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A R A B I A.
ANCIENT AND MODERN.
A DESCRIPTION OF THE COUNTRY-AN ACCOUNT OF ITS INHABITANTS
PUBLISHED BY HARPER & BROTHERS,
NO. 82 CLIFF-STREET.
1 8 3 4.
It has been frequently remarked with surprise and regret, that while the annals of almost every nation of any political importance have been illustrated by British talent, no writer has hitherto favoured the world with a regular and continuous history of the Arabs. This neglect seems the more extraordinary in an age so distinguished as the present for literary enterprise, and when so many valuable accessions have been recently made to our scanty knowledge of the Arabian peninsula in the journals of intelligent travellers and scientific expeditions. Considering the many great and diversified events which the subject embraces, and the feelings of romantic interest that still attach to the celebrated regions of gold and frankincense, there appears some reason for the complaint that so little has been done to elucidate the character and actual condition of this ancient and renowned people, whose exploits once filled all Europe with astonishment; and that so much yet remains unknown of the sandy deserts they inhabit, and the singular institutions by which they are governed.
An attempt to supply this omission by connecting the records of the past with the illustrations of
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modern discovery, so as to exhibit the whole at one view and within a moderate compass, is the object of the following volumes. In entering upon a field so ample-unfolding in rapid succession a series of wars, revolutions, and yicissitudes of human fortune without parallel in any age or country—the author was not insensible of the numerous difficulties to be encountered. With what degree of success his labours have been attended remains for others to determine. At the same time, it is gratifying to reflect that at no former period could the task have been undertaken with so many facilities and advantages as at the present moment. The barriers of religious prejudice, which so long kept asunder the Christian and Mohammedan nations, are in a great measure broken down; the shades of ignorance and romance which in the infancy of navigation brooded over the people and the productions of Arabia have been dispelled; the character of the wandering Bedouin has been studied in his own deserts ; even the Holy Land of Islam has been trodden by the feet of unbelievers, and the uncircumcised stranger has mingled in the sacred ceremonies of the Kaaba. These circumstances, by bringing to light many new and important facts, have furnished the historian with a rich stock of materials which a few years ago no European writer possessed. Of these sources of information the author has not neglected to avail himself; and, while acknowledging his obligations to the distinguished travellers, Niebuhr and Burckhardt, he ought also to state that he has not omitted to con