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by rhapsodists of "mere fantasies," is a theory which will not account for the uniformity, both as to subject and expression, which we find in the different versions of the same episode. The story, he says, was repeated over and over, till at last it assumed a form suitable to the spiritual requirements of the age, and so became fixed in the same as its permanent form. But the efforts of mere fancy would not of themselves crystallise into any such uniform shape; rather, repetition in different lands, and by various rhapsodists, would produce an infinity of form and colour. To account for the sameness of the episodes, therefore, we must assume something common in their origin. 

The common material was no doubt that which it professed to be, namely, the statement of some one of the Companions. Indeed, as respects the Heavenly journey, the most extravagant of all the episodes, Sprenger has satisfied himself (as we have seen) that it can be traced back to the very narrative of Mahomet's own servant; and he deduces the conclusion, that early origin affords no criterion of a story being founded on fact.1 On the contrary, we hold that early origin does afford a strong presumption that there was at bottom an element of fact, a kernel of reality—small it might be, but still real—which devotion has seized on as a centre around which to cast its halo of the marvellous and supernatural. That there is such a nucleus even for the Heavenly journey, i.e. for Mahomet's having told a story of the kind, is proved by the mention of it in the XVII. Sura, and by the scandal occasioned thereby at the first, even among his own followers. And so with the tales of the miracles of Mahomet,—puerile fabrications as they evidently are,—we can generally trace in tradition some real incident on which they were engrafted, which prompted the idea, and gave to fancy a starting-point for its fairy creations and illusive colouring. 

The early date at which episodes took fixed shape must afford a certain measure of security that the tales they tell are not altogether legendary. They proceeded from witnesses more or less acquainted with the real facts, and were promulgated in a manner which challenged contradiction from other competent 

1 Vol. iii. p. lix. 


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