« PreviousContinue »
was at length informed of the object of his daughter's love; and being a haughty Emir, he considered himself debased at the prospect of an alliance between a child of his family, and a youth so lowly born as Kais; whose father Ahmed was not descended, like himself, from a series of nobility. Ahmed, though less noble than the Green-turban'd Emir, and though a better and milder character, was also too proud of his importance to regard the alliance as eminently honourable to his family: he was haughty (says the Romancer) because he was glorious without nobility, and derived his renown not from men extinct in their graves, but from living men around him.
The lover, now separated from his mistress, found momentary happiness by visiting her in the disguised and humble character of a seller of perfumes. By means of presents, he makes his way into her tent through the surrounding slaves: but his interview was short, and fatal in its consequences. The liberality of the unknown perfumer caused suspicion: the alarm was spred: the Emir rushed into the tent; and unaffected by all the tears of his daughter, and the respectful though manly imprecations of Kais, he drove the youth from his presence, and ordered Leila to be secured. The parting scene is beautifully described.
Repulsed in this ignominious manner, the distracted poet returns home to the tent of his father. Ahmed, though full of affection for Kais, was indignant at the disgrace which his family had received, and he called on him to avenge the insult. 'I cannot strike at the father of Leila,' replied the lover. Divided between contending passions, stung with the reproach of his father, and delirious with love for Leila, he is seized with a melancholy madness, and flies from the tents of his father to the desert, attended by none but an affectionate gazel or antelope. The parents were distracted on losing their beloved son: the mother was loud in her grief: the good old father felt more severely, conscious that his words had augmented the miseries of Kais; and, after having prayed to the holy prophet, he set out to wander in the desert in quest of his son, in company with the Effendi Lebid, who, hearing of his pupil's misfortunes and melancholy, came to solace the father and to assist in finding the lost son.
After a long and weary search, Kais is discovered on a moonlight night, in a state of wild delirium, wandering by the side of a precipice and chanting his fine and distracted verses. From this period, he is characterised in the Romance by the name of Mejnoun, or maniac. He is brought back to the tents of Ahmed: but the consolations of his friends are unavailing to alleviate the agony of his passion. His father pro
poses a pilgrimage to Mecca, which Kais performs: but, instead of returning home with his friends, he escapes to a desert bordering on the habitation of Leila. Intelligence is brought to Leila of the Mejnoun Kais, by a hunter who met him in the desert. The faithful mistress sets out to meet him, and finds him. Their interview is short, for Leila was forced speedily to return, but it is finely and affectingly described. In the midst of his solitude, Mejnoun is visited by Noufel, the Iman of Sana, who was a warm admirer of his poetry, and strongly interested in the success of his passion. He is taken by this prince to his court, and caressed with every mark of distinction. War is made on the Green-turban'd Emir, the imperious father of Leila: the despot is overcome; and his daughter is given in marriage to her faithful lover.
From this height of happiness, he is suddenly dashed into his former despair. The Iman Noufel, though generous in his friendship for Mejnoun, was too frail to withstand the growing passion which he cherished for the beautiful captive. After a dreadful struggle between his duty and his desires, he yields to the latter in despair, and prepares a poisoned cup for Mejnoun at the marriage: but, by mistake, he drinks it himself. A terrible consternation ensues, and the marriage ceremonies are delayed: a new Iman succeeds; who, enraged that his predecessor had made war for the sake of a woman, sends back the Green-turban'd Emir, and replaces him in his former dignity. The father of Leila now dooms her to the embraces of a new lover, whose name is Ebn-selan. The stern commands of the Emir have no power over the faithful mistress of Mejnoun: but affection prevailed when force was ineffectual; and she yields in despair to the melancholy intreaties of her mother, who seemed unable to support her disobedience. The nuptial day arrives. Ebn-selan approaches Leila, lifts her veil, and beholds tears on her cheeks, and frowns on her brow. Stay thy hand (exclaimed the virgin, in a tone more resolute and awful than ever virgin spoke): well thou knowest that Leila is Mejnoun's Leila, and can be the Leila of no other.' Ebn-selan was the mild inmate of a mild climate. He had merited Leila, had Leila to chuse a lover.' Out of respect for the passion of Leila, he did not insist on the privileges of a husband; and his generosity won her friendship: but her love was in the desert with Mejnoun. The news of her marriage reached the ears of the latter by the reports of travellers. At first, he was incredulous: but, day after day, the circumstantial narrative, in all its terrible minuteness, afflicted his memory. Jealousy and indignation augmented his delirium. He sends to her, by a hunter, a letter full
of reproaches and despair: she replies in the language of ardent and eternal though disappointed passion, which yields a gloomy consolation to the distracted wanderer. From his retreat in the desert, he is suddenly summoned by the Effendi Lebid, his aged tutor, who calls him to come to be the spectator of his father's death. He returns home; and after having witnessed that afflicting scene, he flies once again to solitude, leaving the care of his mother and tribe to the Effendi Lebid. He then dispatches a messenger to ask an interview with Leila. Day after day elapses, and no messenger returns: at last, the completion of his sorrow is accomplished; and the melancholy looks and faultering answer of his returning friend announce that his beloved Leila had died of a broken heart. His own death, which quickly succeeds, is pathetically described; and indeed the whole of the concluding scene is highly pathetic.
He sat upon the point of a rock, that he might discover the expected friend, before he reached him. At length he descries one approaching he ran down the rock and met him on the plain. It was his friend, who, when he perceived Mejnoun, approached him with slow steps and heavy looks. The heart of Mejnoun was chilled at the aspect of so melancholy a messenger, and with a bewildered air he enquires the fate of Leila. His friend replied but with a profound sigh. Thy silence well becomes thy tale," said Mejnoun: "why is not all for me an eternal silence? Here I have waited day after day but to hear of the death of Leila. Could that heart, that tender heart, love as she loved, and live? A thousand times already have I mourned her death, and when the world told me she yet lived, often was I incredulous."-"Alas!" replied the friend, rejoicing to observe the calmness with which the Mejnoun spoke, "a fixed grief preyed on her soul and—————”—“Talk not, talk not, (quickly the Mejnoun replied, with eyes that emitted sparks of passion, while his hand rudely repulsed his friend,) "did I not commend thy silence? Away! it is dangerous to commend a fool's silence! he will speak at last, were it but to give a fool's thanks. Away! I am sick of all foolery: away to thy world, to thy world, fool."
He paused--his troubled heart was busied with gloomy imaginations: his rapid lips muttered low and inarticulate accents: his eyes were fixed on the earth: he sighed and said, "It is completed! it was bor, and it has died! the flower is gathered, let the leaves, which the lovely stem supported, fall and rot on the earth!" He mused-terrible thoughts were in his mind, and the blood forsook his face. He shricks-he rolls himself on the burning sands: his friend approaches, and would embrace him, but he hurls him to the earth. Ile flies up the perpendicular rock. He howls, and the echo multiplies his terrific voice. Some hunters join his friend. Three days They patiently watch at the foot of the rock. On the second day, the voice of Mejnoun was only heard at intervals. On the third night, in the gleam of the moon, they perceived a spectre-man descending.
The dying form paced slowly with tottering steps: every step was audible in the vast silence. Their hearts shuddered. The Mejnoun looked not of this earth, and they dared not approach him. He reached a hillock of sand and stretched himself in silence. They hasten to the Mejnoun. On his murmuring lips they listened to the name of Leila, and slowly and hollowly they heard one vast and feeble sigh, and it ceased to respire. His friend placed his hand on the bosom of Mejnoun, and his heart no more palpitated.
The last solemn office of friendship was paid by the hands of his unhappy friends and the grieving hunters. Returning to the tents of Ebn-selan, he summons the tribe, and tells a tale often interrupted by his moaning auditors. Even the obdurate Emir, in whose subdued breast no human passion now beat, but that of pity, vows a long sad pilgrimage to Mecca, and thanks the prophet that he is old, and will soon die. The gentle Ebn-selan rose, and wept, and spoke. "Sad messenger of disastrous love! Another and a final duty still remains. Thou knowest not that the dying Leila predicted the death of Mejnoun. He lives, she said, but because I live; and he will die be cause I shall have died. It was their last prayer that their ashes should be united. Lead us to his grave: they shall meet, though they meet in death; and over their extinct ashes let me pour my liv. ing tears."
The tribe of Mejnoun unite with the tribe of Leila. At the foot of the rock which the Mejnoun haunted in his delirium, they raise a tomb to the memory of the lovers, and there depositing the bodies, they plant around them many a gloomy cypress tree. Lebid lived to compose the verses which were embossed with golden characters on the black marble. Lebid lived to lament his own fostering of their loves, Ahmed's austerity, and the Emir's haughtiness.
For many successive years, the damsels of the two tribes, in sympathizing groupes, annually assembled at the cemetry, and planted in marble vases around the tomb aromatic flowers and herbs. One night in every year, each bearing a taper, they wailed till morning the fate of the lovers; and in parting prayed their parents to be merciful in love. The caravans of Syria and Egypt, which traverse the desert, in their way to Mecca, once stopped near the consecrated spot. The tender pilgrim once leant over their tomb, and read, and wept : the spot is now only known by tradition. The monument has left no vestige, and the trees no more wave their melancholy boughs: nothing remains but the memory of the lovers.'
We have principally noticed the story of Mejnoun and Leila, because it is the most important in the volume. In perusing this production, however, we have to lament a palpable deviation from Arabian manners, which ought to have been seduJously preserved by the author. Leila is sent to school, in a country where females of all ages are kept in severe seclusion from the other sex; and the lovers are taught to design, an accomplishment forbidden by the prophet, and never publicly taught in Mohammedan seminaries.
Love and Humility, a succeeding Romance, is elegant and · pleasing. The third, called the Lovers, or the Birth of the Pleasing Arts, is very ingenious: it traces up, the source of music, painting, poetry, architecture, &c. &c. to the attempts of an Arcadian lover to please his mistress; and the gradual progress of the artist in refinement, if not philosophically true, is at least well imagined. Our limits do not permit us to extract from, nor circumstantially to analyse, these little pieces but we think that they, as well as the former, will materially add to Mr. d'Israeli's already established reputation.
ART. II. Voyages to the East Indies; by the late John Splinter Stavorinus, Esq. Rear Admiral in the Service of the States-General. Translated from the original Dutch, by Samuel Hull Wilcocke. With Notes and Additions by the Translator. The Whole comprising a full and accurate Account of all the prefent and late Possessions of the Dutch in India, and at the Cape of Good Hope. Illustrated with Maps. 8vo. 3 Vols. l. 4s. Boards. Robinsons. 1798.
The second voyage, which occupies the second and third of the present volumes, was performed between the beginning of March 1774 and the month of July 1778. To the information communicated in the narrative, great additions have been made by the translator, particularly respecting circumstances of more recent date. In a preface, he acquaints the reader that,
With respect to the notes and additions which he has made, they are collected from every authentic source within his reach; from the accounts of other travellers, from other Dutch writers, from authentic documents, manuscripts, and statements, and, in a few instances, from oral information: the work, together with the additions, he flatters himself will be found to contain much new information respecting the actual and late possessions of the Dutch in India, which, in the present situation of affairs, cannot fail of being extremely interesting. He had, for some time previous to the publication of these voyages, collected the materials whence his additions have been made, with an idea of forming them into a general account of the Dutch Indian settlements; but meeting with these voyages, and thinking an English version of them could not fail of being accept