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and literature, as the most careless reader of history must be aware. The permission by the Koran of all sciences to the Moslemans was freely used in Nicomedia and Asia-Minor by the Turkish proselytes; and Othman, himself descended from the Ghuzi, and little likely to disregard or impair the fame of his countryman, the astronomer Ulug - Begh, gave, with bis kingdom, his dying injunction to his son Orchan, to cultivate the arts and enjoyments of life; an injunction religiously followed by his successors, and echoed by the inscription of the conqueror in the library he founded at Constantinople :-" The study of science is a religious duty for all true believers." The encouragement given by Mahommed II. to literature universally is the best proof of the sense in which the precepts of the Koran are construed by the Turks.
It is a singular fact that the Ottoman literature boasts of not much less than three thousand poets, and numbers amongst them not only every class of men, from the humblest upwards to the Sultaps themselves, but occasionally women also, and of no common celebrity. The diffusion of knowledge, therefore, was much more general amongst them than supposed; nor will this be surprising to such of our readers as have had personal experience how often, in Eastern countries, the attainments of women, even when indirectly acquired, have raised them to a par with the opposite sex. Some specimens of this kind we trust to lay before the reader in the course of our labours, and now turn to the earliest period of Turkish composition,
Mohammed Sudr Eddin, surnamed Abul Mâli, is claimed by the Turks as the first of their poets, though his labours were not confined to their language alone, for he wrote in Arabic also, and was in Persian, the rival and opponent of Nazir-Eddin. He was cotemporary with Jelaleddin Roumi and his son Walid, and died about the year 1270. He is not, however, according to Baron Von Hammer, strictly considered as a Turkish poet in general by his countrymen; but the mystic tone which he adopted from Persia, and which he was undoubtedly the first to impress upon the national inind, gives him, we think, an unquestionable right to the place assigned him. The names of his works, such as the Seal of Perfection and the Key of Mysteries, indicate the peculiarity of his taste and genius; but, amidst all the confusion of the style and thoughts, some passages of great beauty, and even simplicity, are found in his works. He is lost, however, in the fame of his successor.
Aashik, so named from the mystic tenderness of his writings (nämme or, love), derives his epithet of Pasha also mystically,
from the celebrity of his learning and piety; a repayment at least in kind, and not unusual amongst his countrymen. He was, says Von Hammer, one of the richest sheiks of his time, but lived, nevertheless, the life of a simple dervise, from conscientious motives. He was born at Hirsbari in Australia, in the reign of Sultan Orchan, the successor of Othman, and died at no very advanced age, in the reign of Amurath Í. His Divan, or great work, in imitation of Jelaleddin's, is a collection of mystical poetry exceeding ten thousand distichs, and divided into ten books, each book into ten parts. As the work, from its size and expensiveness, is rare, even in Turkey, where it is considered as the standard of the oldest Ottoman tongue, we subjoin two specimens of its execution, by which the reader will be enabled to perceive how carefully it must be received as a commentary, which by some it is said to be, on the Koran itself.
Within our bounded limits it is, of course, impossible to enter into any detailed examination of the work; but, after the allusion we have already made to the mysticism of the Turks, it may be necessary for the full understanding of the system, to take a general glance at its probable source and the present application. As in the course of prolonged inquiry this mysticism assumes different forms in the hands of different writers, it will be easy subsequently to trace the changes of each phantasy wherever it may be deemed necessary; and thus we shall by a simple process reach the solution of much that is at present unintelligible in Eastern ideality and literature.
It will be kept in mind, that the first principle of religion was the Unity of the Godhead. Hence, the first portion of Aashik's volume turns upon unity, which, fortunately for the author, tallies with the first principle of numbers. The Eastern division of religion into a Duad, of the obvious changes of light and darkness, life and death, extending the first principle, left also its own impress strong amongst the nations in whose vicinity, or bosom, arose the system, commonly called, of the Magi. The Triad principle, as we have shown (No. XXXVII. pp. 215, 216), followed: and those systematic adaptations or tangible forms of belief spread an indirect and imperfect influence over the uncultivated tribes that wandered through the Asiatic wastes. Their descendants felt the effect without tracing the causes, and hence it is, probably, that we find the first numeral forms dwelt upon by the mystics where there is no obvious reference to a physical prototype, as was the case with the fourth, or number of the elements. Our author, devoting his three first books successively to the three principles alluded to, but in a manner that shows the second and third to have been but imperfectly undera
to a Duad, ofending the first pfhose vicinity, The Triad
stood even by himself, ex patiates with something more of distinctness upon the fourth, or elemental and cardinal number. The fifth book bears reference to five, the favourite number of cabalistic, or rather preterhuman—whether talismanic, demonaic, or magical-powers in the East. The sixth includes the several extensions of space, into above and below; before, behind; the right hand and the left. The seventh or sacred number, of planets, heavens, earths, seas, hells, prophets, and existences, affords ample room for expatiation. The eighth book accords with the number of paradises; and, to correspond with these, the poet has been induced to form eight gradations, or stages, of love; and farther to divide, in the same spirit, the devotees of this mystical emanation into eight classes of beatitude. Chizr or Elias, next to Mahomet the favourite Oriental prophet, figures at some considerable length in this portion. The ninth and tenth books are probably only arbitrary, to make up the requisite tale, though the numbers are dwelt upon with a pertinacity of fanciful ingenuity that could only be expanded or tolerated in the East; the last, as completing the whole, furnishing the poet with the image of perfection in the Godhead. The reader will expect little poetical merit in the two mystical specimens we give of this writer.
- Behold creation's frame,
Man by four different paths to heaven ascends,
What the eye took, the hand, returning, quits :
Of Eluan, the translator of Mahmoud Shebisteri's Rosebed of Mysteries into Turkish from the Persian, little is known; the niceties of dates and details being generally disregarded, or, perhaps, unattainable, by Eastern biographers, who have limited themselves, in most cases, to a meagre and imperfect outline of the writers, as wholly subordinate and inferior in interest to the works they composed. In the first period of Ottoman poetry, which extends, according to our author's division, from the reign of this monarch to the capture of Constantinople, of thirty-eight poets from whom the Baron von Hammer-Purgstall has given extracts, seven appear to have particularly distinguished themselves in the various walks of the muse: Aashik-Pasha in mysticism; Abmedi in the heroic; Sheiki in romantic; Suleiman-Chelebi in panegyrical; Jasidji-Oghli in ethics; and Ahmed Daji and Nesimi, in lyrical poetry. The mystical spirit, however, on which we have remarked, so strongly pervades the specimens furnished by our author, that we shall at once proceed to the second portion, a period extending from the siege of Constantinople to the reign of Solyman, A.D. 1500; and that short space of scarcely half a century furnishes us with a list of 174 additional poets, amongst whom may be included three female writers of eminence: the last of these, Mihri the Second, as our author styles her, deserves in his opinion the title of the Turkish Sappho, from her writings. The biography of the first of these ladies would, in our opinion, alone entitle her to the same honorary distinction; but we must not take to scandal, and the Baron has omitted it and her life altogether.
Of the 2,212 specimens with which M. Von Hammer-Purestall intends to favour us, only 212 poets are noticed in the present volume, the first of the series. We cannot help thinking that a greater fastidiousness might have had the double advantage of consigning some of these writers to deserved oblivion, and rendering us familiar with others who better merited the learned translator's notice. Of the poetical talents of M. Von Hammer we some time since did our best to afford our readers a specimen: it cannot therefore be supposed, that his originals have suffered in his hands; but no judgment in selection nor skill in translation, could render tolerable that which unites in itself bad taste, extravagant images, false antithesis, and the cold platitude of far-fetched conceits, such as fill a large portion of the volume under our notice. Of others we can speak with more satisfaction; but in the few specimens we can in our limited space afford to our readers, our humble efforts must give an insight into the real character of Turkish poetry. We must commence with Djeem the unfortunate brother of Bayazid; and less remarkable, we suspect, for genius than as a traveller; at least, if this “ celebrated song” is a fair sample of his powers of verse.
Drain freely the wine-cup of Djeemshid, Oh, Djeem!
For this is Franguistan:
We'll bear it as best we can.
A pilgrim Mosleiman;
And wandered throughout Karaman,
In coming to Franguistan;
To live like a sultan.
Each bears a flowing can;
The children of the Ban.
Go, learn from Bayazid Khan:
By G-, is a lying man. This is, undoubtedly, license; poetical we will not affirm it to be.
In the next specimen, from Chalili, the eighth line of our extract vindicates Paul Richter's logical conclusion regarding the “ fair Biribi,” with whose beauty the Sultan was so struck, that “ he thanked the Creator aloud for having made the world!”
Even in the mosque, those charms of thine,
Heart-stealer! shone so brilliantly,
To win another glance of thee.