Page:A cyclopaedia of female biography.djvu/23

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A Spanish lady, who distinguished herself in the middle of the seventeenth century, by the peculiar excellence of the portraits she painted. She was contemporary with Rubens and Velasquez, by whom she was much esteemed. The time of her death is unknown.


A sister of Haroun al Raschid, caliph of the Saracens, A. D. 786, was so beautiful and accomplished, that the caliph often Uunented he was her brother, thinking that no other husband could be found worthy of her. To sanction, however, a wish he had of conversing at the same time with the two most enlightened people he knew, he married her to his vizier Giafar, the Barmecide, on condition that Giafar should not regai'd her as his wife. Giafar, not obeying this injunction, was put to death by order of the enraged caliph, and Abbassah was dismissed from his court. She wandered about, sometimes reduced to the extreme of wretchedness, reciting her own story in song; and there are still extant some Arabic verses composed by her, which celebrate her misfortunes, hi the divan entitled Juba, Abbassah's genius for poetry is mentioned; and a specimen of her composition, in six Arabic lines, addressed to Giafar, her husband, whose society she was restricted by her brother from enjoying, is to be found in a book written by Ben Abon Haydah. She left two children, twins, whom Giafar, before his death, had sent privately to Mecca to be educated.


The name of this lady has long been familiar to the readers of English periodical literature, to which she is a constant and valued contributor. Annuals, Pocket-books, Monthly Magazines, and all publications of that class and character, devoted to the advancement of intellectual culture, morality, and especially of religion, to which the service of her spiritual gifts are in a great measure consecrated. Her verse is full of that serenity and cheerfulness which only a warm faith can inspire.

Mrs. Abdy has written several tales which would do credit to many of the high names in Uterature; her moral is always sound