Page images


Imaum Reza was a priest of the sect of Ali, in such high repute for sanctity throughout Persia, that his popularity occasioned considerable uneasiness to Mamoun-al-Raschid, son and successor of the celebrated Caliph Haroun-alRaschid. The Imaum, in consequence of his increasing political influence, seems to have experienced, by the contrivance of the caliph, a fate siinilar to that of our Thomas à Becket; although some Mohammedan historians aver that he died a natural death, in the year of the Hejira 203. About 300 years after his death, the odour of his sanctity still remained amongst the followers of Ali; and Sultan Sanjer, moved, it is pretended, by a well-authenticated report of a miracle performed upon the spot where the Imaum was interred, erected a superb mausoleum over his tomb, of the most durable materials; the cement (said to be composed of Armenian bole, jelly of grape-juice, and goats' hair) is of so hard a substance, that it is extremely difficult to break it. Successive princes added to the splendour of this edifice; especially Nadir Shah, who bestowed many costly gifts to adorn the mausoleum, and enriched the shrine with jewels and other expensive decorations. The city of Meshid, the present capital of Khorasan, was gradually built around it.

This celebrated structure consists of a magnificent cluster of domes and minarets, situated in the centre of the city. A noble quadrangle, called the Sahn, about one hundred and sixty yards long by seventy-five broad, is the first object which attracts the eye. It is built in the form of a caravanserai, with two stories of apartments all round, opening into an arcaded gallery, In the centre of each side and end is a superb and lofty gateway, the whole completely incrusted with Mosaic work, composed of painted tiles in tasteful patterns. In the midst of the area stands a building called the Succah-khaneh, or waterhouse, which is gilt, and surrounded with small aqueducts for the purposes of ablution. The gateways exhibit exquisite specimens of Eastern ornamental architecture; the beauty of the style vying with the costliness of the materials. That on the south-west admits into the mausoleum ; the corresponding gate is built merely for uniformity; though its ornaments are different.

The dome of the mausoleum is covered with a coating of gilt tiles; and bands of azure, with Arabic inscriptions, surround the neck. Two minarets, of a beautiful model, are very striking objects; one springs from a part of the mausoleum, the other from behind the opposite gateway. The mausoleum itself is to the south-west of the

square ;

the occupies is about equal to the area of the Sahn, but it is encompassed by wretched mud fabrics, which partly conceal it. The centre, or chief apartment, beneath the gilt cupola, is entered by a silver gate, the gift of Nadir Shah, which opens into the passage leading thereto. This apartment is of magnificent dimensions, rising into a dome, and branching, below, into the form of a cross; tiles of the richest colours, intermixed with azure and gold, are tastefully disposed into garlands and devices, mingled with texts from the Koran. A candlestick of solid silver hangs in the centre.

The holy shrine, where are deposited the remains of Imaum Reza, and of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid (the father of the prince alleged to have been the Imaum's murderer), occupies an octagonal room, as richly ornamented as the preceding, entered by a doorway in the arch to the north-west. Opposite to the shrine is a door covered with gold and jewels.


space it

From the archway to the south-west, in the great central chamber, a broad passage leads through the mausoleum to the court of a mosque, which is described as one of the most beautiful and magnificent in Persia. Both sides of the area are formed of buildings like those of the Sahn, having two stories of niches, or compartments; in the centre is a small tank to supply water for ablution. The whole court is adorned with mosaic work of coloured tiles.

A door in one of the arched niches, on the north-eastern side of the Sahn, leads to the Madrissa (or college) of Meerza Jaffier. This building consists of an oblong quadrangle, about sixty yards long by forty wide, surrounded, like the Sahn, with a range of buildings, containing a succession of chambers in two stories, each opening into arcaded balconies, which look out upon the area and upon a little garden in the centre of it.

This splendid collection of edifices continues to receive fresh augmentations : the present Shah of Persia is building another square, surrounded also with a two-storied range of apartments, on the south side of the Sahn.

Mr. Fraser, in travelling through Khorasan, obtained admission, with great difficulty and risk, into the interior of this sacred place, and thus describes what he saw :*

“We entered the magnificent gilded arch way; and being admitted through Nadir's silver gate, where we left our slippers in charge of the porter, we proceeded to the lofty central apartment, than which I have seldom seen a more happy union of the beautiful and grand; it is difficult to say which was most to be admired, the great size and elegant proportions of this noble hall, or the richness and beauty of its ornaments, seen, as they were, by a mellow and uncertain light, which veiled every thing that might have been harsh or glaring

After viewing this apartment for a while, 'we approached that which contains the shrine itself ; pausing on its threshold, my guide, bowing himself until his head touched the ground, said a long prayer in Arabic, motioning me to follow him in action, as well as word, which I did implicitly, but, of course, without understanding one word. We then entered, and repeated forms of prayer at each of tlte four sides of the tomb, bowing every time very low; after which we examined the apartment, and went through the rest of the place.

Although the Meerza bad assured me that this was the most private hour of the day, there was, nevertheless, no inconsiderable crowd about the tomb : a number of pilgrims were paying their devotions at the shrine, and performing, under the tuition of the khadums (officers or servants attached to the shrine), the same ceremonies I had myself gone through. Many were seated in corners in the ante-rooms reading the Koran, and a multitude of gowned and turbaned figures flitted about through the lofty mysterious rooms: all was silent and death-like, except the low hum of prayer, or the subdued and measured intonations of those who recited the Koran ; sounds producing an effect even more striking than total silence. I should gladly have enjoyed for a longer time the impressive scene before me; but I could not forget that I was in a place where a Christian, if discovered, would assuredly meet a violent death. I was sensible of the intrusion which I had committed, and felt as if many of the

eyes that were around were suspiciously glancing at me. It was fortunate that the uncertain light aided my disguise, as the awkwardness of my movements, in performing the ceremonies of the place, and the uncommon gestures that accompany their religious observances, would unavoidably have betrayed me, had any attention been paid to our party. I saw that the khadum himself was uneasy, and hurried me rapidly from place to place; and I cannot but confess that I felt relieved when, after having seen every thing that is shewn of the place, and gone through all its ceremonies, we repassed the silver gate, crossed the Sahn, and retired from view into one of the cells of the Madrissa Meerza Jaffier,"

ments, * Journey into Khorasan, p. 447.


Whilst wrapt in reverie I sate,
Intent upon-a blazing grate,
Fantastic objects seemed to rise
Within it, to my charmed eyes :-
A castle on a flaming hill
A bird with vast expanded bill —
Beasts of all shapes, both small and big-
A red-hot face in cinder-wig-
A warrior's bust with laurel crown-
A scull--a waggon broken down :
Forms more grotesqne my fancy drew,
Than Buddh's or Brahma's temples shew.
At length, the aliment was spent
That fed the flame-and out it went.
Then fancy's reign was over,—then
Vanished at once the fairy scene:
Castle, and hill, and laurelled bust,
All sunk, and crumbled into dust.

Restored to reason's sober sway,
The dream, that melted thus away,
Reflection led me to compare
With such as form men's daily care :
Ambition, avarice, pleasure, pride,
Fame, and a thousand more beside,
Charm with their art our mental eyes,
And make fantastic objects rise,
Whose varying forms our minds seduce
With visions of as little use.
We people airy vacancy;
We brood on what will never be;
And, as the fires of life decay,
So pass our mouldering hopes away.

E. R.



[ocr errors]


the great ones of Christianity, the honouraMeeting of October 3d. The following ble Henry Drummond,' a request tending persons were adınitted members :- Mr, to obtain the institution of a college in the Henry Calthorpe, of Corpus Christi Col royal residence of Tabriz, where English lege, Cambridge ; M. Marcel, late din professors may fix their residence in order rector of the Royal Printing-Office; the to instruct and give lessons to children : Baron de Rayneval, ambassador from

and whereas the moral dispositions of per. France to the Helvetic confederation. sons high in rank ought always to be fa.

A translation of a letter in the Ar- vourable to what is good and useful ; and menian language from M. Aslan Atha

whereas there exists between this power bakian, Petersburgh, was communicated, (Persia)-the duration of which may God which contained an offer of sending to the prolong !-and that of England, no difcouncil a work, composed by the writer, in

ference of views or interests, this request Armenian, relative to the Asiatic Inscrip- has been agreeable to us. We have, theretions in Armenia, which he proposes to

fore, permitted the aforesaid person to estapublish. This work, which is divided into blish the said school : we direct that a 185 chapters, contains a selection of Ar- house be appropriated to this object, and menian inscriptions from stone crosses,

this present has emanated to show our tombs, and ruins of monasteries in Eastern consent. Armenia, as well as histories of Armenian “ If it please God, the establishment, princes and chronological documents ex

which is the object of this person's solicitude, tracted from ancient manuscripts, particu- shall attain all the perfection desired; and larly those found in 1797 in a subter- English scholars may devote themselves to raneous chamber at the monastery of Sa. the exercise of instruction, under the shanahin. It likewise contains a considerable dow of our favour and protection. Whatnumber of letters and official documents in ever is necessary to them shall be granted.” the Armenian tongue, written by the so. vereigns of Armenia, with an explanation

M. Schulz has informed the council that of difficult terms, or such as belong to

the printing of his memoir on the Persian other languages, of which there is a great

translation of the Mahabharata,' which he number. Full details are also given re

had submitted to their notice, appearing to specting the genealogy of the royal fami- require more time than he could possibly lies of Armenia and Georgia, as well as

pass in Paris at present, he was obliged concerning the history of the latter coun

to postpone it. try. In order to ensure the accuracy of

M. Klaproth proposed to the council his researches, and the fidelity of the copies the printing of a Japanese dictionary. This made by him from the ancient monuments, proposition, which was seconded by M. which he proposes to publish, the author Abel-Rémusat, was referred to the conundertook two journeys into ·Armenia, in

sideration of a committee composed of M. 1808 and 1823.

M. Klaproth, Abel-Rémusat, and AméM. Saint Martin was commissioned to

dée Jaubert. thank M. Athabakian for his communica. M. Eugène Coquebert de Montbret tion, and to request him to allow M. Saint communicated the conclusion of his exMartin to inspect the work, in order to

tracts from Ibn Khaldoun. enable him to furnish the Society with a

M. Abel-Rémusat read a biographical more exact account of it,

article on the Mongol General Souboutai. M. Amédée Jaubert communicated a Amongst the donations were twenty voletter from M. Desbassayns de Richemont,

lumes of the Holy Scriptures translated dated Tabriz, relating particularly to the

into various tongues, from the British and state of instruction in the countries which Foreign Bible Society. he has visited, and also two letters, written in Persian, by Prince Abbas Mirza, one

DEFINITION OF FO OR BUDDHA. of which, addressed to Mr. Wolf, is as " What is Fo?" said an Indian king to follows:

a disciple of a saint of Hindostan, named

Tamo. This disciple, whose name was “ Since the very exalted, very learned, Poloti, replied: “ Fo is nothing else than and very virtuous, the chosen of Christian the perfect knowledge of nature-intellischolars, Mr. Joseph Wolf, of England, gent nature.”-“ Where is this nature to has been admitted into our august pre- be found ?” rejoined the king. “ In the sence, and has presented to us, in the

knowledge name of the very noble lord, the model of

* Scc our last volume, p. 632.

• In eight,"

knowledge of Fo," answered the disciple; Duke of Wellington (master-general of " that is, in the understanding which the ordnance) and his staff; the Marquess comprehends intelligent nature. The of Salisbury, Mr. Peel, Sir H. Hardinge, king reiterated the question, “ where does Lord Fitzroy Somerset, the Judge Advoit reside, then ?" The disciple replied: cate-General, and many military oflicers “ in use and knowledge.

"2" What is of the highest rank, together with a comthis use ?” said the king, “ for I do not mittee of engineer and artillery officers. comprehend it." Poloti replied: "in that The discharges of steam were almost inyou speak, you use this nature; but,' cessant for two hours, during which, its added he,“ you do not perceive it on ac- force and rapidity in discharging balls excount of your blindness.”.

'-" What,” said eited amazement in all present. At first the king, “ does this nature reside in me?" the balls were discharged at short intervals, The disciple replied : “ if you knew how in imitation of artillery firing, against an to make use of it, you would find it iron target, at the distance of thirty-five throughout you ; since you do not use it, yards. Such was the force with which you cannot discern it."-" But in low many they were driven, that they were complaces does it reveal itself to those who pletely shattered to atoms. In the next use it?" inquired the king.

experiment the balls were discharged at a
replied the disciple, adding as follows: frame of wood, and they passed through
“Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch- eleven one-inch planks of the hardest deal,
ing, speaking, and walking, are our cor- placed at a distance of an inch from each
poreal faculties ; but there is yet another other. Afterwards they were propelled
faculty in us, and throughout us, which against an iron plate one-fourth of an inch
includes in itself the three worlds, and thick, and the very first trial the ball
comprehends all things in the small space passed through it. This was declared to
of our bodies. This faculty is called na- be the utmost force that gunpowder could
iure by wise men, and soul by fools.”- exert. This plate had been brought spe.
The king then became converted; and cially from Woolwich, for the purpose of
having sent for Tamo, by the advice of ascertaining the comparative force of steam
Poloti, embraced the religion of Fo, whose and gunpowder.
mysteries were fully explained to him by The pressure of steam employed to effect
the saint.

this wonderful force did not at first exceed
65 atmospheres, or 900 lbs. to the square

inch ; and it was repeatedly stated by Mr. Extract of a letter from Arracan :- “A

Perkins that the pressure might be carried very remarkable image, of Phra Phra (a

to 200 atmospheres with perfect

safety. name of Gaudma, or Buddha), wąs dis

Mr. Perkins then proceeded to demoncovered a few days ago in a sequestered part of the jungles, in the vicinity of this might be projected by steam. To effect

strate the rapidity with which musket-balls encamping ground, by Col. Smith, of the

this he screwed on to the gun-barrel a tube 49th N.I.' Through the politeness of that

filled with balls, which, falling down by gentleman, I had an opportunity of examining, yesterday, this idolatrous bauble, projected, one by one, with such extraordi.

their own gravity into the barrel, were for such in part it is, consisting of a

nary velocity as to demonstrate that, by wooden figure, in the usual attitude which distinguishes the Burmah Gaudma, placed balls, fixed in a wheel (a model of which

means of a succession of tubes, filled with on a hollow pedestal, richly ornamented with coloured glass, and slips of looking

was exhibited), nearly one thousand balls

per minute might be discharged. In subglasses arranged into figures of snakes, sequent discharges or volleys, the barrel, to and ferocious representations of their oh,

which is attached a moveable joint, was ject of worship, apparently in the act of given a lateral direction, and the balls perdestroying their invaders. Similar images, forated a plank nearly twelve feet in length. cast in brass, were common amongst the

Thus, if opposed to a regiment in line, Nepaulese during the Goorkah war, and,

the steam-gun might be made to act from I have no doubt, the figure discovered by

one of its extremities to the other. A siCol. Smith was made with the view of milar plank was afterwards placed in a rendering a propitiatory offering to Phra perpendicular position, and, in like manPhra, invoking his assistance for the de

ner, there was a stream of shot-holes from struction of the British army. The whole

the top to the bottom. It is thus proved bas a tinsel gaudy effect; but the work

that the steam-gun has not only the force manship, although profusely decorated

of gunpowder, but also admits of any with gilding, is extremely coarse."

direction being given to it.

Most surprise was created by the effects

of a volley of balls discharged against the A trial of Mr. Perkins' steam-gun took brick wall by the side of the target. They place December 6, at his manufactory near absolutely dug a hole of considerable dithe Regent's Park, in the presence of the mensions in the wall, and penetrated almost


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »