« PreviousContinue »
IX.-MAHOMET. MAHOMET, or more properly Mohammed, the only son of Abdallah and Amina, was born at Mecca, four years after the death of Justinian, and two months after the defeat of the Abyssinians, whose victory would have introduced into the Caata the religion of the Christians. In his early infancy, be was deprived of his father, his mother, and his grandfather ; his uncles were strong? and numerous ; and in the division of the inheritance, the orphan's share was reduced to 4 five camels and an Æthiopian maid-servant. Abu Taleb, the most respectable 5 of his uncles, was the guide and guardian of his youth. Mahomet, in his twenty-fifth year, entered into tbe service of Cadijah, a rich and noble widow of Mecca, who soon rewarded his fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage contract describes him as the most accomplished of the tribe of Koreish; and stipulates 6 a dowry of twelve ounces of gold and twenty camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his uncle. By this alliance, the son of Abdallah was restored to the station of his ancestors ; 8 and the judicious Cadijah: was content with his domestic virtues, till, in the fortieth year of his age, he assumed the title of a prophet, and proclaimed the religion of the Koran.
According to the tradition of his companions, Mahomet
1 Was born at Mecca, Naquit à la Mecque.—2 Strong, Puissant.3 In the division of, Quand on partagea.--- Was reduced to, N'était que de.—5 Respectable, Honvêle.—6 Stipulate, Faire mention de.-? Which was supplied by, Fournis par.–8 Was restored to the station of his ancestors, Fut rétabli dans la position de ses ancêtres.—8 The judicious Cadijah, La sensée Cadijah.
was distinguished by the beauty of his person, an outward gift that is seldom despised, except by those to whom it has been refused. Before he spoke, the orator engaged on his side the affections? of a public or private audience. They applauded his commanding presence," his majestic aspect, his piercing eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his countenance that painted every sensation of the soul, and his gestures that enforced each expression of the tongue. In the familiar offices" of life he scrupulously adhered to the grave and ceremonious politeness of his country: his respectful attention to the rich and powerful was dignified by 6 bis condescension and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca; the frankness of his manner concealed the artifice of his views. His memory was capacious and retentive;? his imagination sublime ; his judgment clear, rapid, and decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action; and, although his designs might gradually expand with his success, the first idea which he entertained of his divine mission bears the stamp of an original and superior genius. The son of Abdallah was educated in the bosom of the noblest race, in the use of the purest dialect of Arabia. With these powers of eloquence, Mahomet was an illiterate barbarian ; his youth had
1 Was distinguished by, Se faisait remarquer pour.—2 The orator engaged on his side the affections, Il avait gagné les sympathies.3 His commanding presence, Son air imposant.--4 That enforced, Qui donnaient de la force à.-_5 In the familiar offices, Dans les rapports familiers.—6 His respectful attention to . . . . was dignified by, Ses égards respectueux pour .... étaient relevés par. _7 Capaciores and retentive, Vaste et fidèle.—8 To expand, S'élargir.— With these powers of eloquence, Avec toutes ces qualités d'orateur.
never been instructed in the arts of reading and writing ;1 the common ignorance exempted him from shame or reproach, but he was reduced to a narrow circle of existence, and deprived of? those faithful mirrors which reflect to our mind the minds of sages and heroes. From: bis earliest youth Mahomet was addicted to religious contemplation ; each year, during the month of Ramadan, he withdrew from the world, and in the cave of Hera, three miles from Mecca, he consulted the spirit of fraud or enthusiasm, whose abode is not in the heavens, but in the mind of the Prophet. The faith which, under the name of Islam, he preached to his family and nation, is compounded of an eternal truth, and a necessary fiction, THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, AND THAT MAHOMET IS THE APOSTLE OF God.
X.—THE VULTURE AND HIS CHILDREN. “ My children," said an old vulture to his young ones, “ you will the less want my instructions, because you have had my practice 4 before your eyes. You have seen me snatch from the farm the household fowls, you have seen me seize the leveret in the bush, and the kid in the pasture ; and you know how 5 to fix your talons, and how to take your flight when you are laden with your
1 His youth had never been instructed in the arts of reading and writing, Dans sa jeunesse on ne lui avait jamais enseigné à lire ou à écriie.-? And deprived of, Et n'obtint jamais.—3 From, Dès
4 Hy practice, Mon exemple.-_5 See $ 54, 39.—6 To fix your talons, Enfoncer vos serres.
prey. But you remember the taste of more delicious : food : I have often regaled you with the flesh of man."
“Tell us," said the young vultures, “ where man may be found, and how he may be known; his flesh is surely the natural food of the vulture. Why have you never brought a man in your talons to the nest ? ”
“ He is too bulky," said the old vulture; " when we find a man we can only tear away his flesh,' and leave his bones upon the ground.”
“Since ? man is so big,” said the young ones, “ how do you kill him ? You are afraid of the wolf and of the bear; by what power 3 are vultures superior to man? Is man more defenceless than a sheep ?”
“ We have not the strength of man,” returned the vulture, “ and I am sometimes in doubt whether we have the subtlety ;5 and the vultures would seldom feast upon his flesh, had not nature, that devoted him to our uses, infused into him a strange ferocity, which I have never observed in any other being that feeds upon the earth. Two herds of men will often meet and shake the earth with noise, and fill the air with fire. When you hear' noise, and 10 see fire, with flashes along the ground," hasten to the place with your swiftest wing,2 for men are surely destroying one another; you will then find the ground smoking with blood, and covered with
1 See § 18.—2 Since, Si.—3 By what power, D'où vient-il que. 4 Is more defenceless, A moins de défense.—5 And I am sometimes in doubt whether we have the subtlety, Et je doute quelquefois que nous ayons autant de finesse.—6 See § 5, 15.—7 That devoted him, Qui l'a destiné.—8 And shake the earth with noise, Feront trembler la terre par leur vacarme.--. See § 42.–10 See § 41.-11 Along the ground, Sur le sol.--12 Hasten to the place with your swiftest wing, Dirigeznous vers cet endroit à tire d'aile.
carcasses, of which many are dismembered and mangled for the convenience of the vulture."
“But when men have killed their prey,” said the pupil, “why do they not eat it ? When the wolf has killed a sheep, he suffers not the vulture to touch it till? he has satisfied himself. Is not man another kind of wolf ? "
“ Man," said the old vulture, “is the only beast who kills that which he does not devour, and this quality makes him so much a benefactor to our species.”
“If man kill our prey, and 4 lay it in our way,” said the young one, “what need shall we have of labouring for ourselves ?”5
“Because man will sometimes remain for a long time quiet in his den. The old vultures will tell you when you are to watch his motions. When you see men in great numbers moving close together, o like a flight of storks, you may conclude that they are hunting, and that you will soon revel in human blood."
“But still,” said the young one, “I would gladly know the reason of this mutual slaughter; I would never kill what I could not eat.”
“My child,” said the vulture, “this is a question which I cannot answer, though I am reckoned ' the most subtle bird of the mountain. When I was young I used frequently to visit the eyry of an old vulture, who
For the convenience of the vulture, Pour faciliter le travail des vautours.—2 See § 41.–3 Makes him so much a benefactor to, Est la cause qu'il fait tant de bien à.—4 See $ 41.-5 What need shall we have of labouring for ourselves ? A quoi bon nous donner de la peine ? _6 Moving close together, S'ébranlant en lignes serrées.—7 See § 37. 28 I am reckoned, J'aie la réputation d'être.