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we can't take cordially, East or West, to a common-place fellow. Anastasius is meanly born, but he has the soul that makes all ranks equal. Beggar him-strip him-starve him-make a slave of him-still nature maintains him a prince, and the superior (ten to one else) of the man that tramples upon him. Like the Mainote captain, in that exquisite chapter of "The Bagnio," he is one of those spirits which, of themselves, even in the most abject condition, will command attention and respect ;-which," like the cedars of Lebanon," to use the author's own simile, "though scathed by the lightning of Heaven, still overtop all the trees in the forest."
But it won't do to have a hero (certainly not in Turkey) an awkward fellow. We don't profess to go entirely along with Mowbray, in Clarissa, who, extenuating Lovelace's crimes, by reference to the enormities of somebody else, throws his friend's scale up to the beam, by recollecting that the counter rogue is 66 an ugly dog too!" But we think, if a hero is to be a rascal, that he ought to be a rascal like a gentleman. Mr Hope denies Hajji Baba even the advantage of personal courage. As he got on in his last work without virtue, so he proposes to get on in this without qualification. This is Gil Blas; but we wish Mr H. had let imitation alone. Gil Blas (per se) is no great model, anywhere, for a hero. It is the book that carries him through-not him that carries the book. Gil Blas (that is the man) has a great deal more whim, and ten times more national characteristic, than Hajji Baba; and yet we long to cane him, or put him in a horse-pond, at almost every page we read. And, besides, Gil Blas, let it be recollected, Gil Blas was the ORIGINAL. We have got imitations of him already enough, to be forgotten. The French Gil Blas-and the German Gil Blas--and now, the Persian Gil Blas! It is an unprofitable task; at least, Mr Hope, at all events, has made it one.
To proceed, however, with Mr Hajji Baba, whom we drag along, as it were, critically, by the ears; and whose first step in public life is into the service of Osman Aga, a merchant of Bagdad. His father gives him a blessing, accompanied by "a new case of ra
zors;" his mother adds a case of a certain precious unguent," calculated to cure "all fractures and internal complaints ;" and he is directed to leave the house with his face towards the door, "by way of propitiating a happy return."
Osman Aga has in view a journey to Meshed, where he will buy the lambskins of Bokhara, and afterwards resell them at Constantinople. He leaves Ispahan with the caravan, accompanied by his servant ; and both are taken prisoners by certain Turcomans of the desert. Hajji's sojourn among these wandering people, with their attack and pillage of the caravan, is given with the same apparent knowledge of what he writes about, which Mr Hope displayed in Anastasius.
The prisoners, after being stripped, are disposed of according to their me rits. Osman Aga, who is middle-aged, and inclining to be fat, is deputed to wait upon the camels of his new masters; Hajji is admitted a robber, upon liking, in which capacity he guides the band on an excursion to Ispahan, his native city.
The movement upon Ispahan is successful; the robbers plunder the caravanserai. Afterwards, in a lonely dell, five parasangs from the town, they examine the prisoners, who turn out not so good as was expected. A poet-a ferush (house servant) and a cadi ;— "egregious ransom," seems hardly probable. The scene that follows has some pleasantry.
The poet (Asker) is doomed to death, as being an animal of no utility anywhere. Hajji, however, is moved with compassion, and interferes.
"What folly are you about to commit? Kill the poet! Why it will be worse than killing the goose with the golden egg. Don't you know that poets are very rich sometimes, and can, if they choose, be rich at all times, for they carry their wealth in their heads? Did you never hear of the king who gave a famous poet a miscal of gold for every stanza that he composed? And who knows?-perhaps your prisoner may be the king's poet-laureat himself.""
This observation changes the face of the affair, and the Turcomans are delighted with poetry.
"Is that the case?' said one of the gang; then let him make stanzas for us immediately; and if they don't fetch a miscal cach, 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 afterwards an itinerant tobacconist, or "vender of smoke." He afterwards gets acquainted with a party of dervishes— one, 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.
"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
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
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
mily. Nur Jehan, the black slave, acts as ferash, or carpet-spreader; she does all the dirty work; spreads the carpets, sweeps the rooms, sprinkles the water over the court-yard, helps the cook, carries parcels and messages, and, in short, is at the call of every one."
All this is delightfully naif, and natural! One sees so plainly that Zeenab has not had any one to talk to for "these two hours."
"As for old Leilah, she is a sort of duenna over the young slaves; she is employed in the out-of-door service, carries on any little affair that the Khanum may have with other harems, and is also supposed to be a spy upon the actions of the doctor. Such as we are, our days are past in peevish disputes, whilst, at the same time, two of us are usually leagued in strict friendship, to the exclusion of the others. At this present moment, I am at open war with the Georgian, who, some time ago, found her good luck in life had forsaken her, and she in consequence contrived to procure a talisman from a Dervish. She had no sooner obtained it, than, on the very next day, the Khanum presented her with a new jacket; this so excited my jealousy, that I also made interest with the Dervish to supply me with a talisman that should secure me a good husband. On that very same evening I saw you on the terrace-conceive my happiness!"
We will be crucified if there be not six Zeenabs in every boarding-school for five miles round London.
"But this has established a rivalship between myself and Shireen, which has ended in hatred, and we are now mortal enemies; perhaps we may as suddenly be friends again.'
"I am now on the most intimate terms
with Nur Jehan; and, at my persuasion,
which has passed through her hands to me, for fear of poison, and she returns me the same compliment."
The ladies will kill Mr Hope for having written this part of the book, and we shall kill him for having written the other parts of it.
There is a subsequent scene, in which Hajji is admitted to the anderun, written with the same sprightliness and gossiping pleasantry as the foregoing. Zeenab has been engaged to cry at a funeral, to which the Khanum goes with all the family; and for which service she is to receive a black handkerchief, and "to eat sweetmeats." Instead of going, she beckons Hajji into the anderun to breakfast.
"By what miracle,' exclaimed I, 'have you done this? Where is the Khanum! where are the women! And how, if they are not here, shall I escape the doctor?'
"Do not fear,' she repeated again, 'I have barred all the doors. You must know that our destinies are on the rise, and that it was a lucky hour when we first saw each other. My rival, the Georgian, put it into the Khanum's head that Leilah, who is a professed weeper at burials, having learned the art in all its branches since a child, was a personage absolutely necessary on the present occasion, and that she ought to go in preference to me, who am a Curd, and can know but little of Persian customs; all this, of course, to deprive me of my black handkerchief, and other advantages. Accordingly, I have been left at home; and the whole party went off, an hour ago, to the house of the deceased.''
That fine perception about the "black handkerchief," is worth a million! Zeenab afterwards relates her markable exhibiting the customs of life, which is amusing, but not rethe Yezeedies, a wild Curdish tribe, to which she belonged. Eventually, the chief physician makes a present of her to the Shah; and Hajji (who, in the meantime, has become a nasakchi, or sub-provost-marshal) is compelled to witness her execution, for a fault of which he himself is the author. But this scene, which the same pen that wrote the story of Euphrosyne, might have rendered (we should have supposed) almost too fearful for endurance, has, abstractedly, very little merit; and, coming from the author of Anastasius, is a decided failure.
Indeed, the latter half of the book
consists mainly of matter, very little worthy of a considerable writer. Hajji's adventures as a nasakchi have not a great deal of novelty about them; and the personages are weak into whose association he is thrown. The chief executioner, for instance, is a dull fellow; and the attack (vol. II. p. 272) by two Russian soldiers upon five hundred Turkish horse, should be authenticated. The subsequent business, in which Hajji becomes a mollah, (priest,) with the attack upon the Armenians, tends to almost nothing. The episodes, too, are in no instance fortunate. The story of Yusuf and Mariam is tedious. The adventures of the Dervises few persons will get through; and the legend of "The Baked Head" is a weak imitation of the little Hunchback of the Arabian Nights.
The hero subsequently runs, during the whole of the last volume, through a round of incoherent, and often carelessly related adventures. He becomes a merchant, and that is not entertaining; marries, and is divorced again; writes accounts of the Europeans and their customs, which are puerile; and, at last, just as he is appointed secretary-in-chief to the Persian English embassy in Persia, (our supposed translator,) stops short, and addresses the reader. Profiting by the example of the Persian story-tellers, he pauses in his tale at the most interesting point, and says to the public," Give me en couragement, and I will tell you more. You shall be informed how Hajji Baba accompanied a great ambassador to England; of their adventures by sea and land ; of all he saw and all he remarked; aud of what happened to him on his return to Persia. But, in case," he adds, like the third Dervise, (a personage in the tale,) "he should find that he has not yet acquired the art of leading on the attention of the curious, he will never venture to appear again before the world, until he has gained the necessary experience to ensure success.'
Now, the author of Anastasius may command encouragement in abundance to do anything else; but he shall have no encouragement from us to continue the history of Hajji Baba. An Oriental gentleman, who can neither fight
nor make love, will never do to buckle three more volumes upon the back of. Besides, we have already got some specimen of Hajji's talent for describing European peculiarities; and, from what we see, we should say most decidedly, Let us on that head have no more. All the business about the vaccination-and the doctor's desire to dissect dead bodies-" Boonapoort," the East India “ Coompani," and the European constitutions, is, to speak the truth plainly, very wretched stuff indeed. And we say this with the less hesitation to Mr Hope, because we have expressed our unfeigned admiration of his former work. It should seem that he can do well; and if so, there is no excuse for him when he does miserably ill.
Let us guard ourselves against being mistaken. Hajji Baba may be read; and there are, as our extracts will prove, some good things in it. But, as a whole, it is tiresome, incoherent, and full of "damnable iteration." Combats-caravans — reviews — palaces— processions-repeating themselves over and over again—and many of them repetitions, and weak repetitions, of what we have had, in strength, from Mr Hope before.
Seriously, Hajji Baba should be cashiered forthwith. As far as the public is concerned, the journey of the "pilgrim" should be at an end. And, indeed, England to be described by any foreigner, is a subject just now not the most promising. For the difference between Mr Hope's last work and his present one, it would be very difficult to account; but certainly, if he writes again, let him at least trust freely to his own conceptions. The present book has none of the eloquence or poetic feeling, very little of the wit, and still less of the fine taste, which distinguished the former in so eminent a degree. Of Anastasius, one would say, that it seemed to have been written by some mighty hand, from a store, full, almost to overflowing, with rich and curious material; of Hajji Baba, that some imitator, of very little comparative force indeed, had picked up the remnant of the rifled note-book, and brought it to market in the best shape that he was able.
LETTER FROM SAMPSON STANDFAST, ESQ.
TO CHRISTOPHER NORTH, ESQ.
THE Session of Parliament seems likely to be ushered in by circumstances, alike happy and extraordinary. At home, agricultural distress has vanished; reform, even as a term, has become obsolete; faction has been disarmed by the scorn of "the people," and all is unclouded prosperity and peace. Abroad, the demon of revolution has been again smote to the earth, and its followers only exist to be derided for their madness and imbecility. Fate, which has been prodigal of its favours so long to party spirit, seems now resolved to place public affairs above its reach, and to decree, that the Ministry and Opposition shall pass, at least one session, without even a pretext for quarrel and combat.
Transcendently beneficial as this state of things is to the nation at large, there are those to whom it is transcendently disastrous. There is a class in the State which it plunges into the extreme of loss, and distress, and hopelessness. I cannot conceive any situation more truly pitiable than that in which the brilliant aspect of public affairs places the heads of Opposition, from Grey, down to Wilson. Out of doors, their general principles are covered with contempt and ridicule, and the few followers they retain will not suffer them to open their lips; and in Parliament, they seem to be deprived of every topic that might enable them to keep themselves in sight as public men. Without the assistance of the charitable and humane, their utter ruin seems to be inevitable.
It is impossible to withhold our compassion even from the distress of an enemy. We forget the dangers which he has drawn around us, and the injuries which we have received at his hands; and we only remember that he rent the veil which concealed our talents, and lit the blaze of our glory. If there had been no Buonaparte, there had been no Wellington. We have passed together through a portion of life front to front, if not side by side; we have become familiar from sight and contact, if not from sympathy and affection; and we therefore regard the fall of a foe with more pity, than that of a stranger who never wronged us. I have long been the bitter enemy of
the individuals to whom I have adverted, because I believed their schemes to threaten the State with ruin; but when I now glance at them, I should, if I were addicted to weeping, shed tears over their wretchedness. If they could be relieved by legislative enactments, I would actually sign a petition to Parliament in their behalf; and if a subscription could serve them, I protest I would put down five pounds with the utmost alacrity. In truth, the sole object of my present communication is, to furnish the means for preserving them from total annihilation.
These truly unfortunate and unhappy persons are well aware that they must have matter for Parliamentary motions, or lose their political being; and that all their old subjects-reform, public distress, foreign policy, finance, alteration of the criminal laws, &c. &c. -are now utterly unserviceable. I here tender to them an entirely new set of Parliamentary motions. If they are wise men, they will eagerly accept my offering; and if they are grateful men, they will, in due season, honour me with a statue as their saviour.
In the first place, let Earl Grey in the Lords, and Mr Tierney in the Commons, move that a committee be appointed to ascertain precisely the creed and nature of modern Whiggism. The Committee must be instructed to point out with the greatest care the difference between the Whiggism of the present day, and that of 1688; and to state with the utmost exactness, the distinctions in faith and practice between the Whigs, and the huge Continental faction, which is known by the thousand and one names of, the Carbonari, Liberals, Revolutionists, Constitutionalists, Anarchists, &c. &c. The committee should likewise shew, where modern Whiggism agrees with, and where it is hostile to, the British Constitution; and, as the terms, liberty, despotism, constitutional, patriotic, &c. &c., would probably be often employed in the discussion, it ought to give correct definitions of these terms, by way of preface to its report.
In due time afterwards, let the same most eminent individuals move for a committee to inquire into the causes of the decline and fall of Whiggism. This