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hair remaining, for the harvest of his beard was utterly scattered. He bitterly lamented the loss, and never again ventured to sbew himself in public.
We have endeavoured to preserve the character of this tale, by a very literal version. In the eyes of the Persians, we should imagine it to be no favorite, as it is so wholly devoid of the clinquant, which is their great delight, and which, even if the language became generally familiar to Europeans, would hardly approve itself to our judgment. The greatest charm of the book, it must be acknowledged, is to be discovered in the numberless fragments of Persian poetry, which are every where interspersed, and which afford a perpetual relief in the perusal, by interrupting the stately march of the turgid prose. In poetry, the Persians have long since arrived at great excellence; and though the modern versifiers, who are possessed of a licence of imagination that outstrips all bounds, have greatly degenerated, like the writers of some countries nearer home, from the masters of the olden time —yet the orthodox opinion of the nation is still in favor of the ancient and more sober worthies.
The Introduction to Pilpay's Fables, which is found in all the modern European copies, is the invention of Cashefi, who has entirely omitted the several prefaces, which are found in the Arabic of Almokaffà, and substituted a tale of his own composition, on which is engrafted the series of fables which form the body of the work. This book was printed at Calcutta in 1804.
About a century after the publication of the Anvar Soheili, the great Mogul Akbar enjoined his minister Abulfazel, whose name is well known among us, since the publication of his Institutes of Akbar, to prepare a more simple and unadorned edition of the work of Hosein Vaez, who had not, he thought, brought down the old Persian version sufficiently to the level of ordinary understandings. But though he retrenched the highsounding but superfluous phraseology of his predecessor, he preserved the order and general arrangement of that work, restoring however, from the Arabic copy, the introductions which had been omitted, and adding to them the preface that Cashefi had composed. Abulfazel gave to the result of his labours, when completed, the new title of Ayár-danish, or Touchstone of Knowledge.
Before this period, and in the middle of the tenth century of the Mussulmans, Ali Chelebi, Professor at the college of Adrianople, had translated the Anvar Soheili into the Turkish language, and had dedicated the book, which he entitled Homaioun-Nameh, or the Imperial Book, to the grand Signior Soliman. His labour was rewarded by an appointment to one of the most honorable posts in the Ottoman empire. This version is
said to reflect great credit on the taste of its author. It is to this writer that we more immediately owe the different editions of these fables, that, during the last century, appeared in several of the languages of modern Europe.
There are probably many other translations or imitations of this curious book in the Asiatic idioms : in two or three instances, the Calcutta press has given to the world as many versions, either of the original Sanscrit or its descendants, existing in the Persian language. But enough has been laid before the reader, and perhaps more than was necessary, to shew the strange mutations that the old Indian fabulist has, in a course of ages, undergone; and his identity, under his ever-changing metamorphoses, has, we hope, been clearly shewn. We shall now therefore, before we close this article, in a few lines mention the manner in which the wandering Sage has been introduced to the notice of the nations of the West.
There exist two series of European translations of these tales. The more ancient is traced to the Hebrew version, which has been already noticed. From the Hebrew, they were rendered into Latin by John of Capua, and given to the world from the press, but without a date, under this title: “ Directorium Vitæ Humana, alias Parabole Antiquorum Sapientum.” From this was taken a Spanish edition, of whose history little seems known, but that the Italians received from it their copy of Pilpay. The novelist Firenzuola was the first who presented this work to the Italians, which he named Discorsi degli Animali, and pub. lished in the year 1548. From another Italian version by Doni, Sir Thomas North printed two English editions in the years 1570 and 1601, entitled The moral Philosophy of Doni. In the course of the sixteenth century, four editions appeared of a German translation from the Latin, made by order of Eberhard, the first Duke of Wirtemburg. An old French translation is said to have been derived from the same source, and there are two editions of a French paraphrase from the Persian of Nasrallah, by the hand of Gilbert Gaulmin.
M.M. Galland and de Cardonne commenced the second series of translations in the western languages, by their work which bears the following title; Contes et Fables Indiennes de Bidpai et de Lokman, traduites d'Ali Tchelebi ben Saleh, Auteur Turc; 2 vols. Paris, 1714; and again in 1724. From this publication, the book was printed in English in 1747, and had reached its fifth impression in 1775. It is necessary to observe, that in French, as well as in English, we only possess the contents of the first four of the “ fourteen beautiful chapters” of Cashefi, which include, however, one half of the work. ` M. Galland had probably proceeded no farther at the time of his death, and thus his readers were deprived of the remaining chapters, and of the fables of
Lokman, which are promised in the title page. From the Ho maiún-nameh, from which this French version was taken, was also made a modern Spanish translation, by Bratutti. But none of these various editions, though some of them seem to have enjoyed a temporary popularity, have maintained a permanent hold on public opinion. This may, perhaps, be sufficiently accounted for by the consideration, that it rarely happens, that he who is ambitious of trying the depths of an unexplored literature, has also the talent and the taste requisite for transferring its riches into a different language.
It is now time to close this history of a book, which, toge ther with the game of chess, and their system of numerals, gives the Hindoos, in their own opinion, a superiority over all other nations of the world. We have already recorded our obligations to the “ Memoire Historique" of M. Silvestre de Sacy, but we cannot quit the subject without reminding the reader, that he may find in that and in his other writings on this work, much minute information, which is here omitted. It is to be regretted that no elegant translation of Cashefi's most elegant paraphrase of the original fables, exists in our language ; but we are convinced that such a version might be made acceptable to the public, if undertaken by any one, who, to the more obviously necessary qualifications, should unite sufficient taste to render the spirit of this romantic composition, without too closely adhering to its excess of ornament, and to its unnatural conceits. The poetry would usually bear as literal a rendering, as that of more northern climes; the prose would require to be more freely paraphrased, than is generally the case in translations of European verse.
Art. IV.- Plays, written by Mr. Nathaniel Lee. Lond. 1722;
3 vols. 12mo.
Nat. Lee may exclaim, with his own Alexander,
“ All find my spots, but few my brightness take.” His cotemporaries gave him a bad name, and it sticks to him. Yet, with their censures, there was a not undeserved mixture of praise and popularity. Unfortunately for his fame, a school of wits and critics was then forming, from which no mercy, no justice even, was to be expected for a poet, however worthy of the name, whose failings were of that class which is most prominent in his compositions. He began with that fantastic, wild, and gorgeous creature, the Heroic Play, and afterwards closely approximated to the good old English Drama; but in the reign of Queen Anne, or rather in the reign of Addison and of Pope, who cared for either, except as a laughing-stock? As soon as the sovereignty of regularity, polish, and tameness, was proclaimed, he was attainted of treason and condemned. Cato and Alexander could not breathe the same atmosphere. This was, however, “ greatly falling with a falling state,” for the revolution of taste was complete. Classical models, drest up in French fashions, were enshrined in the temples, from which the native gods of our idolatry were cast to the moles and the bats. People became too nice to muddy their fingers, even to pick up diamonds. Genius was apprenticed to a dancing-master, to make him measure his steps; and Nature taught by a fashionable milliner, low to compress her waist and carry her arms. The noble bonfire, which used to blaze in gunpowder-plot times, was extinguished, and that neat, little, coloured, silver-mounted, wax taper of poesy kindled, of which the last snuff has gone out with Mr. Hayley. Through this period, Lee has the honour of having been occasionally condemned, and generally neglected; and he has it in common with most of those great original writers, who have since, as it were, risen from the dead, to give a new and glorious impulse to the human mind. That his sentence emanated from that court, whose decrees have been of late so frequently reversed, should excite a suspicion of its justice. This has not been the case. The noble companions of his exile have been brought back in triumphal procession, but he followed not in their train. His Theodosius lingered for some time on the stage; but now nothing remains of him there but Alerander, by no means one of his best plays, and, by its extravagancies, as much adapted to keep alive the prejudice against him as any which could be selected. His name is associated with rant and fustian. Nor dare we hope, that the sentence which is gone forth against him will be repealed. So much may be alleged in its support, that we shall scarcely venture to move for a new trial; yet, we think we may successfully plead in mitigation of punishment, and shew a number of redeeming qualities, and some specimens of genuine dramatic power in his scenes, which justify our own resort to him occasionally for a little excitement, and may convince our readers, that public opinion has dealt hardly with him.
The extravagance of Lee was not the sheer extravagance of the common herd of heroic-play manufacturers. Though it be madness, yet there's method in it. His frenzy is the frenzy of a poet. The hyperboles of others, even of Dryden himself, were forced, cold, and far-fetched. They cut lofty capers, because they judged it proper or profitable so to do; Lee only
indulged his natural exuberance. For this indulgence he apologizes, in his dedication of Theodosius to the Dutchess of Richmond.
“ It has been often observed against me, that I abound in ungoverned fancy; but I hope the world will pardon the sallies of youth: Age, despondence, and dullness, come too fast of themselves. I discommend no man for keeping the beaten road; but I am sure the noble hunters that follow the game must leap hedges and ditches sometimes, and run at all, or never come into the fall of the quarry. My comfort is, I cannot be so ridiculous a creature to any man as I am to myself; for who should know the house so well as the good man at home? who, when his neighbours come to see him, still sets the best rooms to view; and, if he be not a wilful ass, keeps the rubbish and lumber in some dark hole, where nobody comes but himself, to mortifie at melancholy hours.”
This apology is honourable to him. There is truth and feeling in it; and it shews, that he neither implicitly followed the advice, or swallowed the praise which Dryden gave him, on his Alexander.
“Such praise is yours; while you the passions move,
Is in your power; you need but stoop and take.”
It would have been well, if he had more frequently stooped and taken it; although this was scarcely to be expected, while such commendations greeted the glaring fruits of his tropical genius. Still Dryden has not praised without discrimination, for he has clearly intimated the distinctive character of Lee's extravagance. There is a soul of genuine passion in it, as will appear from many of the extracts which we shall have occasion to make. And it has, hesides, a picturesque beauty, which is rarely to be met with in heroic ravings. His conceptions are not abortive, though they may be grotesque. His forms are strange enough, but they are well defined, and thrown out in bold relief. His visions Ait palpably before us. To muster the troops of hell in our imaginations,