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for a long while, the sole object of my studies; and whatever time and trouble this preparatory process may have cost me, the effects resulting from it, as far as the humble merit of truthfulness is concerned, have been such as to repay me more than sufficiently for my pains. I have not forgotten how great was my pleasure, when told by the late Sir James Mackintosh, that he was once asked by Colonel W- s, the historian of British India, “ whether it was true that Moore had never been in the East.” “Never," answered Mackintosh. “Well, that shows me," replied Colonel
S ,“ that reading over D'Herbelot is as good as riding on the back of a camel."
I need hardly subjoin to this lively speech, that although D'Herbelot's valuable work was, of course, one of my manuals, I took the whole range of all such Oriental reading as was accessible to me; and became, for the time, indeed, far more conversant with all relating to that distant region, than I have ever been with the scenery, productions, or modes of life of any of those countries lying most within my reach. We know that D'Anville, though never in his life out of Paris, was able to correct a number of errors in a plan of the Troad taken by De Choiseul, on the spot; and, for my own very different, as well as far inferior, purposes, the knowledge I had thus acquired of distant localities, seen only by me in my day-dreams, was no less ready and useful.
An ample reward for all this painstaking has been found in such welcome tributes as I have just now cited; nor can I deny myself the gratification of citing a few more of the same description. From another distinguished authority on Eastern subjects, the late Sir John Malcolm, I had myself the pleasure of hearing a similar opinion publicly expressed; - that eminent person, in a speech spoken by him at a Literary Fund Dinner, having remarked, that together with those qualities of the poet which he much too partially assigned to me was combined also“ the truth of the historian.”
Sir William Ouseley, another high authority, in giving his testimony to the same effect, thus notices an exception to the general accuracy for which he gives me credit : — “ Dazzled by the beauties of this composition,1 few readers can perceive, and none surely can regret, that the poet, in
1 The Fife:Worshippers.
his magnificent catastrophe, has forgotten, or boldly and most happily violated, the precept of Zoroaster, above noticed, which held it impious to consume any portion of a human body by fire, especially by that which glowed upon their altars.” Having long lost, I fear, most of my Eastern learning, I can only cite, in defence of my catastrophe, an old Oriental tradition, which relates, that Nimrod, when Abraham refused, at his command, to worship the fire, ordered him to be thrown into the midst of the flames.1 A precedent so ancient for this sort of use of the worshipped element, would appear, for all purposes at least of poetry, fully sufficient.
In addition to these agreeable testimonies, I have also heard, and need hardly add, with some pride and pleasure, that parts of this work have been rendered into Persian, and have found their way to Ispahan. To this fact, as I am willing to think it, allusion is made in some lively verses, written many years since, by my friend, Mr. Luttrell :
“ I'm told, dear Moore, your lays are sing,
(Can it be true, you lucky man ?) By moonlight, in the Persian tongue, "Along the streets of Ispahan."
That some knowledge of the work may have really reached that region, appears not improbable from a passage in the Travels of Mr. Frazer, who says, that “ being delayed for some time at a town on the shores of the Caspian, he was lucky enough to be able to amuse himself with a copy of Lalla Rookh, which a Persian had lent him.”
Of the description of Balbec, in “ Paradise and the Peri," Mr. Carne, in his Letters from the East, thus speaks : “ The description in Lalla Rookh of the plain and its ruins is exquisitely faithful. The minaret is on the declivity near at hand, and there wanted only the muezzin's cry to break the silence."
I shall now tax my reader's patience with but one more of these generous vouchers. Whatever of vanity there may be in citing such tributes, they show, at least, of what great value, even in poetry, is that prosaic quality, industry ; since, as the reader of the foregoing pages is now fully ap
I Tradunt autem Hebræi hanc fabulam quod Abraham in ignem missus sit quia ignem adorare noluit. -ST. HIERON, in quæst. in Genesim.
prized, it was in a slow and laborious collection of small facts, that the first foundations of this fanciful Romance were laid.
The friendly testimony I have just referred to, appeared, some years since, in the form in which I now give it, and, if I recollect right, in the Athenæum :
“I embrace this opportunity of bearing my individual testimony (if it be of any value) to the extraordinary accuracy of Mr. Moore, in his topographical, antiquarian, and characteristic details, whether of costume, manners, or lesschanging monuments, both in his Lalla Rookh and in the Epicurean. It has been my fortune to read his Atlantic, Bermudean, and American Odes and Epistles, in the countries and among the people to which and to whom they related; I enjoyed also the exquisite delight of reading his Lalla Rookh, in Persia itself: and I have perused the Epicurean, while all my recollections of Egypt and its still existing wonders are as fresh as when I quitted the banks of the Nile for Arabia ; - I owe it therefore, as a debt of gratitude, (though the payment is most inadequate,) for the great pleasure I have derived from his productions, to bear my humble testimony to their local fidelity. J. S. B.”
Among the incidents connected with “this work, I must not omit to notice the splendid Divertissement, founded upon it, which was acted at the Château Royal of Berlin, during the visit of the Grand Duke Nicholas to that capital, in the year 1822. The different stories composing the work were represented in Tableaux Vivans and songs; and among the crowd of royal and noble personages engaged in the performances, I shall mention those only who represented the principal characters, and whom I find thus enumerated in the published account of the Divertissement.
“Fadladin, Grand-Nasir,...............Comte Haack, (Maréchal de Cour.)
.........S. A. I. La Grande Duchesse. Aurungzeb, le Grand Mogol,... } ** Roi.
SS. A. R. Le Prince Guillaume, frère du Abdallah, Pere d'Aliris...............S. A. R. Le Duc de Cumberland. La Reine, son épouse.............. S. A. R. La Princesse Louise Radzivill."
i Lalla Roûkh, Divertissement mêlé de Chants et de Danses, Berlin, 1822. The work contains a series of colored engravings, representing groups, processions, &c., in different Oriental costumes.
Besides these and other leading personages, there were also brought into action, under the various denominations of Seigneurs et Dames de Bucharie, Dames de Cachemire, Seigneurs et Dames dansans à la Fête des Roses, &c., nearly 150 persons.
Of the manner and style in which the Tableaux of the different stories are described in the work from which I cite, the following account of the performance of Paradise and the Peri will afford some specimen :
“ La décoration représentoit les portes brillantes du Paradis, entourées de nuages. Dans le premier tableau on voyoit la Péri, triste et desolée, couchée sur le seuil des portes fermées, et l'Ange de lumière qui lui addresse des consolations et des conseils. Le second représente le moment, où la Peri, dans l'espoir que ce don lui ouvrira l'entrée du Paradis recueille la dernière goutte de sang que vient de verser le jeune guerrier Indien. . .....
“ La Péri et l'Ange de lumière répondoient pleinement à l'image et à l'idée qu'on est tenté de se faire de ces deux individus, et l'impression qu'a faite generalement la suite des tableaux de cet épisode délicat et intéressant est loin de s'effacer de notre souvenir.”
In this grand Fête, it appears, originated the translation of Lalla Rookh into German verse, by the Baron de la Motte Fouqué; and the circumstances which led him to undertake the task, are described by himself, in a Dedicatory Poem to the Empress of Russia, which he has prefixed to his translation. As soon as the performance, he tells us, had ended, Lalla Rookh (the Empress herself) exclaimed, with a sigh, “ Is it, then, all over ? are we now at the close of all that has given us so much delight ? and lives there no poet who will impart to others, and to future times, some notion of the happiness we have enjoyed this evening?" On hearing this appeal, a Knight of Cashmere (who is no other than the poetical Baron himself) comes forward and promises to attempt to present to the world “ the Poem itself in the measure of the original :" – whereupon Lalla Rookh, it is added, approvingly smiled.