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Literary and Miscellaneous-Intelligence
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MAY, 1829.

ART. I.-Travels in Arabia, comprehending an Account of those Territories in Hedjaz which the Mohammedans regard as sacred. By the late John Lewis Burckhardt. Published by Authority of the Association for Promoting the Discovery of the Interior of Africa. London : Colburn. 1829.

NOTWITHSTANDING that the condition of the Arabs, both moral and political, has always been regarded as a striking phenomenon, apprehensions of difficulty or danger have hitherto deterred European travellers from venturing far into the interior of the Arabian peninsula. Numbers have hovered, as it were, upon the skirts of the country, and made short excursions into what appears to be regarded as forbidden ground; but the interior of the desert, the birth-place of the horse and the camel, and to all appearance, the original hive, whence those prodigious swarms of Arabs, which have at various times carried terror and desolation into the neighbouring countries have issued, has never up to this moment been trodden by the foot of either stranger or enemy. Surrounded from the earliest times by the most powerful monarchies, Arabia has always successfully resisted all attempts to subjugate her. In the midst of revolutions, migrations, and vicissitudes, she has stood like an immoveable statue upon the same basis as at the beginning, experiencing neither change nor deterioration. Such as Arabia was in the days of the Pharoahs, when her merchants went down to traffic in the land of Egypt, such is she at this moment in language, manners, and political institutions. Her religion, it is true, has in the process of ages undergone purification, and gradually approximated more nearly to truth: but in all else this singular country may be regarded as a fragment of the primitive world, rent from the great mass of society, and cast beyond the influence of fortune.



Other nations have endeavoured in various ways to attain this envied stability: the Egyptians erected cities, and temples, and palaces, which appeared to be of eternal duration; the Hindoos enclosed themselves within a circumvallation of political institutions upon which time, it was hoped, could produce no effect; and the Chinese, and their descendants in Japan, have sought perpetuity of empire by similar means: but the mighty structures and singular political contrivances of these nations have been shattered or swept away by the tempest of vicissitude, and the races they were designed to protect from innovation, have been modified like others, by time, or have wholly disappeared from the earth; while the Arabs, who build no splendid or enduring structures, whose dwellings for the most part consist only of haircloth, or canvas, and whose government has ever been the most simple that can be conceived, have remained unchanged.

To what cause this extraordinary stability should be attributed, is not easy to be determined. Some philosophers deduce the character, as well as the happiness or misery of nations, from the form of government under which they live; but it is equally rational to suppose that the form of government which prevails among a people is itself the effect, not the cause of that congeries of peculiarities which is denominated national character; since the people, with the characteristics bestowed upon it by nature, must always precede the political institutions it chooses to adopt. The system of Montesquieu, which referred national character, mánners, and government, to the influence of climate, though abandoned at present to the ridicule of half-learned wits, may not, perhaps, after all, be so very absurd as many writers appear to consider it. The warm, humid atmosphere of Hindoostan, has almost invariably been observed to induce that softness of manners, and relaxed state of the whole body, which dispose men to yield, on every occasion, to the pretensions of the powerful; and it is not improbable that the dry, bracing atmosphere of the Arabian peninsula, may strongly co-operate with other causes, in conferring upon its inhabitants that boldness, vivacity, and self-possession; which at once render them impatient of control, and capable of appreciating and protecting their own independence.

But whether the peculiarities of the Arabs should be traced to their geographical position, and the physical nature of their country, or to a certain national idiosyncracy, if we may so speak, it is equally extraordinary that among the multitudes of tra vellers that have issued from the principal seats of European civilization, to examine the manners, and estimate the development of the principle of improvement, among the other families of mankind, so small a number should have chosen to carry their researches into Arabia. The pastoral plains of Nejed, sprinkled with tents, and flocks, and herds, in a patriarchal manner; the coffee groves and verdant hills of Yeman; the incense plantations

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