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tarnished by foreign admixtures and corruptions, it continued to change rapidly till the first well-defined system which grew out of it, was styled Sabianism, or planet-worship. The origin of this word is obscure, but it has been deduced by grammarians from the word Saba, a host, and particularly the host of heaven, or the celestial bodies, and it is easy to perceive that this system of worship among the Persians was the direct result of the exalted virtues Zoroaster ascribed to the sources of light and heat.
Next to Zoroaster no ancient philosopher enjoyed greater celebrity than Hostanes, the period of whose existence is, however, involved in considerable doubt. Pliny makes him coevil with Zoroaster ;* but the more probable opinion is that he lived many years after, which Suidast and Diogenes Laertiust have almost proved. We have no record of his philosophical doctrine beyond a few mystical allusions contained in the works of some early Christian writers among whom we will mention Tatian, Tertullian,g and St. Augustine.|| Suidas makes him the author of astronomy anong the Persians, and Hyde informs us that he wrote a work on chemistry which disclosed and advanced knowledge of that science. Notwithstanding we thus find his name frequently mentioned among Greek and Latin authors, but little really authentic is known concerning him, Scalier and Bochart having disproved the story of his travels and sojourn among the Egyptians. Indeed, it seems that the writings of Zoroaster alone are to be taken as the representative work of Persian philosophy, for these alone have stood the test of close criticism. Moreover, what has been handed down to us concerning the ancient magi and the fire-worshippers has come through indirect channels, or is contained in the works of modern Persian writers whose authority is not deemed unimpeachable. Thus, in respect to the magi, many hold disputes about the meaning of the word, and there is a doubt whether their origin is to be referred to a period prior or posterior to the time of Zoroaster. We have said that the philosophical tenets of the Zendavesta are draped in allegory and tinged with that mysticism which is characteristic of the Eastern mind.
* Plin. lxxx., c. 1. + Vide t. ii., p. 723. Vide lib. 1, Sec. 2. & Deanima, cap. 57. Contra Donotist, lvi., cap. 44.
Vide. Astronom., tom. c, p. 360, where Suidas says that he was the first to predict the destinies of men from the movements of the heavenly bodies, and that the Greeks and Egyptians borrowed the art from the Persians.
Among the Persians philosophy and poetry gradually blend together, and in reading their works we are at a loss which most to admire, the abstruse metaphysical speculations or the vein of grand devotional poetry. The Sufis, or modern Persian philosophers, are the guardians of these philosophopoetical conceptions of Zoroaster and opening the Dabistan, which contains the subtle system of Persian metaphysics, we find numerous reflections suggested by the doctrines and principles of Zoroaster. · We are told that the chief happiness of mankind in this transitory world consists in as perfect a union with the Eternal Spirit as the incumbrances of a mortal frame will allow; that for this purpose men should . break all connection with extrinsic objects, and pass through life without attachments, as a swimmer in the ocean strikes out freely without the impediment of clothes; that they should be straight and free as the cypress, whose fruit is hardly perceptible, and not sink under a load like fruit-trees attached to a trellis ; that, if mere earthly charms have power to influence the soul, the idea of celestial beauty must overwhelm it in ecstatic delight; that for want of apt words to express the divine perfections and the ardor of devotion we must borrow such expressions as approach the nearest to our ideas, and speak of beauty and love in a transcendent and mystical sense; that, like a reed torn from its native bank, like wax separated from delicious honey, the soul of man bewails its disunion with the Godhead in strains of melancholy music, and sheds burning tears like the lighted taper waiting passionately for the moment of its extinction as a disengagement from earthly trammels and the means of returning to its only beloved. Such are a few ideas and expressions taken from the philosophy of the Persians, and we cannot fail to be struck by the sense of tender devotion which pervades them-akin to the exquisite piety of Thomas à Kempis—as well as by the mystic quietism which reminds one of Molinos. Mysticism is the main feature of Persian poetry, and we cannot take up a volume of ancient or modern date without being strongly impressed with the mystical and transcendental flights of the poet's fancy, constantly ranging amid the upper clouds, and laboring to express something not clearly or satisfactorily conceived. The grand idea of one God, and of our intimate union with him, whereby we are identical with him, being emanations of his essence, led the poet philosophers of Persia to grasp at ideas too vast for comprehension, and hence the shadowy vagueness which
georgeous allegory has striven to clothe.
Hafiz has embodied in his poems many of the mystical ideas held traditionary among the Persians, and though he lived after the time of Mahomet, we may take him as the echo of many ages gone before. A few detached passages will afford à slight knowledge of the mystical poetry of the Persians.
“ In eternity without beginning, a ray of thy beauty began to gleam ; when love sprang into being, and cast flames over all nature.
“ On that day thy cheek sparkled even under thy veil, and all this beautiful imagery appeared on the mirror of our fancies.
Rise, iny soul, that I may pour thee forth on the pencil of that supreme artist who comprised in a turn of his compass all this wonderful scenery! “Where are the glad tidings of union with thee, that I
may abandon all desire of life? I am a bird of holiness, and would fain escape
from the net of this world.
** The sum of our transactions in this universe is nothing ; bring us the wine of devotion, for the possessions of this world vanish.
“0, the bliss of that day when I shall depart from this desolate mansion ; shall seek rest for my soul, and shall follow the braces of my beloved.
“Dancing with love of his beauty like a mote in a sunbeam, till I reach the spring and fountain of light whence yon sun derives all his lustre."
The object of this' ode is evidently the Supreme Deity, and the language is highly fitting and reverential but often when the poet gives free rein to his Pegasus he employs expressions almost licentious, and gives utterance to sentiments bordering on wild voluptuousness.
But in this we must only behold the passionate fervor of devotion, the burning effusions of a soul seeking after its source, as the human lover sighs and anguishes for the object of his affections, and in this way we may rank the mystical hymns of the Persians with the Canticle of Canticles in the Bible. “ We profess eager desire,” says the poet Maulavi, " but with no carnal affection, and circulate the cup, but no material goblet, since all things are spiritual among us, and all is mystery within mystery." In the later poets of Persia, therefore, even those who lived since Mahometanism overshadowed the land, we find the principles of Zendavesta and the works of the Magi constantly germinating and giving fruit.
Of the ancient poets of Persia but little is known, as there is but little known of ancient Persian literature, generally; all that has been handed down being very much garbled and not deserving of great credit. The Greeks were for a long time the sole depositaries of early Persian literature, and it is feared that the hatred which many years of war with the VOL. XI.-N0. XXII.
Persian monarchs had begotten in their hearts did not inspire them with a strong interest in the treasures which they guarded. Hence we must look in the writings of Plato and the philosophers of the Alexandrian school for evidences of the character and style of many Persian writers, and must expect the bias of national antipathy to characterize their views and opinions. Of Persian writers there is but one who has had access to authentic sources of ancient Persian literature and lore, and that is the poet Firdousi, who possessed a few original annals in the Pahlavi language, wbich escaped the general destruction of Persian books when the Mussulmans invaded and conquered Iran. Firdousi lived in the eleventh century of the Christian era, and the four hundredth year of the Hegira, and composed a heroic poem. entitled Shah Nameh, which contains the record of the Persian kings from Cainmaras to Yezdegerd, interspersed with astonishing fiction and delightful romance. In this work Firdousi follows the unsettled chronology of other Persian writers, but he relates battles, adventures, and the fortunes of kings and princes in a style as extravagant andpoetic as we admire in the Orlando Furioso. This work contains sixty thousand destichs, and owing to the genuineness of the sources from which the materials of the history embodied in it were taken, it is regarded as useful as a chronicle as it is pleasing to the imagination as a poem. Besides Firdousi the poet, Nizami has written a work entitled - The Five Treasures of Nizami," which affords some curious information, interwoven with much romance and fiction. He gives a long history of Alexander the Great, in which the incidents of that monarch's reign assume a character altogether different from that given to them by Greek historians. We see, therefore, that few monuments of ancient Persian letters have reached us; and there exists no means of exactly determining the literary status of that people at the most interesting period of their history. "But the zeal of recent antiquaries promises much that will be highly instructive and replete with interest when their labors will have been accomplished.
Art. VIII. - Annual Catalogues of various Universities, Colleges,
Seminaries, &c., &c., 1865.
Our pile of catalogues is much smaller than it was this time last year ; we find the number diminishing every year in proportion as we criticise. It is but just to say, however, that there are exceptions. There are a few who take our criticisms in good part, and do not feel above adopting such suggestions as they think useful or judicious. We need hardly add that they are the best educators who are most willing to rectify any error they may have fallen into, and the most ready to check any vitiated habit, whether they happen to observe it themselves, or whether it is pointed out to them by others.
This reminds us rather forcibly of our friends the book publishers; for as long as they entertained the notion that we like others, would praise their publications indiscriminately, always declaring the last superior to all that had gone before. it, they almost overwhelmed us with packages. We do not in the least exaggerate when we say that there was a time, not long since, when we used to receive from sixty to one hundred volumes a week, including whole sets of voluminous works. But the effect of a little criticism in diminishing the size of these bundles was really wonderful, especially when it was found that the most liberal advertising patronage did not secure them immunity at the hands of our critic, or open his eyes to their transcendent merits. We need hardly inform our readers that it is those who publish the worst books that have been the first to take umbrage at our venturing to find fault with them ; just in proportion as the books were bad or indifferent, did they exhibit a falling off on our table; or what amounts to the same, in proportion as the books were good they were continued, and in the same proportion they are continued to the present day. It is exactly the same with the catalogues of universities, colleges, seminaries, &c. We cannot, indeed, purchase such of the latter as we want to examine when they are not forwarded to us in the usual way, as we cheerfully do those of the former, for the reason that catalogues are rather inventories of merchandise than the thing itself. Yet we seldom fail to secure a copy of any catalogue we want without leaving our study in pursuit of it, so that those who try to evade criticism in this way, and conceal their charlatanism, are scarcely less thoughtless than the ostrich that fancies she protects her whole body by thrusting her head into the sand.
But it is neither our business nor our intention to be unfriendly either to publishers or professors ; and need we say that we entertain no such feeling ? On the contrary, there are no two classes whom we respect or esteem more ; nor do we think that there are any who have stronger