Terminal Essay Richard Burton


The reader who has reached this terminal stage will hardly require my assurance that he has seen the mediaeval Arab at his best and, perhaps, at his worst. In glancing over the myriad pictures of this panorama, those who can discern the soul of goodness in things evil will note the true nobility of the Moslem's mind in the Moyen Age, and the cleanliness of his life from cradle to grave. As a child he is devoted to his parents, fond of his comrades and respectful to his "pastors and masters," even schoolmasters. As a lad he prepares for manhood with a will and this training occupies him throughout youthtide: he is a gentleman in manners without awkwardness, vulgar astonishment or mauvaise-honte. As a man he is high-spirited and energetic, always ready to fight for his Sultan, his country and, especially, his Faith: courteous and affable, rarely failing in temperance of mind and self-respect, self-control and self-command: hospitable to the stranger, attached to his fellow citizens, submissive to superiors and kindly to inferiors--if such classes exist: Eastern despotisms have arrived nearer the idea of equality and fraternity than any republic yet invented. As a friend he proves a model to the Damons and Pythiases: as a lover an exemplar to Don Quijote without the noble old Caballero's touch of eccentricity. As a knight he is the mirror of chivalry, doing battle for the weak and debelling the strong, while ever "defending the honour of women." As a husband his patriarchal position causes him to be loved and fondly loved by more than one wife: as a father affection for his children rules his life: he is domestic in the highest degree and he finds few pleasures beyond the bosom of his family. Lastly, his death is simple, pathetic end edifying as the life which led to it.

Considered in a higher phase, the mediaeval Moslem mind displays, like the ancient Egyptian, a most exalted moral idea, the deepest reverence for all things connected with his religion and a sublime conception of the Unity and Omnipotence of the Deity. Noteworthy too is a proud resignation to the decrees of Fate and Fortune (Kaza wa Kadar), of Destiny and Predestination--a feature which ennobles the low aspect of Al-Islam even in these her days of comparative degeneration and local decay. Hence his moderation in prosperity, his fortitude in adversity, his dignity, his perfect self-dominance and, lastly, his lofty quietism which sounds the true heroic ring. This again is softened and tempered by a simple faith in the supremacy of Love over Fear, an unbounded humanity and charity for the poor and helpless: an unconditional forgiveness of the direst injuries ("which is the note of the noble"); a generosity and liberality which at times seem impossible and an enthusiasm for universal benevolence and beneficence which, exalting kindly deeds done to man above every form of holiness, constitute the root and base of Oriental, nay, of all, courtesy. And the whole is crowned by pure trust and natural confidence in the progress and perfectability of human nature, which he exalts instead of degrading; this he holds to be the foundation stone of society and indeed the very purpose of its existence. His Pessimism resembles far more the optimism which the so-called Books of Moses borrowed from the Ancient Copt than the mournful and melancholy creed of the true Pessimist, as Solomon the Hebrew, the Indian Buddhist and the esoteric European imitators of Buddhism. He cannot but sigh when contemplating the sin and sorrow, the pathos and bathos of the world; and feel the pity of it, with its shifts and changes ending in nothingness, its scanty happiness and its copious misery. But his melancholy is expressed in--

"A voice divinely sweet, a voice no less Divinely sad."

Nor does he mourn as they mourn who have no hope: he has an absolute conviction in future compensation; and, meanwhile, his lively poetic impulse, the poetry of ideas, not of formal verse, and his radiant innate idealism breathe a soul into the merest matter of squalid work-a-day life and awaken the sweetest harmonies of Nature epitomised in Humanity.

Such was the Moslem at a time when "the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition hung so thick on the intellectual horizon of Europe as to exclude every ray of learning that darted from the East and when all that was polite or elegant in literature was classed among the Studia Arabum"[FN#126] Nor is the shady side of the picture less notable. Our Arab at his worst is a mere barbarian who has not forgotten the savage. He is a model mixture of childishness and astuteness, of simplicity and cunning, concealing levity of mind under solemnity of aspect. His stolid instinctive conservatism grovels before the tyrant rule of routine, despite that turbulent and licentious independence which ever suggests revolt against the ruler: his mental torpidity, founded upon physical indolence, renders immediate action and all manner of exertion distasteful: his conscious weakness shows itself in overweening arrogance and intolerance. His crass and self- satisfied ignorance makes him glorify the most ignoble superstitions, while acts of revolting savagery are the natural results of a malignant fanaticism and a furious hatred of every creed beyond the pale of Al-Islam.

It must be confessed that these contrasts make a curious and interesting tout ensemble.

Section I THE ORIGIN OF THE NIGHTS. A.--The Birth place.

Here occur the questions, Where and When was written and to Whom do we owe a prose-poem which, like the dramatic epos of Herodotus, has no equal?

I proceed to lay before the reader a proces-verbal of the sundry pleadings already in court as concisely as is compatible with intelligibility, furnishing him with references to original authorities and warning him that a fully-detailed account would fill a volume. Even my own reasons for decidedly taking one side and rejecting the other must be stated briefly. And before entering upon this subject I would distribute the prose-matter of our Recueil of Folk-lore under three heads

1. The Apologue or Beast-fable proper, a theme which may be of any age, as it is found in the hieroglyphs and in the cuneiforms.

2. The Fairy-tale, as for brevity we may term the stories based upon supernatural agency: this was a favourite with olden Persia; and Mohammed, most austere and puritanical of the "Prophets," strongly objected to it because preferred by the more sensible of his converts to the dry legends of the Talmud and the Koran, quite as fabulous without the halo and glamour of fancy.

3. The Histories and historical anecdotes, analects, and acroamata, in which the names, when not used achronistically by the editor or copier, give unerring data for the earliest date a quo and which, by the mode of treatment, suggest the latest.

Each of these constituents will require further notice when the subject-matter of the book is discussed. The metrical portion of The Nights may also be divided into three categories, viz.:--

1. The oldest and classical poetry of the Arabs, e.g. the various quotations from the "Suspended Poems."

2. The mediaeval, beginning with the laureates of Al-Rashid's court, such as Al-Asma'i and Abu Nowas, and ending with Al-Hariri A.H. 446-516 = 1030-1100.

3. The modern quotations and the pieces de circonstance by the editors or copyists of the Compilation.[FN#127]

Upon the metrical portion also further notices must be offered at the end of this Essay.

In considering the uncle derivatur of The Nights we must carefully separate subject-matter from language-manner. The neglect of such essential difference has caused the remark, "It is not a little curious that the origin of a work which has been known to Europe and has been studied by many during nearly two centuries, should still be so mysterious, and that students have failed in all attempts to detect the secret." Hence also the chief authorities at once branched off into two directions. One held the work to be practically Persian: the other as persistently declared it to be purely Arab.

Professor Galland, in his Epistle Dedicatory to the Marquise d'O, daughter of his patron M. de Guillerague, showed his literary acumen and unfailing sagacity by deriving The Nights from India via Persia; and held that they had been reduced to their present shape by an Auteur Arabe inconnu. This reference to India, also learnedly advocated by M. Langles, was inevitable in those days: it had not then been proved that India owed all her literature to far older civilisations and even that her alphabet the Nagari, erroneously called Devanagari, was derived through Phoenicia and Himyar-land from Ancient Egypt. So Europe was contented to compare The Nights with the Fables of Pilpay for upwards of a century. At last the Pehlevi or old Iranian origin of the work found an able and strenuous advocate in Baron von Hammer-Purgstall [FN#128] who worthily continued what Galland had begun: although a most inexact writer, he was extensively read in Oriental history and poetry. His contention was that the book is an Arabisation of the Persian Hazar Afsanah or Thousand Tales and he proved his point.

Von Hammer began by summoning into Court the "Herodotus of the Arabs, (Ali Abu al-Hasan) Al-Mas'udi who, in A.H. 333 (=944) about one generation before the founding of Cairo, published at Bassorah the first edition of his far-famed Muruj al-Dahab wa Ma'adin al- Jauhar, Meads of Gold and Mines of Gems. The Styrian Orientalist[FN#129] quotes with sundry misprints[FN#130] an ampler version of a passage in Chapter lxviii., which is abbreviated in the French translation of M. C. Barbier de Meynard.[FN#131]

"And, indeed, many men well acquainted with their (Arab) histories[FN#132] opine that the stories above mentioned and other trifles were strung together by men who commended themselves to the Kings by relating them, and who found favour with their contemporaries by committing them to memory and by reciting them. Of such fashion[FN#133] is the fashion of the books which have come down to us translated from the Persian (Farasiyah), the Indian (Hindiyah),[FN#134] and the Graeco-Roman (Rumiyah)[FN#135]: we have noted the judgment which should be passed upon compositions of this nature. Such is the book entituled Hazar Afsanah or The Thousand Tales, which word in Arabic signifies Khurafah (Facetioe): it is known to the public under the name of '[he Boot of a Thousand Nights and a Night, (Kitab Alf Laylah wa Laylah).[FN#136] This is an history of a King and his Wazir, the minister's daughter and a slave-girl (jariyah) who are named Shirzad (lion-born) and Dinar- zad (ducat-born).[FN#137] Such also is the Tale of Farzah,[FN#138] (alii Firza), and Simas, containing details concerning the Kings and Wazirs of Hind: the Book of Al-Sindibad[FN#139] and others of a similar stamp."

Von Hammer adds, quoting chaps. cxvi. of Al-Mas'udi that Al-Mansur (second Abbaside A.H. 136-158 = 754-775, and grandfather of Al- Rashid) caused many translations of Greek and Latin, Syriac and Persian (Pehlevi) works to be made into Arabic, specifying the "Kalilah wa Damnah,"[FN#140] the Fables of Bidpai (Pilpay), the Logic of Aristotle, the Geography of Ptolemy and the Elements of Euclid. Hence he concludes "L'original des Mille et une Nuits * *

  • selon toute vraisemblance, a ete traduit au temps du Khalife

Mansur, c'est-a-dire trente ans avant le regne du Khalife Haroun al-Raschid, qui, par la suite, devait lui-meme jouer un si grand role dans ces histoires." He also notes that, about a century after Al-Mas'udi had mentioned the Hazar Afsanah, it was versified and probably remodelled by one "Rasti," the Takhallus or nom de plume of a bard at the Court of Mahmud, the Ghaznevite Sultan who, after a reign of thirty-three years, ob. A.D. 1030.[FN#141]

Von Hammer some twelve years afterwards (Journ. Asiat August, 1839) brought forward, in his "Note sur l'origine Persane des Mille et une Nuits," a second and an even more important witness: this was the famous Kitab al-Fihrist,[FN#142] or Index List of (Arabic) works, written (in A.H. 387 = 987) by Mohammed bin Is'hak al-Nadim (cup-companion or equerry), "popularly known as Ebou Yacoub el- Werrek."[FN#143] The following is an extract (p. 304) from the Eighth Discourse which consists of three arts (funun).[FN#144] "The first section on the history of the confabulatores nocturni (tellers of night tales) and the relaters of fanciful adventures, together with the names of books treating upon such subjects. Mohammed ibn Is'hak saith: The first who indited themes of imagination and made books of them, consigning these works to the libraries, and who ordered some of them as though related by the tongues of brute beasts, were the palaeo-Persians (and the Kings of the First Dynasty). The Ashkanian Kings of the Third Dynasty appended others to them and they were augmented and amplified in the days of the Sassanides (the fourth and last royal house). The Arabs also translated them into Arabic, and the loquent and eloquent polished and embellished them and wrote others resembling them. The first work of such kind was entituled 'The Book of Hazar Afsan,' signifying Alf Khurafah, the argument whereof was as follows. A King of their Kings was wont, when he wedded a woman and had lain one night with her, to slay her on the next morning. Presently he espoused a damsel of the daughters of the Kings, Shahrazad[FN#145] hight, one endowed with intellect and erudition and, whenas she lay with him, she fell to telling him tales of fancy; moreover she used to connect the story at the end of the night with that which might induce the King to preserve her alive and to ask her of its ending on the next night until a thousand nights had passed over her. Meanwhile he cohabited with her till she was blest by boon of child of him, when she acquainted him with the device she had wrought upon him; wherefore he admired her intelligence and inclined to her and preserved her life. That King had also a Kahramanah (nurse and duenna, not entremetteuse), hight Dinarzad (Dunyazad?), who aided the wife in this (artifice). It is also said that this book was composed for (or, by) Humai daughter of Bahman[FN#146] and in it were included other matters. Mohammed bin Is'hak adds: --And the truth is, Inshallah,[FN#147] that the first who solaced himself with hearing night-tales was Al-Iskandar (he of Macedon) and he had a number of men who used to relate to him imaginary stories and provoke him to laughter: he, however, designed not therein merely to please himself, but that he might thereby become the more cautious and alert. After him the Kings in like fashion made use of the book entitled 'Hazar Afsan.' It containeth a thousand nights, but less than two hundred night- stories, for a single history often occupied several nights. I have seen it complete sundry times; and it is, in truth, a corrupted book of cold tales."[FN#148]

A writer in The Athenoeum,[FN#149] objecting to Lane's modern date for The Nights, adduces evidence to prove the greater antiquity of the work. (Abu al-Hasan) Ibn Sa'id (bin Musa al-Gharnati = of Granada) born in A.H. 615 = 1218 and ob. Tunis A.H. 685 = 1286, left his native city and arrived at Cairo in A.H. 639 = 1241. This Spanish poet and historian wrote Al-Muhalla bi al-Ash'ar (The Adorned with Verses), a Topography of Egypt and Africa, which is apparently now lost. In this he quotes from Al-Kurtubi, the Cordovan;[FN#150] and he in his turn is quoted by the Arab historian of Spain, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Mohammed al Makkari, in the "Windwafts of Perfume from the Branches of Andalusia the Blooming"[FN#151] (A.D. 1628-29). Mr. Payne (x. 301) thus translates from Dr. Dozy's published text.

"Ibn Said (may God have mercy upon him!) sets forth in his book, El Muhella bi-s-Shaar, quoting from El Curtubi the story of the building of the Houdej in the Garden of Cairo, the which was of the magnificent pleasaunces of the Fatimite Khalifs, the rare of ordinance and surpassing, to wit that the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam- illah[FN#152] let build it for a Bedouin woman, the love of whom had gotten the mastery of him, in the neighbourhood of the 'Chosen Garden'[FN#153] and used to resort often thereto and was slain as he went thither; and it ceased not to be a pleasuring-place for the Khalifs after him. The folk abound in stories of the Bedouin girl and Ibn Meyyah[FN#154] of the sons of her uncle (cousin?) and what hangs thereby of the mention of El-Aamir, so that the tales told of them on this account became like unto the story of El Bettal[FN#155] and the Thousand Nights and a Night and what resembleth them."

The same passage from Ibn Sa'id, corresponding in three MSS., occurs in the famous Khitat[FN#156] attributed to Al-Makrizi (ob. A.D. 1444) and was thus translated from a MS. in the British Museum by Mr. John Payne (ix. 303)

"The Khalif El-Aamir bi-ahkam-illah set apart, in the neighbourhood of the Chosen Garden, a place for his beloved the Bedouin maid (Aaliyah)[FN#157] which he named El Houdej. Quoth Ibn Said, in the book El-Muhella bi-l-ashar, from the History of El Curtubi, concerning the traditions of the folk of the story of the Bedouin maid and Ibn Menah (Meyyah) of the sons of her uncle and what hangs thereby of the mention of the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam-illah, so that their traditions (or tales) upon the garden became like unto El Bettal[FN#158] and the Thousand Nights and what resembleth them."

This evidently means either that The Nights existed in the days of Al-'Amir (xiith cent.) or that the author compared them with a work popular in his own age. Mr. Payne attaches much importance to the discrepancy of titles, which appears to me a minor detail. The change of names is easily explained. Amongst the Arabs, as amongst the wild Irish, there is divinity (the proverb says luck) in odd numbers and consequently the others are inauspicious. Hence as Sir Wm. Ouseley says (Travels ii. 21), the number Thousand and One is a favourite in the East (Olivier, Voyages vi. 385, Paris 1807), and quotes the Cistern of the "Thousand and One Columns" at Constantinople. Kaempfer (Amoen, Exot. p. 38) notes of the Takiyahs or Dervishes' convents and the Mazars or Santons' tombs near Koniah (Iconium), "Multa seges sepulchralium quae virorum ex omni aevo doctissimorum exuvias condunt, mille et unum recenset auctor Libri qui inscribitur Hassaaer we jek mesaar (Hazar ve yek Mezar), i.e., mille et unum mausolea." A book, The Hazar o yek Ruz ( = 1001 Days), was composed in the mid-xviith century by the famous Dervaysh Mukhlis, Chief Sofi of Isfahan: it was translated into French by Petis de la Croix, with a preface by Cazotte, and was englished by Ambrose Phillips. Lastly, in India and throughout Asia where Indian influence extends, the number of cyphers not followed by a significant number is indefinite: for instance, to determine hundreds the Hindus affix the required figure to the end and for 100 write 101; for 1000, 1001. But the grand fact of the Hazar Afsanah is its being the archetype of The Nights, unquestionably proving that the Arab work borrows from the Persian bodily its cadre or frame-work, the principal characteristic; its exordium and its denouement, whilst the two heroines still bear the old Persic names.

Baron Silvestre de Sacy[FN#159]--clarum et venerabile nomen--is the chief authority for the Arab provenance of The Nights. Apparently founding his observations upon Galland,[FN#160] he is of opinion that the work, as now known, was originally composed in Syria[FN#161] and written in the vulgar dialect; that it was never completed by the author, whether he was prevented by death or by other cause; and that imitators endeavoured to finish the work by inserting romances which were already known but which formed no part of the original recueil, such as the Travels of Sindbad the Seaman, the Book of the Seven Wazirs and others. He accepts the Persian scheme and cadre of the work, but no more. He contends that no considerable body of prae-Mohammedan or non-Arabic fiction appears in the actual texts[FN#162]; and that all the tales, even those dealing with events localised in Persia, India, China and other infidel lands and dated from ante-islamitic ages mostly with the naivest anachronism, confine themselves to depicting the people, manners and customs of Baghdad and Mosul, Damascus and Cairo, during the Abbaside epoch, and he makes a point of the whole being impregnated with the strongest and most zealous spirit of Mohammedanism. He points out that the language is the popular or vulgar dialect, differing widely from the classical and literary; that it contains many words in common modern use and that generally it suggests the decadence of Arabian literature. Of one tale he remarks:--The History of the loves of Camaralzaman and Budour, Princess of China, is no more Indian or Persian than the others. The prince's father has Moslems for subjects, his mother is named Fatimah and when imprisoned he solaces himself with reading the Koran. The Genii who interpose in these adventures are, again, those who had dealings with Solomon. In fine, all that we here find of the City of the Magians, as well as of the fire-worshippers, suffices to show that one should not expect to discover in it anything save the production of a Moslem writer.

All this, with due deference to so high an authority, is very superficial. Granted, which nobody denies, that the archetypal Hazar Afsanah was translated from Persic into Arabic nearly a thousand years ago, it had ample time and verge enough to assume another and a foreign dress, the corpus however remaining untouched. Under the hands of a host of editors, scribes and copyists, who have no scruples anent changing words, names and dates, abridging descriptions and attaching their own decorations, the florid and rhetorical Persian would readily be converted into the straight-forward, business-like, matter of fact Arabic. And what easier than to islamise the old Zoroasterism, to transform Ahriman into Iblis the Shaytan, Jan bin Jan into Father Adam, and the Divs and Peris of Kayomars and the olden Guebre Kings into the Jinns and Jinniyahs of Sulayman? Volumes are spoken by the fact that the Arab adapter did not venture to change the Persic names of the two heroines and of the royal brothers or to transfer the mise- en-scene any whither from Khorasan or outer Persia. Where the story has not been too much worked by the literato's pen, for instance the "Ten Wazirs" (in the Bresl. Edit. vi. I9I-343) which is the Guebre Bakhtiyar-namah, the names and incidents are old Iranian and with few exceptions distinctly Persian. And at times we can detect the process of transition, e.g. when the Mazin of Khorasan[FN#163] of the Wortley Montagu MS. becomes the Hasan of Bassorah of the Turner Macan MS. (Mac. Edit.).

Evidently the learned Baron had not studied such works as the Tota- kahani or Parrot-chat which, notably translated by Nakhshabi from the Sanskrit Suka-Saptati,[FN#164] has now become as orthodoxically Moslem as The Nights. The old Hindu Rajah becomes Ahmad Sultan of Balkh, the Prince is Maymun and his wife Khujisteh. Another instance of such radical change is the later Syriac version of Kaliliah wa Dimnah,[FN#165] old "Pilpay" converted to Christianity. We find precisely the same process in European folk-lore; for instance the Gesta Romanorum in which, after five hundred years, the life, manners and customs of the Romans lapse into the knightly and chivalrous, the Christian and ecclesiastical developments of mediaeval Europe. Here, therefore, I hold that the Austrian Arabist has proved his point whilst the Frenchman has failed.

Mr. Lane, during his three years' labour of translation, first accepted Von Hammer's view and then came round to that of De Sacy; differing, however, in minor details, especially in the native country of The Nights. Syria had been chosen because then the most familiar to Europeans: the "Wife of Bath" had made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem; but few cared to visit the barbarous and dangerous Nile-Valley. Mr. Lane, however, was an enthusiast for Egypt or rather for Cairo, the only part of it he knew; and, when he pronounces The Nights to be of purely "Arab," that is, of Nilotic origin, his opinion is entitled to no more deference than his deriving the sub-African and negroid Fellah from Arabia, the land per excellentiam of pure and noble blood. Other authors have wandered still further afield. Some finding Mosul idioms in the Recueil, propose "Middlegates" for its birth-place and Mr. W. G. P. Palgrave boldly says "The original of this entertaining work appears to have been composed in Baghdad about the eleventh century; another less popular but very spirited version is probably of Tunisian authorship and somewhat later."[FN#166]

B.--The Date.

The next point to consider is the date of The Nights in its present form; and here opinions range between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries. Professor Galland began by placing it arbitrarily in the middle of the thirteenth. De Sacy, who abstained from detailing reasons and who, forgetting the number of editors and scribes through whose hands it must have passed, argued only from the nature of the language and the peculiarities of style, proposed le milieu du neuvieme siecle de l'hegire ( = A.D. 1445-6) as its latest date. Mr. Hole, who knew The Nights only through Galland's version, had already advocated in his "Remarks" the close of the fifteenth century; and M. Caussin (de Perceval), upon the authority of a supposed note in Galland's MS.[FN#167] (vol. iii. fol. 20, verso), declares the compiler to have been living in A.D. 1548 and 1565. Mr. Lane says "Not begun earlier than the last fourth of the fifteenth century nor ended before the first fourth of the sixteenth," i.e. soon after Egypt was conquered by Selim, Sultan of the Osmanli Turks in A.D. 1517. Lastly the learned Dr. Weil says in his far too scanty Vorwort (p. ix. 2nd Edit.):-"Das wahrscheinlichste duerfte also sein, das im 15. Jahrhundert ein Egyptier nach altern Vorbilde Erzaehlungen fuer 1001 Naechte theils erdichtete, theils nach muendlichen Sagen, oder fruehern schriftlichen Aufzeichnungen, bearbeitete, dass er aber entweder sein Werk nicht vollendete, oder dass ein Theil desselben verloren ging, so dass das Fehlende von Andern bis ins 16. Jahrhundert hinein durch neue Erzaehlungen ergaenzt wurde."

But, as justly observed by Mr. Payne, the first step when enquiring into the original date of The Nights is to determine the nucleus of the Repertory by a comparison of the four printed texts and the dozen MSS. which have been collated by scholars.[FN#168] This process makes it evident that the tales common to all are the following thirteen:--

1. The Introduction (with a single incidental story "The Bull and

the Ass").

2. The Trader and the Jinni (with three incidentals). 3. The Fisherman and the Jinni (with four). 4. The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad (with six). 5. The Tale of the Three Apples. 6. The Tale of Nur-al-Din Ali and his son Badr al-Din Hasan. 7. The Hunchback's Tale (with eleven incidentals). 8. Nur al-Din and Anis al-Jalis. 9. Tale of Ghanim bin 'Ayyub (with two incidentals). 10. Ali bin Bakkar and Shams al-Nahar (with two). 11. Tale of Kamar al-Zaman. 12. The Ebony Horse; and 13. Julnar the Seaborn.

These forty-two tales, occupying one hundred and twenty Nights, form less than a fifth part of the whole collection which in the Mac. Edit.[FN#169] contains a total of two hundred and sixty-four Hence Dr. Patrick Russell,[FN#170] the Natural Historian of Aleppo,[FN#171] whose valuable monograph amply deserves study even in this our day, believed that the original Nights did not outnumber two hundred, to which subsequent writers added till the total of a thousand and one was made up. Dr. Jonathan Scott,[FN#172] who quotes Russell, "held it highly probable that the tales of the original Arabian Nights did not run through more than two hundred and eighty Nights, if so many." So this suggestion I may subjoin, "habent sue fate libelli." Galland, who preserves in his Mille et une Nuits only about one fourth of The Nights, ends them in No. cclxiv[FN#173] with the seventh voyage of Sindbad: after that he intentionally omits the dialogue between the sisters and the reckoning of time, to proceed uninterruptedly with the tales. And so his imitator, Petis de la Croix,[FN#174] in his Mille et un Jours, reduces the thousand to two hundred and thirty-two.

The internal chronological evidence offered by the Collection is useful only in enabling us to determine that the tales were not written after a certain epoch: the actual dates and, consequently, all deductions from them, are vitiated by the habits of the scribes. For instance we find the Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni (vol. i. 41) placed in A.H. I69 = A.D. 785,[FN#175] which is hardly possible. The immortal Barber in the "Tailor's Tale" (vol. i. 304) places his adventure with the unfortunate lover on Safar 10, A.H. 653 ( = March 25th, 1255) and 7,320 years of the era of Alexander.[FN#176] This is supported in his Tale of Himself (vol. i. pp. 317-348), where he dates his banishment from Baghdad during the reign of the penultimate Abbaside, Al-Mustansir bi 'llah[FN#177] (A.H. 623-640 = 1225-1242), and his return to Baghdad after the accession of another Caliph who can be no other but Al- Muntasim bi 'llah (A.H. 640-656 = A.D. 1242-1258). Again at the end of the tale (vol. i. 350) he is described as "an ancient man, past his ninetieth year" and "a very old man" in the days of Al- Mustansir (vol. i. 318); SO that the Hunchback's adventure can hardly be placed earlier than A.D. 1265 or seven years after the storming of Baghdad by Hulaku Khan, successor of Janghiz Khan, a terrible catastrophe which resounded throughout the civilised world. Yet there is no allusion to this crucial epoch and the total silence suffices to invalidate the date.[FN#178] Could we assume it as true, by adding to A.D. 1265 half a century for the composition of the Hunchback's story and its incidentals, we should place the earliest date in A.D. 1315.

As little can we learn from inferences which have been drawn from the body of the book: at most they point to its several editions or redactions. In the Tale of the "Ensorcelled Prince" (vol. i. 77) Mr. Lane (i. 135) conjectured that the four colours of the fishes were suggested by the sumptuary laws of the Mameluke Soldan, Mohammed ibn Kala'un, "subsequently to the commencement of the eighth century of the Flight, or fourteenth of our era." But he forgets that the same distinction of dress was enforced by the Caliph Omar after the capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 636; that it was revived by Harun al-Rashid, a contemporary of Carolus Magnus and that it was noticed as a long standing grievance by the so-called Mandeville in A.D. 1322. In the Tale of the Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad the "Sultani oranges" (vol. i. 83) have been connected with Sultaniyah city in Persian Irak, which was founded about the middle of the thirteenth century: but "Sultani" may simply mean "royal," a superior growth. The same story makes mention (vol. i. 94) of Kalandars or religious mendicants, a term popularly corrupted, even in writing, to Karandal.[FN#179] Here again "Kalandar" may be due only to the scribes as the Bresl. Edit. reads Sa'aluk = asker, beggar. The Khan al-Masrur in the Nazarene Broker's story (i. 265) was a ruin during the early ninth century A.H. = A.D. 1420; but the Bab Zuwaylah (i. 269) dates from A.D. 1087. In the same tale occurs the Darb al-Munkari (or Munakkari) which is probably the Darb al-Munkadi of Al-Makrizi's careful topography, the Khitat (ii. 40). Here we learn that in his time (about A.D. 1430) the name had become obsolete, and the highway was known as Darb al-Amir Baktamir al-Ustaddar from one of two high officials who both died in the fourteenth century (circ. A.D. 1350). And lastly we have the Khan al-Jawali built about A.D. 1320. In Badr al-Din Hasan (vol. i. 237) "Sahib" is given as a Wazirial title and it dates only from the end of the fourteenth century.[FN#180] In Sindbad the Seaman, there is an allusion (vol. vi. 67) to the great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar of the Narasimha,[FN#181] the great power of the Deccan; but this may be due to editors or scribes as the despotism was founded only in the fourteenth century(A.D. 1320). The Ebony Horse (vol. v. 1) apparently dates before Chaucer; and "The Sleeper and The Waker" (Bresl. Edit. iv. 134-189) may precede Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew": no stress, however, can be laid upon such resemblances, the nouvelles being world-wide. But when we come to the last stories, especially to Kamar al-Zaman II. and the tale of Ma'aruf, we are apparently in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first contains (Night cmlxxvii.) the word Lawandiyah = Levantine, the mention of a watch = Sa'ah in the next Night[FN#182]; and, further on (cmlxxvi.), the "Shaykh Al-Islam," an officer invented by Mohammed II. after the capture of Stambul in A.D. 1453. In Ma'aruf the 'Adiliyah is named; the mosque founded outside the Bab al-Nasr by Al-Malik al-'Adil, Tuman Bey in A.H. 906 = A.D. 1501. But, I repeat, all these names may be mere interpolations.

On the other hand, a study of the vie intime in Al-Islam and of the manners and customs of the people proves that the body of the work, as it now stands, must have been written before A.D. 1400. The Arabs use wines, ciders and barley-beer, not distilled spirits; they have no coffee or tobacco and, while familiar with small-pox (judri), they ignore syphilis. The battles in The Nights are fought with bows and javelins, swords, spears (for infantry) and lances (for cavalry); and, whenever fire-arms are mentioned, we must suspect the scribe. Such is the case with the Madfa' or cannon by means of which Badr Al-Din Hasan breaches the bulwarks of the Lady of Beauty's virginity (i. 223). This consideration would determine the work to have been written before the fourteenth century. We ignore the invention-date and the inventor of gunpowder, as of all old discoveries which have affected mankind at large: all we know is that the popular ideas betray great ignorance and we are led to suspect that an explosive compound, having been discovered in the earliest ages of human society, was utilised by steps so gradual that history has neglected to trace the series. According to Demmin[FN#183], bullets for stuffing with some incendiary composition, in fact bombs, were discovered by Dr. Keller in the Palafites or Crannogs of Switzerland; and the Hindu's Agni-Astar ("fire-weapon"), Agni-ban ("fire-arrow") and Shatagni ("hundred- killer"), like the Roman Phalarica, and the Greek fire of Byzantium, suggest explosives. Indeed, Dr. Oppert[FN#184] accepts the statement of Flavius Philostratus that when Appolonius of Tyana, that grand semi-mythical figure, was travelling in India, he learned the reason why Alexander of Macedon desisted from attacking the Oxydracae who live between the Ganges and the Hyphasis (Satadru or Sutledge):- "These holy men, beloved by the gods, overthrow their enemies with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their walls." Passing over the Arab sieges of Constantinople (A.D. 668) and Meccah (A.D. 690) and the disputed passage in Firishtah touching the Tufang or musket during the reign of Mahmud the Ghaznevite[FN#185] (ob. A.D. 1030), we come to the days of Alphonso the Valiant, whose long and short guns, used at the Siege of Madrid in A.D. 1084, are preserved in the Armeria Real. Viardot has noted that the African Arabs first employed cannon in A.D. 1200, and that the Maghribis defended Algeciras near Gibraltar with great guns in A. D. 1247, and utilised them to besiege Seville in A.D. 1342. This last feat of arms introduced the cannon into barbarous Northern Europe, and it must have been known to civilised Asia for many a decade before that date.

The mention of wine in The Nights, especially the Nabiz or fermented infusion of raisins well known to the prae-Mohammeden Badawis, perpetually recurs. As a rule, except only in the case of holy personages and mostly of the Caliph Al-Rashid, the "service of wine" appears immediately after the hands are washed; and women, as well as men, drink, like true Orientals, for the honest purpose of getting drunk-la recherche de l'ideal, as the process has been called. Yet distillation became well known in the fourteenth century. Amongst the Greeks and Romans it was confined to manufacturing aromatic waters, and Nicander the poet (B.C. 140) used for a still the term , like the Irish "pot" and its produce "poteen." The simple art of converting salt water into fresh, by boiling the former and passing the steam through a cooled pipe into a recipient, would not have escaped the students of the Philosopher's "stone;" and thus we find throughout Europe the Arabic modifications of Greek terms Alchemy, Alembic (Al- ), Chemistry and Elixir; while "Alcohol" (Al-Kohl), originally meaning "extreme tenuity or impalpable state of pulverulent substances," clearly shows the origin of the article. Avicenna, who died in A.H. 428 = 1036, nearly two hundred years before we read of distillation in Europe, compared the human body with an alembic, the belly being the cucurbit and the head the capital:-he forgot one important difference but n'importe. Spirits of wine were first noticed in the xiiith century, when the Arabs had overrun the Western Mediterranean, by Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who dubs the new invention a universal panacea; and his pupil, Raymond Lully (nat. Majorca A.D. 1236), declared this essence of wine to be a boon from the Deity. Now The Nights, even in the latest adjuncts, never allude to the "white coffee" of the "respectable" Moslem, the Raki (raisin-brandy) or Ma-hayat (aqua-vitae) of the modern Mohametan: the drinkers confine themselves to wine like our contemporary Dalmatians, one of the healthiest and the most vigorous of seafaring races in Europe.

Syphilis also, which at the end of the xvth century began to infect Europe, is ignored by The Nights. I do not say it actually began: diseases do not begin except with the dawn of humanity; and their history, as far as we know, is simple enough. They are at first sporadic and comparatively non-lethal: at certain epochs which we can determine, and for reasons which as yet we cannot, they break out into epidemics raging with frightful violence: they then subside into the endemic state and lastly they return to the milder sporadic form. For instance, "English cholera" was known of old: in 1831 (Oct. 26) the Asiatic type took its place and now, after sundry violent epidemics, the disease is becoming endemic on the Northern seaboard of the Mediterranean, notably in Spain and Italy. So small-pox (Al-judri, vol. i. 256) passed over from Central Africa to Arabia in the year of Mohammed's birth (A.D. 570) and thence overspread the civilised world, as an epidemic, an endemic and a sporadic successively. The "Greater Pox" has appeared in human bones of pre historic graves and Moses seems to mention gonorrhoea (Levit. xv. 12). Passing over allusions in Juvenal and Martial,[FN#186] we find Eusebius relating that Galerius died (A.D. 302) of ulcers on the genitals and other parts of his body; and, about a century afterwards, Bishop Palladius records that one Hero, after conversation with a prostitute, fell a victim to an abscess on the penis (phagedaenic shanker?). In 1347 the famous Joanna of Naples founded (aet. 23), in her town of Avignon, a bordel whose in- mates were to be medically inspected a measure to which England (proh pudor!) still objects. In her Statuts du Lieu- publiqued'Avignon, No. iv. she expressly mentions the Malvengut de paillardise. Such houses, says Ricord who studied the subject since 1832, were common in France after A.D. 1200; and sporadic venereals were known there. But in A.D. 1493-94 an epidemic broke out with alarming intensity at Barcelona, as we learn from the "Tractado llamado fructo de todos los Sanctos contra el mal serpentino, venido de la Isla espanola," of Rodrigo Ruiz Dias, the specialist. In Santo Domingo the disease was common under the names Hipas, Guaynaras and Taynastizas: hence the opinion in Europe that it arose from the mixture of European and "Indian" blood.[FN#187] Some attributed it to the Gypsies who migrated to Western Europe in the xvth century:[FN#188] others to the Moriscos expelled from Spain. But the pest got its popular name after the violent outbreak at Naples in A.D. 1493-4, when Charles VIII. of Anjou with a large army of mercenaries, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Germans, attacked Ferdinand II. Thence it became known as the Mal de Naples and Morbus Gallicus-una gallica being still the popular term in neo Latin lands-and the "French disease" in England. As early as July 1496 Marin Sanuto (Journal i. 171) describes with details the "Mal Franzoso." The scientific "syphilis" dates from Fracastori's poem (A.D. 1521) in which Syphilus the Shepherd is struck like Job, for abusing the sun. After crippling a Pope (Sixtus IV.[FN#189]) and killing a King (Francis I.) the Grosse Verole began to abate its violence, under the effects of mercury it is said; and became endemic, a stage still shown at Scherlievo near Fiume, where legend says it was implanted by the Napoleonic soldiery. The Aleppo and other "buttons" also belong apparently to the same grade. Elsewhere it settled as a sporadic and now it appears to be dying out while gonorrhoea is on the increase.[FN#190]

The Nights, I have said, belongs to the days before coffee (A.D. 1550) and tobacco (A.D. 1650) had overspread the East. The former, which derives its name from the Kafa or Kaffa province, lying south of Abyssinia proper and peopled by the Sidama Gallas, was introduced to Mokha of Al-Yaman in A.D. 1429-30 by the Shaykh al- Shazili who lies buried there, and found a congenial name in the Arabic Kahwah=old wine.[FN#191] In The Nights (Mac. Edit.) it is mentioned twelve times[FN#192]; but never in the earlier tales: except in the case of Kamar al-Zaman II. it evidently does not belong to the epoch and we may fairly suspect the scribe. In the xvith century coffee began to take the place of wine in the nearer East; and it gradually ousted the classical drink from daily life and from folk-tales.

It is the same with tobacco, which is mentioned only once by The Nights (cmxxxi.), in conjunction with meat, vegetables and fruit and where it is called "Tabah." Lane (iii. 615) holds it to be the work of a copyist; but in the same tale of Abu Kir and Abu Sir, sherbet and coffee appear to have become en vogue, in fact to have gained the ground they now hold. The result of Lord Macartney's Mission to China was a suggestion that smoking might have originated spontaneously in the Old World.[FN#193] This is un- doubtedly true. The Bushmen and other wild tribes of Southern Africa threw their Dakha (cannabis indica) on the fire and sat round it inhaling the intoxicating fumes. Smoking without tobacco was easy enough. The North American Indians of the Great Red Pipe Stone Quarry and those who lived above the line where nicotiana grew, used the kinni-kinik or bark of the red willow and some seven other succedanea.[FN#194] But tobacco proper, which soon superseded all materials except hemp and opium, was first adopted by the Spaniards of Santo Domingo in A.D. 1496 and reached England in 1565. Hence the word, which, amongst the so-called Red Men, denoted the pipe, the container, not the contained, spread over the Old World as a generic term with additions, like Tutun,[FN#195] for special varieties. The change in English manners brought about by the cigar after dinner has already been noticed; and much of the modified sobriety of the present day may be attributed to the influence of the Holy Herb en cigarette. Such, we know from history was its effect amongst Moslems; and the normal wine-parties of The Nights suggest that the pipe was unknown even when the latest tales were written.


We know absolutely nothing of the author or authors who produced our marvellous Recueil. Galland justly observes (Epist. Dedic.), "probably this great work is not by a single hand; for how can we suppose that one man alone could own a fancy fertile enough to invent so many ingenious fictions?" Mr. Lane, and Mr. Lane alone, opined that the work was written in Egypt by one person or at most by two, one ending what the other had begun, and that he or they had re-written the tales and completed the collection by new matter composed or arranged for the purpose. It is hard to see how the distinguished Arabist came to such a conclusion: at most it can be true only of the editors and scribes of MSS. evidently copied from each other, such as the Mac. and the Bul. texts. As the Reviewer (Forbes Falconer?) in the "Asiatic Journal" (vol. xxx., 1839) says, "Every step we have taken in the collation of these agreeable fictions has confirmed us in the belief that the work called the Arabian Nights is rather a vehicle for stories, partly fixed and partly arbitrary, than a collection fairly deserving, from its constant identity with itself, the name of a distinct work, and the reputation of having wholly emanated from the same inventive mind. To say nothing of the improbability of supposing that one individual, with every license to build upon the foundation of popular stories, a work which had once received a definite form from a single writer, would have been multiplied by the copyist with some regard at least to his arrangement of words as well as matter. But the various copies we have seen bear about as much mutual resemblance as if they had passed through the famous process recommended for disguising a plagiarism: 'Translate your English author into French and again into English'."

Moreover, the style of the several Tales, which will be considered in a future page (Section iii.), so far from being homogeneous is heterogeneous in the extreme. Different nationalities show them selves; West Africa, Egypt and Syria are all represented and, while some authors are intimately familiar with Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, others are equally ignorant. All copies, written and printed, absolutely differ in the last tales and a measure of the divergence can be obtained by comparing the Bresl. Edit. with the Mac. text: indeed it is my conviction that the MSS. preserved in Europe would add sundry volumes full of tales to those hitherto translated; and here the Wortley Montagu copy can be taken as a test. We may, I believe, safely compare the history of The Nights with the so-called Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, a collection of immortal ballads and old Epic formulae and verses traditionally handed down from rhapsode to rhapsode, incorporated in a slowly-increasing body of poetry and finally welded together about the age of Pericles.

To conclude. From the data above given I hold myself justified in drawing the following deductions:--

1. The framework of the book is purely Persian perfunctorily

arabised; the archetype being the Hazar Afsanah.[FN#196]

2. The oldest tales, such as Sindibad (the Seven Wazirs) and

King Jili'ad, may date from the reign of Al-Mansur, eighth century A.D.

3. The thirteen tales mentioned above (p. 78) as the nucleus

of the Repertory, together with "Dalilah the Crafty,"[FN#197] may be placed in our tenth century.

4. The latest tales, notably Kamar al-Zaman the Second and

Ma'aruf the Cobbler, are as late as the sixteenth century.

5. The work assumed its present form in the thirteenth


6. The author is unknown for the best reason; there never was

one: for information touching the editors and copyists we must await the fortunate discovery of some MSS.


The history of The Nights in Europe is one of slow and gradual development. The process was begun (1704-17) by Galland, a Frenchman, continued (1823) by Von Hammer an Austro-German, and finished by Mr. John Payne (1882-84) an Englishman. But we must not forget that it is wholly and solely to the genius of the Gaul that Europe owes "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments" over which Western childhood and youth have spent so many spelling hours. Antoine Galland was the first to discover the marvellous fund of material for the story-teller buried in the Oriental mine; and he had in a high degree that art of telling a tale which is far more captivating than culture or scholarship. Hence his delightful version (or perversion) became one of the world's classics and at once made Sheherazade and Dinarzarde, Haroun Alraschid, the Calendars and a host of other personages as familiar to the home reader as Prospero, Robinson Crusoe, Lemuel Gulliver and Dr. Primrose. Without the name and fame won for the work by the brilliant paraphrase of the learned and single-minded Frenchman, Lane's curious hash and latinized English, at once turgid and emasculated, would have found few readers. Mr. Payne's admirable version appeals to the Orientalist and the "stylist," not to the many-headed; and mine to the anthropologist and student of Eastern manners and customs. Galland did it and alone he did it: his fine literary flaire, his pleasing style, his polished taste and perfect tact at once made his work take high rank in the republic of letters nor will the immortal fragment ever be superseded in the infallible judgment of childhood. As the Encyclopaedia Britannica has been pleased to ignore this excellent man and admirable Orientalist, numismatologist and litterateur, the reader may not be unwilling to see a short sketch of his biography.[FN#198]

Antoine Galland was born in A.D. 1646 of peasant parents "poor and honest" at Rollot, a little bourg in Picardy some two leagues from Montdidier. He was a seventh child and his mother, left a widow in early life and compelled to earn her livelihood, saw scant chance of educating him when the kindly assistance of a Canon of the Cathedral and President of the College de Noyon relieved her difficulties. In this establishment Galland studied Greek and Hebrew for ten years, after which the "strait thing at home" apprenticed him to a trade. But he was made for letters; he hated manual labour and he presently removed en cachette to Paris, where he knew only an ancient kinswoman. She introduced him to a priestly relative of the Canon of Noyon, who in turn recommended him to the "Sous-principal" of the College Du Plessis. Here he made such notable progress in Oriental studies, that M. Petitpied, a Doctor of the Sorbonne, struck by his abilities, enabled him to study at the College Royal and eventually to catalogue the Eastern MSS. in the great ecclesiastical Society. Thence he passed to the College Mazarin, where a Professor, M. Godouin, was making an experiment which might be revived to advantage in our present schools. He collected a class of boys, aged about four, and proposed to teach them Latin speedily and easily by making them converse in the classical language as well as read and write it.[FN#199] Galland, his assistant, had not time to register success or failure before he was appointed attache-secretary to M. de Nointel named in 1660 Ambassadeur de France for Constantinople. His special province was to study the dogmas and doctrines and to obtain official attestations concerning the articles of the Orthodox (or Greek) Christianity which had then been a subject of lively discussion amongst certain Catholics, especially Arnauld (Antoine) and Claude the Minister, and which even in our day occasionally crops up amongst "Protestants."[FN#200] Galland, by frequenting the cafes and listening to the tale-teller, soon mastered Romaic and grappled with the religious question, under the tuition of a deposed Patriarch and of sundry Matrans or Metropolitans, whom the persecutions of the Pashas had driven for refuge to the Palais de France. M. de Nointel, after settling certain knotty points in the Capitulations, visited the harbour-towns of the Levant and the "Holy Places," including Jerusalem, where Galland copied epigraphs, sketched monuments and collected antiques, such as the marbles in the Baudelot Gallery of which Pere Dom Bernard de Montfaucon presently published specimens in his Palaeographia Graeca," etc. (Parisiis, 1708).

In Syria Galland was unable to buy a copy of The Nights: as he expressly states in his Epistle Dedicatory, il a fallu le faire venir de Syrie. But he prepared himself for translating it by studying the manners and customs, the religion and superstitions of the people; and in 1675, leaving his chief, who was ordered back to Stambul, he returned to France. In Paris his numismatic fame recommended him to MM. Vaillant, Carcary and Giraud who strongly urged a second visit to the Levant, for the purpose of collecting, and he set out without delay. In 1691 he made a third journey, travelling at the expense of the Compagnie des Indes-Orientales, with the main object of making purchases for the Library and Museum of Colbert the magnificent. The commission ended eighteen months afterwards with the changes of the Company, when Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois caused him to be created "Antiquary to the King," Louis le Grand, and charged him with collecting coins and medals for the royal cabinet. As he was about to leave Smyrna, he had a narrow escape from the earthquake and subsequent fire which destroyed some fifteen thousand of the inhabitants: he was buried in the ruins; but, his kitchen being cold as becomes a philosopher's, he was dug out unburnt.[FN#201]

Galland again returned to Paris where his familiarity with Arabic and Hebrew, Persian and Turkish recommended him to MM. Thevenot and Bignon: this first President of the Grand Council acknowledged his services by a pension. He also became a favourite with D'Herbelot whose Bibliotheque Orientale, left unfinished at his death, he had the honour of completing and prefacing.[FN#202] President Bignon died within the twelvemonth, which made Galland attach himself in 1697 to M. Foucault, Councillor of State and Intendant (governor) of Caen in Lower Normandy, then famous for its academy: in his new patron's fine library and numismatic collection he found materials for a long succession of works, including a translation of the Koran.[FN#203] They recommended him strongly to the literary world and in 1701 he was made a member of the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.

At Caen Galland issued in 1704,[FN#204] the first part of his Mille et une Nuits, Contes Arabes traduits en Francois which at once became famous as "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments." Mutilated, fragmentary and paraphrastic though the tales were, the glamour of imagination, the marvel of the miracles and the gorgeousness and magnificence of the scenery at once secured an exceptional success; it was a revelation in romance, and the public recognised that it stood in presence of a monumental literary work. France was a-fire with delight at a something so new, so unconventional, so entirely without purpose, religious, moral or philosophical: the Oriental wanderer in his stately robes was a startling surprise to the easy-going and utterly corrupt Europe of the ancien regime with its indecently tight garments and perfectly loose morals. "Ils produisirent," said Charles Nodier, a genius in his way, "des le moment de leur publication, cet effet qui assure aux productions de l'esprit une vogue populaire, quoiqu'ils appartinssent a une litterature peu connue en France; et que ce genre de composition admit ou plutot exigeat des details de moeurs, de caractere, de costume et de localites absolument etrangers a toutes les idees etablies dans nos contes et nos romans. On fut etonne du charme que resultait du leur lecture. C'est que la verite des sentimens, la nouveaute des tableaux, une imagination feconde en prodiges, un coloris plein de chaleur, l'attrait d'une sensibilite sans pretention, et le sel d'un comique sans caricature, c'est que l'esprit et le naturel enfin plaisent partout, et plaisent a tout le monde."[FN#205]

The Contes Arabes at once made Galland's name and a popular tale is told of them and him known to all reviewers who, however, mostly mangle it. In the Biographie Universelle of Michaud[FN#206] we find:--Dans les deux premiers volumes de ces contes l'exorde etait toujours, "Ma chere soeur, si vous ne dormez pas, faites-nous un de ces contes que vous savez." Quelques jeunes gens, ennuyes de cette plate uniformite, allerent une nuit qu'il faisait tres-grand froid, frapper a la porte de l'auteur, qui courut en chemise a sa fenetre. Apres l'avoir fait morfondre quelque temps par diverses questions insignificantes, ils terminerent en lui disant, "Ah, Monsieur Galland, si vous ne dormez pas, faites-nous un de ces beaux contes que vous savez si bien." Galland profita de la lecon, et supprima dans les volumes suivants le preambule qui lui avait attire la plaisanterie. This legend has the merit of explaining why the Professor so soon gave up the Arab framework which he had deliberately adopted.

The Nights was at once translated from the French[FN#207] though when, where and by whom no authority seems to know. In Lowndes' "Bibliographer's Manual" the English Editio Princeps is thus noticed, "Arabian Nights' Entertainments translated from the French, London, 1724, 12mo, 6 vols." and a footnote states that this translation, very inaccurate and vulgar in its diction, was often reprinted. In 1712 Addison introduced into the Spectator (No. 535, Nov. 13) the Story of Alnaschar ( = Al-Nashshar, the Sawyer) and says that his remarks on Hope "may serve as a moral to an Arabian tale which I find translated into French by Monsieur Galland." His version appears, from the tone and style, to have been made by himself, and yet in that year a second English edition had appeared. The nearest approach to the Edit. Princeps in the British Museum[FN#208] is a set of six volumes bound in three and corresponding with Galland's first half dozen. Tomes i. and ii. are from the fourth edition of 1713, Nos. iii. and iv. are from the second of 1712 and v. and vi. are from the third of 1715. It is conjectured that the two first volumes were reprinted several times apart from their subsequents, as was the fashion of the day; but all is mystery. We (my friends and I) have turned over scores of books in the British Museum, the University Library and the Advocates' Libraries of Edinburgh and Glasgow: I have been permitted to put the question in "Notes and Queries" and in the "Antiquary"; but all our researches hitherto have been in vain.

The popularity of The Nights in England must have rivalled their vogue in France, judging from the fact that in 1713, or nine years after Galland's Edit. Prin. appeared, they had already reached a fourth issue. Even the ignoble national jealousy which prompted Sir William Jones grossly to abuse that valiant scholar, Auquetil du Perron, could not mar their popularity. But as there are men who cannot read Pickwick, so they were not wanting who spoke of "Dreams of the distempered fancy of the East."[FN#209] "When the work was first published in England," says Henry Webber,[FN#210] "it seems to have made a considerable impression upon the public." Pope in 1720 sent two volumes (French? or English?) to Bishop Atterbury, without making any remark on the work; but, from his very silence, it may be presumed that he was not displeased with the perusal. The bishop, who does not appear to have joined a relish for the flights of imagination to his other estimable qualities, expressed his dislike of these tales pretty strongly and stated it to be his opinion, formed on the frequent descriptions of female dress, that they were the work of some Frenchman (Petis de la Croix, a mistake afterwards corrected by Warburton). The Arabian Nights, however, quickly made their way to public favour. "We have been informed of a singular instance of the effect they produced soon after their first appearance. Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate for Scotland, having one Saturday evening found his daughters employed in reading these volumes, seized them with a rebuke for spending the evening before the 'Sawbbath' in such worldly amusement; but the grave advocate himself became a prey to the fascination of the tales, being found on the morning of the Sabbath itself employed in their perusal, from which he had not risen the whole night." As late as 1780 Dr. Beattie professed himself uncertain whether they were translated or fabricated by M. Galland; and, while Dr. Pusey wrote of them "Noctes Mille et Una dictae, quae in omnium firme populorum cultiorum linguas conversae, in deliciis omnium habentur, manibusque omnium terentur,"[FN#211] the amiable Carlyle, in the gospel according to Saint Froude, characteristically termed them "downright lies" and forbade the house to such "unwholesome literature." What a sketch of character in two words!

The only fault found in France with the Contes Arabes was that their style is peu correcte; in fact they want classicism. Yet all Gallic imitators, Trebutien included, have carefully copied their leader and Charles Nodier remarks:--"Il me semble que l'on n'a pas rendu assez de justice au style de Galland. Abondant sans etre prolixe, naturel et familier sans etre lache ni trivial, il ne manque jamais de cette elegance qui resulte de la facilite, et qui presente je ne sais quel melange de la naivete de Perrault et de la bonhomie de La Fontaine."

Our Professor, with a name now thoroughly established, returned in 1706 to Paris, where he was an assiduous and efficient member of the Societe Numismatique and corresponded largely with foreign Orientalists. Three years afterwards he was made Professor of Arabic at the College de France, succeeding Pierre Dippy; and, during the next half decade, he devoted himself to publishing his valuable studies. Then the end came. In his last illness, an attack of asthma complicated with pectoral mischief, he sent to Noyon for his nephew Julien Galland[FN#212] to assist him in ordering his MSS. and in making his will after the simplest military fashion: he bequeathed his writings to the Bibliotheque du Roi, his Numismatic Dictionary to the Academy and his Alcoran to the Abbe Bignon. He died, aged sixty-nine on February 17, 1715, leaving his second part of The Nights unpublished.[FN#213]

Professor Galland was a French litterateur of the good old school which is rapidly becoming extinct. Homme vrai dans les moindres choses (as his Eloge stated); simple in life and manners and single-hearted in his devotion to letters, he was almost childish in worldly matters, while notable for penetration and acumen in his studies. He would have been as happy, one of his biographers remarks, in teaching children the elements of education as he was in acquiring his immense erudition. Briefly, truth and honesty, exactitude and indefatigable industry characterised his most honourable career.

Galland informs us (Epist. Ded.) that his MS. consisted of four volumes, only three of which are extant,[FN#214] bringing the work down to Night cclxxxii., or about the beginning of "Camaralzaman." The missing portion, if it contained like the other volumes 140 pages, would end that tale together with the Stories of Ghanim and the Enchanted (Ebony) Horse; and such is the disposition in the Bresl. Edit. which mostly favours in its ordinance the text used by the first translator. But this would hardly have filled more than two-thirds of his volumes; for the other third he interpolated, or is supposed to have interpolated, the ten[FN#215] following tales.

1. Histoire du prince Zeyn Al-asnam et du Roi des Genies.[FN#216] 2. Histoire de Codadad et de ses freres. 3. Histoire de la Lampe merveilleuse (Aladdin). 4. Histoire de l'aveugle Baba Abdalla. 5. Histoire de Sidi Nouman. 6. Histoire de Cogia Hassan Alhabbal. 7. Histoire d'Ali Baba, et de Quarante Voleurs extermines par une Esclave. 8. Histoire d'Ali Cogia, marchand de Bagdad. 9. Histoire du prince Ahmed et de la fee Peri-Banou. 10. Histoire de deux Soeurs jalouses de leur Cadette.[FN#217]

Concerning these interpolations which contain two of the best and most widely known stories in the work, Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, conjectures have been manifold but they mostly run upon three lines. De Sacy held that they were found by Galland in the public libraries of Paris. Mr. Chenery, whose acquaintance with Arabic grammar was ample, suggested that the Professor had borrowed them from the recitations of the Rawis, rhapsodists or professional story-tellers in the bazars of Smyrna and other ports of the Levant. The late Mr. Henry Charles Coote (in the "Folk-Lore Record," vol. iii. Part ii. p. 178 et seq.), "On the source of some of M. Galland's Tales," quotes from popular Italian, Sicilian and Romaic stories incidents identical with those in Prince Ahmad, Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Envious Sisters, suggesting that the Frenchman had heard these paramythia in Levantine coffee-houses and had inserted them into his unequalled corpus fabularum. Mr. Payne (ix. 268) conjectures the probability "of their having been composed at a comparatively recent period by an inhabitant of Baghdad, in imitation of the legends of Haroun er Rashid and other well-known tales of the original work;" and adds, "It is possible that an exhaustive examination of the various MS. copies of the Thousand and One Nights known to exist in the public libraries of Europe might yet cast some light upon the question of the origin of the interpolated Tales." I quite agree with him, taking "The Sleeper and the Waker and "Zeyn Al-asnam" as cases in point; but I should expect, for reasons before given, to find the stories in a Persic rather than an Arabic MS. And I feel convinced that all will be recovered: Galland was not the man to commit a literary forgery.

As regards Aladdin, the most popular tale of the whole work, I am convinced that it is genuine, although my unfortunate friend, the late Professor Palmer, doubted its being an Eastern story. It is laid down upon all the lines of Oriental fiction. The mise-en-scene is China, "where they drink a certain warm liquor" (tea); the hero's father is a poor tailor; and, as in "Judar and his Brethren," the Maghribi Magician presently makes his appearance, introducing the Wonderful Lamp and the Magical Ring. Even the Sorcerer's cry, "New lamps for old lamps !"--a prime point--is paralleled in the Tale of the Fisherman's Son,[FN#218] where the Jew asks in exchange only old rings and the Princess, recollecting that her husband kept a shabby, well-worn ring in his writing-stand, and he being asleep, took it out and sent it to the man. In either tale the palace is transported to a distance and both end with the death of the wicked magician and the hero and heroine living happily together ever after.

All Arabists have remarked the sins of omission and commission, of abridgment, amplification and substitution, and the audacious distortion of fact and phrase in which Galland freely indulged, whilst his knowledge of Eastern languages proves that he knew better. But literary license was the order of his day and at that time French, always the most begueule of European languages, was bound by a rigorisme of the narrowest and the straightest of lines from which the least ecart condemned a man as a barbarian and a tudesque. If we consider Galland fairly we shall find that he errs mostly for a purpose, that of popularising his work; and his success indeed justified his means. He has been derided (by scholars) for "He Monsieur!" and "Ah Madame!"; but he could not write "O mon sieur" and "O ma dame;" although we can borrow from biblical and Shakespearean English, "O my lord!" and "O my lady!" "Bon Dieu! ma soeur" (which our translators English by "O heavens," Night xx.) is good French for Wa'llahi--by Allah; and "cinquante cavaliers bien faits" ("fifty handsome gentlemen on horseback") is a more familiar picture than fifty knights. "L'officieuse Dinarzade" (Night lxi.), and "Cette plaisante querelle des deux freres" (Night 1xxii.) become ridiculous only in translation--"the officious Dinarzade" and "this pleasant quarrel;" while "ce qu'il y de remarquable" (Night 1xxiii.) would relieve the Gallic mind from the mortification of "Destiny decreed." "Plusieurs sortes de fruits et de bouteilles de vin" (Night ccxxxi. etc.) Europeanises flasks and flaggons; and the violent convulsions in which the girl dies (Night cliv., her head having been cut off by her sister) is mere Gallic squeamishness: France laughs at "le shoking" in England but she has only to look at home especially during the reign of Galland's contemporary-- Roi Soleil. The terrible "Old man" (Shaykh) "of the Sea" (- board) is badly described by "l'incommode vieillard" ("the ill- natured old fellow"): "Brave Maimune" and "Agreable Maimune" are hardly what a Jinni would say to a Jinniyah (ccxiii.); but they are good Gallic. The same may be noted of "Plier les voiles pour marque qu'il se rendait" (Night ccxxxv.), a European practice; and of the false note struck in two passages. "Je m'estimais heureuse d'avoir fait une si belle conquete" (Night 1xvii.) gives a Parisian turn; and, "Je ne puis voir sans horreur cet abominable barbier que voila: quoiqu'il soit ne dans un pays ou tout le monde est blanc, il ne laisse pas a resembler a un Ethiopien; mais il a l'ame encore plus noire et horrible que le visage" (Night clvii.), is a mere affectation of Orientalism. Lastly, "Une vieille dame de leur connaissance" (Night clviii.) puts French polish upon the matter of fact Arab's "an old woman."

The list of absolute mistakes, not including violent liberties, can hardly be held excessive. Professor Weil and Mr. Payne (ix. 271) justly charge Galland with making the Trader (Night i.) throw away the shells (ecorces) of the date which has only a pellicle, as Galland certainly knew; but dates were not seen every day in France, while almonds and walnuts were of the quatre mendiants. He preserves the ecorces, which later issues have changed to noyaux, probably in allusion to the jerking practice called Inwa. Again in the "First Shaykh's Story" (vol. i. 27) the "maillet" is mentioned as the means of slaughtering cattle, because familiar to European readers: at the end of the tale it becomes "le couteaufuneste." In Badral Din a "tarte a la creme," so well known to the West, displaces, naturally enough, the outlandish "mess of pomegranate-seeds." Though the text especially tells us the hero removed his bag-trousers (not only "son habit") and placed them under the pillow, a crucial fact in the history, our Professor sends him to bed fully dressed, apparently for the purpose of informing his readers in a foot- note that Easterns "se couchent en calecon" (Night lxxx.). It was mere ignorance to confound the arbalete or cross-bow with the stone-bow (Night xxxviii.), but this has universally been done, even by Lane who ought to have known better; and it was an unpardonable carelessness or something worse to turn Nar (fire) and Dun (in lieu of) into "le faux dieu Nardoun" (Night lxv.): as this has been untouched by De Sacy, I cannot but conclude that he never read the text with the translation. Nearly as bad also to make the Jewish physician remark, when the youth gave him the left wrist (Night cl.), "voila une grande ignorance de ne savoir pas que l'on presente la main droite a un medecin et non pas la gauche"--whose exclusive use all travellers in the East must know. I have noticed the incuriousness which translates "along the Nile-shore" by "up towards Ethiopia" (Night cli.), and the "Islands of the Children of Khaledan" (Night ccxi.) instead of the Khalidatani or Khalidat, the Fortunate Islands. It was by no means "des petite soufflets" ("some taps from time to time with her fingers") which the sprightly dame administered to the Barber's second brother (Night clxxi.), but sound and heavy "cuffs" on the nape; and the sixth brother (Night clxxx.) was not "aux levres fendues" ("he of the hair-lips"), for they had been cut off by the Badawi jealous of his fair wife. Abu al-Hasan would not greet his beloved by saluting "le tapis a ses pieds:" he would kiss her hands and feet. Haiatalnefous (Hayat al-Nufus, Night ccxxvi.) would not "throw cold water in the Princess's face:" she would sprinkle it with eau-de-rose. "Camaralzaman" I. addresses his two abominable wives in language purely European (ccxxx.), "et de la vie il ne s'approcha d'elles," missing one of the fine touches of the tale which shows its hero a weak and violent man, hasty and lacking the pundonor. "La belle Persienne," in the Tale of Nur al-Din, was no Persian; nor would her master address her, "Venez ca, impertinente!" ("come hither, impertinence"). In the story of Badr, one of the Comoro Islands becomes "L'ile de la Lune." "Dog" and "dog-son" are not "injures atroces et indignes d'un grand roi:" the greatest Eastern kings allow themselves far more energetic and significant language.

Fitnah[FN#219] is by no means "Force de coeurs." Lastly the denouement of The Nights is widely different in French and in Arabic; but that is probably not Galland's fault, as he never saw the original, and indeed he deserves high praise for having invented so pleasant and sympathetic a close, inferior only to the Oriental device.[FN#220]

Galland's fragment has a strange effect upon the Orientalist and those who take the scholastic view, be it wide or narrow. De Sacy does not hesitate to say that the work owes much to his fellow-countryman's hand; but I judge otherwise: it is necessary to dissociate the two works and to regard Galland's paraphrase, which contains only a quarter of The Thousand Nights and a Night, as a wholly different book. Its attempts to amplify beauties and to correct or conceal the defects and the grotesqueness of the original, absolutely suppress much of the local colour, clothing the bare body in the best of Parisian suits. It ignores the rhymed prose and excludes the verse, rarely and very rarely rendering a few lines in a balanced style. It generally rejects the proverbs, epigrams and moral reflections which form the pith and marrow of the book; and, worse still, it disdains those finer touches of character which are often Shakespearean in their depth and delicacy, and which, applied to a race of familiar ways and thoughts, manners and customs, would have been the wonder and delight of Europe. It shows only a single side of the gem that has so many facets. By deference to public taste it was compelled to expunge the often repulsive simplicity, the childish indecencies and the wild orgies of the original, contrasting with the gorgeous tints, the elevated morality and the religious tone of passages which crowd upon them. We miss the odeur du sang which taints the parfums du harem; also the humouristic tale and the Rabelaisian outbreak which relieve and throw out into strong relief the splendour of Empire and the havoc of Time. Considered in this light it is a caput mortuum, a magnificent texture seen on the wrong side; and it speaks volumes for the genius of the man who could recommend it in such blurred and caricatured condition to readers throughout the civilised world. But those who look only at Galland's picture, his effort to "transplant into European gardens the magic flowers of Eastern fancy," still compare his tales with the sudden prospect of magnificent mountains seen after a long desert-march: they arouse strange longings and indescribable desires; their marvellous imaginativeness produces an insensible brightening of mind and an increase of fancy-power, making one dream that behind them lies the new and unseen, the strange and unexpected--in fact, all the glamour of the unknown.

The Nights has been translated into every far-extending Eastern tongue, Persian, Turkish and Hindostani. The latter entitles them Hikayat al-Jalilah or Noble Tales, and the translation was made by Munshi Shams al-Din Ahmad for the use of the College of Fort George in A.H. 1252 = 1836.[FN#221] All these versions are direct from the Arabic: my search for a translation of Galland into any Eastern tongue has hitherto been fruitless.

I was assured by the late Bertholdy Seemann that the "language of Hoffmann and Heine" contained a literal and complete translation of The Nights; but personal enquiries at Leipzig and elsewhere convinced me that the work still remains to be done. The first attempt to improve upon Galland and to show the world what the work really is was made by Dr. Max Habicht and was printed at Breslau (1824-25), in fifteen small square volumes.[FN#222] Thus it appeared before the "Tunis Manuscript"[FN#223] of which it purports to be a translation. The German version is, if possible, more condemnable than the Arabic original. It lacks every charm of style; it conscientiously shirks every difficulty; it abounds in the most extraordinary blunders and it is utterly useless as a picture of manners or a book of reference. We can explain its laches only by the theory that the eminent Professor left the labour to his collaborateurs and did not take the trouble to revise their careless work.

The next German translation was by Aulic Councillor J. von Hammer-Purgstallt who, during his short stay at Cairo and Constantinople, turned into French the tales neglected by Galland. After some difference with M. Caussin (de Perceval) in 1810, the Styrian Orientalist entrusted his MS. to Herr Cotta the publisher of Tubingen. Thus a German version appeared, the translation of a translation, at the hand of Professor Zinserling,[FN#224] while the French version was unaccountably lost en route to London. Finally the "Contes inedits," etc., appeared in a French translation by G. S. Trebutien (Paris, mdcccxxviii.). Von Hammer took liberties with the text which can compare only with those of Lane: he abridged and retrenched till the likeness in places entirely disappeared; he shirked some difficult passages and he misexplained others. In fact the work did no honour to the amiable and laborious historian of the Turks.

The only good German translation of The Nights is due to Dr. Gustav Weil who, born on April 24, 1808, is still (1886) professing at Heidelburg.[FN#225] His originals (he tells us) were the Breslau Edition, the Bulak text of Abd al-Rahman al- Safati and a MS. in the library of Saxe Gotha. The venerable savant, who has rendered such service to Arabism, informs me that Aug. Lewald's "Vorhalle" (pp. i.-xv.)[FN#226] was written without his knowledge. Dr. Weil neglects the division of days which enables him to introduce any number of tales: for instance, Galland's eleven occupy a large part of vol. iii. The Vorwort wants development, the notes, confined to a few words, are inadequate and verse is everywhere rendered by prose, the Saj'a or assonance being wholly ignored. On the other hand the scholar shows himself by a correct translation, contrasting strongly with those which preceded him, and by a strictly literal version, save where the treatment required to be modified in a book intended for the public. Under such circumstances it cannot well be other than longsome and monotonous reading.

Although Spain and Italy have produced many and remarkable Orientalists, I cannot find that they have taken the trouble to translate The Nights for themselves: cheap and gaudy versions of Galland seem to have satisfied the public.[FN#227] Notes on the Romaic, Icelandic, Russian (?) and other versions, will be found in a future page.

Professor Galland has never been forgotten in France where, amongst a host of editions, four have claims to distinction;[FN#228] and his success did not fail to create a host of imitators and to attract what De Sacy justly terms "une prodigieuse importation de marchandise de contrabande." As early as 1823 Von Hammer numbered seven in France (Trebutien, Preface xviii.) and during later years they have grown prodigiously. Mr. William F. Kirby, who has made a special study of the subject, has favoured me with detailed bibliographical notes on Galland's imitators which are printed in Appendix No. II.


Returning to my threefold distribution of this Prose Poem (Section Section I) into Fable, Fairy Tale and historical Anecdote[FN#229], let me proceed to consider these sections more carefully.

The Apologue or Beast-fable, which apparently antedates all other subjects in The Nights, has been called "One of the earliest creations of the awakening consciousness of mankind." I should regard it, despite a monumental antiquity, as the offspring of a comparatively civilised age, when a jealous despotism or a powerful oligarchy threw difficulties and dangers in the way of speaking "plain truths." A hint can be given and a friend or foe can be lauded or abused as Belins the sheep or Isengrim the wolf when the Author is debarred the higher enjoyment of praising them or dispraising them by name. And, as the purposes of fables are twofold--

Duplex libelli dos est: quod risum movet, Et quod prudenti vitam consilio monet--

The speaking of brute beasts would give a piquancy and a pleasantry to moral design as well as to social and political satire.

The literary origin of the fable is not Buddhistic: we must especially shun that "Indo-Germanic" school which goes to India for its origins, when Pythagoras, Solon, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle and possibly Homer sat for instruction at the feet of the Hir-seshtha, the learned grammarians of the pharaohnic court. Nor was it AEsopic, evidently AEsop inherited the hoarded wealth of ages. As Professor Lepsius taught us, "In the olden times within the memory of man, we know only of one advanced culture; of only one mode of writing, and of only one literary development, viz. those of Egypt." The invention of an alphabet, as opposed to a syllabary, unknown to Babylonia, to Assyria and to that extreme bourne of their civilising influence, China, would for ever fix their literature--poetry, history and criticism,[FN#230] the apologue and the anecdote. To mention no others The Lion and the Mouse appears in a Leyden papyrus dating from B.C 1200-1166 the days of Rameses III. (Rhampsinitus) or Hak On, not as a rude and early attempt, but in a finished form, postulating an ancient origin and illustrious ancestry. The dialogue also is brought to perfection in the discourse between the Jackal Koufi and the Ethiopian Cat (Revue Egyptologique ivme. annee Part i.). Africa therefore was the home of the Beast-fable not as Professor Mahaffy thinks, because it was the chosen land of animal worship, where

Oppida tote canem venerantur nemo Dianam;[FN#231]

but simply because the Nile-land originated every form of literature between Fabliau and Epos.

From Kemi the Black-land it was but a step to Phoenicia, Judaea,[FN#232] Phrygia and Asia Minor, whence a ferry led over to Greece. Here the Apologue found its populariser in {Greek}, AEsop, whose name, involved in myth, possibly connects with

:-- "AEsopus et Aithiops idem sonant" says the sage. This

would show that the Hellenes preserved a legend of the land whence the Beast-fable arose, and we may accept the fabulist's aera as contemporary with Croesus and Solon (B.C. 570,) about a century after Psammeticus (Psamethik 1st) threw Egypt open to the restless Greek.[FN#233] From Africa too the Fable would in early ages migrate eastwards and make for itself a new home in the second great focus of civilisation formed by the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The late Mr. George Smith found amongst the cuneiforms fragmentary Beast-fables, such as dialogues between the Ox and the Horse, the Eagle and the Sun. In after centuries, when the conquests of Macedonian Alexander completed what Sesostris and Semiramis had begun, and mingled the manifold families of mankind by joining the eastern to the western world, the Orient became formally hellenised. Under the Seleucidae and during the life of the independent Bactrian Kingdom (B.C. 255-125), Grecian art and science, literature and even language overran the old Iranic reign and extended eastwards throughout northern India. Porus sent two embassies to Augustus in B.C. 19 and in one of them the herald Zarmanochagas (Shramanacharya) of Bargosa, the modern Baroch in Guzerat, bore an epistle upon vellum written in Greek (Strabo xv. I section 78). "Videtis gentes populosque mutasse sedes" says Seneca (De Cons. ad Helv. c. vi.). Quid sibi volunt in mediis barbarorum regionibus Graecae artes? Quid inter Indos Persasque Macedonicus sermo? Atheniensis in Asia turba est." Upper India, in the Macedonian days would have been mainly Buddhistic, possessing a rude alphabet borrowed from Egypt through Arabia and Phoenicia, but still in a low and barbarous condition: her buildings were wooden and she lacked, as far as we know, stone-architecture--the main test of social development. But the Bactrian Kingdom gave an impulse to her civilisation and the result was classical opposed to vedic Sanskrit. From Persia Greek letters, extending southwards to Arabia, would find indigenous imitators and there AEsop would be represented by the sundry sages who share the name Lokman.[FN#234] One of these was of servile condition, tailor, carpenter or shepherd; and a "Habashi" (AEthiopian) meaning a negro slave with blubber lips and splay feet, so far showing a superficial likeness to the AEsop of history.

The AEsopic fable, carried by the Hellenes to India, might have fallen in with some rude and fantastic barbarian of Buddhistic "persuasion" and indigenous origin: so Reynard the Fox has its analogue amongst the Kafirs and the Vai tribe of Mandengan negroes in Liberia[FN#235] amongst whom one Doalu invented or rather borrowed a syllabarium. The modern Gypsies are said also to have beast-fables which have never been traced to a foreign source (Leland). But I cannot accept the refinement of difference which Professor Benfey, followed by Mr. Keith- Falconer, discovers between the AEsopic and the Hindu apologue:-- "In the former animals are allowed to act as animals: the latter makes them act as men in the form of animals." The essence of the beast-fable is a reminiscence of Homo primigenius with erected ears and hairy hide, and its expression is to make the brother brute behave, think and talk like him with the superadded experience of ages. To early man the "lower animals," which are born, live and die like himself, showing all the same affects and disaffects, loves and hates, passions, prepossessions and prejudices, must have seemed quite human enough and on an equal level to become his substitutes. The savage, when he began to reflect, would regard the carnivor and the serpent with awe, wonder and dread; and would soon suspect the same mysterious potency in the brute as in himself: so the Malays still look upon the Uran-utan, or Wood-man, as the possessor of superhuman wisdom. The hunter and the herdsman, who had few other companions, would presently explain the peculiar relations of animals to themselves by material metamorphosis, the bodily transformation of man to brute giving increased powers of working him weal and woe. A more advanced stage would find the step easy to metempsychosis, the beast containing the Ego (alias soul) of the human: such instinctive belief explains much in Hindu literature, but it was not wanted at first by the Apologue.

This blending of blood, this racial baptism would produce a fine robust progeny; and, after our second century, AEgypto-Graeco-Indian stories overran the civilised globe between Rome and China. Tales have wings and fly farther than the jade hatchets of proto-historic days. And the result was a book which has had more readers than any other except the Bible. Its original is unknown.[FN#236] The volume, which in Pehlevi became the Javidan Khirad ("Wisdom of Ages") or the Testament of Hoshang, that ancient guebre King, and in Sanskrit the Panchatantra ("Five Chapters"), is a recueil of apologues and anecdotes related by the learned Brahman, Vishnu Sharma for the benefit of his pupils the sons of an Indian Rajah. The Hindu original has been adapted and translated into a number of languages; Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac, Greek and Latin, Persian and Turkish, under a host of names.[FN#237] Voltaire[FN#238] wisely remarks of this venerable production:--Quand on fait reflexion que presque toute la terre a ete enfatuee de pareils contes, et qu'ils ont fait l'education du genre humain, on trouve les fables de Pilpay, de Lokman,[FN#239] d'Esope, bien raisonables. But methinks the sage of Ferney might have said far more. These fables speak with the large utterance of early man; they have also their own especial beauty--the charms of well- preserved and time-honoured old age. There is in their wisdom a perfume of the past, homely and ancient-fashioned like a whiff of pot pourri, wondrous soothing withal to olfactories agitated by the patchoulis and jockey clubs of modern pretenders and petit- maitres, with their grey young heads and pert intelligence, the motto of whose ignorance is "Connu!" Were a dose of its antique, mature experience adhibited to the Western before he visits the East, those few who could digest it might escape the normal lot of being twisted round the fingers of every rogue they meet from Dragoman to Rajah. And a quotation from them tells at once: it shows the quoter to be man of education, not a "Jangali," a sylvan or savage, as the Anglo-Indian official is habitually termed by his more civilised "fellow-subject."

The main difference between the classical apologue and the fable in The Nights is that while AEsop and Gabrias write laconic tales with a single event and a simple moral, the Arabian fables are often "long-continued novelle involving a variety of events, each characterised by some social or political aspect, forming a narrative highly interesting in itself, often exhibiting the most exquisite moral, and yet preserving, with rare ingenuity, the peculiar characteristics of the actors."[FN#240] And the distinction between the ancient and the mediaeval apologue, including the modern which, since "Reineke Fuchs," is mainly German, appears equally pronounced. The latter is humorous enough and rich in the wit which results from superficial incongruity: but it ignores the deep underlying bond which connects man with beast. Again, the main secret of its success is the strain of pungent satire, especially in the Renardine Cycle, which the people could apply to all unpopular "lordes and prelates, gostly and worldly."

Our Recueil contains two distinct sets of apologues. [FN#241] The first (vol. iii.) consists of eleven, alternating with five anecdotes (Nights cxlvi.--cliii.), following the lengthy and knightly romance of King Omar bin al Nu'man and followed by the melancholy love tale of Ali bin Bakkar. The second series in vol. ix., consisting of eight fables, not including ten anecdotes (Nights cmi.--cmxxiv.), is injected into the romance of King Jali'ad and Shimas mentioned by Al-Mas'udi as independent of The Nights. In both places the Beast-fables are introduced with some art and add variety to the subject-matter, obviating monotony-- the deadly sin of such works--and giving repose to the hearer or reader after a climax of excitement such as the murder of the Wazirs. And even these are not allowed to pall upon the mental palate, being mingled with anecdotes and short tales, such as the Hermits (iii. 125), with biographical or literary episodes, acroamata, table-talk and analects where humorous Rabelaisian anecdote finds a place; in fact the fabliau or novella. This style of composition may be as ancient as the apologues. We know that it dates as far back as Rameses III., from the history of the Two Brothers in the Orbigny papyrus,[FN#242] the prototype of Yusuf and Zulaykha, the Koranic Joseph and Potiphar's wife. It is told with a charming naivete and such sharp touches of local colour as, "Come, let us make merry an hour and lie together! Let down thy hair!"

Some of the apologues in The Nights are pointless enough, rien moins qu'amusants; but in the best specimens, such as the Wolf and the Fox[FN#243] (the wicked man and the wily man), both characters are carefully kept distinct and neither action nor dialogue ever flags. Again The Flea and the Mouse (iii. 151), of a type familiar to students of the Pilpay cycle, must strike the home-reader as peculiarly quaint.

Next in date to the Apologue comes the Fairy Tale proper, where the natural universe is supplemented by one of purely imaginative existence. "As the active world is inferior to the rational soul," says Bacon with his normal sound sense, "so Fiction gives to Mankind what History denies and in some measure satisfies the Mind with Shadows when it cannot enjoy the Substance. And as real History gives us not the success of things according to the deserts of vice and virtue, Fiction corrects it and presents us with the fates and fortunes of persons rewarded and punished according to merit." But I would say still more. History paints or attempts to paint life as it is, a mighty maze with or without a plan: Fiction shows or would show us life as it should be, wisely ordered and laid down on fixed lines. Thus Fiction is not the mere handmaid of History: she has a household of her own and she claims to be the triumph of Art which, as Goeethe remarked, is "Art because it is not Nature." Fancy, la folle du logis, is "that kind and gentle portress who holds the gate of Hope wide open, in opposition to Reason, the surly and scrupulous guard."[FN#244] As Palmerin of England says and says well, "For that the report of noble deeds doth urge the courageous mind to equal those who bear most commendation of their approved valiancy; this is the fair fruit of Imagination and of ancient histories." And, last but not least, the faculty of Fancy takes count of the cravings of man's nature for the marvellous, the impossible, and of his higher aspirations for the Ideal, the Perfect: she realises the wild dreams and visions of his generous youth and portrays for him a portion of that "other and better world," with whose expectation he would console his age.

The imaginative varnish of The Nights serves admirably as a foil to the absolute realism of the picture in general. We enjoy being carried away from trivial and commonplace characters, scenes and incidents; from the matter of fact surroundings of a work-a-day world, a life of eating and drinking, sleeping and waking, fighting and loving, into a society and a mise-en-scene which we suspect can exist and which we know does not. Every man at some turn or term of his life has longed for supernatural powers and a glimpse of Wonderland. Here he is in the midst of it. Here he sees mighty spirits summoned to work the human mite's will, however whimsical, who can transport him in an eye- twinkling whithersoever he wishes; who can ruin cities and build palaces of gold and silver, gems and jacinths; who can serve up delicate viands and delicious drinks in priceless chargers and impossible cups and bring the choicest fruits from farthest Orient: here he finds magas and magicians who can make kings of his friends, slay armies of his foes and bring any number of beloveds to his arms. And from this outraging probability and out-stripping possibility arises not a little of that strange fascination exercised for nearly two centuries upon the life and literature of Europe by The Nights, even in their mutilated and garbled form. The reader surrenders himself to the spell, feeling almost inclined to enquire "And why may it not be true?[FN#245] His brain is dazed and dazzled by the splendours which flash before it, by the sudden procession of Jinns and Jinniyahs, demons and fairies, some hideous, others preternaturally beautiful; by good wizards and evil sorcerers, whose powers are unlimited for weal and for woe; by mermen and mermaids, flying horses, talking animals, and reasoning elephants; by magic rings and their slaves and by talismanic couches which rival the carpet of Solomon. Hence, as one remarks, these Fairy Tales have pleased and still continue to please almost all ages, all ranks and all different capacities.

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Excerpt from
Sir Richard F. Burton, "Terminal Essay" in: A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights entertainments. Now entitled The book of the thousand nights and a night, with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights. By Richard F. Burton. [Denver, Col.] : Printed by The Burton Club for private subscribers only, [1885-1886].

Section IV of the Terminal Essay is actually more a comparison of Muslim versus Victorian values, customs and beliefs than it is about the 1001 Nights. The Nights merely provide Burton's excuse for discussing sexual mores. The essay is a fascinating, humorous and opinionated document from an arrogant and intelligent 19th century English colonialist.

§ IV. Social Condition.

A. Al-Islam.
B. Woman.
C. Pornography.
D. Pederasty. (This last section is available on the website "People with a History, An Online Guide to LGBT History." By clicking this link, you will be taken to that website. To return to the Born Eunuchs Library, use the "back" button on your browser.)

§ IV.


I here propose to treat of the Social Condition which The Nights discloses, of Al-Islam at the earlier period of its development, concerning the position of women and about the pornology of the great Saga-book.

A. - Al-Islam.

A splendid and glorious life was that of Baghdad in the days of the mighty Caliph,[1] when the Capital had towered to the zenith of grandeur and was already trembling and tottering to the fall. The centre of human civilisation, which was then confined to Greece and Arabia, and the metropolis of an Empire exceeding in extent the widest limits of Rome, it was essentially a city of pleasure, a Paris of the ixth century. The "Palace of Peace" (Dár al-Salám), worthy successor of Babylon and Nineveh, which had outrivalled Damascus, the "Smile of the Prophet," and Kufah, the successor of Hira and the magnificent creation of Caliph Omar, possessed unrivalled advantages of site and climate. The Tigris-Euphrates Valley, where the fabled Garden of Eden has been placed, in early ages succeeded the Nile-Valley as a great centre of human development; and the prerogative of a central and commanding position still promises it, even in the present state of decay and desolation under the unspeakable Turk, a magnificent future,[2] when railways and canals shall connect it with Europe. The city of palaces and government offices, hotels and pavilions, mosques and colleges, ...

[1] For further praises of his poetry and eloquence see the extracts from Fakhr al-Din of Rayy (an annalist of the xivth century A.D.) in De Sacy's Chrestomathie Arabe, vol. i.
[2] After this had been written I received "Babylonien, das reichste Land in der Vorzeit und das lohnendste Kolonisationsfeld für die Gegenwart," [Babylonia, the wealthiest land in ancient times and the most valuable field for colonization in modern times] by my learned friend Dr. Aloys Sprenger, Heidelberg, 1886.

... kiosks and squares, bazars and markets, pleasure grounds and orchards, adorned with all the graceful charms which Saracenic architecture had borrowed from the Byzantines, lay couched upon the banks of the Dijlah-Hiddekel under a sky of marvellous purity and in a climate which makes mere life a "Kayf" - the luxury of tranquil enjoyment. It was surrounded by far-extending suburbs, like Rusáfah on the Eastern side and villages like Baturanjah, dear to the votaries of pleasure; and with the roar of a gigantic capital mingled the hum of prayer, the trilling of birds, the thrilling of harp and lute, the shrilling of pipes, the witching strains of the professional Almah, and the minstrel's lay.

The population of Baghdad must have been enormous when the smallest number of her sons who fell victims to Huláku Khan in 1258 was estimated at eight hundred thousand, while other authorities more than double the terrible "butcher's bill." Her policy and polity were unique. A well-regulated routine of tribute and taxation, personally inspected by the Caliph; a network of waterways, canaux d'arrosage; a noble system of highways, provided with viaducts, bridges and caravanserais, and a postal service of mounted couriers enabled it to collect as in a reservoir the wealth of the outer world. The facilities for education were upon the most extended scale; large sums, from private as well as public sources, were allotted to Mosques, each of which, by the admirable rule of Al-Islam, was expected to contain a school: these establishments were richly endowed and stocked with professors collected from every land between Khorasan and Marocco;[1] and immense libraries[2] attracted the learned of all nations. It was a golden age for poets and panegyrists, koranists and literati, preachers and rhetoricians, physicians and scientists who, besides receiving high salaries and fabulous presents, were treated with all the honours of Chinese Mandarins; and, like these, the humblest Moslem - fisherman or artizan - could aspire through knowledge or savoir faire to the highest offices of the Empire. The effect was a grafting of ...

[1] The first school for Arabic literature was opened by Ibn Abbas, who lectured to multitudes in a valley near Meccah; this rude beginning was followed by public teaching in the great Mosque of Damascus. For the rise of the "Madrasah," Academy or College, see Introduct. to Ibn Khallikan pp. xxvii-xxxii.
[2] When Ibn Abbád the Sáhib (Wazir) was invited to visit one of the Samanides, he refused, one reason being that he would require 400 camels to carry only his books.

... Egyptian, and old Mesopotamian, of Persian and Graeco-Latin fruits, by long Time deteriorated, upon the strong young stock of Arab genius; and the result, as usual after such imping, was a shoot of exceptional luxuriance and vitality. The educational establishments devoted themselves to the three main objects recognised by the Moslem world, Theology, Civil Law and Belles Lettres; and a multitude of trained Councillors enabled the ruling powers to establish and enlarge that complicated machinery of government, at once concentrated and decentralized, a despotism often fatal to the wealthy great but never neglecting the interests of the humbler lieges, which forms the beau idéal of Oriental administration. Under the Chancellors of the Empire the Kazis administered law and order, justice and equity; and from their decisions the poorest subject, Moslem or miscreant, could claim with the general approval of the lieges, access and appeal to the Caliph who, as Imam or Antistes of the Faith was High President of a Court of Cassation.

Under wise administration Agriculture and Commerce, the twin pillars of national prosperity, necessarily flourished. A scientific canalisation, with irrigation-works inherited from the ancients, made the Mesopotamian Valley a rival of Kemi the Black Land, and rendered cultivation a certainty of profit, not a mere speculation, as it must ever be to those who perforce rely upon the fickle rains of Heaven. The remains of extensive mines prove that this source of public wealth was not neglected; navigation laws encouraged transit and traffic; and ordinances for the fisheries aimed at developing a branch of industry which is still backward even during the xixth century. Most substantial encouragement was given to trade and commerce, to manufactures and handicrafts, by the flood of gold which poured in from all parts of earth; by the presence of a splendid and
luxurious court, and by the call for new arts and industries which such a civilisation would necessitate. The crafts were distributed into guilds and syndicates under their respective chiefs, whom the government did not "govern too much": these Shahbandars, Mukaddams, and Nakíbs regulated the several trades, rewarded the industrious, punished the fraudulent and were personally answerable, as we still see at Cairo, for the conduct of their constituents. Public order, the sine qua non of stability and progress, was preserved, first, by the satisfaction of the lieges who, despite their characteristic turbulence, had few if any grievances; and, secondly, by a well-directed and efficient police, an engine of statecraft which in the West seems most difficult to perfect.

In the East, however, the Wali or Chief Commissioner can reckon more or less upon the unsalaried assistance of society: the cities are divided into quarters shut off one from other by night, and every Moslem is expected, by his law and religion, to keep watch upon his neighbours, to report their delinquencies and, if necessary, himself to carry out the penal code. But in difficult cases the guardians of the peace were assisted by a body of private detectives, women as well as men: these were called Tawwábún = the Penitents, because like our Bow-street runners, they had given up an even less respectable calling. Their adventures still delight the vulgar, as did the Newgate Calendar of past generations; and to this class we owe the Tales of Calamity Ahmad, Dalilah the Wily One, Saladin with the Three Chiefs of Police (vol. iv. 271), and Al-Malik al-Záhir with the Sixteen Constables (Bresl. Edit. xi. pp. 321-99). Here and in many other places we also see the origin of that "picaresque" literature which arose in Spain and overran Europe; and which begat Le Moyen de Parvenir.[1]

I need say no more on this heading, the civilisation of Baghdad contrasting with the barbarism of Europe then Germanic, The Nights itself being the best expositor. On the other hand the action of the state-religion upon the state, the condition of Al-Islam during the reign of Al-Rashid, its declension from the primitive creed and its relation to Christianity and Christendom, require a somewhat extended notice. In offering the following observations it is only fair to declare my standpoints.

1. All forms of "faith," that is, belief in things unseen, not subject to the senses, and therefore unknown and (in our present stage of development) unknowable, are temporary and transitory: no religion hitherto promulgated amongst men shows any prospect of being final or otherwise than finite.

2. Religious ideas, which are necessarily limited, may all be traced home to the old seat of science and art, creeds and polity in the Nile-Valley and to this day they retain the clearest signs of their origin.

3. All so-called "'revealed" religions consist mainly of three ...

[1] This "Salmagondis" by Francois Beroalde de Verville was afterwards worked by Tabarin, the pseudo-Bruscambille d'Aubigné and Sorel.

... portions, a cosmogony more or less mythical, a history more or less falsified and a moral code more or less pure.

Al-Islam, it has been said, is essentially a fighting faith and never shows to full advantage save in the field. The exceeding luxury of a wealthy capital, the debauchery and variety of vices which would spring up therein, naturally as weeds in a rich fallow, and the cosmopolitan views which suggest themselves in a meeting-place of nations, were sore trials to the primitive simplicity of the "Religion of Resignation" - the saving faith. Harun and his cousin-wife, as has been shown, were orthodox and even fanatical; but the Barmecides were strongly suspected of heretical leanings; and while the many-headed showed itself, as usual, violent, and ready to do battle about an Azan-call, the learned, who sooner or later leaven the masses, were profoundly dissatisfied with the dryness and barrenness of Mohammed's creed, so acceptable to the vulgar, and were devising a series of schisms and innovations.

In the Tale of Tawaddud (vol. v. 189) the reader has seen a fairly extended catechism of the Creed (Din), the ceremonial observances (Mazhab) and the apostolic practices (Sunnat) of the Shafi'í school which, with minor modifications, applies to the other three orthodox. Europe has by this time clean forgotten some tricks of her former bigotry, such as "Mawmet" (an idol!) and "Mahommerie" (mummery[1]), a place of Moslem worship: educated men no longer speak with Ockley of the "'great impostor Mahomet," nor believe with the learned and violent Dr. Prideaux that he was foolish and wicked enough to dispossess "certain poor orphans, the sons of an inferior artificer" (the Banú Najjár!). A host of books has attempted, though hardly with success, to enlighten popular ignorance upon a crucial point; namely, that the Founder of Al-Islam, like the Founder of Christianity, never pretended to establish a new religion. His claims, indeed, were
limited to purging the "School of Nazareth" of the dross of ages ...

[1] I prefer this derivation to Strutt's adopted by the popular, "mumm is said to be derived from the Danish word mumme, or momme in Dutch (Germ. = larva), and signifies disguise in a mask, hence a mummer." In the Promptorium Parvulorum we have "Mummynge, mussacio, vel mussatus": it was a pantomime in dumb show, e.g. "I mumme in a mummynge;" "Let us go mumme (mummer) to nyghte in women's apparayle." "Mask" and "Mascarade," for persona, larva or vizard, also derive, I have noticed, from an Arabic word - Maskharah.

... and of the manifold abuses with which long use had infected its early constitution: hence to the unprejudiced observer his reformation seems to have brought it nearer the primitive and original doctrine than any subsequent attempts, especially the Judaizing tendencies of the so-called "Protestant " churches. The Meccan Apostle preached that the Hanafiyyah or orthodox belief, which he subsequently named Al-Islam, was first taught by Allah, in all its purity and perfection, to Adam and consigned to certain inspired volumes now lost; and that this primal Holy Writ received additions in the days of his descendants Shís (Seth) and Idris (Enoch?), the founder of the Sabian (not "Sabaean") faith.

Here, therefore, Al-Islam at once avoided the deplorable assumption of the Hebrews and the Christians, an error which has been so injurious to their science and their progress, of placing their "first man" in circa B.C. 4000 or somewhat subsequent to the building of the Pyramids: the Pre-Adamite[1] races and dynasties of the Moslems remove a great stumbling-block and square with the anthropological views of the present day. In process of time, when the Adamite religion demanded a restoration and a supplement, its pristine virtue was revived, restored and further developed by the books communicated to Abraham, whose dispensation thus takes the place of the Hebrew Noah and his Noachidae. In due time the Torah, or Pentateuch, superseded and abrogated the Abrahamic dispensation; the "Zabúr" of David (a book not confined to the Psalms) reformed the Torah; the Injil or Evangel reformed the Zabur and was itself purified, quickened and perfected by the Koran which means [Greek:] kat' eksocheen the Reading or the Recital. Hence Locke, with many others, held Moslems to be unorthodox, that is, anti-Trinitarian Christians who believe in the Immaculate Conception, in the Ascension and in the divine mission of Jesus; and when Priestley affirmed that "Jesus was sent from God," all Moslems do the same. Thus they are, in the main point of doctrine connected with the Deity, simply Arians as opposed to Athanasians. History proves that the former was the earlier faith which, though formally condemned ...

[1] The Pre-Adamite doctrine has been preached with but scant success in Christendom. Peyrère, a French Calvinist, published (A.D. 1655) his "Praeadamitae, sive exercitatio supra versibus 12, 13, 14, cap. v. Epist. Paul. ad Romanos," [Pre-Adamites, or exercise on Romans 5:12-14] contending that Adam was called the first man because with him the law began. It brewed a storm of wrath and the author was fortunate to escape with only imprisonment.

... in A. D. 325 by Constantine's Council of Nice,[1] overspread the Orient beginning with Eastern Europe, where Ulphilas converted the Goths; which extended into Africa with the Vandals, claimed a victim or martyr as late as in the sixteenth century[2] and has by no means died out in this our day.

The Talmud had been completed a full century before Mohammed's time and the Evangel had been translated into Arabic; moreover travel and converse with his Jewish and Christian friends and companions must have convinced the Meccan Apostle that Christianity was calling as loudly for reform as Judaism had done.[3] An exaggerated Trinitarianism or rather Tritheism, a "Fourth Person" and Saint-worship had virtually dethroned the Deity; whilst Mariolatry had made the faith a religio muliebris, and superstition had drawn from its horrid fecundity an incredible number of heresies and monstrous absurdities. Even ecclesiastic writers draw the gloomiest pictures of the Christian Church in the fourth and seventh centuries, and one declares that the "Kingdom of Heaven had become a Hell." Egypt, distracted by the blood-thirsty religious wars of Copt and Greek, had been covered with hermitages by a gens aeterna, of semi-maniacal superstition. Syria, ever "feracious of ...

[1] According to Socrates the verdict was followed by a free fight of the Bishop-voters over the word "consubstantiality."
[2] Servetus burnt (in A.D. 1553 for publishing his Arian tractate) by Calvin, whom half-educated Roman Catholics in England firmly believe to have been a pederast. This arose, I suppose, from his meddling with Rabelais who, in return for the good joke Rabie laesus, presented a better anagram, "Jan (a pimp or cuckold) Cul" (Calvinus).
[3] There is no more immoral work than the "Old Testament." Its deity is an ancient Hebrew of the worst type, who condones, permits or commands every sin in the Decalogue to a Jewish patriarch, qua patriarch. He orders Abraham to murder his son and allows Jacob to swindle his brother; Moses to slaughter an Egyptian and the Jews to plunder and spoil a whole people, after inflicting upon them a series of plagues which would be the height of atrocity if the tale were true. The nations of Canaan are then extirpated. Ehud, for treacherously disembowelling King Eglon, is made judge over Israel. Jael is blessed above wornen (Joshua v. 24) for vilely murdering a sleeping guest; the horrid deeds of Judith and Esther are made examples to mankind; and David, after an adultery and a homicide which deserved ignominious death, is suffered to massacre a host of his enemies, cutting some in two with saws and axes and putting others into brick-kilns. For obscenity and impurity we have the tales of Onan and Tamar, Lot and his daughters, Amnon and his fair sister (2 Sam. xiii.), Absalom and his father's concubines, the "wife of whoredoms" of Hosea and, capping all, the Song of Solomon. For the horrors forbidden to the Jews, who, therefore, must have practised them, see Levit. viii. 24; xi. 5; xvii. 7; xviii. 7, 9, 10, 12, 15, 17, 21, 23, and xx. 3. For mere filth what can be fouler than 1st Kings xviii. 27; Tobias ii. 11; Esther xiv. 2; Eccl. xxii. 2; Isaiah xxxvi. 12; Jeremiah iv. 5, and (Ezekiel iv. 12-15), where the Lord changes human ordure into "Cow-chips!" Ce qui excuse Dieu, said Henri Beyle, c'est qu'il n'existe pas [what excuses God is that he does not exist], - I add, as man has made him.

... heresies," had allowed many of her finest tracts to be monopolised by monkeries and nunneries.[1] After many a tentative measure Mohammed seems to have built his edifice upon two bases, the unity of the Godhead and the priesthood of the paterfamilias. He abolished for ever the "sacerdos alter Christus" whose existence, as some one acutely said, is the best proof of Christianity, and whom all know to be its weakest point. The Moslem family, however humble, was to be the model in miniature of the State, and every father in Al-Islam was made priest and pontiff in his own house, able unaided to marry himself, to circumcise (to baptise as it were) his children, to instruct them in the law and canonically to bury himself (vol. viii. 22). Ritual, properly so called, there was none; congregational prayers were merely those of the individual en masse, and the only admitted approach to a sacerdotal order were the Olema or scholars learned in the legistic and the Mullah or schoolmaster. By thus abolishing the priesthood Mohammed reconciled ancient with modern wisdom. "Scito dominum," said Cato, "pro totâ familiâ rem divinam facere": "No priest at a birth, no priest at a marriage, no priest at a death," is the aspiration of the present Rationalistic School.

The Meccan Apostle wisely retained the compulsory sacrament of circumcision and the ceremonial ablutions of the Mosaic law; and the five daily prayers not only diverted man's thoughts from the world but tended to keep his body pure. These two institutions had been practised throughout life by the Founder of Christianity; but the followers who had never seen him, abolished them for purposes evidently political and propagandist. By ignoring the truth that cleanliness is next to godliness they paved the way for such saints as Simon Stylites and Sabba who, like the lowest Hindu orders of ascetics, made filth a concominant and an evidence of piety: even now English Catholic girls are at times forbidden by Italian priests a frequent use of the bath as a signpost to the sin of "luxury." Mohammed would have accepted the morals contained in the Sermon on the Mount much more readily than did the Jews from whom its matter was borrowed.[2] He did something to abolish the use of wine, which in the East ...

[1] It was the same in England before the "Reformation" and in France where, during our days, a returned priesthood collected in a few years "Peter-pence" to the tune of five hundred millions of francs. And these men wonder at being turned out!
[2] Deutsch on the Talmud: Quarterly Review, 1867.

... means only its abuse; and he denounced games of chance, well knowing that the excitable races of sub-tropical climates cannot play with patience, fairness or moderation. He set aside certain sums for charity to be paid by every Believer and he was the first to establish a poor-rate (Zakát): thus he avoided the shame and scandal of mendicancy which, beginning in the Catholic countries of Southern Europe, extends to Syria and as far East as Christianity is found. By these and other measures of the same import he made the ideal Moslem's life physically clean, moderate and temperate.

But Mohammed, the "mastcr mind of the age," had, we must own, a "'genuine prophetic power, a sinking of self in the Divine, not distinguishable in kind from the inspiration of the Hebrew prophets," especially in that puritanical and pharisaic narrowness which, with characteristic simplicity, can see no good outside its own petty pale. He had insight as well as outsight, and the two taught him that personal and external reformation were mean matters compared with elevating the inner man. In the "purer Faith," which he was commissioned to abrogate and to quicken, he found two vital defects equally fatal to its energy and to its longevity. These were (and are) its egoism and its degradation of humanity. Thus it cannot be a "pleroma": it needs a Higher Law.[1] As Judaism promised the good Jew all manner of temporal blessings, issue, riches, wealth, honour, power, length of days, so Christianity offered the good Christian, as a bribe to lead a godly life, personal salvation and a future state of happiness, in fact, the Kingdom of Heaven, with an alternative threat of Hell. It never rose to the height of the Hindu Brahmans and Lao-Tse (the "'Ancient Teacher"); of Zeno the Stoic and his disciples the noble Pharisees[2] who believed and preached that Virtue is its own reward. It never dared to say, "Do good for Good's sake;"[3] ...

[1] Evidently. Its cosmogony is a myth read literally: its history is, for the most part, a highly immoral distortion, and its ethics are those of the Talmudic Hebrews. It has done good work in its time; but now it shows only decay and decrepitude in the place of vigour and progress. It is dying hard, but it is dying of the slow poison of science.
[2] These Hebrew Stoics would justly charge the Founder of Christianity with preaching a more popular and practical doctrine, but a degradation from their own far higher and more ideal standard.
[3] Dr. Theodore Christlieb ("Modern Doubt and Christian Belief," Edinburgh: Clark, 1874) can even now write: - "So then the 'full age' to which humanity is at present supposed to have attained, consists in man's doing good purely for goodness sake! Who sees not the hollowness of this bombastic talk. That man has yet to be born whose practice will be regulated by this insipid theory (dieser grauen Theorie). What is the idea of goodness per se? * * * The abstract idea of goodness is not an cffectual motive for well-doing" (p. 104). My only comment is c'est ignoble! His Reverence acts the part of Satan in Holy Writ, "Does Job serve God for naught?" Compare this selfish, irreligious, and immoral view with Philo Judaeus (On the Allegory of the Sacred Laws, cap. lviii.), to measure the extent of the fall from Pharisaism to Christianity. And the latter is still infected with the "bribe-and-threat doctrine:" I once immensely scandalised a Consular Chaplain by quoting the noble belief of the ancients, and it was some days before he could recover mental equanimity. The degradation is now inbred.

... even now it does not declare with Cicero, "The sum of all is that what is right should be sought for its own sake, because it is right, and not because it is enacted." It does not even now venture to say with Philo Judaeus, "The good man seeks the day for the sake of the day, and the light for the light's sake; and he labours to acquire what is good for the sake of the good itself, and not of anything else." So far for the egotism, naive and unconscious, of Christianity, whose burden is, "Do good to escape Hell and gain Heaven."

A no less defect in the "School of Galilee" is its low view of human nature. Adopting as sober and authentic history an Osirian-Hebrew myth which Philo and a host of Rabbis explain away, each after his own fashion, Christianity dwells, lovingly as it were, upon the "Fall" of man[1] and seems to revel in the contemptible condition to which "original sin" condemned him; thus grovelling before God ad majorem Dei gloriam. To such a point was and is this carried that the Synod of Dort declared, Infantes infidelium morientes in infantiâ reprobatos esse statuimus ["We rule that infants of nonbelievers dying in infancy are condemned"]; nay, many of the orthodox still hold a Christian babe dying unbaptised to be unfit for a higher existence, and some have even created a "'limbo" expressly to domicile the innocents "of whom is the kingdom of Heaven." Here, if any where, the cloven foot shows itself and teaches us that the only solid stratum underlying priestcraft is one composed of £ s. d.

And I never can now believe it, my Lord! (Bishop) we come to this earth
Ready damned, with the seeds of evil sown quite so thick at our birth,
sings Edwin Arnold.[2] We ask, can infatuation or hypocrisy - ...
[1] Of the doctrine of the Fall the heretic Marcion wrote: "The Deity must either be deficient in goodness if he willed, in prescience if he did not foresee, or in power if he did not prevent it."
[2] In his charming book, "India Revisited."

... for it must be the one or the other - go farther? But the Adamical myth is opposed to all our modern studies. The deeper we dig into the Earth's "crust," the lower are the specimens of human remains which occur; and hitherto not a single "find" has come to revive the faded glories of

Adam the goodliest man of men since born (!)
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Thus Christianity, admitting, like Judaism, its own saints and santons, utterly ignores the progress of humanity, perhaps the only belief in which the wise man can take unmingled satisfaction. Both have proposed an originally perfect being with hyacinthine locks, from whose type all the subsequent humans are degradations physical and moral. We on the other hand hold, from the evidence of our senses, that early man was a savage very little superior to the brute; that during man's millions of years upon earth there has been a gradual advance towards perfection, at times irregular and even retrograde, but in the main progressive; and that a comparison of man in the xixth century with the caveman[1] affords us the means of measuring past progress and of calculating the future of humanity.

Mahommed was far from rising to the moral heights of the ancient sages: he did nothing to abate the egotism of Christianity; he even exaggerated the pleasures of its Heaven and the horrors of its Hell. On the other hand he did much to exalt human nature. He passed over the "Fall" with a light hand; he made man superior to the angels; he encouraged his fellow-creatures to be great and good by dwelling upon their nobler not their meaner side; he acknowledged, even in this world, the perfectability of mankind, including womankind, and in proposing the loftiest ideal he acted unconsciously upon the grand dictum of chivalry - Honneur oblige.[2] His prophets were mostly faultless men; and, if the "Pure of Allah" sinned, he "sinned against himself." Lastly, he made Allah predetermine the career and fortunes, not only of empires, but of every created being; thus inculcating sympathy and tolerance of others, which is true humanity, and a ...

[1] This is the answer to those who contend with much truth that the moderns are by no means superior to the ancients of Europe: they look at the results of only 3000 years instead of 30,000 or 300,000
[2] As a maxim the saying is attributed to the Duc de Lévis, but it is much older.

... proud resignation to evil as to good fortune. This is the doctrine which teaches the vulgar Moslem a dignity observed even by the "blind traveller," and which enables him to display a moderation, a fortitude, and a self-command rare enough amongst the followers of the "purer creed."

Christian historians explain variously the portentous rise of Al-Islam and its marvellous spread over vast regions, not only of pagans and idolators but of Christians. Prideaux disingenuously suggests that it "seems to have been purposely raised up by God, to be a scourge to the Christian Church for not living in accordance with their most holy religion." The popular excuse is by the free use of the sword; this, however, is mere ignorance: in Mohammed's day and early Al-Islam only actual fighters were slain:[1] the rest were allowed to pay the Jizyah, or capitation, tax, and to become tributaries, enjoying almost all the privileges of Moslems. But even had forcible conversion been most systematically practised, it would have afforded an insufficient explanation of the phenomenal rise of an empire which covered more ground in eighty years than Rome had gained in eight hundred. During so short a time the grand revival of Monotheism had consolidated into a mighty nation, despite their eternal blood-feuds, the scattered Arab tribes; a six-years' campaign had conquered Syria, and a lustre or two utterly overthrew Persia, humbled the Graeco-Roman, subdued Egypt and extended the Faith along northern Africa as far as the Atlantic. Within three generations the Copts of Nile-land had formally cast out Christianity, and the same was the case with Syria, the cradle of the Nazarene, and Mesopotamia, one of his strongholds, although both were backed by all the remaining power of the Byzantine empire. Northwestern Africa, which had rejected the idolatro-philosophic system of pagan and imperial Rome, and had accepted, after lukewarm fashion, the Arian Christianity imported by the Vandals, and the "Nicene mystery of the Trinity," hailed with enthusiasm the doctrines of the Koran and has never ceased to be most zealous in its Islam. And while Mohammedanism speedily reduced the limits of Christendom by one-third, while through-out ...

[1] There are a few, but only a few, frightful exceptions to this rule, especially in the case of Khálid bin Walíd, the Sword of Allah, and, his ferocious friend, Darár ibn al-Azwar. But their cruel excesses were loudly blamed by the Moslerns, and Caliph Omar only obeyed the popular voice in superseding the fierce and furious Khálid by the mild and merciful Abd Obaydah.

... the Arabian, Saracenic and Turkish invasions whole Christian peoples embraced the monotheistic faith, there are hardly any instances of defection from the new creed and, with the exception of Spain and Sicily, it has never been suppressed in any land where once it took root. Even now, when Mohammedanism no longer wields the sword, it is spreading over wide regions in China, in the Indian Archipelago, and especially in Western and Central Africa, propagated only by self-educated individuals, trading travellers, while Christianity makes no progress and cannot exist on the Dark Continent without strong support from Government. Nor can we explain this honourable reception by the "licentiousness" ignorantly attributed to Al-Islam, one of the most severely moral of institutions; or by the allurements of polygamy and concubinage, slavery,[1] and a "wholly sensual Paradise" devoted to eating, drinking[2] and the pleasures of the sixth sense. The true and simple explanation is that this grand Reformation of Christianity was urgently wanted when it appeared, that it suited the people better than the creed which it superseded and that it has not ceased to be sufficient for their requirements, social, sexual and vital. As the practical Orientalist, Dr. Leitner, well observes from his own experience, "The Mohammedan religion can adapt itself better than any other and has adapted itself to circumstances and to the needs of the various races which profess it, in accordance with the spirit of the age."[3] Hence, I add, its wide diffusion and its impregnable position. "The dead hand, stiff and motionless," is a forcible simile for the present condition of Al-Islam; but it results from limited and imperfect observation and it fails in the sine qua non of similes and metaphors, a foundation of fact.

I cannot quit this subject without a passing reference to an ...

[1] This too when St. Paul sends the Christian slave Onesimus back to his unbelieving (?) master, Philemon; which in Al-Islam would have created a scandal.
[2] This too when the Founder of Christianity talks of "Eating and drinking at his table!" (Luke xxii. 29.) My notes have often touched upon this inveterate prejudice, the result, like the soul-less woman of Al-Islam, of ad captandum, pious fraud. "No soul knoweth what joy of the eyes is reserved for the good in recompense for their works" (Koran xxxii. 17) is surely as "spiritual" as St. Paul (I Cor. ii., 9). Some lies, however, are very long-lived, especially those begotten by self-interest.
[3] I have elsewhere noted its strict conservatism which, however, it shares with all Eastern faiths in the East. But progress, not quietism, is the principle which governs humanity and it is favoured by events of most different nature. In Egypt the rule of Mohammed Ali the Great and in Syria the Massacre of Damascus (1860) have greatly modified the constitution of Al-Islam throughout the nearer East

... admirably written passage in Mr. Palgrave's travels[1] which is essentially unfair to Al-Islam. The author has had ample opportunities of comparing creeds: of Jewish blood and born a Protestant, he became a Catholic and a Jesuit (Père Michel Cohen)[2] in a Syrian convent; he crossed Arabia as a good Moslem and he finally returned to his premier amour, Anglicanism. But his picturesque depreciation of Mohammedanism, which has found due appreciation in more than one popular volume,[3] is a notable specimen of special pleading, of the ad captandum in its modern and least honest form. The writer begins by assuming the arid and barren Wahhabi-ism, which he had personally studied, as a fair expression of the Saving Faith. What should we say to a Moslem traveller who would make the Calvinism of the sourest Covenanter, model, genuine and ancient Christianity? What would sensible Moslems say to these propositions of Professor Maccovius and the Synod of Dort: -Good works are an obstacle to salvation. God does by no means will the salvation of all men: he does will sin and he destines men to sin, as sin? What would they think of the Inadmissible Grace, the Perseverance of the Elect, the Supralapsarian and the Sublapsarian and, finally, of a Deity the author of man's existence, temptation and fall, who deliberately pre-ordains sin and ruin? "Father Cohen" carries out into the regions of the extreme his strictures on the one grand vitalising idea of Al-Islam, "There is no god but God;"[4] and his deduction concerning the Pantheism of Force sounds unreal and unsound, compared with the sensible remarks upon the same subject by Dr. Badger[5] who sees the abstruseness of the doctrine ...

[1] Chapt. viii. "Narrative of a Year's journey through Central and Eastern Arabia;" London, Macmillan, 1865.
[2] The Soc. Jesu has, I believe, a traditional conviction that converts of Israelitic blood bring only misfortune to the Order.
[3] I especially allude to an able but most superficial book, the "Ten Great Religions" by James F. Clarke (Boston, Osgood, 1876), which caricatures and exaggerates the false portraiture of Mr. Palgrave. The writer's admission that, "Something is always gained by learning what the believers in a system have to say in its behalf," clearly shows us the man we have to deal with and the "depths of his self-consciousness."
[4] But how could the Arabist write such hideous grammar as "La Ilah illa Allah" for "Lá iláha (accus.) ill' Allah"?
[5] p. 996 "Muhammad" in vol. iii. Dictionary of Christian Biography. See also the Illustration of the Mohammedan Creed, etc., from Al-Ghazáli introduced (pp. 72-77) into Bell and Sons' "History of the Saracens" by Simon Ockley, B.D. (London, 1878). 1 regret that some Orientalist did not correct the proofs: everybody will not detect "Al-Lauh al-Mahfúz" (the Guarded Tablet) in "Allauh ho'hnehphoud" (p. 171); and this but a pinch out of a camel-load.

... and does not care to include it in hard and fast lines or to subject it to mere logical analysis. Upon the subject of "predestination" Mr. Palgrave quotes, not from the Koran, but from the Ahádís or Traditional Sayings of the Apostle; but what importance attaches to a legend in the Mischnah, or Oral Law, of the Hebrews utterly ignored by the Written Law? He joins the many in complaining that even the mention of "the love of God" is absent from Mohammed's theology, burking the fact that it never occurs in the Jewish scriptures and that the genius of Arabic, like Hebrew, does not admit the expression: worse still, he keeps from his reader such Koranic passages as, to quote no other, "Allah loveth you and will forgive your sins" (iii. 29 [sic; actually 3:31]). He pities Allah for having "no son, companion or counsellor" and, of course, he must equally commiserate Jehovah. Finally his views of the lifelessness of Al-Islam are directly opposed to the opinions of Dr. Leitner and the experience of all who have lived in Moslem lands. Such are the ingenious but not ingenuous distortions of fact, the fine instances of the pathetic fallacy, and the noteworthy illustrations of the falsehood of extremes, which have engendered "Mohammedanism a Relapse: the worst form of Monotheism,"[1] and which have been eagerly seized upon and further deformed by the authors of popular books, that is, volumes written by those who know little for those who know less.

In Al-Rashid's day, a mighty change had passed over the primitive simplicity of Al-Islam, the change to which faiths and creeds, like races and empires and all things sublunary, are subject. The proximity of Persia and the close intercourse with the Graeco-Romans had polished and greatly modified the physiognomy of the rugged old belief: all manner of metaphysical subtleties had cropped up, with the usual disintegrating effect, and some of these threatened even the unity of the Godhead. Musaylimah ...

[1] The word should have been Arianism. This "heresy" of the early Christians was much aided by the "Discipline of the Secret," supposed to be of apostolic origin, which concealed from neophytes, catechumens and penitents all the higher mysteries, like the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Metastoicheiosis (transubstantiation), the Real Presence, the Eucharist and the Seven Sacraments; when Arnobius could ask, Quid Deo cum vino est? and when Justin, fearing the charge of Polytheism, could expressly declare the inferior nature of the Son to the Father. Hence the creed was appropriately called Symbol, i.e., Sign of the Secret. This "mental reservation" lasted till the Edict of Toleration, issued by Constantine in the fourth century, held Christianity secure when divulging her "mysteries"; and it allowed Arianism to become the popular creed.

... and Karmat had left traces of their handiwork: the Mutazilites (separatists or secessors) actively propagated their doctrine of a created and temporal Koran. The Khárijí or Ibázi, who rejects and reviles Abú Turáb (Caliph Ali), contended passionately with the Shí'ah who reviles and rejects the other three "Successors;" and these sectarians, favoured by the learned, and by the Abbasides in their jealous hatred of the Ommiades, went to the extreme length of the Ali-Iláhi - the God-makers of Ali - whilst the Dahrí and the Zindík, the Mundanist and the Agnostic, proposed to sweep away the whole edifice. The neo-Platonism and Gnosticism which had not essentially affected Christendom,[1] found in Al-Islam a rich fallow and gained strength and luxuriance by the solid materialism and conservatism of its basis. Such were a few of the distracting and resolving influences which Time had brought to bear upon the True Believer and which, after some half a dozen generations, had separated the several schisms by a wider breach than that which yawns between Orthodox, Romanist and Lutheran. Nor was this scandal in Al-Islam abated until the Tartar sword applied to it the sharpest remedy.

B. - Woman.

The next point I propose to consider is the position of womanhood in The Nights, so curiously at variance with the stock ideas concerning the Moslem home and domestic policy still prevalent, not only in England, but throughout Europe. Many readers of these volumes have remarked to me with much astonishment that they find the female characters more remarkable for decision, action and manliness than the male; and are wonderstruck by their masterful attitude and by the supreme influence they exercise upon public and private life.

I have glanced at the subject of the sex in Al-Islam to such an extent throughout my notes that little remains here to be added. Women, all the world over, are what men make them; and the ...

[1] The Gnostics played rather a fantastic rôle in Christianity with their Demiurge, their Aeonogony, their Aeons by syzygies or couples, their Maio and Sabscho and their beatified bride of Jesus, Sophia Achamoth; and some of them descended to absolute absurdities, e.g., the Tascodrugite and the Pattalorhinchitae who during prayers placed their fingers upon their noses or in their mouths, &c., reading Psalm cxli. 3.

... main charm of Amazonian fiction is to see how they live and move and have their being without any masculine guidance. But it is the old ever, new fable

"Who drew the Lion vanquished? 'Twas a man!"

The books of the Ancients, written in that stage of civilisation when the sexes are at civil war, make women even more than in real life the creatures of their masters: hence from the dawn of literature to the present day the sex has been the subject of disappointed abuse and eulogy almost as unmerited. Ecclesiastes, perhaps the strangest specimen of an "inspired volume" the world has yet produced, boldly declares "One (upright) man among a thousand I have found; but a woman among all have I not found" (vol. vii. 28), thus confirming the pessimism of Petronius:

Femina nulla bona est, et si bona contigit ulla
Nescio quo fato res mala facta bona est.
[No woman is good, and if any good one has arisen,
I do not know by what fate a bad thing is made good.]

In the Psalms again (xxx. 15) we have the old sneer at the three insatiables, Hell, Earth and the Parts feminine (os vulvae); and Rabbinical learning has embroidered these and other texts, producing a truly hideous caricature. A Hadis attributed to Mohammed runs, "They (women) lack wits and faith. When Eve was created Satan rejoiced saying: - Thou art half of my host, the trustee of my secret and my shaft wherewith I shoot and miss not!" Another tells us, "I stood at the gate of Heaven, and lo! most of its inmates were poor, and I stood at the gate of Hell, and lo! most of its inmates were women. "[1] "Take care of the glass-phials!" cried the Prophet to a camel-guide singing with a sweet voice. Yet the Meccan Apostle made, as has been seen, his own household produce two perfections. The blatant popular voice follows with such "dictes" as, "'Women are made of nectar and poison"; "Women have long hair and short wits" and so forth. Nor are the Hindus behindhand. Woman has fickleness implanted in her by Nature like the flashings of lightning (Kathá s.s. i. 147); she is valueless as a straw to the heroic mind (169); she is hard as adamant in sin and soft as flour in fear (170) and, ...

[1] "Kitáb al-'Unwán fí Makáid al-Niswán" = The Book of the Beginnings on the Wiles of Womankind (Lane i. 38).

... like the fly, she quits camphor to settle on compost (ii. 117). "What dependence is there in the crowing of a hen?" (women's opinions) says the Hindi proverb; also "A virgin with grey hairs!" (i.e. a monster) and, "Wherever wendeth a fairy face a devil wendeth with her." The same superficial view of holding woman to be lesser (and very inferior) man is taken generally by the classics; and Euripides distinguished himself by misogyny, although he drew the beautiful character of Alcestis. Simonides, more merciful than Ecclesiastes, after naming his swine-women, dog-women, cat-women, etc., ends the decade with the admirable bee-woman, thus making ten per cent. honest. In mediaeval or Germanic Europe the doctrine of the Virgin mother gave the sex a status unknown to the Ancients except in Egypt, where Isis was the help-mate and completion of Osiris, in modern parlance "The Woman clothed with the Sun." The kindly and courtly Palmerin of England, in whose pages "gentlemen may find their choice of sweet inventions and gentlewomen be satisfied with courtly expectations," suddenly blurts out, "But in truth women are never satisfied by reason, being governed by accident or appetite" (chapt. xlix).

The Nights, as might be expected from the emotional East, exaggerate these views. Women are mostly "Sectaries of the god Wünsch [desire]"; beings of impulse, blown about by every gust of passion; stable only in instability; constant only in inconstancy. The false ascetic, the perfidious and murderous crone and the old hag-procuress who pimps like Umm Kulsum,[1] for mere pleasure, in the luxury of sin, are drawn with an experienced and loving hand. Yet not the less do we meet with examples of the dutiful daughter, the model lover matronly in her affection, the devoted wife, the perfect mother, the saintly devotee, the learned preacher, Univira the chaste widow and the self-sacrificing heroic woman. If we find (vol. iii. 216) the sex described as:

An offal cast by kites where'er they list,

and the studied insults of vol. iii. 318, we also come upon an admirable sketch of conjugal happiness (vol. vii. ? 43); and, to ...

[1] This person was one of the Amsál or Exampla of the Arabs. For her first thirty years she whored; during the next three decades she pimped for friend and foe; and, during the last third of her life, when bed-ridden by age and infirmities, she had a buckgoat and a nanny tied up in her room and solaced herself by contemplating their amorous conflicts.

... mention no other, Shahryar's attestation to Shahrazad's excellence in the last charming pages of The Nights.[1] It is the same with the Kathá whose praise and dispraise are equally enthusiastic; e.g., "Women of good family are guarded by their own virtue, the sole efficient chamberlain; but the Lord himself can hardly guard the unchaste. Who can stem a furious stream and a frantic woman?" (i. 328). "Excessive love in woman is your only hero for daring" (i. 339). "Thus fair ones, naturally feeble, bring about a series of evil actions which engender discernment and aversion to the world; but here and there you will find a virtuous woman who adorneth a glorious house as the streak of the moon arrayeth the breadth of the Heavens" (i. 346). "So you see, King, honourable matrons are devoted to their husbands and 'tis not the case that women are always bad" (ii. 624). And there is true wisdom in that even balance of feminine qualities advocated by our Hindu-Hindi class-book the Toti-námeh or Parrot volume. The perfect woman has seven requisites. She must not always be merry (1) nor sad (2); she must not always be talking (3) nor silently musing (4); she must not always be adorning herself (5) nor neglecting her person (6); and, (7) at all times she must be moderate and self-possessed.

The legal status of womankind in Al-Islam is exceptionally high, a fact of which Europe has often been assured, although the truth has not even yet penetrated into the popular brain. Nearly a century ago one Mirza Abú Tálib Khan, an Amildár or revenue collector, after living two years in London, wrote an "apology" for, or rather a vindication of, his countrywomen which is still worth reading and quoting.[2] Nations are but superficial judges of one another: where customs differ they often remark only the salient distinctive points which, when examined, prove to be of minor importance. Europeans seeing ...

[1] And modern Moslem feeling upon the subject has apparently undergone a change. Ashraf Khan, the Afghan poet, sings,
Since I, the parted one, have come the secrets of the world to ken,
Women in hosts therein I find, but few (and very few) of men.

And the Osmanli proverb is, "Of ten men nine are women!"
[2] His Persian paper "On the Vindication of the Liberties of the Asiatic Women" was translated and printed in the Asiatic Annual Register for 1801 (pp. 100-107); it is quoted by Dr. Jon. Scott (Introd. vol. i. p. xxxiv. et seq.) and by a host of writers. He also wrote a book of Travels translated by Prof. Charles Stewart in 1810 and re-issued (3 vols. octavo) in 1814.

... and hearing that women in the East are "cloistered" as the Grecian matron was wont [Greek:] endon menein and oikourein [to stay inside and run the house]; that wives may not walk out with their husbands and cannot accompany them to "balls and parties"; moreover, that they are always liable, like the ancient Hebrew, to the mortification of the "sister-wife," have most ignorantly determined that they are mere serviles, and that their lives are not worth living. Indeed, a learned lady, Miss Martineau, once visiting a Harem went into ecstasies of pity and sorrow because the poor things knew nothing of - say trigonometry and the use of the globes. Sonnini thought otherwise, and my experience, like that of all old dwellers in the East, is directly opposed to this conclusion.

I have noted (Night cmlxii.) that Mohammed, in the fifth year of his reign,[1] after his ill-advised and scandalous marriage[2] with his foster-daughter Zaynab, established the Hijab or veiling of women. It was probably an exaggeration of local usage: a modified separation of the sexes, which extended and still extends even to the Badawi, must long have been customary in Arabian cities, and its object was to deliver the sexes from temptation, as the Koran says (xxxii. 32), "purer will this (practice) be for your hearts and their hearts."[3] The women, who delight in restrictions ...

[1] The beginning of which I date from the Hijrah, lit. = the separation, popularly "The Flight." Stating the case broadly, it has become the practice of modern writers to look upon Mohammed as an honest enthusiast at Meccah and an unscrupulous despot at Al-Medinah, a view which appears to me eminently unsound and unfair. In a private station the Meccan Prophet was famed as a good citizen, teste his title Al-Amín = The Trusty. But when driven from his home by the pagan faction, he became de facto as de jure a king: nay, a royal pontiff; and the preacher was merged in the Conqueror of his foes and the Commander of the Faithful. His rule, like that of all Eastern rulers, was stained with blood; but, assuming as true all the crimes and cruelties with which Christians charge him and which Moslems confess, they were mere blots upon a glorious and enthusiastic life, ending in a most exemplary death, compared with the tissue of horrors and havock which the Law and the Prophets attribute to Moses, to Joshua, to Samuel and to the patriarchs and prophets by express command of Jehovah.
[2] It was not, however, incestuous: the scandal came from its ignoring the Arab "pundonor."
[3] The "opportunism" of Mohammed has been made a matter of obloquy by many who have not reflected and discovered that time-serving is the very essence of "Revelation." Says the Rev. W. Smith ("Pentateuch," chapt. xiii.), "As the journey (Exodus) proceeds, so laws originate from the accidents of the way," and he applies this to successive decrees (Numbers xxvi. 32-36; xxvii. 8-11 and xxxvi. 1-9), holding it indirect internal evidence of Mosaic authorship (?). Another tone, however, is used in the case of A]-Islam. "And now, that he might not stand in awe of his wives any longer, down comes a revelation," says Ockley in his bluff and homely style, which admits such phrases as, "the imposter has the impudence to say." But why, in common honesty, refuse to the Koran the concessions freely made to the Torah? It is a mere petitio principii to argue that the latter is "inspired" while the former is not; moreover, although we may be called upon to believe things beyond Reason, it is hardly fair to require our belief in things contrary to Reason.

... which tend to their honour, accepted it willingly and still affect it; they do not desire a liberty or rather a licence which they have learned to regard as inconsistent with their time-honoured notions of feminine decorum and delicacy, and they would think very meanly of a husband who permitted them to be exposed, like hetairae, to the public gaze.[1] As Zubayr Pasha, exiled to Gibraltar for another's treason, said to my friend, Colonel Buckle, after visiting quarters evidently laid out by a jealous husband, "We Arabs think that when a man has a precious jewel, 'tis wiser to lock it up in a box than to leave it about for anyone to take." The Eastern adopts the instinctive, the Western prefers the rational method. The former jealously guards his treasure, surrounds it with all precautions, fends off from it all risks and if the treasure go astray, kills it. The latter, after placing it en evidence upon an eminence in ball dress with back and bosom bared to the gaze of society, a bundle of charms exposed to every possible seduction, allows it to take its own way, and if it be misled, he kills or tries to kill the misleader. It is a fiery trial; and the few who safely pass through it may claim a higher standpoint in the moral world than those who have never been sorely tried. But the crucial question is whether Christian Europe has done wisely in offering such temptations.

The second and main objection to Moslem custom is the marriage-system which begins with a girl being wedded to a man whom she knows only by hearsay. This was the habit of our forbears not many generations ago, and it still prevails amongst noble houses in Southern Europe, where a lengthened study of it leaves me doubtful whether the "love-marriage," as it is called, or wedlock with an utter stranger, evidently the two extremes, is likely to prove the happier. The "sister-wife" is or would be a sore trial to monogamic races like those of Northern Europe, where Caia, all but the equal of Caius in most points mental and physical and superior in some, not unfrequently proves herself the "man of the family," the "only man in the boat." But in the East, where the sex is far more delicate, where a girl is brought up in polygamy, where religious reasons separate her from her husband, during pregnancy and lactation, for three successive ...

[1] This is noticed in my wife's volume on The Inner Life of Syria, chapt. xii. vol. i. 155.

... years; and where oft like the Mormon damsel she would hesitate to "nigger it with a one-wife-man," the case assumes a very different aspect and the load, if burden it be, falls comparatively light. Lastly, the "patriarchal household" is mostly confined to the grandee and the richard, whilst Holy Law and public opinion, neither of which can openly be disregarded, assign command of the household to the equal or first wife and jealously guard the rights and privileges of the others.

Mirza Abu Talib "the Persian Prince"[1] offers six reasons why "the liberty of the Asiatic women appears less than that of the Europeans," ending with,

I'll fondly place on either eye
The man that can to this reply.

He then lays down eight points in which the Moslem wife has greatly the advantage over her Christian sisterhood; and we may take his first as a specimen. Custom, not contrary to law, invests the Mohammedan mother with despotic government of the homestead, slaves, servants and children, especially the latter: she alone directs their early education, their choice of faith, their marriage and their establishment in life; and in case of divorce she takes the daughters, the sons going to the sire. She has also liberty to leave her home, not only for one or two nights, but for a week or a fortnight, without consulting her husband; and whilst she visits a strange household, the master and all males above fifteen are forbidden the Harem. But the main point in favour of the Moslem wife is her being a "legal sharer": inheritance is secured to her by Koranic law; she must be dowered by the bridegroom to legalise marriage and all she gains is secured to her; whereas in England a "Married Woman's Property Act" was completed only in 1882 after many centuries of the grossest abuses.

Lastly, Moslems and Easterns in general study and intelligently study the art and mystery of satisfying the physical woman. In my Foreword I have noticed among barbarians the system of "making men,"[2] that is, of teaching lads first arrived at ...

[1] Mirza preceding the name means Mister and following it Prince. Addison's "Vision of Mirza" (Spectator, No. 159) is therefore "The Vision of Mister."
[2] And women. The course of instruction lasts from a few days to a year and the period of puberty is fêted by magical rites and often by some form of mutilation. It is described by Waitz, Réclus and Schoolcraft, Péchuel-Loecksa, Collins, Dawson, Thomas, Brough Smyth, Reverends Bulmer and Taplin, Carlo Wilhelmi, Wood, A. W. Howitt, C. Z. Muhas (Mem. de la Soc. Anthrop. Allemande, 1882, p. 265) and by Professor Mantegazza (chapt. i.) for whom see infra.

... puberty the nice conduct of the instrumentum paratum plantandis civibus [tool for planting citizens?]: a branch of the knowledge-tree which our modern education grossly neglects, thereby entailing untold miseries upon individuals, families and generations. The mock virtue, the most immodest modesty of England and of the United States in the xixth century, pronounces the subject foul and fulsome: "Society" sickens at all details; and hence it is said abroad that the English have the finest women in Europe and least know how to use them. Throughout the East such studies are aided by a long series of volumes, many of them written by learned physiologists, by men of social standing and by religious dignitaries high in office. The Egyptians especially delight in aphrodisiac literature treating, as the Turks say, de la partie au-dessous de la taille [of the parts below the waist]; and from fifteen hundred to two thousand copies of a new work, usually lithographed in cheap form, readily sell off. The pudibund Lane makes allusion to and quotes (A. N. i. 216) one of the most outspoken, a quarto of 464 pages, called the Halbat al-Kumayt or "Race Course of the Bay Horse," a poetical and horsey term for grapewine. Attributed by D'Herbelot to the Kazi Shams al-Din Mohammed, it is wholly upon the subject of wassail and women till the last few pages, when his reverence exclaims: - "This much, 0 reader, I have recounted, the better thou mayst know what to avoid;" and so forth, ending with condemning all he had praised.[1] Even the divine and historian Jalál al-Dín al-Siyuti is credited with having written, though the authorship is much disputed, a work entitled, "Kitáb al-Izáh fi 'ilm al-Nikáh" = The Book of Exposition in the Science of Coition: my copy, a lithograph of 33 pages, undated, but evidently Cairene, begins with exclaiming "Alhamdolillah - Laud to the Lord who adorned the virginal bosom with breasts and who made the thighs of women anvils for the spear-handles of men!" To the same amiable theologian are also ascribed the "Kitáb Nawázir al-Ayk fi al-Nayk" = Green Splendours of the Copse in Copulation, an abstract of the "Kitáb al-Wisháh fí fawáid al-Nikáh" = Book of the Zone on Coition-boon. Of the abundance of pornographic literature we may judge ...

[1] Similarly certain Australian tribes act scenes of rape and pederasty saying to the young, If you do this you will be killed.

... from a list of the following seven works given in the second page of the "Kitáb Rujú'a al-Shaykh ila Sabáh fi 'l-Kuwwat al-Báh[1]" = Book of Age-rejuvenescence in the power of Concupiscence: it is the work of Ahmad bin Sulayman, surnamed Ibn Kamál Pasha.

1. Kitáb al-Báh by Al-Nahli.
2. Kitáb al-'Ars wa al-'Aráis (Book of the Bridal and the Brides) by Al-Jáhiz.
3. Kitáb al-Kiyán (Maiden's Book) by Ibn Hájib al-Nu'mán.
4. Kitáb al-Izáh fi asrár al-Nikáh (Book of the Exposition on the Mysteries of married Fruition).
5. Kitáb Jámi' al-Lizzah (The Compendium of Pleasure) by Ibn Samsamáni.
6. Kitáb Barján (Yarján?) wa Janáhib (? ?)2
7. Kitáb al-Munákahah wa al-Mufátahah fí Asnáf al-Jimá' wa Alátih (Book of Carnal Copulation and the Initiation into the modes of Coition and its Instrumentation) by Aziz al-Din al-Masíhí.3

To these I may add the Lizzat al-Nisá (Pleasures of Women), a text-book in Arabic, Persian and Hindostani: it is a translation and a very poor attempt, omitting much from, and adding naught to, the famous Sanskrit work Ananga-Ranga (Stage of the Bodiless One i.e. Cupido) or Hindu Art of Love (Ars Amoris Indica).[4] I ...

[1] "Báh," is the popular term for the amatory appetite: hence such works are called Kutub al-Báh, lit. = Books of Lust.
[2] I can make nothing of this title nor can those whom I have consulted: my only explanation is that they may be fanciful names proper
[3] Amongst the Greeks we find erotic specialists (1) Aristides of the Libri Milesii; (2) Astyanassa, the follower of Helen who wrote on androgynisation; (3) Cyrene, the artist of amatory Tabellae or ex-votos offered to Priapus; (4) Elephantis, the poetess who wrote on Varia concubitus genera; (5) Evemerus, whose Sacra Historia, preserved in a fragment of Q. Eunius, was collected by Hieronymus Columna; (6) Hemitheon of the Sybaritic books; (7) Musaeus, the lyrist; (8) Niko, the Samian girl; (9) Philaenis, the poetess of Amatory Pleasures, in Athen. viii. 13, attributed to Polycrates the Sophist; (10) Protagorides, Amatory Conversations; (11) Sotades, the Mantinzean who, says Suidas, wrote the poem "Cinaedica"; (12) Sphodrias the Cynic, his Art of Love; and (13) Trepsicles, Amatory Pleasures. Amongst the Romans we have Aedituus, Annianus (in Ausonius), Anser, Bassus Eubius, Helvius Cinna, Laevius (of Io and the Erotopaegnion), Memmius, Cicero (to Cerellia), Pliny the Younger, Sabellus (de modo coeundi); Sisenna, the pathic Poet and translator of Milesian Fables and Sulpitia, the modest erotist. For these see the Dictionnaire Érotique of Blondeau pp. ix. and x. (Paris, Liseux, 1885).
[4] It has been translated from the Sanskrit and annotated by A.F.F. and B.F.R. Reprint: Cosmopoli: mdccclxxxv.: for the Kama Shastra Society, London and Benares, and for private circulation only. The first print has been exhausted and a reprint will presently appear.

... have copies of it in Sanskrit and Maráthi, Guzrati and Hindostani: the latter is an unpaged octavo of pp. 66, including eight pages of most grotesque illustrations showing the various Asan (the Figurae Veneris or positions of copulation), which seem to be the triumphs of contortionists. These pamphlets lithographed in Bombay are broad cast over the land.[1]

It must not be supposed that such literature is purely and simply aphrodisiacal. The learned Sprenger, a physician as well as an Arabist, says (Al-Mas'údi p. 384) of a tractate by the celebrated Rhazes in the Leyden Library, "The number of curious observations, the correct and practical ideas and the novelty of the notions of Eastern nations on these subjects, which are contained in this book, render it one of the most important productions of the medical literature of the Arabs." I can conscientiously recommend to the Anthropologist a study of the "Kutub al-Báh."


Here it will be advisable to supplement what was said in my Foreword (p. xiii.) concerning the turpiloquium of The Nights. Readers who have perused the ten volumes will probably agree with me that the naive indecencies of the text are rather gaudisserie than prurience; and, when delivered with mirth and humour, they are rather the "excrements of wit" than designed for debauching the mind. Crude and indelicate with infantile plainness; even gross and, at times, "nasty" in their terrible frankness, they cannot be accused of corrupting suggestiveness or subtle insinuation of vicious sentiment. Theirs is a coarseness of language, not of idea; they are indecent, not depraved; and the pure and perfect naturalness of their nudity seems almost to purify it, showing that the matter is rather of manners than of morals. Such throughout the East is the language of every man, woman and child, from prince to peasant, from matron to prostitute: all ...

[1] The local press has often proposed to abate this nuisance of erotic publication which is most debasing to public morals already perverted enough. But the "Empire of Opinion" cares very little for such matters and, in the matter of the "native press," generally seems to seek only a quiet life. In England if erotic literature were not forbidden by law, few would care to sell or to buy it, and only the legal pains and penalties keep up the phenomenally high prices.

... are as the naive French traveller said of the Japanese: "si grossiers qu'ils ne sçavent nommer les choses que par leur nom" [So crude that they know not how to call things but by their names]. This primitive stage of language sufficed to draw from Lane and Burckhardt strictures upon the "most immodest freedom of conversation in Egypt," where, as all the world over, there are three several stages for names of things and acts sensual. First we have the mot cru, the popular term, soon followed by the technical and scientific, and, lastly, the literary or figurative nomenclature, which is often much more immoral because more attractive, suggestive and seductive than the "raw word." And let me observe that the highest civilisation is now returning to the language of nature. In La Glu of M. J. Richepin, a triumph of the realistic school, we find such "archaic" expressions as la petée [fart], putain [whore], foutue à la six-quatre-dix [slam, bam, thank you ma'am]; un facetieuse petarade [a hilarious fart-fest]; tu t'es foutue de etc. [you buggered yourself with ...], Eh vilain bougre! [you old bugger!] and so forth.[1] To those critics who complain of these raw vulgarisms and puerile indecencies in The Nights I can reply only by quoting the words said to have been said by Dr. Johnson to the lady who complained of the naughty words in his dictionary "You must have been looking for them, Madam!"

But I repeat (p. xiv.) there is another element in The Nights and that is one of absolute obscenity utterly repugnant to English readers, even the least prudish. It is chiefly connected with what our neighbours call Le vice contre nature - as if anything can be contrary to nature which includes all things.[2] Upon this subject I must offer details, as it does not enter into my plan to ignore any theme which is interesting to the Orientalist and the Anthropologist. And they, methinks, do abundant harm who, for shame or disgust, would suppress the very mention of such matters: in order to combat a great and growing evil deadly to the birth-rate the mainstay of national prosperity - the first requisite is careful study. As Albert Bollstoedt, Bishop of Ratisbon, rightly says: - Quia malum non evitatum nisi cognitum, ideo necesse est ...

[1] The Spectator (No. 119) complains of an "infamous piece of good breeding" because "men of the town, and particularly those who have been polished in France, make use of the most coarse and uncivilised words in our language and utter themselves often in such a manner as a clown would blush to hear."
[2] See the Novelle of Bandello the Bishop (Tome 1; Paris, Liseux, 1879, small in 18), where the dying fisherman replies to his confessor "Oh! Oh! your reverence, to amuse myself with boys was natural to me as for a man to eat and drink; yet you asked me if I sinned against nature!" Amongst the wiser ancients sinning contra naturam was not marrying and begetting children.

... cognoscere immundiciem coitus et multa alia quae docentur in isto libro [because an evil cannot be avoided unless it is known, therefore it is necessary to know the filth of sexual intercourse and may other things which are taught in this book]. Equally true are Professor Mantegazza's words:[1] Cacher les plaies du coeur humain au nom de la pudeur, ce n'est au contraire qu'hypocrisie ou peur [to hide the wounds of the human heart in the name of modesty is, on the contrary, nothing but hypocrisy or fear]. The late Mr. Grote had reason to lament that when describing such institutions as the far-famed [Greek:] hieros lochos of Thebes, the Sacred Band annihilated at Chaeroneia, he was compelled to a reticence which permitted him to touch only the surface of the subject. This was inevitable under the present rule of Cant[2] in a book intended for the public: but the same does not apply to my version of The Nights, and now I proceed to discuss the matter sérieusement, honnêtement, historiquement; to show it in decent nudity not in suggestive fig-leaf or feuille de vigne.

[1] Avis au Lecteur "L'Amour dans l'Humanité," by P. Mantegazza, translated into French by Emilien Chesneau, Paris, Fetscherin et Chuit, 1886. [Note to the reader in "L'Amour dans l'Humanité," by P. Mantegazza, translated into French by Emilien Chesneau, Paris, Fetscherin et Chuit, 1886.]
[2] See "H.B." (Henry Beyle, French Consul at Civita Vecchia) par un des Quarante (Prosper Mérimée), Elutheropolis, An mdccclxiv. De l'Imposture du Nazaréen.

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