This is from Thomas Carlyle’s “The Hero” lecture series, given in 1843. My summary of this lecture is that Carlyle is defending prophets in general, despite any particular untruths they say, because they are representing human desire to understand the divine. So overall they are good and should be listened to and if not literally followed and believed, respected. Carlyle uses Mohammed as an example of a successful prophet whom we should treat so.
But, there is one allusion I don’t get and can’t find anything about. (In bold face). Here is it in context:
Ok, I think Grotius was a Bishop, but who was Pococke? What is with the Pigeon & Mohamet? What was the point of the allusion?
Grotius was, of course, Hugo Grotius, the eminent Dutch jurist and theorist of international law, while Pococke was Edward Pococke, the first Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford. When translating Grotius’s De veritate religionis Christianae into English, Pococke secured Grotius’s agreement to drop some of the more improbable stories about Muhammad which he had mentioned in the original Latin version.
Carlyle is therefore simply making the point that you shouldn’t trust everything you read about Muhammad because, as Pococke had realised, there were lots of improbable stories about him in circulation.
It looks like the original claim (to which Carlyle did not subscribe) was that Mohammed fraudulently hid peas in his ear and trained a bird to eat them, and then said “Look, this is an angel speaking into my ear!”. If I’m following this correctly, Grotius claimed that Mohammed used this ruse, but didn’t have any proof of it.