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ART. I. 1 General History of the Othoman Empire. Dedicated
to the King of Sweden. Translated from the French of M. de M-D'Ohlson, Knight of the Royal Order of Vafa, Secretary to the King of Sweden, forinerly his Interpreter and Chargé d'Affaires at ine Court of Constantinople. The Work is enriched and elucidated by valuable Engravings. Vol. I. 4to. 51. 55.
Robinfons. London, 1789. Á
N authentic history of the Othoman empire has hitherto
been wanting to the republic of letters. Religious and political prejudices have separated the Turks in such a manner from the rest of mankind, as to render it extremely difficult to obtain an accurate knowledge of the principles of their governñent. Effects have been noticed, but their causes have remained uniknown. From a distant, superficial; and transitory view of their customs, manners, religion, and laws, false ideas of them have been diffused through every part of Europe.
For gaining a just knowledge of the Othoman people; the author of the present work seems to have possessed very advantageous opportunities. Born at Constantinople; intimately acquainted with the Turkish language, fustaining a political character, and employed during his whole life in the fervice of a court, whose friend lip was unsuspected by the ministers and public officers, Chevalier D'Ohsson was enabled to surmount those impediments which had been heretofore found to be irre, fiftible. A comparison of the native historians with the erroneous ENG. REV. VOL. XV. MARCH 1790.
and imperfect accounts given by foreign writers, urged him, he tells us, to compose a history of the Othoman empire, derived from the original and only true fources of information. In the progress of his laborious work, he perceived the necessity of previoufly explaining the tenets, the mode of worship, the manners, and the public administration of the Othoman people; but particularly that remarkable, universal code, which, digested by Ibrahim Haléby, and consecrated under the name of Multcka, constitutes the religious legislation of that extensive empire. This part of his undertaking was exposed to peculiar difficulties. His zeal, however, he tells us, was not relaxed by impediments. Indefatigable industry, the means of information which the exercise of his employment and the particular commissions respecting the immediate service of the Porte afforded him, and his personal connexions with the principal officers of state, have rendered the execution of his work superior, he says, to his own expectations. We give him full credit for his diligence, and think that his talents are not exceeded by his assiduity.
He not only endeavoured, he affures us, to obtain the moft complete intelligence concerning the government, but he studied, in the original volumes, the doctrine and universal code of Islamism, affifted by a theologian and a lawyer, men of the greatest learning and of the highest reputation in the empire.
With regard to the public administration, he derived his information from the ministers, the officers actually employed, and even from those who presided over the offices belonging to the different departments of the state. They extended to far their confidence and kindness, as to give him extracts from their respective registers; these extracts are now in his poffeffion; on these his claim to authenticity is entirely founded ; and in his estimation, he declares, that truth and the most scrupulous accuracy, constitute the first merit of his work, the produce of twenty-two years of anxiety and labour. Flattered by his having undertaken to translate their annals, and to give Christian Europe an idea of the Othoman power, there was no mark of kindness which they did not continue to shew him till his departure from Constantinople on the gth of March, 1784.
Even the officers of the palace furnished him with information respecting the feraglio, the sultan, and the royal household. He was indebted for his intelligence concerning the sultanas, Cadinns, and the imperial Harem, to the female Naves of the seraglio. After some years of servitude, many of these obtain their liberty; they then quit the imperial palace, and are given in marriage to certain officers of the court, who always ardently solicit an union with them, in hopes of being advanced by their interest with those ladies and sultanas, of whom they have been previously the
forvile dependants. By the information of these officers, and of the Christian women who are allowed a free accefs to them as soon as they depart from the feraglio, our author tells us, he has rectified those erroneous opinions which he himself had formed concerning the sultanas, the ladies, and the Harem of the Grand Signior.
This work is divided into two parts, entirely distinct and see parate ; the one comprehends the Mahometan legislation, the other the history of the Othoman empire.
The Mahometan legislation is divided into five codes, the religious, civil, criminal, political, and military; and is prececeded by an introduction, which Thews the spirit of that legislation, and explains whatever has a reference to the ancient Imams, the doctors, interpreters of the law, and the founders of four religious rites, which have an equal claim to orthodoxy.
I. The RELIGIOUS CODE comprehends three parts, the dogmas, the external worship, and the morality of the Othomans. In the dogmatical part are exhibited the articles of faith digested by Omer Nesefy; these are, illustrated by historical and political observations, and afford an idea of the cosmogony of the Mahometans, of their traditions concerning the remoteft ages, of their respect for the patriarchs and prophets, of their peculiar veneration for the person of Jesus Chrift, of their opinions respecting Mohammed, his disciples, the four first khaliphs, their faints, &c. : here an account is also given of the principal herefiarchs; in this part of the religious code are shewn the true spirit of their dogma respecting predestination, the wisdom of their law concerning the illusions of judicial astrology, the prejudices which so powerfully prevail amongst them; in fine, whatever has a reference to the Imameth, that is, to the religious functions of the sovereign, his titles, his rights, and the qualities which it is necessary he must possess, in order to be deemed worthy, according to the canonical law, to reign over the Mahometan people.
In the ritual part is described whatever regards the external worship of the Mahometans; namely, 1. The meaning, nature, and use of purifications, the circumstances which constitute a ftate of legal purity or impurity in either sex; from whence the true cause of their frequent use of warm baths is fully explained; 2. The prayer Namaz, to which every mussulman is bound to devote his attention five times a day; the essence and nature of this part of their external worship; the public ceremony on Fridays, and on the two festivals of Beyram ; the peculiar prayers destined for the fick, for travellers, and soldiers; those which are confecrated for the thirty nights of Ramazann, for public calamities, for uncommon events; the ceremonies of circum
cision, those of funerals, &c. here also are explained the cuttoms which are of human institution; whatever relates to the infide of the mosques, the preaching of their Scheykhs, their veneration for particular nights in the year, and for the relicks of their prophet; 3. The charitable tithe imposed on all the rich, and derived from that part of their property employed in luxury or commerce; the facrifices to which all the citizens in easy circumstances are commanded to submit; the foundations or pious gifts; the temples of Mussulınanism; the various edifices which surround there, and which are designed for the instruction of youth, the relief of the poor, and the public utility, such as hospitals, hotels, schools, colleges, libraries; the it'akfs, or property consecrated to their support, as well as to that of the mosques, and of the ministers who perform religious duty in them, together with the rules of their administration.
This is a comprehensive view of what is contained in the first volume of an elaborate work, which, when finished, the author fupposes, will consist of seven or eight. But before we give our readers an idea of the manner in which it is executed, it will not be improper, perhaps, to exhibit the author's plan for the remainder of his work, as he explains it in his preliminary discourse.
In the ritual part of the religious code the author means to describe, 4. The fast in the month of Ramazann, and the auftere penitence with which it is kept, which consists in abstaining from food from fun-rise till fuir-fet, without taking even a drop of water; and the religious attention of the people in general to obferve it with the stricteft rigour: other abftinences are here also mentioned, as likewise the fpiritual retreat, the illumination of the mosques in Ramazann, and the various etiquettes obferved by the court during the thirty nights of this month; and, 5. The pilgrimage to Mecca, with all the laws and customs which are attendant on that important act of Islamism. The observations annexed to these circumstances have a relation to the events which were anterior to the time of Mohamined, to the origin of the Arabs, to the foundation of Mecca, of its temple and fanctuary, to the traditions which gave birth to the people's profound veneration for the Keabé, to the aristocratic government of the ancient Arabs, &c. Proceeding afterwards to whatever has a reference to Mecca fince the establishment of Mahometanism, he intends to describe the situation of that city, its political revolutions, its temple, its present fanctuary, the rich oblations made in different ages, the black stone Hadjher’uleswede the veil, and the external cincture of the Kéabé; the golden fpout, the sacred wells of Zemzem, the stations round the fanctuary destined for the Muffulmen who oblerve the four orthodox
rites; the facred camels, the Suré Eminy, commissary of the Porte, who is charged with the money sent annually by the Sultan to the two Arabian cities; the great caravan of pilgrims, who go from Syria to Mecca, conducted by the Pafcha of Damas; the Scherif of Mecca, and the Pascha of Djidda; the preeminence of Mecca over Medina; the distinction enjoyed by the pilgrims during the remainder of their lives, &c. &c.
The moral part of the religious code is to comprehend four general points: 1. Whatever has a reference to food, aliments clean or unclean; the manner of hunting, or legally putting beasts to death; drink, game, animals perinitted or forbidden; 2. The precepts relative to clothing, and to moveable effects, in which the use of precious metals is rigorously prohibited; 3. The labour prescribed to the men, who are conmanded by the law to employ themselves in arts and trades; 4. The moral virtues, charity, probity, chastity, modesty, the duties of decorum, an attention to whatever may lead to vice, to dissipation, to a forgetfulness of God, such as games, inftruments of music, iinages and figures of men and animals. The first code is to be concluded by a general discourse, which will describe, 1. The whole body of the Oulémas, from the Mouphty to the last of the Naibs; 2. The ministers who perform service in the mosques; and, 3, All the Mahonetan Derwischs, who are divided into thirty-three different orders of hermits.
II. The Civil Code will consist of thirty-one books, subdivided into many chapters and articles. The author here will make mention of the marriages of the Mussulmen and the Nonmussulmen who are tributary subjects of the empire ; of those of the slaves, &c.; of the nuptial gift or dowry with which the husband must present his wife ; of the equality of treatment which the Mussulman is obliged to observe to wards his wives; of the legitimation of children; of the aliments legally due from the husband to the wife, from the father to the children, and from children to their indigent fathers or mothers ; of repudiations, perfect, imperfect, conditional, &c.; of divorce in consequence of a legal procedure ; of the enfranchisement of slaves of both sexes; of the legal interdiction; of the qualification of flaves s of the age of majority; of the rights of minors, of old men, of, hermaphrodites, of the dumb, of those who have impediments in their speech; of foundlings; of run-away flaves; of persons who have lost their way; of things found; of commercial societies; of sales and purchases; of bail; of assignments; of letters of attorney; of trust; of loans; of gifts between living persons; of leases and rents; of acts of violence; of rapes; of vicinal redemption; of agriculture; of mortgages; of civil teltamients; of guardians and testamentary executors; of the rights of inhe