It may indeed be true that the happiness of women is generally to be found in the quiet of the domestic circle; but that all, without distinction, should be confined to it, and that whenever one of the sex departs from it, she departs from her allotted sphere, is no more true than a similar proposition would be of men. Elizabeth of England, though little to be esteemed as a woman, did as much credit to her sex as her father did to his; and while he enjoys the renown of having achieved the reformation in England, she is entitled to the credit of having been not only his superior as a sovereign, but one of the greatest sovereigns that ever occupied a throne. Joan of Arc performed achievements for her country scarcely less than miraculous; and Hannah More afforded, by her pen, more efficient protection to the three kingdoms against the volcanic shock of the French revolution than the entire army and navy of Great Britain.
Will any one pretend that these persons would have better fulfilled their destiny, if confined to the quiet precincts of the fireside? If woman is only to be a housewife, why are gifts bestowed upon her, that make her often the rival, and sometimes the master, of the other sex, even in 6 the higher walks of ambition? Was Sappho’s harp, the mere echo of which has thrilled upon the ear of nearly thirty centuries, given only to be touched in the secluded harem of some Lesbian lord? Why had Sévigné such a magic pen, Roland so noble and dauntless a soul, the maid of Saragossa a patriotism so inspired and inspiring, if they were designed by their Creator only to preside over the nursery, the dairy, and the kitchen? If women are created but to attend to the comforts of the other sex at home, why are such spirits as those of the lovely and lamented Davidsons ever formed—spirits bursting with music and poetry, like the Eolian string, that gives forth its unbidden melody, only because God made it so? Was Mrs. Hemans designed but to serve her surly and unappreciating lord? Are Lady Montagu, Mrs. Barbauld, Madame de Stael, Miss Edgeworth, Miss Sedgwick, Hannah More, Mrs. Sigourney,—who must be regarded as among the most efficient civilizers of modern times,—to be set down as violators of a great law which should govern woman’s destiny? In short, shall we, in Christian countries, who make it our boast that we have elevated woman to free companionship with man, still look backward, return to the selfish philosophy of the Turk, shut woman up in the harem, and gloss over our despotism by quotations from the Swiss Diogenes?
"A Coronation, you must know, is a sight not to be seen every day in the United States, where we have neither King nor Queen, so thinks I to myself, I hear a great deal about the grandeur of the spectacle which is to be exhibited at the crowning of Queen Victoria, and though I have seen many grand sights in my day, I have never seen a Coronation, so I shall just get into one of these new steam ships which take one across the Atlantic Ocean so quickly, and have a look at the affair. I shall, besides, have an opportunity of seeing the kind London friends who treated me so handsomely when I was last in England, and then I shall have such lots of new stories for my young friends. I must—I shall go!
"Peter Parley is not a man to spend much time in idling after having formed a resolution, so the very next day, having bid my old housekeeper good bye, I was on my way to New York.
"As soon as I arrived at New York, I made enquiries about the steam ships, and, finding that the 'Great Western' was to sail very soon, I secured my passage in her, and then went to visit my friends in that city, for I always like to fulfil the old adage, and finish my work before I begin to play.
"Every body was surprised at my undertaking, and some kind folks wanted to persuade me to stay at home, thinking to frighten me by telling me about the length of the voyage, &c. They did not know Peter Parley. One wag, who wished to be very witty, asked me why I did not wait and take my passage in the new American ship, the 'Horse-Alligator,' which was to sail on the 25th of June, and arrive in London the day before! I could not help laughing at the idea, but I told him that steam was quick enough for me.
The Koreishites were not only a commercial people, and rich by virtue of their operations in trade, but they were the hereditary guardians of the Caaba, or Kaaba, a heathen temple at Mecca. The custody of this sacred place, together with all the priestly offices, belonged to the ancestors of Mohammed.
The Mohammedan authors have embellished the birth of the prophet with a great variety of wonderful events, which are said to have attended his introduction into the world. One of these is, that the Persian sacred fire, kept in their temples, was at once extinguished over all Arabia, accompanied by the diffusion of an unwonted and beautiful light. But this and other marvels, we leave to the credulity of the prophet's followers.
Mohammed's father died early, and his son came under the guardianship of his uncle, Abu Taleb. He was a rich merchant, who was accustomed to visit the fairs of Damascus, Bagdad, and Bassora—three great and splendid cities, and Mohammed often accompanied him to these places. In his twelfth year, Mohammed took part in an expedition against the wandering tribes that molested the trading caravans. Thus, by travelling from place to place, he acquired extensive knowledge, and, by being engaged in warlike enterprise, his imagination became inflamed with a love of adventure and military achievements. If we add to this, that he had naturally a love of solitude, with a constitutional tendency to religious abstraction; and if, moreover, we consider that in his childhood he had been accustomed to behold the wild exercises, the dark ceremonies, and hideous rites of the temple of Caaba—we shall at once see the elements of character, and the educational circumstances, which shaped out the extraordinary career of the founder of Islamism.
It appears that Mohammed was remarkable for mental endowments, even in his youth, for, in a religious conversation with a Nestorian monk, at Basra, he showed such knowledge and talent, that the monk remarked to his uncle, that great things might be expected of him. He was, however, attentive to business, and so completely obtained the confidence of his uncle, as a merchant, that he was recommended as a prudent and faithful young man, to Khadijah, a rich widow, who stood in need of an agent to transact her business and manage her affairs. In this capacity he was received, and so well did he discharge his duties, that he not only won the confidence of the widow, but finally obtained her hand in marriage. This event took place when he was about twenty-five years old, Khadijah being almost forty.