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HINDU POETRY.

M. GARCIN DE Tassy, an Oriental scholar of considerable eminence at Paris, has published a prose translation of a poem in Hindustanee, by Meer Mohammed Tuqee, bearing a title which he translates, Advice to Bad Poets.* The poem is to be found in the collection of that poet's works published at Calcutta in 1811, and also in the Muntakhabat-:- Hindi, or Selections of Pro. fessor Shakespear. This translation, which driginally appeared in the Journal Asiatique, affords a favourable specimen of the talents of the writers in Hindee or the Oordoo dialect of Hindustan. In an introduction prefixed to the translation, M. Garcin combats the false notion entertained in Europe, that the modern language of Hindustan is destitute of literary treasures. On the contrary, he says, the Hindus of the present day, like their ancestors, possess an extensive literature of their own: they are not compelled to study the sacred language of Benares in order to read works of talent, or to admire harmonious verses. In their own tongue, they have treatises on the sciences, interesting chronicles, poems full of imagination, besides a multitude of works of every kind translated from the Sanscrit and Persian. In short, their literature, he observes, is one of the most prolific of modern Asia.

The Advice to Bad Poets is a satire directed against those who, fancying themselves gifted with poetic talents, neglect the proper means of study. There was a time, says the author, when such talents were cultivated under the direction of able instructors in the art of poesy. The public then possessed taste and discernment, and only men of superior abilities could claim the regard due to a poet. The present rage for writing verses, he continues, is productive of no benefit, civil or religious: the lowest trades are far more useful to society; indeed, he adds, if no poets existed at all, the loss of them would be no great calamity. Poetry, he adds, is still more objectionable in respect to religion, than useless in relation to civil matters. “ Modern compositions are chiefly filled with exaggerations, as ridiculous as they are false; if, therefore, religion be incompatible with falsehood, how can poets lay the least pretensions to piety, who are in the habitual practice of lying?” He then describes the foolish encouragement given to the swarms of pretended poets, by the bad taste of the public, and by the flattery of their brethren in the degraded art. The poor novice, bewildered by the silly praises bestowed upon him, thinks himself bound to desert the pursuits of the station in which he was born, and give himself up wholly to poetry. Presumptuous ignorance, however, he ob ves, must not vay's flatter itself with attaining literary consideration; nay, fools who persist in writing verses, may expose themselves to indignity, and even to cudgelling, like the poet whose mischance the author recounts as follows:

“ Hilali one day presented himself at the palace of the Governor of Ispahan, a great admirer of poetry. On being announced by the chamberlain, the prince immediately commanded that he should be admitted, received him with demonstrations of vast respect and veneration, and insisted upon his being placed near him. Hilali, delighted at his reception, expatiated in praise of the prince's great and good qualities; even the approach of night could not stop the career of his flattery. The Vizier, however, maliciously brought forward the topic of poetry, with a view of discovering the poet's talents. Hilali did not require solicitation; he poured forth verses, but unluckily was guilty of sundry gross violations of the laws of metre. The prince, whose taste was delicate, was disgusted, and his anger increasing at every new blunder,— Let some one, cried he, ' bring me a cudgel;' and grasping with a vigorous hand, the fatal instrument, he applied it with such force to the shoulders of Hilali, that the poor poet fell senseless. Being supposed dead, he was conveyed to his abode, in great haste; and soon the whole bazar rang with nothing but this accident. The poet's heirs were all in motion; but Hilali, recovering from his swoon, with a feeble voice articulated these words : * Be careful not to imagine that the Governor is an enemy to poetry; on the contrary, he loves the art, and is skilled in it; but he is very difficult on this point, and most modern verses are detestable to him. Probably he found some defects in mine, which was the cause of his rage: for, he is generally good and generous, and has often bestowed marks of his favour upon such of my colleagues as have been admitted into his presence. If he has ill-used me to night, this is no reason why I should calumniate him. I feel that it is necessary that I should study more deeply the rules of the art to which I have devoted myself. I will, therefore, seek an able poet, fix myself near him, and attend assiduously to his advice; perhaps I shall thereby acquire that knowledge in which I am now deficient, and reach a certain degree of perfection in the science of verse.' So saying, he arose, and went immediately in search of the celebrated poet Jami. He passed some time with this distinguished poet, exercising his natural talents under his observation. When Hilali had acquired such instruction as Jami deemed sufficient, he quitted his tutor, and presented himself again at the prince's gate. The chamberlain, astonished at the return of a person who had been so mercilessly cudgelled, advertised his master of this visit. “Well,' replied the prince, it is perfectly right; let no one oppose his access to me; I hope to-day he will retire content.' When, however, Hilali entered the presence, he dared not advance, nor raise his humbled head. He remained some time in the same attitude, exposed to the burning rays of the sun. At length the Governor made a sign for him to approach ; and he did not dismiss him without a munificent present. One of the prince's court, who witnessed both receptions, remarked upon their dissimilarity. • Sire,' said he, ' at the former interview, after receiving the poet in a most gracious manner, you nevertheless applied a cudgel to his shoulders : at the present, on the contrary, you make him a handsome present, and send him away without ceremony. I should be glad to learn the motive of conduct so contradictory.' The judicious governor replied : ' The contempt of poetic rules, established by our ancestors, has at present risen to an inconceivable height; nay, if ignorance had the power, it would annihilate them altogether. Thus the lesson I gave to Hilali, when he first presented himself, was necessary; the report of the adventure will spread abroad, and those who fancy themselves possessed of talents will no longer confide implicitly in their own opinion, but will obtain instruction from skilful masters. But for this, every fool would have boldly vented his impertinences here; till, by degrees, poetry would become infamous, and the name of a poet an opprobrium. When I cudgelled Hilali, he did not possess the skill imparted by a knowledge of the art of versification. He is now no longer the same person, and I have found him worthy of my favours.'

Hilali

* Conseils aux mauvais Poètes, Poème de Mir Taki, traduit de l'Hindostani. A Paris, 1826.

The introduction of the cudgel, as a reformer of poetic taste, is perhaps less suited to the constitution of European than Asiatic habits. We know,

however,

however, by experiment, that, in England, it performed wonders in the hands of the trunk-maker of Addison's time; but the blows from his powerful arm descended upon the benches of the theatre, not upon the shoulders of poets or actors,

The poet concludes as follows :- -“ It was thus that formerly merit could be distinguished; whilst, at the present day, no regard is paid but to verses which creep in the dirt. This defect of discernment, on the part of the public, is the

fore the true cause of the imperfection modern compositions. Mediocrity has beaten out a track unknown to classic authors, and carries off the praise due to talent. The enthusiasm of genius, the purity of elocution, are now reckoned as nothing : each scribbler fancies himself the Sahban * of eloquence.

“ But enough, my Calam ; cease to trace useless lines. The flourishing ages of literature have passed away. Which of our fellow-citizens listen with pleasure to an ingenious thought? Where is the man who can pretend to comprehend it? I perceive around us only men without capacity; and I doubt whether my own talent is sufficient to rank me with poets.”

Meer Mohammed Tuqee, the author of this poem, is a modern Hindu poet of some celebrity. He flourished in the reign of the Emperor Shah Alum, the son of Aurengzebe. The anecdote he relates concerning his brother poet Hilali, who enjoys a high reputation in Persia (to which country he belonged), is of dubious authenticity. It is not noticed in the biographical accounts of that writer. If it be true, M. de Tassy thinks it does little credit to the Vizier of Ispahan; and if false, it shows a want of judgment in Meer Tuqee to make him the hero of such an adventure,

* A very celebrated Arabian poet.

HINDU ASTRONOMY.

Line

361,

The communication from Mr. Colebrooke, which was inserted in the last
number of this Journal, through an accident not necessary to explain, was
sent to press without revision. It discovers, consequently, the following
errata :-
Page

4, for Rómaca, read Sóma (should be Rómaca).
8, for Rómaca, read Sóma.
46, for Lágharn, read Lághava.

41, for In division, read Indian division.
363, 30-31, for form or position, read former position.

35, for then, read there.
364, 18, for writing, read writings.

23, for case, read arc.
365, 40, for mentioned, read maintained.

362,

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TRAVELS

TRAVELS IN THE HIMALAYA COUNTRY.

[Concluded from p. 341.1 “Not being able to prevail upon the Tartars to allow them to proceed a step further, the travellers unwillingly began their return (27th of July). They again traversed the Këúbrang pass, and repeated their barometric measurement of it with the same result; halted at Rishi Talam, 15,200 feet high, two miles from their former stage at Zongchin, and proceeded by the Gangtang pass to Rishi Irpú, on the Hóchó river.

“At the limit of vegetation (16,600 feet above the sea) it commenced snowing, and they were involved in a dense haze : the guides missed their way, knew not how to proceed, and became alarmed. They halted, therefore, for a while; and, the clouds clearing away for an instant, Messrs. Gerard got sight of a shaghar, or pile of stones, the bearing of which they took ; and being surrounded by mist, steered towards it by a pocket compass. The ascent was steep, and they often scrambled over sharp-pointed rocks. They proceeded a mile and a-half, guided by the compass; and the lower clouds clearing away, they found themselves within half a mile of the shaghar, The summit of the pass was measured barometrically, 18,295 feet above the

sea.

“A stream, that unites with the Táglá, lay upon the left the greater part of the way ascending the pass; they descended it along the Hóchó, which comes from the left, where there is a great expanse of snow. They followed its course to Rishi Irpú. The valley is generally half a mile broad. The river is picturesque: in one part a clear and shallow stream, in another it thunders over rocks in a succession of sparkling cascades. There are several arches of snow over it. In several places its course was partly arrested by rocks from above. It is concealed for a considerable space by a huge pile of stones, and it forces its way underneath, bursting forth in a large body of water. In other places it forms large deep lakes, and leaps over the embankments, with tremendous noise, in sheets of white spray.

“Limestone, which had been the prevailing rock since they first met with it in the vicinity of Zongchin, near the Táglá, became more rare as they approached Irpú, and disappeared near that place. It is there succeeded by mica slate.

“After a halt of four days for astronomical observations, during which time the temperature was warm, varying from 61o at sunrise to 85° at noon, the wind blowing very strongly from the S.W., and the sky frequently obscured with light clouds attended with a little rain ; they moved (4th August) along the banks of the Setlej, or in the bed of the river, to Namgia. On the right margin of the river, the mass of rock (granite) is so steep, and the fracture so fresh, as to give it the appearance of having been recently broken.

“ Several temporary huts, perched high among the crags across the river, are the summer residence of the hunters of Hango, who roam among the rocks in quest of deer.

Kháb, a village of but two houses, a mile from Namgia, is immediately opposite the junction of the Li or Spití river, one of the largest tributaries of the Setlej, having its source in Ladak. The cheeks of the gulph (solid granite) seem perfectly mural for many hundred feet; one of the arms of the Pargéúl mountain limits the left side of the channel of the Spiti. The con

Asiatic Journ. VOL. XXI. No. 124. 3 N

trast

trast between the two streams is striking : the Spití issues from its almost subterraneous concealment in a calm blue deep body, to meet the Setlej, which is an absolute torrent, thundering over the stones in deafening clamour.

“ It had been determined to renew an attempt of penetrating eastward, beyond the boundary of British influence, into the upper valley of the Setlej. Accordingly they marched to Shipki, in Chinese Tartary, by the Piming pass (13,518 feet), the boundary between Basehar and Chinese Tartary. There could scarcely be a better defined limit: in front the face of the country is entirely changed; eastward, as far as the eye can see, gravelly mountains of a very gentle slope succeed one another. No rugged cliffs rise to view, but a bare

expanse of elevated land, without snow, and in appearance like a Scotch heath. Just beyond the Setlej, the mighty Pargéúl, an immense mass, rises to 13,500 feet above the bed of the river, more than 21,000 above the sea. To the east of it, in the same granitic range, are several sharp pinnacles, nearly as high, being more than 20,000 feet above the sea : on the S.W., at the back of the town of Shipki, is an enormous mass 20,150 feet high, crowned with perpetual snow. The Shirang mountain, over which the road to Gárú leads, exceeds 18,300 feet in actual height above the sea; yet only one small stripe of snow could be detected on it with the telescope.

Shipkí had been twice before (in 1818 and 1820) visited by the same trayellers. They now received a letter from the Garpan of Gárú (in reply to one sent by them from Zinchin), prohibiting their advance eastward. At the same time the local authorities were instructed to furnish no provisions at any price.

“ Messrs. Gerard returned to Nangia by the lofty pass of Kóngma (16,007 feet above the sea): it is the usual resting-place for beasts of burden. Furze and grass extend considerably higher on each side; and springs rise, which form a lake at the distance of 150 yards.

Intending to explore the valley of the Li or Spité river, and penetrate by that route as far as might be found practicable, they crossed the Setlej by a jhólá, or bridge of suspension, made of twigs twisted together. The bed of the river is í here 8,600 feet above the level of the sea; the breadth of the stream is seventy-five feet.

“From the Setlej the path leads up the face of a granite range to Taz-hi-gang, perched amidst ruins of a frightful bulk, at the height of 11,850 feet above

The temple and residence of the Lamas are still 500 feet higher. Ascending upon loose rocks to the highest point of the road (13,200 feet), they turned the extremity of the range; and leaving the Setlej behind, bent their course to the north, having the Li or Spíti on the left, about 5,000 feet below, and almost a complete precipice. The road continued at a general height of 13,000 feet, upon granite, crumbling into sand, and producing a few bushes of juniper and furze.

“ A fine prospect suddenly opened : a village (Nákó) in the heart of abundant cultivation already yellow, with a broad sheet of water, surrounded by tall poplar, juniper, and willow trees of prodigious size, and environed by massive rocks of granite.

Separate measurements, at three different times (1818, 1820, and 1821), by excellent barometers, and the boiling point of water, determine the height of Nákó a little more than 12,000 feet above the level of the sea; yet there are produced most luxuriant crops of barley, wheat, phápur (polygonum ?), and turnips, rising by steps to nearly 700 feet higher; where is a Lama's

residence,

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the sea.

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