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FOREIGN LITERATURE.

(By our CORRESPONDENTS.)
GERMANY and the NORTH.

ART. I.
CARSTEN NIEBUHRS Reisebeschreibung nach Arabien und an-

dern umliegenden Laendern. Zweyter Band. -- Niebuhr's Voyage to Arabia, and some Countries adjacent. 410. Vol. II. COpenhagen. 1778. When we reviewed the first volume of this Voyage *, we could not help observing that many things were related with great prolixity, and we have, on reading this volume, found still more reason to complain that the narrative is spun out rather tediously, and that our entertainment has not altogether answered expectation. The Author promises, in the Preface, a third volume, though we could with he had inserted all his remaining materials in the present publication, which, in all probability, might have been done by leaving out things that are fufficiently known, from former writers, and by reJating others more concisely. We are unwilling to throw out reflections upon any nation, particularly the Germans, who, within this century, have gained reputation in all branches of literature ; but we are sorry to see that even fome of their best writers have not yet divested themselves of their national prejudice in favour of huge volumes ; as if to write a great deal, and to make large books, was the way to literary immortality. It is true, we have had, especially in former times, voluminou's scribblers among our own Authors; but our modern quartowriters cannot properly rank with those in Germany; for, fpacious as their productions outwardly appear, their whole manuscript might generally be printed off in a decent octavo, with out the loss of a word: but German quartos, in small character, not overbroad margin, and two or three inches thick, are really enough to frighten any reader, especially a poor Reviewer, who leads with his pen in his hand, expecting the dose to be repeated upon him again and again!

We left our Author, at the end of his first volume, in Arabia, and we now meet him again at Bombay, of which island he gives an account that might be improved from many other defcriptions in our own language. One thing, however, we shall mention, viz. that in the year 1773, our East-India Company, for the firft time, rent a ship up the Arabian gulph to Suez, which was formerly thought a very dangerous voyage; and for that reason the goods were always landed at Dsjidda in Arabia, to be carried from thence by caravans into Egypt. The government at Dsjidda and Mocka had laid heavy duties on merchandice, and the English captains were treated but indifferently

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# see Review, vol. liii. p. 577.

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by the Arabs; Capt. Holford, therefore, by the help of a map,
which our Author had drawn up when he navigated the Arabian
gulph, was the first who arrived at Suez, without touching at
any Arabian port.

The account of the Hindoos and their religion is of some con-
fequence; but the description of the ruins of the Pagoda, on the
island Elephanta, is very long and dry. Except their anti-
quity, and the Indian architecture, there is nothing remarkable
in these remains. We wondered at the patience of Mr. Niebuhr
in copying so many insignificant and monstrous figures, but
we see in them nothing pleasing nor instructive. We are of
opinion that by far the greater part of them are rather offsprings
of the irregular fancy of a sculptor, than religious representa-
tions. It is, therefore, a question with us, whether these figures
were altogether understood, or could be explained, even at that
distant time when this Pagoda was built.

What is said about the Parsi will be read with pleasure by those who have no opportunity of consulting larger works on this subject. In reading one passage, we could not help reflecting on the whims which different people adopt about death, and the fate of the body, after the fame of life is extinguished. Most European nations wish for a decent burial, but the Parli havę different notions. They have, says Mr. Niebuhr, in Bombay, a kind of round tower, on a hill, at some distance from the town, which is foored on the top with boards. Here they expose their dead, and after the birds of prey have picked the flesh from the bones, they gather them to be deposited within the tower ; the bones of men and women in different apart. ments.”

Mr. Niebuhr, through the complaisance of Father Medard, a Capuchin, who was intimately acquainted with the chief of the prieits among the Parfi at Bombay, got a copy of their alphaphabet Pelwi, in which their holy books are wriiten; the other is the alphabet Dsjan chân, or that which they use in common. We have compared them with the alphabets of the Shanscrit and Bengal language, publithed lately in the code of Gentoolaws, but we cannot discover any similarity. The names of some letters in the common alphabet of the Parli are, as it apo pears to us, much like fome in the Hebrew.

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At Bombay Mr. Cramer, the physician, who was one of this travelling society, died. Mr. Niebuhr was now the only person left. He went, in an English fhip, to Surat, where, acfording to his account, our East-India Company enjoy, at present, the preference before all European nations, being even in poffeffion of the castle, which the Company hold under the 3

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authority of the Great Mogul. The Mohammedans at Surat are not, by far," ftrict as they are in Arabia, or in other Turkish count nor are the distinctions of the tribes among the Indians' reside here, strictly observed. These Indians are a set s very industrious, sober people, and of a most fure prising onesty. Mr. Niebuhr is, accordingly, lavish in their praises. He tells us, further, that the Indian women at Surat affist their husbands in earning their bread, and keep themselves so clean, that the European women, who come to India, are obliged to follow their example, or run the risk of losing their husband's affections. As to the religious ceremonies of these Indians, we tall translate the following passage : “ When a child is-born, a Bramin is to declare, by astrological rules, whether the child is come into the world in a lucky hour or not. This done, he hangs a thin string over the Shoulder of a boy, who wears this distinctive mark of his nation all his life-time. If a Banian, or common Indian, intends to give his child in mara riage, which is done when the child is about fix or eight years old, a Bramin is likewise to fix the times when the father is to ask for the bride, and when the wedding is to be celebrated. In the mean while the children remain in the houses of their parents till they arrive at the age of maturity. The Bramins order and announce also the holy-days. Every Banian is obliged, every morning, after washing and bathing himself, to have a kind of seal impresled on his forehead, by a Bramin ; though this is the office of inferior Bramins only. I saw one 'morning a great number of them fit on the river side, under the castle, where a number of girls and women resorted to bathe, and to say their morning prayers. Every one of them gave the clean cloaths, which they intended to wear for that day, to one of these priests, and then went into the river. They afterwards exchanged their wet cloaths for the dry ones, publicly on shore, but with such a dexterity, that the most curious observer could see nothing inconsistent with decency. The Bramin, afterwards, dipped his thumb into some red colour, and impressed it on the forehead of the women, who reciprocally marked the priest again, though fightly, left the face of the priest should be daubed all over, by the great number of markers. Lastly, the person that is signed, and in this manner confecrated for the day, keeps the colour-box in one hand, says a short prayer, gives the Bramin one or two handfuls of rice, and then, with her wet cloaths in the other hand, returns home.”

From Surat our Author went, in another English ship, to Maskât, an Arabian town, in the province of Omân, at the entrance of the Persian gulph. The inhabitants of this province are Mohammedans, but of a fect not sufficiently known. They

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are a good sort of people ; we should call them Mohammedan. Quakers. « These Mohammedans, says Mr. Niebuhr, ac. knowledge the Koran to be their principal code of laws; but they are of a sect called Abádi or Bejáli, which is well known among Arabian writers; but, as far as I know, not noticed by European travellers. The Sonnires, as well as Shiites, call them Chawaredsji. But this is a nickname, which is as odious in Omân, as the name of Ráfedi in Persia, or the word heretic among the Christians. Abulfaragius * mentions these Chawaredsji, and I do not doubt that they are the fame who are called by Sale t, and other writers, Kharejites. Their tenets are much the fame with those which are attributed to the Kharejätes: the principal of them is, that the posterity of Mohammed or Ali have no prerogatives above other ancient Arabian families. I do not know any Mohammedans, who live with To little fplendor and with so much fobriety as these Bejäsi

. They do not smoak tobacco, they even do not drink coffee, much less strong liquors. The man of fortune has no diftinction of dress, except that, perhaps, his turban, his sabre, or bis knife, is fometbing finer. They are very seldom overcome by passion, they are civil to strangers, and permit them to live at Maskất undifturbed, according to their own laws. In Yemen the Banians are forced to bury their dead, but here they are at liberty to burn them, according to their own custom. The Jews in other Mohammedan countries are obliged to diftinguish themselves in their dress from other nations, but here they may dress like Arabs. If in those countries, where the Sosnites prevail, a Banian, a Jew, or a Christian, is discovered in an intrigue with a Mohammedan woman, he is obliged either to turn Mohammedan, or to pay a large fine. The Bejasites and their government at Maskắt do not trouble themselves about such matters, if strangers make their addrefes to women that are known to prostitute themselves for money to Mohammedans. The police of this town is in general so excellent that no theft is heard of, notwithstanding the goods of merchants lie oftentimes, for weeks together, before the houses. Nobody is to walk in the street at night without a lanthorn ; and, left the government should be defrauded of the duty, no boat is permitted, after fun-fet, to come afhore, or even to go from one fhip to another."

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From Mafkât Mr. Niebuhr went to Shiras in Perfia, to fee the ruins of Persepolis, and other remains of antiquity in this part of the world. During this voyage be made feveral inte

* S. Pocockii Specimen Hiftor. Arabum, p. 26. 269.

Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 173. Ricaue's IKtory of the Ottoman Empire, p. 227.

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resting observations relating to the Kurds and Turkomans, which are nations that have no fixed settlements, but go from one place to another where they can best subsist with their cattle. He met a Persian army which desolated the country'; and the account he gives of the war in Persia, which is carried on ben tween the different pretenders to the crown, is melancholy enough. The description of Shiras, and particularly of the ruins of Persepolis, take up a great part of the book. We cana not see any thing very interesting in the long detail given here of these remains of antiquity. The plates annexed to this des scription are by far too numerous, and must of course enhance the price of the book, without much neceffity. The meaning of those figures which are copied from the walls, and fill many of the plates, will, perhaps, never be explained ; and if it should happen that something could be made out, we think the pains taken about it would never be sufficiently rewarded. We have, however, discovered from these, as it seems, hieroglyphical figures, that wigs are a very ancient part of dress ; for those and cient Persians who are here represented, appear to have worn a kind of bobwigs, resembling those which were in fashion among us, about twenty years ago, and are still very common among seafaring people. We must leave it to the gentlemen of the Antiquarian Society to decide upon that important question, whether these wigs were constructed upon the plan of our modern wigs, or whether they are only a kind of cap, made of lambskin, with the wool on the outside ?

The representations and figures on the fepulchral monuments of Nakshi Radsjab and Nakshi Rustam, are, perhaps, the only ones that might be explained, if the lamp of Eastern hifa tory should dart some rays of light upon these obscure walls ; but we think it impossible, from the sameness of the letters (if they are intended for such) for a decypherer to make any thing of that inscription which we find upon the 31st plate.

In the neighbourhood of Shiras Mr. Niebuhr found several monuments, worthy the inspection of a curious traveller. Among others he saw the monument of Shech Sade (a famous man of learning among the Persians) in a mosk, which is in a ruinous condition. The inscriptions here were in the modern way of the Persians, viz. of letters, made of potter's earth, burnt like bricks, and glazed over with various colours. These are put together in mortar, on a wall, so as to form an inscription:

They look better than those that are cut out in marble at Persea · polis ; but, the mortar being very liable to drop off, these inscriptions are not very durable.

After a stay of about four months in Persia, -Mr. Niebuhr went to the island of Charedß in the Persian gulph, which was at that time in the possession of the Dutch. The account given

of

a ftay of Of Charedjo in the Dutch.

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