Page images
PDF
EPUB

treatment of Jesus Christ himself, when on earth, and then declare, whether or not my advice is to be regarded.

• It is my opinion, that if government had not been too hasty, the Portsmouth mutiny would have been as readily overcome as that at Sheerness. A very trifling forbearance on their part would have occasioned the Portsmouth delegates to have been delivered up like those at Sheerness, to have settled all the accounts; this is not mere supposition, but founded upon facts, though not generally known. The mutineers have been accused of disloyalty, but it is a false accusation,—they were only so to their ill-fated tools the delegates. Both army and navy are, in my opinion, loyal ; and setting aside the liberties which they have lately taken with their superiors, were attached to the ruling powers. The ignorant and the violent will call me a criminal ; but when it is remembered what were the demands I made for my unprincipled employers, I know the discreet part of mankind will acquit me of criminality. I have reason to think the civil power would have acquitted me; but by the articles of war my destruction was irremediable, and of this government was well aware, or I should not have been tried by a court-martial. By the laws of war I acknowledge myself to be legally convicted, but by the laws of humanity (which should be the basis of all laws) I die illegally. My judges were respectable, but not totally disinterested, for one of the demands had for its tendency the abridgment of their emoluments in prize-money.

Now, my dear friend, I take my leave of you, and may Providence amply return every kindness I have received from your hands! Oh! pray for me, that in the last scene I may act my part like a man, and that when I am on the point of being offered up, I may be inspired with charity sufficient to forgive those for whom I am sacrificed. The moment my body is suspended, the spectators will behold a wretch who is exposed as an example of his own frailty, and of the disgrace and dishonour of those men for whom I meet so ignominious a death. Parting with life is no more than going to sleep; and God in his mercy grant I may sleep sweetly after my worldly toils, through the merits of my Lord and Saviour, JESUS CHRIST! Amen.

Adieu, eternally adieu !
From your dying friend,

RICHARD PARKER.' There are many things in this striking letter on which we could have wished to comment a little; but we believe, on the whole, we may as well leave it to speak for itself. It will, at least, repay our readers for the disgust with which they must have considered our extracts from the mutinous parts of · The Port-Admiral;' perhaps it may read a lesson to the author of that scandalous production himself.

ART.

Art. VIII.-1. The Adventures of Hatim Tuï, a Romance.

Translated from the Persian. By Duncan Forbes, A.M. 4to. . pp. 214. London. 1830. · 2. Customs and Manners of the Women of Persia, and their

Domestic Superstitions. Translated from the original Persian
Manuscript. By James Atkinson, Esq. of the Honourable East
India Company's Bengal Medical Service. Svo. pp. 93.

London. 1832.
THERE is no use whatever in our sitting down to read the ad-

I ventures of Hatim Taï, unless we first revive in our souls the rainbow-hues of early youth, and recall that inexperienced ardour which prompted us easily to believe in the mystic potency of talismans, and in the obedience rendered to them by genii of earth and air and ocean. We must again believe, as we then believed, that the imagination has a real living world of its own, far apart from this land of spinning-jennies and rail-roads—a fairy region where palaces of gold, provided with every luxury that can regale the sense, greet the wearied traveller just at the moment he is about to sink upon the parched desert from exhaustion—where diamonds as large as ostrich eggs, and emeralds of the purest green, are trodden upon at every step we advance--and lakes of limpid water spread before us, on which boats with self-expanding sails are most conveniently waiting to waft us from island to island. Nor are we to be surprised if, now and then, when we have lost our way in some gloomy forest, a humane lion or a gentle bear should shake us by the hand, and entertain us with right learned and edifying discourse, while, from his superior knowledge of the country, he conducts us in safety to the cavern in the mountain of which we happen to be in search. Neither are we to look upon the circumstance as otherwise than perfectly natural and auspicious, if, while gliding over the smooth sea, the tenants of the deep, albeit unused to the vocal mood, favour us with a ravishing melody, timed to the music of myriads of shells struck by invisible hands in the azure depths beneath.

A grave and argumentative treatise might be written on the question, whether the more civilized of mankind have in fact gained any accession to their happiness, by permitting the increase of exact knowledge to limit the free range of the imagination. Agriculture may probably be improved by the multiplication of enclosure bills; but the sports of the village, and, in some instances, the beauty of the landscape, are sad sufferers from this species of parliamentary interposition. Sir David Brewster has, with impious hand,' attempted to destroy all the mysteries of our little planet by showing that magic is, in truth, nothing more than nature unexplained. We have the consolation of believing that

the

the Sicilians, at least, have not yet read his book, and that they may go on for centuries to come in beholding, as supernatural wonders, the palaces, and towers, the green valleys with herds and flocks reposing in the shade, and the hosts of armed men on foot and on horseback, that sometimes suddenly appear to occupy the sea between them and the fair shores of Italy. We doubt if we should exchange for the cold philosophy of the Scotchman the feelings of astonishment and awe that must have excited the simple Cumberlander beyond himself, when he beheld with his corporeal eye the shadowy huntsman and his dog pursuing their wild chace of horses along Souterfell side ; and still more when he, and all his neighbours too, saw countless troops of horsenen traversing the same perilous steeps. We venture to say that Daniel Stricket would not have been a whit the happier, if he had been told that these strange spectacles were referrible only to the refractory tricks of the atmosphere.

When we choose to be merely rational, and to wander in the groves of the academiy, we can experience a sensible delight in solving a difficult problem of mathematics. But this species of pleasure is but as a single ray of light compared with the glorious sunshine which cheered the mind, when first we accompanied Aladdin through the wondrous regions that were opened to him by his enchanted lamp. Even now the visions of early days come crowding upon the fancy whenever we chance to meet with the name of Haroun Alraschid. We resume our acquaintance with him as with a long-lost friend, whom we had known as a beloved meinber of our family circle-we feel towards him as if he had been a part of our own history, and as if we had dwelt beneath his patriarchal rule in the charmed city of Bagdad.

Had we been somewhat sooner acquainted with Hatim Taï, we should doubtless have held him also in considerable estimation. In Persia, Hindostan, and Arabia, his memory is quite as popular as that of the caliph, and his adventures are read with universal admiration. In our sunless climate they will be deemed marvellous in the extreme; but that very attribute ought to be looked upon as their greatest attraction, next to the indefatigable benevolence which they uniformly display.

Hatim Taï flourished in the latter half of the sixth century of the Christian æra, as the acknowledged chieftain of some thousands of his own tribe, who dwelt in Yemen, or Arabia Felix. According to an Arabian authority of the twelfth century, he was liberal, brave, wise, and victorious : when he fought, he conquered ; when he plundered, he carried off; when he was asked, he gave; when he shot his arrow, he hit the mark; and whomsoever he took captive, he liberated.' Such a man would VOL. XLIX. NO, XCVIII.

2 M

have

. have been justly deemed a hero in any country. His exploits have furnished copious themes to Arabian poetry and romance. D'Herbelot says, that his tomb is still to be seen in a small village of Yemen, called Aovaredh, and that the natives still visit it with that reverence which the virtues of Hatim Taï so eminently deserved.

The tales which are here translated by Mr. Forbes are seven in number; and they record the various dangers and difficulties which the hero was content to encounter, in order to promote a union between a beautiful damsel of unlimited wealth, and a young prince who was smitten more by her personal charms than her riches. But the lady, like some of our Provençal high-born maidens, proposed certain trials through which her lover must contend for her hand, before he could obtain it. The ordeal in this case assumes the shape of the following seven enigmas, which, at the instigation of her cunning nurse, she proclaimed as necessary to be solved by any person aspiring to her favour :

1. What I saw once I long for a second time.
2. Do good and cast it upon the waters.
3. Do no evil; if you do, such shall you meet with.
4. He who speaks the truth is always tranquil.
5. Let him bring an account of the mountain of Nida.
6. Let him produce a pearl of the size of a duck's egg.
7. Let him bring an account of the bath of Bad-gard.'—p.7.

These, perhaps, ought rather to be called so many labours which were to be performed after the Herculean fashion. The Prince Munir of Syria, to whom they were proposed, set about performing them to the best of his ability ; but having no clue whatever to guide him, he wandered in vain over mountains and deserts, until his good fortune conducted him to the borders of Yemen, where he sat down under a tree and gave vent to his tears, which were as copious as the showers of early spring. Hatim happening to pass that way on a hunting excursion, beheld the young prince, and having learned from him the cause of his grief, resolved generously to undertake the labours which had been assigned to the lover. Trusting to Providence, he forth with set out for the wilderness, to find the man who constantly exclaimed, 'What I once saw I long for a second time. Before he proceeded far upon his journey, he espied a wolf pursuing a inilch doe, and his heart being touched with kindliness towards the young to whom the milk belonged, he entreated the wolf to desist from the chace, and to accept a slice from his own thigh, by way of a bonus for abstaining from crime. The wolf agreed; and having feasted upon the food thus seasonably provided, he in return informed Hatim, that the man of whom he was in search dwelt in

the

the desert of Hawaïda, and further, pointed out the way which he was to go.

Hatim soon after found himself in the kingdom of the bears, by whom he was received with the greatest politeness and hospitality.' He had, however, the misfortune to attract the particular regard of the king, who insisted that the hero should marry his daughter. This proposal Hatim respectfully declined, alleging that he was then engaged in a particular service, which he could not think of interrupting. The bear-king threatened to commit him to a dungeon, where he should remain without food until the day of judgment. Hatim was willing to undergo even this punishment rather than become the husband of a cub, and forthwith he was sent to prison. But sleep came to his aid; and in his dreams an old man appeared to him, who recommended that he should acquiesce in the king's proposal. Having acted upon this suggestion, he was introduced to his bride, whom he was astonished to find as beautiful as the moon in her fourteenth night; and seated on a splendid throne, arrayed in gold and jewels. Seeing her thus to his infinite surprise one of his own, species, he accepted her hand, and took up his abode in her palace. Every day the king provided them with a variety of fruits ; but Hatim being soon satiated with that kind of food, sent the king word that it did not agree with him, and requested something more substantial. Flour, sugar, milk, and butter, were forthwith abundantly served up to him in vessels of porcelain ; and Hatim fared sumptuously twice a-day, on food the most delicious, which he dressed himself.

When six months were elapsed, Hatim obtained, through the intercession of his wife, leave of absence, that he might accomplish his enterprise. He once more found himself in the desert, upon which no human habitation appeared. But still trusting in Providence, he courageously proceeded. Every evening a mysterious man, with a tattered garment, brought him a loaf and a jug full of water ; but, while he was thus cheerfully making progress, he suddenly beheld an immense dragon, who, raising his head to the skies, stooped and devoured him at one fell swoop. Here, no doubt, Hatim must have been promptly digested, had not his wife fixed a talismanic pearl in his turban before his departure, which protected him from dissolution. The dragon, finding him inconvenient, ejected him on the third day; and Hatim, as soon as his clothes were dried in the sun, resumed his journey. Arriving on the banks of a river, he sat down to refresh himself, and seeing great numbers of fish crowding near him, he was congratulating himself, while washing his clothes, upon the abundant supply of food which he was about to obtain, when a mermaid captured 2 M 2

him,

« PreviousContinue »