« PreviousContinue »
its authenticity, though the facts which it records were before altogether unknown to the European world. Fortunately, we have it in our power to adduce one testimony in support of the narrative of Abdollatiph, which, as it is neither cited nor men. tioned in the notes, has evidently eluded the inquiries of the learned and laborious editor. This testimony is that of Elmacin, in his Universal History; a part only of which was puh. l:shed by Erpenius, under the title of Historia Saracenica. The following passage, of which we subjoin an English translation, we have had an opportunity of copying from a MS. of that part of the work of Elmacin which still remains unpublished :
anotes, has which, as it estimony in
follored by Erniers as editoridently out is neithy in sutunately, efore
كان الغلا سبع وتسعين وخمس ماية وفي هذه السنة
كل اردب خمسة دنانبر مصرية بالديار المسربة وبلغ القمح
عدم الناس القوت واستمر ذلك قريب من ثلاثة سنين واكلوا بعضهم بعضا واكلوا اولادهم واكلوا الميتة وخرج
كثېرا باولادهم من الديار المصرية خلقا
continued nearly in for five Egyptianhat a measure of
dolgaullo phill “ In the same year (597) there was a great dearth over the land of Egypt, so that a measure of wheat called an Irdab was sold for five Egyptian Dinars. And this distress continued nearly three years ; and men were so destitute of sustenance, that they were compelled to eat each other, and even their own chila dren, and to feed on animals that perished. Great multitudes therefore of people, with their children and servants, emigrated to Syria, and the coasts of the sea.”
As specimens of the narrative of Abdollatiph, we shall here select two or three passages, of which we shall venture to give an English translation ; adhering to the spirit rather than the letter of the original. The limits of our Review do not permit us to make larger extracts, but we earnestly recommend to our readers a perusal of the whole story, horrible as it is; and we recommend it not merely with the view of gratifying a lau. dable curiosity, but because it has a most powerful tendency to humble our pride, by demonstrating our constant dependence on the bounty of Providence; by teaching us that even the gifts of Nature, as they are called, are not more permanent than those of Fortune; and by reminding us that what has happened to others may possibly happen to ourselves. · Page 212. When first the poor began to feed upon human
flesh, stories of this kind went abroad, and formed the universal subject of discourse ; while every one expressed the utmost horror and aversion at the crime, and astonishment at its novelty. These sensations were afterward worn out by the force of example, and the calls of hunger; the practice became familiar; and human flesh was
sought not only as a necessary support, but as one of the greatest luxuries of life. It was reckoned among the first delicacies of the table, and was dressed in many different ways. Afterward when the practice became more general, and had extended through every part of Egypt, the astonishment and abhorrence which it bad formerly excited ccased ; and to express or listen to such sentiments was no longer disgraceful.
I saw a woman dragged and mangled by ruffians in the market. place. They took from her a roasted child which she had provided for her sustenance The people in the market scemed entirely to disregard this horrid spectacle, and pursued their own business and einployment with the utmost unconcern. I observed no surprise, nor even disapprobation, in their countenances ; while I was struck with the deepest astonishment at the sight, and the insensiblity with which they beheld it. So powerful is the effect of custom, which can divest the most unnatural and prodigious crimes of their horror, by presenting them repeatedly to the senses, and reducing them to the level of the most common objects and trivial occurrences !
Again, page 233. • Of the number of the poor who perished with hunger, it is impossible to form any probable estimate : but I will give the reader some information on this subject, whence he may form a faint idea of the mortality with which Egypt was then afflict. ed. In Mesr, and Cairo, and their confines, wherever a person turned, he could not avoid seeing or stumbling over some starved object, either already dead, or in the agonies of death. From Cairo alone nearly 500 were daily carried out to the burying ground ; and so great was the mortality in Mesr, that the dead were thrown without the walls, where they remained unburied. But afterward, when the survivors were no longer able to throw out the dead bodies, they were left wherever they expired, in the houses, shops, and streets. The limbs of the dead were even cut in pieces, and used for food; and instead of receiving the last offices from their friends, and being decently interred, their remains were attended by persons who were employed in roasting and baking them.
. In all the distant provinces and towns, the inabitants became entirely extinct ; except in the principal cities, and some of the larger towns, such as Kous, Ashmunein, Mahalla, &c. and even there but a few survived. In these days, a traveller might pass through a city, without finding in it one human creature alive ; he saw the houses open, and the inhabitants lying dead on their faces, some grown pu. trid, and others who had recently expired. If he entered into the houses, he found them full of goods, but no one to make use of them; and he saw nothing wherever he turned, but a dreadful soli. tude, and universal desolation. This account rests not on the information and authority of a single person, but of many, whose several assertions mutually confirmed each other. One of them gave me his relation in the following words: “ We entered a city, where no living creature was to be found; we went into the houses, and there we saw the inhabitants prostrate and dead; all lying in a wretched groupe on the ground, the husband, the wife, and the children. Hence we passed into another city, which contained, as we had heard, 400
shops of weavers. It was now a desert, like the former : the artificer had expired in his shop, and his family lay dead around him. A third city, which we afterward visited, appeared like the former, a scene of death and desolation. Being obliged to reside some time in this place for the purpose of agriculture, we hired persons to throw the bodies of the dead into the Nile, at the rate of ten for a Dirhem. Wolves and Hyænas resorted hither in great numbers, to feed on the corpses.'. .. ing you "It is highly creditable to“ Abdollatiph, that, though the crimes which he describes were so extremely common, and the temptations to commit as well as the opportunities of committing them so extremely powerful and inviting, yet he never lost sight, even for a moment, of those virtuous principles which had hitherto regulated his conduct; not does he ever speak of these offences, without the most pointed abhorrence and detestation." i do . . . .
con Page 239. • The selling of free persons trad now become a com mon practice; and a beautiful girl might be purchased for a few Dir hems. Two young girls were offered to me for a Dinar ;, and I saw two girls, one of whom' was a' virgin, exposed to sale for eleven Dirhers. For five Dirhems, a woman offered to sell me her daugh. ter, who was beautiful beyond description"; and when I 'upbraided her with the heinous nature of the crime, she bade me take her as a present, Women, who had any share of beauty, frequently prostrated themselves before men, and intreated them to purchase or dis: pose of them. Many, who thought these practices lawful, sent their purchased slaves into Erak; and Chorasan, and other parts.'
•What appears to me most unaccountable of all the wonders which I havę related, is that notwithstanding the Koran frequently reproves mankind for their impenitence, and for plunging themselves without remorse into sin, they should persist in their wickedness, as if they were entirely exempt from the common lot of humanity.''
In page 271. &c. we meet with some remarkable anatomi. cal facts and observations, which cannot but be highly inte. resting to those who are curious in tracing the history of that science from its earliest periods. The passage runs thus in the Latin version of Dr. Whites de tota ..
Inter ea quæ vidimusg hoe mirum est.... Cum multi eorum, qui mecum assidue esseni in re medica instituendi, studium collocassent in Auctoribus Anatomicis (et ad docendum el intelligendum difficilibus, eo quod verba non sufficerent ad rem, quæ ante oculos versaretur, accurate describendam) una mecum ii facti sunt certiores, esse in Makso collem, super quo ossa jacerent multa. Egressi igitur illuc, vidimus collem ossibus abundantem, longeque extensum ; in quo parum abfuit, quin minus esset soli vel equoris (quod appareret, ] quam cadaverum [in eo jacentium.] Ex specie externa, qua in oculos incurrit, dixeris esse viginti millia et amplius : erantque in classes quasi distributa, pro ratione temporis quo ibi essent posita.
"Jam de figuris ossium articulisque eorum, item juncture eorum proportione el modo, item de eorum situ, ta didicimus, qua ex libris haurire nobis haud Rev. APRIL, 1802,
integrum fuit. Hi enim vel tacehant de talibus, vel tarebant verbis que ad sa explicanda sufficerent, vel iis quorum oculati nos testes fuimus, contraria Casserebant. Est quippe oculus dux fidelior quam auris. Etenim Galenus, quamvis summum gradum obtinuit in inquirenda et investiganda eorum veritate que tractaverit et publici juris fecerit, tamen oculis magis, quam illi, fidendum.
Licet utique a verbis ejus, si usus venerit, recedere : exi mplo sút os Maxile inferioris. Statuit o ránu, eam binis constare ossibus, cum articulo valido ad mentum. Hoc autem loco, per por cán intelligimus Galenum solum : nam ipse est solus qui Anatomiam tractavit, quique ad eam animo toto incubuit, oculosque ad cam inientos, veluti ad scopum, collineavit. Multos ille composuit de arte ea libros ; quorum plerique apud nos inveni. untur, cateri in linguam Arabum non sunt conversi. ... Jam vero quod observavimus de membri hujus vera conditione, est bor, osse illud non nisi uno constare articulumque habere plane nullum, neque ullam commissuram. Quippe examinavimus illud, gratia Dei, plus vice simplici,compluribus in corporibus quorum sane numerus superat bis mille crania : id cum a me factum sit investigatione multiplici et occurata, reperlum est ei membro inesse os tantummodo unum. Nobis porro adjumento fuerunt viri plurimi doctrina instructissimi, qui nobis modo presentibus, modo absentibus, id examinave. runt ; sed illis quæ diximus et retulimus haud quicquam addiderunt, perinde atque in rebus aliis. Quod si fata nobis faverint, composuerimus de hac re Tractatum, in quo propositum sit, tam que a nobismetipisis observata sint, quam qua,ex operibus Galeni didicerimus, fuse et dilucide explicare. Hor cgo os examinapi etiam in priscis Busire conditoriis, de quibus facta a me supra est mentio; deprehendique illud, prout dixi, carere articulo et commissura. Conditio autem commissurarum paula occultiorum, articulorumque solidorum, ita est comparata, ut cum plurimum assumpserint. vetustatis et roboris, ad conspiciendum se prebeant, et a se invicem divellantur : at tota Maxille hujusce substantia non reperitur nisi frustum simplex et unum.'
On this passage, the translator has the following note :
• Ei membro inesse os tantummodo unum] In solo infante duo sunt ; et examinando multa ossa, que conservata inde a longo tempore essent, non observaverat ullum in infante ; tum quod ossa in prima infantium ætate exigua sint, tum quod adeo sint 'tenera, ut diu servata in pulveres dilabantur.' i sili
As Dr: White has (most unaccountably, we think,), omitted to quote or even to refer to the passages in the original text of Galen, on which Abdollatiph comments in this and the suca ceeding paragraphs, we shall, in one instalice at least *, transcribe the words of Galen from the edition of Charterius, Tom. III. p. 16. llepi Tüv pns xóta givvos os üv. OJOL TU Tas κατα γεννος οταν εσίν απλόν, ας αν, τω διξειεν: εφόμενον γαρ και τετο διαλύεται κατ' άκρον το γενεσίον, ως φαινεται σαφώς ότι συνεπεφύκεις το δε ανατεινόμενον ως, επί την κεφαλήν αυτε μέρος εις δύο τελευτα Figara
* The passages of Galen respecting the os sacrum and the os coco cogis, to which Abdollatiph refers in page 277, are to be found in p. 19. Tom. iii. of the edition of Charterius.
prejudice's good sense em shew, as his acute
The whole passage of Abdollatiph, which we have quoted above, and some others of a similar nature which immediately succeed it, reflect the highest honour on his acuteness and accuracy of observation. They shew, as the editor hes justly remarked, that his good sense had broken the shackles of education and prejudice. They prove, also, that he had anticipated Vesalius in the most important discovery which had been made for several hundred years, namely, that the parts of the human body are better understood by actual inspection than by reading Galen.; and that we may, safely repose greater confidence in our own observations than in his descriptions. If Abdollatiph had ever' composed the anatomical work which he appears to have projected, this specimen is sufficient to assure us that he would have established a new æra in the history of anatomy; and though the religious prejudices of his country and times would probably have confined his observations and discoveries to a few parts of the human body, yet still he would evidently have attempted to improve on Galen, by the study of original nature.
Having now given a general account of the contents of the work, and produced some few of the most remarkable facts and observations which it contains, we proceed to some farther remarks concerning the manner in which it has been executed by the learned editor and translator. The whole volume, then, is highly respecto able in point of typography.' The Arabic text appears to be very correctly printed. The version is truly classical in point of Latinity, and in most places accurately represents the sense of the original. In those few instances in which we conceive it to be erroneous, or in which the translator has fairly acknowleged his perplexity by forbearing to render the words, or sentences, that critic must be severe indeed who would refuse to admit his manly and ingenuous apology:
• Æquus igitur candidusque Lector, vitio mibi, oro, minime vertat, si, ad lubrica quædam et scopulosa cum impingerem, bæserim aliquando vie incertús, aut errabundus interdum de ta nec-opinato deflexerim. Equidern ani. mum ila semper induxi, ut, nescire me que ediscere nequiverim, fateri mal lem, quam pravo cedere pudori, gloriolamque aucupari inanem.' page 321.
Indeed, the difficulties of translating Arabic authors, in general, every Oriental scholar knows to be extremely embarrassing; in consequence of the indefinite nature as well as the wonderful extent of that language, when compared with the Greek, the Latin, or any of the modern European tongues:--but undoubt. edly the difficulty of translating Abdollatiph is peculiarly great, on account of the brevity and conciseness of his style, (which, in many places, is not less compressed and obscure than that of Aristotle or of Tacitus,) and of the vast variety of subjects which