« AnteriorContinuar »
'The king's eldeft fon, Milir Ali Khan, is an enterprifing youngman, mikh efteemed by the foldiers and military officers; and as his illegitimacy deprives him of all hope of peaceably fucceeding his father, it is difficult to fay what the intrigues of difcontented noblemen might not excite him to attempt. He has frequently declared to the king his father, that the fword ihould either fecure or deprive him of the throne; and that it was his determination to overcome the obllacles which were placed in his way. Such is the fituation of princes in a defpotifm, that it is the only means they have of preferving their lives; and in the event of the king's death, Perfia will again be deluged with blood: for aj the princes are the governors of various diftricts in the empire, they have each the means of afTerting theirclaims to the throne.
'The king of Perfia has revived a tafte for literature, fo fcandaloufly neglected by his prrdeceffors. He is him/Jf a man of confiderable tafte rnd erudition, and is alfo a tolerable poet. As it is an unufual circumfiance for fovercigns-to be poets, I venture to produce a fpecimen of his compofition.
"If thou wert to difplay thy beauties, my beloved, to Vamec, he would facririce the life of Azra at the lhrine of thy perfeftions.
"If Yufuf beheld thy charms, he would think no more of Zulekha.
"Come to me, and comply with my wifhes; give me no further promifes of to-morrow.
"When the miftrefs of Khacan approached him with a hundred graces, one glance captivated his heart."
The most surprising part of this account, we think, is the extent of Fatah Ali's small family. A prince of twenty-seven years of age with fifty children! Proh deutn atque hominum fidem! We can scarcely help suspecting a typographical error, and that our author means to assign thirty-seven or forty-seven years for the age of Fatah Ali. Even in countries where polygamy is practised, this circumstance is calculated to excite astonishment. The Persian historians frequently mention the number of sons left by a deceased monarch; and allowing an equal number of daughters, we must still acknowledge Fatah Ali to be by far the most prolific monarch of whom history makes mention. Should he attain the age of sixty, and his posterity increase in a similar proportion, his subjects will have occasion for all their arithmetic to ascertain the number of their princes.
We find the following account of the present state of the military force.
• The military force of Perfia confifts chiefly of cavalry; and it i» only when they are going againft a fort that they make ufe of infantry. The troops are clothed, furnifhed with horfes, arms, &c. at the expenfe of the king; and the pay which they receive is from ten to fifteen tuman a year; in addition to this, they are fupplied with an allowance of barley and ftraw for their horfes, and wheat, rice, and butter for themfelves. They receive alfo fomething under the head of inam, a prefent, but this I believe to be very uncertain. This pay, however, is very great; for when we confider the value of money in Perfia, (which I look upon to be four or five times greater thi.n in England), and the fupplies which they receive, it will appear that their yearly pay amounts to fifty or lixty guineas.
'When the king puts himfelf at the head of Iris army, the different ferkardas (chieftains) are ordered to aiTemble their troops; arid the king, having pledges in his hands for the fidelity of his foldiers, is. certain of having an army of fifty or fixty thoufand men in a few days. Befides thefe troops, there is another body called Yholam Shahis (flaws of the king), and who are confidered to be the choiceft troops in the empire. They have charge of the king.s perfon, receive greater pay, and are clothed in a more expenfive manner than the'regular cavalry.
'Thefe may be about twenty thoufand: but the flower of this corps is formed into a body of about four thoufand, who are distinguished by the exceffive richnefs of their drefs, and the infolence of their behaviour.'
We have already hinted our suspicions, that some inaccuracy might be discovered in that part of Mr Waring's work which claims more particularly the charm of novelty. Can it be wondered at, if, during so short a residence, he was unable to procure accurate information on so great a variety of topics as his work embraces? The revenue of the sovereign is stated to consist in the rents derived from an eighth part of the lands; the remaining seven eighths belong to the subject.
* One eighth of the lands in Fars and Irac is probably poffelTed by the king; the remainder by his fubjefts. The produce of thefe lands are fubjeft to two divifions, the one called Nukd, and the other Jinfi; or, in other words, the former yielding produce for manufacture, as cotton, filk, &c.; and the latter crops of grain. Thofe who cultivate land belonging to the king, either Nukd or Jinfi, pay a rent of half the produce, befidea the deduction which is made on account of the feed: the king, however, fupplies cattle for drawing water, and digs wells at his own expenfe.'
On this statement, we beg leave to remark, that the lands of Hindustan, by the institutions of Acber, were in like manner divided into Nukd and Jinsi; but that those terms had an acceptation conformable to their real meaning, and altogether different from that stated by Mr Waring, which is contrary to their signification. The Nukdi lands were those of which the rents were paid in money; the rents of the Jinsi were paid in kind. Now, the word Nukd signifies ready money; whilst Jinsi signifies the article, the commodity. It is therefore manifest, that the same regulations .prevailed in both countries, in the same sense; and
K 3 that that no terms could be more injudiciously selected to express the meaning which Mr Waring assigns them.
We wish Mr Waring had enabled us to furnish a connected account of the celebrated sect, who, under the name of Wahebis, threaten the extirpation of the faith of Mohamed, in the countries where it first struck root, and whom we have, on a former occasion, introduced to the acquaintance of our readers. * He supplies us, however, with only a few insulated facts, and these without date.
'Abdul Waheb was a native of Ajen, a town in the province of Al Ared.' This district skirts the desert, and lies east of the tract which extends between Mecca and Medina. He is represented as a man of erudition, having pursued his studies successively at Basora, Baghdad, and Damascus. His first converts were made in his native city; and, before his death, Abdul Waheb saw the whole of the district converted to his tenets, and subjected to his authority. The tenets which Mr Waring assigns to the Wahebis are the following.
'That there is one juft and wife God; that all thofe perfons called prophets, are only to be confidered as juft and virtuous men; and that there never exifted an infpired work, nor an infpired writer. The ufe of tobacco, opium, and coffee was interdicted. Among a number of the civil ordinances of the Wahebis are the following. Illegal to levy duties on goods the property of a Moflem; on fpecie, two and a half per cent.; land watered naturally, to pay ten per cent.; artificially, five per cent. The revenues of conquered countries to belong to the community: the revenues to be divided into five parts; one to be given to the general treafury, the reft to be kept where collected, to be allotted for the good of the community, for travellers, and charitable purpofes: a Moflem, who deviates from the precepts of the Coran, to be treated as an infidel: the deftruction of magnificent tombs, a neceffary act of devotion.'
It may be presumed, that, at the commencement, the new sectary did not venture to reject entirely the doctrine of Mohamed; or perhaps the term ' Moslem' does not here apply to the followers of Mohamed, but to those oriental illuminati. The word in its original sense, signifies saved, one who obtains salvation, and may be transferred by these sectaries to themselves. The injunction respecting the Coran may possibly be limited to the observances it enjoins; for the faith it inculcates is incompatible with the doctrines we have detailed.
Abdul Aziz succeeded to the spiritual authority, and to the temporal power of Abdul Waheb, and carried both to a much greater extent. Two armies, sent against him by the Pacha of Baghdad, were weakened by his address, and discomfited by his
valour. An expedition, led by the sheriff of Mecca in 1791, was not more successful. The Atubis, the most powerful of the tribes who inhabit the coast, have adopted the tenets of the Wahebis, and controul the navigation of the Persian Gulph. The holy shrine at Carbela, where the pious Moslems annually wept the untimely death of the sons of Ali, was attacked by the Wahebis in 1802, the tombs destroyed, and the town ransacked.
'The force of the Wahebis is very confiderable, probably eighty or ninety thoufand. Whenever an expedition is undertaken, the chiefs are directed to be at a certain place by fuch a time: and it is fo contrived, that a large body fhall meet at a particular fpot, without knowing the defigns of their leader. This force is generally mounted on camels, and their arms are chiefly a fword and a fpear. They have few guns or matchlocks; thofe which they have are very bad.
'Since finifhing this, intelligence has been received, of their having attacked and plundered Ta'if, Mecca, and Medina. They have, in confequence, violated the facred law, which forbids armed men approaching within a certain diftance of the temple.
'They have thus deftroyed the foundation ftone of Mohamedanifm: and this mighty fabric, which at one period bade defiance to all Europe, falls, on the firft attack, at the feet of an Arab reformer. The event may make a great change in the Mohamedan world; for it appears to me almoft certain, that the pilgrimages to Mecca have had nearly as great an effect in fupporting this religion, as the firft victories and conquefts of Mohamed.
* At my laft vifit to Bufhir (1804), I heard the intelligence of Abdul Aziz having been affaffinated.'
Nearly a third part of this publication is occupied in criticisms and specimens of Persian poetry, with parallel passages sometimes subjoined from Virgil and Horace. But the European reader can judge of the merit of Ferdusi and Hafiz, only through the me-. dium of Mr Champion's verse, or Mr Waring's prose; whilst the Italian muse appears in the mellifluous harmony of her native numbers. To render the comparison at all just, Mr Waring should have translated the passages he quotes from the Roman poets, into English prose. The inferiority of the former would certainly prove less striking.
We by no means feel disposed, on this occasion, to discuss the comparative merits of the poets of the East and West. Whatever may be the charms of Persian poetry, the language is not likely ever to be studied by the literati of Europe; and their poets will, consequently, never be properly appreciated. To translate poetry, the translator must be himself a poet. There is, certainly, no Persian work of considerable length, which can command admiration as a whole; but we will venture to affirm, that numerous passages may be selected from the best writers, which will stand a comparison with those of any other nation.
E 1 But But whence comes it that their beauties vanish the moment they are transfused into a different language? Do they consist less in the thought than in a singular felicity of expression, which unquestionably constitutes the charm of poetry, as much as the idea it conveys? May it not be asked, whether we should be very ardent admirers of Virgil or Horace, if we knew those writers only through the translations of Trapp or Creech? It is probable the Persian poets may nqt have been even so fortunate.
Though we have not been able to bestow high commendations on this publication, it has left us a favourable impression of the ;talents of its author. Should he ever happen to suspect that knowledge is not to be acquired by intuition, nor nations judged of as individuals, and that to doubt and to inquire, is at least as philosophic as to decide and dogmatise, his future productions will certainly be deserving of attention, from persons whom the subject may happen to interest.
Art. V. The Substance, of the Speech delivered in the Committee of Finance, 29. January 1807, by the Right Honourable Lord Henry Petty. With the necessary Tables, and an Appendix, containing the Plans of Lord Castlereagh and Mr Johnston. 8vo. pp. 116. London, 1807.
A s the wants of the State, whatever may be their extent, must T be fully supplied; and as they can only be supplied by contributions levied on the internal resources of the country, our readers will readily conceive, that the skill of the financier must be displayed, not in removing, but in palliating the evils of taxation,—not in really lightening a load, which must be borne in its full extent, but in rendering it more tolerable, by a more equal distribution of its pressure. There is no way but one, either of borrowing money, or of paying debt. It is quite chimerical, therefore, to expect that any real saving can accrue to the public from those arrangements of finance, which consist merely in blending, or in combining, those very simple operations. Their object, indeed, is not to save, but to modify and regulate,—either to relieve the existing generation, by drawing on the more ample resources of a future age, or to relieve posterity at the expense of the existing generation. If the expenditure of a state is at any time increased much beyond its usual rate, from the frequent occurrence of war, or from any other unforeseen emergence, it would be obviously most unjust to load one generation beyond its strength, and entirely to relieve posterity from burdens, which are iniposed as much for their benefit and security, as for that of