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Chester, to London; we must however observe, that in the former lace, where he spent some time, he rst beheld the phenomenon of a fall of snow, which greatly delighted him by its novelty, and that he was quite reconciled to the coldness of the climate, by the power it gave him to bear fatigue, and by the many advantages which it confers on the inhabitants; making, as he asserts, the men vigorous, the 'women handsome, and both sexes open-hearted and sincere. “Boys and girls of fifteen years of age, are here as innocent,” in the Persian’s opinion, “as the children of India of 5 or 6, and have no wish beyond the amusement of play-things, or the produce of a pastry-cook’s shop.” Nay, many grown persons of wealth and rank are, as he assures us, in an almost similar predicament!
“What I am now to relate, will, I fear, not be credited by my countrymen, but is, nevertheless, an absolute fact. In these countries, it frequently happens, that the ponds and rivers are frozen over; and the ice being of sufficient strength to bear a great weight, numbers of people assemble thereon, and amuse themselves in skating.” vol. i. p. 147.
On the whole, he seems more delighted with Ireland, than with any other place which he visited, and manifests a very natural preference of the urbanity, good nature, and intelligence of these, his first European friends, over all other nations. Some of the traits which he mentions are, indeed, really national, and show in a strong light the peculiar character of that hospitable and good natured race; but it must not be forgotten, that here every thing was new, and that consequently all the amusements of which he partook were more attractive in his eyes. Here, for instance, he was first at a theatre, where he received the greatest entertainment from the adventures of an “Ethiofiian magician called Hurlequin.” Mr. Astley's horsemanship, and the Panorama of
Gibraltar, gave him great delight; but he was rather scandalized than pleased with the estimation, approaching to idolatry, in which stas tues of iead and marble are held.
“It is really astonishing that people possessing so much knowledge and good sense, and who reproach the nobiiity of Hindoostan with wearing gold and silver ornaments like women, should be thus tempted by Satan to throw away their mo, ney on useless blocks.” Vol. i. p. 129.
Of the meanness of the hot baths he bitterly complains; and though he expresses a pious hope that the flesh brush was composed of horse hair, yet a doubt seems iurking in his mind, that its bristies were shorn from a less holy animal. He noticed, on his road from Holyhead, Conway, with its ancient walls resembling those of Allahabad; and Chester, with the verandahs which line the principal streets; and on the 25th of Shaban, corresponding to the 21st of January, 1800, arrived safe in London, being five days short of a lunar year from the period of his leaving Calcutta. -
In London he appears to have chiefly remained during the rest of his stay in England. He made, indeed, an excursion with some friends to Windsor, Oxford, and Blenheim; and at the second of these places was greatly delighted with the 10,000 oriental manuscripts in the Bodleian, and the different speci
mens in the anatomy school. The
publick buildings, he observes, are “of hewn stone, and much resemble, in form, some of the Hindoo temples.” But not all these wonders, nor even the charms of Mr. Hastings's dairy and farm yard, could long detain him from London, where, with a naïveté almost equal to that of Mr. Ker Porter, “ Cupid,” he observes, “ had planted one of his arrows in his bosom;” and whose “heart-alluring damsels” he celebrated in a Persian ode, in which he asserts:
“We have no longing for the Tubah, or Sudreh, or other trees of Passadise,
We are content to rest under the shade of these terrestrial cypresses.”
Abu Taleb seems, indeed, notwithstanding his horrour of hog's bristles, to have been soon very completely reconciled to the habits and liquors of infidels, and, “according to the advice of the divine Hafiz.” to have given himself up to love and gayety. It may be well imagined, that the head of a man, who had been so far elated by the attentions of the provincial beauties of Cork, would be completely turned by the blandishments of rank, fashion and luxury which surrounded him in London; and it is truly amusing to observe the complacency with which he relates how much his society was courted, while his “ wit and repartees, with some impromptu applications of oriental poetry, were the subject of conversation in the politest circles.”—Poor Abu ! he little suspected that all the while he was only entertaining from the Caftan outwards. In the middle, however, of dissipation, more serious studies were not neglected. He saw the tower, and the freemasons, and the Eidouranion, and the Irish giant; and amidst all the curiosities of the British museum, selected, as most worth notice, the good woman whose forehead was decorated with horns. And though the slight mention of the joys of Paradise, and his ready compliance with the use of wine, may be considered as blots in his character among the True Believers, yet, on the other hand, he takes care to inform those of his own faith, that, in a conversation with an English bishop, he stoutly maintained the divinity of Mohammed's commission, and almost, as he imagined, persuaded his right reverend friend to embrace the tenets of Islam There are, however, many better things in his book, and which Vol. v. N
really evince an active and curious mind, bent on acquiring knowledge, and, when acquired, able to digest it. The following observation would not be, perhaps, unworthy of the most civilized and philosophick describer of the effects of English mechanism.
* On entering one of the extensive ma, nufactories in England, the mind is at first bewildered by the number and variety of articles displayed therein; but after recovering from this first impression, and having coolly surveyed all the objects around, every thing appears conducted with so much regularity and precision, that a person is induced to suppose one of the meanest capacity might superintend and direct the whole process. Whatever requires strength or numbers, is effected by engines; if clearness of sight is wanted, magnifying glasses are at hand; and if deep reflection is necessary to combine all the parts, whereby to ensure a unity of action, so many aids are derived from the numerous artists employed in the different parts of the work, that the union of the . whole seems not to require any great exertion of genius.” Vol. i. pp. 244, 245.
In his miscellaneous observations on the English character, education, and form of government, we are often forcibly reminded of the Spanish worthy, to whose travels we lately alluded; and it is no slight praise to the author of that entertaining work, that the sentiments which he gives to his hero are so nearly the same with those of a traveller to whom all was new. The praise which he lavishes on all the higher powers, however deserved, is not, perhaps, free from suspicion, since at the time of publishing his Persian journal, he was still subject to British governours, and still a candidate for British patronage. But the detail is curious; and though he taxes us pretty smartly with pride, philosophy (meaning atheism) and laziness (for which iast vice he recommends as a cure, shorter meals and longer beards) yet the impressions which he evidently feels are most flattering to our nation.
be just; and we find, accordingly,
that many misconceptions relating to laws, juries, and government, are to be found in every part of his work; and when he compares a certain honourable house to two parties of parroquets, scolding on opposite mango trees, it is evident that he describes from fancy. But though he is often misinformed, he is seldom absurd; and, in truth, we are not sure whether his journal would not be more entertaining, if it had more of the oriental leaven. The following observation, however, may be excepted from this stigma. He is speaking of an unfortunate class of females, whom he considers as more numerous in London than the truth, we believe, will warrant.
things which are offensive to Eng lish nationality; but we may well . endure, that, where so much is said in our favour, some blame should be mingled; and, at any rate, a clear and sensible view of the manners of Europe, as it may tend to reconcile the nations of the east to a preponderance, which must be chiefly supported by opinion, is of the greatest advantage to the country which has the greatest stake there. Of Paris, which the author next visited, as compared to London, we have already given his sentiments; but it is fair to own, that he expresses, in pretty strong terms, his preference of French to English politeness. He had complained before of our aversion to taking any trouble, even for a friend; and in this respect he says our neighbours are very superiour “to the irritable and surly Englishman.” On the whole, however, he did not like a residence among them, and complains heavily of their idle, slovenly, and trifling habits, which he thinks will effectually prevent their gaining a superiority over their insular neighbours. The women, too, he does not like: “They were painted to an excessive degree, were very forward, and great talkers.” Amorous as he confesses himself by nature to be, and easily affected at the sight of beauty, he never met with a Frenchwoman who interested him. In the English charge des affaires then at Paris, he seems, if his report is correct, to have had a tolerable specimen of the indolence, nonchalance, and utter want of information, which too often characterize the young men who fill that important office. By his advice he was persuaded to abandon the usual road to Constantinople, through Germany and Hungary, for the more tedious course of Italy and the Mediterranean. The ever-waking eye, which is turned so wistfully towards the east, did not overlook our tourist; the scavans, Langlais and De Sacy, were em. ployed to cultivate his acquaintance; and he received repeated invitations from Talleyrand, and at length from Buonaparte. Indisposition, however, prevented his accepting them, and he passed on by Lyons and Avignon to Marseilles. During this journey he noticed the famous bridge of St. Esprit, as having been built by order of one of the Cesars; and in the diligence, between Avignon, and Marseilles, witnessed a kind of brutality in his fellow passengers to a handsome Egyptian girl who was in the coach, which it is painful to conceive possible in any country, and which may be safely pronounced peculiar to France. Not content with the most licentious freedoms, they even snatched his cane, and struck her several severe blows with it. Surely this was enough to make Abu Taleb recall his assertion of the superiority of French politeness and delicacy. Genoa, Leghorn, and Malta, are in their turn described. At the first of these places he gives us a natural testimony in favour of Italian musick. Leghorn he did not like, and prays that “the curse of God may light on such a city and such a people.” At Constantinople he only found four praiseworthy institutions; “the boats”—“ the horses kept for hire” —“the publick fountains”—and “the several bazars for merchandise.” Of the Turks he says but little; his stay in Constantinople was short, and they and the Persians have no liking for each other. He allows them, however, many amiable qualities; and, what is singular, does not consider the power of their Sultan as absolute.
The relation of his journey by Amasia, Diarbekir, Mousul and Bagdad, is very brief, and not particularly, interesting:—he was now among nations whose manners and faith were familiar to his countrymen; and the only things which he appears to consider as worth their
notice, or his own, are the shrines and tombs of saints on the road. Perhaps he was a little anxious to efface, at the sepulchre of Ali, the guilt of his compliances with infidei customs, on the banks of the Thames and the Liffey. He curses the Turks heartily for hereticks and soonys; and notices a minaret which shakes and trembles at the name of Ali, while it remains immovable by all possible mention of Omar. There are, however, many particulars in this part of his work, worth the attention of future travellers, who may take this little frequented route; and we have not yet seen a more satisfactory account than is here given of the Vahabies. The founder of this powerful sect, Abdul Vechab, it is well known, forbad all worship of Mohammed, and all reverence to tombs and shrines as idolatrous, and giving partners to God. He was, like the original impostor of Arabia, a warlike fanatick; and though his son Mohammed, to whom he transmitted his authority, is blind, he is ably supported by an adopted brother of his father's, named Abd al Aziz, an extraordinary man, of gigantick stature, and, though eighty years old, possessing all the vigour of youth, which he predicts he shall retain, till the Vahaby religion is perfectly established over Arabia.
“Although the Vahabies have collected immense wealth, they still retain the greatest simplicity of manners, and moderation in their desires. They sit down on the ground without ceremony, content themselves with a few dates for their food, and a coarse large cloak serves them for clothing and bed, for two or three years. Their horses are of the genuine Nejid breed, of well known pedigrees; none of which will they permit to be taken out of their country.” vol. ii. pp. 332, 333
The successes and sacrilege of this “wicked tribe” grievously of. fend Abu Taleb, and he calls on the Sultan and the Shah to unite in repressing them. Both Sultan and Shah, however, have need, as it should seem, themselves to tremble before them; and “the least of the servants of God” (so this Eastern Pontiff styles himself) has written to both these monarchs, denouncing, “in the name of God the compassionate and merciful,” fire and sword, and destruction on them and their impenitent subjects. What part they may yet be destined to perform, is only known to that wisdom, which seems to have set apart the portion of the world where they are placed, as the theatre of the most important scenes and the most singular revolutions. At Busserah, Abu Taleb quarrelled with the English resident, and took a singular method of revenge, by “ writing a satirical poem on him,” and repeating some of the lines in his hearing. On the other hand, the Englishman retorted, perhaps with reason, that Abu Taleb was spoilt “ by the luxury and attentions of London, and that it was now impossible to please him.” These bickerings, after being carried on between jest and earnest some time, were terminated by his departure for Bombay. After a pleasant residence of some months in that island, and an agreeable voyage in one of the Company’s vessels, “on the evening of the 15th Rubby Assany, 1218, corresponding with the 4th of August, 1803, he landed safely in Calcutta, and returned thanks to God for his preservation and safe return to his native shores.” We have been hitherto so much engrossed with Abu Taleb himself, as to have no opportunity of mentioning Mr. Stewart, to whom we are obliged for these travels in their English dress. He assures us, in the preface, that they are as literally translated as the nature of the two languages will allow, and that he has only omitted some part of the poetry, and two discussions, one on anatomy, and the other on the construction of a hot-house, which, though full of information to Abu
Taleb's oriental readers, he rightly judged would be tedious to those who peruse him in Europe. To this merit of fidelity, which, from Mr. Stewart's character, we are fully disposed to take for granted, may be added the praise of an easy, natural, English style, which makes, on the . whole, the Travels of Abu Taleb Khan not only a curious, but a very agreeable present to the western world, for which we owe no trifling obligation to his ingenious translator. To the work itself, indeed, we cannot help attaching a stronger interest, than the apparent abilities of Abu Taleb claim. It is the first description of European manners and character, which has, as far as we know, appeared in an oriental language; and if sufficient circulation be once given to this production of a Persian, and a descendant of Mohammed [vol. ii. p. 245.] it is impossible, from the novelty, and peculiar interest of the subject, that it should not become a common and fashionable study among the polite and learned of those climates. We have already hinted, that to England this must be advantageous; but we de not stop here. When we consider the other circumstances of the east, it is probable that the improvements and knowledge thus revealed in part, no longer coming under the suspicious garb of the report of an ene- . my and a conqueror, will excite a spirit of imitation among those, whe before considered the Europeans as a race of warlike savages. " One effect will perhaps speedily follow, that other orientals will pursue the example of Abu Taleb in visiting . countries, where, though there are “giants,” there are no man-eaters; where, though the sheep are without “ broad tails,” the mutton is confessedly tolerable; and though the men. are “ sellers of wine,” the women are stately as the trees of Paradise. From such intercourse, goodwill must follow, and where a European is now considered as accursed, he