"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'etablir un texte d'apres differents manuscrits, il est certain qu'il faut prendre pour base une-seule redaction. Mais il n'est pas de meme d'une traduction. Il est conforme aux regles de la saine critique litteraire, 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 readable.
"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 "Akhlak-i wa Sirati" (sing. of Siyar) by caractere 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 Rawi 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 Rawi? Again I render "Mal'unah" (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 Janshah). 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 Rawi 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 Rababah 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 "Gulistan." 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 Tawil 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 monotonous.
"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 original.
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'etre 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 mediaeval 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 Abu Nowas and the Cure 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 devergondage; 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 Rum; 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 nist"—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 Mazanderan, 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 Afghanistan 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 Bibliotheque 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 Palaeographical 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'a 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-Makrizi, 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 College 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 bevues, 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 Bibliotheque 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'Ala al-Din (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 years.[FN#457]
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 Gharib and his brother 'Ajib (vol. vi. 257) and that of Omar ibn Al-Nu'uman, "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 qua 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, "Hadimu 'I-Lizzati wa Mufarriku 'l-Jama'at," 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 "aera 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 ruhi = thou scatterest my wits, in the Calc. Edit. Saghgharta ruhi = 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 echantillon 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'llahi" 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 Cyclopaedia, 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 Muller (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 reclame 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 due.
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 clientele, "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 sense.
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 ecoeurant 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 Goethe 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 offense. 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 vulgarite 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 teacher.
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 aegis. 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 Attaf." 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-Asnam (Supp. vol. iii.) and translations of three tales which he judged inexpedient to publish (Supp. vol. iv.). M. O. Houdas, Professeur d' Arabe Vulgaire a l'ecole des langues Orientales vicantes, Paris, copied for me the Arabic text of Zayn al-Asnam 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, Naskhi 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 Bibliotheque 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 collection.
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 Khaldun:—
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 communique'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 naive 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 translation.
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 Laila 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 Shahrazad, all these combine to give a unique charm and interest to this "perfect expositor of the mediaeval 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 Egypt.
"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 naivete 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 mecanique 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'aeuvre, 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 Anagke, 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."