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Early Christianity in Arabia/Preface

PREFACE.


When the following pages were written, the author, who was then very young, pursued with at least considerable zeal the study of the Oriental languages and literature, a study which, upon his entering the university, he laid aside, not again to be resumed. The historical essay now published was written in the belief that the events which it relates had received but little attention in this country, and had never been presented in a popular form to English readers; and at the same time he thought, as he is still inclined to think, that they form an interesting episode in the history of mankind, and that they are a necessary introduction to our knowledge of the origin of that religion which has exercised so mighty an influence on the whole world during the middle ages. He had preserved the manuscript without any determinate idea of publishing it, until the general interest in the affairs of the East which has been raised by the great events that are now taking place has led him to believe that his sketch of the history of Christianity in Arabia before it was subverted by the arms of Muhammed and his followers might find a sufficient number of readers to justify its publication.

It seemed necessary to make this statement both as an explanation and as an apology; and it is but right to add that the whole is here printed as it was written; for, as the author's studies have for some years run in an entirely different direction, he has not ventured upon a revision of this slight memorial of former labours. He has not attempted to approach in any way the question of the orthography of Oriental names, which is one on which even Oriental scholars are not at all agreed, and in which many changes have taken place since these pages were written; but he believes that his original desire was to adopt such forms as, without being vulgarly corrupt, would sound least harsh to those who were not acquainted with the languages to which they belong.

14, Sydney Street, Brompton,

January, 1855.