Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

This woman supplied her with a native dress as a disguise, procured a boat into which they entered from the cabin-window, and dropping down the river arrived before morning at the place of their destination, where Lillian hoped to remain concealed until the pinnace of the Broderips should come up. The intelligence which we brought overwhelmed her with despair ; she saw the consequence of her rash step in all its horrors. A return to her parents was not to be thought of; many days must elapse before she could join her sister, who by this time might have reached Calcutta, and, in the fearful dilemnia in which she found herself, there was little difficulty in persuading her that her only alternative was to become the wife of Percival.

This resolution once taken, there was little difficulty in putting it into execution. The Danish settlement of Serampore is the Gretna Green of Bengal; there, without the formalities of banns or license, happy couples flying from the tyrannous exertion of authority, which heads of families are enabled to practise in India,—though, to their credit be it spoken, few instances of its abuse are upon record,-may enter the holy pale of matrimony. Lillian had not apprehended such a result of her flight; yet, as it was impossible for us to place her under female protection for many days, and as, however unwilling she might be to contract a marriage without her father's knowledge or consent, she had not nerve enough to encounter the scandal which her flight to Calcutta under the guidance of single gentlemen would occasion, she chose the least evil of the two. We relinquished the budgerow for her accommodation, and established ourselves in one of the baggage-boats, turning the prows towards Calcutta. The current carried us rapidly down the river, and by the hire of extra boatmen, and the promise of buries,-a seldom-failing stimulant, --we proceeded day and night, moonlight, the lover's friend, aiding our progress. Upon arriving at Serampore, the wedding was celebrated privately, and without ostentation, according to the rites of the Danish church. Percival and his fair bride proceeded immediately afterwards to Calcutta, where, by the advice of some of their friends, the banns were published in the cathedral. Lillian joined her sister, who had already taken her passage for England, leaving her pecaniary affairs to be settled after her departure. The widow and the bride, of course, furnished inexhaustible themes of conversation for the drawing-rooms of Chowringhee; nothing else was talked of; and a thousand reports were daily circulated of the intentions of Mr. Osbaldistone, who was returning with all speed to the presidency. Some said that he was going to prosecute Percival in the Supreme Court; others that he had determined to call him out. News from England, arriving at the same time with the enraged father, materially altered the position of affairs. Letters informed Percival that he had succeeded to a baronetcy and a large fortune, while the return of protested bills, to an enormous amount, to the house of Thistlethwaite and McKillervally, caused a stoppage of payments. Their affairs were thrown into the Insolvent Court, and Colonel Tilt as well as Mr. Osbaldistone being amongst the number who had trusted all their savings to the firm, that redoubtable officer sunk a hundred per cent, in the estimation of all his acquaintance. Mrs. Osbaldistone was obliged to relinquish her long cherished hope of making a figure in England. The instinctive deference which she paid to rank rendered her very obsequious to Lady Percival, whom, however, upon that very account, she hated with a bitterer spirit than ever; but it was her interest to conciliate for the sake of her daughters, Lillian having offered to take charge of the youngest, who was consigned to her truly sisterly care.

Sir Francis and Lady Percival took their departure from India in the same Asiat, Jour.N.S.VOL. 12.No.48.

2 K

a

ship with Mrs. Broderip, who disappointed a second time the host of admirers, who again flattered themselves with the hope of success. · She had seen enough of India ; and, greatly to the mortification of her step-mother, displayed a spirit of independence which had never been dreamed of before, refusing to remain to bolster up the sinking consequence of Mrs. Osbaldistone, who was so crestfallen on her return to the upper provinces, as to condescend to ask me to join her party ; but I begged to be excused. I saw the last of my dear friends the Percivals, and then travelled dák to the place of my destination, wondering whether it would ever again fall to my destiny to be an active agent in an Anglo-Indian love-tale.

ARABIAN HISTORY

This work commences with an introduction, containing a rapid survey of Arabian history and literature, which is followed by a more minute investigation, judiciously condensed from the various authorities within the writer's reach. The first point of particular attention is "a Description of Arabia.” This, however, is little more than an epitome of the labours of Niebuhr and others, and nothing in it fixes itself on our notice, except the circumstance of Mr. Crichton disputing the descent of the Arabs from Yarab, a son of Joktan, on the ground, that no such a personage is recorded in the genealogical table in Genesis (ch. x.). But Yarab is as probably a corruption of Yarah or Jarah, mentioned by Moses, as Kabhtan is of Joktan or Yoktan : a fact which he himself admits in the following chapter, and which few philologists have been inclined to controvert. siderable praise is due to the critical and historical remarks with which he has embellished his inquiries into the origin of this primitive and singular people, and to the tact with which he has managed his multifarious and often contradictory materials. He notices, but does not determine, the question, whether Sinai and Horeb were two separate mountains, or merely two elevations of the same ridge. On both sides, various arguments have been adduced, and he feels inclined to dispute the latter position-in our opinion, on insufficient grounds-because the circumstances predicated of Sinai, in Exodus, are attributed to Horeb in Deuteronomy and Malachi : an apparent discrepancy instantly reconciled by identity of place. The modern names, Jebel Musa and Jebel Katerin, evidently yield no authority, except that, as Josephus records Sinai to have been the highest in the whole region, it would seem to fix the locality of the co@aveccé on Jebel Katerin, because it has the greatest altitude. The author is himself inclined to prefer the claims of this peak.

In these earlier parts of the history, we cannot reasonably expect much that is novel; for the ground to be explored is dry and broken by long intervening chasms; nor is any sure light afforded to guide the investigator on his way. The whole must, consequently and necessarily, be a repetition of subjects already discussed; a summary of antecedent labours. The chief

• History of Arabia, Ancient and Modern, in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, by ANDREW CRICHTON. 2 Vols. Edinburgh, 1833.

a

Oliver and Boyd.

merit of a subsequent author will, therefore, consist in his mode of compilation, which we concede to the writer of these volumes. But we must, at the same time, regret his manner of expressing Oriental names and words, although sanctioned elsewhere, because it by no means accurately represents the power of the original characters, and is often incorrect as to the vowels and rules of euphony.

He has been indefatigable in his details of the primitive inhabitants and ancient kings of Arabia, gleaning on every side the matter as yet commonly known to Europeans, and frequently separating, with singular acumen, the probable truth from the more generally received fable. More materials might doubtless have been obtained from the untranslated works of Macrizi, and writers who incidentally treat of this nation, as well as from the many geographical volumes, which remain as sealed books; but we are aware of the difficulty with which copies are procured. Mr. Crichton remarks : “ that they (the Arabs) had made very considerable progress in agriculture is certain; but of the theory and practice of their husbandry we must be content to remain in ignorance.” But the great work of Ibn El Awam, which has been translated into Spanish and very ably annotated, is entirely devoted to this subject,

We agree with him,“ that the Arabs were the first navigators of their own seas and first carriers of Oriental produce;" and are inclined to adopt the opinion of Michaelis, that, at an early period, they undertook considerable voyages, and were, perhaps, prior to the Phænicians themselves in the art of navigation. That they were acquainted with India we may assume from their situation; and we think, that the arguments by which the author supports his hypothesis, that they knew it before the time of Moses, are satisfactory.“ From their geographical position, they became the natural

. centre of all the traffic between India, Africa, and Europe. On the western shore of the Red Sea, the chief marts were Arsinoë, Myos Hormus (which D'Anville places in 27° N. lat.), Berenice, Ptolemais Theron, and Adulis. On the Arabian coast, the harbours most frequented were Ælana or EzionGaber, Leuké Komé, Moosa, more than 1,000 miles down the Gulpli, and Ocelis on the Strait of Diræ (Bab’el Mandeb). Aden was the ancient centre of traffic between India and the Red Sea. Kané, Sahar (the Sanchalites of the Greeks), and Moscha (Muscat) were noted for native exports, especially incense and aloes. Gherra was the most celebrated mart on the Persian Gulph.” From hence he proceeds to notice their land-traffic, by caravans, which conveyed their imports to distant countries (on which subject Von Heeren has descanted with uncommon erudition), and from both collectively draws just and irrefragable conclusions, as to the early power and importance of this adventurous people.

In bis remarks on their domestic manners and customs, he has been equally successful, although they might have been considerably enlarged. Their vices and their virtues, their cruelty and their hospitality, are respectively brought into strong relief. Nor are their metaphors forgotten :-we accompany them on their expeditions or quietly join them with their herds and

flocks; we watch them in their feudal strifes or their nobler traits of heroism ; we hear the eloquence of Koss and laud the munificence of Hatim Tai; we are familiarized with the antelope-eyed beauty of the desert, the wonder-working Antar, the poet-inspiring Ocadh, and all that can rouse the energies of an Arab's soul.

Mr. Crichton has enumerated their superstitions, divinations, and idols, chiefly indeed from Sale's preface to the Korán. But the two following chapters, on the life of Mohammed and the Korán, are (as we might naturally expect) a mere recapitulation of what has been said by preceding writers. He has ably sketched the history of the successors of Mohammed, the invasion of Syria, the deeds of Khalid Ibn el Walid, the siege and surrender of Damascus, the battle of Yermak, the siege of Jerusalem, and the total subjugation of Syria and Palestine. But in his detail of the invasion of Persia he has been less fortunate, or less careful, having omitted many facts which every Persian Tarikh has carefully commemorated. From hence he proceeds to the invasion of Egypt, the capture of Alexandria, and other places, until this extraordinary passage occurs, which we presume to be an error of the pen :-The death of Othman, and the political feuds that distracted the reign of his successor, suspended the progress of the western conquests of the Arabs for nearly twenty years. A spirit of discontent had begun to prevail generally throughout his dominions, and this was aggravated by a continued system of favoritism on the one hand, and of illjudged security on the other. The malcontents in the different provinces held correspondence on their mutual grievances and the means of redress. To appease their fury, Othman owned, from the pulpit of the mosque, the faults of his administration.This is certainly very much like a dead man speaking. The passage is strangely expressed, although the author's meaning is obvious. Hence he proceeds, through the misfortunes of the house of Ali, till the expulsion of the Ommiades by the Abbasides. This is followed by an account of the conquest of Africa and Spain, the surrender of Samarcand and invasion of India. The history of the Abbasides, or Caliphs of Bagdad, of the Caliphs of Africa, Egypt, and Spain, the literature of the Arabs, the civil history and government of Arabia, an account of the Hejaz or holy land of the Moslems, and of the Mohammedan pilgrimage, the history of the Wahabis, the social state of the Arabs, and the natural history of Arabia, complete this work.

Upon the whole, the work is well-written, but the sources are evidently translations, as the manner of expressing Oriental names fully assures us; Abu'lfeda, Elmakin, Sale, Pococke, Maracci, Rasmussen, Schultens, &c., with the authors of the Universal History, appear to be the principal authorities. That there is scarcely an Oriental name written as it is enunciated in its proper tongue, our duty obliges us to confess; but this defect (we believe) we have rightly ascribed to the use of translations: in fact, any one knowing the Arabic well would hardly have hazarded some of the observations on that language, which the first volume contains, nor, in several instances, have introduced Hebrew for Arabic words : as “cohen " for hāhin, &c. A fuller history of the Arabs might doubtless have been compiled from untranslated codices, but these (as we have remarked) cannot easily be procured, unless in the great public libraries : yet, with respect to the actions of Khaled Ibn el Walid, Freytag's translation of the history of Aleppo would have afforded more ample particulars.

We have thus honestly stated the points which we account defects in the work without partiality or acrimony; but, on the other hand, we award the fullest praise to the diligence and to the style of the writer, nor have we the least hesitation in recommending this as the best epitome of Arabian history yet published.

Yet, perchance, we may hail the day, when the whole glory of Arabian literature shall be made known to Europeans; when the Moorish records, dispersed from Spain during the last war, shall be translated, and all the mouldering documents, now lying useless on the shelves of our public libraries, shall, on the rise of some new Mæcænas, be forced to contribute their testimony to the splendour, the heroism, the hospitable virtues, and vivid character of this magnanimous people. Than the language of this ancient nation, there is none more noble, more comprehensive, or even more definite, if its rules be observed :—the Sanscrit is more polished, but we much doubt, if the prejudice in respect to its abstruseness were removed, whether a rational judge would not decide in favour of the Arabic. Compared to it, the Hebrew is jejune, the Syriac coarse, and the Æthiopic a mere jargon: and its importance is so evident, that no Hebraist can understand the canonical books without its aid. How necessary is it then, that the various records of this mind-illuminated nation should be investigated and applied to our already acquired information ; that their proverbs and metaphors should be studied on the faith of their scholia, and historically retraced; that even their ordinary idiom, compared with the biblical, should be used to explain ancient manners, ancient customs, and ancient modes of colloquy! Yet, as if every man's hand were still against these children of Ishmael, their works are read and translated, but thrown aside, and hapless he who would apply to a bookseller to patronize the translation of their most valuable histories,—even of the newly found Arabic work of Tabri! In these circumstances stands Arabian literature in Europe.

And so long as it remains thus,still the Arabian originals are, in the first instance, brought within the reach of translators, and till, in the second place, good translators can be incited by the hope of some kind of recompense to render them into English, we must expect that histories of Arabia will be mere refacimentos, more or less skilful, of our present meagre stock of materials.

« PoprzedniaDalej »