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It is not intended here to pass in review the interesting researches of Dacier, De Sacy, and particularly the more recent ones of Loiseleur des Longchamps, on the different versions of the work. One or two particulars, however, which appear to have escaped observation, may be noted.
1st. That a poem was written in Persian under the title of the Sindibáď Námah, by Azrakí, who died at Herat, A.H. 527; this work is mentioned in his life by Daulatshah.* The learned Von Hammer has, in his Geschichte der schönen Redekünste Persiens, converted this into the History of Sindbad and Hindbad, a supposition for which none of the Tazkirahs afford any ground, and which the description given by Lutf Alí Bég, in his 'Atishkadah, and by other biographers, of the nature of another of the principal works of Azrakí, renders less probable. It might be worth the while of scholars to inquire whether the poem of Azrakí is still to be found in Persia. It does not appear to exist in any of the libraries of Europe.
2nd. That Sindibad is quoted by Saadi, who died A.H. 691 (A.D. 1291), in the following verse of the Bostan:†
چه نغز آید این تکته در سندباد
که عشق آتش است اي پسر تندباد
where a scholiast remarks that the poem of Azraki is here referred to, and describes it as the history of a prince of India, who was ordered to be put to death by his father, under an unjust suspicion.
3rd. That the Persian poetical version which we are about to introduce to our readers in an analysis, was unknown to the above-mentioned writers, and that the MS. of it in the collection at the East-India House appears, as far as we are aware, to be unique, in Europe.
It is an octavo volume in Oriental binding, containing 166 folia, and about 5,000 couplets; is written in the Ta'lik hand, and illustrated with numerous paintings, some of which have been torn out most probably for reasons which will be obvious to an examiner of some of those that remain in the the MS., as various hiatuses occur throughout the work. Sometimes there are deficiencies even when the numbering of the folia is consecutive, the MS. having been apparently defective (although in a less degree) when it received its present binding. It seems to have been written, and indeed composed, in India; and the date of the composition is given in the body of the work, as A.H. 776, or, according to the Chronogram, which is probably an approximation only, as 779. The author's name does not appear. In the following analysis we have sometimes, for the purpose of giving the reader a better idea of the work, and of the author's style, freely used his own diffuse and Orientally fanciful expressions and imagery; and sometimes compressed his narrative and trimmed his exuberance (for compression and curtailment were necessary in analysing a work of such extent); and sometimes, especially when the tale was already familiar to readers in other works, or objectionable in its nature, satisfied ourselves with giving the title, or a reference to the corresponding portion of the Greek version.
* و گویند کتاب سندباد در پندیات حکمت علمي (عملي read without doubt) از مصنفات اوست
† Book iii. 341.
Daul. Tazkirah, fol. 65.
Those who know the difficulties of Persian poetry, and the disadvantage of possessing but a single manuscript, will not only excuse, but will even lay their account with meeting, occasional misapprehensions of the sense.
After the customary opening with an invocation and address to the Deity, a chapter in praise of the Prophet, a complaint against fortune, and an exhor ́tation to contentment and abandonment of the world, the author proceeds, in the fifth chapter, to inform the reader that he had himself no thought of composing a poem, no desire to plunge into such a sea of difficulty; that he was too sensible of his own want of genius to think of such an undertaking; but that one night, his Majesty-that king whose fortune is awake, and whose equal the eye of Time beholds not even in its dreams-addressed him, and, while he complimented him on his talents, complained that he did not sufficiently exert them. "He observed,” says the poet, "that the nightingale should not sit for ever songless, nor the parrot mute; that I possessed the gift of eloquence and sweet discourse; but that I was lazy, lazy, lazy! 'Perform,' said he,' such an achievement with the sword of the pen, as shall live as long as swords are wielded. Turn into verse, during my reign, some prose work, that my memory may be perpetuated: let it be the tale of Sindibad.' With downcast looks, I replied, 'If God grant me his aid, and if my life be spared, I will turn into verse that celebrated book.'*
"I had heard that disobedience to the command of a sovereign is culpable; and at the time indicated by the words, The sublime mandate of the king,† when seventy-six years had passed beyond 700, in the reign of the sultan resembling Jemshíd; the king of the world; the refuge of the khalifate; the possessor of the throne, the signet, and the diadem; who plucks up by the roots violence and oppression; the asylum of Arabia, the crown-bestower of Persia; the munificent, bold, and dauntless king, before whose prowess lion and tiger flee; I composed the following work, and thus reared an edifice proof against all the assaults of time,‡ and not such a structure that any one can designate as the 'house of the spider.'
A.H. 776, or A.D. 1375. The author was, therefore, contemporary with Hafiz, who died A.D. 1389.
Jamque opus exegi, quod nec Jovis ira, nec ignis,
The chapter in which the tale commences, affords, in the opening couplet, another allusion to the author of the prose work, of which this is a poetical paraphrase, informing us, that the poet's original was written in Persian, but that its author was an Arab by descent. Perhaps this might afford some ground for the conjecture that the Arab had found the tale in the language of his family, and translated it from Arabic into Persian. Loiseleur Des Longchamps, however, who was not acquainted with the existence of the present work, is of opinion that the tale was first translated into Persian (from the Sanscrit), and from Persian into Arabic.
"An Arabian by descent, but speaking the Persian tongue, has thus informed me in eloquent language, that there reigned in India a sage and mighty monarch, the bricks of whose palace were not of stone or marble, but of gold : the fuel of whose kitchen was fresh wood of aloes: who had brought under the signet of his authority the kingdoms of Roum and Abyssinia; and to whom were alike tributary the Ethiop Mihráj* (Maharaj) and the Roman Kaisar. He was distinguished above all monarchs for his virtue, his clemency and justice. But, although he was the refuge of the khalifate, he was not blessed with an heir life and the world appeared profitless to him, because he had no fruit of the heart in the garden of his soul."
One night, while reclining on his couch, sad and thoughtful, consumed with grief like a morning taper, he heaved a deep sigh, upon which one of his favourite wives (he had a hundred in his harem‡), advancing towards him, and kissing the ground, inquired the cause of his distress. He discloses it. His wife consoles him, encourages him to hope, and assures him that if he prayed, his prayers would be answered; but that at all events it was his duty to be resigned to the will of God.
'Prayer is the only key that will open the door of difficulty." The king fasted for a whole week, and was assiduous in his devotions.§
One night he prayed with peculiar earnestness and self-abasement till morning. The companion of his couch was one of his wives, fairer than the sun, and the envy of a peri. He clasped her in his embrace, exclaiming: "There is no strength, no power, save in God!" and he felt assured in his heart that his prayer was granted.
In due time a son is born to him. Eager to testify his gratitude, he bestows munificent gifts, and lavishes his treasures on all. The babe is entrusted to a nurse. The most distinguished astrologers are commanded to cast his nativity. Among their number was one of the most skilful explorers of the heavens,
* So, in a passage of Hafiz, in praise of Shah Mansur, quoted by Gildemeister (Scriptor. Arab, de Rebus Indieis Loci, Bonn, 1838), p. 152.
نه تنها خراجت دهند از فرنگ
که مهراج باجت فرست فرستد read ز زنگ
خلف and خلافت
The poet puns on
Syntipas says: kai ŋoav yvvaikεÇ ETTα. The Hebrew translator assigns him eighty wives, Dva Day 11 vid. Hebrew MS, of the Mishle Sindabar, in the British Museum; according to this version (of which we propose to give some account hereafter), the monarch's name was Bibar (3). The scene of the tale is laid, not as in Syntipas, in Persia, but, as above, in India.
737(a) or, as it is most frequently written in the MS., 171, the word used in the Book of Esther, chap. i. v. 1.
§ επιπολυ γουν περι τουτε δεομενος ετυχη της εφέσεως. Syntipas.
who, upon completing his observations, intimated to the king, that his son would be fortunate above other monarchs; but that a danger awaited him, from which, however, it was likely, thanks to his auspicious fortune, that no injury would accrue.
His majesty is filled with anxiety at this information, but at length becomes resigned to the will of heaven, and acknowledges that the decrees of destiny cannot be countervailed.
When the prince had attained his tenth year, his father the sultan confided him to the care of a learned preceptor. "Base copper has by care been transmuted into gold; and a worthless stone converted into a gem." That accomplished and erudite professor devoted his whole time to the education of the prince; but all his exertions were unavailing. "However loudly he shouted, that mountain gave back no echo; however much he sowed, in that soil no grain sprang up." His pupil knew not ab-u-jadd (father and grandfather) from abjad; could not distinguish Muhammad from Auhad. When asked how many make thirty, he replied "ten ;" and to the question, "what is night?" he answered, "the moon." When asked about the thorn, he spoke of fresh dates; when desired to say “fire," he said “fuel.”
His father was in constant uneasiness about the prince, and made frequent inquiries as to his progress. When he found him, year after year, in the same state of perfect ignorance, his wrath was kindled against the blameless and unhappy preceptor, whom he reproached for the backwardness of his son.*
He then called together the philosophers of the city, each of whom was the Aristotle of his age; and after desiring them to be seated, and showing them the most flattering attentions, he detailed to them all the circumstances connected with his son's history, and the cause of his anxiety.
"Wretched," said he, "is he who digs the mine, or rather, who vexes his own soul. Who expects to find gold, and grasps but dust! With vows I implored God to grant me this son; I now repent me that I have asked him. How well said the sailor to the captain of the ship: 'Leave the concerns of God, to God!' The unleavened mass hath not become leavened; nor hath one spoonful of butter been obtained from ten skins of milk!+ Tell me," continued the king, “what expedient shall I adopt to remedy this, and who is the person best qualified to carry it into execution? I have none to succeed
* From folio 13 turn to folio 16, which also answers to the catchword The leaves of the MS., owing to this circumstance, have been misplaced in binding, and mis-numbered.
+ چه خوش گفت ملاح با ناخدا که بگذار کار خدا با خدا
فطيري نيامد برون از خمیر نه یک چهچه روغن زده مشک شیر
So the passage stands in the MS. The translation of the first hemistich of the second couplet would be: “An unleavenet mass hath not come from the leavened; the sense and application of which are un
have exchanged places, and that the
satisfactory. Conjecturing, therefore, that
true reading must have been
I have, meo periculo, ventured to translate as if such were the actual reading-by which, at least, an intelligible and pertinent sense is afforded.
me in the kingdom save this son. Deliberate, therefore; and when your counsel is matured, a course of conduct may be founded on it."
The sages, who were seven in number, bowed the head in token of obedience, and expressed their wishes for his majesty's prosperity and happiness. It was then arranged that they should meet for the purpose of discussing the matter together.
"The learned master, of whom this tale remains as a memorial" (says the writer of the poem), "thus proceeds :" Those experienced sages accordingly one day met in private consultation, and conversed freely on the subject. One of them observed: "O wise men, how can the pulp of colocynth supply the place of sugar? The tree which, when ten years old, has yielded no fruitthe labour of ten years has been entirely thrown away on it." Another remarked: "Never can the rose spring from the dry willow: how can the muskwillow bear, as its fruit, the musk-bag?"
One of those worthies, who had not his equal, who had no rival among those whom you know (i.e. among the seven), an Abuzurjmihr, experienced in affairs, a sage resembling Aristotle-his name Sindibad-said, in reply to these observations : "The hawk, which has dwelt free and happy in its nest, is, nevertheless, subjected to a master; learns from the falconer to soar and seize its prey, and to return when called, and quietly perch on the hand of kings. Why should not the prince, too, be capable of being taught the art of government and the duties of his station? Despair not: every thing may be effected by labour and determination. The fortress of the mine must be stormed, ere the ruby can be obtained."
The other sages warmly applauded the wisdom of Sindibád, and assured him that they considered him the fittest person to whom the important and difficult charge of the prince's education could be entrusted. Sindibád replied, that he was not to be moved by their compliments and flattery; that he saw as little advantage likely to result to him from such a course, as the monkey derived from the stratagem of the old fox.*
They requested him to tell them the story; upon which he began :
Once upon a time an old fox was put to great shifts for his subsistence, and resolved to exert all his wits to procure it. After offering up a prayer for success to his endeavours, he set out and ran. When he had advanced some way, he saw a fish ; he was delighted, and congratulated himself on his good fortune; but, upon reflection, he perceived that the case was one which called for wariness and circumspection; for the place was a dry uncultivated valley, without water, a spot where one sees not a fish save in his dreams. Neither sea was there, nor fishmonger's shop. Advancing two miles, he met a young monkey, upon seeing whom he felt that he had found the key wherewith to unlock his difficulty. He ran up to him, saluted him, and said: "Well met! The gazelles and the wild asses send you their salutations through me, and beg that you will come to their assistance against the tyranny of the lion, who is never satiated with shedding innocent blood. Come, that we may bestow on you the royal crown. They are waiting for your majesty farther on the road."
The monkey was deceived by those flattering expressions, and his ambition threw him into the pitfall. Advance," said he, “and lead the way." When they reached the spot and saw the fish: "You," said the fox, "have the first claim to this morsel, for you are my prince and sovereign." The monkey, blinded by his cupidity, went forward to seize the fish, and was instantly caught in a snare from which he was unable to escape. Upon this the fox sat
The three following fables are not found in Syntipas.