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G. & C. CARVILL, BROADWAY, NEW YORK.
Clark &. Raser, Printers, Philadelphia.
FOREIGN LITERATURE AND SCIENCE.
From the Foreign Quarterly Rerier. by Witthof,* whose work we have not seen, VON HAMMER'S HISTORY OF THE thor whose work we are now to review, we
but from the character given of it by the auASSASSINS*
should regard it as of little value. The last THERE is no term in more familiar use and completest work on the subject is that throughout Europe than that of Assassin, yet which stands at the head of this article, writto the generality of readers little is known of ten by one of the most celebrated orientalists the singular sect from which the appellation that modern Europe has produced. This hishas been derived. William, archbishop of tory brings forward, from purely, oriental Tyre, and the Cardinal de Vitri, bishop of Acre, sources, new and surprising views of the nature writers of the thirteenth century, gave some and organization of the Order, as Mr. Von short notices of that terrible band of murder Hammer denominates it. In English, we may ers, the followers and ministers of the cele- here observe, there is no satisfactory account brated Old Man of the Mountain, with whom of the Assassins, except the short notice given the champions of the cross came in contact in of them by Sir John Malcolm, in his valuable Syria, and Benjamin of Tudela, the Jewish History of Persia; and his statements do not, traveller, Haiton, the Armenian prince, and on every point, exactly tally with those of Marco Polo, the illustrious Venetian and father their German historian. The work has now of modern travel, made known their first and been published nine years, but we have reason chief establishment in Persia. The notions to believe that it is very little known in Eng. coneerning them were vague and unsettled; land, and are tempted to think that the interest their religious system and political constitution, and novelty of its details will induce our readremained enveloped in obscurity; and the won ers to excuse us for going so far back. derful narrative of the last-named traveller, Mr. Von Hammer depicts the Assassins as the details of which will be found in the course forming an Order, at once military and reliof this article, tended to cast a veil of mystery gious, like the Templars and the Teutonic and fable over the society to the eyes of Euro- Knights, with whom he compares them; and, peans.
like them, subject to the control and guidance But in the eighteenth century, Asia and of a Grand Master, who was named the Sheikhevery thing connected with it began to excite el-Jebel, corruptly rendered the Old Man of considerable attention, and the subject of the the Mountain, who, from his seat at Alamoot Assassins could not long remain unnoticed. in the north of Persia, like the General of the D'Herbelot had, in his celebrated work, already Jesuits from Rome, directed the motions of his given some account of them from his oriental numerous and devoted subjects, and made the authorities; and the copious and even profuse most haughty monarchs tremble at his name. learning of Mr. Falconel, poured forth, (to use This novel and interesting view of the subject the language of Gibbon,) in two Memoirs read Mr. Von Hammer derives from Arabic and Perbefore the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles sian authorities, from Ibn Khaledoon and MacriLettres, all that was known concerning them si, from Mirkhond, Lary, Jelalee, of Kaim, and Gibbon's own account, derived from Falconet, others. His work is divided into seven books, does not occupy more than half a page, and in in which, after a very valuable introduction, he that short space more than one error may be narrates the origin, progress, and downfall, of detected. Latterly, the French orientalists the Order, and concludes with a very spirited have turned their attention to this interesting and detailed account—the first ever given in subject, and the labours of Silvestre de Sacy, Europe-of the capture of Bagdad and the Quatremère, and Jourdain, have tended much overthrow of the Caliphat, which fell, along to illustrate the history and constitution of the society of the Assassins.
* Das meuchelmörderische Reich der AsIn Germany their history has been written sassinen. 8vo. Leipzig. 1765.
† Mariti gives some account of the Assas* Die Geschichte der Assassinen, aus Mor- sins, but he only repeats what is to be found genländischen Quellen, durch Joseph Von in preceding writers. The same may be said Hammer. Stuttgard und Tübingen, 1818. In of the different historians of the Crusades, with Svo.
the exception of Wilken. Museum.- VOL. XIII.
with the empire of the Assassins, beneath the vinced of the pernicious influence of the sect, victorious arms of Hulagoo, the Tartar Khan. endeavoured totally to eradicate it with fire and From this work we shall endeavour to convey sword. In this he did not completely succeed; to our readers some idea of the organization of the opinions continued to exist in secret, and the sect, and display the mighty ills which may again broke out, in the time of the Caliphs of be brought on the human race by the agency the house of Abbas, when the followers of Moof secret associations, in the history of the most kannah* and Babek filled Persia with blood and powerful and most destructive one which ever devastation. existed. We must, however, previously, with In this stormy period there lived at Ahras, Mr. Von Hammer, give some account of the in the south of Persia, a man named Abdallah, state of Islam, in the times that succeeded the the son of Maimoon al Kaddah. He had been death of the Prophet.
educated in the maxims of the ancient religion Mohammed appointed no Caliph to succeed and policy of Persia; and national animosity him. The murder of Othman transferred the inspired him with the idea of overthrowing the Caliphat and Imamat, i. e. the supremacy in faith and the empire of the victorious Arabs. empire and in religion, to Ali, the son-in-law The bloody experience of his own times taught of the Prophet, and his deposition and death Abdallah the folly of attempting to overturn again transferred them to Moawiah. From the prevailing religion and the reigning dythis period dates the great schism of the Mo- nasty, so long as the conscience and the swords hammedan church. The Soonites, with their of the military were under their direction; and numerous subdivisions, acknowledged the first he saw clearly that secretly to undermine them three Imaums and Caliphs; the Shea-ites was the only path to ultimate success. Knowmaintain that Ali and his posterity were the ing, also, how hazardous it is to attempt all at only rightful successors of the Prophet. The once to eradicate those prejudices in favour of principal sects of the latter were four, dissent the throne and altar, which are so deeply rooted ing from each other on the grounds of Ali's in the ininds of men, he resolved that the veil claims to the Imamat, and the order in which of mystery should envelope his design, and it descended to his posterity. Of these we shall that his doctrines, which, in imitation of the only notice the Imamee, as being the one most schools of India and of Pythagoras, he divided immediately connected with the Assassins. into seven degrees, should only be gradually
The Imamee were divided into Imamites communicated to his disciples. The last and and Ismailites, who both held that after the highest of these degrees taught the vanity of twelfth Imaum according to the former, or the all religions, and the indifference of all actions, seventh according to the latter, the Imaum as neither here nor hereafter would they be rehad ranished, and that the dignity was con warded or punished. With the greatest zeal, tinued in a succession of inrisible Imaums. by means of missionaries, he disseminated his The latter derived their appellation from Is- opinions and augmented the number of his dismail, the son of Jaafer Zadik, the seventh, and, ciples, and to gain them the more ready acaccording to them, the last visible Imaum; the ceptance among the followers of Islam, he former continued the series through Ismail's masqued his projects beneath a pretended zeal younger brother, Musa Kasim, to Askereé, and for the claims of the descendants of Mohammed his son. Mohammed Mehdee. The claims of the son of Ismail, to the Imamat. these Imaums to the Caliphat were, in the time During the life-time of Abdallah and his sons, of the first Abbassides, so strong and so gene these principles spread, in secret, far and wide, rally acknowledged, that Maimoon publicly by the activity of their missionaries or Dais, as declared Ali Reeza, the eighth of them, his they were called. The plan of Abdallah was successor, to the great discontent of the whole to extend his system gradually, and never to family of Abbas, who would probably have con proclaim it openly until the throne should be tested the point, had not Ali Reeza fortunately in the possession of one of its disciples; but died before Maimoon, and with him died the this deep-laid scheme was broken by the impehopes and prospects of the Imamee: But the tuosity of Ahmed of Cufa, surnamed Carmath, other branch, the Ismailites, was more fortu-who, fully initiated in all the degrees of the senate, and at length succeeded in placing one cret system, boldly proclaimed the doctrine of of their members, named Obeid-allah, on the INDIFFERENCE, and erected the banner of inthrone of Egypt.
surrection against the Caliphs, who were still To understand fully how this was accom in the height of their power. The contest was plished, we must cast a glance on the state of long and bloody, the holy city of Mecca was opinion in the East at that period. The an- conquered, 30,000 Moslems fell in its defence, cient religion of Persia, pure as it was in its and the sacred black stone was carried off in cominencement, had been in the course of triumph to Hajar. The struggle continued time greatly corrupted. Macrisi enumerates during a whole century, till the conflagration seven sects, one of which, named Mazdekee, was at length quenched in the blood of the folfrom Mazdek its founder, advanced principles lowers of Carmath, Notwithstanding, this se, destructive of all religion and morality. It vere check, the doctrines of Abdallah still professed universal freedom and equality, the spread in secret, and at length, in the year indifference of human actions, and the commu-27 of the Hejira, an able missionary, a second nity of goods; and strange as it would appear, Abdallah, succeeded in delivering from prison did not history furnish instances of similar a pretended descendant of Mohammed the son folly, it numbered among its adherents the of Ismail, and in placing him on the throne in king of Persia, Cobad, the father of Noosbeer. Africa, under the name of Obeid-Allah Mehdee. w91). The imprudence of this monarch cost him his crown; and his son, Noosheerwan, con
• The celebrated veiled Prophet.