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epic and lyric poems, sketches of national customs, and precepts of religion and morality. Whatever may be thought of the intrinsic value of some of these publications, it cannot be doubted that the zeal and liberality of the gentlemen, by whose exertions they have been collected and printed, are deserving of unqualified praise. Though hitherto uncheered even by the barren reward of popularity, Lord Munster and his colleagues have steadily persevered in the execution of an enterprise, which cannot ultimately fail to promote the interests of sound knowledge, and to reflect honour upon the national character.
The stores of Eastern literature, which are deposited in public and private libraries in England and France, and in the hands of Arabian, Hindoo, and Persian families, may be said, without exaggeration, to be inexhaustible. They are of course of various degrees of merit but, excluding works on astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, which the greater progress of Europe in those sciences has rendered obsolete, it is known that there are amongst those manuscript collections many compositions of considerable interest and importance. Accomplished scholars and travellers, who have had access to those treasures, report that they comprehend volumes on ecclesiastical history and divinity, written by the fathers of the Syrian and Arabian churches, which illustrate the progress of Christianity during the earlier centuries of its existence; that they also include some valuable disquisitions on grammar and rhetoricand numerous works of fiction, not excelled by those of a similar class which have been already rendered familiar to us in every polished language of Europe. Histories of the Crusades, exhibiting minute details of wars, which, however mistaken in their origin, will never cease to captivate the attention of mankind, are also said to abound in the East, and to be well entitled to a wider sphere of celebrity. The treatise of Apollonius Pergæus, on conic sections, which was brought to Europe by Golius, and translated by Halley, was preserved from the ruins of Greek literature by a learned Arabian, who was employed for the purpose by the court of Bagdad. It is not, perhaps, visionary to suppose, that some others of the long-lost works of ancient Greece may yet be found among the versions, which are known to have been executed under the protection of the same authority during the enlightened and memorable period of the Caliphate.
To explore these sources of literature and science, and to render them available to the civilized world, is the very laudable ambition of the committee appointed to manage the subscriptions which are contributed to the Oriental Fund. This country ought to feel particularly interested in the results of their labours, from the inti
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mate and most momentous connexion which it has with more than a hundred millions of the Asiatic people. We have, by the prowess of our arms and the moral transcendency of our reputation for enterprise and good faith, extended our sway from an insignificant factory over the fairest portion of India. The vast communities living within our dominions have been committed to our care by Providence; we are responsible for their education, their gradual enlightenment in the duties of religion, their political safety, and the amelioration of their personal condition. But the benefits which we can confer upon them must necessarily be very limited, until we become more generally acquainted with their various dialects, and the productions of their own authors, whom they hold in universal esteem. We possess facilities, it is needless to say, for the acquisition of the Asiatic languages, as well as of the works which they contain, that belong to no other nation. Of these facilities it is our duty, and it ought to be our pride, to make a generous use; it is a stain upon the literary character of our country, that, in a public point of view, we have so long treated them with neglect-a stain, however, which the Oriental Fund committee will, we trust, eventually remove. They hold out suitable rewards to translators, and we are particularly pleased to observe that, in some instances, they propose to give the original text, with a view to furnish students, at a moderate price, with copies of the best Asiatic productions, to which they might not otherwise have access. Nor do the committee limit their researches to the languages which we have above mentioned ; their operations extend also to the Sanscrit, the Chinese, Pali, Burmese, to the tongues of Thibet, Tartary, and Turkey, the Malayan and other dialects of the Eastern archipelago, as well as to those of Hindostan, and the southern peninsula of India.
We are not surprised at the comparative indifference with which the publications of the committee have been hitherto received by all our reading classes of society, as we cannot but be aware that, notwithstanding all the efforts which have been made since the time of .Sir William Jones, both at home and abroad, for the purpose of soliciting attention to the beauties of Oriental composition, there is not, even now, any very general relish in this country for that species of literature. It should, however, be observed that with the exception of papers communicated to the Asiatic and other societies, and printed among their Transactions—of which the public in general have no knowledge whatever the labours of authors who have translated from the Oriental languages, and published at their own risk, were confined principally to poetical pieces which they deemed most likely to prove popular. But these calculations
turned out to be erroneous, chiefly because those productions teemed with allusions to systems of religion, in which, from their multiplicity and obscurity, English readers found no sort of interest. They have not yet learned the names of half the gods and goddesses who figure in Hindoo poetry. They feel no desire to gain an accurate acquaintance, even were it possible, with the fabled incarnations, the alleged respective attributes of those personages, and the infinite variety of rites and ceremonies which are blended with their worship.
The Arabian Nights' made their way amongst us at once, because, in addition to stories of enchantment which interest
the young, they exhibit a true picture of life and manners
which comes home to the bosoms of men in whatever climate they breathe. There is very little of the sectarian peculiarities of religion in those immortal tales. The presiding care of a beneficent Providence they uniformly acknowledge; they treat as an opposing and formidable power the spirit of evil, and they assign to both subordinate agents, who, under the forms of propitious or malignant genii, manage all the affairs of the world. This is a system easily comprehended, and the exciting character of the incidents constituting a majority of these stories easily reconciles us to the marvellous machinery by which they are conducted. But the poetry of Persia and India, so far at least as it has been made known to this country by private translators, is full of a race of deities for whom we have neither love nor fear. The style in which the original compositions are framed is so florid, that even the best versions of them are mere paraphrases, our language not supplying the materials for such exaggerated and perpetual decoration. Their addresses to our fancy seldom kindle the imagination; their appeals to our passions still more rarely touch the heart. We have on a former occasion, however, entered so largely into this subject, that we need not resume it here.
The Oriental Committee have had the good taste to avoid as much as it was possible productions overladen with exotics, which are not likely to live in our climate. There are at least a few of their publications to which we should wish to invite the attention of our readers, under the hope that we may assist the committee in dispelling the prejudices which at present prevail in the public mind against Eastern literature. Of these works, two were briefly analyzed in a late number of our Journal-but that now before us, entitled Memoirs of the Emperor Jahangueir,' or Jehangire as he is called by Dow, is perhaps the most curious one of the collection. It is unfortunately but a fragment, relating only to thirteen out of the twenty-two years during which
which that prince held the sceptre of India; but as far as it goes, it is highly characteristic of the writer. It is no modern discovery. Its existence was known to Dow, who, however, seems to have made no use of it in his valuable and often elegant translation of the History of Hindostan. In alluding to this composition he says very truly, though somewhat quaintly, that the emperor' was a man of science and literary abilities, and that the memoirs of his life, which he penned himself, do him more honour as a good writer, than the matter as a great monarch.'
Few eastern princes ever ascended a throne under more auspicious circumstances than Jehangire. He was the great grandson of Baber the restorer of the dynasty of Timur, and the son of the renowned Akbar, by whose chivalrous valour in the field the twenty-two provinces,* then composing the empire of India, were firmly subdued and tranquillized. Like the Swedish Charles,' Akbar gained important victories by surprising rapidity and boldness of movement, attended frequently by little more than an ordinary guard of his followers. But by his extraordinary wisdom as a statesman during his lengthened reign of fifty-one years, he secured and consolidated the conquests which he had achieved as a soldier. Assisted by his celebrated minister, Abul Fazel, he completed the well-known survey of his empire called the Ayeen Akberry,' a very valuable work, which comprises a full account of everything connected with his government and the productions of the different provinces. At the period of his death, which occurred in the latter part of the year 1605, the ordinary annual revenue of the empire, including the average amount of presents made to the sovereign, and of the estates of his officers which reverted to him at their death, is estimated by Dow at the sum of fifty-two millions of our money. His standing army consisted of three hundred thousand horse, and as many foot; and the civil as well as the military departments of his administration were based upon a system of wonderful regularity.
'The arts of civilized life,' says Dow, 'began to increase and flourish among a people naturally industrious and ingenious. The splendour of the court, the wealth of individuals, created a general taste for pomp and magnificence; and the crowded levies of the great, where all endeavoured to excel in the arts of pleasing, rendered the Indians equal in politeness to the nations of Europe. Learning was not unknown, if we exclude the abstruse sciences. The Arabian and Bramin
*These were Kandahar, Ghizni, Cabul, Cashmire, Lahore, Moultan, Outch, Sinde, Ajmere, Sirhind, Delhi, Doab, Agra, Allahabad, Onde, Behar, Bengal, Orissa, Malava, Berar, Chandesh, and Guzerat, to which was added a small portion of the Deccan.
systems of philosophy were studied; and the powers of the mind were generally cultivated and improved.'
It was quite in keeping with every part of the new monarch's character, that, upon succeeding to the empire, he should have changed his original name of Selim to that of Jehangire-shah, which signifies the world-subduing king;' and that he directed a legend to be stamped upon the current coin, proclaiming himself the sovereign splendour of the faith,' and the safeguard of the world.' He inherited the literary talents of Baber, mingled with the fantastic tastes of Humaioon; but in his love of extravagant ostentation in dress and household ornament, he surpassed both his Mogul and Patan predecessors. He constantly boasts, throughout his memoirs, of his boundless wealth and of his munificence to his favourite servants. He reveals, though not always without reserve, his daily occupations, especially when connected with the proceedings of his government, his sumptuous amusements, and the homage paid to him by the princes under his sway. The business of war always appears burdensome to his mind; but he describes a splendid dress decorated with precious stones, with all the man-milliner minuteness of a Pepys. His effeminacy upon this point, his extreme fondness for the tricks practised by jugglers, his habit of escaping from the palace at night, and mixing with the lowest of his subjects at the punchhouses, and his violent attachments easily changed into sudden indifference and even into hostility, betray an infirmity of character bordering on insanity. It is said, indeed, that his mother introduced a tincture of madness into his blood, and he confesses himself that he was much addicted to the use of wine, (and he might have added, of opium,) which sometimes inflamed to frenzy the natural fever of his mind.
Nevertheless, it is impossible to read these Memoirs, without concluding that the errors of Jehangire, enormous as they were in some instances, had their main source in the circumstances of his position, rather than in a bad heart. He was warmly attached to his children, faithful to his bosom friends-and generally mild towards his enemies, and inexorable in enforcing the execution of impartial justice. When his own passions were interested, however, he seemed to recognise no restraint in divine or human law. He was upon these occasions the Eastern despot to the full extent of that pregnant phrase. He concerted his measures for the assassination of any person who stood in the way of his designs, with as much coolness as if he were only transcribing a couplet. If thwarted in his nefarious operations, he persevered with all the treachery of the tiger, but without