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ARREST OF THE MOHAMMEDAN ADVANCE. 347.
would preach the Unity of God in the Vatican. But a quarrel had arisen between him and Tarik, who had been imprisoned and even scourged. The friends of the latter, however, did not fail him at the court of Damascus. An envoy from the Khalif Alwalid appeared, ordering Musa to desist from his enterprise, to return to Syria, and exonerate himself of the things laid to his charge. But Musa bribed the envoy to let him advance. Hereupon the angry khalif dispatched a second messenger, who, in face of the Moslems and Christians, audaciously arrested him, at the head of his troops, by the bridle of his horse. The conqueror of Spain was compelled to return. He was cast into prison, fined 200,000 pieces of gold, publicly whipped, and his life with difficulty spared. As is related of Belisarius, Musa was driven as a beggar to solicit charity, and the Saracen conqueror of Spain ended his days in grief and absolute want. These dissensions among the Arabs, far more than the sword of Charles Martel, prevented the Mohammedanization of France. Their historians admit the great check received at the battle of Tours, in which Abderrahman was killed; they call that field the Place of the Martyrs; but their accounts by no means correspond to the relations of the Christian authors, who affirm that 375,000 Mohammedans fell, but only 1500 Christians. The defeat was not so disastrous but that in a few months they were able to resume their advance, and their progress was arrested only by renewed dissensions among themselves-dissensions not alone among the leaders in Spain, but also more serious ones of aspirants for the khalifate in Asia. On the overthrow of the Ommiade house, Abderrahman, one of that family, escaped to Spain, which repaid the patronage of its conquest by acknowledging him as its sovereign. He made Cordova the seat of his government. Neither he nor his immediate successors took any other title than that of emir, out of respect to the khalif, who resided at Bagdad, the metropolis of Islam, though they maintained a rivalry with.him in the patronage of letters and science. Abderrahman himself strengthened his power by an alliance with Charlemagne. Scarcely had the Arabs become firmly settled in Spain before they commenced a brilliant career. Adopting what had now become the established policy of the Commanders of the Faithful in Asia, the Khalifs of Cordova distinguished themselves as patrons of learning, and set an example of refinement strongly contrasting with the condition of the native European princes. Cordova, under their administration, at its highest point of prosperity, boasted of more than two hundred thousand houses, and more than a million of inhabitants. After sunset, a man might walk through it in a straight line for ten miles by the light of the public lamps. Seven hundred years after this time there was not so much as one public lamp in London. Its.
348 LUXURY OF THE SPANISH MOHAMMEDAN.
streets were solidly paved. In Paris, centuries subsequently, whoever stepped over his threshold on a rainy day stepped up to his ankles in mud. Other cities, as Granada, Seville, Toledo, considered themselves rivals of Cordova. The palaces of the khalifs were magnificently decorated. Those sovereigns might well look down with supercilious contempt on the dwellings of the rulers of Germany, France, and England, which were scarce better than stables-chimneyless, windowless, and with a hole in the roof for the smoke to escape, like the wigwams of certain Indians. The Spanish Mohammedans had brought with them all the luxuries and prodigalities of Asia. Their residences stood forth against the clear blue sky, or were embosomed in woods. They had polished marble balconies, overhanging orange-gardens; courts with cascades of water; shady retreats provocative of slumber in the heat of the day; retiring-rooms, vaulted with stained glass, speckled with gold, over which streams of water were made to gush; the floors and walls were of exquisite mosaic. Here, a fountain of quicksilver shot up in a glistening spray, the glittering particles falling with a tranquil sound like fairy bells; there, apartments into which cool air was drawn from flower-gardens, in summer, by means of ventilating towers, and in the winter through earthen pipes, or caleducts, imbedded in the walls-the hypocaust, in the vaults below, breathing forth volumes of warm and perfumed air through these hidden passages. The walls were not covered with wainscot, but adorned with arabesques, and paintings of agricultural scenes and views of Paradise. From the ceilings, corniced with fretted gold, great chandeliers hung, one of which, it is said, was so large that it contained 1084 lamps. Clusters of frail marble columns surprised the beholder with the vast weights they bore. In the boudoirs of the sultanas they were sometimes of verd antique, and incrusted with lapis lazuli. The furniture was of sandal and citron wood, inlaid with mother-of-pearl, ivory, silver, or relieved with gold and precious malachite. In orderly confusion were arranged vases of rock crystal, Chinese porcelains, and tables of exquisite mosaic. The winter apartments were hung with rich tapestry; the floors were covered with embroidered Persian carpets. Pillows and couches, of elegant forms, were scattered about the rooms, which were perfumed with frankincense. It was the intention of the Saracen architect, by excluding the view of the external landscape, to concentrate attention on his work; and since the representation of the human form was religiously forbidden, and that source of decoration denied, his imagination ran riot with the complicated arabesques he introduced, and sought every opportunity of replacing the prohibited works of art by the trophies and rarities of the garden. For this reason, the Arabs never produced artists; religion turned them from the beautiful, and made them soldiers, philosophers, and men of affairs. Splendid flowers and rare exotics ornamented the court.
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