A YOUNG PRETENDER.
FOR six hundred years the greater part of the Mohammedan Empire was nominally under the authority of a central ruler called a Khalif, a title which signifies a "successor" or "substitute." At first this authority was real and powerful: the Khalif appointed the governors of all the provinces, from Spain to the borders of the Hindu Kush, and removed any of them at his pleasure. But the empire was too large to hold together round a central pivot for any length of time, and gradually various local governors made themselves virtually independent, although they generally professed the utmost devotion to the Khalif and paid him every honour except obedience. By degrees even this show of respect was thrown off, and dynasties arose which espoused heretical tenets, repudiated the spiritual supremacy of the Khalif, and denounced him and all his line as usurpers. Finally the time came when the Khalifs were as weak in temporal authority as the Pope of Rome, and were even kept prisoners in their palace by the mercenary bodyguard they had hired to protect them against their rebellious nobles. This took place about three hundred years after the foundation of the Khalifate;