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species of fuel ? It was natural that a medical man should examine the state of the art of healing, among the tweebs of Morocco; it is despicable enough: so is that of literature in general. The condition of the Jews is extremely pitiable; and if we understand our traveller rightly, the Jewish women are resorted to, to supply the riotous inhabitants with abandoned companions. Can the lowest degree of abjection in a people be more strongly marked 2 The late emperour attempted to exterminate the Jews; their property was furiously plundered, yet they exist, and increase so rapidly, that our traveller says, the emperour must enlarge the limits of the space wherein they dwell. We give the doctor credit for having used his influence with the rulers of this empire in favour of
the British interests; and for his seasonable assistance in rescuing four drunken, British sailors in Larache, who, “ having drank too much aquardiente [aqua-ardentel imagined themselves in the streets of Gibraltar,” and raised a mob by attempting to lift up the veil of a Moorish belle; drunk they were, indisputably, or they had never struck on the rock of that temptation.
Further proficiency in Arabick will induce the doctor to write Mazarene, for “Massarane (for so they denominate a Christian.”) To consider dow-war as the circle of tents forming a village, not as the name of a place; and to accept Beni, sons, as the plural of Ben, a son, it is necessary, when distinguishing a tribe. Neither will he repeat the article, “ an al-haik:” al is the Arabick article.
Travels of Mirza Abu Taleb Khan [commonly called the Persian Prince] in Asia, Africa, and Europe, during the years 1799, 1800, 1801, and 1802. Written by Him
self, in the Persian Language, and Tr Portrait of the Author. 2 Vols. 8vo. pp
IT is difficult to imagine any character whose first impressions would excite more natural curiosity than an Asiatick traveller in Europe. There is so much value in even the most common knowledge, that the pride of man is secretly gratified by the surprise of a stranger at objects which are familiar to us, even where that familiarity confers no merit on ourselves; and this is, perhaps, the secret charm, which, fortunately for travellers, makes their society courted in foreign countries, and which constitutes, in no small degree, what all of us have sometimes felt, the leasure of showing the lions. There is, too, a vivid shrewdness which generally accompanies the observations of a sensible man on objects which are new to him, altogether
anslated by Charles Stewart, Esq. With a . 738. London. 1810.
unattainable by those whose perceptions are already deadened by habit. We may hope then for instruction, as well as entertainment, in such society; and it is not irrational, except in the extreme to which it has been sometimes carried, that an Omai, a Bannelong, or any other far-fetched curiosity in human form, should be feasted by the great, courted by the fair, and attended to publick places by crowds of gaping observers. After all, however, on a mere savage, the wonders he witnesses are too many and too unintelligible to make any distinct impression To him, a paper kite and a balloon are equally miraculous; every step he takes is on enchanted ground; and, like a child who reads a fairy tale, he soon ceases to be surprised at wonders; because he expected to meet with nothing else, and because, in such a place, such wonders are only natural. Again, people care little for what is totally above their comprehension, and a savage would be more interested in an ironmonger's shop, than in all the curiosities of the British museum, or all the magnificence of St. Paul’s or Blenheim. With the Asiatick, however, the case is different; he brings with him a sufficiently cultivated judgment to distinguish between our customs and his own; a mind to which the objects he meets with are not so new as to be incomprehensible, though they are so differently modified in form and circumstances from those to which he is accustomed, that another planet could hardly produce a greater variety; it is a variety which he understands and feels, and it is the same in kind (though from evident reasons, much greater in degree) as that which a European, prepared as he is, by hundreds of precursors, and tens of hundreds of descriptions, must ever experience on entering, for the first time, a Mohammedan or Hindoo country, Accordingly, as no real oriental traveller had yet appeared, his place and character were eagerly assumed by European writers, who, under the names of Turkish spies, ambassadours of Bantam, and Chinese or Persian tourists, endeavoured to instruct, as impartial spectators of our European feuds and follies; or to amuse, by ridiculous oppositions of our manners and character with their own. That the experiment succeeded, is evident by the number of imitators which every generation has produced; but still, amusing as they were, these Turks and Persians wanted the charm of reality. They were Brigg’s “ French beads, and Bristol stones,” in comparison with the genuine treasure of Golco; dā; and the difference in interest was almost the same, as between a
view of the great mogul himself, and the well-bred sultan of a French tragedy, or an English masquerade. The reality, however, prefigured by so many types, has at last made his appearance. A bonā fide Mohammedan has produced a tour; and, as luck would have it, this tour has appeared at a time, when all the world, or at least all the idle part of it, was still on the stretch of curiosity, respecting his excellency Mirza Abdul Hassan. Now, when the ladies had once ascertained, by actual experiment, the length of a Persian’s beard, and the texture of his skin and clothing; when their minds were pretty well made up what to think of their formidable guest, it was surely no unnatural desire to know that guest’s opinion of them. And as his excellency’s sentiments are not yet to be expected in English, it will no doubt be, in the mean time, acceptable to learn what was thought and said under almost similar circumstances, by a man, who was every inch of him, as true a mussulman (as “catholick a devil,” as Sancho Panza hath it) as if, like his aforesaid excellency, he had born credentials from the king of Iran and Touran, and excited by his presence and supposed intrigues, the jealousy both of the eastern and western Cesar. This lucky coincidence has, we are afraid, even made the reality of our tourist suspected, and many have too rashly classed him, without examination, with the Anacharsis of our continental neighbours, or our own ingenious Hidalgo Don Manuel de Espriella. In this, however, they have done Abu Taleb a great injustice; though not so learned as the first, nor so entertaining as the last of these gentlemen, he is, or rather was, a more substantial personage than either. Under the name of the Persian prince, he was seen and known in fleshly form in the several countries which he has undertaken
as any former candidate for publick motice. And it will be owned that few inhabitants of east or west, have gone over so large or so interesting a tract of earth and sea. Reduced in his circumstances by events which he himself very modestly and briefly relates, and deprived, though by no fault of his own, of an appointment which he held under our East India company, an opportunity was thrown in his way, of undertaking a journey, which, to an oriental, must have appeared desperate; and which he began, as he informs us, in the comfortable hope, that in a voyage so replete with danger, “ some accident might cause his death; and thus deliver him from the anxieties of this world, and the ingratitude of mankind.” Accidents, however, and elements were kinder than he expected; and after visiting the Cape, St. Helena, and many parts of Ireland and England, he returned by France, Italy, Constantinople, and Busserah, to his native province in India, where he was appointed once more collector of a district in Bundelcund, and died in that situation in the year 1806. During the latter years of his life, he prepared and digested his journal, in which he styles himself: “The wanderer over the face of the earth, Abu Taleb, the son of Mohammed of Ispahan, who associated with men of all nations, and beheld various wonders both by sea and land;” and which he commences with true oriental piety, by thanksgivings to God, the lord of all the world, and “to the chosen of mankind, the traveller over the whole expanse of the heavens [Mohammed] and benedictions without end on his descendants, and companions.”
The first misfortune which befel him on his expedition, was embarking on board a Danish vessel, manned chiefly by indolent, and inexperienced Lascars, of whose filth, confusion, and insubordination he complains most bitterly.
“The captain was a proud, self-sufficient fellow. His first officer, who was by birth an American, resembled an ill-tempered, growling mastiff, but understood his duty very well. The second officer, and the other mates were low people, not worthy of being spoken to, and quite ignorant of navigation.”—vol. i. p. 22.
After many days of suffering from
the united plagues of stinks, bad
provisions, and a cabin, “the very recollection of which makes him melancholy,” he arrived at the Nicobar Islands, where the usual phenomenon of refraction, by making a flat shore visible to the eye, though not to the telescope, and the usual solution of it by a ring in a bowl of water, excited his surprise. The explanation, however, does not, in his opinion, solve the phenomenon. Sixteen of the Lascars deserted here, and Abu Taleb himself was so much captivated with the “mildness of the climate, the beauty of the plains and rivulets, and the kind of life which the men enjoyed, that he had nearly resolved to take up his abode among them.” The passage of the equinoctial line, and the ceremony of dipping, are next described, and he saw what he had never before believed, numerous shoals of flying fish. He was disappointed at not finding a southern polar star, nor any constellation which exactly corresponded with the Ursa Minor or Major, and was astonished that the month of May, so hot in Bengal, should be so extremely cold in the antarctick hemisphere,
“On the 24th of May, we had a view of part of the continent of Africa, about 200 miles to the north of the Cape of Good Hope; and although we had not the most distant intention of going on shore here,
yet the sight of land brought tears into my eyes. While sailing along the coast, we had frequent opportunities of seeing one of the wonders of the deep. Several fish, called whales, approached so close to the ship that we could view them distinct. ly. They were four times the size of the largest elephant, and had immense nostrils, whence they threw up the water to the height of fifteen yards.” vol. i. p. 44.
His voyage to the Cape was a dismal one. He had repeated storms to encounter, and his cabin was placed between those of a corpulent and surly gentleman, who when the ship rolled, rolled also, and of three crying and ill-tempered children; to whom, if he had known the poetry of Simonides, he would doubtless have exclaimed with Dania in a similar situation, “audu go.” As it was, he thought of the verse of Hafiz, which did just as well:
“Dark is the night, and dreadful the noise of the waves and whirlpool,
Little do they know of our situation, who are travelling merrily on the shore.”
The miseries of a voyage he classes under four genera, subdivided into many distinct species, of which we shall only mention “the inpurity of being shut up with dogs and hogs; the necessity of eating with a knife and fork; and the impossibility of purification.” On the whole, however, he had ample reason to COIYlplain, and to advise his countrymen never to undertake a voyage, unless they have money to purchase ever comfort; nor to embark, except in an English vessel. At the Cape, he was highly delighted with the neatness of the houses, the pavement of the streets, the shady trees, and the benches for smoking a pipe in summer evenings; a custom which “appeared to him excellent.”
say, that from my first setting out on this journey, till my arrival in England, I ascended the pinnacle of magnificence and luxury; the several degrees or stages of which, were Calcutta, the Cape, Cork, Dublin, and London; the beauty and grandeur of each city effacing that of the former. On my return towards India, every thing was reversed, the last place being always inferiour to that I had quitted. Thus, after a long residence in London, Paris appeared to me much inferiour; for although the latter contains more superb buildings, it is neither so regular, so clean, nor so well lighted at night, as the former, nor does it possess so many gardens and squares in its vicinity; in short, I thought I had fallen from paradise into hell. But when I arrived in Italy, I was made sensible of the beauty of Paris; the cities of Italy rose in my estimation when I arrived at Constantinople, and the latter is a perfect paradise, compared to Bagdad, Mousul, and other towns in the territory of the Faithful.” vol. i. p. 64, 65.
Of the Dutch, both male and female, Abu Taleb formed no favour. able opinion. He describes the men as low-minded and inhospitable, and more oppressive to their slaves than any other people in the world. The women, he stigmatizes at once as vulgar and in modest; but here we must allow a little for the prejudices of a Persian. The girls, who so much offended him, were, perhaps, only laughing hoydens, who would have been heartily frightened, had they known how he interpreted their airs and glances. It may, however, be a useful hint to some females nearer home. Lord Valencia imagines that Mohammedans confound all European ladies with nautch girls, and it must be owned, that recent oriental travellers have had tolerably good reason for their mistake.
Among the various inhabitants of the Cape, he found “many pious good Mussulmans, some of whom Possessed considerable property;” with these, and in the hospitable society of the English officers (whose ladies, it is pleasing to observe, he excepts from the general scandal, and compares to the elegant reserve of Indian princesses) he passed his time pleasantly, though expensively. At length, being heartily tired of his Danish captain, who had cheated him in every possible manner, he submitted to the loss of his passage money, and embarked the 29th of September, on board an English South Sea whaler. The superiour comforts of this ship he praises highly, though he still seems to have had some apprehensions; “it being the practice of Europe, that whenever the ships of two enemies meet at sea, the most powerful carries his adversary with him into one of his own ports, and there sells both ship and cargo for his own advantage.” Of St. Helena he gives one of the best descriptions we have yet seen; and relates to a fearful battle, which his captain had, in a former voyage, sustained with a number of marine animals, “ of a size between a horse and an ass, which they call seahorses.” He notices in his course, “the Fortunate Isles, whence the Mohammedans commence their longitude;” and the “entrance into the Mediterranean sea, which runs east as for as Aleppo.” And being driven by unfavourable winds from the English channel (the meaning of which term he explains, as well as that of “bay and sea”) he anchored on the 6th of December in the cove of Cork.
“We found here not less than 40 or 50 vessels of different sizes, three of which were ships of war. The bay resembles a round basin, sixteen miles in circumference. On its shore is situated the town, which is built in the form of a crescent, and defended at each end by small forts. On one side of the bay, a large river, resembling the Ganges, disembogues itself. This river extends a great way inland, and passes by the city of Cork. The circular form of this extensive sheet of water, the verdure of the hills, the comfortablé ap. Pearance of the town on one side, and the number of elegant houses and romantick cottages on the other, with the formidable aspect of the forts, and so many large ships lying securely in the harbour, con.
Yeyed to my mind such sensations as I had never before experienced; and although in the course of iny travels, I had an opportunity of seeing the bay of Ge. noa, and the straights of Constantinople, I do not, think either of them is to". compared with this.” vol. i. pp. 94, 95.
Nor, though the cove on a nearer view disappointed him, did he fail to be delighted with the fertility of the neighbourhood, and the hospitality of the mistress of the postoffice, whose mature charms (for though the mother of 21 children, she had still the appearance of youth) astonished the inhabitant of a country, where a woman is old at five and twenty.
It is a pleasing circumstance in this Persian's journal, that in every Part of our united kingdom, he met with hospitality and kindness. He here left his vessel, and was proceeding to Dublin to wait on jord Cornwallis, when he received a visit from an officer whom he had known in India, and who conducted him to his house in the neighbourhood of Cork, where, on an estate of a few hundreds a year, he was enjoying, as Abu Taleb assures ldS, more comfort and plenty than an English gentleman could in India, upon an income of a lack of rupees. At Cove, he had seen a spit turned by a dog, but here the machinery for roasting was moved by smoke, and together with the dressers for holding china, and the pipes and arrangement of a steam kitchen, excited his warmest admiration. This officer had two fair neices, who, “ during dinner,” says the Mussulman, “ho. noured me with the most marked attention.”
“After dinner, these angels made tea for us, and one of them having asked me if it was sweet enough, I replied, that having been made by such hands, it could not but be sweet. On hearing this, all the company laughed, and my fair one blushed like the rose of Damascus.” v.i. p. 103.
We shall not follow him minutely through his journey by Dublin an: