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vested Osama, a lad, but the son of Zeid, with the supreme command; but his hour had arrived. In the beginning of Safar, a deadly fever came upon him, and he announced to the weeping congregation assembled in the mosque at Medina his own approaching decease. The exertion increased the disease, and after four days of suffering, during which the burden of his speech was always of suffering as an expiation for sin, he gradually sank, retaining, however, to the last somewhat of the ancient fire. With a quaint touch of satiric humour, he puuished all his wives for giving him physic by making them take it too, and on Monday he even joined in the prayers for his own recovery in the mosque. This, however, was his last effort; and on the 8 th June 632, exclaiming at intervals, " The Lord grant me pardon," "Pardon," "The blessed companionship on high," he stretched himself gently, and was dead.
The events which followed his death, the election of Omar, the revolt and subjugation of the Arabs, the pouring out of the tribes to the conquest of the world, the long and marvellous story of the Caliphs,—are better known than those of his own life. Our only remaining duty is to sum up his character, and record his special influence as a legislator. Upon his character as a prince, a leader of men, there will, we imagine, be little controversy. No man in history ever rose to dominion with fewer heavy stains upon his character; none ever exhibited more constancy, or a more serene, unwavering wisdom. In the first test of greatness, wealth of loving friends, none ever approached Mahomet. Alexander had friends of a sort, but HephaBstion was not of the stamp of Abu Bekr, and the majority of heroes have been lonely men. It is as a Prophet only that he will be seriously condemned, and doubtless his prophetical pretensions coloured his whole life. We can but state a strong conviction when we affirm, that a series of minute facts leave no doubt on our mind that Mahomet was from first to last absolutely sincere. He really believed that any strong conviction, even any strong wish, that he entertained was borne in upon him by a power external to himself; and as the first and most memorable of these convictions was faith in God, he believed that power to be God, and himself its Messenger. The mode of expressing his convictions Was undoubtedly an invention; but that the basis of his faith in himself was sincere, admits, to our mind, of little question. This strength of conviction extended even to his legislative acts, and we cannot better conclude this brief notice of his career than by a glance at his true position as a legislator. Politically, it is easy to understand his position. Believing himself the Messenger of the Almighty, no position save that of despot was possible to him, and he made on this point no
provision for the future. The Mahometans deduce from his opinions the idea that the Khalif is vice-gerent of God, and of course absolute; but no such theory is laid down in the Koran, and the Wahabees, the strictest of Mussulman sects, acknowledge no such dogma. Its adoption was the accidental result of the movement which followed his death, and which compelled the Arabs to intrust despotic authority to their chief. Mahomet settled nothing as to his successors, and it is therefore only in social questions that his legislation is still operative. And even here we are almost without the means of knowing what were the principles he intended to lay down. The living law of Mahometanism is not to be found in the Koran, but in the commentators,—a set of the most vicious scoundrels who ever disgraced humanity, whose first object seems to have been to relax the plain meaning of the original edicts as far as practicable. The original code is on most points just enough. The law as regards property differs nothing in essentials from that which prevails in Europe. Property is sacred, and is pretty fairly divided among relatives. Life is held in reverence, and theft is prohibited, even with cruelty. Truth is strongly inculcated, and adherence to treaties declared an obligation binding on the conscience. Adultery is punished with death, though that provision is hampered by a curious law of evidence; and reverence for parents is sedulously inculcated. The law in fact, except on one point, differs little from that of the Twelve Tables; but that one has modified all Asiatic society for evil. We must give a few words to an unpleasant topic.
It will be observed that we hav« said nothing of Mahomet's private life, of which all biographers descant so much,—of his eleven wives and two slave-girls, of the strangely relaxed law of the sexes which he established, and of his own departures even from that loose code. The omission was intended, for we conceive too much has always been made of that point in Mahomet's career. In early life temperate to a marvel for Arabia, he was undoubtedly in his later years a man loving women. We do not eay "licentious" advisedly, for though all things good and bad are recorded of Mahomet, we hear of no seduction, no adultery,* no interference with the families of his followers. He was simply a man loving women, and heaping up wives, as if he had been exempted from the law he himself laid down. He probably thought he was, as his followers undoubtedly did, and personally he was no worse than thousands whom modern Europe practically condones. He was no better, but it is mere folly to say that his legislation was exceptionally licentious. What he did as regards his followers, was simply this. He left the question * Zeinab was given tu liiiu, not taken.
exactly as he found it,—did not rise one hairbreadth above the general level of Oriental opinion. That opinion is doubtless an evil one. The true law of chastity, the adherence of one man to one woman as long as they both live, is written in a revelation older than any book,—in the great law which makes the numbers of the sexes equal. That law, however, has never yet reached the Oriental world. It is the fixed opinion of Asiatics that the relation of the sexes is a purely physical one, and not subject to any inherent law at all; modifiable, it is true, by external legislation, but not in itself a subject of necessary and inevitable moral restraint. Mahomet made no attempt to alter that opinion. He fixed a limit to the number of wives, but it was not intended as a moral protection, for he formally assigned all female slaves to the mercy of their masters. He left a monstrous evil without a remedy, and for so doing he is doubtless to be condemned. But that he introduced a new evil is untrue; and badly as the system he sanctioned works, the Mahometans are not more corrupt than the Hindoos, and far less vicious than the Chinese.
Art. IV.—BRITISH COLUMBIA.
Papers relative to the Affairs of British Columbia. Parts I. II. III. Presented to both Houses of Parliament. 1859-60.
Papers relative to the Exploration by tlve Expedition under Captain Palliser of that Portion of British North America which lies between the Northern Branch of the River Saskatchewan and the Frontier of the United States, and between the Bed River and the Rocky Mountain*, and thence to the Pacific Ocean. Presented to both Houses of Parliament. 1859-60.
Report of the Columbia Mission. 1860.
Facts and Figures relating to Vancouver's Island and British Columbia. By J. D. Pemberton, Surveyor-General. London,
A Few years ago the north-west coast of the Pacific seemed marked out as the latest stage in the long course of American colonisation. Sanguine minds, indeed, there were which looked forward to the eventual settlement of the region beyond the Red River; but even these could hardly have imagined a time when those vast prairies would prove too small for their inhabitants, and send down their surplus population to contest the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains with the fur-trader or the Indian hunter. The gold discoveries of the last three years have given a new aspect to the whole future of British America,
British Columbia, but a short time back the least esteemed, as it is even now the least known, of all our colonial possessions, has started into life as a full-grown settlement, and instead of waiting to receive, generations hence, the contingent overflow of communities not yet in being, it bids fair to give an impulse to the progress of the interior which could never have been looked for in the natural course of events. Advantages and disadvantages of situation alike contribute to this*result. Its position, midway on the direct route from Europe to Australia and China, promises a large commercial success, dependent only on the establishment of that quicker communication with the mother country which the neighbourhood of a great and possibly hostile power, and the length of the voyage round Cape Horn, already make essential to the due protection of the infant colony. The scheme of an overland route to connect the Pacific with the Atlantic is now a matter of immediate importance, and when once that is accomplished the settlement of the districts through which it passes must speedily follow. It is, we confess, rather for this reason that we are going to draw our readers' attention to the subject. Our knowledge of the circumstances of British Columbia is still so scanty, that even the merest sketch of its capabilities and prospects must be in a great measure incomplete and unsatisfactory. But without it our view of the condition of the unsettled part of British America would be so incomplete, that we prefer to make the attempt even with the disadvantage of our present scanty materials.
On one point indeed, and that, it may perhaps be said, the one of greatest immediate interest, we have information enough. There is no reason to question either the richness of the golddeposits, or their wide distribution throughout the entire territory. It is found along the whole course of the two principal rivers, as well as of all their more important tributaries. The size both of the particles and of the deposits increases in proportion to the distance from the sea, and the richest mines are now being worked, more than 500 miles from the mouth of the Fraser, about Fort Alexandria, Fort George, and along the mountain range at the head of the Quesnel River. Gold has been found also, though as yet only in small quantities, in some of the numerous inlets along the coast, and it seems probable that the whole country from the sea to the Rocky Mountains will ultimately prove auriferous. At first, the deposits were supposed only to exist in the "bars," or sandbanks projecting into the beds of the rivers, but the dry " benches" or terraces which run one above another along the sides of the streams, and even the table-lands at some distance from the water, are now found equally productive. This chaDge in the field of labour has produced a corresponding change in the processes employed. The first miners worked only with " rockers," a machine between a child's cradle and a wheelbarrow, containing a sieve, two blankets, and at the bottom a metal plate with quicksilver. The "pay earth" is thrown into the sieve, and the miner rocks the machine with one band, while he keeps pouring in water with the other. The sieve stops the stones and earth, the blankets the larger particles of gold, and the quicksilver beneath retains the gold dust. The rocker, however, is very generally giving way to the sluice, in which a much larger quantity of earth can be washed in a given time, while the process itself is far more searching. A sluice will often yield from 162. to 202. a day for each man employed, where a rocker, even in the most successful hands, does not return half that sum. The sluice requires a large supply of water, both to carry away the earth above the gold and to wash the "pay dirt," or black sand, in which the gold is found, and which underlies the former to a depth of from four to twenty feet. The water has often to be brought from a considerable distance, and many joint-stock companies have been formed, by whose enterprise canals have been dug, and wooden aqueducts built, in which it is carried for miles at a cost, in some cases, of several thousand pounds. For the use of the water thus brought, each owner of a mining claim pays \L a day. Mr. Pemberton estimates the gold produced during the years 1858 and 1859 at 600,000/., and the number of miners employed at 3000; so that their average annual earnings could not be more than 100/. Even this sum, small as it appears, when the labour and uncertainty are taken into account, is double ,-. what is made on an average in California. And while the actual yield of gold in British Columbia will probably be soon very much larger than it has yet been, the average of individual success will not be raised in proportion. Population will increase, and larger returns will have to be distributed among more .' claimants. Again, mining is constantly requiring more and more capital. We have seen that already the working of sluices .£, implies a certain outlay for water, so that they are generally in the hands of some small capitalist, who employs five or six labourers; and as time goes on and the surface-gold is gradually worked out, the metal has to be extracted from the solid rock: quartzcrushing comes into use, and brings with it the need for expen- ./." sive machinery. j'
The population of the colony is as yet composed almost exclusively of miners, and of that class of merchants who find a .^ livelihood in the supply of their more pressing wants. Towns are J* beginning to spring up at the chief centres of mining industry, .""B though as yet, with the exception of Langley and New West- ^i