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the leaves of which Mahomet's favourite pigeon used to nestle, had been mislaid by his Koran-bearer three whole days; not without much spiritual alarm to Fadladeen, who, though professing to hold, with other loyal and orthodox Mussulmans, that salvation could only be found in the Koran, was strongly suspected of believing in his heart that it could only be found in his own particular copy of it. When to all these grievances is added the obstinacy of the cooks in putting the pepper of Canara into his dishes instead of the cinnamon of Serendib, we may easily suppose that he came to the task of criticism with, at least, a sufficient degree of irritability for the purpose.
“ In order," said he, importantly swinging about his chaplet of pearls, “to convey with clearness my opinion of the story this young man has related, it is necessary to take a review of all the stories that have ever- -“My good Fadládeen !” exclaimed the Princess, interrupting him, "we really do not deserve that you should give yourself so much trouble. Your opinion of the poem we have just heard will, I have no doubt, be abundantly edifying, without any further waste of your valuable erudition.”—“If that be all,” replied the critic, -evidently mortified at not being allowed to show how much he knew about everything but the subject immediately before him-“if that be all that is required, the matter is easily despatched.”. He then proceeded to analyse the poem, in that strain (so well known to the unfortunate bards of Delhi) whose censures were an infliction from which few recovered, and whose very praises were like the honey extracted from the bitter flowers of the aloe. The chief personages of the story were, if he rightly understood them, an ill-favoured gentleman, with a veil over his face ;-a young lady, whose reason went and came, according as it suited the poet's convenience to be sensible or otherwise ;-and a youth in one of those hideous Bucharian bonnets, who took the aforesaid gentleman in a veil for a Divinity. From such materials," said he, “what can be expected ?-after rivalling each other in long speeches and absurdities, through some thousands of lines as indigestible as the filberts of Berdaa, our friend in the veil jumps into a tub of aquafortis; the young lady dies in a set speech, whose only recommendation is that it is her last; and the lover lives on to a good old age, for the laudable purpose of seeing her ghost, which he at last happily accomplishes, and expires. This, you will allow, is a fair summary of the story; and if Nasser, the Arabian merchant, told no better, our Holy Prophet (to whom be all honour and glory!) had no need to be jealous of his abilities for story-telling."*
With respect to the style, it was worthy of the matter ;—it had not even those politic contrivances of structure which make up for the commonness of the thoughts by the peculiarity of the manner, nor that stately poetical phraseology by which sentiments mean in
* "La lecture de ces Fables plaisoit și fort aux Arabes que quand Mahomet les entretenoit de l'Histoire de l'Ancien Testament ils les méprisoient, lui disant que celles que Nasser leur racontoient étoient beaucoap plus belles, Cette préférence attira à Nasser la malédiction de Mahomet et de tous ses disciples."-D'Herbelot.
themselves, like the blacksmith's * apron converted into a banner, are so easily gilt and embroidered into consequence. Then, as to the versification, it was, to say no worse of it, execrable: it had neither the copious flow of Ferdosi, the sweetness of Hafez, nor the sententious march of Sadi ; but appeared to him, in the uneasy heaviness of its movements, to have been modelled upon the gait of a very tired dromedary. The licences, too, in which it indulged, were unpardonable;– for instance this line, and the
poem abounded with such ;
Like the faint, exquisite music of a dream. “What critic that can count,” said Fadladeen, "and has his full complement of fingers to count withal, would tolerate for an instant such syllabic superfluities?”—He here looked round, and discovered that most of his audience were asleep; while the glimmering lamps seemed inclined to follow their example.
It became necessary, therefore, however painful to himself, to put an end to his valuable animadversions for the present, and he accordingly concluded, with an air of dignified candour, thus :- Notwithstanding the observations which I have thought it my duty to make, it is by no means my wish to discourage the young man :-so far from it, indeed, that if he will but totally alter his style of writing and thinking, I have very little doubt that I shall be vastly pleased with him."
Some days elapsed, after this harangue of the Great Chamberlain, before Lalla Rookh could venture to ask for another story. The youth was still a welcome guest in the pavilion—to one heart, perhaps, too dangerously welcome ;- but all mention of poetry was, as if by common consent, avoided. Though none of the party had much respect for Fadladeen, yet his censures, thus magisterially delivered, evidently made an impression on them all. The Poet himself, to whom criticism was quite a new operation, (being wholly unknown in that Paradise of the Indies, Cashmere,) felt the shock as it is generally felt at first, till use has made it more tolerable to the patient ;- the Ladies began to suspect that they ought not to be pleased, and seemed to conclude that there must have been much good sense in what Fadladeen said, from its having set them all so soundly to sleep ;-while the self-complacent Chamberlain was left to triumph in the idea of having, for the hundred and fiftieth time in his life, extinguished a Poet. Lalla Rookh aloneand Love knew why-persisted in being delighted with all she had heard, and in resolving to hear more as speedily as possible. Her manner, however, of first returning to the subject was unlucky. It was while they rested during the heat of noon near a fountain, on which some hand had rudely traced those well-known words from the Garden of Sadi,—“Many, like me, have viewed this fountain, but they are gone, and their eyes are closed for ever!”—that she took occasion, from the melancholy beauty of this passage, to dwell upon the charms of poetry in general. “It is true,” she said, “few poets can imitate that sublime bird which flies always in the air,
* The blacksmith Gao, who successfully resisted the tyrant Zohak, and whose apron became the Royal Standard of Persia.
and never touches the earth :*-it is only once in many ages a Genius appears whose words, like those on the Written Mountain, last for ever: +-but still there are some, as delightful, perhaps, though not so wonderful, who, if not stars over our head, are at least flowers along our path, and whose sweetness of the moment we ought gratefully to inhale, without calling upon them for a brightness and a durability beyond their nature. In short,” continued she, blushing, as if conscious of being caught in an oration, “it is quite cruel that a poet cannot wander through his regions of enchantment, without having a critic for ever, like the old Man of the Sea, upon his back!”-Fadladeen, it was plain, took this last luckless allusion to himself, and would treasure it up in his mind as a whetstone for his next criticism. A sudden silence ensued; and the Princess, glancing a look at Feramorz, saw plainly she must wait for a more courageous moment.
But the glories of Nature, and her wild, fragrant airs, playing freshly over the current of youthful spirits, will soon heal even deeper wounds than the dull Fadladeens of this world can inflict. In an evening or two after, they came to the small Valley of Gardens, which had been planted by order of the Emperor, for his favourite sister Rochinara, during their progress to Cashmere, some years before; and never was there a more sparkling assemblage of sweets, since the Gulzar-e-Irem, or Rose-bower of Irem. Every precious flower was there to be found, that poetry, or love, or religion, has ever consecrated ; from the dark hyacinth, to which Hafez compares his mistress's hair, to the Cámalatá, by whose rosy blossoms the heaven of Indra is scented. I As they sat in the cool fragrance of this delicious spot, and Lalla Rookh remarked that she could fancy it the abode of that Flower-loving Nymph whom they worship in the temples of Kathay, $ or of one of those Peris, those beautiful creatures of the air, who live upon perfumes, and to whom a place like this might make some amends for the Paradise they have lost,—the young Poet, in whose eyes she appeared, while she spoke, to be one of the bright spiritual creatures she was describing, said hesitatingly that he remembered a Story of a Peri, which, if the Princess had no objection, he would venture to relate.
*"The Huma, a bird peculiar to the East. It is supposed to fly constantly in the air, and never touch the ground; it is looked upon as a bird of happy omen; and that every head it overshades will in time wear a crown."-Richardson.
"To the pilgrims to Mount Sinai we must attribute the inscriptions, figures, &c., on those rocks, which have from thence acquired the name of the Written Mountain."-Volney.
"The Cámalatá (called by Linnæus, Ipomæa) is the most beautiful of its order, both in the colour and form of its leaves and flowers ; its elegant blossoms are 'celestial rosy red, Love's proper hue,' and have justly procured it the name of Cámalatá, or Love's Creeper."-Sir W. Jones.. Cámalata
may also mean a mythological plant, by which all desires are granted to such as inhabit the heaven of Indra; and'if ever flower was worthy of Paradise, it is our charming Ipomæa."-16.
$ ."According to Father Premare, in his tract on Chinese Mythology, the mother of Fo-hi was the daughter of heaven, surnamed Flower-loving; and as the nymph was walking alone on the bank of a river, she found herself encircled by a rainbow, after which she became pregnant, and, at the end of twelve years, was delivered of a son radiant as herself."-Asiat. Res.
"It is,” said he, with an appealing look to Fadladeen, "in a lighter and humbler strain than the other:" then, striking a few careless but melancholy chords on his kitar, he thus began :
PARADISE AND THE PERI.
Of Life within, like music flowing,
Through the half-open portal glowing,
Should e'er have lost that glorious place!
Mid flowers that never shall fade or fall;
One blossom of Heaven outblooms them all!
And sweetly the founts of that Valley fall;
How the waters of Heaven outshine them all !
As the universe spreads its flaming wall :
One minute of Heaven is worth them all !"
Prom Eden's fountain, when it lies
Blooms nowhere but in Paradise.
* “The Altan Kol or Golden River of Tibet, which runs into the Lakes of Sing-su-hay, has abundance of gold in its sands, which employs the inhabitants all the summer in gathering it.”- - Description of Tibet in Pinkerton.
+ "The Brahmins of this province insist that the blue campac flowers only in Paradise.” —Sir W. Jones. It appears, however, from a curious letter of the Sultan of Menangcabow, given by Marsden, that one place on earth may lay claim to the possession of it. “This is the Sultan, who keeps the flower champaka that is blue, and to be found in no other country but his, being yellow elsewhere."- Marsden's Sumatra.
"Nymph of a fair but erring line !”
The Peri yet may be forgiven
The Gift that is most dear to Heaven!
Rapidly as comets run
And, lighted earthward by a glance
Hung hovering o'er our world's expanse.
* “The Mahometans suppose that falling stars are the firebrands wherewith the good, angels drive away the bad, when they approach too near the empyrean or verge of the heavens.”-Fryer.
+ The Forty Pillars; so the Persians call the ruins of Persepolis. It is imagined by them that this palace and the edifices at Balbec were built by Genii, for the purpose of hiding in their subterraneous caverns, immense treasures, which still remain there. -D'Herbelot, Volney.
Diodorus mentions the Isle of Panchaia, to the south of Arabia Felix, where there was a temple of Jupiter.
$ The Isles of Panchaia.
11 “The cup of Jamshid, discovered, they say, when digging for the foundations of Persepolis."-Richardson.