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Excerpt from
Sir Richard F. Burton, "Terminal Essay" in: A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights entertainments. Now entitled The book of the thousand nights and a night, with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights. By Richard F. Burton. [Denver, Col.] : Printed by The Burton Club for private subscribers only, [1885-1886].

Section IV of the Terminal Essay is actually more a comparison of Muslim versus Victorian values, customs and beliefs than it is about the 1001 Nights. The Nights merely provide Burton's excuse for discussing sexual mores. The essay is a fascinating, humorous and opinionated document from an arrogant and intelligent 19th century English colonialist.

§ IV. Social Condition.

A. Al-Islam.
B. Woman.
C. Pornography.
D. Pederasty. (This last section is available on the website "People with a History, An Online Guide to LGBT History." By clicking this link, you will be taken to that website. To return to the Born Eunuchs Library, use the "back" button on your browser.)

§ IV.


I here propose to treat of the Social Condition which The Nights discloses, of Al-Islam at the earlier period of its development, concerning the position of women and about the pornology of the great Saga-book.

A. - Al-Islam.

A splendid and glorious life was that of Baghdad in the days of the mighty Caliph,[1] when the Capital had towered to the zenith of grandeur and was already trembling and tottering to the fall. The centre of human civilisation, which was then confined to Greece and Arabia, and the metropolis of an Empire exceeding in extent the widest limits of Rome, it was essentially a city of pleasure, a Paris of the ixth century. The "Palace of Peace" (Dár al-Salám), worthy successor of Babylon and Nineveh, which had outrivalled Damascus, the "Smile of the Prophet," and Kufah, the successor of Hira and the magnificent creation of Caliph Omar, possessed unrivalled advantages of site and climate. The Tigris-Euphrates Valley, where the fabled Garden of Eden has been placed, in early ages succeeded the Nile-Valley as a great centre of human development; and the prerogative of a central and commanding position still promises it, even in the present state of decay and desolation under the unspeakable Turk, a magnificent future,[2] when railways and canals shall connect it with Europe. The city of palaces and government offices, hotels and pavilions, mosques and colleges, ...

[1] For further praises of his poetry and eloquence see the extracts from Fakhr al-Din of Rayy (an annalist of the xivth century A.D.) in De Sacy's Chrestomathie Arabe, vol. i.
[2] After this had been written I received "Babylonien, das reichste Land in der Vorzeit und das lohnendste Kolonisationsfeld für die Gegenwart," [Babylonia, the wealthiest land in ancient times and the most valuable field for colonization in modern times] by my learned friend Dr. Aloys Sprenger, Heidelberg, 1886.

... kiosks and squares, bazars and markets, pleasure grounds and orchards, adorned with all the graceful charms which Saracenic architecture had borrowed from the Byzantines, lay couched upon the banks of the Dijlah-Hiddekel under a sky of marvellous purity and in a climate which makes mere life a "Kayf" - the luxury of tranquil enjoyment. It was surrounded by far-extending suburbs, like Rusáfah on the Eastern side and villages like Baturanjah, dear to the votaries of pleasure; and with the roar of a gigantic capital mingled the hum of prayer, the trilling of birds, the thrilling of harp and lute, the shrilling of pipes, the witching strains of the professional Almah, and the minstrel's lay.

The population of Baghdad must have been enormous when the smallest number of her sons who fell victims to Huláku Khan in 1258 was estimated at eight hundred thousand, while other authorities more than double the terrible "butcher's bill." Her policy and polity were unique. A well-regulated routine of tribute and taxation, personally inspected by the Caliph; a network of waterways, canaux d'arrosage; a noble system of highways, provided with viaducts, bridges and caravanserais, and a postal service of mounted couriers enabled it to collect as in a reservoir the wealth of the outer world. The facilities for education were upon the most extended scale; large sums, from private as well as public sources, were allotted to Mosques, each of which, by the admirable rule of Al-Islam, was expected to contain a school: these establishments were richly endowed and stocked with professors collected from every land between Khorasan and Marocco;[1] and immense libraries[2] attracted the learned of all nations. It was a golden age for poets and panegyrists, koranists and literati, preachers and rhetoricians, physicians and scientists who, besides receiving high salaries and fabulous presents, were treated with all the honours of Chinese Mandarins; and, like these, the humblest Moslem - fisherman or artizan - could aspire through knowledge or savoir faire to the highest offices of the Empire. The effect was a grafting of ...

[1] The first school for Arabic literature was opened by Ibn Abbas, who lectured to multitudes in a valley near Meccah; this rude beginning was followed by public teaching in the great Mosque of Damascus. For the rise of the "Madrasah," Academy or College, see Introduct. to Ibn Khallikan pp. xxvii-xxxii.
[2] When Ibn Abbád the Sáhib (Wazir) was invited to visit one of the Samanides, he refused, one reason being that he would require 400 camels to carry only his books.

... Egyptian, and old Mesopotamian, of Persian and Graeco-Latin fruits, by long Time deteriorated, upon the strong young stock of Arab genius; and the result, as usual after such imping, was a shoot of exceptional luxuriance and vitality. The educational establishments devoted themselves to the three main objects recognised by the Moslem world, Theology, Civil Law and Belles Lettres; and a multitude of trained Councillors enabled the ruling powers to establish and enlarge that complicated machinery of government, at once concentrated and decentralized, a despotism often fatal to the wealthy great but never neglecting the interests of the humbler lieges, which forms the beau idéal of Oriental administration. Under the Chancellors of the Empire the Kazis administered law and order, justice and equity; and from their decisions the poorest subject, Moslem or miscreant, could claim with the general approval of the lieges, access and appeal to the Caliph who, as Imam or Antistes of the Faith was High President of a Court of Cassation.

Under wise administration Agriculture and Commerce, the twin pillars of national prosperity, necessarily flourished. A scientific canalisation, with irrigation-works inherited from the ancients, made the Mesopotamian Valley a rival of Kemi the Black Land, and rendered cultivation a certainty of profit, not a mere speculation, as it must ever be to those who perforce rely upon the fickle rains of Heaven. The remains of extensive mines prove that this source of public wealth was not neglected; navigation laws encouraged transit and traffic; and ordinances for the fisheries aimed at developing a branch of industry which is still backward even during the xixth century. Most substantial encouragement was given to trade and commerce, to manufactures and handicrafts, by the flood of gold which poured in from all parts of earth; by the presence of a splendid and
luxurious court, and by the call for new arts and industries which such a civilisation would necessitate. The crafts were distributed into guilds and syndicates under their respective chiefs, whom the government did not "govern too much": these Shahbandars, Mukaddams, and Nakíbs regulated the several trades, rewarded the industrious, punished the fraudulent and were personally answerable, as we still see at Cairo, for the conduct of their constituents. Public order, the sine qua non of stability and progress, was preserved, first, by the satisfaction of the lieges who, despite their characteristic turbulence, had few if any grievances; and, secondly, by a well-directed and efficient police, an engine of statecraft which in the West seems most difficult to perfect.

In the East, however, the Wali or Chief Commissioner can reckon more or less upon the unsalaried assistance of society: the cities are divided into quarters shut off one from other by night, and every Moslem is expected, by his law and religion, to keep watch upon his neighbours, to report their delinquencies and, if necessary, himself to carry out the penal code. But in difficult cases the guardians of the peace were assisted by a body of private detectives, women as well as men: these were called Tawwábún = the Penitents, because like our Bow-street runners, they had given up an even less respectable calling. Their adventures still delight the vulgar, as did the Newgate Calendar of past generations; and to this class we owe the Tales of Calamity Ahmad, Dalilah the Wily One, Saladin with the Three Chiefs of Police (vol. iv. 271), and Al-Malik al-Záhir with the Sixteen Constables (Bresl. Edit. xi. pp. 321-99). Here and in many other places we also see the origin of that "picaresque" literature which arose in Spain and overran Europe; and which begat Le Moyen de Parvenir.[1]

I need say no more on this heading, the civilisation of Baghdad contrasting with the barbarism of Europe then Germanic, The Nights itself being the best expositor. On the other hand the action of the state-religion upon the state, the condition of Al-Islam during the reign of Al-Rashid, its declension from the primitive creed and its relation to Christianity and Christendom, require a somewhat extended notice. In offering the following observations it is only fair to declare my standpoints.

1. All forms of "faith," that is, belief in things unseen, not subject to the senses, and therefore unknown and (in our present stage of development) unknowable, are temporary and transitory: no religion hitherto promulgated amongst men shows any prospect of being final or otherwise than finite.

2. Religious ideas, which are necessarily limited, may all be traced home to the old seat of science and art, creeds and polity in the Nile-Valley and to this day they retain the clearest signs of their origin.

3. All so-called "'revealed" religions consist mainly of three ...

[1] This "Salmagondis" by Francois Beroalde de Verville was afterwards worked by Tabarin, the pseudo-Bruscambille d'Aubigné and Sorel.

... portions, a cosmogony more or less mythical, a history more or less falsified and a moral code more or less pure.

Al-Islam, it has been said, is essentially a fighting faith and never shows to full advantage save in the field. The exceeding luxury of a wealthy capital, the debauchery and variety of vices which would spring up therein, naturally as weeds in a rich fallow, and the cosmopolitan views which suggest themselves in a meeting-place of nations, were sore trials to the primitive simplicity of the "Religion of Resignation" - the saving faith. Harun and his cousin-wife, as has been shown, were orthodox and even fanatical; but the Barmecides were strongly suspected of heretical leanings; and while the many-headed showed itself, as usual, violent, and ready to do battle about an Azan-call, the learned, who sooner or later leaven the masses, were profoundly dissatisfied with the dryness and barrenness of Mohammed's creed, so acceptable to the vulgar, and were devising a series of schisms and innovations.

In the Tale of Tawaddud (vol. v. 189) the reader has seen a fairly extended catechism of the Creed (Din), the ceremonial observances (Mazhab) and the apostolic practices (Sunnat) of the Shafi'í school which, with minor modifications, applies to the other three orthodox. Europe has by this time clean forgotten some tricks of her former bigotry, such as "Mawmet" (an idol!) and "Mahommerie" (mummery[1]), a place of Moslem worship: educated men no longer speak with Ockley of the "'great impostor Mahomet," nor believe with the learned and violent Dr. Prideaux that he was foolish and wicked enough to dispossess "certain poor orphans, the sons of an inferior artificer" (the Banú Najjár!). A host of books has attempted, though hardly with success, to enlighten popular ignorance upon a crucial point; namely, that the Founder of Al-Islam, like the Founder of Christianity, never pretended to establish a new religion. His claims, indeed, were
limited to purging the "School of Nazareth" of the dross of ages ...

[1] I prefer this derivation to Strutt's adopted by the popular, "mumm is said to be derived from the Danish word mumme, or momme in Dutch (Germ. = larva), and signifies disguise in a mask, hence a mummer." In the Promptorium Parvulorum we have "Mummynge, mussacio, vel mussatus": it was a pantomime in dumb show, e.g. "I mumme in a mummynge;" "Let us go mumme (mummer) to nyghte in women's apparayle." "Mask" and "Mascarade," for persona, larva or vizard, also derive, I have noticed, from an Arabic word - Maskharah.

... and of the manifold abuses with which long use had infected its early constitution: hence to the unprejudiced observer his reformation seems to have brought it nearer the primitive and original doctrine than any subsequent attempts, especially the Judaizing tendencies of the so-called "Protestant " churches. The Meccan Apostle preached that the Hanafiyyah or orthodox belief, which he subsequently named Al-Islam, was first taught by Allah, in all its purity and perfection, to Adam and consigned to certain inspired volumes now lost; and that this primal Holy Writ received additions in the days of his descendants Shís (Seth) and Idris (Enoch?), the founder of the Sabian (not "Sabaean") faith.

Here, therefore, Al-Islam at once avoided the deplorable assumption of the Hebrews and the Christians, an error which has been so injurious to their science and their progress, of placing their "first man" in circa B.C. 4000 or somewhat subsequent to the building of the Pyramids: the Pre-Adamite[1] races and dynasties of the Moslems remove a great stumbling-block and square with the anthropological views of the present day. In process of time, when the Adamite religion demanded a restoration and a supplement, its pristine virtue was revived, restored and further developed by the books communicated to Abraham, whose dispensation thus takes the place of the Hebrew Noah and his Noachidae. In due time the Torah, or Pentateuch, superseded and abrogated the Abrahamic dispensation; the "Zabúr" of David (a book not confined to the Psalms) reformed the Torah; the Injil or Evangel reformed the Zabur and was itself purified, quickened and perfected by the Koran which means [Greek:] kat' eksocheen the Reading or the Recital. Hence Locke, with many others, held Moslems to be unorthodox, that is, anti-Trinitarian Christians who believe in the Immaculate Conception, in the Ascension and in the divine mission of Jesus; and when Priestley affirmed that "Jesus was sent from God," all Moslems do the same. Thus they are, in the main point of doctrine connected with the Deity, simply Arians as opposed to Athanasians. History proves that the former was the earlier faith which, though formally condemned ...

[1] The Pre-Adamite doctrine has been preached with but scant success in Christendom. Peyrère, a French Calvinist, published (A.D. 1655) his "Praeadamitae, sive exercitatio supra versibus 12, 13, 14, cap. v. Epist. Paul. ad Romanos," [Pre-Adamites, or exercise on Romans 5:12-14] contending that Adam was called the first man because with him the law began. It brewed a storm of wrath and the author was fortunate to escape with only imprisonment.

... in A. D. 325 by Constantine's Council of Nice,[1] overspread the Orient beginning with Eastern Europe, where Ulphilas converted the Goths; which extended into Africa with the Vandals, claimed a victim or martyr as late as in the sixteenth century[2] and has by no means died out in this our day.

The Talmud had been completed a full century before Mohammed's time and the Evangel had been translated into Arabic; moreover travel and converse with his Jewish and Christian friends and companions must have convinced the Meccan Apostle that Christianity was calling as loudly for reform as Judaism had done.[3] An exaggerated Trinitarianism or rather Tritheism, a "Fourth Person" and Saint-worship had virtually dethroned the Deity; whilst Mariolatry had made the faith a religio muliebris, and superstition had drawn from its horrid fecundity an incredible number of heresies and monstrous absurdities. Even ecclesiastic writers draw the gloomiest pictures of the Christian Church in the fourth and seventh centuries, and one declares that the "Kingdom of Heaven had become a Hell." Egypt, distracted by the blood-thirsty religious wars of Copt and Greek, had been covered with hermitages by a gens aeterna, of semi-maniacal superstition. Syria, ever "feracious of ...

[1] According to Socrates the verdict was followed by a free fight of the Bishop-voters over the word "consubstantiality."
[2] Servetus burnt (in A.D. 1553 for publishing his Arian tractate) by Calvin, whom half-educated Roman Catholics in England firmly believe to have been a pederast. This arose, I suppose, from his meddling with Rabelais who, in return for the good joke Rabie laesus, presented a better anagram, "Jan (a pimp or cuckold) Cul" (Calvinus).
[3] There is no more immoral work than the "Old Testament." Its deity is an ancient Hebrew of the worst type, who condones, permits or commands every sin in the Decalogue to a Jewish patriarch, qua patriarch. He orders Abraham to murder his son and allows Jacob to swindle his brother; Moses to slaughter an Egyptian and the Jews to plunder and spoil a whole people, after inflicting upon them a series of plagues which would be the height of atrocity if the tale were true. The nations of Canaan are then extirpated. Ehud, for treacherously disembowelling King Eglon, is made judge over Israel. Jael is blessed above wornen (Joshua v. 24) for vilely murdering a sleeping guest; the horrid deeds of Judith and Esther are made examples to mankind; and David, after an adultery and a homicide which deserved ignominious death, is suffered to massacre a host of his enemies, cutting some in two with saws and axes and putting others into brick-kilns. For obscenity and impurity we have the tales of Onan and Tamar, Lot and his daughters, Amnon and his fair sister (2 Sam. xiii.), Absalom and his father's concubines, the "wife of whoredoms" of Hosea and, capping all, the Song of Solomon. For the horrors forbidden to the Jews, who, therefore, must have practised them, see Levit. viii. 24; xi. 5; xvii. 7; xviii. 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 21, 23, and xx. 3. For mere filth what can be fouler than 1st Kings xviii. 27; Tobias ii. 11; Esther xiv. 2; Eccl. xxii. 2; Isaiah xxxvi. 12; Jeremiah iv. 5, and (Ezekiel iv. 12-15), where the Lord changes human ordure into "Cow-chips!" Ce qui excuse Dieu, said Henri Beyle, c'est qu'il n'existe pas [what excuses God is that he does not exist], - I add, as man has made him.

... heresies," had allowed many of her finest tracts to be monopolised by monkeries and nunneries.[1] After many a tentative measure Mohammed seems to have built his edifice upon two bases, the unity of the Godhead and the priesthood of the paterfamilias. He abolished for ever the "sacerdos alter Christus" whose existence, as some one acutely said, is the best proof of Christianity, and whom all know to be its weakest point. The Moslem family, however humble, was to be the model in miniature of the State, and every father in Al-Islam was made priest and pontiff in his own house, able unaided to marry himself, to circumcise (to baptise as it were) his children, to instruct them in the law and canonically to bury himself (vol. viii. 22). Ritual, properly so called, there was none; congregational prayers were merely those of the individual en masse, and the only admitted approach to a sacerdotal order were the Olema or scholars learned in the legistic and the Mullah or schoolmaster. By thus abolishing the priesthood Mohammed reconciled ancient with modern wisdom. "Scito dominum," said Cato, "pro totâ familiâ rem divinam facere": "No priest at a birth, no priest at a marriage, no priest at a death," is the aspiration of the present Rationalistic School.

The Meccan Apostle wisely retained the compulsory sacrament of circumcision and the ceremonial ablutions of the Mosaic law; and the five daily prayers not only diverted man's thoughts from the world but tended to keep his body pure. These two institutions had been practised throughout life by the Founder of Christianity; but the followers who had never seen him, abolished them for purposes evidently political and propagandist. By ignoring the truth that cleanliness is next to godliness they paved the way for such saints as Simon Stylites and Sabba who, like the lowest Hindu orders of ascetics, made filth a concominant and an evidence of piety: even now English Catholic girls are at times forbidden by Italian priests a frequent use of the bath as a signpost to the sin of "luxury." Mohammed would have accepted the morals contained in the Sermon on the Mount much more readily than did the Jews from whom its matter was borrowed.[2] He did something to abolish the use of wine, which in the East ...

[1] It was the same in England before the "Reformation" and in France where, during our days, a returned priesthood collected in a few years "Peter-pence" to the tune of five hundred millions of francs. And these men wonder at being turned out!
[2] Deutsch on the Talmud: Quarterly Review, 1867.

... means only its abuse; and he denounced games of chance, well knowing that the excitable races of sub-tropical climates cannot play with patience, fairness or moderation. He set aside certain sums for charity to be paid by every Believer and he was the first to establish a poor-rate (Zakát): thus he avoided the shame and scandal of mendicancy which, beginning in the Catholic countries of Southern Europe, extends to Syria and as far East as Christianity is found. By these and other measures of the same import he made the ideal Moslem's life physically clean, moderate and temperate.

But Mohammed, the "mastcr mind of the age," had, we must own, a "'genuine prophetic power, a sinking of self in the Divine, not distinguishable in kind from the inspiration of the Hebrew prophets," especially in that puritanical and pharisaic narrowness which, with characteristic simplicity, can see no good outside its own petty pale. He had insight as well as outsight, and the two taught him that personal and external reformation were mean matters compared with elevating the inner man. In the "purer Faith," which he was commissioned to abrogate and to quicken, he found two vital defects equally fatal to its energy and to its longevity. These were (and are) its egoism and its degradation of humanity. Thus it cannot be a "pleroma": it needs a Higher Law.[1] As Judaism promised the good Jew all manner of temporal blessings, issue, riches, wealth, honour, power, length of days, so Christianity offered the good Christian, as a bribe to lead a godly life, personal salvation and a future state of happiness, in fact, the Kingdom of Heaven, with an alternative threat of Hell. It never rose to the height of the Hindu Brahmans and Lao-Tse (the "'Ancient Teacher"); of Zeno the Stoic and his disciples the noble Pharisees[2] who believed and preached that Virtue is its own reward. It never dared to say, "Do good for Good's sake;"[3] ...

[1] Evidently. Its cosmogony is a myth read literally: its history is, for the most part, a highly immoral distortion, and its ethics are those of the Talmudic Hebrews. It has done good work in its time; but now it shows only decay and decrepitude in the place of vigour and progress. It is dying hard, but it is dying of the slow poison of science.
[2] These Hebrew Stoics would justly charge the Founder of Christianity with preaching a more popular and practical doctrine, but a degradation from their own far higher and more ideal standard.
[3] Dr. Theodore Christlieb ("Modern Doubt and Christian Belief," Edinburgh: Clark, 1874) can even now write: - "So then the 'full age' to which humanity is at present supposed to have attained, consists in man's doing good purely for goodness sake! Who sees not the hollowness of this bombastic talk. That man has yet to be born whose practice will be regulated by this insipid theory (dieser grauen Theorie). What is the idea of goodness per se? * * * The abstract idea of goodness is not an cffectual motive for well-doing" (p. 104). My only comment is c'est ignoble! His Reverence acts the part of Satan in Holy Writ, "Does Job serve God for naught?" Compare this selfish, irreligious, and immoral view with Philo Judaeus (On the Allegory of the Sacred Laws, cap. lviii.), to measure the extent of the fall from Pharisaism to Christianity. And the latter is still infected with the "bribe-and-threat doctrine:" I once immensely scandalised a Consular Chaplain by quoting the noble belief of the ancients, and it was some days before he could recover mental equanimity. The degradation is now inbred.

... even now it does not declare with Cicero, "The sum of all is that what is right should be sought for its own sake, because it is right, and not because it is enacted." It does not even now venture to say with Philo Judaeus, "The good man seeks the day for the sake of the day, and the light for the light's sake; and he labours to acquire what is good for the sake of the good itself, and not of anything else." So far for the egotism, naive and unconscious, of Christianity, whose burden is, "Do good to escape Hell and gain Heaven."

A no less defect in the "School of Galilee" is its low view of human nature. Adopting as sober and authentic history an Osirian-Hebrew myth which Philo and a host of Rabbis explain away, each after his own fashion, Christianity dwells, lovingly as it were, upon the "Fall" of man[1] and seems to revel in the contemptible condition to which "original sin" condemned him; thus grovelling before God ad majorem Dei gloriam. To such a point was and is this carried that the Synod of Dort declared, Infantes infidelium morientes in infantiâ reprobatos esse statuimus ["We rule that infants of nonbelievers dying in infancy are condemned"]; nay, many of the orthodox still hold a Christian babe dying unbaptised to be unfit for a higher existence, and some have even created a "'limbo" expressly to domicile the innocents "of whom is the kingdom of Heaven." Here, if any where, the cloven foot shows itself and teaches us that the only solid stratum underlying priestcraft is one composed of £ s. d.

And I never can now believe it, my Lord! (Bishop) we come to this earth
Ready damned, with the seeds of evil sown quite so thick at our birth,
sings Edwin Arnold.[2] We ask, can infatuation or hypocrisy - ...
[1] Of the doctrine of the Fall the heretic Marcion wrote: "The Deity must either be deficient in goodness if he willed, in prescience if he did not foresee, or in power if he did not prevent it."
[2] In his charming book, "India Revisited."

... for it must be the one or the other - go farther? But the Adamical myth is opposed to all our modern studies. The deeper we dig into the Earth's "crust," the lower are the specimens of human remains which occur; and hitherto not a single "find" has come to revive the faded glories of

Adam the goodliest man of men since born (!)
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Thus Christianity, admitting, like Judaism, its own saints and santons, utterly ignores the progress of humanity, perhaps the only belief in which the wise man can take unmingled satisfaction. Both have proposed an originally perfect being with hyacinthine locks, from whose type all the subsequent humans are degradations physical and moral. We on the other hand hold, from the evidence of our senses, that early man was a savage very little superior to the brute; that during man's millions of years upon earth there has been a gradual advance towards perfection, at times irregular and even retrograde, but in the main progressive; and that a comparison of man in the xixth century with the caveman[1] affords us the means of measuring past progress and of calculating the future of humanity.

Mahommed was far from rising to the moral heights of the ancient sages: he did nothing to abate the egotism of Christianity; he even exaggerated the pleasures of its Heaven and the horrors of its Hell. On the other hand he did much to exalt human nature. He passed over the "Fall" with a light hand; he made man superior to the angels; he encouraged his fellow-creatures to be great and good by dwelling upon their nobler not their meaner side; he acknowledged, even in this world, the perfectability of mankind, including womankind, and in proposing the loftiest ideal he acted unconsciously upon the grand dictum of chivalry - Honneur oblige.[2] His prophets were mostly faultless men; and, if the "Pure of Allah" sinned, he "sinned against himself." Lastly, he made Allah predetermine the career and fortunes, not only of empires, but of every created being; thus inculcating sympathy and tolerance of others, which is true humanity, and a ...

[1] This is the answer to those who contend with much truth that the moderns are by no means superior to the ancients of Europe: they look at the results of only 3000 years instead of 30,000 or 300,000
[2] As a maxim the saying is attributed to the Duc de Lévis, but it is much older.

... proud resignation to evil as to good fortune. This is the doctrine which teaches the vulgar Moslem a dignity observed even by the "blind traveller," and which enables him to display a moderation, a fortitude, and a self-command rare enough amongst the followers of the "purer creed."

Christian historians explain variously the portentous rise of Al-Islam and its marvellous spread over vast regions, not only of pagans and idolators but of Christians. Prideaux disingenuously suggests that it "seems to have been purposely raised up by God, to be a scourge to the Christian Church for not living in accordance with their most holy religion." The popular excuse is by the free use of the sword; this, however, is mere ignorance: in Mohammed's day and early Al-Islam only actual fighters were slain:[1] the rest were allowed to pay the Jizyah, or capitation, tax, and to become tributaries, enjoying almost all the privileges of Moslems. But even had forcible conversion been most systematically practised, it would have afforded an insufficient explanation of the phenomenal rise of an empire which covered more ground in eighty years than Rome had gained in eight hundred. During so short a time the grand revival of Monotheism had consolidated into a mighty nation, despite their eternal blood-feuds, the scattered Arab tribes; a six-years' campaign had conquered Syria, and a lustre or two utterly overthrew Persia, humbled the Graeco-Roman, subdued Egypt and extended the Faith along northern Africa as far as the Atlantic. Within three generations the Copts of Nile-land had formally cast out Christianity, and the same was the case with Syria, the cradle of the Nazarene, and Mesopotamia, one of his strongholds, although both were backed by all the remaining power of the Byzantine empire. Northwestern Africa, which had rejected the idolatro-philosophic system of pagan and imperial Rome, and had accepted, after lukewarm fashion, the Arian Christianity imported by the Vandals, and the "Nicene mystery of the Trinity," hailed with enthusiasm the doctrines of the Koran and has never ceased to be most zealous in its Islam. And while Mohammedanism speedily reduced the limits of Christendom by one-third, while through-out ...

[1] There are a few, but only a few, frightful exceptions to this rule, especially in the case of Khálid bin Walíd, the Sword of Allah, and, his ferocious friend, Darár ibn al-Azwar. But their cruel excesses were loudly blamed by the Moslerns, and Caliph Omar only obeyed the popular voice in superseding the fierce and furious Khálid by the mild and merciful Abd Obaydah.

... the Arabian, Saracenic and Turkish invasions whole Christian peoples embraced the monotheistic faith, there are hardly any instances of defection from the new creed and, with the exception of Spain and Sicily, it has never been suppressed in any land where once it took root. Even now, when Mohammedanism no longer wields the sword, it is spreading over wide regions in China, in the Indian Archipelago, and especially in Western and Central Africa, propagated only by self-educated individuals, trading travellers, while Christianity makes no progress and cannot exist on the Dark Continent without strong support from Government. Nor can we explain this honourable reception by the "licentiousness" ignorantly attributed to Al-Islam, one of the most severely moral of institutions; or by the allurements of polygamy and concubinage, slavery,[1] and a "wholly sensual Paradise" devoted to eating, drinking[2] and the pleasures of the sixth sense. The true and simple explanation is that this grand Reformation of Christianity was urgently wanted when it appeared, that it suited the people better than the creed which it superseded and that it has not ceased to be sufficient for their requirements, social, sexual and vital. As the practical Orientalist, Dr. Leitner, well observes from his own experience, "The Mohammedan religion can adapt itself better than any other and has adapted itself to circumstances and to the needs of the various races which profess it, in accordance with the spirit of the age."[3] Hence, I add, its wide diffusion and its impregnable position. "The dead hand, stiff and motionless," is a forcible simile for the present condition of Al-Islam; but it results from limited and imperfect observation and it fails in the sine qua non of similes and metaphors, a foundation of fact.

I cannot quit this subject without a passing reference to an ...

[1] This too when St. Paul sends the Christian slave Onesimus back to his unbelieving (?) master, Philemon; which in Al-Islam would have created a scandal.
[2] This too when the Founder of Christianity talks of "Eating and drinking at his table!" (Luke xxii. 29.) My notes have often touched upon this inveterate prejudice, the result, like the soul-less woman of Al-Islam, of ad captandum, pious fraud. "No soul knoweth what joy of the eyes is reserved for the good in recompense for their works" (Koran xxxii. 17) is surely as "spiritual" as St. Paul (I Cor. ii., 9). Some lies, however, are very long-lived, especially those begotten by self-interest.
[3] I have elsewhere noted its strict conservatism which, however, it shares with all Eastern faiths in the East. But progress, not quietism, is the principle which governs humanity and it is favoured by events of most different nature. In Egypt the rule of Mohammed Ali the Great and in Syria the Massacre of Damascus (1860) have greatly modified the constitution of Al-Islam throughout the nearer East

... admirably written passage in Mr. Palgrave's travels[1] which is essentially unfair to Al-Islam. The author has had ample opportunities of comparing creeds: of Jewish blood and born a Protestant, he became a Catholic and a Jesuit (Père Michel Cohen)[2] in a Syrian convent; he crossed Arabia as a good Moslem and he finally returned to his premier amour, Anglicanism. But his picturesque depreciation of Mohammedanism, which has found due appreciation in more than one popular volume,[3] is a notable specimen of special pleading, of the ad captandum in its modern and least honest form. The writer begins by assuming the arid and barren Wahhabi-ism, which he had personally studied, as a fair expression of the Saving Faith. What should we say to a Moslem traveller who would make the Calvinism of the sourest Covenanter, model, genuine and ancient Christianity? What would sensible Moslems say to these propositions of Professor Maccovius and the Synod of Dort: -Good works are an obstacle to salvation. God does by no means will the salvation of all men: he does will sin and he destines men to sin, as sin? What would they think of the Inadmissible Grace, the Perseverance of the Elect, the Supralapsarian and the Sublapsarian and, finally, of a Deity the author of man's existence, temptation and fall, who deliberately pre-ordains sin and ruin? "Father Cohen" carries out into the regions of the extreme his strictures on the one grand vitalising idea of Al-Islam, "There is no god but God;"[4] and his deduction concerning the Pantheism of Force sounds unreal and unsound, compared with the sensible remarks upon the same subject by Dr. Badger[5] who sees the abstruseness of the doctrine ...

[1] Chapt. viii. "Narrative of a Year's journey through Central and Eastern Arabia;" London, Macmillan, 1865.
[2] The Soc. Jesu has, I believe, a traditional conviction that converts of Israelitic blood bring only misfortune to the Order.
[3] I especially allude to an able but most superficial book, the "Ten Great Religions" by James F. Clarke (Boston, Osgood, 1876), which caricatures and exaggerates the false portraiture of Mr. Palgrave. The writer's admission that, "Something is always gained by learning what the believers in a system have to say in its behalf," clearly shows us the man we have to deal with and the "depths of his self-consciousness."
[4] But how could the Arabist write such hideous grammar as "La Ilah illa Allah" for "Lá iláha (accus.) ill' Allah"?
[5] p. 996 "Muhammad" in vol. iii. Dictionary of Christian Biography. See also the Illustration of the Mohammedan Creed, etc., from Al-Ghazáli introduced (pp. 72-77) into Bell and Sons' "History of the Saracens" by Simon Ockley, B.D. (London, 1878). 1 regret that some Orientalist did not correct the proofs: everybody will not detect "Al-Lauh al-Mahfúz" (the Guarded Tablet) in "Allauh ho'hnehphoud" (p. 171); and this but a pinch out of a camel-load.

... and does not care to include it in hard and fast lines or to subject it to mere logical analysis. Upon the subject of "predestination" Mr. Palgrave quotes, not from the Koran, but from the Ahádís or Traditional Sayings of the Apostle; but what importance attaches to a legend in the Mischnah, or Oral Law, of the Hebrews utterly ignored by the Written Law? He joins the many in complaining that even the mention of "the love of God" is absent from Mohammed's theology, burking the fact that it never occurs in the Jewish scriptures and that the genius of Arabic, like Hebrew, does not admit the expression: worse still, he keeps from his reader such Koranic passages as, to quote no other, "Allah loveth you and will forgive your sins" (iii. 29 [sic; actually 3:31]). He pities Allah for having "no son, companion or counsellor" and, of course, he must equally commiserate Jehovah. Finally his views of the lifelessness of Al-Islam are directly opposed to the opinions of Dr. Leitner and the experience of all who have lived in Moslem lands. Such are the ingenious but not ingenuous distortions of fact, the fine instances of the pathetic fallacy, and the noteworthy illustrations of the falsehood of extremes, which have engendered "Mohammedanism a Relapse: the worst form of Monotheism,"[1] and which have been eagerly seized upon and further deformed by the authors of popular books, that is, volumes written by those who know little for those who know less.

In Al-Rashid's day, a mighty change had passed over the primitive simplicity of Al-Islam, the change to which faiths and creeds, like races and empires and all things sublunary, are subject. The proximity of Persia and the close intercourse with the Graeco-Romans had polished and greatly modified the physiognomy of the rugged old belief: all manner of metaphysical subtleties had cropped up, with the usual disintegrating effect, and some of these threatened even the unity of the Godhead. Musaylimah ...

[1] The word should have been Arianism. This "heresy" of the early Christians was much aided by the "Discipline of the Secret," supposed to be of apostolic origin, which concealed from neophytes, catechumens and penitents all the higher mysteries, like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Metastoicheiosis (transubstantiation), the Real Presence, the Eucharist and the Seven Sacraments; when Arnobius could ask, Quid Deo cum vino est? and when Justin, fearing the charge of Polytheism, could expressly declare the inferior nature of the Son to the Father. Hence the creed was appropriately called Symbol, i.e., Sign of the Secret. This "mental reservation" lasted till the Edict of Toleration, issued by Constantine in the fourth century, held Christianity secure when divulging her "mysteries"; and it allowed Arianism to become the popular creed.

... and Karmat had left traces of their handiwork: the Mutazilites (separatists or secessors) actively propagated their doctrine of a created and temporal Koran. The Khárijí or Ibázi, who rejects and reviles Abú Turáb (Caliph Ali), contended passionately with the Shí'ah who reviles and rejects the other three "Successors;" and these sectarians, favoured by the learned, and by the Abbasides in their jealous hatred of the Ommiades, went to the extreme length of the Ali-Iláhi - the God-makers of Ali - whilst the Dahrí and the Zindík, the Mundanist and the Agnostic, proposed to sweep away the whole edifice. The neo-Platonism and Gnosticism which had not essentially affected Christendom,[1] found in Al-Islam a rich fallow and gained strength and luxuriance by the solid materialism and conservatism of its basis. Such were a few of the distracting and resolving influences which Time had brought to bear upon the True Believer and which, after some half a dozen generations, had separated the several schisms by a wider breach than that which yawns between Orthodox, Romanist and Lutheran. Nor was this scandal in Al-Islam abated until the Tartar sword applied to it the sharpest remedy.

B. - Woman.

The next point I propose to consider is the position of womanhood in The Nights, so curiously at variance with the stock ideas concerning the Moslem home and domestic policy still prevalent, not only in England, but throughout Europe. Many readers of these volumes have remarked to me with much astonishment that they find the female characters more remarkable for decision, action and manliness than the male; and are wonderstruck by their masterful attitude and by the supreme influence they exercise upon public and private life.

I have glanced at the subject of the sex in Al-Islam to such an extent throughout my notes that little remains here to be added. Women, all the world over, are what men make them; and the ...

[1] The Gnostics played rather a fantastic rôle in Christianity with their Demiurge, their Aeonogony, their Aeons by syzygies or couples, their Maio and Sabscho and their beatified bride of Jesus, Sophia Achamoth; and some of them descended to absolute absurdities, e.g., the Tascodrugite and the Pattalorhinchitae who during prayers placed their fingers upon their noses or in their mouths, &c., reading Psalm cxli. 3.

... main charm of Amazonian fiction is to see how they live and move and have their being without any masculine guidance. But it is the old ever, new fable

"Who drew the Lion vanquished? 'Twas a man!"

The books of the Ancients, written in that stage of civilisation when the sexes are at civil war, make women even more than in real life the creatures of their masters: hence from the dawn of literature to the present day the sex has been the subject of disappointed abuse and eulogy almost as unmerited. Ecclesiastes, perhaps the strangest specimen of an "inspired volume" the world has yet produced, boldly declares "One (upright) man among a thousand I have found; but a woman among all have I not found" (vol. vii. 28), thus confirming the pessimism of Petronius:

Femina nulla bona est, et si bona contigit ulla
Nescio quo fato res mala facta bona est.
[No woman is good, and if any good one has arisen,
I do not know by what fate a bad thing is made good.]

In the Psalms again (xxx. 15) we have the old sneer at the three insatiables, Hell, Earth and the Parts feminine (os vulvae); and Rabbinical learning has embroidered these and other texts, producing a truly hideous caricature. A Hadis attributed to Mohammed runs, "They (women) lack wits and faith. When Eve was created Satan rejoiced saying: - Thou art half of my host, the trustee of my secret and my shaft wherewith I shoot and miss not!" Another tells us, "I stood at the gate of Heaven, and lo! most of its inmates were poor, and I stood at the gate of Hell, and lo! most of its inmates were women. "[1] "Take care of the glass-phials!" cried the Prophet to a camel-guide singing with a sweet voice. Yet the Meccan Apostle made, as has been seen, his own household produce two perfections. The blatant popular voice follows with such "dictes" as, "'Women are made of nectar and poison"; "Women have long hair and short wits" and so forth. Nor are the Hindus behindhand. Woman has fickleness implanted in her by Nature like the flashings of lightning (Kathá s.s. i. 147); she is valueless as a straw to the heroic mind (169); she is hard as adamant in sin and soft as flour in fear (170) and, ...

[1] "Kitáb al-'Unwán fí Makáid al-Niswán" = The Book of the Beginnings on the Wiles of Womankind (Lane i. 38).

... like the fly, she quits camphor to settle on compost (ii. 117). "What dependence is there in the crowing of a hen?" (women's opinions) says the Hindi proverb; also "A virgin with grey hairs!" (i.e. a monster) and, "Wherever wendeth a fairy face a devil wendeth with her." The same superficial view of holding woman to be lesser (and very inferior) man is taken generally by the classics; and Euripides distinguished himself by misogyny, although he drew the beautiful character of Alcestis. Simonides, more merciful than Ecclesiastes, after naming his swine-women, dog-women, cat-women, etc., ends the decade with the admirable bee-woman, thus making ten per cent. honest. In mediaeval or Germanic Europe the doctrine of the Virgin mother gave the sex a status unknown to the Ancients except in Egypt, where Isis was the help-mate and completion of Osiris, in modern parlance "The Woman clothed with the Sun." The kindly and courtly Palmerin of England, in whose pages "gentlemen may find their choice of sweet inventions and gentlewomen be satisfied with courtly expectations," suddenly blurts out, "But in truth women are never satisfied by reason, being governed by accident or appetite" (chapt. xlix).

The Nights, as might be expected from the emotional East, exaggerate these views. Women are mostly "Sectaries of the god Wünsch [desire]"; beings of impulse, blown about by every gust of passion; stable only in instability; constant only in inconstancy. The false ascetic, the perfidious and murderous crone and the old hag-procuress who pimps like Umm Kulsum,[1] for mere pleasure, in the luxury of sin, are drawn with an experienced and loving hand. Yet not the less do we meet with examples of the dutiful daughter, the model lover matronly in her affection, the devoted wife, the perfect mother, the saintly devotee, the learned preacher, Univira the chaste widow and the self-sacrificing heroic woman. If we find (vol. iii. 216) the sex described as:

An offal cast by kites where'er they list,

and the studied insults of vol. iii. 318, we also come upon an admirable sketch of conjugal happiness (vol. vii. ? 43); and, to ...

[1] This person was one of the Amsál or Exampla of the Arabs. For her first thirty years she whored; during the next three decades she pimped for friend and foe; and, during the last third of her life, when bed-ridden by age and infirmities, she had a buckgoat and a nanny tied up in her room and solaced herself by contemplating their amorous conflicts.

... mention no other, Shahryar's attestation to Shahrazad's excellence in the last charming pages of The Nights.[1] It is the same with the Kathá whose praise and dispraise are equally enthusiastic; e.g., "Women of good family are guarded by their own virtue, the sole efficient chamberlain; but the Lord himself can hardly guard the unchaste. Who can stem a furious stream and a frantic woman?" (i. 328). "Excessive love in woman is your only hero for daring" (i. 339). "Thus fair ones, naturally feeble, bring about a series of evil actions which engender discernment and aversion to the world; but here and there you will find a virtuous woman who adorneth a glorious house as the streak of the moon arrayeth the breadth of the Heavens" (i. 346). "So you see, King, honourable matrons are devoted to their husbands and 'tis not the case that women are always bad" (ii. 624). And there is true wisdom in that even balance of feminine qualities advocated by our Hindu-Hindi class-book the Toti-námeh or Parrot volume. The perfect woman has seven requisites. She must not always be merry (1) nor sad (2); she must not always be talking (3) nor silently musing (4); she must not always be adorning herself (5) nor neglecting her person (6); and, (7) at all times she must be moderate and self-possessed.

The legal status of womankind in Al-Islam is exceptionally high, a fact of which Europe has often been assured, although the truth has not even yet penetrated into the popular brain. Nearly a century ago one Mirza Abú Tálib Khan, an Amildár or revenue collector, after living two years in London, wrote an "apology" for, or rather a vindication of, his countrywomen which is still worth reading and quoting.[2] Nations are but superficial judges of one another: where customs differ they often remark only the salient distinctive points which, when examined, prove to be of minor importance. Europeans seeing ...

[1] And modern Moslem feeling upon the subject has apparently undergone a change. Ashraf Khan, the Afghan poet, sings,
Since I, the parted one, have come the secrets of the world to ken,
Women in hosts therein I find, but few (and very few) of men.

And the Osmanli proverb is, "Of ten men nine are women!"
[2] His Persian paper "On the Vindication of the Liberties of the Asiatic Women" was translated and printed in the Asiatic Annual Register for 1801 (pp. 100-107); it is quoted by Dr. Jon. Scott (Introd. vol. i. p. xxxiv. et seq.) and by a host of writers. He also wrote a book of Travels translated by Prof. Charles Stewart in 1810 and re-issued (3 vols. octavo) in 1814.

... and hearing that women in the East are "cloistered" as the Grecian matron was wont [Greek:] endon menein and oikourein [to stay inside and run the house]; that wives may not walk out with their husbands and cannot accompany them to "balls and parties"; moreover, that they are always liable, like the ancient Hebrew, to the mortification of the "sister-wife," have most ignorantly determined that they are mere serviles, and that their lives are not worth living. Indeed, a learned lady, Miss Martineau, once visiting a Harem went into ecstasies of pity and sorrow because the poor things knew nothing of - say trigonometry and the use of the globes. Sonnini thought otherwise, and my experience, like that of all old dwellers in the East, is directly opposed to this conclusion.

I have noted (Night cmlxii.) that Mohammed, in the fifth year of his reign,[1] after his ill-advised and scandalous marriage[2] with his foster-daughter Zaynab, established the Hijab or veiling of women. It was probably an exaggeration of local usage: a modified separation of the sexes, which extended and still extends even to the Badawi, must long have been customary in Arabian cities, and its object was to deliver the sexes from temptation, as the Koran says (xxxii. 32), "purer will this (practice) be for your hearts and their hearts."[3] The women, who delight in restrictions ...

[1] The beginning of which I date from the Hijrah, lit. = the separation, popularly "The Flight." Stating the case broadly, it has become the practice of modern writers to look upon Mohammed as an honest enthusiast at Meccah and an unscrupulous despot at Al-Medinah, a view which appears to me eminently unsound and unfair. In a private station the Meccan Prophet was famed as a good citizen, teste his title Al-Amín = The Trusty. But when driven from his home by the pagan faction, he became de facto as de jure a king: nay, a royal pontiff; and the preacher was merged in the Conqueror of his foes and the Commander of the Faithful. His rule, like that of all Eastern rulers, was stained with blood; but, assuming as true all the crimes and cruelties with which Christians charge him and which Moslems confess, they were mere blots upon a glorious and enthusiastic life, ending in a most exemplary death, compared with the tissue of horrors and havock which the Law and the Prophets attribute to Moses, to Joshua, to Samuel and to the patriarchs and prophets by express command of Jehovah.
[2] It was not, however, incestuous: the scandal came from its ignoring the Arab "pundonor."
[3] The "opportunism" of Mohammed has been made a matter of obloquy by many who have not reflected and discovered that time-serving is the very essence of "Revelation." Says the Rev. W. Smith ("Pentateuch," chapt. xiii.), "As the journey (Exodus) proceeds, so laws originate from the accidents of the way," and he applies this to successive decrees (Numbers xxvi. 32-36; xxvii. 8-11 and xxxvi. 1-9), holding it indirect internal evidence of Mosaic authorship (?). Another tone, however, is used in the case of A]-Islam. "And now, that he might not stand in awe of his wives any longer, down comes a revelation," says Ockley in his bluff and homely style, which admits such phrases as, "the imposter has the impudence to say." But why, in common honesty, refuse to the Koran the concessions freely made to the Torah? It is a mere petitio principii to argue that the latter is "inspired" while the former is not; moreover, although we may be called upon to believe things beyond Reason, it is hardly fair to require our belief in things contrary to Reason.

... which tend to their honour, accepted it willingly and still affect it; they do not desire a liberty or rather a licence which they have learned to regard as inconsistent with their time-honoured notions of feminine decorum and delicacy, and they would think very meanly of a husband who permitted them to be exposed, like hetairae, to the public gaze.[1] As Zubayr Pasha, exiled to Gibraltar for another's treason, said to my friend, Colonel Buckle, after visiting quarters evidently laid out by a jealous husband, "We Arabs think that when a man has a precious jewel, 'tis wiser to lock it up in a box than to leave it about for anyone to take." The Eastern adopts the instinctive, the Western prefers the rational method. The former jealously guards his treasure, surrounds it with all precautions, fends off from it all risks and if the treasure go astray, kills it. The latter, after placing it en evidence upon an eminence in ball dress with back and bosom bared to the gaze of society, a bundle of charms exposed to every possible seduction, allows it to take its own way, and if it be misled, he kills or tries to kill the misleader. It is a fiery trial; and the few who safely pass through it may claim a higher standpoint in the moral world than those who have never been sorely tried. But the crucial question is whether Christian Europe has done wisely in offering such temptations.

The second and main objection to Moslem custom is the marriage-system which begins with a girl being wedded to a man whom she knows only by hearsay. This was the habit of our forbears not many generations ago, and it still prevails amongst noble houses in Southern Europe, where a lengthened study of it leaves me doubtful whether the "love-marriage," as it is called, or wedlock with an utter stranger, evidently the two extremes, is likely to prove the happier. The "sister-wife" is or would be a sore trial to monogamic races like those of Northern Europe, where Caia, all but the equal of Caius in most points mental and physical and superior in some, not unfrequently proves herself the "man of the family," the "only man in the boat." But in the East, where the sex is far more delicate, where a girl is brought up in polygamy, where religious reasons separate her from her husband, during pregnancy and lactation, for three successive ...

[1] This is noticed in my wife's volume on The Inner Life of Syria, chapt. xii. vol. i. 155.

... years; and where oft like the Mormon damsel she would hesitate to "nigger it with a one-wife-man," the case assumes a very different aspect and the load, if burden it be, falls comparatively light. Lastly, the "patriarchal household" is mostly confined to the grandee and the richard, whilst Holy Law and public opinion, neither of which can openly be disregarded, assign command of the household to the equal or first wife and jealously guard the rights and privileges of the others.

Mirza Abu Talib "the Persian Prince"[1] offers six reasons why "the liberty of the Asiatic women appears less than that of the Europeans," ending with,

I'll fondly place on either eye
The man that can to this reply.

He then lays down eight points in which the Moslem wife has greatly the advantage over her Christian sisterhood; and we may take his first as a specimen. Custom, not contrary to law, invests the Mohammedan mother with despotic government of the homestead, slaves, servants and children, especially the latter: she alone directs their early education, their choice of faith, their marriage and their establishment in life; and in case of divorce she takes the daughters, the sons going to the sire. She has also liberty to leave her home, not only for one or two nights, but for a week or a fortnight, without consulting her husband; and whilst she visits a strange household, the master and all males above fifteen are forbidden the Harem. But the main point in favour of the Moslem wife is her being a "legal sharer": inheritance is secured to her by Koranic law; she must be dowered by the bridegroom to legalise marriage and all she gains is secured to her; whereas in England a "Married Woman's Property Act" was completed only in 1882 after many centuries of the grossest abuses.

Lastly, Moslems and Easterns in general study and intelligently study the art and mystery of satisfying the physical woman. In my Foreword I have noticed among barbarians the system of "making men,"[2] that is, of teaching lads first arrived at ...

[1] Mirza preceding the name means Mister and following it Prince. Addison's "Vision of Mirza" (Spectator, No. 159) is therefore "The Vision of Mister."
[2] And women. The course of instruction lasts from a few days to a year and the period of puberty is fêted by magical rites and often by some form of mutilation. It is described by Waitz, Réclus and Schoolcraft, Péchuel-Loecksa, Collins, Dawson, Thomas, Brough Smyth, Reverends Bulmer and Taplin, Carlo Wilhelmi, Wood, A. W. Howitt, C. Z. Muhas (Mem. de la Soc. Anthrop. Allemande, 1882, p. 265) and by Professor Mantegazza (chapt. i.) for whom see infra.

... puberty the nice conduct of the instrumentum paratum plantandis civibus [tool for planting citizens?]: a branch of the knowledge-tree which our modern education grossly neglects, thereby entailing untold miseries upon individuals, families and generations. The mock virtue, the most immodest modesty of England and of the United States in the xixth century, pronounces the subject foul and fulsome: "Society" sickens at all details; and hence it is said abroad that the English have the finest women in Europe and least know how to use them. Throughout the East such studies are aided by a long series of volumes, many of them written by learned physiologists, by men of social standing and by religious dignitaries high in office. The Egyptians especially delight in aphrodisiac literature treating, as the Turks say, de la partie au-dessous de la taille [of the parts below the waist]; and from fifteen hundred to two thousand copies of a new work, usually lithographed in cheap form, readily sell off. The pudibund Lane makes allusion to and quotes (A. N. i. 216) one of the most outspoken, a quarto of 464 pages, called the Halbat al-Kumayt or "Race Course of the Bay Horse," a poetical and horsey term for grapewine. Attributed by D'Herbelot to the Kazi Shams al-Din Mohammed, it is wholly upon the subject of wassail and women till the last few pages, when his reverence exclaims: - "This much, 0 reader, I have recounted, the better thou mayst know what to avoid;" and so forth, ending with condemning all he had praised.[1] Even the divine and historian Jalál al-Dín al-Siyuti is credited with having written, though the authorship is much disputed, a work entitled, "Kitáb al-Izáh fi 'ilm al-Nikáh" = The Book of Exposition in the Science of Coition: my copy, a lithograph of 33 pages, undated, but evidently Cairene, begins with exclaiming "Alhamdolillah - Laud to the Lord who adorned the virginal bosom with breasts and who made the thighs of women anvils for the spear-handles of men!" To the same amiable theologian are also ascribed the "Kitáb Nawázir al-Ayk fi al-Nayk" = Green Splendours of the Copse in Copulation, an abstract of the "Kitáb al-Wisháh fí fawáid al-Nikáh" = Book of the Zone on Coition-boon. Of the abundance of pornographic literature we may judge ...

[1] Similarly certain Australian tribes act scenes of rape and pederasty saying to the young, If you do this you will be killed.

... from a list of the following seven works given in the second page of the "Kitáb Rujú'a al-Shaykh ila Sabáh fi 'l-Kuwwat al-Báh[1]" = Book of Age-rejuvenescence in the power of Concupiscence: it is the work of Ahmad bin Sulayman, surnamed Ibn Kamál Pasha.

1. Kitáb al-Báh by Al-Nahli.
2. Kitáb al-'Ars wa al-'Aráis (Book of the Bridal and the Brides) by Al-Jáhiz.
3. Kitáb al-Kiyán (Maiden's Book) by Ibn Hájib al-Nu'mán.
4. Kitáb al-Izáh fi asrár al-Nikáh (Book of the Exposition on the Mysteries of married Fruition).
5. Kitáb Jámi' al-Lizzah (The Compendium of Pleasure) by Ibn Samsamáni.
6. Kitáb Barján (Yarján?) wa Janáhib (? ?)2
7. Kitáb al-Munákahah wa al-Mufátahah fí Asnáf al-Jimá' wa Alátih (Book of Carnal Copulation and the Initiation into the modes of Coition and its Instrumentation) by Aziz al-Din al-Masíhí.3

To these I may add the Lizzat al-Nisá (Pleasures of Women), a text-book in Arabic, Persian and Hindostani: it is a translation and a very poor attempt, omitting much from, and adding naught to, the famous Sanskrit work Ananga-Ranga (Stage of the Bodiless One i.e. Cupido) or Hindu Art of Love (Ars Amoris Indica).[4] I ...

[1] "Báh," is the popular term for the amatory appetite: hence such works are called Kutub al-Báh, lit. = Books of Lust.
[2] I can make nothing of this title nor can those whom I have consulted: my only explanation is that they may be fanciful names proper
[3] Amongst the Greeks we find erotic specialists (1) Aristides of the Libri Milesii; (2) Astyanassa, the follower of Helen who wrote on androgynisation; (3) Cyrene, the artist of amatory Tabellae or ex-votos offered to Priapus; (4) Elephantis, the poetess who wrote on Varia concubitus genera; (5) Evemerus, whose Sacra Historia, preserved in a fragment of Q. Eunius, was collected by Hieronymus Columna; (6) Hemitheon of the Sybaritic books; (7) Musaeus, the lyrist; (8) Niko, the Samian girl; (9) Philaenis, the poetess of Amatory Pleasures, in Athen. viii. 13, attributed to Polycrates the Sophist; (10) Protagorides, Amatory Conversations; (11) Sotades, the Mantinzean who, says Suidas, wrote the poem "Cinaedica"; (12) Sphodrias the Cynic, his Art of Love; and (13) Trepsicles, Amatory Pleasures. Amongst the Romans we have Aedituus, Annianus (in Ausonius), Anser, Bassus Eubius, Helvius Cinna, Laevius (of Io and the Erotopaegnion), Memmius, Cicero (to Cerellia), Pliny the Younger, Sabellus (de modo coeundi); Sisenna, the pathic Poet and translator of Milesian Fables and Sulpitia, the modest erotist. For these see the Dictionnaire Érotique of Blondeau pp. ix. and x. (Paris, Liseux, 1885).
[4] It has been translated from the Sanskrit and annotated by A.F.F. and B.F.R. Reprint: Cosmopoli: mdccclxxxv.: for the Kama Shastra Society, London and Benares, and for private circulation only. The first print has been exhausted and a reprint will presently appear.

... have copies of it in Sanskrit and Maráthi, Guzrati and Hindostani: the latter is an unpaged octavo of pp. 66, including eight pages of most grotesque illustrations showing the various Asan (the Figurae Veneris or positions of copulation), which seem to be the triumphs of contortionists. These pamphlets lithographed in Bombay are broad cast over the land.[1]

It must not be supposed that such literature is purely and simply aphrodisiacal. The learned Sprenger, a physician as well as an Arabist, says (Al-Mas'údi p. 384) of a tractate by the celebrated Rhazes in the Leyden Library, "The number of curious observations, the correct and practical ideas and the novelty of the notions of Eastern nations on these subjects, which are contained in this book, render it one of the most important productions of the medical literature of the Arabs." I can conscientiously recommend to the Anthropologist a study of the "Kutub al-Báh."


Here it will be advisable to supplement what was said in my Foreword (p. xiii.) concerning the turpiloquium of The Nights. Readers who have perused the ten volumes will probably agree with me that the naive indecencies of the text are rather gaudisserie than prurience; and, when delivered with mirth and humour, they are rather the "excrements of wit" than designed for debauching the mind. Crude and indelicate with infantile plainness; even gross and, at times, "nasty" in their terrible frankness, they cannot be accused of corrupting suggestiveness or subtle insinuation of vicious sentiment. Theirs is a coarseness of language, not of idea; they are indecent, not depraved; and the pure and perfect naturalness of their nudity seems almost to purify it, showing that the matter is rather of manners than of morals. Such throughout the East is the language of every man, woman and child, from prince to peasant, from matron to prostitute: all ...

[1] The local press has often proposed to abate this nuisance of erotic publication which is most debasing to public morals already perverted enough. But the "Empire of Opinion" cares very little for such matters and, in the matter of the "native press," generally seems to seek only a quiet life. In England if erotic literature were not forbidden by law, few would care to sell or to buy it, and only the legal pains and penalties keep up the phenomenally high prices.

... are as the naive French traveller said of the Japanese: "si grossiers qu'ils ne sçavent nommer les choses que par leur nom" [So crude that they know not how to call things but by their names]. This primitive stage of language sufficed to draw from Lane and Burckhardt strictures upon the "most immodest freedom of conversation in Egypt," where, as all the world over, there are three several stages for names of things and acts sensual. First we have the mot cru, the popular term, soon followed by the technical and scientific, and, lastly, the literary or figurative nomenclature, which is often much more immoral because more attractive, suggestive and seductive than the "raw word." And let me observe that the highest civilisation is now returning to the language of nature. In La Glu of M. J. Richepin, a triumph of the realistic school, we find such "archaic" expressions as la petée [fart], putain [whore], foutue à la six-quatre-dix [slam, bam, thank you ma'am]; un facetieuse petarade [a hilarious fart-fest]; tu t'es foutue de etc. [you buggered yourself with ...], Eh vilain bougre! [you old bugger!] and so forth.[1] To those critics who complain of these raw vulgarisms and puerile indecencies in The Nights I can reply only by quoting the words said to have been said by Dr. Johnson to the lady who complained of the naughty words in his dictionary "You must have been looking for them, Madam!"

But I repeat (p. xiv.) there is another element in The Nights and that is one of absolute obscenity utterly repugnant to English readers, even the least prudish. It is chiefly connected with what our neighbours call Le vice contre nature - as if anything can be contrary to nature which includes all things.[2] Upon this subject I must offer details, as it does not enter into my plan to ignore any theme which is interesting to the Orientalist and the Anthropologist. And they, methinks, do abundant harm who, for shame or disgust, would suppress the very mention of such matters: in order to combat a great and growing evil deadly to the birth-rate the mainstay of national prosperity - the first requisite is careful study. As Albert Bollstoedt, Bishop of Ratisbon, rightly says: - Quia malum non evitatum nisi cognitum, ideo necesse est ...

[1] The Spectator (No. 119) complains of an "infamous piece of good breeding" because "men of the town, and particularly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse and uncivilised words in our language and utter themselves often in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear."
[2] See the Novelle of Bandello the Bishop (Tome 1; Paris, Liseux, 1879, small in 18), where the dying fisherman replies to his confessor "Oh! Oh! your reverence, to amuse myself with boys was natural to me as for a man to eat and drink; yet you asked me if I sinned against nature!" Amongst the wiser ancients sinning contra naturam was not marrying and begetting children.

... cognoscere immundiciem coitus et multa alia quae docentur in isto libro [because an evil cannot be avoided unless it is known, therefore it is necessary to know the filth of sexual intercourse and may other things which are taught in this book]. Equally true are Professor Mantegazza's words:[1] Cacher les plaies du coeur humain au nom de la pudeur, ce n'est au contraire qu'hypocrisie ou peur [to hide the wounds of the human heart in the name of modesty is, on the contrary, nothing but hypocrisy or fear]. The late Mr. Grote had reason to lament that when describing such institutions as the far-famed [Greek:] hieros lochos of Thebes, the Sacred Band annihilated at Chaeroneia, he was compelled to a reticence which permitted him to touch only the surface of the subject. This was inevitable under the present rule of Cant[2] in a book intended for the public: but the same does not apply to my version of The Nights, and now I proceed to discuss the matter sérieusement, honnêtement, historiquement; to show it in decent nudity not in suggestive fig-leaf or feuille de vigne.

[1] Avis au Lecteur "L'Amour dans l'Humanité," by P. Mantegazza, translated into French by Emilien Chesneau, Paris, Fetscherin et Chuit, 1886. [Note to the reader in "L'Amour dans l'Humanité," by P. Mantegazza, translated into French by Emilien Chesneau, Paris, Fetscherin et Chuit, 1886.]
[2] See "H.B." (Henry Beyle, French Consul at Civita Vecchia) par un des Quarante (Prosper Mérimée), Elutheropolis, An mdccclxiv. De l'Imposture du Nazaréen.