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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/710

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

laid out in pleasure-walks, mountain-meadows alternating with groups of cedar-trees and rocky altamiras or lookout-places. Special buildings Lad been provided for the acclimatization, or rather localization, of whole colonies of singing birds, which were bred in-doors for a number of years till they were tame enough to be trusted at large. From the summer-palace, at an elevation of three thousand feet over the level of the Guadalquivir, an avenue led down to the east gate of Cordova by such nice gradations that the road-bed seemed to be a perfect level, and from various directions shady trails, apparently artless, but equally well graded, wound up to the summit of the mountain-range, where the Caliph had an astronomical observatory.

Landgrave Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel built his mountain-palace on the proceeds of six thousand of his faithful subjects, sold to England at sixty-five pounds apiece, but Abderrahman III had no need of killing his fowls to get their eggs. During the reign of the first three caliphs, Cordova was, next to Bagdad, the richest city of the world; the valley of the Guadalquivir contained thirty-six towns and eighteen hundred prosperous villages, and the contemporary historians of the West vie in extolling the beauty and luxuriance of the Boscál, the orchard-region that surrounded the Moorish capital with a wreath of evergreen gardens.

The Sierra de Peñas is now a naked rock, Cordova a labyrinth of ruins, infested with pigs and begging friars, and the observatory of the impious Unitarians has been turned into a shrine of San Isidro. The Boscál has become a sandy desert, but on the south side of the river there are still some good bottomlands, and the thrice-blessed cherry-trees of the orthodox peasants continue to yield an excellent kind of brandy.

—— Starting a New Religion.—Professor Seeley remarks, in his new book on "Natural Religion": "It is said that the theophilanthropist Larevellère-Lepeaux once confided to Talleyrand his disappointment at the ill-success of his attempt to bring into vogue a sort of improved Christianity, a benevolent rationalism which he had invented to meet the wants of a skeptical age. 'His propaganda made no way,' he said. 'What was he to do?' he asked. The ex-bishop politely condoled with him, feared it was indeed a difficult task to found a new religion, more difficult than could be imagined—so difficult that he hardly knew what to advise. 'Still'—so he went on after a moment's reflection—'there is one plan which you might at least try: I should recommend you to he crucified and rise again on the third day!'"

—— Seeley on Theological Differences.—"Why should we be so willful as to forget that the error of monstrously overestimating doctrinal differences has been all along the plague of theology? There can be no greater mistake than to measure the real importance of a dispute by the excitement of the disputants. It has often been remarked of theological controversies that they are never conducted more bitterly than when the difference between the rival doctrines is very small. This is nearly correct, but not quite. If you want to see the true white heat of controversial passion, if you want to see men fling away the very thought of reconciliation and close in internecine conflict, you should look at controversialists who do not differ at all, but who have adopted different words to express the same opinion."

—— Origin of the Arab Horse.—Letter of the Emir Abd-el-Kader, from "The Horses of the Sahara," by General E. Dumas, 1857:

"Praise be to the one God!