Part 9 out of 9
what the "Uncle and Master's" work should have been. Some two
generations of poules mouillees have reprinted and republished
Lane's "Arabian Notes" without having the simple honesty to
correct a single bevue, or to abate one blunder; while they
looked upon the Arabian Nights as their own especial rotten
borough. But more of this in my tractate, "The Reviewer
Reviewed," about to be printed as an appendix to my Supplemental
Volume, No. vi.
Richard F. Burton.
And here is the rejoinder (Athenaeum, September 8):--
Lord Stratford and Sir R. Burton.
September 4, 1888.
Sir R. Burton, like a prominent Irish politician, apparently
prefers to select his own venue, and, in order to answer my
letter in the Athenaeum of August 25, permits himself in the
Academy of September 1 an exuberance of language which can injure
no one but himself. Disregarding personalities, I observe that he
advances no single fact in support of the statements which I
contradicted, but merely reiterates them. It is a question
between documents and Sir R. Burton's word.
It is not a question between documents and my word, but rather of
the use or abuse of documents by the "biographer." My
volunteering for the relief of Kars was known to the whole camp
at the Dardanelles, and my visit to the Embassy at Constantinople
is also a matter of "documents." And when Mr. S. Lane-Poole shall
have produced his I will produce mine.
[FN#451] It appears to me that our measures, remedial and
punitive, against "pornographic publications" result mainly in
creating "vested interests" (that English abomination) and thus
in fostering the work. The French printer, who now must give name
and address, stamps upon the cover Avis aux Libraires under
Edition privee and adds Ce volume ne doit pas etre mis en vente
ou expose dans les lieux publics (Loi du 29 Juillet, 1881). He
also prints upon the back the number of copies for sale We treat
"pornology" as we handle prostitution, unwisely ignore it, well
knowing the while that it is a natural and universal demand of
civilised humanity; and whereas continental peoples regulate it
and limit its abuses we pass it by, Pharisee-like, with nez
en-l'air. Our laws upon the subject are made only to be broken,
and the authorities are unwilling to persecute, because by so
doing they advertise what they condemn. Thus they offer a premium
to the greedy and unscrupulous publisher and immensely enhance
the value of productions ("Fanny Hill" by Richard Cleland for
instance) which, if allowed free publication, would fetch pence
instead of pounds. With due diffidence, I suggest that the police
be directed to remove from booksellers' windows and to confiscate
all indecent pictures, prints and photographs; I would forbid
them under penalty of heavy fines to expose immoral books for
sale, and I would leave "cheap and nasty" literature to the good
taste of the publisher and the public. Thus we should also abate
the scandal of providing the secretaries and officers of the
various anti-vice societies with libraries of pornological works
which, supposed to be escheated or burned, find their way into
the virtuous hands of those who are supposed to destroy them.
[FN#452] "Quand aux manuscrits de la redaction egyptienne,
l'omission de cet episode parait devoir etre attribuee a la
tendance qui les caracterise generalement, d'abreger et de
condenser la narrative " (loc. cit. p. 7: see also p. 14).
[FN#453] Here I would by no means assert that the subject matter
of The Nights is exhausted: much has been left for future
labourers. It would be easy indeed to add another five volumes to
my sixteen as every complete manuscript contains more or less of
novelty. Dr. Pertsch, the learned librarian of Saxe-Gotha,
informs me that no less than two volumes are taken up by a
variant of Judar the Egyptian (in my vol. vi. 213) and by the
History of Zahir and Ali. For the Turkish version in the
Bibliotheque Nationale see M. Zotenberg (pp. 21-23). The Rich MS.
in the British Museum abounds in novelties, of which a specimen
was given in my Prospectus to the Supplemental Volumes.
In the French Scholar's "Ala al-Din" (p. 45) we find the MSS. of
The Nights divided into three groups. No. i. or the Asian (a
total of ten specified) are mostly incomplete and usually end
before the half of the text. The second is the Egyptian of modern
date, characterised by an especial style and condensed narration
and by the nature and ordinance of the tales, by the number of
fables and historiettes, and generally by the long chivalrous
Romance of Omar bin al-Nu'uman. The third group, also Egyptian,
differs only in the distribution of the stories.]
[FN#454] My late friend, who brought home 3,000 copies of
inscriptions from the so-called Sinai which I would term in
ancient days the Peninsula of Paran. and in our times the
Peninsula of Tor.
[FN#455] See M. Zotenberg, pp. 4, 26.
[FN#456] M. Zotenberg (p. 5) wrote la seconde moitie du xive.
Siecle, but he informed me that he has found reason to antedate
[FN#457] I regret the necessity of exposing such incompetence and
errors which at the time when Lane wrote were venial enough; his
foolish friend, however, by unskilful and exaggerated pretensions
and encomiums, compels me to lay the case before the reader.
[FN#458] This past tense, suggesting that an act is complete, has
a present sense in Arabic and must be translated accordingly.
[FN#459] Quite untrue: the critic as usual never read and
probably never saw the subject of his criticism. In this case I
may invert one of my mottoes and write, "To the foul all things"