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please the "rising generation," but may also instruct "children of larger growth."

When this work was first published in England it seems to have made its way very rapidly into public favour; and Weber, in his Introduction to the Tales of the East, relates, as follows, a singular instance of the effects they produced soon after their first appearance: "Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate for Scotland, having one Saturday evening found his daughters employed in reading the volumes, he seized them, with a rebuke for spending the evening before the Sabbath in such worldly amusements; but the grave advocate himself became a prey to the fascination of these tales, being found on the morning of the Sabbath itself employed upon their perusal, from which he had not risen during the whole night!" The popularity of the Arabian Nights is due, no doubt, to the peculiar charm of its descriptions of scenes and incidents which the reader is well aware could only exist and occur in the imagination; but we like to be taken away from our hard, matterof-fact surroundings-away into a world where, if we cannot ourselves become endowed with supernatural powers, at least we may summon mighty spirits to do our will, to transport us whither we please, to bring us in an instant the choicest fruits from the most distant regions, to construct for us palaces of gold and silver, and precious gems, to supply us with dainties in dishes made of single diamonds and

rubies. In this very outraging of probability, and even possibility, lies the strange fascination which some of these Tales exercise over the reader's mind. He surrenders his judgment to the author, and such is the force of the spell, that even when it has been partly removed by closing the book, he will gravely ask himself: “And why may not such things be?” It has been justly observed by Lord Bacon, that, “as the active world is inferior to the rational soul, so Fiction gives to mankind what History denies, and in some measure satisfies the mind with shadows when it cannot enjoy the substance."

This famous work is, of course, a compilation, and not by a single hand and at one time, or from a particular source, but from a variety of sources. Many of the Tales are found in the oldest Indian collections; probably the witty and humorous are purely Arabian, while the tender and sentimental love-tales are derived from the Persian. The origin of the Arabian Tales has long been (and perhaps needlessly) a vexed question among the learned. Baron De Sacy has stoutly contended with M. Langles and M. Von Hammer, on the questions of whether the work was a mere translation or adaptation of an old Persian collection, entitled the "Thousand Days," and when and where it was composed. But the general opinion of scholars at the present day is that the work was probably compiled by different hands, in Egypt, about the 15th or 16th centuries, though it * a

is very probable that many additions were made at a later date, by the insertion of romances, which formed no part of the original collection, as we shall presently see.*

A peculiarity of most collections of Eastern fictions is their being enclosed within a frame, so to say, or leading story; as in the Arabian Nights: a plan which appears to have been introduced into Europe by a Latin translation of a romance of Indian origin, known in this country by the title of The Seven Sages, and which was first adopted by Boccaccio in his celebrated Decameron, where it is represented that a party of ladies and gentlemen, during the prevalence of the great plague in Florence, retire for safety to a mansion at some distance from the city, and there amuse themselves by relating stories. And our English poet Chaucer, after the same fashion, in his Canterbury Tales, represents a number of pilgrims, of different classes, as bound for the shrine of Thomas à Becket, and, to alleviate the tediousness

* Of the numerous English translations of the Arabian Nights which have been published, that of the learned Arabist, Mr William Edward Lane, made direct from the original text, is by far the best, and will probably never be surpassed; while his elaborate and highly interesting Notes to the translation furnish the most complete account which we possess of the manners, customs, superstitions, &c., of the modern Arabians in Egypt, with which his residence in that country, and familiarity with the language as it is spoken, enabled him to become intimately acquainted.

of the journey, reciting stories of varied character. But although this plan of making a number of stories all subordinate to a leading story was introduced into Europe in the 13th century, when the Latin version of the "Seven Sages" was published, yet in the East it had been in vogue many centuries previously.

The oldest extant collection of Fables and Tales (excepting the Buddhist Birth-Stories, recently made known to English readers by Mr T. W. Rhys Davids' translation of a portion) is that called in Europe The Fables of Pilpay, or Bidpai, of which the Sanskrit prototype is entitled Panchatantra, or Five Sections, with its abridgment, Hitopadesa, or Friendly Instruction. This work, or one very similar, existed in India and in the Sanskrit language as early at least as the 6th century of our era, when it was translated into Pahlavi, the ancient language of Persia, during the reign of Nushirvān, surnamed the Just (A.D. 531-579). This Pahlavi version-though no longer extantescaped the general wreck of Persian literature on the conquest of the country by the Arabs, and was translated, during the reign of 'the Khalif Mansur (A.D. 753-774), into Arabic, from which several versions were made in modern Persian, and also translations into Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and most of the European languages. Perhaps no book of mere human composition ever had such a remarkable literary history and enduring popularity. These Fables, although arranged in sections, are sphered one within

another in a rather bewildering manner, yet all are subordinated to a leading story or general frame.* It is worthy of note that, while there is no proof that this work, in its present form, existed before the sixth century, yet many, if not all, of the Fables themselves have been discovered in Buddhistic works which were certainly written about or before the commencement of our era. Their translation from the Pali, which the learned Benfey seems to have conclusively proved, and their arrangement in the form in which they exist in Sanskrit, may have been done any time between the first and the sixth centuries.

But there was another Indian work, now apparently lost, formed on the same plan, which, if we may credit El-Mas'ūdī, the Arabian historian, who lived in the tenth century, certainly dates before our era; namely, the Book of Sindibad, of which there have

* For example: before one story (1) is ended another (2) is begun, and before it is finished another (3), springing out of the second, is commenced; then out of story 3 springs yet another story (4), which ended, number 3 is resumed and brought to an end, then number 2, after which number I is resumed and concluded; and then the thread of the leading story-which runs throughout the whole work, like a brook through a meadow, but often out of sight-is taken up once more ;-to lead presently to a fresh complication of stories, which "beget one another to the end of the chapter!" The arrangement of the Tales in the Arabian Nights is on this plan; though not to be compared for elaboration with that of the Indian Fables, above mentioned, still less so with the frame of Katha Sarit Ságara.

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