Here occur the questions, Where and When was written and to Whom do we owe a prose-poem which, like the dramatic epos of Herodotus, has no equal?
I proceed to lay before the reader a procès-verbal of the sundry pleadings already in court as concisely as is compatible with intelligibility, furnishing him with references to original authorities and warning him that a fully-detailed account would fill a volume. Even my own reasons for decidedly taking one side and rejecting the other must be stated briefly. And before entering upon this subject I would distribute the prose-matter of our Recueil of Folk-lore under three heads
1. The Apologue or Beast-fable proper, a theme which may be of any age, as it is found in the hieroglyphs and in the cuneiforms.
2. The Fairy-tale, as for brevity we may term the stories based upon supernatural agency: this was a favourite with olden Persia; and Mohammed, most austere and puritanical of the “Prophets,” strongly objected to it because preferred by the more sensible of his converts to the dry legends of the Talmud and the Koran, quite as fabulous without the halo and glamour of fancy.
3. The Histories and historical anecdotes, analects, and acroamata, in which the names, when not used achronistically by the editor or copier, give unerring data for the earliest date à quo and which, by the mode of treatment, suggest the latest.
Each of these constituents will require further notice when the subject-matter of the book is discussed. The metrical portion of The Nights may also be divided into three categories, viz.:—
1. The oldest and classical poetry of the Arabs, e.g. the various quotations from the “Suspended Poems.”
2. The mediaeval, beginning with the laureates of Al–Rashid’s court, such as Al–Asma’í and Abú Nowás, and ending with Al–Harírí A.H. 446–516 = 1030–1100.
3. The modern quotations and the pièces de circonstance by the editors or copyists of the Compilation.1
Upon the metrical portion also further notices must be offered at the end of this Essay.
In considering the uncle derivatur of The Nights we must carefully separate subject-matter from language-manner. The neglect of such essential difference has caused the remark, “It is not a little curious that the origin of a work which has been known to Europe and has been studied by many during nearly two centuries, should still be so mysterious, and that students have failed in all attempts to detect the secret.” Hence also the chief authorities at once branched off into two directions. One held the work to be practically Persian: the other as persistently declared it to be purely Arab.
Professor Galland, in his Epistle Dedicatory to the Marquise d’O, daughter of his patron M. de Guillerague, showed his literary acumen and unfailing sagacity by deriving The Nights from India via Persia; and held that they had been reduced to their present shape by an Auteur Arabe inconnu. This reference to India, also learnedly advocated by M. Langlès, was inevitable in those days: it had not then been proved that India owed all her literature to far older civilisations and even that her alphabet the Nágari, erroneously called Devanágari, was derived through Phœnicia and Himyar-land from Ancient Egypt. So Europe was contented to compare The Nights with the Fables of Pilpay for upwards of a century. At last the Pehlevi or old Iranian origin of the work found an able and strenuous advocate in Baron von Hammer–Purgstall 2 who worthily continued what Galland had begun: although a most inexact writer, he was extensively read in Oriental history and poetry. His contention was that the book is an Arabisation of the Persian Hazár Afsánah or Thousand Tales and he proved his point.
Von Hammer began by summoning into Court the “Herodotus of the Arabs, (Ali Abú al-Hasan) Al–Mas’údi who, in A.H. 333 (=944) about one generation before the founding of Cairo, published at Bassorah the first edition of his far-famed Murúj al-Dahab wa Ma’ádin al-Jauhar, Meads of Gold and Mines of Gems. The Styrian Orientalist3 quotes with sundry misprints4 an ampler version of a passage in Chapter lxviii., which is abbreviated in the French translation of M. C. Barbier de Meynard.5
“And, indeed, many men well acquainted with their (Arab) histories6 opine that the stories above mentioned and other trifles were strung together by men who commended themselves to the Kings by relating them, and who found favour with their contemporaries by committing them to memory and by reciting them. Of such fashion7 is the fashion of the books which have come down to us translated from the Persian (Fárasiyah), the Indian (Hindíyah),8 and the Græco-Roman (Rúmíyah) 9: we have noted the judgment which should be passed upon compositions of this nature. Such is the book entituled Hazár Afsánah or The Thousand Tales, which word in Arabic signifies Khuráfah (Facetiœ): it is known to the public under the name of ‘[he Boot of a Thousand Nights and a Night, (Kitab Alf Laylah wa Laylah).10 This is an history of a King and his Wazir, the minister’s daughter and a slave-girl (járiyah) who are named Shírzád (lion-born) and Dínár-zád (ducat-born).11 Such also is the Tale of Farzah,12 (alii Firza), and Simás, containing details concerning the Kings and Wazirs of Hind: the Book of Al–Sindibád13 and others of a similar stamp.”
Von Hammer adds, quoting chaps. cxvi. of Al–Mas’údi that Al–Mansúr (second Abbaside A.H. 136–158 = 754–775, and grandfather of Al-Rashíd) caused many translations of Greek and Latin, Syriac and Persian (Pehlevi) works to be made into Arabic, specifying the “Kalílah wa Damnah,”14 the Fables of Bidpái (Pilpay), the Logic of Aristotle, the Geography of Ptolemy and the Elements of Euclid. Hence he concludes “L’original des Mille et une Nuits selon toute vraisemblance, a été traduit au temps du Khalife Mansur, c’est-á-dire trente ans avant le règne du Khalife Haroun al-Raschid, qui, par la suite, devait lui-même jouer un si grand rôle dans ces histoires.” He also notes that, about a century after Al–Mas’udi had mentioned the Hazár Afsánah, it was versified and probably remodelled by one “Rásti,” the Takhallus or nom de plume of a bard at the Court of Mahmúd, the Ghaznevite Sultan who, after a reign of thirty-three years, ob. A.D. 1030.15
Von Hammer some twelve years afterwards (Journ. Asiat August, 1839) brought forward, in his “Note sur l’origine Persane des Mille et une Nuits,” a second and an even more important witness: this was the famous Kitab al-Fihrist,16 or Index List of (Arabic) works, written (in A.H. 387 = 987) by Mohammed bin Is’hák al-Nadím (cup-companion or equerry), “popularly known as Ebou Yacoub el-Werrek.”17 The following is an extract (p. 304) from the Eighth Discourse which consists of three arts (funún).18 “The first section on the history of the confabulatores nocturni (tellers of night tales) and the relaters of fanciful adventures, together with the names of books treating upon such subjects. Mohammed ibn Is’hak saith: The first who indited themes of imagination and made books of them, consigning these works to the libraries, and who ordered some of them as though related by the tongues of brute beasts, were the palæo-Persians (and the Kings of the First Dynasty). The Ashkanian Kings of the Third Dynasty appended others to them and they were augmented and amplified in the days of the Sassanides (the fourth and last royal house). The Arabs also translated them into Arabic, and the loquent and eloquent polished and embellished them and wrote others resembling them. The first work of such kind was entituled ‘The Book of Hazar Afsán,’ signifying Alf Khuráfah, the argument whereof was as follows. A King of their Kings was wont, when he wedded a woman and had lain one night with her, to slay her on the next morning. Presently he espoused a damsel of the daughters of the Kings, Shahrázád19 hight, one endowed with intellect and erudition and, whenas she lay with him, she fell to telling him tales of fancy; moreover she used to connect the story at the end of the night with that which might induce the King to preserve her alive and to ask her of its ending on the next night until a thousand nights had passed over her. Meanwhile he cohabited with her till she was blest by boon of child of him, when she acquainted him with the device she had wrought upon him; wherefore he admired her intelligence and inclined to her and preserved her life. That King had also a Kahramánah (nurse and duenna, not entremetteuse), hight Dínárzád (Dunyázád?), who aided the wife in this (artifice). It is also said that this book was composed for (or, by) Humái daughter of Bahman20 and in it were included other matters. Mohammed bin Is’hak adds:— And the truth is, Inshallah,21 that the first who solaced himself with hearing night-tales was Al–Iskandar (he of Macedon) and he had a number of men who used to relate to him imaginary stories and provoke him to laughter: he, however, designed not therein merely to please himself, but that he might thereby become the more cautious and alert. After him the Kings in like fashion made use of the book entitled ‘Hazár Afsán.’ It containeth a thousand nights, but less than two hundred night-stories, for a single history often occupied several nights. I have seen it complete sundry times; and it is, in truth, a corrupted book of cold tales.”22
A writer in The Athenœum,23 objecting to Lane’s modern date for The Nights, adduces evidence to prove the greater antiquity of the work. (Abu al-Hasan) Ibn Sa’id (bin Musa al-Gharnati = of Granada) born in A.H. 615 = 1218 and ob. Tunis A.H. 685 = 1286, left his native city and arrived at Cairo in A.H. 639 = 1241. This Spanish poet and historian wrote Al–Muhallá bi al-Ash’ár (The Adorned with Verses), a Topography of Egypt and Africa, which is apparently now lost. In this he quotes from Al–Kurtubi, the Cordovan;24 and he in his turn is quoted by the Arab historian of Spain, Abú al-Abbás Ahmad bin Mohammed al Makkári, in the “Windwafts of Perfume from the Branches of Andalusia the Blooming”25 (A.D. 1628–29). Mr. Payne (x. 301) thus translates from Dr. Dozy’s published text.
“Ibn Said (may God have mercy upon him!) sets forth in his book, El Muhella bi-s-Shaar, quoting from El Curtubi the story of the building of the Houdej in the Garden of Cairo, the which was of the magnificent pleasaunces of the Fatimite Khalifs, the rare of ordinance and surpassing, to wit that the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam- illah26 let build it for a Bedouin woman, the love of whom had gotten the mastery of him, in the neighbourhood of the ‘Chosen Garden’27 and used to resort often thereto and was slain as he went thither; and it ceased not to be a pleasuring-place for the Khalifs after him. The folk abound in stories of the Bedouin girl and Ibn Meyyah28 of the sons of her uncle (cousin?) and what hangs thereby of the mention of El–Aamir, so that the tales told of them on this account became like unto the story of El Bettál29 and the Thousand Nights and a Night and what resembleth them.”
The same passage from Ibn Sa’id, corresponding in three Mss., occurs in the famous Khitat30 attributed to Al–Makrizi (ob. A.D. 1444) and was thus translated from a Ms. in the British Museum by Mr. John Payne (ix. 303)
“The Khalif El–Aamir bi-ahkam-illah set apart, in the neighbourhood of the Chosen Garden, a place for his beloved the Bedouin maid (Aaliyah)31 which he named El Houdej. Quoth Ibn Said, in the book El–Muhella bi-l-ashar, from the History of El Curtubi, concerning the traditions of the folk of the story of the Bedouin maid and Ibn Menah (Meyyah) of the sons of her uncle and what hangs thereby of the mention of the Khalif El Aamír bi-ahkam-illah, so that their traditions (or tales) upon the garden became like unto El Bettál32 and the Thousand Nights and what resembleth them.”
This evidently means either that The Nights existed in the days of Al-’Ámir (xiith cent.) or that the author compared them with a work popular in his own age. Mr. Payne attaches much importance to the discrepancy of titles, which appears to me a minor detail. The change of names is easily explained. Amongst the Arabs, as amongst the wild Irish, there is divinity (the proverb says luck) in odd numbers and consequently the others are inauspicious. Hence as Sir Wm. Ouseley says (Travels ii. 21), the number Thousand and One is a favourite in the East (Olivier, Voyages vi. 385, Paris 1807), and quotes the Cistern of the “Thousand and One Columns” at Constantinople. Kaempfer (Amœn, Exot. p. 38) notes of the Takiyahs or Dervishes’ convents and the Mazárs or Santons’ tombs near Koniah (Iconium), “Multa seges sepulchralium quæ virorum ex omni ævo doctissimorum exuvias condunt, mille et unum recenset auctor Libri qui inscribitur Hassaaer we jek mesaar (Hazár ve yek Mezár), i.e., mille et unum mausolea.” A book, The Hazar o yek Ruz ( = 1001 Days), was composed in the mid-xviith century by the famous Dervaysh Mukhlis, Chief Sofi of Isfahan: it was translated into French by Petis de la Croix, with a preface by Cazotte, and was englished by Ambrose Phillips. Lastly, in India and throughout Asia where Indian influence extends, the number of cyphers not followed by a significant number is indefinite: for instance, to determine hundreds the Hindus affix the required figure to the end and for 100 write 101; for 1000, 1001. But the grand fact of the Hazár Afsánah is its being the archetype of The Nights, unquestionably proving that the Arab work borrows from the Persian bodily its cadre or frame-work, the principal characteristic; its exordium and its dénoûement, whilst the two heroines still bear the old Persic names.
Baron Silvestre de Sacy33 — clarum et venerabile nomen — is the chief authority for the Arab provenance of The Nights. Apparently founding his observations upon Galland,34 he is of opinion that the work, as now known, was originally composed in Syria35 and written in the vulgar dialect; that it was never completed by the author, whether he was prevented by death or by other cause; and that imitators endeavoured to finish the work by inserting romances which were already known but which formed no part of the original recueil, such as the Travels of Sindbad the Seaman, the Book of the Seven Wazirs and others. He accepts the Persian scheme and cadre of the work, but no more. He contends that no considerable body of præ-Mohammedan or non-Arabic fiction appears in the actual texts36; and that all the tales, even those dealing with events localised in Persia, India, China and other infidel lands and dated from ante-islamitic ages mostly with the naïvest anachronism, confine themselves to depicting the people, manners and customs of Baghdad and Mosul, Damascus and Cairo, during the Abbaside epoch, and he makes a point of the whole being impregnated with the strongest and most zealous spirit of Mohammedanism. He points out that the language is the popular or vulgar dialect, differing widely from the classical and literary; that it contains many words in common modern use and that generally it suggests the decadence of Arabian literature. Of one tale he remarks:— The History of the loves of Camaralzaman and Budour, Princess of China, is no more Indian or Persian than the others. The prince’s father has Moslems for subjects, his mother is named Fatimah and when imprisoned he solaces himself with reading the Koran. The Genii who interpose in these adventures are, again, those who had dealings with Solomon. In fine, all that we here find of the City of the Magians, as well as of the fire-worshippers, suffices to show that one should not expect to discover in it anything save the production of a Moslem writer.
All this, with due deference to so high an authority, is very superficial. Granted, which nobody denies, that the archetypal Hazár Afsánah was translated from Persic into Arabic nearly a thousand years ago, it had ample time and verge enough to assume another and a foreign dress, the corpus however remaining untouched. Under the hands of a host of editors, scribes and copyists, who have no scruples anent changing words, names and dates, abridging descriptions and attaching their own decorations, the florid and rhetorical Persian would readily be converted into the straight-forward, business-like, matter of fact Arabic. And what easier than to islamise the old Zoroasterism, to transform Ahrimán into Iblís the Shaytan, Ján bin Ján into Father Adam, and the Divs and Peris of Kayomars and the olden Guebre Kings into the Jinns and Jinniyahs of Sulayman? Volumes are spoken by the fact that the Arab adapter did not venture to change the Persic names of the two heroines and of the royal brothers or to transfer the mise- en-scène any whither from Khorasan or outer Persia. Where the story has not been too much worked by the literato’s pen, for instance the “Ten Wazirs” (in the Bresl. Edit. vi. 191-343) which is the Guebre Bakhtiyár-námah, the names and incidents are old Iranian and with few exceptions distinctly Persian. And at times we can detect the process of transition, e.g. when the Mázin of Khorásán37 of the Wortley Montagu Ms. becomes the Hasan of Bassorah of the Turner Macan Ms. (Mac. Edit.).
Evidently the learned Baron had not studied such works as the Totá-kaháni or Parrot-chat which, notably translated by Nakhshabi from the Sanskrit Suka–Saptati,38 has now become as orthodoxically Moslem as The Nights. The old Hindu Rajah becomes Ahmad Sultan of Balkh, the Prince is Maymún and his wife Khujisteh. Another instance of such radical change is the later Syriac version of Kaliliah wa Dimnah,39 old “Pilpay” converted to Christianity. We find precisely the same process in European folk-lore; for instance the Gesta Romanorum in which, after five hundred years, the life, manners and customs of the Romans lapse into the knightly and chivalrous, the Christian and ecclesiastical developments of mediaeval Europe. Here, therefore, I hold that the Austrian Arabist has proved his point whilst the Frenchman has failed.
Mr. Lane, during his three years’ labour of translation, first accepted Von Hammer’s view and then came round to that of De Sacy; differing, however, in minor details, especially in the native country of The Nights. Syria had been chosen because then the most familiar to Europeans: the “Wife of Bath” had made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem; but few cared to visit the barbarous and dangerous Nile–Valley. Mr. Lane, however, was an enthusiast for Egypt or rather for Cairo, the only part of it he knew; and, when he pronounces The Nights to be of purely “Arab,” that is, of Nilotic origin, his opinion is entitled to no more deference than his deriving the sub-African and negroid Fellah from Arabia, the land per excellentiam of pure and noble blood. Other authors have wandered still further afield. Some finding Mosul idioms in the Recueil, propose “Middlegates” for its birth-place and Mr. W. G. P. Palgrave boldly says “The original of this entertaining work appears to have been composed in Baghdad about the eleventh century; another less popular but very spirited version is probably of Tunisian authorship and somewhat later.”40
1 This three-fold distribution occurred to me many years ago and when far beyond reach of literary authorities, I was, therefore, much pleased to find the subjoined three-fold classification with minor details made by Baron von Hammer- Purgstall (Preface to Contes Inédits etc. of G. S. Trébutien, Paris, mdcccxxviii.) (1) The older stories which serve as a base to the collection, such as the Ten Wazirs (“Malice of Women”) and Voyages of Sindbad (?) which may date from the days of Mahommed. These are distributed into two sub-classes; (a) the marvellous and purely imaginative (e.g. Jamasp and the Serpent Queen) and (b) the realistic mixed with instructive fables and moral instances. (2) The stories and anecdotes peculiarly Arab, relating to the Caliphs and especially to Al — Rashíd; and (3) The tales of Egyptian provenance, which mostly date from the times of the puissant “Aaron the Orthodox.” Mr. John Payne (Villon Translation vol. ix. pp. 367–73) distributes the stories roughly under five chief heads as follows: (1) Histories or long Romances, as King Omar bin Al–Nu’man (2) Anecdotes or short stories dealing with historical personages and with incidents and adventures belonging to the every-day life of the period to which they refer: e.g. those concerning Al–Rashíd and Hátim of Tayy. (3) Romances and romantic fictions comprising three different kinds of tales; (a) purely romantic and supernatural; (b) fictions and nouvelles with or without a basis and background of historical fact and (c) Contes fantastiques. (4) Fables and Apologues; and (5) Tales proper, as that of Tawaddud.
2 Journal Asiatique (Paris, Dondoy–Dupré, 1826) “Sur l’origine des Mille et une Nuits.”
3 Baron von Hammer–Purgstall’s château is near Styrian Graz, and, when I last saw his library, it had been left as it was at his death.
4 At least, in Trébutien’s Preface, pp. xxx.-xxxi., reprinted from the Journ. Asiat. August, 1839: for corrections see De Sacy’s “Mémoire.” p. 39.
5 Vol. iv. pp. 89–90, Paris mdccclxv. Trébutien quotes, chapt. lii. (for lxviii.), one of Von Hammer’s manifold inaccuracies.
6 Alluding to Iram the Many-columned, etc.
7 In Trébutien “Síhá,” for which the Editor of the Journ. Asiat. and De Sacy rightly read “Sabíl-há.”
8 For this some Mss. have “Fahlawiyah” = Pehlevi
9 i.e. Lower Roman, Grecian, of Asia Minor, etc., the word is still applied throughout Marocco, Algiers and Northern Africa to Europeans in general.
10 De Sacy (Dissertation prefixed to the Bourdin Edition) notices the “thousand and one,” and in his Mémoire “a thousand:” Von Hammer’s Ms. reads a thousand, and the French translation a thousand and one. Evidently no stress can be laid upon the numerals.
11 These names are noticed in my vol. i. 14, and vol. ii. 3. According to De Sacy some Mss. read “History of the Wazir and his Daughters.”
12 Lane (iii. 735) has Wizreh or Wardeh which guide us to Wird Khan, the hero of the tale. Von Hammer’s Ms. prefers Djilkand (Jilkand), whence probably the Isegil or Isegild of Langlés (1814), and the Tséqyl of De Sacy (1833). The mention of “Simás” (Lane’s Shemmas) identifies it with “King Jalí’ád of Hind,” etc. (Night dcccxcix.) Writing in A.D. 961 Hamzah Isfaháni couples with the libri Sindbad and Schimas, the libri Baruc and Barsinas, four nouvelles out of nearly seventy. See also Al-Makri’zi’s Khitat or Topography (ii. 485) for a notice of the Thousand or Thousand and one Nights.
13 alluding to the “Seven Wazirs” alias “The Malice of Women” (Night dlxxviii.), which Von Hammer and many others have carelessly confounded with Sindbad the Seaman We find that two tales once separate have now been incorporated with The Nights, and this suggests the manner of its composition by accretion.
14 Arabised by a most “elegant” stylist, Abdullah ibn al-Mukaffá (the shrivelled), a Persian Guebre named Roz-bih (Day good), who islamised and was barbarously put to death in A.H. 158 (= 775) by command of the Caliph al-Mansur (Al–Siyuti p. 277). “He also translated from Pehlevi the book entitled Sekiserán, containing the annals of Isfandiyar, the death of Rustam, and other episodes of old Persic history,” says Al–Mas’udi chapt. xxi. See also Ibn Khallikan (1, 43) who dates the murder in A.H. 142 (= 759–60).
15 “Notice sur Le Schah-namah de Firdoussi,” a posthumous publication of M. de Wallenbourg, Vienna, 1810, by M. A. de Bianchi. In sect. iii. I shall quote another passage of Al-Mas’udi (viii. 175) in which I find a distinct allusion to the “Gaboriaudetective tales” of The Nights.
16 Here Von Hammer shows his customary inexactitude. As we learn from Ibn Khallikan (Fr. Tr. I. 630), the author’s name was Abu al-Faraj Mohammed ibn Is’hak pop. known as Ibn Ali Ya’kúb al-Warrák, the bibliographe, librarian, copyist. It was published (vol. i Leipzig, 1871) under the editorship of G. Fluegel, J. Roediger, and A. Müller.
17 See also the Journ. Asiat., August, 1839, and Lane iii. 736–37
18 Called “Afsánah” by Al–Mas’udi, both words having the same sense = tale story, parable, “facetiæ.” Moslem fanaticism renders it by the Arab “Khuráfah” = silly fables, and in Hindostan it = a jest: “Bát-kí bát, khurafát-ki khurafát” (a word for a word, a joke for a joke).
19 Al–Mas’údi (chapt. xxi.) makes this a name of the Mother of Queen Humái or Humáyah, for whom see below.
20 The preface of a copy of the Shah-nameh (by Firdausi, ob. A.D. 1021), collated in A.H. 829 by command of Bayisunghur Bahadur Khán (Atkinson p. x.), informs us that the Hazar Afsanah was composed for or by Queen Humái whose name is Arabised to Humáyah This Persian Marguerite de Navarre was daughter and wife to (Ardashir) Bahman, sixth Kayanian and surnamed Diraz-dast (Artaxerxes Longimanus), Abu Sásán from his son, the Eponymus of the Sassanides who followed the Kayanians when these were extinguished by Alexander of Macedon. Humái succeeded her husband as seventh Queen, reigned thirty-two years and left the crown to her son Dárá or Dáráb 1st = Darius Codomanus. She is better known to Europe (through Herodotus) as Parysatis = Peri-zádeh or the Fairy-born.
21 i.e. If Allah allow me to say sooth.
22 i.e. of silly anecdotes: here speaks the good Moslem!
23 No. 622 Sept. 29, ‘39, a review of Torrens which appeared shortly after Lane’s vol. i. The author quotes from a Ms. in the British Museum, No. 7334 fol. 136.
24 There are many Spaniards of this name: Mr. Payne (ix. 302) proposes Abu Ja’afar ibn Abd al-Hakk al-Khazraji, author of a History of the Caliphs about the middle of the twelfth century.
25 The well-known Rauzah or Garden-island, of old Al-Saná‘ah (Al–Mas’udi chapt. xxxi.) which is more than once noticed in The Nights. The name of the pavilion Al–Haudaj = a camel-litter, was probably intended to flatter the Badawi girl.
26 He was the Seventh Fatimite Caliph of Egypt: regn. A.H. 495–524 (= 1101 1129).
27 Suggesting a private pleasaunce in Al–Rauzah which has ever been and is still a succession of gardens.
28 The writer in The Athenæum calls him Ibn Miyvah, and adds that the Badawiyah wrote to her cousin certain verses complaining of her thraldom, which the youth answered abusing the Caliph. Al-Ámir found the correspondence and ordered Ibn Miyah’s tongue to be cut out, but he saved himself by a timely flight.
29 In Night dccclxxxv. we have the passage “He was a wily thief: none could avail against his craft as he were Abu Mohammed Al–Battál”: the word etymologically means The Bad; but see infra.
30 Amongst other losses which Orientals have sustained by the death of Rogers Bey, I may mention his proposed translation of Al–Makrízí‘s great topographical work.
31 The name appears only in a later passage.
32 Mr. Payne notes (viii. 137) “apparently some famous brigand of the time” (of Charlemagne). But the title may signify The Brave, and the tale may be much older.
33 In his “Mémoire sur l’origine du Recueil des Contes intitulé Les Mille et une Nuits” (Mém. d’Hist. et de Littér. Orientale, extrait des tomes ix., et x. des Mémoires de l’Inst. Royal Acad. des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres, Paris, Imprimerie Royale, 1833). He read the Memoir before the Royal Academy on July 31, 1829. Also in his Dissertation “Sur les Mille et une Nuits” (pp. i. viii.) prefixed to the Bourdin Edit. When first the Arabist in Europe landed at Alexandria he could not exchange a word with the people the same is told of Golius the lexicographer at Tunis.
34 Lane, Nights ii. 218.
35 This origin had been advocated a decade of years before by Shaykh Ahmad al-Shirawáni; Editor of the Calc. text (1814–18): his Persian preface opines that the author was an Arabic speaking Syrian who designedly wrote in a modern and conversational style, none of the purest withal, in order to instruct non-Arabists. Here we find the genus “Professor” pure and simple.
36 Such an assertion makes us enquire, Did De Sacy ever read through The Nights in Arabic?
37 Dr. Jonathan Scott’s “translation” vi. 283.
38 For a note on this world-wide Tale see vol. i. 52.
39 In the annotated translation by Mr. I. G. N. Keith- Falconer, Cambridge University Press. I regret to see the wretched production called the “Fables of Pilpay” in the “Chandos Classics” (London, F. Warne). The words are so mutilated that few will recognize them, e.g. Carchenas for Kár-shínás, Chaschmanah for Chashmey-e-Máh (Fountain of the Moon), etc.
40 Article Arabia in Encyclop. Brit., 9th Edit., p. 263, colt 2. I do not quite understand Mr. Palgrave, but presume that his “other version” is the Bresl. Edit., the Ms. of which was brought from Tunis; see its Vorwort (vol. i. p. 3).
The next point to consider is the date of The Nights in its present form; and here opinions range between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries. Professor Galland began by placing it arbitrarily in the middle of the thirteenth. De Sacy, who abstained from detailing reasons and who, forgetting the number of editors and scribes through whose hands it must have passed, argued only from the nature of the language and the peculiarities of style, proposed le milieu du neuvième siècle de l’hégire ( = A.D. 1445–6) as its latest date. Mr. Hole, who knew The Nights only through Galland’s version, had already advocated in his “Remarks” the close of the fifteenth century; and M. Caussin (de Perceval), upon the authority of a supposed note in Galland’s Ms.1 (vol. iii. fol. 20, verso), declares the compiler to have been living in A.D. 1548 and 1565. Mr. Lane says “Not begun earlier than the last fourth of the fifteenth century nor ended before the first fourth of the sixteenth,” i.e. soon after Egypt was conquered by Selim, Sultan of the Osmanli Turks in A.D. 1517. Lastly the learned Dr. Weil says in his far too scanty Vorwort (p. ix. 2nd Edit.):-“Das wahrscheinlichste dürfte also sein, das im 15. Jahrhundert ein Egyptier nach altern Vorbilde Erzählungen für 1001 Nächte theils erdichtete, theils nach mündlichen Sagen, oder frühern schriftlichen Aufzeichnungen, bearbeitete, dass er aber entweder sein Werk nicht vollendete, oder dass ein Theil desselben verloren ging, so dass das Fehlende von Andern bis ins 16. Jahrhundert hinein durch neue Erzählungen ergänzt wurde.”
But, as justly observed by Mr. Payne, the first step when enquiring into the original date of The Nights is to determine the nucleus of the Repertory by a comparison of the four printed texts and the dozen Mss. which have been collated by scholars.2 This process makes it evident that the tales common to all are the following thirteen:—
These forty-two tales, occupying one hundred and twenty Nights, form less than a fifth part of the whole collection which in the Mac. Edit.3 contains a total of two hundred and sixty-four Hence Dr. Patrick Russell,4 the Natural Historian of Aleppo,5 whose valuable monograph amply deserves study even in this our day, believed that the original Nights did not outnumber two hundred, to which subsequent writers added till the total of a thousand and one was made up. Dr. Jonathan Scott,6 who quotes Russell, “held it highly probable that the tales of the original Arabian Nights did not run through more than two hundred and eighty Nights, if so many.” So this suggestion I may subjoin, “habent sue fate libelli.” Galland, who preserves in his Mille et une Nuits only about one fourth of The Nights, ends them in No. cclxiv7 with the seventh voyage of Sindbad: after that he intentionally omits the dialogue between the sisters and the reckoning of time, to proceed uninterruptedly with the tales. And so his imitator, Petis de la Croix,8 in his Mille et un Jours, reduces the thousand to two hundred and thirty-two.
The internal chronological evidence offered by the Collection is useful only in enabling us to determine that the tales were not written after a certain epoch: the actual dates and, consequently, all deductions from them, are vitiated by the habits of the scribes. For instance we find the Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni (vol. i. 41) placed in A.H. 169 = A.D. 785,9 which is hardly possible. The immortal Barber in the “Tailor’s Tale” (vol. i. 304) places his adventure with the unfortunate lover on Safar 10, A.H. 653 ( = March 25th, 1255) and 7,320 years of the era of Alexander.10 This is supported in his Tale of Himself (vol. i. pp. 317–348), where he dates his banishment from Baghdad during the reign of the penultimate Abbaside, Al–Mustansir bi ’llah11 (A.H. 623–640 = 1225–1242), and his return to Baghdad after the accession of another Caliph who can be no other but Al-Muntasim bi ’llah (A.H. 640–656 = A.D. 1242–1258). Again at the end of the tale (vol. i. 350) he is described as “an ancient man, past his ninetieth year” and “a very old man” in the days of Al-Mustansir (vol. i. 318); so that the Hunchback’s adventure can hardly be placed earlier than A.D. 1265 or seven years after the storming of Baghdad by Huláku Khan, successor of Janghíz Khan, a terrible catastrophe which resounded throughout the civilised world. Yet there is no allusion to this crucial epoch and the total silence suffices to invalidate the date.12 Could we assume it as true, by adding to A.D. 1265 half a century for the composition of the Hunchback’s story and its incidentals, we should place the earliest date in A.D. 1315.
As little can we learn from inferences which have been drawn from the body of the book: at most they point to its several editions or redactions. In the Tale of the “Ensorcelled Prince” (vol. i. 77) Mr. Lane (i. 135) conjectured that the four colours of the fishes were suggested by the sumptuary laws of the Mameluke Soldan, Mohammed ibn Kala’un, “subsequently to the commencement of the eighth century of the Flight, or fourteenth of our era.” But he forgets that the same distinction of dress was enforced by the Caliph Omar after the capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 636; that it was revived by Harun al-Rashid, a contemporary of Carolus Magnus and that it was noticed as a long standing grievance by the so-called Mandeville in A.D. 1322. In the Tale of the Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad the “Sultáni oranges” (vol. i. 83) have been connected with Sultáníyah city in Persian Irák, which was founded about the middle of the thirteenth century: but “Sultáni” may simply mean “royal,” a superior growth. The same story makes mention (vol. i. 94) of Kalandars or religious mendicants, a term popularly corrupted, even in writing, to Karandal.13 Here again “Kalandar” may be due only to the scribes as the Bresl. Edit. reads Sa’alúk = asker, beggar. The Khan al-Masrúr in the Nazarene Broker’s story (i. 265) was a ruin during the early ninth century A.H. = A.D. 1420; but the Báb Zuwaylah (i. 269) dates from A.D. 1087. In the same tale occurs the Darb al-Munkari (or Munakkari) which is probably the Darb al-Munkadi of Al–Makrizi’s careful topography, the Khitat (ii. 40). Here we learn that in his time (about A.D. 1430) the name had become obsolete, and the highway was known as Darb al-Amír Baktamír al-Ustaddar from one of two high officials who both died in the fourteenth century (circ. A.D. 1350). And lastly we have the Khan al-Jáwali built about A.D. 1320. In Badr al-Din Hasan (vol. i. 237) “Sáhib” is given as a Wazirial title and it dates only from the end of the fourteenth century.14 In Sindbad the Seaman, there is an allusion (vol. vi. 67) to the great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar of the Narasimha,15 the great power of the Deccan; but this may be due to editors or scribes as the despotism was founded only in the fourteenth century(A.D. 1320). The Ebony Horse (vol. v. 1) apparently dates before Chaucer; and “The Sleeper and The Waker” (Bresl. Edit. iv. 134–189) may precede Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”: no stress, however, can be laid upon such resemblances, the nouvelles being world-wide. But when we come to the last stories, especially to Kamar al-Zaman II. and the tale of Ma’arúf, we are apparently in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first contains (Night cmlxxvii.) the word Láwandiyah = Levantine, the mention of a watch = Sá‘ah in the next Night16; and, further on (cmlxxvi.), the “Shaykh Al–Islam,” an officer invented by Mohammed II. after the capture of Stambul in A.D. 1453. In Ma’arúf the ‘Ádiliyah is named; the mosque founded outside the Bab al-Nasr by Al–Malik al-’Ádil, Túmán Bey in A.H. 906 = A.D. 1501. But, I repeat, all these names may be mere interpolations.
On the other hand, a study of the vie intime in Al–Islam and of the manners and customs of the people proves that the body of the work, as it now stands, must have been written before A.D. 1400. The Arabs use wines, ciders and barley-beer, not distilled spirits; they have no coffee or tobacco and, while familiar with small-pox (judrí), they ignore syphilis. The battles in The Nights are fought with bows and javelins, swords, spears (for infantry) and lances (for cavalry); and, whenever fire-arms are mentioned, we must suspect the scribe. Such is the case with the Madfa’ or cannon by means of which Badr Al–Din Hasan breaches the bulwarks of the Lady of Beauty’s virginity (i. 223). This consideration would determine the work to have been written before the fourteenth century. We ignore the invention-date and the inventor of gunpowder, as of all old discoveries which have affected mankind at large: all we know is that the popular ideas betray great ignorance and we are led to suspect that an explosive compound, having been discovered in the earliest ages of human society, was utilised by steps so gradual that history has neglected to trace the series. According to Demmin17, bullets for stuffing with some incendiary composition, in fact bombs, were discovered by Dr. Keller in the Palafites or Crannogs of Switzerland; and the Hindu’s Agni–Astar (“fire-weapon”), Agni-bán (“fire-arrow”) and Shatagni (“hundred- killer”), like the Roman Phalarica, and the Greek fire of Byzantium, suggest explosives. Indeed, Dr. Oppert18 accepts the statement of Flavius Philostratus that when Appolonius of Tyana, that grand semi-mythical figure, was travelling in India, he learned the reason why Alexander of Macedon desisted from attacking the Oxydracæ who live between the Ganges and the Hyphasis (Satadru or Sutledge):— “These holy men, beloved by the gods, overthrow their enemies with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their walls.” Passing over the Arab sieges of Constantinople (A.D. 668) and Meccah (A.D. 690) and the disputed passage in Firishtah touching the Tufang or musket during the reign of Mahmúd the Ghaznevite19 (ob. A.D. 1030), we come to the days of Alphonso the Valiant, whose long and short guns, used at the Siege of Madrid in A.D. 1084, are preserved in the Armeria Real. Viardot has noted that the African Arabs first employed cannon in A.D. 1200, and that the Maghribis defended Algeciras near Gibraltar with great guns in A. D. 1247, and utilised them to besiege Seville in A.D. 1342. This last feat of arms introduced the cannon into barbarous Northern Europe, and it must have been known to civilised Asia for many a decade before that date.
The mention of wine in The Nights, especially the Nabíz or fermented infusion of raisins well known to the præ-Mohammeden Badawis, perpetually recurs. As a rule, except only in the case of holy personages and mostly of the Caliph Al–Rashid, the “service of wine” appears immediately after the hands are washed; and women, as well as men, drink, like true Orientals, for the honest purpose of getting drunk-la recherche de l’ideal, as the process has been called. Yet distillation became well known in the fourteenth century. Amongst the Greeks and Romans it was confined to manufacturing aromatic waters, and Nicander the poet (B.C. 140) used for a still the term, like the Irish “pot” and its produce “poteen.” The simple art of converting salt water into fresh, by boiling the former and passing the steam through a cooled pipe into a recipient, would not have escaped the students of the Philosopher’s “stone;” and thus we find throughout Europe the Arabic modifications of Greek terms Alchemy, Alembic (Al — ), Chemistry and Elixir; while “Alcohol” (Al–Kohl), originally meaning “extreme tenuity or impalpable state of pulverulent substances,” clearly shows the origin of the article. Avicenna, who died in A.H. 428 = 1036, nearly two hundred years before we read of distillation in Europe, compared the human body with an alembic, the belly being the cucurbit and the head the capital:-he forgot one important difference but n’importe. Spirits of wine were first noticed in the xiiith century, when the Arabs had overrun the Western Mediterranean, by Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who dubs the new invention a universal panacea; and his pupil, Raymond Lully (nat. Majorca A.D. 1236), declared this essence of wine to be a boon from the Deity. Now The Nights, even in the latest adjuncts, never allude to the “white coffee” of the “respectable” Moslem, the Ráki (raisin-brandy) or Ma-hayát (aqua-vitæ) of the modern Mohametan: the drinkers confine themselves to wine like our contemporary Dalmatians, one of the healthiest and the most vigorous of seafaring races in Europe.
Syphilis also, which at the end of the xvth century began to infect Europe, is ignored by The Nights. I do not say it actually began: diseases do not begin except with the dawn of humanity; and their history, as far as we know, is simple enough. They are at first sporadic and comparatively non-lethal: at certain epochs which we can determine, and for reasons which as yet we cannot, they break out into epidemics raging with frightful violence: they then subside into the endemic state and lastly they return to the milder sporadic form. For instance, “English cholera” was known of old: in 1831 (Oct. 26) the Asiatic type took its place and now, after sundry violent epidemics, the disease is becoming endemic on the Northern seaboard of the Mediterranean, notably in Spain and Italy. So small-pox (Al-judrí, vol. i. 256) passed over from Central Africa to Arabia in the year of Mohammed’s birth (A.D. 570) and thence overspread the civilised world, as an epidemic, an endemic and a sporadic successively. The “Greater Pox” has appeared in human bones of pre historic graves and Moses seems to mention gonorrhœa (Levit. xv. 12). Passing over allusions in Juvenal and Martial,20 we find Eusebius relating that Galerius died (A.D. 302) of ulcers on the genitals and other parts of his body; and, about a century afterwards, Bishop Palladius records that one Hero, after conversation with a prostitute, fell a victim to an abscess on the penis (phagedænic shanker?). In 1347 the famous Joanna of Naples founded (æt. 23), in her town of Avignon, a bordel whose in-mates were to be medically inspected a measure to which England (proh pudor!) still objects. In her Statuts du Lieu- publiqued’Avignon, No. iv. she expressly mentions the Malvengut de paillardise. Such houses, says Ricord who studied the subject since 1832, were common in France after A.D. 1200; and sporadic venereals were known there. But in A.D. 1493–94 an epidemic broke out with alarming intensity at Barcelona, as we learn from the “Tractado llamado fructo de todos los Sanctos contra el mal serpentino, venido de la Isla espanola,” of Rodrigo Ruiz Días, the specialist. In Santo Domingo the disease was common under the names Hipas, Guaynaras and Taynastizas: hence the opinion in Europe that it arose from the mixture of European and “Indian” blood.21 Some attributed it to the Gypsies who migrated to Western Europe in the xvth century:22 others to the Moriscos expelled from Spain. But the pest got its popular name after the violent outbreak at Naples in A.D. 1493–4, when Charles VIII. of Anjou with a large army of mercenaries, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Germans, attacked Ferdinand II. Thence it became known as the Mal de Naples and Morbus Gallicus-una gallica being still the popular term in neo Latin lands-and the “French disease” in England. As early as July 1496 Marin Sanuto (Journal i. 171) describes with details the “Mal Franzoso.” The scientific “syphilis” dates from Fracastori’s poem (A.D. 1521) in which Syphilus the Shepherd is struck like Job, for abusing the sun. After crippling a Pope (Sixtus IV.23) and killing a King (Francis I.) the Grosse Vérole began to abate its violence, under the effects of mercury it is said; and became endemic, a stage still shown at Scherlievo near Fiume, where legend says it was implanted by the Napoleonic soldiery. The Aleppo and other “buttons” also belong apparently to the same grade. Elsewhere it settled as a sporadic and now it appears to be dying out while gonorrhœa is on the increase.24
The Nights, I have said, belongs to the days before coffee (A.D. 1550) and tobacco (A.D. 1650) had overspread the East. The former, which derives its name from the Káfá or Káffá province, lying south of Abyssinia proper and peopled by the Sidáma Gallas, was introduced to Mokha of Al–Yaman in A.D. 1429–30 by the Shaykh al-Sházili who lies buried there, and found a congenial name in the Arabic Kahwah=old wine.25 In The Nights (Mac. Edit.) it is mentioned twelve times26; but never in the earlier tales: except in the case of Kamar al-Zaman II. it evidently does not belong to the epoch and we may fairly suspect the scribe. In the xvith century coffee began to take the place of wine in the nearer East; and it gradually ousted the classical drink from daily life and from folk-tales.
It is the same with tobacco, which is mentioned only once by The Nights (cmxxxi.), in conjunction with meat, vegetables and fruit and where it is called “Tábah.” Lane (iii. 615) holds it to be the work of a copyist; but in the same tale of Abu Kir and Abu Sir, sherbet and coffee appear to have become en vogue, in fact to have gained the ground they now hold. The result of Lord Macartney’s Mission to China was a suggestion that smoking might have originated spontaneously in the Old World.27 This is un- doubtedly true. The Bushmen and other wild tribes of Southern Africa threw their Dakhá (cannabis indica) on the fire and sat round it inhaling the intoxicating fumes. Smoking without tobacco was easy enough. The North American Indians of the Great Red Pipe Stone Quarry and those who lived above the line where nicotiana grew, used the kinni-kinik or bark of the red willow and some seven other succedanea.28 But tobacco proper, which soon superseded all materials except hemp and opium, was first adopted by the Spaniards of Santo Domingo in A.D. 1496 and reached England in 1565. Hence the word, which, amongst the so-called Red Men, denoted the pipe, the container, not the contained, spread over the Old World as a generic term with additions, like ‘‘Tutun,’’29 for special varieties. The change in English manners brought about by the cigar after dinner has already been noticed; and much of the modified sobriety of the present day may be attributed to the influence of the Holy Herb en cigarette. Such, we know from history was its effect amongst Moslems; and the normal wine-parties of The Nights suggest that the pipe was unknown even when the latest tales were written.
1 There are three distinct notes according to De Sacy (Mém., p. 50). The first (in Ms. 1508) says “This blessed book was read by the weak slave, etc. Wahabah son of Rizkallah the Kátib (secretary, scribe) of Tarábulus al-Shám (Syrian Tripoli), who prayeth long life for its owner (li máliki-h). This tenth day of the month First Rabí‘a A.H. 955 (= 1548).” A similar note by the same Wahabah occurs at the end of vol. ii. (Ms. 1507) dated A.H. 973 (= 1565) and a third (Ms. 1506) is undated. Evidently M. Caussin has given undue weight to such evidence. For further information see “Tales of the East” to which is prefixed an Introductory Dissertation (vol. i. pp. 24–26, note) by Henry Webber, Esq., Edinburgh, 1812, in 3 vols.
2 “Notice sur les douze manuscrits connus des Milles et une Nuits, qui existent en Europe.” Von Hammer in Trébutien, Notice, vol. i.
3 Printed from the Ms. of Major Turner Macan, Editor of the Shahnamah: he bought it from the heirs of Mr. Salt, the historic Consul–General of England in Egypt and after Macan’s death it became the property of the now extinct Allens, then of Leadenhall Street (Torrens, Preface, i.). I have vainly enquired about what became of it.
4 The short paper by “P. R.” in the Gentleman’s Magazine (Feb. 19th, 1799, vol. lxix. p. 61) tells us that Mss. of The Nights were scarce at Aleppo and that he found only two vols. (280 Nights) which he had great difficulty in obtaining leave to copy. He also noticed (in 1771) a Ms., said to be complete, in the Vatican and another in the “King’s Library” (Bibliothèque Nationale), Paris.
5 Aleppo has been happy in finding such monographers as Russell and Maundrell while poor Damascus fell into the hands of Mr. Missionary Porter, and suffered accordingly.
6 Vol. vi. Appendix, p.452.
7 The numbers, however, vary with the Editions of Galland: some end the formula with Night cxcvii; others with the ccxxxvi.: I adopt that of the De Sacy Edition.
8 Contes Persans, suivis des Contes Turcs. Paris; Béchet Ainé, 1826.
9 In the old translation we have “eighteen hundred years since the prophet Solomon died,” (B.C. 975) = A.D. 825.
10 Meaning the era of the Seleucides. Dr. Jonathan Scott shows (vol. ii. 324) that A.H. 653 and A.D. 1255 would correspond with 1557 of that epoch; so that the scribe has here made a little mistake of 5,763 years. Ex uno disce.
11 The Saturday Review (Jan. 2nd ‘86) writes, “Captain Burton has fallen into a mistake by not distinguishing between the names of the by no means identical Caliphs Al–Muntasir and Al–Mustansir.” Quite true: it was an ugly confusion of the melancholy madman and parricide with one of the best and wisest of the Caliphs. I can explain (not extenuate) my mistake only by a misprint in Al–Siyúti (p. 554).
12 In the Galland Ms. and the Bresl. Edit. (ii. 253), we find the Barber saying that the Caliph (Al–Mustansir) was at that time (yaumaizin) in Baghdad, and this has been held to imply that the Caliphate had fallen. But such conjecture is evidently based upon insufficient grounds.
13 De Sacy makes the “Kalandar” order originate in A.D. 1150, but the Shaykh Sharíf bú Ali Kalandar died in A.D. 1323–24. In Sind the first Kalandar, Osmán-i-Marwándí surnamed Lál Sháhbáz, the Red Goshawk, from one of his miracles, died and was buried at Sehwán in A D. 1274: see my “History of Sindh” chapt. viii. for details. The dates therefore run wild.
14 In this same tale H. H. Wilson observes that the title of Sultan of Egypt was not assumed before the middle of the xiith century.
15 Popularly called Vidyanagar of the Narsingha.
16 Time-measurers are of very ancient date. The Greeks had clepsydræ and the Romans gnomons, portable and ring-shaped, besides large standing town-dials as at Aquileja and San Sabba near Trieste. The “Saracens” were the perfecters of the clepsydra: Bosseret (p. 16) and the Chronicon Turense (Beckmann ii. 340 et seq.) describe the water-clock sent by Al–Rashid to Karl the Great as a kind of “cockoo-clock.” Twelve doors in the dial opened successively and little balls dropping on brazen bells told the hour: at noon a dozen mounted knights paraded the face and closed the portals. Trithonius mentions an horologium presented in A.D. 1232 by Al–Malik al-Kámil the Ayyubite Soldan to the Emperor Frederick II: like the Strasbourg and Padua clocks it struck the hours, told the day, month and year, showed the phases of the moon, and registered the position of the sun and the planets. Towards the end of the fifteenth century Gaspar Visconti mentions in a sonnet the watch proper (certi orologii piccioli e portativi); and the “animated eggs” of Nurembourg became famous. The earliest English watch (Sir Ashton Lever’s) dates from 1541: and in 1544 the portable chronometer became common in France.
17 An illustrated History of Arms and Armour etc. (p. 59); London: Bell and Sons, 1877. The best edition is the Guide des Amateurs d’Armes, Paris: Renouard, 1879.
18 Chapt. iv. Dr. Gustav Oppert “On the Weapons etc. of the Ancient Hindus;” London: Trübner and Co., 1880.:
19 I have given other details on this subject in pp. 631- 637 of “Camoens, his Life and his Lusiads.”
20 The morbi venerei amongst the Romans are obscure because “whilst the satirists deride them the physicians are silent.” Celsus, however, names (De obscenarum partium vitiis, lib. xviii.) inflammatio coleorum (swelled testicle), tubercula glandem (warts on the glans penis), cancri carbunculi (chancre or shanker) and a few others. The rubigo is noticed as a lues venerea by Servius in Virg. Georg.
21 According to David Forbes, the Peruvians believed that syphilis arose from connection of man and alpaca; and an old law forbade bachelors to keep these animals in the house. Francks explains by the introduction of syphilis wooden figures found in the Chinchas guano; these represented men with a cord round the neck or a serpent devouring the genitals.
22 They appeared before the gates of Paris in the summer of 1427, not “about July, 1422”: in Eastern Europe, however, they date from a much earlier epoch. Sir J. Gilbert’s famous picture has one grand fault, the men walk and the women ride: in real life the reverse would be the case.
23 Rabelais ii. c. 30.
24 I may be allowed to note that syphilis does not confine itself to man: a charger infected with it was pointed out to me at Baroda by my late friend, Dr. Arnott (18th Regiment, Bombay N.I.) and Tangier showed me some noticeable cases of this hippic syphilis, which has been studied in Hungary. Eastern peoples have a practice of “passing on” venereal and other diseases, and transmission is supposed to cure the patient; for instance a virgin heals (and catches) gonorrhœa. Syphilis varies greatly with climate. In Persia it is said to be propagated without contact: in Abyssinia it is often fatal and in Egypt it is readily cured by sand baths and sulphur-unguents. Lastly in lands like Unyamwezi, where mercurials are wholly unknown, I never saw caries of the nasal or facial bones.
25 For another account of the transplanter and the casuistical questions to which coffee gave rise, see my “First Footsteps in East Africa” (p. 76).
26 The first mention of coffee proper (not of Kahwah or old wine in vol. ii. 260) is in Night cdxxvi. vol. v. 169, where the coffee-maker is called Kahwahjiyyah, a mongrel term showing the modern date of the passage in Ali the Cairene. As the work advances notices become thicker, e.g. in Night dccclxvi. where Ali Nur al-Din and the Frank King’s daughter seems to be a modernisation of the story “Ala al-Din Abu al-Shámát” (vol. iv. 29); and in Abu Kir and Abu Sir (Nights cmxxx. and cmxxxvi.) where coffee is drunk with sherbet after present fashion. The use culminates in Kamar al-Zaman II. where it is mentioned six times (Nights cmlxvi. cmlxx. cmlxxi. twice; cmlxxiv. and cmlxxvii.), as being drunk after the dawn-breakfast and following the meal as a matter of course. The last notices are in Abdullah bin Fazil, Nights cmlxxviii. and cmlxxix.
27 It has been suggested that Japanese tobacco is an indigenous growth and sundry modern travellers in China contend that the potato and the maize, both white and yellow, have there been cultivated from time immemorial.
28 For these see my “City of the Saints,” p. 136.
29 Lit. meaning smoke: hence the Arabic “Dukhán,” with the same signification.
We know absolutely nothing of the author or authors who produced our marvellous Recueil. Galland justly observes (Epist. Dedic.), “probably this great work is not by a single hand; for how can we suppose that one man alone could own a fancy fertile enough to invent so many ingenious fictions?” Mr. Lane, and Mr. Lane alone, opined that the work was written in Egypt by one person or at most by two, one ending what the other had begun, and that he or they had re-written the tales and completed the collection by new matter composed or arranged for the purpose. It is hard to see how the distinguished Arabist came to such a conclusion: at most it can be true only of the editors and scribes of Mss. evidently copied from each other, such as the Mac. and the Bul. texts. As the Reviewer (Forbes Falconer?) in the “Asiatic Journal” (vol. xxx., 1839) says, “Every step we have taken in the collation of these agreeable fictions has confirmed us in the belief that the work called the Arabian Nights is rather a vehicle for stories, partly fixed and partly arbitrary, than a collection fairly deserving, from its constant identity with itself, the name of a distinct work, and the reputation of having wholly emanated from the same inventive mind. To say nothing of the improbability of supposing that one individual, with every license to build upon the foundation of popular stories, a work which had once received a definite form from a single writer, would have been multiplied by the copyist with some regard at least to his arrangement of words as well as matter. But the various copies we have seen bear about as much mutual resemblance as if they had passed through the famous process recommended for disguising a plagiarism: ‘Translate your English author into French and again into English’.”
Moreover, the style of the several Tales, which will be considered in a future page (§ iii.), so far from being homogeneous is heterogeneous in the extreme. Different nationalities show them selves; West Africa, Egypt and Syria are all represented and, while some authors are intimately familiar with Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, others are equally ignorant. All copies, written and printed, absolutely differ in the last tales and a measure of the divergence can be obtained by comparing the Bresl. Edit. with the Mac. text: indeed it is my conviction that the Mss. preserved in Europe would add sundry volumes full of tales to those hitherto translated; and here the Wortley Montagu copy can be taken as a test. We may, I believe, safely compare the history of The Nights with the so-called Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, a collection of immortal ballads and old Epic formulæ and verses traditionally handed down from rhapsode to rhapsode, incorporated in a slowly-increasing body of poetry and finally welded together about the age of Pericles.
To conclude. From the data above given I hold myself justified in drawing the following deductions:—
The framework of the book is purely Persian perfunctorily arabised; the archetype being the Hazár Afsánah.1
The oldest tales, such as Sindibad (the Seven Wazirs) and King Jili’ád, may date from the reign of Al–Mansur, eighth century A.D.
The thirteen tales mentioned above (p. 78) as the nucleus of the Repertory, together with “Dalilah the Crafty,”2 may be placed in our tenth century.
The latest tales, notably Kamar al-Zaman the Second and Ma’aruf the Cobbler, are as late as the sixteenth century.
The work assumed its present form in the thirteenth century.
The author is unknown for the best reason; there never was one: for information touching the editors and copyists we must await the fortunate discovery of some Mss.
1 Unhappily the book is known only by name: for years I have vainly troubled friends and correspondents to hunt for a copy. Yet I am sanguine enough to think that some day we shall succeed: Mr. Sidney Churchill, of Teheran, is ever on the look-out.
2 In § 3 I shall suggest that this tale also is mentioned by Al–Mas’udi.
Last updated Monday, May 25, 2015 at 11:13