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deserts, and follow the nomade life at once as shepherds and merchants. The Saracens who followed the standard of Akbalı count themselves more noble than the hordes just described, not only because these last remained longer ignorant of the orthodox faith, but also because they have stained the purity of their descent by intermixture with foreign nations.
A. D. 1148. It would be equally tedious and fruitless to trace the history of the several dynasties which, during the weakness of the caliphate, rose and disappeared in Barbary. The Almohades and Almoravides lay claim, perhaps, to some attention, from their intercourse with the Moslem princes, who at that period occupied a large portion of the Spanish peninsula. The latter, who revived for a time the spirit of the Mohammedan creed, found their efforts crowned with great success; and, in fact, extended their conquests into the south and west, which they were also able to retain during the lapse of nearly a hundred years.
But the events which follow upon the commencement of the thirteenth century will enter with better effect into the narrative which respects the Barbary States, taken separately ; the condition, indeed, in which they naturally present themselves to the view of the reader after the fall of the dynasty founded by Abu Beker, and the suspension of the general government under the descendants of the prophet. To this part of our undertaking we shall return, so soon as we have taken a brief review of the religion and literature of Northern Africa, from the dawn of history down to the date of its conquest by the Arabian Mussulmans.
CHA TER IV.
Religion and Litera are of the Barbary States. The Religion and Literature vary with the successive Inhab
itants—Superstition of the Natives-Human Sacrifices continued by the Carthaginians-Worship of Melcarth, Astarté, and Baal-No sacred Caste or Priesthood - Religious Rites performed by the Chief Magistrates-Introduction of Christianity-Accomplished by the Arms of Rome–Different Opinions as to the Date of Conversion and the Persons by whom it was effected-Statements of Salvian and Augustin-Learning and Eloquence of the African Clergy, Tertullian, Cyprian, Lactantius, and the Bishop of Hippo_Works of these Divines -Death of Cyprian and Augustin-The Writings of the Latin Fathers chiefly valuable as a Record of Usages, Opinions, and Discipline-Church revived under Justinian-Invasion of the Moslem-Christian Congregations permitted to exist under the Mohammedan Rulers-Conditions of Toleration, Africans gradually yield to the Seducements of the New Faith, and the Gospel is superseded by the Koran-Barbary States the only Country where Christianity has been totally extinguished-Attempt made to restore it by the Patriarch of Alexandria-Five Bishops sent to Kairwan-Public Profession of the Gospel cannot be traced after the Twelfth CenturyA few Christians found at Tunis in 1533—Learning of the Arabs Great Exertions of Almamoun-He collects Greek Authors, and causes them to be translated-He is imitated by the Fatimites of Africa--Science cultivated by the Mohammedans Five Hundred Years-Their chief Studies were Mathematics, Astronomy, and Chymistry—Their Progress in Chymical Researches-Neglect Literature, properly so called
- Prospect of Improvement from the Settlernent of European Colo
The religion and learning of the Barbary States will be found to vary with the several races of men by whom they have been successively occupied since the era of the Phoenicians; the original inhabitants having left no record of their opinions, either in regard to the material world, or to those more lofty objects which interest the belief and the imagination. The ancient Getulians, it is probable, like their neighbours of the Desert, had no literature ; while, as to faith and worship, they may be supposed to have shared in that universal superstition which connects the veneration of mankind with those physical manifestations that accompany the periodical production and decay of all organized forms. The energies of nature, whether displayed in the firmament or in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, associate themselves in the rude mind with certain emblems which are conceived to have some affinity to the immaterial principle whence the source of all events has its rise ; and this association, however arbitrary or remote, confers upon the meanest things a relative sanctity, by which they seem to become not only worthy of respect, but also of a species of religious confidence and trust.
Hence the origin of fetichism; the notion that a piece of wood or a polished stone may be the seat of an invisible power, and which may be described as a species of Pantheism, common to every climate at a particular stage of civilization. Every object endowed with qualities, fitted either to bestow a signal benefit or to inflict a serious injury, was regarded as the abode or the instrument of a mysterious agent, whose divinity might be propitiated by attention or offended by neglect." Taken by itself
, this simple belief may be viewed as nothing more than the parent of ridiculous usages and absurd apprehensions, being a stranger to those bloody rites which have been sometimes ingrafted upon it by the priests of a darker superstition, who demand for their gods the most horrible sacrifices.
The Tyrian colonists who followed their exiled princess to Carthage, had been accustomed in their own land to witness the frightful spectacle of human bodies laid upon the altars of their deinons. The worship of Moloch; which prevailed among all the Aramæan nations, was not unknown on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean ; and in all parts of the world, the same barbarous immolations were practised by the votaries of this idol, who condemned to the fire or the knife the noblest children in their land. In times of peace and tranquillity, the offspring of slaves were substituted for the heirs of more distinguished families ; but when pestilence or an unsuccessful war afflicted the state, victims were selected from the highest ranks, and consigned to a cruel death. Diodorus relates that the Carthaginians, finding themselves oppressed by the arms of Agathocles, turned their thoughts to the cares of religion ; and suspecting that undue substitutions had taken place in the choice of liuman sacrifices, ordered 200 children of exalted birth to be offered up without delay. Nor was this held enough to appease the anger of the god, and to retrieve the fortunes of the republic ; on which account, 300 individuals, whose consciences accused them of neglect in their pious duties, presented their bodies also, in order to make a fuller atonement for the sins of the people. On such occasions, the nearest relative was not allowed to shed a tear, lest the offering should be thereby rendered unacceptable.*
The subjects of Dido appear to have also worshipped a tutelar deity, denominated Melcarth-King of the Citywho exhibited some of the features of the Baal, the sun-god, whom the Greeks and Romans identified with their Apollo ; and there is no doubt that Astaroth, or Astarté, the emblem of increase, was adored by the Carthaginians with ceremonies corresponding to her attributes.f But what objects or powers of nature were originally represented by these beings, or rather appellations, it is not of any consequence to determine. It is clear, at the same time, that this religion, if such it might be called, was patronised by the commonwealth, and in fact became a part of the government. There was, however, no distinct order of priests or sacred caste in Carthage, as there was in Egypt; nor are there any usages whence we might conclude that sacerdotal functions were hereditary in certain families, who, on that account, were possessed of dignity and envolument. But it is not less certain that the duties of the priesthood were discharged by the highest persons in the country, and had outward marks of honour attached to them ; so that some of the more important of these appointments were deemed not unworthy the sons of their kings. Indeed, the weightiest affairs of the nation were so intimately connected with religious ceremonies, that it seems probable the magistrates were also invested with the chief of the sacerdotal offices, and directed the zeal of the
* Diodor. Sicul., lib. XX., c. 14.
I should prefer the derivation of Melcarth 198 759, King of the Way, meaning the zodiac, or solar path.
people on all great occasions. The generals, too, were authorized to offer sacrifice even during the time of battle ; while prophets accompanied the armies, without whose advice the most popular commander was not free to act. All the great enterprises, moreover, of their forces, by land and sea, their treaties with foreign princes, and their accessions of territory, were recorded in the principal temples. Again, no distant settlement was ever planted without the addition of a sanctuary, to connect the colony with the parent state, whence missions were occasionally sent, with the view of perpetuating the connexion between the sacred metropolis and her affiliated dependances.*
Among the native authors none stand so high in point of literary reputation as Juba, the king of Mauritania, who appears to have inherited a large share of the knowledge possessed by the Carthaginians. Availing himself of the annals left by that enterprising people, he is understood to have written at some length on the civil and natural history of Africa ; but as his works are entirely lost, we can only judge of their merits from certain references made to them by Pliny, in his chapter on the geography of the Barbary States.
This learned Roman, on the authority of the Mauritanian prince, attempts to delineate the courses of the Niger and the Nile-an undertaking which, though unatte::ded with any degree of success, serves at least to mark the limits of ancient inquiry with regard to these celebrated rivers. The naturalist, it is manifest, confounded some lakes and streams on the western coast of Morocco not only with the sources of the Joliba, but even with one of the main branches of the Egyptian Nile; thereby leading his readers to suppose that the army of Cornelius Balbus, after crossing the Great Desert, had actually visited the banks of the mysterious current whose outlet into the Atlantic has been recently discovered.
Nor was the curiosity of Juba confined to the African continent. In his times, some conjectures had reached the ears of the learned respecting those islands which lie scattered in the great ocean, at various distances from the land; and in which were imagined to be assembled all the beauty and delights incident to their happy climate, and all the felícities that ever fall to the lot of man upon earth. Of these fortue
* Heeren, vol. i., p. 142.