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however, we are not to confider as of the nature of Romance; for the outlines of the story are true. But the author takes the liberty to feign many incidents; that he may fet in a variety of lights the character of Cyrus, whom he meant to exhibit as the model of a great and good prince. The work is very elegant and entertaining, and abounds in moral, political, and military knowledge. It is, nevertheless, to be regretted, that we have no certain rule for diftinguishing what is hiftorical in it, from what is fabulous. The history of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Perfian empire, who has the honour to be mentioned by name in the Old Teftament, is furely worth knowing. Yet we are much in the dark in regard to it. The account given of him by Herodotus differs greatly from Xenophon's; and in many inftances we know not which to prefer. It is obfervable however, that Xenophon's defcription of the manner in which Cyrus took Babylon, by turning afide the course of the Euphrates, and entering, through the empty channel, under the walls of the city, agrees very well with feveral intimations of that event, which we find in the prophecies of Ifaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel.

Allegorical Fables were not unknown in the days of Xenophon. The Table, or Picture, of Cebes the Theban was written about this time; as well as the Story of Hercules converfing with Virtue and Vice, and preferring the honours promised by the former to the pleasures offered by the latter. Cebes's Picture of human life excels in accuracy of defcription, juftnefs of allegory, and a fweet fimplicity of ftyle. The fable of Hercules, as originally written by Prodicus,

is loft, and feems not to have been extant in the time of Cicero *; but Xenophon gives a full and elegant abftract of it, in the beginning of his fecond book of Memorabilia.

Excepting fome Allegorical fables fcattered up and down in Plato, I do not recollect, among the Claffick productions of Greece and Rome, any other remarkable specimen of profe fable: for the heathen mythology, though full of allegories, I am not to touch upon in this place, on account of its connection with poetry; and because my chief purpose is, to inquire into the origin and nature of the Modern Romance.

But, first, it may be proper to observe, that the Oriental nations have long been famous for fabulous narrative. The indolence peculiar to the genial climates of Afia, and the luxurious. life which the kings and other great men, of thofe countries, lead in their feraglios, have made them feek for this fort of amufement, and fet a high value upon it. When an Eastern prince happens to be idle, as he commonly is, and at a lofs for expedients to kill the time, he commands his Grand Vizier, or his favourite, to tell him ftories. Being ignorant, and confequently credulous; having no paffion for moral improvement, and little knowledge of nature; he does not defire, that they fhould be probable, or of an inftructive tendency: it is enough if they be astonishing. And hence it is, no doubt, that thofe Oriental tales are fo extravagant. Every thing is carried on by inchantment and prodigy; by fairies, genii, and demons, and wooden horfes,

• Cicero de Officiis. Lib. i. cap. 32.

horfes, which, on turning a peg, fly through the air with inconceivable fwiftnefs.

Another thing remarkable in thefe Eaftern tales, is, that their authors expatiate, with peculiar delight, in the defcription of magnificence; rich robes, gaudy furniture, fumptuous entertainments, and palaces fhining in gold, or fparkling with diamonds. This too is conformable to the character and circumftances of the people. Their great men, whofe tafte has never been improved by studying the fimplicity of nature and art, pique themselves chiefly on the Splendour of their equipage, and the vast quantities of gold, jewels, and curious things, which they can heap together in their repofitories.

The greateft, indeed the only collection, that I am acquainted with, of Oriental fables, is the Thousand and one tales, commonly called The Arabian Nights Entertainment. This book, as we have it, is the work of Monf. Galland of the French Academy, who is faid to have tranflated it from the Arabick original. But whether the tales be really Arabick, or invented by Monf. Galland, I have never been able to learn with certainty. If they be Oriental, they are tranflated with unwarrantable latitude; for the whole tenor of the ftyle is in the French mode: and the Caliph of Bagdat, and the Emperor of China, are addreffed in the fame terms of ceremony, which are ufual at the court of France. But this, though in my opinion it takes away from the value of the book, becaufe I wish to fee Eaftern manners in an Eastern tale, is no proof, that the whole work is by M. Galland: for the French are fo devoted

to

to their own ceremonies, that they cannot endure any other; and feldom fail to feafon their tranflations, even of the gravest and most antient authors, with the fafhionable forms of Parifian civility.

As the Arabian Nights Entertainment is a book which most young people in this country are acquainted with, I need not draw any character of it, or remark that it exactly anfwers the account already given of Oriental fable. There is in it great luxury of defcription, without any elegance; and great variety of invention, but nothing that elevates the mind, or touches the heart. All is wonderful and incredible; and the astonishment of the reader is more aimed at, than his improvement either in morality, or in the knowledge of nature. Two things, however, there are, which deferve commendation, and may entitle it to one perufal. It conveys a pretty juft idea of the government, and of fome of the customs, of those Eastern nations; and there is fomewhere in it a story of a barber and his fix brothers, that contains many good strokes of fatire and comick defcription. I may add, that the character of the Caliph Haroun Alrafchid is well drawn; and that the story of forty thieves destroyed by a slave is interefting, and artfully conducted. The voyages of Sindbad claim attention: they were certainly attended to, by the author of Guiliver's Travels.

Tales in imitation of the Oriental have oft been attempted by English, and other European, authors: who, together with the figurative style, and wild invention of the Afiaticks, (which,

being extravagant, are eafily imitated) endeavour alfo to paint the customs and manners of that people. They give us good store of gold and jewels; and eunuchs, flaves, and necromancers in abundance their perfonages are all Mahometan, or Pagan, and fubject to the defpotick government of Caliphs, Viziers, Bashaws, and Emperors; they drink fherbet, reft on fophas, and ride on dromedaries. We have Chinese Tales, Tartarian Tales, Perfian Tales, and Mogul Tales; not to mention the Tales of the Fairies and Genii; fome of which I read in my younger days: but, as they have left no trace in the memory, I cannot give any account of them.

In the Spectator, Rambler, and Adventurer, there are many fables in the eastern manner; most of them very pleasing, and of a moral tendency. Raffelas, by Johnson, and Almoran and Hamet, by Hawkefworth, are celebrated performances in this way. The former is admirable in defcription, and in that exquifite ftrain of fublime morality by which the writings of this great and good man are fo eminently diftinguifhed:-of the latter, the ftyle is rhetorical and folemn, and the fentiments are in general good, but the plan is obfcure, and fo contrived as to infufe perplexing notions of the Divine Providence; a subject, which the elegant writer feems to have confidered very fuperficially, and very confufedly.-Addifon excels in this fort of fable. His vifion of Mirzah, in the fecond volume of the Spectator, is the finest piece of the kind I have ever feen; uniting the utmost propriety of invention with a fimplicity and melody of language, that melts the heart, while it charms and foothes the imagination.

VOL. II.

R

See the Preface to his Voyages.

Modern

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