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It is with the writings of mankind, in some measure, as with their complexions or their dress; each nation hath a peculiarity in all these, to distinguish it from the rest of the world.
The gravity of the Spaniard, and the levity of the Frenchman, are as evident in all their productions as in their persons themselves ; and the style of my countrymen is as naturally strong and nervous, as that of an Arabian or Persian is rich and figurative.
There is an elegancy and wildness of thought which recommends all their compositions; and our geniuses are as much too cold for the entertainment of such sentiments, as our climate is for their fruits and spices. If any of these beauties are to be found in the following Eclogues, I hope my reader will consider them as an argument of their being original. I received them at the hands of a merchant, who had made it his business to enrich himself with the learning, as well as the silks and carpets of the Persians.
The little information I could gather concerning their author, was, that his name was Abdallah, and that he was a native of Tauris.
It was in that city that he died of a distemper fatal in those parts, whilst he was engaged in celebrating the victories of his favourite monarch, the great Abbas.* As to the Eclogues themselves, they give a very just view of the miseries and inconveniences, as well as the felicities, that attend one of the finest countries in the East.
The time of writing them was probably in the beginning of Sha Sultan Hosseyn's reign, the successor of Sefi or Solyman the second.
Whatever defects, as, I doubt not, there will be many, fall under the reader's observation, I hope his candour will incline him to make the following reflection :
That the works of Orientals contain many peculiarities, and that, through defect of language, few European translators can do them justice.
* In the Persian tongue, Abbas signifieth “ the father of the people.”
SELIM; OR, THE SHEPHERD'S MORAL.
SCENE, A valley near Bagdat.
TIME, The morning.
'YE Persian maids, attend your poet's lays,
hearts believe the truths I tell; 5 'Tis virtue makes the bliss, where'er we dwell.'
Thus Selim sung, by sacred Truth inspired ; Nor praise, but such as Truth bestow'd, desired : Wise in himself, his meaning songs convey'd Informing morals to the shepherd maid ; Or taught the swains that surest bliss to find, What groves nor streams bestow, a virtuous mind.
When sweet and blushing, like a virgin bride, The radiant morn resumed her orient pride; When wanton gales along the valleys play, Breathe on each flower, and bear their sweets away; By Tigris’ wandering waves he sat, and sung This useful lesson for the fair and young.
• Ye Persian dames,' he said, ' to you belongWell may they please—the morals of my song: No fairer maids, I trust, than you are found, Graced with soft arts, the peopled world around ! The morn that lights you, to your loves supplies Each gentler ray delicious to your eyes : For you those flowers her fragrant hands bestow; 95 And yours the love that kings delight to know. Yet think not these, all beauteous as they are, The best kind blessings heaven can grant the fair! Who trust alone in beauty's feeble ray Boast but the worth · Bassora's pearls display: 81 Drawn from the deep we own their surface bright, But, dark within, they drink no lustrous light: Such are the maids, and such the charms they boast, By sense unaided, or to virtue lost.
Ver. 13. When sweet and odorous, like an eastern bride,
30. Balsora's pearls have more of worth than they : 31. Drawn from the deep, they sparkle to the sight,
And all-unconscious shoot a lustrous light:
a The gulf of that name, famous for the pearl fishery.
Self-Aattering sex! your hearts believe in vain 35
'Blest were the days when Wisdom held her
reign, And shepherds sought her on the silent plain! With Truth she wedded in the secret grove, Immortal Truth, and daughters bless'd their love. O haste, fair maids ! ye Virtues, come away! Sweet Peace and Plenty lead you on your way! The balmy shrub, for you shall love our shore, By Ind excell'd, or Araby, no more.
• Lost to our fields, for so the fates ordain, The dear deserters shall return again. Come thou, whose thoughts as limpid springs are
clear, To lead the train, sweet Modesty, appear :
Ver. 46. The fair-eyed Truth, and daughters bless'd their
The rose may then improve her blush by thee.