European acquaintance with classic authorities; and they also imparted the personal experience of numerous Mahometan travellers, as well as a variety of information collected for official purposes by intelligent and powerful governments.
A desire of knowledge respecting the natural and civil relations of distant regions, and the consequent taste for foreign travel, can only arise in a state of considerable advancement in civilization, and will owe its origin in different countries to va
rious and accidental circumstances. Among some nations, commercial enterprize has been the first moving principlethe merchant has been impelled by the desire of gain to brave the dangers of unknown coasts, and the camel or the caravan been the foremost to track the almost pathless desert. In others, military adventure, and the necessity of obtaining the information required for political administration, has led the way to hostile countries, and a conqueror's army has framed the road to be afterwards trodden by the humble but more lasting footsteps of science. Under the Arabian chalifs, when the arms of the true believers had brought under Mussulman sway so vast a portion of the known world, the want would soon arise, and the opportunity be readily supplied, for procuring accurate information concerning the inhabitants and local peculiarities of the conquered provinces. Individuals, stimulated sometimes by prospects of pecuniary advantage, and sometimes by the tales of wonder related by those who returned from the scenes of distant enterprise, traversed the wide extent of Mahometan dominion, and published, for the gratification of the curious, the journals of their progress. The earliest known volumes of such travels are those of Wahab, who travelled through India, China, and other parts of the East, in the year 851 ; and Abn Zeid al Hassan, who followed nearly the same course in 907.
When the Arabians became students of Greek literature, they rapidly availed themselves of the proficiency and experience of its philosophers and mathematicians, and thenceforward their inquiries assumed a more scientific form. Geography once again took its mathematical character; and science purified and directed the investigations, the results of which had before been communicated merely in narrative or topographical description. The pursuit was eagerly cultivated : the students of Sora and Pundebeta were encouraged to follow up inquiries of so much practical importance ; and we find the patronage of the chalifs of Bagdad directed towards superintending the admeasurement of a degree of the earth's circle, and otherscientific experiments, which reflect the highest credit on the monarchs of that truly-illustrious dynasty. The works of Ptolemy were translated for the use of the Arabian scholars; and the longitude and latitude of places were laid down on their maps, on the principles of that great geographer.
Unfortunately for the curious inquirer into the real state of geographical and historical knowledge during the middle ages, comparatively little remains of the works of the men thus, as it were, raised up by the hand of Providence to rekindle and transmit the lamp of ancient learning. Of many, we only know that such things were ; and most of those which have survived; exist only in scattered portions, in the form of extracts and
rished in descriptive year 1800.9lish, from
borate where he pub at the hospiter various
'abridgments. For this loss we have chiefly to thank the pious zeal of the narrow-minded bigot Ximenes, who wantonly committed to the flames the fruits of that singular union in the cause of learning and science between the rival professors of the Christian, Jewish, and Mahometan faiths, which adorned the Moorish dynasty of Spain.
The work of Ebn Haukal (who travelled in the beginning of the tenth century, and wrote a very copious geographical work, compiled from his own observations in various Mahometan nations,) exists in an abridged translation, in the Persian language ; and appeared in English, from the pen of Sir William Ouseley, in the year 1800. But the most celebrated of the Arabian descriptive geographers was Scherifal Edrisi, who flourished in the middle of the twelfth century. He was a student at the University of Cordova, travelled over various countries, and concluded his wanderings at the hospitable court of Roger, King of Sicily, where he published the result of his inquiries, in an elaborate work; extracts from which alone are extant, although it once formed the manual of the Mahometan schools. Essachalli * wrote at the same court, and under the patronage of the same monarch, a similar work, which was translated, by the order of the king, into Latin, for the instruction of his Christian subjects. In the same century, we find another Moorish Spaniard, Ebn Albaithar, travelling through Asia and Africa, to enlarge his physical and botanical knowledge, hospitably received and patronized by Saladin, the celebrated antagonist of Richard Cæur de Lion; and, at length, returning to his native land, to record his observations. To these productions may be added, at a late period, that of Abul Abbas Ahmed Ebn Chaled, a Syrian of the twelfth century, author of “ Hortus Mirabilium terræ ;" and the more celebrated work of Abulfeda, who flourished in the fourteenth century.
The nations of the West were indebted, for several centuries, to these sources of original information, and to the Arabian translations of classic authors, for almost all the knowledge which could be obtained by a student, even under the most favourable circumstances, of foreign geography, natural history, and statistics. But the wars which religious zeal excited them to prosecute, for the recovery of the Holy Land, against these their instructors, obviously facilitated and forced upon them the necessity of acquiring practical information, as to the seat of the war, and the intervening territories. Thus the Ma
* There seems to be some probability that Essachalli and Edrisi may be one and the same person.
hometan powers became once more instrumental in conveying to our forefathers a branch of knowledge which opened the road to splendid commercial enterprize, as well as scientific research.
The rage for warlike adventure, and the fervor of religious enthusiasm, was at length cooled by the dreadful reverses which attended the Christian arms in the East; and the monarchs of Europe recalled their followers to their deserted homes, to cultivate the arts of peace, and meditate more innocent, if not more efficacious, means of converting infidels. But the exaggerated accounts of the wonderful exploits of the holy warriors, and the singular customs of nations and appearances of nature, reported by the returning pilgrim, still incited the curious to inquiry into these new and astonishing topics of conversation ; while the reports of the dangers and perils to be encountered rather increased than damped the desire of the pious devotee to visit those scenes, which were consecrated in his inmost affections, by the narrations of holy writ, and the encouraging promises of prophetic inspiration. The state of religious warfare, and the feverish peace which succeeded it, were thus alike stimulants to the cultivation of geographical research, and to the appetite for foreign discovery. The crusader had, to his cost, found out the miserable imprudence of leading his armies through unknown climes; the more humble missionary and pilgrim, who succeeded him, had ample time and opportunity to familiarize himself with the habits and economy of countries, where some sort of conformity was necessary, to insure protection and safe conduct; and even the gallant knight errant did not always trust himself without guide or direction on the eccentric paths of chivalrous emprize.
The few accounts of the wanderings of travellers which appeared during the early periods of European literature, partake, of course, very strongly of the motives which incited these undertakings; and are always strongly tinctured by the peculiar circumstances of the artificial state of society, under which they were accomplished and recorded. The spirit which animated the breast of most was one of ardent religious feeling, partial, bigoted, and self-sufficient. The traveller set out as a pilgrim, a merchant, or an adventurer, with little or no previous preparation, without observation or knowledge, either of the earth, or of those who were upon the face of it, ready in every thing to hear and see wonders, and to record the marvellous reports of others, where the subject did not fall within his own inspection. He pretended to none of the qualifications which would facilitate his inquiries, enable him to judge correctly, or describe with fidelity. His mind was, at the outset of his journey, full of romantic tales, and anile fables, which he had never