« PreviousContinue »
women and children. After much negociation, our scheik agreed to pay a tribute of one chequin for every camel carrying merchandize; but he refused to pay for those carrying tents, baggage, or provisions. They promised to send a refech, or protecting companion of their own party, with us, till we were past all danger of being molested by any of their detached parties.”
The inhabitants of Arabia, are divided into-1. Those which dwell in cities, and—2. Those who live in the fields and deserts. The latter abide continually in tents, and are much more honest and simple than the Arabians, who live in towns: of these, some are gentiles, others mussulmans. The former preceeded Mahomet, and are called, “ Arabians of the days of ignorance ;" the others who have received the teaching of Mahomet, are called Moslemoun, i. e. believers; and are the people who conquered, and still possess great part of Asia and Africa, and who founded the four great monarchies of the Turks, the Persians, Morocco, and Mogul.
The Arabs glory in the fertility of their language, which cer. tainly is one of the most ancient in the world; and is remarkable for a number of words which express the same thing. The present Arabic characters are modern, the ancient writing of Arabia was mostly without vowels, like the Hebrew.
The Arabians in general are cunning, witty, generous, and ingenious; lovers of eloquence and poetry; but superstitious, vindictive, sanguinary, and given to robbery, which they think allowable, because Abraham, the father of Ishmael, say they, gave his son nothing. (Gen. xxv. 5, 6.)
The customs of the Arabians are allied in many respects to those which we find in Holy Writ, and throw light upon many of them. Their personal and domestic maxims, their local and political proceedings are the same now as heretofore; and the general character anciently given them of being plunderers, yet hospitable; greedy, deceitful, and vindictive, yet generous, trustworthy, and honourable, is precisely the description of their nation at present.
Since the propagation of the gospel among them, many have embraced christianity, and we know of some bishops and martyrs of Arabia. In Origen's time, a council was held there against certain heretics. The Mahometans acknowledge, that before Mahomet there were three tribes in this country which professed cbristianity, those of Shanouk, Bahora, and Maclab.
The ARABIA, to which St. Paul withdrew, (Gal. i. 17,) was probably the Roman province or kingdom of Arabia, of which
Aretas was king at Damascus. Here the Apostle secluded himself, that he might prepare himself for the exercise of that new course of life and ministry, in which he was then about to engage. Thus imitating his Divine Master, who before commencing His ministry, spent forty days in the Wilderness.
ARARAT. A famous mountain in Armenia, on which the Ark rested, after the Deluge, Gen. viii. 4. It has been asserted that there are still remains of Noah's Ark on the top of this mountain; but M. de Tounefoot shews the impossibility of this, or at least of any person arriving at a knowledge of the fact, even were it true ; for the top is quite inaccessible, both by reason of its height and of the snow wbich perpetually covers it. Ararat is twelve leagues East of Erivan, and is situated in a vast plain, in the midst of which it rises. It is visible at the distance of 180 or 200 miles. It is said that there are many monasteries scattered up and down its sides. It seems as it were, cut off from the large range of mountains, which runs through Armenia, and stands itself like a finger held up, whence the Eastern people call it Ardag, the Finger Mountain. It is often covered with snow from the top to the middle, three or four months of the year. The Persians call Ararat, Mount Asis, as if they should say, “ the happy or fortunate mountain,” alluding to the choice which God made of it, as a port for Noah. The Armenians maintain that since Noah no one has been able to climb this mountain, because it is always covered with snow which never melts, except to make room for other snow newly fallen; that Noah, when he left the Ark, settled at Erivan, twelve leagues from Ararat, and that at a league from this city, in a very happy aspect, that patriarch planted the vine, from which have sprung all those luxurious vines for which Armenia is so celebrated. M. Morier describes Ararat, as being most beautiful in shape, and most awful in height; and Sir Robert Ker Porter, has furnished the following striking account of it.
As the vale opened beneath us in our descent, my whole atten: tion became absorbed in the view before me. A vast plain peopled with countless villages, the towers and speirs of the numerous Churches, the beautiful waters of the Araxes, flowing through the fresh green of the vale, and the lower range of mountains skirting the base of the awful mountain of “the Antediluvian World,” it seemed to stand a stupendous link in the history of man, before and after the flood. But it was not till we had arrived upon the flat plain, that I bebeld Ararat in all the amplitude of its grandure. From the spot on which I stood, it appeared as if the hugest mountains of the world had been
piled upon each other, to form this one sublime immensity of earth, and rock, and snow. The icy peaks of its double head, rose majestically into the clear and cloudless heavens; the sun blazed brightly upon them, and the reflection sent forth a dazzling radiance equal to other suns. This point of the view united the utmost grandeur of plain and height, but the feelings I experienced while looking upon the mountain, are hardly to be described. My eye, not able to rest for any length of time on the blinding glory of its summits, wandered down the apparently interminable sides, till I could no longer trace their vast lines in the midst of the horizon; when an inexpressible impulse immediately carrying my eye upwards again, refixed my gaze on the awful glare of Ararat; and the bewildered sensibility of sight, being answered by a similar feeling in the mind, I was cast for some moments in a strange suspension of the powers of thought.
Of the two separate peaks called Little and Great Ararat, which are separated by a chasm, about seven miles in width, Sir R. Porter thus speaks ; " These inaccessible summits have never been trodden by the foot of man, since the days of Noah, if even then, for my idea is that the Ark rested on the space between these heads and not upon the top of either. Various attempts have been made, in various ages, to ascend these tremendous mountain pyramids, but in vain : their form, snows, and glaciers are insurmountable obstacles, the distance being so great from the commencement of the icy regions to the highest points, the mere cold would be the destruction of any person who should have the hardihood to persevere. On viewing Mount Ararat from the northern side of the plain, its two heads are separated by a wide cleft, or rather glen in the body of the mountain. The rocky side of the greater head runs almost perpendicularly down to the North-East, wbile the lesser head rises from the sloping bottom of tbe cleft in a perfect conical shape. Both heads are covered with snow. The form of the greater is similar to the less, only broader and rounder at the top, and shews to the north-west a broken and abrupt front, opening about half way down into a stupendous chasm, deep, rocky and peculiarly black. At that part of the mountain, the hollow of the chasm receives an interruption, from the projection of the minor mountains, which start from the Ararat, like branches from the root of a tree, and run along in undulating progression, till lost in the distant vapours of the plain.
It has been however, maintained that the Ark rested on Mount Caucasus, near Apamea, in Phrygia, but the balance of the evidence is in favour of Ararat.
A DREAM AND ITS FULFILMENT
In the year 1814, the late Mr. and Mrs. Foster (who were lost in the Rothsay Castle steamer, August, 1831,) were acquainted with three sisters, residing in London, two of whom were very pious, retiring women, and the third was just as gay and volatile in proportion. They were all elderly, which rendered the gaiety of the third the less becoming, and also inclined her the more easily to take offence at any remarks made upon it. She hated the piety of her sisters, and opposed it in many petty and spiteful instances, though they endeavoured sedulously to accommodate themselves to her, and to render the difference between them as little disagreeable as possible. One night, towards the close of the year 1814, she had been at the Assembly very late, and the next morning, at breakfast, was so remarkably different from her usual manner, that her sisters feared that she was either very unwell, or had met with some misfortune which affected her deeply. Instead of her usual incessant chatter about every person she had met, and every thing she had seen, and all that had been said and done, she sat silent, sullen, and absorbed. The gloom upon her brow was a mixture of temper and distress; and seemed to indicate a fixed and dogged resolution, formed upon circumstances disagreeable to herself, as if she were resolved to pursue her own will, though it should lead her into most unnecessary trouble, rather than follow the course she knew to be right, but which would reduce her to submit her own will to the power and control of another. As she ate nothing, her sisters inquired " if she were ill ?” “No.” “What was the matter ?” “Nothing." "They were afraid something had distressed her:" she, in reply, “had no idea of people prying into matters that did not concern them.” The whole of the morning was passed alone in her own room, and at the dinner the same scene recurred as in the morn. ing.
She scarcely ate any thing, and never spoke, but to answer unwillingly what she was asked ; and with an appearance of depression, obstinacy, and melancholy, that spread its influence very painfully over the cheerfulness of her com. panions. Thus bas the wind been heard to howl and moan, as though it mourned its own office of desolation; and yet it never ceased to rage and blow, and howl the more, as the destruction caused became the more frightful. She retired to rest late, and with the air of one who expect from sleep neither alleviation nor refreshment. The next morning, she again scarcely touched
breakfast, and seemed in the same oppressed and uncomfortable state as on the preceeding day. “Anna, you are not well: is it your head that pains you ?” “I am well, and nothing pains me." " Then you have something on your mind, and why will you not tell us? Do we not love you ? have we not the same earthly interests with you ? and can we seek any good but yours, in our anxious wish to share your sorrows ?" “Oh! you have superstitions enough of your own, without mine being added. I shall not tell you what ails me, so you have no occasion to excite your curiosity. I dare say you would be delighted to know, for you would think it some spiritual triumph or other. But I langh at those things. I am not quite old enough yet to be the victim of dreams and visions." “Anna, we don't believe in dreams and visions.” She answered sharply, “No! nor do I mean you should !” The sisters looked at each other, and relapsed into silence. This second day passed like the first: Anna was gloomy and moody, and her sisters, both from pity and anxiety, were unhappy for her sake. The third morning, she again entered on the day as one who loaths the light; who has no object in being; and to whom the lapse of time, and prospects of futurity, bring neither peace nor hope. As her sisters looked at her, one of them suddenly said, “Anna, what was your dream ?” She started, and laughed wildly. “Ha! you would give the world to know, but I shall not tell you! I thought you did not believe in dreams!” “No more we do: in general, you know, they are assuredly the offspring of a disordered stomach, confused images and fancies, whilst reason is dormant; and the memory of them soon passes away, after the moment we are fairly engaged in our daily avocations. But no doubt there are dreams, which are not sent in vain, no more than afflictions, nor any other warning. There is a verse in the Bible, which mentions God as speaking to man in a dream, ' in the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon man.'” She laughed again, and said, “ You have verses in the Bible for every thing that suits you; but I do not choose to be warned in such a way. I have no doubt I shall get it out of my head in a day or two." “ Anna, we do beseech you to tell us; if you really have had a dream from heaven, you surely would not wish to forget it, and if not, we will help you to laugh it off.” She answered, half sulkily, “Well, I suppose if you must know it, you must. It was very extraordinary, no doubt. I should have thought it the effects of the ball, but that I never saw, any where, any thing in the least resembling it; and you must not suppose that you understand what I am about to