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Supplemental Nights, Volume 6 by Richard F. Burton

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But--and there is a remarkable power in this particle--Mr. Payne's work is
"restricted to the few wealthy collectors of proscribed books and what
booksellers' catalogues describe as facetiæ'" (p. 179); for "when an Arabic
word is unknown to the literary language" (what utter imbecility!), "and
belongs only to the low vocabulary of the gutter" (which the most "elegant"
writers most freely employ), "Mr. Payne laboriously searches out a
corresponding term in English 'Billingsgate,' and prides himself upon an
accurate reproduction of the tone of the original" (p. 178). This is a
remarkable twisting of the truth. Mr. Payne persisted, despite my frequent
protests, in rendering the "nursery words" and the "terms too plainly
expressing natural situations" by old English such as "kaze" and "swive,"
equally ignored by the "gutter" and by "Billingsgate": he also omitted an
offensive line whenever it did not occur in all the texts and could honestly
be left untranslated. But the unfact is stated for a purpose: here the
Reviewer mounts the high horse and poses as the Magister Morum per
excellentiam. The Battle of the Books has often been fought, the crude text
versus the bowdlerised and the expurgated; and our critic can contribute to
the great fray only the merest platitudes. "There is an old and trusty saying
that 'evil communications corrupt good manners,' end it is a well-known fact
that the discussion(?) and reading of depraved literature leads (sic)
infallibly to the depravation of the reader's mind" (p. 179). [FN#451] I
should say that the childish indecencies and the unnatural vice of the
original cannot deprave any mind save that which is perfectly prepared to be
depraved; the former would provoke only curiosity and amusement to see bearded
men such mere babes, and the latter would breed infinitely more disgust than
desire. The man must be prurient and lecherous as a dog-faced baboon in rut to
have aught of passion excited by either. And most inept is the conclusion, "So
long as Mr. Payne's translation remains defiled by words, sentences, and whole
paragraphs descriptive of coarse and often horribly depraved sensuality, it
can never stand beside Lane's, which still remains the standard version of the
Arabian Nights" (p. 179). Altro! No one knows better than the clique that
Lane, after an artificially prolonged life of some half-century, has at last
been weighed in the balance and been found wanting; that he is dying that
second death which awaits the unsatisfactory worker and that his Arabian
Nights are consigned by the present generation to the limbo of things obsolete
and forgotten.

But if Mr. Payne is damned with poor praise and mock modesty, my version is
condemned without redemption--beyond all hope of salvation: there is not a
word in favour of a work which has been received by the reviewers with a
chorus of kindly commendation. "The critical battery opens with a round-shot."
"Another complete translation is now appearing in a surreptitious way" (p.
179). How "surreptitious" I ask of this scribe, who ekes not the lack of
reason by a superfluity of railing, when I sent out some 24,000--30,000
advertisements and published my project in the literary papers? "The
amiability of the two translators (Payne and Burton) was testified by their
each dedicating a volume to the other. So far as the authors are concerned
nothing could be more harmonious and delightful; but the public naturally ask,
What do we want with two forbidden versions?" And I again inquire, What can be
done by me to satisfy this atrabilious and ill-conditioned Aristarchus? Had I
not mentioned Mr. Payne, my silence would have been construed into envy,
hatred and malice: if I am proud to acknowledge my friend's noble work the
proceeding engenders a spiteful sneer. As regards the "want," public demand is
easily proved. It is universally known (except to the Reviewer who will not
know) that Mr. Payne, who printed only 500 copies, was compelled to refuse as
many hundreds of would be subscribers; and, when my design was made public by
the Press, these and others at once applied to me. "To issue a thousand still
more objectionable copies by another and not a better hand" (notice the quip
cursive!) may "seem preposterous" (p. 180), but only to a writer so
"preposterous" as this.

"A careful (again!) examination of Captain Burton's translation shows that he
has not, as he pretends(!), corrected it to agree with the Calcutta text, but
has made a hotch-potch of various texts, choosing one or another--Cairo,
Breslau, Macnaghten or first Calcutta--according as it presented most of the
'characteristic' detail (note the dig in the side vicious), in which Captain
Burton's version is peculiarly strong" (p. 180). So in return for the severe
labour of collating the four printed texts and of supplying the palpable
omissions, which by turns disfigure each and every of the quartette, thus
producing a complete copy of the Recueil, I gain nothing but blame. My French
friend writes to me: Lorsqu'il s'agit d'établir un texte d'après différents
manuscrits, il est certain qu'il faut prendre pour base une-seule redaction.
Mais il n'est pas de même d'une traduction. Il est conforme aux règles de la
saine critique littéraire, de suivre tous les textes. Lane, I repeat,
contented himself with the imperfect Bulak text while Payne and I preferred
the Macnaghten Edition which, says the Reviewer, with a futile falsehood all
his own, is "really only a revised form of the Cairo text" [FN#452] (ibid.).
He concludes, making me his rival in ignorance, that I am unacquainted with
the history of the MS. from which the four- volume Calcutta Edition was
printed (ibid.). I should indeed be thankful to him if he could inform me of
its ultimate fate: it has been traced by me to the Messieurs Allen and I have
vainly consulted Mr. Johnston who carries on the business under the name of
that now defunct house. The MS. has clean disappeared.

"On the other hand he (Captain Burton) sometimes omits passages which he
considers(!) tautological and thereby deprives his version of the merit of
completeness (e.g. vol. v. p. 327). It is needless to remark that this
uncertainty about the text destroys the scholarly value of the translation"
(p. 180). The scribe characteristically forgets to add that I have invariably
noted these excised passages which are always the merest repetitions, damnable
iterations of a twice-, and sometimes a thrice-told tale, and that I so act
upon the great principle--in translating a work of imagination and "inducing"
an Oriental tale, the writer's first duty to his readers is making his pages

"Captain Burton's version is sometimes rather loose" (p.180), says the critic
who quotes five specimens out of five volumes and who might have quoted five
hundred. This is another favourite "dodge" with the rogue-reviewer, who
delights to cite words and phrases and texts detached from their contexts. A
translator is often compelled, by way of avoiding recurrences which no English
public could endure, to render a word, whose literal and satisfactory meaning
he has already given, by a synonym or a homonym in no way so sufficient or so
satisfactory. He charges me with rendering "Siyar, which means 'doings,' by
'works and words"'; little knowing that the veteran Orientalist, M. Joseph
Derenbourgh (p. 98, Johannes de Capua, Directorium, etc.), renders "Akhlák-í
wa Síratí" (sing. of Siyar) by caractère et conducte, the latter consisting of
deeds and speech. He objects to "Kabir" (lit.=old) being turned into very old;
yet this would be its true sense were the Ráwí or story-teller to lay stress
and emphasis upon the word, as here I suppose him to have done. But what does
the Edinburgh know of the Ráwí? Again I render "Mal'únah" (not the mangled
Mal'ouna) lit. = accurst, as "damned whore," which I am justified in doing
when the version is of the category Call-a-spade-a-spade.

"Captain Burton's Arabian Nights, however, has another defect besides this
textual inaccuracy" (p. 180); and this leads to a whole page of abusive
rhetoric anent my vocabulary: the Reviewer has collected some thirty
specimens--he might have collected three hundred from the five volumes--and he
concludes that the list places Captain Burton's version "quite out of the
category of English books" (p. 181) and "extremely annoying to any reader with
a feeling for style." Much he must know of modern literary taste which
encourages the translator of an ancient work such as Mr. Gibb's Aucassin and
Nicolette (I quote but one in a dozen) to borrow the charm of antiquity by
imitating the nervous and expressive language of the pre-Elizabethans and
Shakespeareans. Let him compare any single page of Mr. Payne with Messieurs
Torrens and Lane and he will find that the difference saute aux yeux. But a
purist who objects so forcibly to archaism and archaicism should avoid such
terms as "whilom Persian Secretary" (p. 170); as anthophobia, which he is
compelled to explain by "dread of selecting only what is best" (p. 175), as
anthophobist (p. 176); as "fatuous ejaculations" (p. 183), as a "raconteur"
(p. 186), and as "intermedium" (p. 194) terms which are certainly not
understood by the general. And here we have a list of six in thirty-three
pages:--evidently this Reviewer did not expect to be reviewed.

"Here is a specimen of his (Captain Burton's) verse, in which, by the way,
there is seen another example of the careless manner in which the proofs have
been corrected" (p. 181). Generous and just to a work printed from abroad and
when absence prevented the author's revision: false as unfair to boot! And
what does the critic himself but show two several misprints in his 33 pages;
"Mr. Payne, vol. ix. p. 274" (p. 168, for vol. i. 260), and "Jamshah" (p. 172,
for Jánsháh). These faults may not excuse my default: however, I can summon to
my defence the Saturday Review, that past-master in the art and mystery of
carping criticism, which, noticing my first two volumes (Jan. 2, 1886),
declares them "laudably free from misprints."

"Captain Burton's delight in straining the language beyond its capabilities(?)
finds a wide field when he comes to those passages in the original which are
written in rhyming prose" (p. 181). "Captain Burton of course could not
neglect such an opportunity for display of linguistic flexibility on the model
of 'Peter Parley picked a peck of pickled peppers"' (p. 182, where the Saj'a
or prose rhyme is most ignorantly confounded with our peculiarly English
alliteration). But this is wilfully to misstate the matter. Let me repeat my
conviction (Terminal Essay, 144-145) that The Nights, in its present
condition, was intended as a text or handbook for the Ráwí or professional
story-teller, who would declaim the recitative in quasi-conversational tones,
would intone the Saj'a and would chant the metrical portions to the twanging
of the Rabábah or one-stringed viol. The Reviewer declares that the original
has many such passages; but why does he not tell the reader that almost the
whole Koran, and indeed all classical Arab prose, is composed in such
"jingle"? "Doubtfully pleasing in the Arabic," it may "sound the reverse of
melodious in our own tongue" (p. 282); yet no one finds fault with it in the
older English authors (Terminal Essay, p. 220), and all praised the free use
of it in Eastwick's "Gulistán." Torrens, Lane and Payne deliberately rejected
it, each for his own and several reason; Torrens because he never dreamt of
the application, Lane, because his scanty knowledge of English stood in his
way; and Payne because he aimed at a severely classical style, which could
only lose grace, vigour and harmony by such exotic decoration. In these
matters every writer has an undoubted right to carry out his own view,
remembering the while that it is impossible to please all tastes. I imitated
the Saj'a, because I held it to be an essential part of the work and of my
fifty reviewers none save the Edinburgh considered the reproduction of the
original manner aught save a success. I care only to satisfy those whose
judgment is satisfactory: "the abuse and contempt of ignorant writers hurts me
very little," as Darwin says (iii. 88), and we all hold with Don Quixote that,
es mejor ser loado de los pocos sabios, que burlado de los muchos necios.

"This amusement (of reproducing the Saj'a) may be carried to any length
(how?), and we do not see why Captain Burton neglects the metre of the poetry,
or divides his translation into sentences by stops, or permits any break in
the continuity of the narrative, since none such exists in the Arabic" (p.
182). My reply is that I neglect the original metres first and chiefly because
I do not care to "caper in fetters," as said Drummond of Hawthornden; and,
secondly, because many of them are unfamiliar and consequently unpleasant to
English ears. The exceptions are mostly two, the Rajaz (Anapaests and Iambs,
Terminal Essay, x. 253), and the Tawíl or long measure (ibid. pp. 242, 255),
which Mr. Lyall (Translations of Ancient Arab. Poetry, p. xix.) compares with
"Abt Vogler,"

And there! ye have heard and seen: consider and bow the head.

This metre greatly outnumbers all others in The Nights; but its lilting
measure by no means suits every theme, and in English it is apt to wax

"The following example of a literal rendering which Mr. Payne adduces (vol.
ix. 381: camp. my vol. v. 66) in order to show the difficulty of turning the
phraseology of the original into good English, should have served Captain
Burton as a model, and we are surprised he has not adopted so charmingly
cumbrous a style" (p. 102). I shall quote the whole passage in question and
shall show that by the most unimportant changes, omissions and transpositions,
without losing a word, the whole becomes excellent English, and falls far
behind the Reviewer's style in the contention for "cumbrousness":--

"When morrowed the morning he bedabbled his feet with the water they twain had
expressed from the herb and, going-down to the sea, went thereupon, walking
days and nights, he wondering the while at the horrors of the ocean and the
marvels and rarities thereof. And he ceased not faring over the face of the
waters till he arrived at an island as indeed it were Paradise. So Bulukiya
went up thereto and fell to wondering thereanent and at the beauties thereof;
and he found it a great island whose dust was saffron and its gravel were
carnelian and precious stones: its edges were gelsomine and the growth was the
goodliest of the trees and the brightest of the scented herbs and the sweetest
of them. Its rivulets were a-flowing; its brushwood was of the Comorin aloe
and the Sumatran lign- aloes; its reeds were sugar-canes and round about it
bloomed rose and narcissus and amaranth and gilliflower and chamomile and lily
and violet, all therein being of several kinds and different tints. The birds
warbled upon those trees and the whole island was fair of attributes and
spacious of sides and abundant of good things, comprising in fine all of
beauty and loveliness," etc. (Payne, vol. ix. p. 381).

The Reviewer cites in his list, but evidently has not read, the "Tales from
the Arabic," etc., printed as a sequel to The Nights, or he would have known
that Mr. Payne, for the second part of his work, deliberately adopted a style
literal as that above-quoted because it was the liveliest copy of the

We now come to the crucial matter of my version, the annotative concerning
which this "decent gentleman," as we suppose this critic would entitle himself
(p. 185), finds a fair channel of discharge for vituperative rhetoric. But
before entering upon this subject I must be allowed to repeat a twice-told
tale and once more to give the raison d'être of my long labour. When a friend
asked me point-blank why I was bringing out my translation so soon after
another and a most scholarly version, my reply was as follows:--"Sundry
students of Orientalism assure me that they are anxious to have the work in
its crudest and most realistic form. I have received letters saying, Let us
know (you who can) what the Arab of The Nights was: if good and high-minded
let us see him: if witty and humorous let us hear him: if coarse and
uncultivated, rude, childish and indecent, still let us have him to the very
letter. We want for once the genuine man. We would have a mediæval Arab
telling the tales and traditions with the lays and legends of his own land in
his own way, and showing the world what he has remained and how he has
survived to this day, while we Westerns have progressed in culture and
refinement. Above all things give us the naive and plain-spoken language of
the original--such a contrast with the English of our times--and show us, by
the side of these enfantillages, the accumulated wit and wisdom,
life-knowledge and experience of an old-world race. We want also the technique
of the Recueil, its division into nights, its monorhyme, in fact everything
that gives it cachet and character." Now I could satisfy the longing, which is
legitimate enough, only by annotation, by a running commentary, as it were,
enabling the student to read between the lines and to understand hints and
innuendoes that would otherwise have passed by wholly unheeded. I determined
that subscribers should find in my book what does not occur in any other,
making it a repertory of Eastern knowledge in its esoteric phase, by no means
intended for the many-headed but solely for the few who are not too wise to
learn or so ignorant as to ignore their own ignorance. I regretted to display
the gross and bestial vices of the original, in the rare places where
obscenity becomes rampant, but not the less I held it my duty to translate the
text word for word, instead of garbling it and mangling it by perversion and
castration. My rendering (I promised) would be something novel, wholly
different from all other versions, and it would leave very little for any
future interpreter.[FN#453]

And I resolved that, in case of the spiteful philanthropy and the rabid
pornophobic suggestion of certain ornaments of the Home-Press being acted
upon, to appear in Court with my version of The Nights in one hand and bearing
in the other the Bible (especially the Old Testament, a free translation from
an ancient Oriental work) and Shakespeare, with Petronius Arbiter and Rabelais
by way of support and reserve. The two former are printed by millions; they
find their way into the hands of children, and they are the twin columns which
support the scanty edifice of our universal home-reading. The Arbiter is
sotadical as Abú Nowás and the Curé of Meudon is surpassing in what appears
uncleanness to the eye of outsight not of insight. Yet both have been
translated textually and literally by eminent Englishmen and gentlemen, and
have been printed and published as an "extra series" by Mr. Bohn's most
respectable firm and solo by Messieurs Bell and Daldy. And if The Nights are
to be bowdlerised for students, why not, I again ask, mutilate Plato and
Juvenal, the Romances of the Middle Ages, Boccaccio and Petrarch and the
Elizabethan dramatists one and all? What hypocrisy to blaterate about The
Nights in presence of such triumphs of the Natural! How absurd to swallow such
camels and to strain at my midge!

But I had another object while making the notes a Repertory of Eastern
knowledge in its esoteric form (Foreword, p. xvii.). Having failed to free the
Anthropological Society from the fetters of mauvaise honte and the
mock-modesty which compels travellers and ethnological students to keep
silence concerning one side of human nature (and that side the most
interesting to mankind), I proposed to supply the want in these pages. The
England of our day would fain bring up both sexes and keep all ages in
profound ignorance of sexual and intersexual relations; and the consequences
of that imbecility are peculiarly cruel and afflicting. How often do we hear
women in Society lamenting that they have absolutely no knowledge of their own
physiology; and at what heavy price must this fruit of the knowledge-tree be
bought by the young first entering life. Shall we ever understand that
ignorance is not innocence? What an absurdum is a veteran officer who has
spent a quarter-century in the East without learning that all Moslem women are
circumcised, and without a notion of how female circumcision is effected;
without an idea of the difference between the Jewish and the Moslem rite as
regards males; without an inkling of the Armenian process whereby the cutting
is concealed, and without the slightest theoretical knowledge concerning the
mental and spiritual effect of the operation. Where then is the shame of
teaching what it is shameful not to have learnt? But the ultra-delicacy, the
squeamishness of an age which is by no means purer or more virtuous than its
ruder predecessors, has ended in trenching upon the ridiculous. Let us see
what the modern English woman and her Anglo-American sister have become under
the working of a mock-modesty which too often acts cloak to real dévergondage;
and how Respectability unmakes what Nature made. She has feet but no "toes";
ankles but no "calves"; knees but no "thighs"; a stomach but no "belly" nor
"bowels"; a heart but no "bladder" nor "groin"; a liver end no "kidneys"; hips
and no "haunches"; a bust and no "backside" nor "buttocks": in fact, she is a
monstrum, a figure fit only to frighten the crows.

But the Edinburgh knows nothing of these things, and the "decent gentleman,"
like the lady who doth protest overmuch, persistently fixes his eye upon a
single side of the shield." Probably no European has ever gathered such an
appalling collection of degrading customs and statistics of vice as is
contained in Captain Burton's translation of the 'Arabian Nights' (p. 185). He
finds in the case of Mr. Payne, like myself, "no adequate justification for
flooding the world (!) with an ocean of filth" (ibid.) showing that he also
can be (as said the past-master of catch-words, the primus verborum artifex)
"an interested rhetorician inebriated with the exuberance of his own
verbosity." But audi alteram partem--my view of the question. I have no
apology to make for the details offered to the students of Moslem usages and
customs, who will find in them much to learn and more to suggest the necessity
of learning. On no wise ashamed am I of lecturing upon these esoteric matters,
the most important to humanity, at a time when their absence from the novel of
modern society veils with a double gloom the night-side of human nature. Nay,
I take pride to myself for so doing in the face of silly prejudice and
miserable hypocrisy, and I venture to hold myself in the light of a public
benefactor. In fact, I consider my labours as a legacy bequeathed to my
countrymen at a most critical time when England the puissantest of Moslem
powers is called upon, without adequate knowledge of the Moslem's inner life,
to administer Egypt as well as to rule India. And while Pharisee and Philister
may be or may pretend to be "shocked" and "horrified" by my pages, the sound
common sense of a public, which is slowly but surely emancipating itself from
the prudish and prurient reticences and the immodest and immoral modesties of
the early xixth century, will in good time do me, I am convinced, full and
ample justice.

In p. 184 the Reviewer sneers at me for writing "Roum" in lieu of Rum or Rúm;
but what would the latter have suggested to the home-reader save a reference
to the Jamaican drink? He also corrects me (vol. v. 248) in the matter of the
late Mr. Emanuel Deutsch (p. 184), who excised "our Saviour" from the article
on the Talmud reprinted amongst his literary remains. The Reviewer, or
inspirer of the Review, let me own, knew more of Mr. Deutsch than I, a simple
acquaintance, could know; but perhaps he does not know all, and if he did he
probably would not publish his knowledge. The truth is that Mr. Deutsch was,
during his younger years, a liberal, nay, a latitudinarian in religion,
differing little from the so-styled "Christian Unitarian." But when failing
health drove him to Egypt and his hour drew nigh he became (and all honour to
him!) the scrupulous and even fanatical Hebrew of the Hebrews; he consorted
mainly with the followers and divines of his own faith, and it is said that he
ordered himself when dying to be taken out of bed and placed upon the bare
floor. The "Saviour" of the article was perhaps written in his earlier phase
of religious thought, and it was excised as the end drew in sight.

"Captain Burton's experience in the East seems to have obliterated any (all?)
sentiments of chivalry, for he is never weary of recording disparaging
estimates of women, and apparently delights in discovering evidence of
'feminine devilry"' (p. 184). This argumentum ad feminam is sharpish practice,
much after the manner of the Christian "Fathers of the Church" who, themselves
vehemently doubting the existence of souls non- masculine, falsely and
foolishly ascribed the theory and its consequences to Mohammed and the
Moslems. And here the Persian proverb holds good "Harf-i-kufr kufr níst"--to
speak of blasphemy is not blasphemous. Curious readers will consult the
article "Woman" in my Terminal Essay (x. 167), which alone refutes this silly
scandal. I never pretended to understand woman, and, as Balzac says, no wonder
man fails when He who created her was by no means successful. But in The
Nights we meet principally Egyptian maids, matrons and widows, of whose
"devilry" I cannot speak too highly, and in this matter even the pudibund Lane
is as free-spoken as myself. Like the natives of warm, damp and malarious
lowlands and river-valleys adjacent to rugged and healthy uplands, such as
Mazanderán, Sind, Malabar and California, the passions and the sexual powers
of the females greatly exceed those of their males, and hence a notable
development of the crude form of polyandry popularly termed whoredom. Nor have
the women of the Nile valley improved under our rule. The last time I visited
Cairo a Fellah wench, big, burly and boisterous, threatened one morning, in a
fine new French avenue off the Ezbekiyah Gardens, to expose her person unless
bought off with a piastre. And generally the condition of womenkind throughout
the Nile-valley reminded me of that frantic outbreak of debauchery which
characterised Afghanistán during its ill-judged occupation by Lord Auckland,
and Sind after the conquest by Sir Charles Napier.

"Captain Burton actually depends upon the respectable and antiquated
D'Herbelot for his information" (p. 184). This silly skit at the two great
French Orientalists, D'Herbelot and Galland, is indeed worthy of a clique
which, puff and struggle however much it will, can never do a tithe of the
good work found in the Bibliothéque Orientale. The book was issued in an
unfinished state; in many points it has been superseded, during its life of a
century and a half, by modern studies, but it is still a mine of facts, and a
revised edition would be a boon to students. Again, I have consulted Prof.
Palmer's work, and the publications of the Palæographical Society (p. 184);
but I nowhere find the proofs that the Naskhi character (vol. i. 128) so long
preceded the Cufic which, amongst vulgar Moslems, is looked upon like black
letter in Europe. But Semitic epigraphy is only now entering upon its second
stage of study, the first being mere tentative ignorance: about 80 years ago
the illustrious De Sacy proved, in a learned memoir, the non-existence of
letters in Arabia before the days of Mohammed. But Palmer[FN#454], Halevy,
Robertson Smith, Doughty and Euting have changed all that, and Herr Eduard
Glaser of Prague is now bringing back from Sana'á some 390 Sabaean
epigraphs--a mass of new-old literature.

And now, having passed in review, and having been much scandalised by the
"extravagant claims of the complete translations over the Standard Version"--a
term which properly applies only to the Editio princeps, 3 vols. 8vo--the
Edinburgh delivers a parting and insolent sting. "The different versions,
however, have each its proper destination--Galland for the nursery, Lane for
the library, Payne for the study, and Burton for the sewers" (p. 184). I need
hardly attempt to precise the ultimate and well merited office of his article:
the gall in that ink may enable it hygienically to excel for certain purposes
the best of "curl-papers." Then our critic passes to the history of the work
concerning which nothing need be said: it is bodily borrowed from Lane's
Preface (pp. ix. xv.), and his Terminal Review (iii. 735-47) with a few
unimportant and uninteresting details taken from Al-Makrízí, and probably from
the studies of the late Rogers Bey (pp. 191-92). Here the cult of the Uncle
and Master emerges most extravagantly. "It was Lane who first brought out the
importance of the 'Arabian Nights' as constituting a picture of Moslem life
and manners" (p. 192); thus wholly ignoring the claims of Galland, to whom and
whom alone the honour is due. But almost every statement concerning the French
Professor involves more or less of lapse. "It was in 1704 that Antoine
Galland, sometime of the French embassy at Constantinople, but then professor
at the Collége de France, presented the world with the contents of an Arab
Manuscript which he had brought from Syria and which bore the title of 'The
Thousand Nights and One Night'" (p. 167), thus ignoring the famous Il a fallu
le faire venir de Syrie. At that time (1704) Galland was still at Caen in the
employ of "L'intendant Fouquet"; and he brought with him no MS., as he himself
expressly assures us in Preface to his first volume. Here are two telling
mistakes in one page, and in the next (p. 168) we find "As a professed
translation Galland's 'Mille et une Nuits' (N.B. the Frenchman always wrote
Mille et une Nuit)[FN#455] is an audacious fraud. "It requires something more
than" audacity "to offer such misstatement even in the pages of the Edinburgh,
and can anything be falser than to declare "the whole of the last fourteen
tales have nothing whatever to do with the 'Nights'"?

These bévues, which give us the fairest measure for the Reviewer's competence
to review, are followed (p. 189) by a series of obsolete assertions. "The
highest authority on this point (the date) is the late Mr. Lane, who states
his unqualified conviction that the tales represent the social life of
mediaerval Egypt, and he selects a period approaching the close of the
fifteenth century as the probable date of collection, though some of the tales
are, he believes, rather later" (p. 189). Mr. Lane's studies upon the subject
were painfully perfunctory. He distinctly states (Preface, p. xii.) that "the
work was commenced and completed by one man," or at least that "one man
completed what another commenced." With a marvellous want of critical acumen
he could not distinguish the vast difference of style and diction, treatment
and sentiments, which at once strikes every intelligent reader, and which
proves incontestably that many hands took part in the Great Saga-book. He
speaks of "Galland's very imperfect MS.," but he never took the trouble to
inspect the three volumes in question which are still in the Bibliothèque
Nationale. And when he opines that "it (the work) was most probably not
commenced earlier than the fifteenth century of our era" (Pref. p. xiii.) M.
Hermann Zotenberg, judging from the style of writing, would attribute the MS.
to the beginning[FN#456] of the xivth century. The French Savant has printed a
specimen page in his Histoire d'Alâ al-Dîn (p. 6; see my Suppl. vol. iii.,
Foreword p. ix.); and now, at the request of sundry experts, he is preparing
for publication other proofs which confirm his opinion. We must correct Lane's
fifteenth century to thirteenth century --a difference of only 200

After this unhappy excursus the Reviewer proceeds to offer a most
unintelligent estimate of the Great Recueil. "Enchantment" may be "a constant
motive," but it is wholly secondary and subservient: "the true and universal
theme is love;" "'all are but the ministers of love' absolutely subordinate to
the great theme" (p. 193). This is the usual half-truth and whole unfact. Love
and war, or rather war and love, form the bases of all romantic fiction even
as they are the motor power of the myriad forms and fashions of dancing. This
may not appear from Lane's mangled and mutilated version which carefully omits
all the tales of chivalry and conquest as the History of Gharíb and his
brother 'Ajíb (vol. vi. 257) and that of Omar ibn Al-Nu'umán, "which is, as a
whole so very unreadable" (p. 172) though by no means more so than our
European romances. But the reverse is the case with the original composition.
Again, "These romantic lovers who will go through fire to meet each other, are
not in themselves interesting characters: it may be questioned whether they
have any character at all" (p. 195). "The story and not the delineation of
character is the essence of the 'Arabian Nights'" (p. 196). I can only marvel
at the utter want of comprehension and appreciation with which this critic
read what he wrote about: one hemisphere of his brain must have been otherwise
occupied and his mental cecity makes him a phenomenon even amongst reviewers.
He thus ignores all the lofty morale of the work, its marvellous pathos and
humour, its tender sentiment and fine touches of portraiture, the personal
individuality and the nice discrimination between the manifold heroes and
heroines which combine to make it a book for all time.

The critic ends his article with doing what critics should carefully avoid to
do. After shrewdly displaying his powers of invective and depreciation he has
submitted to his readers a sample of his own workmanship. He persists in
writing "Zobeyda," "Khalifa," "Aziza" (p. 194) and "Kahramana" (p. 199)
without the terminal aspirate which, in Arabic if not in Turkish, is a sine
quâ non (see my Suppl. vol. v. 302). He preserves the pretentious blunder "The
Khalif" (p. 193), a word which does not exist in Arabic. He translates (p.
181), although I have taught him to do better, "Hádimu 'I-Lizzáti wa Mufarriku
'l-Jama'át," by "Terminator of Delights and Separator of Companies" instead of
Destroyer of delights and Severer of societies. And lastly he pads the end of
his article (pp. 196-199) with five dreary extracts from Lane (i. 372-73) who
can be dull even when translating the Immortal Barber.

The first quotation is so far changed that the peppering of commas (three to
the initial line of the original) disappears to the reader's gain, Lane's
textual date (App. 263) is also exchanged for that of the notes (A.H. 653);
and the "æra of Alexander," A.M. 7320, an absurdity which has its value in
proving the worthlessness of such chronology, is clean omitted, because Lane
used the worthless Bull Edit. The latinisms due to Lane show here in
force--"Looked for a considerable time" (Maliyyan = for a long while); "there
is an announcement that presenteth itself to me" (a matter which hath come to
my knowledge) and "thou hast dissipated[FN#458] my mind" (Azhakta rúhí = thou
scatterest my wits, in the Calc. Edit. Saghgharta rúhí = thou belittles" my
mind). But even Lane never wrote "I only required thee to shave my head"--the
adverb thus qualifying, as the ignoramus loves to do, the wrong verb--for "I
required thee only to shave my head." In the second échantillon we have "a
piece of gold" as equivalent of a quarter-diner and "for God's sake" which
certainly does not preserve local colour. In No. 3 we find "'May God,' said
I," etc.; "There is no deity but God! Mohammed is God's apostle!" Here Allah
ought invariably to be used, e.g. "Mohammed is the Apostle of Allah," unless
the English name of the Deity be absolutely required as in "There is no god
but the God." The Moslem's "Wa'lláhi" must not be rendered "By God," a verbal
translation and an absolute nonequivalent; the terms Jehovah, Allah and God
and the use of them involving manifold fine distinctions. If it be true that
God made man, man in his turn made and mismade God who thus becomes a Son of
Man and a mere racial type. I need not trouble my reader with further notices
of these extracts whose sole use is to show the phenomenal dullness of Lane's
latinised style: I prefer even Torrens (p. 273).

"We have spoken severely with regard to the last" (my version), says the
Reviewer (p.185), and verily I thank him therefor. Laudari ab illaudato has
never been my ambition. A writer so learned and so disinterested could hurt my
feelings and mortify my pride only by approving me and praising me. Nor have I
any desire to be exalted in the pages of the Edinburgh, so famous for its
incartades of old. As Dryden says, "He has done me all the honour that any man
can receive from him, which is to be railed at by him." I am content to share
the vituperation of this veteran--incapable in company with the poetaster
George Gordon who suffered for "this Lord's station;" with that "burnish fly
in the pride of May," Macaulay, and with the great trio, Darwin, Huxley and
Hooker, who also have been the butts of his bitter and malignant abuse (April
'63 and April '73). And lastly I have no stomach for sweet words from the
present Editor of the Edinburgh Mr. Henry Reeve, a cross and cross-grained old
man whose surly temper is equalled only by his ignoble jealousy of another's
success. Let them bedevil the thin-skinned with their godless ribaldry; for
myself peu m'importe--my shoulders are broad enough to bear all their envy,
hatred and malice.

During the three years which have elapsed since I first began printing my book
I have not had often to complain of mere gratuitous impertinence, and a single
exception deserves some notice. The following lines which I addressed to The
Academy (August 11, '88) will suffice to lay my case before my readers:--

The Bestial Element in Man.

"One hesitates to dissent from so great an authority as Sir Richard Burton on
all that relates to the bestial element in man." So writes (p. xii.,
Introduction to the Fables of Pilpay), with uncalled-for impertinence, Mr.
Joseph Jacobs, who goes out of his way to be offensive, and who confesses to
having derived all his knowledge of my views not from "the notorious Terminal
Essay of the Nights," but from the excellent article by Mr. Thomas Davidson on
"Beast-fables," in Chambers's Cyclopædia, Edinburgh, 1888. This lofty
standpoint of morality was probably occupied for a reason by a writer who
dedicates "To my dear wife" a volume rich in anecdotes grivoises, and not poor
in language the contrary of conventional. However, I suffer from this Maccabee
in good society together with Prof. Max Müller (pp. xxvi. and xxxiii.), Mr.
Clouston (pp. xxxiii. and xxxv.), Byron (p. xlvi.), Theodor Benfey (p.
xlvii.), Mr. W. G. Rutherford (p. xlviii.), and Bishop Lightfoot (p. xlix.).
All this eminent half-dozen is glanced at, with distinct and several sneers,
in a little volume which, rendered useless by lack of notes and index, must
advertise itself by the réclame of abuse.

As regards the reminiscence of Homo Darwinienesis by Homo Sapiens, doubtless
it would ex hypothesi be common to mankind. Yet to me Africa is the old home
of the Beast-fable, because Egypt was the inventor of the alphabet, the cradle
of letters, the preacher of animism and metempsychosis, and, generally, the
source of all human civilisation.

Richard F. Burton

And now I must proceed a trifle further a-field and meet

The Critic in Anglo-America.

The Boston Daily Advertiser (Jan. 26,'86) contains the following choice
morceau which went the round of the Transatlantic Press:--

G. W. S. writes from London to the New York Tribune in regard to Captain
Burton's notorious translation of the "Arabian Nights." Of Captain Burton's
translation of "The Arabian Nights," two volumes have now appeared. Before
anything had been seen of them, I gave some account of this scheme, and of the
material on which he had worked, with a statement of the reasons which made
all existing versions unsatisfactory to the student, and incomplete. Captain
Burton saw fit to reprint these desultory paragraphs as a kind of circular or
advertisement on his forthcoming book. He did not think it necessary to ask
leave to do this, nor did I know to what use my letter had been put till it
was too late to object. In any ordinary case it would have been of no
consequence, but Captain Burton's version is of such a character that I wish
to state the facts, and to say that when I wrote my letter I had never seen a
line of his translation, and had no idea that what I said of his plans would
be used for the purpose it has been, or for any purpose except to be printed
in your columns. As it is, I am made to seem to give some sort of approval to
a book which I think offensive, and not only offensive, but grossly and
needlessly offensive. If anybody has been induced to subscribe for it by what
I wrote I regret it, and both to him and to myself I think this explanation

Mr. Smalley is the London correspondent of the New York Tribune, which
represents Jupiter Tonans in the Western World. He may be unable to write with
independent tone--few Anglo-Americans can afford to confront the crass and
compound ignorance of a "free and independent majority"--but even he is not
called upon solemnly to state an untruth. Before using Mr. Smalley's article
as a circular, my representative made a point of applying to him for
permission, as he indeed was bound to do by the simplest rules of courtesy.
Mr. Smalley replied at once, willingly granting the favour, as I can prove by
the note still in my possession; and presently, frightened by the puny yelping
of a few critical curs at home, he has the effrontery to deny the fact.

In my last volumes I have been materially aided by two Anglo-American friends,
MM Thayer and Cotheal, and I have often had cause to thank the Tribune and the
Herald of New York for generously appreciating my labours. But no gratitude
from me is due to the small fry of the Transatlantic Press which has welcomed
me with spiteful little pars mostly borrowed from unfriends in England and
mainly touching upon style and dollars. In the Mail Express of New York
(September 7, '85) I read, "Captain Richard Burton, traveller and translator,
intends to make all the money that there may be in his translation of the
'Arabian Nights.' * * * If he only fills his list, and collects his money, he
will be in easy circumstances for the remainder of his days." In a subsequent
issue (October 24) readers are told that I have been requested not to publish
the rest of the series under pain of legal prosecution. In the same paper
(October 31, '85; see also November 7, '85) I find:--

The authorities have discovered where Capt. Burton's "Thousand and One Nights"
is being printed, despite the author's efforts to keep the place a secret, but
are undecided whether to suppress it or to permit the publication of the
coming volumes. Burton's own footnotes are so voluminous that they exceed the
letterpress of the text proper, and make up the bulk of the work.[FN#459] The
foulness of the second volume of his translation places it at a much higher
premium in the market than the first.

The Tribune of Chicago (October 26,'85) honours me by declaring "It has been
resolved to request Captain Burton not to publish the rest of his translation
of the 'Thousand and One Nights,' which is really foul and slipshod as to
style." The New York Times (October 17 and November 9, '85) merely echoes the
spite of its English confrere:--

Capt. Burton's translation of the "Arabian Nights" bears the imprint
"Benares." Of course the work never saw Benares. America, France, Belgium and
Germany have all been suggested as the place of printing, and now the Pall
Mall Gazette affirms that the work was done "north of the Tweed." There is,
without doubt, on British soil, it says, "a press which year after year
produces scores of obscene publications."

And the same is the case with the St. Louis Post Dispatch (November 11, '85)
the Mail Express of New York (November 23,'85); the Weekly Post of Boston
(November 27 '85), which again revives a false report, and with the Boston
Herald (December 16,'85). The Chicago Daily News (January 30, '86) contains a
malicious sneer at the Kamashastra Society. The American Register (Paris, July
25, '86) informs its clientèle, "If, as is generally supposed, Captain
Burton's book is printed abroad, the probability is that every copy will on
arrival be confiscated as 'indecent' by the Custom-house." And to curtail a
long list of similar fadaises I will quote the Bookmart (of Pittsburg, Pa.,
U.S.A., October, '86): "Sir Richard Burton's 'Nights' are terribly in want of
the fig-leaf, if anything less than a cabbage leaf will do, before they can be
fit (fitted?) for family reading. It is not possible (Is it not possible?)
that by the time a household selection has been sifted out of the great work,
everything which makes the originality and the value--such as it is--of
Richard's series of volumes will have disappeared, and nothing will remain but
his diverting lunacies of style." The Bookmart, I am informed, is edited by
one Halkett Lord, an unnaturalised Englishman who finds it pays best to abuse
everything and everyone English. And lastly, the Springfield Republican (April
5, '88) assures me that I have published "fully as much as the (his?) world
wants of the 'Nights'."

In the case of "The Nights," I am exposed to that peculiar Protestant form of
hypocrisy, so different from the Tartuffean original of Catholicism, and still
as mighty a motor force, throughout the length and breadth of the
North-American continent, as within the narrow limits of England. There also
as here it goes hand-in-hand with "Respectability" to blind judgment and good

A great surgeon of our day said (or is said to have said) in addressing his
students:-- "Never forget, gentlemen, that you have to deal with an ignorant
public." The dictum may fairly be extended from medical knowledge to general
information amongst the many headed of England; and the Publisher, when
rejecting a too recondite book, will repeat parrot-fashion, The English public
is not a learned body. Equally valid is the statement in the case of the
Anglo-American community which is still half-educated and very far from being
erudite. The vast country has produced a few men of great and original genius,
such as Emerson and Theodore Parker, Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman; but the
sum total is as yet too small to leaven the mighty mass which learns its
rudiments at school and college and which finishes its education with the
newspaper and the lecture. When Emerson died it was said that the intellectual
glory of a continent had departed; but Edgar A. Poe, the peculiar poetic glory
of the States, the first Transatlantic who dared be himself and who disdained
to borrow from Schiller and Byron, the outlander poet who, as Edgar Allan Poe,
is now the prime favourite in France, appears to be still under ban because he
separated like Byron from his spouse, and he led a manner of so-called
"Bohemian" life. Indeed the wide diffusion of letters in the States, that
favourite theme for boasting and bragging over the unenlightened and
analphabetic Old World, has tended only to exaggerate the defective and
disagreeable side of a national character lacking geniality and bristling with
prickly individuality. This disposition of mind, whose favourable and laudable
presentations are love of liberty and self-reliance, began with the beginnings
of American history. The "Fathers," Pilgrim and Puritan, who left their
country for their country's good and their own, fled from lay tyranny and
clerkly oppression only to oppress and tyrannise over others in new and
distant homes. Hardly had a century and a half elapsed before the sturdy
colonists, who did not claim freedom but determined to keep it, formally
revolted and fought their way to absolute independence--not, by the by, a feat
whereof to be overproud when a whole country rose unanimously against a
handful of troops. The movement, however, reacted powerfully upon the politics
of Europe, which stood agape for change, and undoubtedly precipitated the
great French Revolution. As soon as the States became an empire, their
democratic and republican institutions at once attracted hosts of emigrants
from the Old World, thus peopling the land with a selection of species: the
active and the adventurous, the malcontent and the malefactor, readily
expatriate themselves, while the pauvre diable remains at home. The
potato-famine in Ireland (1848) gave an overwhelming impetus to the exode of a
race which had never known a racial baptism; and, lastly, the Germans flying
from the conscription, the blood tax of the Fatherland, carried with them over
the ocean a transcendentalism which has engendered the wildest theories of
socialism and communism. And the emigration process still continues. Whole
regions, like the rugged Bocche di Cattaro in Dalmatia and pauper Iceland, are
becoming depopulated to me the wonder is that a poor man ever consents to live
out of America or a rich man to live.

The result of such selection has been two-fold. The first appears in a
splendid self- esteem, a complacency, a confidence which passes all bounds of
the golden mean. "I am engrossed in calmly contemplating the grandeur of my
native country and her miraculous growth," writes to me an old literary
friend. The feeling normally breaks out in the grossest laudation of
everything American. The ultra-provincial twang which we still hear amongst
the servant-classes of Lancashire and Yorkshire, and which is so notable in
the nouveau riche, modified by traditional nasalisation and, as in Australia,
by climatic influences, is American and, therefore, the purest of English
utterances. The obsolete vocabulary often obsolete in England without just
reason--contrasting with a modern disfigured etymology which strips vocables
of their genealogy and history, is American and ergo admirably progressive.
The spurious facetiousness which deals mainly in mere jargon words ill-spelt
and worse pronounced; in bizarre contrast of ideas, and in ultra-Rabelaisian
exaggeration, is American wit and humour--therefore unsurpassable. The
Newspaper Press, that great reflector of nationalities, that prime expression
of popular taste, too often of an écœurant vulgarity, personal beyond all
bounds of common decency, sensational as a transpontine drama, is American;
America is the greatest nation upon earth's face, ergo the daily sheet is
setting-up the standard of English speech and forming the language of the
Future, good and too good for all the world. This low standard of the Press is
the more regretable as its exalted duty is at present to solve the highest
problems social and industrial, such as co-operation in labour, the
development of fisheries, direct taxation versus indirect and a host of
enigmas which the young world, uncumbered by the burdens of the Old World,
alone shall unravel.

The second result is still more prejudicial and perilous. This is the
glorification of mediocrity, of the average man and woman whose low standard
must be a norm to statesman and publicist. Such cult of the common and the
ignoble is the more prejudicial because it "wars against all distinction and
against the sense of elevation to be gained by respecting and admiring
superiority." Its characteristic predominance in a race which, true to its
Anglo-Saxon origin, bases and builds the strongest opinions upon the weakest
foundations, hinders the higher Avatars of genius and interferes with the
"chief duty of a nation which is to produce great men." It accounts for the
ever-incroaching reign of women in literature--meaning as a rule cheap work
and second-rate. And the main lack is not so much the "thrill of awe," which
Göethe pronounces to be the best thing humanity possesses, but that discipline
of respect, that sense of loyalty, not in its confined meaning of attachment
to royalty, but in a far higher and nobler signification, the recognising and
welcoming elevation and distinction whatever be the guise they may assume.
"The soul lives by admiration and hope and love."

And here we see the shady side of the educational process, the diffusion of
elementary and superficial knowledge, of the veneer and polish which mask,
until chipped-off, the raw and unpolished material lying hidden beneath them.
A little learning is a dangerous thing because it knows all and consequently
it stands in the way of learning more or much. Hence, it is sorely impatient
of novelty, of improvement, of originality. It is intolerant of contradiction,
irritable, thin-skinned, and impatient of criticism, of a word spoken against
it. It is chargeable with the Law of Copyright, which is not only legalised
plunder of the foreigner, but is unfair, unjust and ungenerous to native
talent for the exclusive benefit of the short-sighted many-headed. I am far
from charging the United States with the abomination called "International
Copyright;" the English publisher is as sturdy an enemy to "protection" as the
Transatlantic statesman; but we expect better things from a new people which
enjoys the heritage of European civilisation without the sufferings
accompanying the winning of it. This mediocrity has the furious, unpardoning
hatred of l'amour propre offensé. Even a word in favour of my old friends the
Mormons is an unpardonable offence: the dwarfish and dwarfing demon
"Respectability" has made their barbarous treatment a burning shame to a
so-called "free" country: they are subjected to slights and wrongs only for
practicing polygamy, an institution never condemned by Christ or the early
Christians. The calm and dispassionate judgments of Sir Lepel Griffith and the
late Matthew Arnold, who ventured to state, in guarded language, that the
boasted civilisation of the United States was not quite perfect, resulted in
the former being called a snob and the latter a liar. English stolidity would
only have smiled at the criticism even had it been couched in the language of
persiflage. And when M. Max O'Rell traverses the statements of the two
Englishmen and exaggerates American civilisation, we must bear in mind first
that la vulgarité ne se traduit pas, and secondly, that the foes of our foemen
are our friends. Woe be to the man who refuses to fall down and do worship
before that brazen-faced idol (Eidolon Novi Mundi), Public Opinion in the
States; unless, indeed, his name be Brown and he hail from Briggsville.

Some years ago I proposed to write a paper upon the reflex action of
Anglo-America upon England using as a base the last edition of Mrs. Trollope,
who was compelled to confess that almost every pecularity which she had abused
in her first issue had become naturalised at home. Yankee cuteness has already
displaced in a marvellous way old English rectitude and plain-dealing;
gambling on the Stock Exchange, cornering, booms and trusts have invaded the
trading-classes from merchant-princes to shopkeepers, and threaten, at their
actual rate of progress, not to leave us an honest man. But now the student's
attention will be called to the great and ever-growing influence of the New
World upon the Old, and notably upon Europe. Some 50,000 Americans annually
visit the continent, they are rapidly becoming the most important item of the
floating population, and in a few years they will number 500,000. Meanwhile
they are revolutionising all the old institutions; they are abolishing the
classical cicerone whose occupation is gone amongst a herd which wants only to
see streets and people: they greatly increase the cost of traveling; they pay
dollars in lieu of francs, and they are satisfied with inferior treatment at
superior prices:--hence the American hotel abroad is carefully shunned by
Englishmen and natives. At home the "well-to-do class" began by regarding
their kinsmen d'outre mer with contemptuous dislike; then they looked upon
them as a country squire would regard a junior branch which has emigrated and
has thriven by emigration; and now they are welcomed in Society because they
amuse and startle and stir up the duller depths. But however warm may be
private friendship between Englishmen and Anglo-Americans there is no public
sympathy nor is any to be expected from the present generation. "New England
does not understand Old England and never will," the reverse being equally the
fact. "The Millennium must come," says Darwin (ii. 387), "before nations love
each other:" I add that first Homo alalus seu Pithecanthropus must become Homo
Sapiens and cast off his moral slough--egoism and ignorance. Mr. Cleveland, in
order to efface the foul stigma of being the "English President," found it
necessary to adopt the strongest measures in the matter of "Fisheries;" and
the "Irish vote" must quadrennially be bought at the grave risk of national
complications. Despite the much-bewritten "brotherhood of the two great
English-speaking races of the world," the old leaven of cousinly ill-feeling,
the jealousy which embitters the Pole against his Russian congener, is still
rampant. Uncle Sam actively dislikes John Bull and dispraises England. An
Anglo-American who has lived years amongst us and in private intimacy must,
when he returns home, speak disparagingly of the old country unless he can
afford the expensive luxury of telling unpopular truths and of affronting
Demos, the hydra-headed.

But there are even now signs of better things in the Great Republic. Mr. James
R. Lowell, an authority (if there be any) upon the subject of Democracy, after
displaying its fine points and favourable aspects in his addresses to English
audiences, has at length had the uncommon courage to discuss family affairs,
and to teach Boston and New York what "weaknesses and perils there may be in
the practical working of a system never before set in motion under such
favourable circumstances, nor on so grand a scale." He is emboldened to say
firmly and aloud, despite the storming of false and hollow self-praise, that
American civilisation, so strong on the material side, is sadly wanting on the
other, and still lacks much to make it morally acceptable or satisfactory. And
we have some truths concerning that Fool's Paradise, the glorification of the
"average man." Every citizen of the world must wish full success to the
"Independents" (in politics) who sit at the feet of so wise and patriotic a

And here I feel myself bound to offer some explanation concerning

The Household Edition of the Arabian Nights.

lest any subscriber charge me, after contracting not to issue or to allow the
issue of a cheaper form, with the sharp practice which may be styled

To keep the word of promise to our ear
And break it to our hope.

Hardly had my third volume of "The Nights" (proper) been issued to my patrons
when a benevolent subscriber, whose name I am bound to conceal, apprised me
that he had personal and precise information concerning a project to pirate
the production. England and Anglo-America, be it observed, are the only
self-styled civilised countries in the world where an author's brain-work is
not held to be his private property: his book is simply no book unless
published and entered, after a cost of seven presentation copies, at
"Stationers' Hall"--its only ægis. France, Italy and Austria treat such
volumes as private MSS.: here any dishonest house may reproduce them in
replica without the slightest regard to the writer's rightful rights. In my
case this act of robbery was proposed by a German publisher domiciled in
London, supported by a Frenchman equally industrious, who practises in Paris,
and of whose sharp doings in money-matters not a few Englishmen have had ample
reason bitterly to complain. This par nobile agreed to print in partnership an
issue of handier form and easier price than my edition, and their plan if
carried out would have seriously damaged the property of my subscribers: the
series which cost them 10 pounds 10s. would have fallen probably to one-half
value. The two pirates met by agreement in Paris where the design was duly
discussed and determined; but, fortunately for me, an unexpected obstacle
barred the way. The London solicitor, professionally consulted by the
dishonest firm, gave his opinion that such a work publicly issued would be a
boon to the Society for the Suppression of Vice, and would not escape the
unsavoury attentions of old Father Antic--the Law.

But, although these two men were deterred by probable consequences, a bolder
spirit might make light of them. I had never intended to go beyond my original
project, that is of printing one thousand copies and no more, nor did I
believe that any cunning of disguise could make "The Nights" presentable in
conventionally decent society. It was, however, represented to me by many
whose opinions I valued that thus and thus only the author and his subscribers
could be protected from impudent fraud, and finally an unwilling consent was
the result.

Mr. Justin Huntley McCarthy, a name well known in the annals of contemporary
literature, undertook the task of converting the grand old barbarian into a
family man to be received by the "best circles." His proofs, after due
expurgation, were passed on to my wife, who I may say has never read the
original, and she struck out all that appeared to her over-free, under the
promise that no mother should hesitate in allowing the book to her daughters.
It would, perhaps, surprise certain "modest gentlemen" and blatantly virtuous
reviewers that the amount of raw material excised from the text and the notes
chiefly addressed to anthropologists and Orientalists, amounts to only 215
pages out of a grand total numbering 3156.

Between 1886 and 1888 appeared the revision in six pretty volumes, bearing
emblematic colours, virgin-white adorned with the golden lilies of St. Joseph
and the "chaste crescent of the young moon." The price also was reduced to the
lowest (£3 3s.) under the idea that the work would be welcome if not to
families at any rate to libraries and reading-rooms, for whose benefit the
older translations are still being reproduced. But the flattering tale of Hope
again proved to be a snare and a delusion; I had once more dispensed with the
services of Mr. Middleman, the publisher, and he naturally refused to aid and
abet the dangerous innovation. The hint went abroad that the book belonged to
the category which has borrowed a name from the ingenious Mr. Bowdler, and
vainly half a century of reviewers spoke bravely in its praise. The public
would have none of it: even innocent girlhood tossed aside the chaste volumes
in utter contempt, and would not condescend to aught save the thing, the whole
thing, and nothing but the thing, unexpurgated and uncastrated. The result was
an unexpected and unpleasant study of modern taste in highly respectable
England. And the fact remains that of an edition which began with a thousand
copies only 457 were sold in the course of two years. Next time I shall see my
way more clearly to suit the peculiar tastes and prepossessions of the reading
world at home.

Before dismissing the subject of the Household Edition, I would offer a few
words of explanation on the part of the Editress. While touching-up and
trimming the somewhat hurried work of our friend, Mr. McCarthy, she was
compelled to accompany me abroad, and to nurse me through a dangerous illness,
which left but little time for the heavy claims of business. Unable to
superintend, with the care required, the issue of her six volumes she
entrusted the task to two agents in whose good will and experience she had and
still has the fullest confidence; but the results were sundry letters of
appeal and indignation from subscribers touching matters wholly unknown and
unintelligible to her. If any mistakes have been made in matters of detail she
begs to express her sincerest regret, and to assure those aggrieved that
nothing was further from her intention than to show discourtesy where she felt
cordial gratitude was due.

* * * * *
Nothing now remains for me but the pleasant task of naming the many friends
and assistants to whom this sixteenth and last volume has been inscribed. The
late Reverend G. Percy Badger strongly objected to the literal translation of
"The Nights" (The Academy, December 8, '81); not the less, however, he
assisted me in its philology with all readiness. Dr. F. Grenfell Baker lent me
ready and valuable aid in the mechanical part of my hard labour. Mr. James F.
Blumhardt, a practical Orientalist and reacher of the Prakrit dialects at
Cambridge, englished for me the eight Gallandian tales (Foreword, Supp. vol.
iii.) from the various Hindostan versions. To Mr. William H. Chandler, of
Pembroke College, Oxford, I have expressed (Supp. vol. iii.) the obligations
due to a kind and generous friend: his experiments with photography will serve
to reconcile the churlishness and retrograde legislation of the great Oxford
Library with the manners and customs of more civilised peoples. Mr. W. A.
Clouston, whose degree is high in "Storiology," supplied my second and third
Supplemental volumes with valuable analogues and variants. Mr. Alexander J.
Cotheal, Consul-General for Nicaragua at New York, sent a valuable MS. to me
across the water, and was persuaded to translate, for my sixth Supplemental
volume, a novel version of the "Tale of Attáf." Mr. A. G. Ellis, of the
British Museum, amongst other favours, kindly revised the Foreword of my sixth
volume. Mr. E. J. W. Gibb, an Orientalist of the modern and realistic school,
who is not deterred by literal translation, permitted me to print his version
of the Turkish Zayn al-Asnám (Supp. vol. iii.) and translations of three tales
which he judged inexpedient to publish (Supp. vol. iv.). M. O. Houdas,
Professeur d' Arabe Vulgaire à l'école des langues Orientales vicantes, Paris,
copied for me the Arabic text of Zayn al-Asnám and the whole MS. used by MM.
Chavis and Cazotte: he also obligingly assisted me in overcoming the various
difficulties of a crabbed and imperfect text. My friend Mr. W. F. Kirby
appended to volume x. of "The Nights" (proper) his most valuable contributions
to the bibliology of the work with its various imitations and a table showing
the contents of the principal editions and translations of "The Nights": he
also enriched my Supplemental volumes v. and vi. with his excellent
annotations. Mr. Kingsbury (and Notcutt) photographed for my use 400 and odd
pages of the Wortley-Montague MS., and proved how easy it was to produce a
perfect fac-simile of the whole. Mr. George Lewis gave me the soundest advice
touching legal matters and Mr. Philip M. Justice was induced to take an active
interest in the "Household Edition." The eminent Orientalist, Dr. Pertsch,
Librarian of the Grand-Ducal Collection, Saxe-Gotha, in lively contrast to my
countrymen of the Bodleian, offered to send me the two volumes of a valuable
MS. containing the most detailed texts of Judar and his brethren (vol. vi.
213) and of Zahir and his son Ali. Dr. Reinhold Rost, Librarian of the Indian
Office, took much trouble about the W. M. MS. but all in vain. Mr. Alexander
W. Thayer, of Trieste, who has studied for years the subject of the so-called
Jewish "Exodus," obliged me with a valuable note detailing his original views.
His Excellency Yacoub Artin Pasha, Minister of Public Instruction, Cairo, a
friend of many years standing, procured for me the decorations in the Cufic,
Naskhí and other characters, which add to much of novelty and ornament to the
outer semblance of my sixteen volumes. Mr. Hermann Zotenberg, Keeper of
Oriental MS. at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, lent me his own
transcription of the "Alaeddin," and generously supplied me with exact
bibliographical notes and measurements of sundry tomes in that admirable

I am also deeply indebted to Mrs. Victoria L. Maylor, of Trieste, who, during
the past three years (1885-1888) had the energy and perseverance to copy for
me sixteen bulky volumes written in a "running-hand," concerning which the
less said the better. And lastly, I must acknowledge peculiar obligations to
my Shaykh, Dr. Steingass, Ph.D. This well-known Arabist not only assisted me
in passing the whole work through the press he also added a valuable treatise
on Arabic Prosody (x. 233-258) with indexes of various kinds, and finally he
supervised the MSS. of the Supplemental volumes and enriched the last three,
which were translated under peculiar difficulties in analphabetic lands, with
the results of his wide reading and lexicographical experience.

And now, Alhamdolillah, the play is ended, and while the curtain drops, I take
the final liberty of addressing my kindly and appreciative audience in the
following words, borrowed from a Persian brother of the pen:--

Now hear my hope from men of liberal mind,
Faults, that indulgence crave, shall seek and find;
For whose blames and of despite decries,
Is wight right witless, clean reverse of wise.

To which let me add the following gentle reminder from Ibn Khaldún:--

All that we can we do, and who ne'er swerves
From best endeavour much of praise deserves.


Richard F. Burton
United Service Club, September 30, 1888.

Opinions of the Press.

Morning Advertiser, September 15th, 1885.

As the holiday season draws to a close the publishers' announcements of "new
books" fill column after column of the organs chosen from these special
communiqué's. But there is one work which is not entered in these lists,
though for years scholars, and many people who are not scholars, have been
looking for it with an eagerness which has left far behind the ordinary
curiosity which is bestowed on the greatest of contributions to current
literasure. And to-day the chosen few who are in possession of the volume in
question are examining it with an interest proportionate to the long toil
which has been bestowed on its preparation. We refer to Captain Burton's
translation of The Arabian Nights Entertainments, now entitled The Book of The
Thousand Nights and a Night, of which the first tome has just been issued. *
* * * Captain Burton scorns any namby pambyism. In the Arabic a spade is
usually called a spade, and in the latest English translation it is never
designated an agricultural implement. Moreover the endless footnotes which the
editor appends speak with much freedom of many things usually avoided as
themes for conversation in polite society, though they throw a flood of light
on hundreds of features of Oriental life on which, since travellers have been
compelled to write for "refined" audiences the student has failed to be
informed. * * * * *

Yet, admitting that The Nights are often coarse and indelicate, and sometimes
even gross it is a mistake to suppose that they are demoralising in the same
way that a French novel of the Zola type is, or might be. Indeed, what we
would call its impropriety is only a reflection of the naïve freedom with
which talk is to this day carried on in the family circles of the East. They
see no harm in what we should regard as indecency. So that when Captain Burton
prefaces his unbowdlerised version with the Arab proverb, "To the pure in
heart all things are pure," he presents perhaps the best defence he could
against the attack which it is quite possible may be made on him for devoting
many years of his life to what he terms "a labour of love." * * * Captain
Burton, thirty-three years ago, went in the disguise of an Indian pilgrim to
Mecca and Al-Medinah, and no one capable of giving the world the result of his
experience has so minute, so exhaustive a knowledge of Arab and Oriental life
generally. Hence the work now begun--only a limited number of students can
ever see--is simply priceless to any one who concerns himself with such
subjects, and may be regarded as marking an era in the annals of Oriental

St. James' Gazette, September 12th, 1885.

One of the most important translations to which a great English scholar has
ever devoted himself is now in the press. For three decades Captain Burton has
been more or less engaged on his translation of the Arabian Nights, the latest
of the many versions of that extraordinary story which has been made into
English, the only one at all worthy of a great original.

Whitehall Review, September 17th, 1885.

The publication of the first volume of Captain Burton's translation of the
Alif Laïla enriches the world of Oriental investigation with a monument of
labour and scholarship and of research. * * * * * In the name of the
whole world of Oriental scholarship, we offer our heartfelt thanks and
congratulations to Captain Burton upon the appearance of this first volume;
and we look forward with the keenest interest for its successors.

Home News, September 18th, 1885.

Captain Burton has begun to issue the volumes of his subscription translation
of the Arabian Nights, and its fortunate possessors will now be able to
realize the full flavour of Oriental feeling. They will now have the great
storehouse of Eastern folk-lore opened to them, and Captain Burton's minute
acquaintance with Eastern life makes his comments invaluable. In this respect,
as well as in the freeness of the translation, the version will be
distinguished from its many predecessors. Captain Burton's preface, it may be
observed, bears traces of soreness at official neglect. Indeed it seems
curious that his services could not have been utilised in the Soudan, when the
want of competent Arabic scholars was so severely felt.

Nottingham Journal, September 19th, 1885.

But to scholars and men who have sufficient love of the soul of these sweet
stories to discern the form in its true proportions, the new edition will be
welcome. From an Oriental point of view the work is masterly to a degree. The
quatrains and couplets, reading like verses from Elizabethan mantels, and
forming a perfect rosary of Eastern lore, the constant succession of brilliant
pictures, and the pleasure of meeting again our dear old friend Shahrázád, all
these combine to give a unique charm and interest to this "perfect expositor
of the mediæval Moslem mind."

The Bat, September 29th, 1885.

Captain Burton, in his way, renders a gigantic service to all students of
literature who are not profound Orientalists, and to many who are, by giving
them a literal, honest, and accurate translation of the Arabian Nights. * *
* Some idiotic persons here and there, and certain journals which have earned
an infamous notoriety by doing their best to deprave public morals, have
raised a foolish clamour against Captain Burton and his translation.
Journalists, who had no objection to pandering to the worst tastes of humanity
at a penny a copy, are suddenly inspired by much righteous indignation at a
privately printed work which costs a guinea a volume, and in which the
manners, the customs, and the language of the East are boldly represented as
they were and as they are. Such critics Captain Burton, and the readers of
Captain Burton's translation, can afford to despise and to ignore. The Arabian
Nights Entertainment has been the playbook of generations, the delight of the
nursery and the school-room for nearly two hundred years. Now it is high time
that scholars and students should be allowed to know what the Arabian Nights
Entertainment really is. Lovers of Arabic have long since known something of
the truth concerning the Alif Laila. It needs no Burton, it needed no Payne to
tell the masters of Oriental languages that The Thousand Nights and a Night
was a very different thing from what either Galland or Lane had made it out to
be. Mr. Payne in his way, rendered no slight service, Captain Burton, in his
way, renders a gigantic service to all students of literature who are not
profound Orientalists, and to many who are, by giving them a literal, honest,
and accurate translation of the "Arabian Nights."

The Academy, October 3rd, 1885.

As Capt. Richard F. Burton's translation of The Thousand and One Nights is
likely for several reasons to awaken a literary controversy, the following
letter from Mr. John Addington Symonds in the Academy of October 3 will be
read with interest. The subject upon which it touches is an important one, and
one which must be regarded from a scholarly as well as a moral point of view.
Mr. Symonds writes like the scholar that he is; we shall soon see how the
moralists write, and if they say anything to the point we shall copy it:--

Am Hof, Davos Platz, Switzerland, September 27th, 1885.

"There is an outcry in some quarters against Capt. Burton's translation of the
Arabian Nights. Only one volume of the work has reached me, and I have not as
yet read the whole of it. Of the translator's notes I will not speak, the
present sample being clearly insufficient to judge by, but I wish to record a
protest against the hypocrisy which condemns his text. When we invite our
youth to read an unexpurgated Bible (in Hebrew and Greek, or in the authorised
version), an unexpurgated Aristophanes, an unexpurgated Juvenal, an
unexpurgated Boccaccio, an unexpurgated Rabelais, an unexpurgated collection
of Elizabethan dramatists, including Shakespeare, and an unexpurgated Plato
(in Greek or in Prof. Jowett's English version), it is surely inconsistent to
exclude the unexpurgated Arabian Nights, whether in the original or in any
English version, from the studies of a nation who rule India and administer

"The qualities of Capt. Burton's translation are similar to those of his
previous literary works, and the defects of those qualities are also similar.
Commanding a vast and miscellaneous vocabulary, he takes such pleasure in the
use of it that sometimes he transgresses the unwritten laws of artistic
harmony. From the point of view of language, I hold that he is too eager to
seize the mot propre of his author, and to render that by any equivalent which
comes to hand from field or fallow, waste or warren, hill or hedgerow, in our
vernacular. Therefore, as I think, we find some coarse passages of the Arabian
Nights rendered with unnecessary crudity and some poetic passages marred by
archaisms and provincialisms. But I am at a loss to perceive how Burton's
method of translation should be less applicable to the Arabian Nights than to
the Lusiad. So far as I can judge, it is better suited to the naïveté combined
with stylistic subtlety of the former than to the smooth humanistic elegancies
of the latter.

"This, however, is a minor point. The real question is whether a word for word
version of the Arabian Nights, executed with peculiar literary vigor, exact
scholarship, and rare insight into Oriental modes of thought and feeling, can
under any shadow of presence be classed with 'the garbage of the brothels.' In
the lack of lucidity, which is supposed to distinguish English folk, our
middle-class censores morum strain at the gnat of a privately circulated
translation of an Arabic classic, while they daily swallow the camel of higher
education based upon minute study of Greek and Latin literature. When English
versions of Theocritus and Ovid, of Plato's Phaedrus and the Ecclesiazusae,
now within the reach of every school-boy, have been suppressed, then and not
till then can a 'plain and literal' rendering of the Arabian Nights be denied
with any colour of consistency to adult readers. I am far from saying that
there are not valid reasons for thus dealing with Hellenic and Graeco-Roman
and Oriental literature in its totality. But let folk reckon what Anglo Saxon
Puritanism logically involves. If they desire an Anglo-Saxon Index Librorum
Prohibitorum, let them equitably and consistently apply their principles of
inquisitorial scrutiny to every branch of human culture.

"John Addington Symonds."

The Lincoln Gazette, Saturday, October 10th, 1885.
Thousand Nights and a Night.
First Notice

Everything comes to him who waits--even the long-promised, eagerly-expected
"Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights," by Richard F. Burton.
It is a whole quarter of a century since this translation of one of the most
famous books of the world was contemplated, and we are told it is the natural
outcome of the well-known Pilgrimage to Medinah and Mecca. Of Captain Burton's
fitness for the task who can doubt. It was during that celebrated journey to
the tomb of the Prophet that he proved himself to be an Arab--indeed, he says,
in a previous state of existence he was a Bedouin. Did he not for months at a
stretch lead the life of a Son of the Faithful, eat, drink, sleep dress,
speak, pray like his brother devotees, the sharpest eyes failing to pierce his
disguise. He knows the ways of Eastern men--and women--as he does the society
of London or Trieste. How completely at home he is with his adopted brethren
he showed at Cairo when, to the amazement of some English friends who were
looking on at the noisy devotions of some "howling" Dervishes, he suddenly
joined the shouting, gesticulating circle and behaved as if to the manner
born. He has qualified as a "Howler," he holds a diploma as a master Dervish
(see vol. iii. of his "Pilgrimage"), and he can initiate disciples. Clearly to
use a phrase of Arabian story, it was decreed by Allah from the beginning, and
fate and fortune have arranged, that Captain Burton should be the one of all
others to confer upon his countrymen the boon of the genuine unsophisticated
Thousand Nights and a Night. In the whole of our literature no book is more
widely known. It is spread broadcast like the Bible, Bunyan and Shakespeare;
yet although it is in every house, and every soul in the kingdom knows
something about it, yet nobody knows it as it really exists. We have only had
what translators have chosen to give--selected, diluted and abridged
transcripts. And of late some so-called "original" books have been published
containing minor tales purloined bodily from the Nights. There have been many
versions, beginning with the beautiful Augustan French example of Professor
Galland, but all have failed, or rather no one has attempted, to reproduce the
great Oriental masterpiece. Judged by the number of editions--a most
fallacious test of merit--Lane's three volumes, on the whole, have found
greatest favour with the British public. He was too timid to give to the world
the full benefit of his studies, and he kept a drawing-room audience in view.
He was careful to adapt his picture to the English standard of propriety, and
his suppressions and omissions are on a wholesale scale. Lord Byron said of
English novelists that they give a full length of courtship and but a bust of
marriage. Mr. Lane thought it expedient to draw a tight veil, to tell only
half the truth--in short he stops at the bust. Moreover he destroyed all the
mécanique of his original, and cruelly altered the form. He did away with the
charming and dramatic framework of the tales, turned the Arabian Nights into
the Arabian Chapters, and too often into the Arabian Notes. The first sole and
complete translation was furnished recently by Mr. John Payne, whose "Book of
the Thousand Nights and One Night" is dedicated to Captain Burton. Mr. Payne
printed 500 copies for private circulation, a mere drop in the ocean. His
edition was instantly absorbed, clutched with avidity, and is
unprocurable--unless, as has happened several times, a stray copy finds its
way into the market, and is snatched up at a fancy price. It so happened that
Mr. Payne and Captain Burton applied themselves to the same task quite
unconscious of each other's labour. They were running on the same rails, like
Adams and Leverrier, the joint discoverers of Neptune, or like Darwin and
Wallace, who simultaneously evolved the theory of Natural Selection. Hearing
of a competitor, Captain Burton, who was travelling to the Gold Coast, freely
offered his fellow worker precedence. Mr. Payne's production served to whet
curiosity, and the young scholars of the day applied themselves to Arabic in
order to equip their minds, and to be in a more blissful state of preparation
for the triumphant edition to follow. Captain Burton's first volume in sombre
black and dazzling gold--the livery of the Abbasides--made its appearance
three weeks ago, and divided attention with the newly-discovered Star. It is
the first volume of ten, the set issued solely to subscribers. And already, as
in the case of Mr. Payne's edition, there has been a scramble to secure it,
and it is no longer to be had for love or money. The fact is, it fills a void,
the world has been waiting for this chef d'æuvre, and all lovers of the
Arabian Nights wonder how they have got on without it. We must break off from
remarks to give some idea of the originality of the style, of the incomparable
way in which the very essence and life of the East is breathed into simple,
straightforward Anglo-Saxon English. In certain of Captain Burton's books he
borrows words from all languages, there are not enough for his use, and he is
driven to coin them. But in the character of Arabian story-teller he is
simplicity itself, and whilst avoiding words of length, he introduces just
enough of antique phrase as gives a bygone and poetic flavour. The most
exacting and the most fastidious will be satisfied at the felicitous handling
of immortal themes. A delightful characteristic is the division of the text
into Nights. Lane and Payne, for peculiar reasons of their own, have both
omitted to mark the breaks in the recital. But now for the first time the
thread on which all is strung is clearly kept in view, and justice is done to
the long drawn-out episode of the young wife who saves her own neck and averts
a wholesale massacre of maidens by her round of stories within stories.

The reader most familiar with the ordinary versions at once is in a new
atmosphere. The novelty is startling as it is delightful. We are face to face
with the veritable East, where Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad are known to us as
London or Lincoln. The whole life of the people is represented, nothing is
passed over or omitted. The picture is complete, and contains everything as
the "white contains the black of the eye," a phrase which, by- the-bye, in
Arabic is all contained in one word. We have before alluded to the strength
and beauty of the style. The felicities of expression are innumerable. What
could be better than the terms to express grief and joy, "his breast
broadened," "his breast straitened," or the words used of a person in abject
terror, "I died in my skin," or the cruelty of the scourger who persevered
"till her forearm failed," or the expression of despair "The light before his
face became night," or the grand account of the desert storm "when behold a
dust cloud up-flew and grew until it walled the horizon from view." Another
speciality of Captain Burton's edition is the Notes. He is celebrated for
sowing the bottom of his pages with curiously illuminating remarks, and he has
here carried out his custom in a way to astonish. He tells us that those who
peruse his notes in addition to those of Lane would be complete proficients in
the knowledge of Oriental practices and customs. Lane begins with Islam from
Creation to the present day, and has deservedly won for his Notes the honour
of a separate reprint. Captain Burton's object in his annotations is to treat
of subjects which are completely concealed from the multitude. They are
utterly and entirely esoteric, and deal with matters of which books usually
are kept clear. Indeed he has been assured by an Indian officer who had been
40 years in the East, that he was entirely ignorant of the matters revealed in
these Notes. Without these marvellous elucidations the Arabian Nights would
remain only half understood, but by their aid we may know as much of the
Moslems as the Moslems know of themselves.

The Lincoln Gazette, Saturday, October 17th, 1885.
Second Notice.

In bringing out his Arabian Nights Captain Burton has made a bold attempt to
dispense with the middleman the publisher. He has gone straight to the
printer, he himself undertaking the business of distribution. It is time
somebody should be energetic. With curious submission authors go on bearing
their grievances, and sow that others may reap. Whole editions of travels are
issued, and the person most concerned, the author, gets a pittance of £5. And
only the other day Walt Whitman, most illustrious of American poets, and in
the opinion of capable judges the most illustrious man of letters across the
Atlantic, publicly that the profits on his writings for a whole year amounted
to a few dollars. Captain Burton has broken through the bondage, and the
result promises to be highly satisfactory. But he has been threatened with
pains and penalties, one trade journal, the Printing Times and Lithographer,
under the immediate direction of an eminent bookseller, known for his vast
purchases of rare publications, announced that The Arabian Nights would be
suppressed unless its tone and morals were unexceptionable! In short,
publishers are exasperated, and, like the Peers, they do not see the force of
being abolished. The authors, however, who sigh to be independent, must not
take it for granted that the experiment is easy, or likely to be often
successful. In this particular instance it is a case of the Man and the Book.
There is only one Arabian Nights in the world, and only one Captain Burton.

The Thousand Nights and a Night offers a complete picture of Eastern peoples.
But the English reader must be prepared to find that the manners of Arabs and
Moslems differ from his own. Eastern people look at things from a more natural
and primitive point of view, and they say what they think with all the
unrestraint of children. At times their plain speaking is formidable, but they
are not conscious of impropriety, and their coarseness is not intentional. It
is their nature to be downright, and to be communicative on subjects about
which the Saxon is shy or silent, and it must be remembered that the
separation of the sexes adds considerably to this freedom of expression. Their
language is material in quality, every root is objective; as an instance, for
the word soul they have no more spiritual equivalent than breath. Even the
conversation between parents and children is of incredible frankness, and the
Wazir of Egypt talks to his daughter "the Lady of Beauty," in a fashion
astonishing to the West. But the Arabs are a great mixture. They are keenly
alive to beauty, and every youth and every damsel is described in glowing,
rapturous terms. We have heard in our own country, so far north as chilly
Scotland, of a whole audience standing up in a theatre to applaud the entrance
and acknowledge the charms of a beautiful woman. In the East they are far more
readily subjugated, and the event is of everyday occurrence, and not a wonder.
"When the people of Damascus saw Ajib's beauty and brilliancy and perfect
grace and symmetry (for he was a marvel of comeliness and winning loveliness,
softer than the cool breeze of the North, sweeter than limpid waters to man in
drouth, and pleasanter than the health for which sick man sueth), a mighty
many followed him, whilst others ran on before and sat down on the road until
he should come up, that they might gaze on him." The Arabs are highly
imaginative, and their world is peopled with supernatural beings, whilst Ovid
is surpassed in the number and ingenuity of their metamorphoses. Their nerves
are highly strung, they are emotional to the hysteric degree, and they do
everything in the superlative fashion. They love at first sight, and one
glimpse of a face is enough to set them in flames; they cease to sleep or to
eat until they are admitted to the adored presence, they weep till they faint,
they rend their garments, pluck their beards, buffet their faces, and after
paroxysms of passion they recover sufficiently to recite verses--"and he beat
his face and head and recited these couplets"--"then she recited, weeping
bitterly the while"--"When the young man heard these words he wept with sore
weeping, till his bosom was drenched with tears and began reciting." All this
effervescence, so different to our rigid repression, all this exuberance of
feeling is the gift of a hot climate. And, besides this easy stirring of their
passions, they always live in supreme consciousness that every impulse, every
act is decreed, that they drift without will of their own, and are the
helpless creatures of destiny. Half their talk consists of invocations to
Allah, the All-ruling, All-gracious Allah! This fatalistic element is a
leading feature in the Nights. All that happens is accepted with submission,
and with the conviction that nothing can be averted. The Wazir's eye is
knocked out, "as fate and fortune decreed," the one pomegranate seed escapes
destruction, and the Princess dies in consequence; the beautiful lad secreted
in a cave under the earth to keep him from harm, because it is foretold by the
astrologers that he will die on a certain day, meets with his death at the
appointed hour despite all precautions. This is one of the myriad instances,
says Captain Burton, showing "that the decrees of Anagké, Fate, Destiny, Weird
are inevitable." And yet, in the face of overwhelming evidence that Moslems in
all things bow to the stroke of destiny, it is singular to note that a Turkish
scholar like Mr. Redhouse, translator of the "Mesnevi," fails to realise this
most characteristic trait of Mahometan belief, and confuses it with the
Christian idea of Providence and Premonition. The folk in Arabian tales, as
might be expected, meet calamity in the shape of death with fortitude. The end
of life is not a terror acutely feared as with us. They die easily, and when
the time comes they give up the ghost without repining, although the mourning
by survivors is often loud and vehement, and sometimes desperately prolonged.
This facility in dying is partly due to their fatalistic philosophy, and
partly it is the effect of climate. It is in rugged climes that death is
appalling, and comes as the King of Terrors, but the hotter the country the
easier it is to enter the Door of Darkness. All these things which make the
difference between Orientals and ourselves must be taken into account by
readers of Arabian story, and the coarseness, as Captain Burton shows, is but
the shade of a picture which otherwise would be all light;" the general tone
of the Nights "is exceptionally high and pure, and the devotional fervour
often rises to boiling point." We have shown how Captain Burton has rendered
the prose of the Nights, how vigorous, yet simple, is the language, how
pleasant is his use of antique phrase, serving as it often does to soften the
crudity of Oriental expression. In translating the poetry, which finally will
amount to nearly 10,000 lines, he has again started on a path of his own. He
has closely preserved the Arab form, although, as he says, an absolutely exact
copy of Arabic metres is an impossibility.

A striking novelty in Captain Burton's translation is the frequent occurrence
of passages in cadenced prose, called in Arabic "Saj'a," or the cooing of a
dove. These melodious fragments have a charming effect on the ear. They come
as dulcet-surprises, and mostly occur in highly-wrought situations, or they
are used to convey a vivid sense of something exquisite in art or nature. We
give one or two instances of these little eddies of song set like gems in the
prose. Their introduction seems due to whim or caprice, but really is due to
profound study of the situation, as if the tale-teller felt suddenly compelled
to break into the rhythmic strain. The prose ripples and rises to dancing
measure when the King of the Age, wandering in a lonely palace, comes upon the
half-petrified youth, "the Ensorcelled Prince."

"Now when the Sultan heard the mournful voice he sprang to his feet, and
following the sound found a curtain let down over the chamber door. He raised
it and saw behind it a young man sitting upon a couch about a cubic above the
ground: he fair to the sight, a well- shaped wight, with eloquence dight, his
forehead was flower-white, his cheek rosy bright, and a mole on his cheek
breadth like an ambergris mite."

It is broken again to bring into fuller notice the perfections of one of the
three merry ladies of Baghdad, sitting under a silken canopy, the curtains
"looped up with pearls as big as filberts and bigger." We are told to note how
eastern are the metaphors, how confused the flattery.

"Thereupon sat a lady bright of blee, with brow-beaming brilliancy, and her
eyebrows were arched as for archery; her breath breathed ambergris and
perfumery, and her lips were sugar to taste and carnelian to see. Her stature
was straight as the letter I (the letter Alif a straight perpendicular
stroke), and her face shamed the noon sun's radiancy; and she was even as a
galaxy or a dome with golden marquetry, or a bride displayed on choicest
finery, or a noble maid of Araby."

And prose is not thought adequate to do justice to the natural beauty of a
garden "like one of the pleasaunces of Paradise."

"It was a garden with trees of freshest green and ripe fruits of yellow sheen;
and its birds were singing clear and keen, and rills ran wimpling through the
fair terrene."

It is a marvel that these cadences have never been reproduced before. They
have been faintly attempted by Eastwick, in his "Gulistan," whilst Mr. Payne
simply passed them over, rejected them as of no account. They fall in with
Captain Burton's plan of omitting nothing; of giving the Nights intact in the
precise form in which they are enjoyed by the Oriental. Beside the verses so
characteristic of exaggerated Arabic sentiment, and the rhymed cadences, let
like precious stones into the gold of the prose, the proverbs embodying the
proverbial wit and wisdom are all rhymed as in the original Arabic. What
Arabists think of this translation we may learn from a professed Arabist
writing to this effect:--"I am free to confess, after many years study of
Arabic, a comparison of your translation with the text has taught me more than
many months of dry study," whilst Englishmen who for years have lived in the
East are making the discovery that, after all, they have known little or
nothing, and their education is only beginning with this version of the
Arabian Nights. It is only knowledge that knows how to observe; and it is
satisfactory to observe that Captain Burton's amazing insight into Eastern
peculiarities has been put to its best use in giving a true idea of the People
of the Sun and a veritable version of their Book of Books. The labour expended
on this edition has been enormous. The work could only have been completed by
the most excessive and pertinatious application. All the same we are told it
has been "a labour of love," a task that has brought its own exceeding great

Arabian Nights, Volume 16

[FN#1] Tome xii. is dated 1789, the other three, 1788, to include
them in the "Cabinet."

[FN#2] The titles of all the vols. are dated alike, 1793, the
actual date of printing.

[FN#3] This name is not in the Arabic text, and I have vainly
puzzled my brains about its derivation or meaning.

[FN#4] This P.N. is, I presume, a corruption of "Shawalán"=one
falling short. The wife "Oitba" is evidently "Otbá" or "Utbá."

[FN#5] See my Supplemental volume i. pp. 37-116, "The Ten
Wazirs; or, the History of King Azádbakht and his Son."

[FN#6] MS. pp. 140-182. Gauttier, vol. ii., pp. 313-353, Histoire
du sage Heycar translated by M. Agoub: Weber, "History of
Sinkarib and his two Viziers" (vol. ii. 53): the "Vizier" is
therein called Hicar.

[FN#7] This form of the P.N. is preferred by Prof. R. Hoerning in
his "Prisma des Sanherib," etc. Leipsic, 1878. The etymology is
"Sin akhi-irib"=Sini (Lunus, or the Moon-God) increaseth
brethren. The canon of Ptolemy fixes his accession at B.C. 702,
the first year of Elibus or Belibus. For his victories over
Babylonia, Palestine, Judea, and Egypt see any "Dictionary of the
Bible," and Byron for the marvellous and puerile legend--

The Assyrian came down as a wolf on the fold,

which made him lose in one night 185,000 men, smitten by the
"Angel of the Lord" (2 Kings xix. 35). Seated upon his throne
before Lachish he is represented by a bas-relief as a truly noble
and kingly figure.

[FN#8] I presume that the author hereby means a "fool," Pers.
nádán. But in Assyrian story Nadan was=Nathan, King of the people
of Pukudu, the Pekod of Jeremiah (i. 21) and other prophets.

[FN#9] In text always "Atúr," the scriptural "Asshur"=Assyria,
biblically derived from Asshur, son of Shem (Gen. x. 22), who was
worshipped as the proto-deity. The capital was Niniveh. Weber
has "Nineveh and Thor," showing the spelling of his MS.
According to the Arabs, "Ashur" had four sons; Iran (father of
the Furs=Persians, the Kurd, or Ghozzi, the Daylams, and the
Khazar), Nabít, Jarmúk, and Basíl. Ibn Khaldun (iii. 413), in
his "Universal History," opposes this opinion of Ibn Sa'id.

[FN#10] i.e. "Fish-town" or "town of Nin" =Ninus, the founder. In
mod. days "Naynawah" was the name of a port on the east bank of
the Tigris; and moderns have unearthed the old city at Koyunjik,
Nabi Yunas, and the Tall (mound of) Nimrud.

[FN#11] The surroundings suggest Jehovah, the tribal deity of the
Jews. The old version says, "Hicar was a native of the country of
Haram (Harrán), and had brought from thence the knowledge of the
true God; impelled, however, by an irresistible decree," etc.

[FN#12] i.e. a woollen cloth dyed red. Hence Pyrard (i. 244) has
"red scarlet," and (vol. ii.) "violet scarlet"; Froissart (xvth
centy.) has "white scarlet," and Marot (xvith) has "green
scarlet." The word seems to be French of xiith century, but is
uncertain: Littré proposes Galaticus, but admits the want of an
intermediate form. Piers Plowman and Chaucer use "cillatún, which
suggests Pers. "Sakalat, or "Saklatún", whence Mr. Skeat would
derive "scarlet." This note is from the voyage of F. Pyrard, etc.
London. Hakluyts, M.dccc.lxxxvii.; and the editor quotes Colonel
Yule's M. Polo (ii. chapt. 58) and his "Discursive Glossary s. v.

[FN#13] i.e."Al-Kirm," Arab. and Pers. =a worm, as in Kirmán (see
Supplem. vol. i. 40); the coccus ilicis, vulg. called cochineal.

[FN#14] Arab. "Arz", from the Heb. Arz or Razah (raz=to vibrate),
the root {Greek} (cedrus conifera), the Assyrian "Erimu of
Lebanon," of which mention is so often made. The old controversy
as to whether "Razah"=cedar or fir, might easily have been
settled if the disputants had known that the modern Syrians still
preserve the word for the clump called "The Cedars" on the
seaward slope of the Libanus.

[FN#15] We should say "reading and writing," but the greater
difficulty of deciphering the skeleton eastern characters places
reading in the more honourable place. They say of a very learned
man, "He readeth it off (readily) as one drinketh water."

[FN#16] Arab. "Al-Sáhib al-jayyid." ["Jayyid" is, by the measure
"Fay'il," derived from the root, "Jaud," to excel, like "Kayyis,"
from "Kaus" (see Suppl. vol. iv., p.277), "Mayyit" from "Maut,"
"Sayyid" from "Saud." The form was originally "Jaywid;" then the
Wáw became assimilated to the preceding Já, on account of the
following Kasrah, and this assimilation or "Idghám" is indicated
by Tashdíd. As from "Kayyis" the diminutive "Kuwayyis" is formed,
so "Jayyid" forms the Tasghír, "Juwayyid," which, amongst the
Druzes, has the specific meaning of "deeply versed in religious

[FN#17] "Kúl," vulg. for "Kul"; a form constant in this MS.

[FN#18] Gauttier "Sarkhadom," the great usurper Sargon, a
contemporary of Merodach Baladan of Babylon and of Sabaco 1st of
Ethiopia, B.C. 721-702: one of the greatest Assyrian Kings, whose
place has been determined to be between Shalmaneser and his son,
the celebrated Sennacherib, who succeeded him. The name also
resembles the biblical Ezarhaddon (Asaridanus), who, however, was
the son of Sennacherib, and occupied the throne of Babylon in
B.C. 680.

[FN#19] Gauttier, pp. 317-319, has greatly amplified and modified
these words of wisdom.

[FN#20] In text "Yá Bunayya" =lit. "O my little son," a term of
special fondness.

[FN#21] Arab. "Jamrah," a word of doubtful origin, but applied to
a tribe strong enough to be self-dependent. The "Jamarát of the
Arabs" were three, Banú Numayr, Banú Háris (who afterwards
confederated with Mashíj) and Banú Dabbah (who joined the Rikáb),
and at last Nomayr remained alone. Hence they said of it:

"Nomayr the jamrah (also "a live coal") of Arabs are; * And
ne'er cease they to burn in fiery war."

See Chenery's Al-Hariri, pp. 343-428.

[FN#22] In the Arab. "Ta'arkalak," which M. Houdas renders
"qu'elle ne te retienne dans ses filets."

[FN#23] A lieu commun in the East. It is the Heb. "Sháked" and
the fruit is the "Loz" (Arab. Lauz)=Amygdalus communis, which the
Jews looked upon as the harbinger of spring and which, at certain
feasts, they still carry to the synagogue, as representing the
palm branches of the Temple.

[FN#24] The mulberry-tree in Italy will bear leaves till the end
of October and the foliage is bright as any spring verdure.

[FN#25] Gauttier omits this: pas poli, I suppose.

[FN#26] The barbarous sentiment is Biblical-inspired, "He that
spareth his rod hateth his son" (Prov. xiii. 24), and "Chasten
thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his
crying" (Prov. xix. 18). Compare the Arab equivalent, "The green
stick is of the trees of Paradise" (Pilgrimage i. 151). But the
neater form of the saw was left to uninspired writers; witness
"Spare the rod and spoil the child," which appears in Ray's
proverbs, and is immortalised by Hudibras:--

Love is a boy by poets styled,
Then spare the rod and spoil the child. (ii. 1, 843.)

It is to the eternal credit of John Locke, the philosopher, that
in an age of general brutality he had the moral courage to
declare, "Beating is the worst and therefore the last means to be
used in the correction of children."

[FN#27] Arab. "Dahn" (oil, ointment) which may also mean "soft

[FN#28] Aucun roi ne peut gouverner sans armée et on ne peut
avoir une armée sans argent. For a treatise on this subject see
the "Chronique de Tabari," ii. 340.

[FN#29] M. Agoub, in Gauttier (vi. 321) remarks of these
prosings, "Ces maximes qui ne seraient pas indignes, pour la
plupart, des beaux temps de la philosophie grecque, appartiennent
toutes au texte arabe; je n'ai fait que les disposer dans un
ordre plus méthodique. J'ai dû aussi supprimer quelques unes,
soit parce qu'elles n'offraient que des préceptes d'une morale
banale, soit que traduites en frangais, elles eussent pû paraître
bizarres à des lecteurs européens. Ce que je dis ici, s'applique
également à celles qui terminent le conte et qui pourraient
fournir le sujet de plusieurs fables." One would say that the
translator is the author's natural enemy.

[FN#30] Arab. "Ammál," now vulgarly written with initial Hamzah,
a favourite expression in Egypt and meaning "Verily," "I believe
you, my boy," and so forth. But "'Ammál" with the Ayn may also
mean "he intended," or "he was about to."

[FN#31] In Gauttier the name is Ebnazadan, but the Arab. text has
"Naudán," which I take to be the Persian "New of knowledge" as
opp. to Nádán, the "unknowing."

[FN#32] In Chavis (Weber ii. 58) and Gauttier (p. 323) Akis, roi
de Perse. The second name may be "Shah of the Ebna" or Persian
incolæ of Al-Yaman; aristocratie Persane naturalisée Arabe
(Al-Mas'udi, iv. 188, etc.).

[FN#33] i.e. the Lowland of the Eglantine or Narcissus; Nisrín is
also in dictionaries an island where amber abounds. There is a
shade of difference between Buk'ah and Bak'ah. The former which
is the corrector form=a patch of ground, a plain (hence the
Buká'a= Coelesyria), while Bak'ah=a hollow where water collects.
In Chavis we find "the plain of Harrim" and in Gauttier la plaine
de Baschrin; and the appointment was "for the first of the month
Niram" (Naysán).

[FN#34] "Pharaoh," which Hebrew Holy Writ left so vague and
unsatisfactory, has become with the Arabs "Fir'aun", the dynastic
name of Egyptian kings, as Kisrà (Chosroës) of the Persians,
Tobba of the Himyarites, Kaysar (Cæsar) of the Romans, Jalut
(Goliath) of the Phoenicians, Faghfur of the Chinese, Khákán of
the Tartars, Adfonsh (Alfonso) of the Spanish, and Aguetíd of the
Berbers. Ibn Khaldún iv. 572.

[FN#35] "Mizr" in Assyrian="Musur," in Heb. "Misraim" (the dual
Misrs, whose duality permeated all their polity), and in Arab.
"Misr," the O. Egypt. "Há káhi Ptáh" (the Land of the great God,
Ptah), and the Coptic "Tá-mera"=the Land of the Nile flood,
ignoring, I may add, all tradition of a Noachian or general

[FN#36] The simplicity of old Assyrian correspondence is here
well preserved, as we may see by comparing those letters with the
cuneiform inscriptions, etc., by S. Abden Smith (Pfeiffer,
Leipsic, 1887). One of them begins thus, "The will of the King to
Sintabni-Uzur. Salutation from me to thee. May it be well with
thee. Regarding Sinsarra-utzur whom thou hast sent to me, how is
thy report?" etc. We find such expressions as "May the great
Gods, lovers of thy reign, preserve thee an hundred years;" also
"Peace to the King, my lord," etc.

[FN#37] Arab. "Yaum al-Khamís." For the week-days see vol. vi.
190, and for a longer notice, Al-Mas'udi, iii. 422-23.

[FN#38] In the text "Kál" (al-Ráwí), "the Reciter saith"--which
formula I omit here and elsewhere.

[FN#39] i.e. "The Father of the little Fish," in Gauttier (vii.
329) "Abou Soméika."

[FN#40] By way of insult; as I have before noticed.

[FN#41] He had now learned that Nadan had ruined him.

[FN#42] The wife (in p. 155; "Ashghaftíní") is called "Thou hast
enamoured me" from the root "Shaghaf"=violent love, joy, grief.
Chavis has Zefagnie: Gauttier suppresses the name, which is not
pretty. In the old version she is made aunt (father's sister) to

[FN#43] The old version attributes all this device to "Zefagnie;"
thus injuring the unity and the interest of the tale.

[FN#44] Arab. "Jund" plur. "Junúd," a term mostly applied to
regular troops under the Government, as opposed to soldiers who
took service with the Amirs or great barons--a state of things
still enduring in non-British India.

[FN#45] Who thus makes a "Ma'adabah"=wake or funeral feast before
his death. See vol. viii. 231.

[FN#46] i.e. "Father of the Fishlet", in the old version
"Yapousmek" (Yá Abú Sumayk).

[FN#47] In Chavis he becomes "an old slave, a magician, stained
with the greatest crimes, who has the air and figure of Hicar."

[FN#48] A formula which announces the death of his supposed

[FN#49] Arab. " Matmúrah"=Sardábah (i. 340), a silo for storing
grain, an underground cell (ii. 39).

[FN#50] See text "Náhú" from "Nauh"=ceremonious keening for the
dead. The general term for the wail is "Walwalah" or "Wilwál" (an
onomatopoy) and for the public wailing-woman "Naddábah."

[FN#51] Here we find the Doric form "Rahúm" for "Rahím," or it
may simply be the intensive and emphatic form, as "Nazúr"=one who
looks intently for "Názir," a looker.

[FN#52] In the old version "a tenth part of the revenues." The
"Kasím" of the text is an unusual word which M. Houdas would
render revenues en nature, as opposed to Khiráj, revenues en
argent. I translate it by "tax tribute."

[FN#53] In text "'Azzámín, "i.e. men who recite "'Azm," mostly
Koranic versets which avert evil.

[FN#54] This may either be figurative or literal--upon the ashes
where the fire had been; even as the father of Sayf al-Mulúk sat
upon the floor of his audience-hall (vol. vii. 314).

[FN#55] In text "Ya'tadir"--from 'Adr=heavy rain, boldness. But
in this MS. the dots are often omitted and the word may be
Ya'tazir=find excuse.

[FN#56] In the old version the wife is made to disclose the
secret of her husband being alive--again a change for the worse.

[FN#57] Here "Wayha-v." and before "Wayla-k": see vols. v. 258;
vii. 127 and iii. 82.

[FN#58] The King, after the fashion of Eastern despots, never
blames his own culpable folly and hastiness: this was decreed to
him and to his victim by Destiny.

[FN#59] The older version reads "Roc" and informs us that "it is
a prodigious bird, found in the deserts of Africa: it will bear
two hundred pounds weight; and many are of opinion that the idea
of this bird is visionary." In Weber ii. 63, this is the device
of "Zafagnie," who accompanies her husband to Egypt.

[FN#60] This name appears to be a corruption. The sound, however,
bears a suspicious resemblance to "Dabshalim" (a name most proper
for such a Prince, to wit, meaning in their tongue a mighty
King), who appears in chapt. i. of the "Fables of Pilpay"
(Bidpai=Bidyapati=Lord of Lore?). "Dabshalímat"=the Dabshalíms,
was the dynastic title of the Kings of Somanáth (Somnauth) in
Western India.

[FN#61] Arab. "Tín"=clay, mud, which would be used with the Tob
(adobe, sun-dried brick) forming the walls of Egypt and Assyria.
M.G. Maspero, in his excellent booklet "L'Archéologie Egyptienne"
(p. 7. Paris, Quantin, 1887), illustrates this ancient industry
which endures with all its gear to the present day. The average
measured 22 X 11 X 14 cm.; the larger was 38 X 18 X 14 cm., with
intermediate sizes. These formed the cores of temple walls, and,
being revetted with granite, syenite, alabaster and other stones,
made a grand show; but when the outer coat was removed they were
presently weathered to the external semblance of mud-piles. Such
was mostly the condition of the ruins of grand Bubastis
("Pi-Pasht") hod. Zagázig, where excavations are still being
pushed on.

[FN#62] The old version has "Masser, Grand Cairo (in the days of
the Pharaohs!); so called from having been built by Misraim, the
son of Cham."

[FN#63] In Chavís, "Abicam, a Chaldæan astrologer;" in Gauttier

[FN#64] In Al-Harírí (p. 409) we read, "Hospitality is three
days;" and a Hadís of the Prophet confirms the liberal practice
of The Ignorance:--"The entertainment of a guest is three days,
and the viaticum ("Jáizah") is a day and a night, and whatso
exceedeth is an alms-gift." On the first day is shown largesse
and courtesy; on the second and third the stranger is treated
after the usual custom of the household, and then he is provided
with rations for a day and a night. See Lane: A. Nights, i. 486;
also The Nights, vol. i. 3.

[FN#65] i.e. Not standing astraddle, or in other such indecorous

[FN#66] Chavis, "Bilelsanam, the oracle of Bel, the chief God of
the Assyrian: "Gauttier, Une idole Bíl. Bel (or Ba'al or Belus,
the Phoenician and Canaanite head-god) may here represent Hobal
the biggest idol in the Meccan Pantheon, which used to be borne
on raids and expeditions to give plunder a religious
significance. Tabari iii. 17. Evidently the author holds it to be
an idol.

[FN#67] The Syro-solar month=April; much celebrated by poets and
fictionists: rain falling at such time into shells becomes pearls
and upon serpents poison.

[FN#68] The text has "Baybúnah," prop. Bábúnaj in Arab., and in
Pers. "Bábúk," or "Bábúnak"=the white camomile-flower. See vol.
iii. 58.

[FN#69] "Khabata"="He (the camel) pawed the ground." The prim.
sig. is to beat, secondly, it is applied to a purblind camel
which beats or strikes the ground and so stumbles, or to him who
bashes a tree for its leaves; and lastly to him who gets alms by
begging. See Chenery's Al-Hariri, p. 447.

[FN#70] Arab. "Karz"=moneys lent in interest and without fixed
term of payment, as opp. to "Dayn."

[FN#71] In text "Kintár"=a quintal, 98 to 99 lbs. avoir.: in
round numbers a cwt. a hundred weight: see vol. ii. 233. The old
version explains it by "A golden coin, equivalent to three
hundred livres French (?)." About the value of the Kintár of
gold, doctors differ. Some value it at 40 ounces, others make it
a leathern bag containing 1,080 to 1,100 dinars, and others 100
rotls (lbs.) of precious metal; while Al-Makrizi relates that
Mohammed the Apostle declared, "The Kintár of gold is twelve
hundred ounces." Baron de Slane (Ibn Khaldun i. 210) computes 100
Kintárs=1 million of francs.

[FN#72] In the text "wa lá ahad tafawwaha fina."

[FN#73] Arab. "Falsafah"=philosophy: see vols. v. 234 and vii.

[FN#74] In the text "Fa-yatrahúna," masc. for fem.

[FN#75] The writer probably remembered that the cat was a sacred
animal amongst the Egyptians: see Herod., ii. 66, and Diod. Sic.,
who tells us (vol. i. p. 94) of a Roman put to death under
Ptolemy Auletes for accidentally killing one of these holy
beasts. The artists of Bubastis, whose ruins are now for the
first time being scientifically explored, modelled the animal in
bronze with an admirable art akin to nature.

[FN#76] M. Houdas explains this miswritten passage, Quand le
soleil fut levé et qu'il pénétra par ces ouvertures (lis.
abkhásh, trou de flûte), il répandit le sable dans ces cylindres
formés par la lumière du soleil. It is not very intelligible. I
understand that the Sage went behind the Palace and drove through
a mound or heap of earth a narrow hole bearing east–-west, which
he partially filled up with sand; and so when the sun rose the
beams fell upon it and made it resemble a newly made cord of
white flax. M. Agoub (in Gauttier vol. vi. 344) shirks, as he is
wont to do, the whole difficulty. [The idea seems to me to be,
and I believe this is also the meaning of M. Houdas, that Haykar
produced streaks of light in an otherwise dark room by boring
holes in the back wall, and scattered the sand over them, so
that, while passing through the rays of the sun, it assumed the
appearance of ropes. Hence he says mockingly to Pharaoh, "Have
these ropes taken up, and each time you please I will twist thee
the like of them"--reading "Aftilu," lst p. aor. instead of
"Iftil", 2nd imper.--ST.)

[FN#77] Gauttier (vi. 347), Ces présens ne sont pas dignes de
lui; mais peu de chose contents les rois.

[FN#78] Haykar is a Sage who follows the religion of nature,
"Love thy friends and hate thy foes." Gauttier (vii. 349)
embroiders all this with Christian and French sentiment--
L'intention secrète de Heycar était de sauver la vie à l'ingrat
qui avait conspiré contre la sienne. Il voulait pour toute
vengeance, le mettre désormais dans l'impossibilité de nuire et
l'abandonner ensuite à ses remords, persuadé que le remords n'est
pas le moindre châtiment du coupable. True nonsense this when
talking of a character born bad: its only remorse is not to have
done worse than bad.

[FN#79] Striking the nape being the Moslem equivalent for "boxing

[FN#80] With this formula compare Chaucer, "The Manciple's Tale."

[FN#81] In the text "Znnákt-ha," which is unintelligible,
although the sense be clear.

[FN#82] A bird unknown to the dictionaries, apparently a species
of hawk.

[FN#83] In the text "Júrah Syán" for "Júrah Sayyál."

[FN#84] The tree having furnished the axe-helve.

[FN#85] M. Houdas translates Tu as médit de moi et tu m'as
accablé de tes méchancetés.

[FN#86] In text "Alif, bá, tá, sá," the latter written with a Sin
instead of a Thá, showing the vulgar use which extends from
Alexandria to Meccah.

[FN#87] So in French, deriding the difference between written and
spoken English, Ecrivez Salmonassar, prononcez crocodile.

[FN#88] Because he owes thee more than a debt of life.

[FN#89] i.e. "Tammat"=She (the tale) is finished.

[FN#90] MSS. pp.217-265. See the "Arabian Tales," translated by
Robert Heron (Edinburgh M.DCC.XCII.), where it is "The Robber-
Caliph; or Adventures of Haroun Alraschid, with the Princess of
Persia, and the fair Zutulbé," vol. i. pp. 2-69. Gauttier,
Histoire du Khalyfe de Baghdad, vol. vii. pp.117-150.

[FN#91] In text "Ahádís," esp. referred to the sayings of
Mohammed, and these are divided into two great sections, the
"Ahádís al-Nabawí," or the actual words pronounced by the
Apostle; and the "Ahádís al-Kudus," or the sentences attributed
to the Archangel Gabriel.

[FN#92] Heron has "the Festival of Haraphat," adding a power of
nonsense. This is the day of the sermon, when the pilgrims sleep
at Muzdalifah (Pilgrimage iii. 265). Kusayy, an ancestor of the
Apostle, was the first to prepare a public supper at this
oratory, and the custom was kept up by Harun al-Rashid, Zubaydah
and Sha'ab, mother of the Caliph al-Muktadir (Tabari ii. 368).
Alms are obligatory on the two great 'I'ds or festivals, al-Fitr
which ends the Ramazán fast and al-Kurbán during the annual
Pilgrimage. The dole must consist of at least a "Sa'" = 7 lbs. in
grain, dates, &c.

[FN#93] i.e. habited themselves in the garments of little people:
so to "enlarge the turband" is to assume the rank of an 'Álim or
learned man. "Jayb," the breast of a coat is afterwards used in
the sense of a pocket.

[FN#94] Either the Caliph was persuaded that the white wrist was
a "promise of better things above and below," or he proposed
marriage as a mere freak, intelligible enough when divorce costs
only two words.

[FN#95] In text "Nakdí" = the actual as opposed to the contingent
dowry: sec vols. vii. 126; ix. 32.

[FN#96] This is said in irony.

[FN#97] In text "Bashákhín" plur. of "Bashkhánah:" see Suppl.
vols. ii. 119; iii. 87.

[FN#98] In Heron he becomes "Kassera-Abocheroan." Anushirwan (in
full Anúshínrawán = sweet of soul) is popularly supposed to have
begun his rule badly after the fashion of Eastern despots, and
presently to have become the justest of monarchs. Nothing of
this, however, is found in Tabari (ii. 159).

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