Page images

ducing the best aloe-wood, a favourite perfume of the Asiaticks : to the south-west of this promontory are the numerous islands, which we call Maldives, and the Arabs Rabíhát, and a little to the south-east, the famed Serandib or Seilán, which produces so many precious perfumes, jewels, and spices. M. d'Herbelot remarks, that the Eastern Geographers say nothing of the cinnamon, with which Serandib abounds, and, as they call that spice the wood of China, he imagines, with some appearance of probability, that it was transplanted to Seilán by the Chinese, who, as it is currently reported, had once a great connection with the natives of that island. Farther eastward are the islands of Samander, or Sumatra, Rámi, or Lameri, which may, perhaps, be Java, though, by the accounts of it, one would take it for the same with Samander, and then Albinoman will be Java, Jális, the Moluccas, and Mehrage, or Soborma, Borneo; to which ifle the Easterns seem to confine their knowledge of Asiatick Geography* ; for what they call the isle of Anam, is no other than the fouthern part of the peninsula, which the ancients named The golden Chersonnese ; and

* They pretend, that a city called Jámcît is situated at the extremity of our Hemisphere.


as to Sinf, Sili, and Sindafúlat, they are rather ports on the coast of China than islands. The city of Khancú, which the learned African Prince Edrisi mentions, seems to be the Cantón of our merchants.

The third division of Hind is called MABER* by the Arabians, and extends from the gulf of Bengal on both sides of the Ganges as far northward as the straits of Kupele; and here we may observe, that it is usual with the Afaticks to give the same name to the countries, which lie on both sides of

any siderable river: thus the province of Sind is divided by the Indus, Kharezm by the Oxus, Palestine by the Arden or Jordan, Egypt by the Nile, and this part of India by the Ganges. The ancient system of government, which prevailed in this country, seems to have been perfectly feudal; all the territories were governed by Ráï's or Rájas, who held their lands of a supreme lord called Belhár, the feat of whose residence was the city of CANNOUGE, now in ruins. There is a curious book at Oxford, which was presented to the University by Mr. Pope, and contains the pictures of all the Kings who reigned in India, from the most early times to the age of Timur, whose descendant Báber founded the mo

* In Arabick Jeff or, The palage.

rarchy of the Moguls at the opening of the fixteenth century:

DEHLI, called also Shahgehánabád, was the Capital of a kingdom, which bore the same name, where a race of Mahomedan princes reigned before Tamerlane, who were lovers of poetry and eloquence, and liberal patrons of learned men: this City, as well as a great part of the Indian Empire, has been agreeably described by M. Bernier, who tells a pleasing story of two Raja's, named Gemel and Potta, who were besieged in a castle by Sultan Acbar, where, fearing to be led in chains by an insulting Conqueror, they made a desperate sally, in which they lost their lives fighting boldly to the last moment: he adds, that Acbar ordered the statues of these two illustrious brothers to be cut in marble upon two elephants, and placed over the gates of Dehli. To the north-west of this city stands Lahawar or LAHOR, the capital of Penjáb, or, The five Rivers, a province so called, because the Indus is in that part divided into five large branches : it seems to have been the ancient kingdom of Pór or Porus *, which is almost the only Asiatick word that the Greeks have

* In Persian je which signifies also in Indian a manfion, an abode, a city; hence Bijapór, jak usually called Visapor.

not corrupted. Our travellers mention a fine road of two hundred and fifty leagues, with rows of beautiful trees on each side, that reached from Agra to Labór; and it is obfervable that the Persians call that city also Ráhver*, in allusion, perhaps, to this road. We cannot forbear mentioning in this place the city of BENARES on the Ganges, famous for an academy or college of Indian priests, commonly called Bramens, who once possessed all the learning of India, and spoke the language, in which Bidpai wrote his excellent fables : there are some of this fraternity remaining, but their learning, it is probable, has not been preserved among them in great degree, and their ancient language begins, like the Greek, to be respected rather than known.



The Turkish Empire.

The peninsula of ARABIA, for so it is called by the eastern Geographers, has the gulf of Persia on the north-east, and the sea of Om

* In Persian jees, literally, having a road.

[ocr errors]

mán on the south, whence the province, that lies between them, took the name of Bahrein, or The Two Seas; it is bounded on the west by the Bahar Al Yemen, or Red Sea, which has also the name of Colzom, taken from a town of Egypt, now entirely ruined; on the north it has Sbám or Syria The triple division of Arabia into Yemen, or the Happy, Hejaz, or the Desert, and Hajar, or the Stony, is well known to every reader: yet it will not be useless to add a short description of those three provinces.

YEMEN*, a delightful country, which had its Arabick name from the advantages of its situation, is divided from Flejáz by high mountains and vast deserts; it produces the finest incense, and other valuable perfumes : the sweetness of its fruits, the refreshing shade of its woods, and the coolness of its rivers, which flow perpetually down the mountains, make ample amends to its inhabitants for the heat of the climate, which must needs be very intense, as the city of ADEN is but eleven degrees from the Line. Its other principal cities are, 1. SANAA, which was the seat of the Tobái's, or ancient kings of Yemen. 2. ZEBID, nearly in the same la

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »