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luxuries are only rivalled by the marvellous gifts of the genii and fairies. This brilliant mythology,
the offspring of the Arabian imagination, together Notes.
with the other characteristics of the Arabian tales,
has had an extensive influence on our own literaARABIAN TALES AND THEIR SOURCES.
ture. Many of these tales had found their way The Arabians have been the immediate instru- into our poetry long before the translation of the ments in transmitting to us those Oriental tales, Arabian Nights; and are met with in the old of which the conception is so brilliant, and the Fabliaux, and in Boccacio, Ariosto, and Chaucer. character so rich and varied, and which, after But while these tales are Arabian in their struchaving been the delight of our childhood, never ture, the materials have been derived, not only lose entirely the spelĩ of their enchantment over from India, Persia, and China, but also from our maturer age. But while many of these tales ancient Egypt, and the classical literature of are doubtless of Arabian origin, it is not to be Greece. supposed that all are equally so. If we may be I shall content myself at present with adducing lieve the French translator of the Thousand and one example of such probable derivation from the One Tales, that publication does not include the source last mentioned. The stories to be comthirty-sixth part of the great Arabian collection, pared are too long for quotation, which, as they which is not confined to books, but has been the are well known, will not be necessary. I shall traditional inheritance of a numerous class, who, therefore merely give, in parallel columns, the like the minstrels of the West, gained their liveli numerous points of resemblance, or coincidence, hood by reciting what would interest the feelings between the two. The Arabian tale is that of of their hearers. This class of Eastern story “ Ali Baba and the Forty Robbers ;” the corretellers was common throughout the whole extent sponding story will be found in Herodotus, b. 11. of Mahomedan dominion in Turkey, Persia, and c. cxxi. ; it is that of Rhampsinitus and the robeven to the extremity of India.
bery of his royal treasury : The sudden rise of the Saracen empire, and its THE EGYPTIAN TALE.
THE ARABIAN TALE. rapid transition from barbarism to refinement, and 1. The king constructs a stone 1. In a rock so steep and craggy
edifice for the security of his vast that none can scale it, a cave has from the deepest ignorance to the most extensive riches.
been hewn out, in which the cultivation of literature and science, is an extra
robbers deposit their prodigious
wealth. ordinary phenomenon in the history of mankind. 2. In the wall of this treasury is 2. In this rock is a door which
a stone so artfully disposed that a opens into the cave, by means of A century scarcely elapsed from the age of Am single person can move it, so as to two magical words, Open Se
enter and retreat without leaving
and closes again in like rou, the general of Caliph Omar, who is said to
any trace of his having done so. manner by pronouncing the words
"Shut Sesame." have burned the great Alexandrian library, to the
3. Two brothers become ac 3. Two brothers become ac period when the family of the Abbasides, who quainted with the secret opening quainted with the door of the
into the treasury, and enter it for cave, and the means of opening mounted the throne of the Caliphs A.D. 750, in the purpose of enriching them and shutting it ; and they enter it
for the purpose of enriching themtroduced a passionate love of art, science, and
4. One of the brothers becomes 4. Ali Baba, one of the two broeven poetry. The celebrated Haroun Al Raschid
rich by abstracting large sums of thers, becomes rich by carrying off never took a journey without at least a hundred money from the royal treasury. a great quantity of gold coin from
the robbers' cave. men of science in his train. But the most muni. 5. The other brother is caught 5. Cassim, the other brother, is
in the snare which the king had caught as in a snare, by forgetting, ficent patron of Arabic literature was Al Mamoun, laid within the treasury, for the when in the cave, the magical
detection and apprehension of the words by which alone an exit the seventh Caliph of the race of the Abbasides,
could be obtained. and son of Haroun Al Raschid. Having suc
6. At his own request the brother 6. Cassim, in his attempt to es
thus caught is beheaded by the cape, is killed by the robbers, and ceeded to the throne A.D. 813, he rendered Bag other to avoid recognition, and to his dead body is quartered, and
secure the escape of one. The dead hung up within the door of the dad the centre of literature : collecting from the body is hung from the wall of the cave, to deter any who might be
treasury, for the purpose of dis his accomplices. subject provinces of Syria, Armenia, and Egypt covering his accomplice.
7. The surviving brother, at his 7. Ali Baba, at the instance of the most important books which could be disco
mother's earnest request, carries Cassim's widow, carries off his revered, as the most precious tribute that could be off the dead body, and brings it mains from the cave, and brings
home on the back of one of his them home on the back of one of rendered, aud causing them to be translated into
8. The king, unable to ascertain 8. The robbers, unable to guess Arabic for general use. When Al Mamoun dic
how his treasury had been entered, how their cave had been entered,
is enraged at the removal of the are alarmed at the removal of tated the terms of peace to Michael, the Greek
body, and alarmed at finding that Cassim's remains, which proves to emperor, the tribute which he demanded from him some one who possesses the secret them that some one who possesses
the secret still survives. was a collection of Greek authors.
9. The king has recourse to stra 9. The robbers have recourse to
tagem, for the purpose of detect stratagem, for the purpose of disThe Arabian tales had their birth after this
ing the depredator, but without covering the depredator, but withperiod ; and when the Arabians had yielded to 10. The surviving brother baffles 10. Ali Baba, assisted by his fe
male slave, baffles the robber capthe Tartars, Turks, and Persians, the empire of the king's first attempt to detect
tain's first attempt upon him, by the sword. Soldiers are seldom introduced ; the which, in the character of a wine means of some oil in a jar, his men
seller, he had loaded with wine being concealed in the other jars. splendours of the just Caliph's reign are dwelt flasks, making the king's guards with which the captain, in the
drunk, and leaving them all fast character of an oil-merchant, had upon with fond remembrance; the style is that
loaded some asses: thus the latter,
who thought his men asleep, finds of a mercantile people, while riches and artificial
them all dead.