Page images
PDF
EPUB

“ have a little patiente.” When Dr. Hunt of Oxford, whom I am bound to name with gratitude and veneration, together with two or three others, attempted at my request to write the fame diftich in Arabian characters, they all wrote it differently, and all, in my present opinion, erroneously. I was then a very young student, and could not easily have procured Ibnu Zaidùn's works, which are, no doubt, preserved in the Bodley library, but which have not since fallen in my way. This admired couplet, therefore, I have never seen in the original characters, and confess myself at a loss to render them with certainty. Both verses are written by D'Herbelot without attention to the grammatical points, that is, in a form which no learned Arab would give them in recitation; but, although the French version be palpably erroneous, it is by no means easy to correct the errour. If álásà or à remedy be the true reading, the negative particle must be absurd, since taássainà fignifies we are patient, and not we despair, but, if álásay or affliction be the proper word, some obscurity must arise from the verb, with which it agrees. On the whole I guess, that the distich should thus be written :

بین تنکجیئم ہایرنا بیگان يقضي علينا الأي لولا تأبينا

Yécadu bhina tunajícum d'emdïrund
Takdi Klạià lay lau taa/sinh:

“When our bofoms impart their secrets to you, anguish would almost fix our doom, if we were not mutually to console ourselves.'

The principal verbs may have a future sense, and the last word may admit of a different interpretation. Dr. Hunt, I remember, had found in Giggelus the word dhemáyer, which he conceived to be in the original. After all, the rhyme seems imperfect, and the measure irregular. Now I ask, whether such perplexities could have arisen, if D'Herbelot or his Editor had formed a regular system of expressing Arabick in Roman characters, and had apprized his readers of it in his introductory dissertation ?

If a further proof be required, that such a syftem will be useful to the learned and essential to the student, let me remark, that a learner of Persian, who should read in our best histories the life of Sultan AZIM, and wish to write his name in Arabick letters, might express it thirtynine different ways, and be wrong at laft: the word should be written Aázem with three points on the first consonant.

There are two general modes of exhibiting Afiatick words in our own letters: they are founded on principles nearly opposite, but each of them has its advantages, and each has been recommended by respectable authorities. The first professes to regard chiefly the pronunciation of the words intended to be expressed ; and this method, aş far as it can be pursued, is unquestionably useful : but new sounds are very inadequately presented to a sense not formed to receive them; and the reader must in the end be left to pronounce many letters and syllables precariously; besides, that by this mode of orthography all grammatical analogy is destroyed, simple sounds are represented by double characters, vowels of one denomination stand for those of another; and possibly with all our labour we perpetuate a provincial or inelegant pronunciation: all these objections may be made to the usual way of writing Kummerbund, in which neither the letters nor the true sound of them are preserved, while Kemerbend, or Cemerbend, as an ancient Briton would write it, clearly exhibits both the original characters and the Persian pronunciation of them. To set this point in a strong light, we need only suppose, that the French had adopted a system of letters wholly different from ours, and of which we had no types in our printing-houses : let us conceive an Englislınan acquainted with their language to be pleased with MALHERBE's wellknown imitation, of Horace, and desirous of

quoting it in some piece of criticism. He would read thus:

[ocr errors]

• La mort a des rigueurs à nulle autre pareilles ;

« On a beau la prier:
• La cruelle qu'elle est fe bouche les oreilles,

Et nous laiffe crier.

« Le

pauvre en fa cabane, ou le chaume le couvre,

• Eft sujet à fes loix,
• Et la gardė, qui veille aux barrieres du Louvre,

N'en défend pas nos rois !'

Would he then express these eight verses, in Roman characters, exactly as the French themselves in fact express them, or would he decorate his composition with a passage' more resembling the dialect of favages, than that of a polished nation? His pronunciation, good or bad, would, perhaps, be thus represented:

• Law more aw day reegyewrs aw nool otruh parellyuh,

• Onne aw bo law preeay :
• Law crooellyuh kellay fuh booshuh lays orellyuh,

Ay noo laysuh creeay.

'Luh povre ong saw cawbawn oo luh chomuh luh coovruh,

Ay soozyet aw say lwaw,
Ay law gawrduh kee velly ò bawryayruh dyoo Loovruh

Nongdayfong paw nó rwaw!”

The second system of Asiatick Orthography consists in scrupulously rendering letter for letter, without any particular care to preserve the prðu nunciation ; and, as long as this mode proceeds by unvaried rules, it seems clearly entitled to preference.

For the firft method of writing Persian words the warmest advocate, among my acquaintance, was the late Major Davy, a Member of our Society, and a man of parts, whom the world lost prematurely at a time, when he was meditating a literary retirement, and hoping to pass the remainder of his life in domestick happiness and in the cultivation of his very useful talents. He valued himself particularly on his pronunciation of the Persian language, and on his new way

of exhibiting it in our characters, which he instructed the learned and amiable Editor of his Institutes of Timour at Oxford to retain with minute attention throughout his work. Where he had acquired his refined articulation of the Persian, I never was informed; but it is evident, that he spells most proper names in a manner, which a native of Persia, who could read our letters, would be unable to comprehend. For instance: that the capital of Azarbaijàn is now called Tabriz, I know from the mouth of a person born in that city, as well as from other Iranians; and that it was so called fixteen hundred years ago, we all know from the Geography of Ptolemy; yet Major DAVY always wrote it

« PreviousContinue »