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HAJJI BABA OF ISPAHAN.
When Anastasius first made its ap- al, almost equally the facility,) of origipearance, everybody thought Lord By- nating new matter, of most curious and ron was taking to write prose ; for valuable quality. He paraded a superthere was no living author but Lord fluity of attainment at one moment, Byron supposed capable of having writ- and shewed a faculty to act without ten such a book. When Byron denied any of it the next; displayed an extrathe work, (and, in fact, his lordship ordinary acquired talent for drawing could not have written it,) people look- MAN, as he is in one particular country; ed about again, and wondered who the but a still more extraordinary intuitive author could be. But, when the pro- talent for drawing man, as he is in duction was claimed by Mr Thomas every class, and in every country. Hope, who had, heretofore, written His capacity for producing effect only about chairs and tables, and not was so extended, that he could afford written very well about chairs and ta- to trifle with it. Anastasius was not bles neither, then the puzzlement of merely one of the most vigorous, but ratiocinators became profounder than absolutely the most vigorous, of the
“dark-eyed and slender-waisted heAll that could be made out at all in roes,” that had appeared. We liked common between Mr Hope and Anas- him better than any of his cater coutasius, was, that Mr Hope had had sins, because the family characteristics opportunities of getting at the local in- were more fully developed in him. The formation whieh that book contained. Giaours had their hundred vices, and He had visited those parts of the world their single virtue ; but Anastasius in which the scene was chiefly laid ; came without any virtue at all. The and had resided in some of them (as at Corsairs were vindictive, and rapacious, Constantinople) for considerable pe- and sanguinary, as regarded their felriods.
low-men; but Anastasius had no mercy But Anastasius, though full of cir- even upon woman. cumstance which necessarily had been The history of Euphrosyne is not collected by travel, was (that circum- only the most powerful feature in Mr stance, all of it, apart) a work of im- Hope's book; but, perhaps, one of the mense genius, and natural power. The most powerful stories that ever was thing told was good ; but the manner written in a novel. of telling it was still better. The book There is a vraisemblance about the was absolutely crammed with bold in- villainy of that transaction, which it cidents, and brilliant descriptions- sickens the soul to think of. Crabbe with historical details, given in a style could not have dug deeper for horrible which Hume or Gibbon could scarcely realities ; nor could the author of the have surpassed; and with analysis of Fable of the Bees have put them into human character and impulse, such as more simple, yet eloquent and enereven Mandeville might have been proud getic, language. For throughout the to acknowledge. Material, as regards whole description of Euphrosyne's sievery description of work, is perhaps tuation, after she becomes the mistress the first point towards success. It is of Anastasius-his harsh treatment of not easy for any man to write ill, who her in the first instance, by degrees inhas an overflow of fresh matter to write creasing to brutality--his deliberately about.
torturing her, to compel her to leave But Anastasius was anything rather him, even when he knows she has not than a bare compilation of material. a place of refuge upon earth-her раThe author did not merely appear to tient submission, after a time, only have imbued himself completely, with aggravating his fury, and his telling a scarce and interesting species of in- her, in terms, “ to go !” that “ he de formation, and to have the power of sires to see her no more !". Throughpouring that information forth again, out all this description, and the admiin any shape he pleased ; but he also rable scene that follows-his leaving seemed to have the power, (and with- her when she faints, believing her ill
The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan ; a novel, in three volumes. London. John Murray, 1824.
nes to be affected--the nervous fore the circumstances which lead to his bodings that come over him, after appointment in the Morea. Djezzar wards, at the banquet, until, at length, (the Butcher) and his atrocities-in he is compelled to quit the party- the third volume. The court of Su. hurries home—and finds her gone! leiman Bey in Egypt, and the march Throughout the whole of this narra- of Hassan Pacha into that country. tive, there is not an epithet bordering The nervous terseness and brief style upon inflation. The writer never stops of these details, contrasted with the to make a display of his feelings; but brilliant eloquence, the lively imagikeeps up the passion as he goes on, nation, the strong graphic faculty, and merely by keeping up the action of the the deep tone and feeling displayed in scene. The simplicity all through, and such passages as the bagnio--the first the natural elegance of thestyle, catches field of battle the flight of Hassan attention almost as much as the com- Bey through the streets of Cairo-the inanding interest of the subject. The death of the Hungarian Colonel—the tale is one of the most painful that lives of all the women-and, beyond ever was related; and it is told in the all, the cemetery near Constantinople, plainest, and most unaffected possible and the reflections which arise on it
in the third volume! If, besides all And it is the great art of Mr Hope, this, we recollect the occasional rich in this story of Euphrosyne, as in the descriptions of local scenery; the wit conduct of a hundred other criminali- and spirit of those lighter sketches ties into which he precipitates his hero which abound in the first and third -throwing him actually into scrapes volumes; and, especially, the polish, sometimes, as though for the pleasure ed, cultivated tone, and the gracefulof taking him out of them again—it is ness of style and manner, which runs the author's great art, that, with all his through the whole work, it will not vices, Anastasius never thoroughly appear surprising that the production loses the sympathy of the reader. There of Anastasius by
an author of (compais a rag of good feeling--a wretched ratively) no previous estimation, should rag it is, and it commonly shews itself have been considered, in the literary in the most useless shape too (in the world, as a remarkable event. shape of repentance)-but there is a But, if it excited wonder that Mr remnant of feeling about the rogue, Hope should, on the sudden, have be(though no jot of moral principle,) come the author of Anastasius, it will and a pride of heart, which, with ro- be found quite as surprising, that the mance readers, covers a multitude of author of Anastasius should ever have sins; and upon this trifle of honesty, written Hajji Baba. The curiosity (the very limited amount of which is about this book was great; the disapa curiosity,) joined to a vast fund of pointment which it produces will not attractive and popular qualities-wit, be little ; not that it is absolutely desanimal spirits, gay figure, and person- titute of merit, but that it falls so very al courage-he contrives, through far below what the public expected. three volumes, to keep just within the It is not easy to get at the solution public estimation.
of a failure like this. Mr Hope eviAnd apart too from, and even be- dently means to do his best. He sets yond, the interest of the leading cha- out with all the formality of a long inracters in Anastasius, there is so much troduction-Hajji Baba is only a prepains laid out upon all the tributary lude to much more that is to be effecte personages of the tale : the work is ed. And yet the work is not merely, got up with the labour of a large pic- as regards matter, interest, taste, and ture, in which the most distant figure choice of subjects, three hundred per is meant to be a portrait. Suleiman cent at least, under the mark of AnasBey-Aly Tchawoosh--the Lady Kha- tasius ; but the style is never forcible degé-Anagnosti--the Jew apothecary or eloquent; and in many places, to -Gasili, the knight of industry-even say the truth, it is miserably bad. Some the bravo Panayoti—there is not a per- of this objection may be comparative; sonage brought in anywhere, even to but objection must be so, and ought fill up a group, who has not a certain fairly to be so. If an author takes the quantity of finish bestowed upon him, benefit of a certain accredited faculty
Then the historical episodes. The to get his book read, it is by the meacharacter of the Capitan Pacha, and sure of that accredited faculty, that he
must expect the production to be tri- transparently, with Gil Blas in his eye, ed. We can drink a wine, perhaps, of and never considers that a character thirty sous, as a wine of thirty sous, perfectly fitted for a hero in one counbut we will not submit to have it try, may not be so well calculated to brought to us as claret. We might fill the same role in another. The atmanage, upon an emergency, to read tention to Gil Blas is obvious. The a dozen lines of Lady Morgan; but chapters are headed in Le Sage's manwho would read half a line, if she were ner.-"Of Hajji Baba's birth and eduto get herself bound up as Lady Mon- cation." "Into what hands Hajji tague? There are chapters in Hajji Baba falls, and the fortune which his Baba that may amuse-there are a razors prove to him."-" Hajji Baba, great many, most certainly, that will not in his distress, becomes a Saka, or waamuse; but, perhaps, the easiest way ter-carrier."-" Of the man he meets, of making its deficiencies apparent, will and of the consequences of the encounbe to give a short outline of the pro- ter," &c. &c. There are occasional duction itself. imitations too, and not happy ones, of the style coupée of some of the French writers. An affectation of setting out about twenty unconnected facts, in just the same number of short unconnected sentences. A rolling up, as it were, of knowledge into little hard pills, and giving us dozens of them to swallow, (without diluent,) one after the other. This avoidance (from whatever cause it proceeds) of conjunction, and connecting observation, leads to an eternal recurrence of pronouns-rattling staccato upon the ear. It makes a book read like a judge's notes of a trial, or a report of a speech of a newspaper. And, indeed, throughout the work before us-(we can scarcely suppose the author to have written in a hurry)-but, throughout the work, there is a sort of slovenliness; an inattention to minute, but nevertheless material, circumstances; which could scarcely, one would think, have been overlooked, if it had been cautiously revised.
Mr Hope sets out, in the character of "Mr Peregrine Persic," by writing to "Doctor Fundgruben," chaplain to the Swedish Embassy, at the Ottoman Porte-a letter which explains the intention of his book.
Mr Persic is dissatisfied (and, perhaps, fairly, may be) with all existing pictures of Asiatic habits and manners; and he suggests the advantage of inditing, from " actual anecdotes" collected in the East,-a novel upon the plan of Gil Blas, which should supply the (as he views it) deficiency. Dr Fundgruben approves the idea of Mr Persic, but doubts how far any European would be capable of realizing it; he thinks an oriental Gil Blas would be most conveniently constructed, by procuring some "actual" Turk, or Persian, to write his life. The discussion which follows between the friends, would not convey a great deal to the reader. What the Swedish Doctor opines-we will give his own words "That no education, time, or talent, can ever enable a foreigner, in any given country, to pass for a native ;"this (for a Doctor, who should mind what he says) has a smack of exaggeration; and Mr Persic's charge of obscurity against the Arabian Nights, (so far as he himself illustrates it,) seems to amount to nothing. At a period, however, subsequent to this supposed conversation, Mr P. (who is employed himself upon an embassy to Persia) saves Hajji Baba, a Persian of some station, from the hands of an Italian quack Doctor; and, in gratitude for certain doses of calomel, by the English gentleman administered, the Ispabani presents his written memoirs, for the benefit of the English public.
Now here is a blot in the very outset of the book. Mr Hope starts, most
Hajji Baba, however, is the son of a barber at Ispahan, and is educated to follow his father's profession. He learns shaving upon the "heads" of camel-drivers and muleteers-a field of practice more extended than barbers have the advantage of in Europe -and having got a smattering of poetry, and a pretty good idea of shampooing-some notion of reading and writing, and a perfect dexterity at cleaning people's ears;-at sixteen, he is prepared to make his entrée in society.
Starting as a barber, is starting rather low; and it is one material fault in our friend Hajji Baba, that, from beginning to end, he is a low character. Obscure birth is no bar to a man's fortune in the East; nor shall it be any hinderance to him among us; but
we can't take cordially, East or West, zors;" his mother adds "a small tin to a common-place fellow. Anastasius case of a certain precious unguent," is meanly born, but he has the soul calculated *« all fractures and that makes all ranks equal. Beggar internal complaints ;" and he is directhim-strip him-starve him-make a ed to leave the house with his face to. slave of him-still nature maintains wards the door, “ by way of propitiahim a prince, and the superior (ten to ting a happy return. one else) of the man that tramples Osman Aga has in view a journey to upon him. Like the Mainote captain, Meshed, where he will buy the lambin that exquisite chapter of " The skins of Bokhara, and afterwards reBagnio," he is one of those spirits sell them at Constantinople. He les es which, of themselves, even in the most Ispahan with the caravan, accompanied abject condition, will command atten- by his servant; and both are taken prition and respect ;--which,“ like the soners by certain Turcomans of the cedars of Lebanon," to use the author's desert. Hajji's sojourn among these own simile, “ though scathed by the wandering people, with their attack lightning of Heaven, still overtop all and pillage of the caravan, is given the trees in the forest."
with the same apparent knowledge of But it won't do to have a hero (cer- what he writes about, which Mr Hope tainly not in Turkey) an awkward fel- displayed in Anastasius. low.' We don't profess to go entirely T'he prisoners, after being stripped, along with Mowbray, in Clarissa, who, are disposed of according to their meextenuating Lovelace's crimes, by re- rits. Osman Aga, who is middle-aged, ference to the enormities of somebody and inclining to be fat, is deputed to else, throws his friend's scale up to the wait upon the camels of his new masbeam, by recollecting that the counter ters; Hajji is admitted a robber, upon
an ugly dog too !” But we liking, in which capacity he guides the think, if a hero is to be a rascal, that band on an excursion to Ispahan, his he ought to be a rascal like a gentle
native city. Mr Hope denies Hajji Baba The movement upon Ispahan is suceven the advantage of personal cou.
cessful; the robbers plunder the cararage. As he got on in his last work vanserai. Afterwards, in a lonely dell, without virtue, so he proposes to get five parasangs from the town, they exon in this without qualification. This amine the prisoners, who turn out not is Gil Blas; but we wish Mr H. had so good as was expected. A poet-a let imitation alone. Gil Blas (per se) ferush (house servant) and a cadi ; is no great model, anywhere, for a " egregious ransom,” seems hardly prohero. It is the book that carries him bable. The scene that follows has some through—not him that carries the pleasantry. book. Gil Blas (that is the man) has The poet (Asker) is doomed to death, a great deal more whim, and ten times as being an animal of no utility anymore national characteristic, than Haj- where. Hajji, however, is moved with ji Baba ; and yet we long to cane him, compassion, and interferes. or put him in a horse-pond, at almost 666 What folly are you about to comevery page we read. And, besides, Gil mit? Kill the poet! Why it will be worse Blas, let it be recollected, Gil Blas was than killing the goose with the golden egg. the ORIGINAL. We have got imita- Don't you know that poets are very rich tions of him already enough, to be for
sometimes, and can, if they choose, be rich gotten. The French Gil Blasmand at all times, for they carry their wealth in the German Gil Blasand now, the
their heads ? Did you never hear of the Persian Gil Blas! It is an unprofita- king who gave a famous poet a miscal of ble task; at least, Mr Hope, at all gold for every stanza that he composed ?
Ånd_who knows ?-perhaps your prison. events, has made it one.
er may be the king's poet-laureat himself.'” To proceed, however, with Mr Haj
This observation changes the face ji Baba, whom we drag along, as it
of the affair, and the Turcomans are were, critically, by the ears; and whose
delighted with poetry. first step in public life is into the ser- 66• Is that the case ?' said one of the vice of Osman Aga, a merchant of Bag- gang ; " then let him make stanzas for us dad. His father gives him a blessing, immediately ; and if they don't fetch a accompanied by a new case of ra- miscal* each, he shall die.'
* Twenty-four grains of gold,
"Make on! make on !' exclaimed the whole of them to the poet, elated by so bright a prospect of gain; if you don't, we'll cut your tongue out.""
At length it is decided that all the prisoners shall be spared; and the cadi is set to work to divide the booty among the thieves. When it comes, however, to Hajji's turn to share, he finds that he is to be allowed nothing, and thereupon resolves to escape from his new brethren; which he does on the first opportunity.
Arriving at Meshed, without any means of subsistence, he becomes first a" Saka," a water-bearer, and after wards an itinerant tobacconist, or "vender of smoke." He afterwards gets acquainted with a party of dervishesone, a man of sanctity-another, a story-teller-and the third, a talisman writer. He is bastinadoed by the Mohtesib for adulterating his wares, turns dervish himself, and quits the city.
A variety of adventures, readable, but not worth talking about, then conduct Hajji to Tehran, and place him in the service of the king's chief physician. He reaches this promotion just as we are terribly tired of reading on, almost without knowing, or caring, about what, and recollecting how, in Anastasius, we stopped at every third page, to read something or other halfa-dozen times over. At last our feelings get a fillip, by Monsieur Hajji's falling in love."
Hajji Baba is a vulgar man, and of course makes but an indifferent lover. The lady, however, "holds her state," of whom he becomes enamoured, and prattles away through twenty pages very thoughtlessly and delightfully.
The spring has passed over, and the first heats of summer are driving most of the inhabitants of Tehran to sleep upon their house-tops. Hajji disposes his bed in the corner of a terrace, which overlooks the court-yard of his master's anderun, or women's apartments; and, one night, looking over the wall, he sees a female in this court, whose figure, and her face, (as far as he can see it,) are exquisite. After gazing for some time, he makes a slight noise, which causes the lady to look up.
ly felt my heart in a blaze. With apparent displeasure, she covered herself; but still I could perceive that she had managed her veil with so much art, that there was room for a certain dark and sparkling eye to look at me, and enjoy my agitation. As I continued to gaze upon her, she at length said, though still going on with her work,
[She is sorting tobacco leaves,
Why do you look at me ?-it is criminal."
"For the sake of the sainted Hosien," I exclaimed, do not turn from me; it is no crime to love-your eyes have made roast meat of my heart. By the mother that bore you, let me look upon your face again!'
"In a more subdued voice she answered me,- Why do you ask me? You know it is a crime for a woman to let her face be seen, and you are neither my father, my brother, nor my husband; I do not even know who you are. Have you no shame
"And, before she could cover herself with her veil, I had had time to see the most enchanting features that the imagination can conceive, and to receive a look from eyes so bewitching, that I immediate
to talk thus to a maid ?""
This is a touch of our author's true
spirit; but, unfortunately, it is but transient. At this moment, she lets her veil fall (so shewing her face) as if by accident;-but a voice is heard within, impatiently repeating the name of" Zeenab!" and she disappears, leaving Hajji nailed to the spot from whence she departed.
This lady, who sorts tobacco leaves, is a slave belonging to the chief physician, and an object of jealousy and dislike to his wife. The lovers meet on the next evening; and Zeenab's scandal about the affairs of the harem is as light and chatty as Miss Biddy Fudge's letters about " Pa!" and "Monsieur Calicot," and the "rabbitskin" shawls.
"We are five in the harem, besides our mistress," said she: "There is Shireen, the Georgian slave, then Nur Jehan, the
Ethiopian slave girl; Fatneh, the cook, and old Seilah, the duenna. My situation is that of hand-maid to the khanum, so my mistress is called; I attend her pipe; I hand her her coffee, bring in the meals, go with her to the bath, dress and undress her; make her clothes, spread, sift, and pound tobacco, and stand before her. Shireen, the Georgian, is the sandukdar, or housekeeper; she has the care of the clothes of both my master and mistress, and indeed the clothes of all the house; she superintends the expenses, lays in the corn for the house, as well as the other provisions; she takes charge of all the porcelain, the silver, and other ware; and in short, has the care of whatever is either precious, or of consequence, in the fa