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engaging the heart and life of the people who have given their arms and cheeks with the needles, first gently, then birth to it; while the Latin, English, French, and German with more vehemence; till suddenly the music ceases, and drama is, he says, in comparison, a mere pastime or amuse- all stops. So we are carried back, on this old Asiatic soil, ment, more or less intellectual and elegant. To me it seems where beliefs and usages are heaped layer_ upon layer that the Persian tazyas — for so these pieces are called and ruin upon ruin, far past the martyred Imams, past find a better parallel in the Ammergau Passion Play than Mahometanism, past Christianity, to the priests of Baal, in the Greek drama. They turn entirely on one subject - gashing themselves with knives, and to the worship of the sufferings of the Family of the Tent, as the Imam Hus- Adonis. sein and the company of persons gathered around him at The tekyas, or theatres for the drama which calls forth Kerbela are called. The subject is sometimes introduced these celebrations, are constantly multiplying. The king, by a prologue, which may perhaps one day, as the need of the great functionaries, the towns, wealthy citizens like the variety is more felt, become a piece by itself; but at pres- king's gol .smith, or any private person who has the means ent the prologue leads invariably to the martyrs. For and the desire, provide them. Every one sends contriinstance, the Emperor Tamerlane, in his conquering prog- butions; it is a religious act to furnish a box or to give ress through the world, arrives at Damascus; the keys of the decorations for a tekya ; and as religious offerings, all gifts city are brought to him by the governor; but the governor down to the very smallest are accepted. There are tekyas is a descendant of one of the murderers of the Imam Hussein; for not more than three or four hundred spectators, and Tamerlane is informed of it, loads him with reproaches, and there are tekyas for three or four thousand. At Ispahan drives him from his presence. The emperor presently sees there are representations which bring together more than the governor's daughter, splendidly dressed, thinks of the twenty thousand people. At Teheran, the Persian capital, sufferings of the holy women of the Family of the Tent, each quarter of the town has its tekyas ; every square and and upbraids and drives her away as he did her father. open place is turned to account for establishing them, and But after this he is haunted by the great tragedy which has spaces have been expressly cleared, besides, for fresh tekyas. been thus brought to his mind, and he cannot sleep and Count Gobineau describes particularly one of these thecannot be comforted; he calls his vizier, and his vizier tells atres a tekya of the best class, to hold an audience of him that the only way to soothe his troubled spirit is to see about four thousand — at Teheran. The arrangements are a lazya. And so the tazya commences. Or, again (and very simple; the tekya is a walled parallelogram, with a this will show how strangely, in the religious world which brick platform, sakou, in the centre of it; this sakou is suris now occupying us, what is most familiar to us is blended rounded with black poles at some distance from each other, with that of which we know nothing): Joseph and his the poles are joined at the top by horizontal rods of the brethren appear on the stage, and the old Bible story is same color, and from thesc rods hang colored lamps, which transacted. Joseph is thrown into the pit and sold to the are lighted for the praying and preaching at night when merchants, and his blood-stained coat is carried by his the representation is over. The sakou, or central platform, brothers to Jacob; Jacob is then left alone, weeping and makes the stage; in connection with it, at one of the bewailing himself; the angel Gabriel enters, and reproves opposite extremities of the parallelogram lengthwise, is a him for his want of faith and constancy, telling him that reserved box, tâgnumâ, hi gher than the sakou; this box is what he suffers is not a hundredth part of what Ali, Hus- splendidly decorated, and is used for peculiarly interesting sein, and the children of Hussein will one day suffer. and magnificent tableaux, - the court of the Caliph, for Jacob seems to doubt it; Gabriel, to convince him, orders example, which occur in the course of the piece. A the angels to perform a tazya of what will one day happen passage of a few feet wide is left free between the stage and at Kerbela. And so the tazya commences.

this box; all the rest of the space is for the spectators, of These pieces are given in the first ten days of the month whom the foremost rows are sitting on their heels close up of Moharrem, the anniversary of the martyrdom at Kerbela. to this passage, so that they help the actors to mount and They are so popular that they now invade other seasons of descend the high steps of the iâgnumâ when they have to the year also; but this is the season when the world is pass between that and the sakou. On each side of the given up to them. King and people, every one is in mourn- lagnumâ are boxes, and along one wall of the enclosure are ing; and at night, and while the tazyas are not going on, other boxes with fronts of elaborate woodwork, which are processions keep passing, the air resounds with the beating left to stand as a permanent part of the construction; facing of breasts and with litanies of “ O Hassan! Hussein!” while these, with the floor and stage between, rise tiers of seats, the Seyids, a kind of popular friars, claiming to be descen- as in an amphitheatre. All places are free; the great dants of Mahomet, and in whose incessant popularizing and people have generally provided and furnished the boxes, amplifying of the legend of Kerbela in their homilies during and take care to fill them; but if a box is not occupied pilgrimages and at the tombs of the martyrs, the tazyas, no when the performance begins, any ragged street-urchin or doubt, had their origin, - keep up by their sermons and beggar may walk in and seat himself there. A row of hymns the enthusiasm which the drama of the day has gigantic masts runs across the middle of the space, one or excited. It seems as if no one went to bed; and certainly two of them being fixed in the sakou itself; and from these no one who went to bed could sleep. Confraternities go in masts is stretched an immense awning which protects the procession with a black flag and torches, every man with his whole audience. Up to a certain height these masts are shirt torn open, and beating himself with the right hand on the hung with tiger and panther skins, to indicate the violent left shoulder in a kind of measured cadence to accompany a character of the scenes to be represented. Shields of steel canticle in honor of the martyrs. These processions come and and of hippopotamus skin, and Hags and naked swords, are take post in the theatres where the Seyids are preaching. Still also attached to these masts. A sea of color and splendor more noisy are the companies of dancers, striking a kind of meets the eye all round. Woodwork and brickwork disapwooden castanets together, at one time in front of their pear under cushions, rich carpets, silk hangings, India breasts, at another time behind their heads, and marking muslin embroidered with silver and gold, shawls from Kertime with music and dance to a dirge set up by the by- man and Cashmere; there are lamps, lustres of colored standers, in which the nimes of the Imams perpetually crystal, mirrors, Bohemian and Venetian glass, porcelain recur as a burden. Noisiest of all are the Berbers, men of vases of all degrees of magnitude from China and from a darker skin and another race, their feet and the upper Europe, paintings and engravings, displayed in profusion part of their body naked, who carry, some of them, tambou- everywhere; the taste may not always be soberly correct, rines and cymbals, others iron cliains and long needles. One but the whole spectacle has just the effect of prodigality, of their race is said to have formerly derided the Imams in color, and sumptuousness which we are accustomed to their affliction, and the Berbers now appear in expiation of associate with the splendors of the Arabian Nights, that crime. At first their music and their march proceed In marked contrast with this display is the poverty of slowly together, but presently the music quickens, the chain scenic contrivance and stage illusions. The subject is far and nee lle-bearing Berbers move violently round, and too interesting and too solemn to necd them; the actors' begin to beat themselves wich their chains, and to prick are visible on all sides, and the exits, entrances, and

stage-play of our theatres are impossible; the imagination appointed to be taught as the truth, and brings in novelties of the spectator fills up all gaps and meets all require- and heresies ; — for these dramas keep growing under the ments. On the Ammergau arrangements one feels that the pressure of the actor's imagination and emotion, and of the archiæologists and artists of Munich have laid their correct imagination and emotion of the public, and receive new finger; at Teheran there has been no schooling of this sort. developments every day. The learned, again, say that A copper basin of water represents the Euphrates; a heap these pieces are a heap of lies, the production of ignorant of chopped straw in a corner is the sand of the desert of people, and have no words strong enough to express their Kerbela, and the actor goes and takes up a handful of it, contempt for them. Still, so irresistible is the vogue of when his part is about to require him to throw, in Oriental these sacred dramas that, from the king on the throne to fashion, dust upon his head. There is no attempt at proper the beggar in the street, every one, except perhaps the costume; all that is sought is, to do honor to the person- Moollahs, attends them, and is carried away by them. The ages of chief interest by dresses and jewels which would Imams and their family speak always in a kind of lyrical pass for rich and handsome things to wear in modern Per- chant, said to have rhythmical effects, often of great pathos sian life. The power of the actors is in their genuine and beauty; their persecutors, the villains of the piece sense of the seriousness of the business they are engaged speak always in prose. in. They are, like the public around them, penetrated The stage is under the direction of a choragus, called ooswith this, and so the actor throws his whole soul into what tad, or “master," who is a sacred personage by reason of the he is about, the public meets the actor half-way, and effects functions which he performs. Sometimes he addresses to of extraordinary impressiveness are the result. “ The ac- the audience a commentary on what is passing before them, tor is under a charm,” says Count Gobineau ; " he is un- and asks their compassion and tears for the martyrs; someder it so strongly and completely that almost always one times, in default of a Seyid, he prays and preaches. He is sees Yezid himself (the usurping caliph), the wretched always listened to with veneration, for it is he who arranges Ibn-Said (Yezid's general), the infamous Shemer (Ibn- the whole sacred spectacle which so deeply moves everySaid's lieutenant), at the moment they vent the cruelest body. With no attempt of concealment, with the book of insults against the Imams whom they are going to massacre, the piece in his hand, he remains constantly on the stage, or against the women of the Imam's family whom they are gives the actors their cue, puts the children and any inexill-using, burst into tears and repeat their part with sobs. perienced actor in their right places, dresses the martyr in The public is neither surprised nor displeased at this; on his winding-sheet when he is going to his death, holds the the contrary, it beats its breast at the sight, throws up its stirrup for him to mount his horse, and inserts a supply of arms towards heaven with invocations of God, and re- chopped straw into the hands of those who are about to doubles its groans.

So it often happens that the actor want it. Let us now see him at work. identifies himself with the personage he represents to such

The theatre is filled, and the heat is great; young men a degree that, when the situation carries him away, he of rank, the king's pages, officers of the army, smart funecannot be said to act, he is, with such truth, such complete tionaries of State, move through the crowd with water-skins enthusiasm, such utter self-forgetfulness, what he repre- slung on their backs, dealing out water all round, in me nsents, that he reaches a reality at one time sublime, at an- ory of the thirst which on these solemn days the Ima ns other terrible, and produces impressions on his audience suffered in the sands of Kerbela. Wild chants and litawhich it would be simply absurd to look for from our more nies, such as we have already described, are from time to artificial performances. There is nothing stilted, nothing time set up by a dervish, a soldier, a workman in the crowd. false, nothing conventional; nature, and the facts repre- These chants are taken up, more or less, by the audience; sented, themselves speak.”

sometimes they flag and die away for want of support, The actors are men and boys, the parts of angels and sometimes they are continued till they reach a paroxysm, women being filled by boys; but the children who appear and then abruptly stop. Presently a strange, insignificant in the piece are often the children of the principal families figure in a green cotton garment, looking like a petty of Teheran ; their appearance in this religious solemnity tradesman of one of the Teheran bazaars, mounts upon the (for such it is thought) being supposed to bring a blessing sakou. He beckons with his hand to the audience, who are upon them and their parents. Nothing is more touching,' silent directly, and he addresses them in a tone of lecture says Count Gobineau, “ than to see these little things of and expostulation, thus : three or four years old, dressed in black gauze frocks with “Well, you seem happy enough, Mussulmans, sitting there large sleeves, and having on their heads small, round black at your ease under the awning; and you imagine paradise alcaps embroidered with silver and gold, kneeling beside the ready wide open to you. Do you know what paradise is? It is body of the actor who represents the martyr of the day, a garden, doubtless, but such a garden as you have no idea embracing him, and with their little hands covering them- of. You will say to me: 'Friend, tell us what it is like' selves with chopped straw for sand, in sign of grief. These I have never been there, certainly; but plenty of prophets children evidently,” he continues, “ do not consider them- have described it, and angels have brought news of it. selves to be acting; they are full of the feeling that what However, all I will tell you is, that there is room for all they are about is something of deep seriousness and im- good people there, for it is three hundred and thirty thouportance; and though they are too young to comprehend sand cubits long. If you do not believe, inquire. As for fully the story, they know, in general, that it is a matter getting to be one of the good people, let me tell you it is sad and solemn. They are not distracted by the audience, not enough to read the Koran of the Prophet (the salvaand they are not shy, but go through their prescribed part tion and blessing of God be upon him !); it is not enough with thč utmost attention and seriousness, always crossing to do every thing which this divine book enjoins; it is not their arms respectfully to receive the blessing of the Imam enough to come and weep at the tazyas, as you do every Hussein; the public beholds them with emotions of the day, you sons of dogs you, who know nothing which is of liveliest satisfaction and sympathy."

any use; it behooves, besides, that your good works (if you The dramatic pieces themselves are without any author's ever do any, which I greatly doubt) should be done in the

They are in popular language, such as the common- name and for the love of Hussein. It is Hussein, Mussulest and most ignorant of the Persian people can under- mans, who is the door to paradise; it is Hussein, Mussulstand, free from learned Arabic words, — free, comparative- mans, who upholds the world; it is Hussein, Mussulmans, ly speaking, from Oriental fantasticality and hyperbole. by whom comes salvation ! Cry, Hassan ! Hussein !”. The Seyids, or popular friars, already spoken of, have And all the multitude cry: “Hassan! O Hussein! probably had a hand in the composition of many of them. “ That is well; and now cry again.” And again all cry:"0 The Moollahs, or regular ecclesiastical authorities, con- Hassan! O Hussein !” And now,” the strange speaker demn the whole thing. It is an innovation which they dis- goes on, " pray to God to keep you continually in the love of approve and think dangerous; it is addressed to the eye, Hussein. Come, make your cry to God.” Then the multitude, and their religion forbids to represent religious things to as one man, throw


their arms into the air, and with a deep the eye ; it departs from the limits of what is revealed and and long-drawn cry exclaim : " Ya Allah! O God I"




Fifes, drums, and trumpets break out; the kernas, great

to go out and


his cousin. At one end of the sakou copper trumpets five or six feet long, give notice that the is the Imam Hussein, seated on his throne; in the middle actors are ready, and that the tazya is to commence. The are grouped all the members of his family; at the other preacher descends from the sakou, and the actors occupy end lies the body of Ali-Akber, with his mother Omm-Leyla,

clothed and veiled in black, bending over it. The kernas To give a clear notion of the cycle which these dramas sound, and Kassem, after a solemn appeal from Hussein and fill, we should begin, as on the first day of the Moharrem his sister Zeyneb to God and to the founders of their house the actors begin, with some piece relating to the childhood to look upon their great distress, rises and speaks to himof the Imams, such as, for instance, the piece called The Chil- self: dren Digging. Ali and Fatima are living at Medina with Kassem. Separate thyself from the women of the harem, their little sons Hassan and Hussein; the simple home and Kassem. Consider within thyself for a little; here thou occupations of the pious family are exhibited; it is morn- sittest, and presently thou wilt see the body of Hussein, ing; Fatima is seated with the little Hussein on her lap, that body like a flower, torn by arrows and lances like dressing him. She combs his hair, talking caressingly to thorns, Kassem. him all the while. A hair comes out with the comb; the “Thou sawest Ali-Akber's head severed from his body on child starts. Fatima is in distress at having given the the field of battle, and yet thou livedst ! child even this momentary uneasiness, and stops to gaze “ Arise, obey that which is written of thee by thy father; upon him tenderly. She falls into an anxious reverie, think- to be slain, that is thy lot, Kassem! ing of her fondness for the child and of the unknown fu- “Go, get leave from the son of Fatima, most honorable ture in store for him. While she muses, the angel Gabriel among women, and submit thyself to thy fate, Kassem.” stands before her. He reproves her weakness : “ A hair Hussein sees him approach. “ Alas," he says, “it is the falls from the child's head,” he says, “and you weep: what orphan nightingale of the garden of Hassan, my brother !” would you do if you knew the destiny that awaits him, the Then Kassem speaks: countless wounds with which that body shall one day be Kassem. — “ O God, what shall I do beneath this load of pierced, the agony that shall rend thine own soul !” Fa- affliction ? My eyes are wet with tears; my lips are dried tima, in despair, is comforted by her husband Ali, and they up with thirst. To live is worse than to die. What shall I go together into the town to hear Mahomet preach. The do, seeing what hath befallen Ali-Akber? If Hussein suboys and some of their little friends begin to play; every fereth me not to go out, oh, misery! For then what shall I one makes a great deal of Hussein; he is at once the most do, O God, in the day of the resurrection, when I see my spirit and the most amiable child of them all. The party father Hassan ? When I see my mother in the day of the imuse themselves with digging, with making holes in the resurrection, what shall I do, o God, in my sorrow and ground, and building mounds. Ali returns from the sermon shame before her? All my kinsmen are gone to appear fiind asks what they are about; and Hussein is made to re- before the Prophet: shall not I also one day stand before ply in ambiguous and prophetic answers, which convey the Prophet ? and what shall I do, O God, in that day!" That by these holes and mounds in the earth are prefigured Then he addresses the Imam :interments and tombs. Ali departs again; there rush in a “Hail, threshold of the honor and majesty on high, threshnumber of big and fierce boys and begin to pelt the little old of heaven, threshold of God! In the roll of martyrs Imams with stones. A companion shields Hussein with thou art the chief; in the book of creation thy story will his own body, but he is struck down with a stone, and with live forever. An orphan, a fatherless child, downcast and another stone Hussein, too, is stretched on the ground weeping, comes to prefer a request to thee.” senseless. Who are these boy-tyrants and persecutors ? Hussein bids him tell it, and he answers :They are Ibn-Said, and Shemer, and others, the future “O light of the eyes of Mahomet the mighty, O lieutenmurderers at Kerbela. The audience perceive it with a ant of Ali the lion, Abbas has perished; Ali-Akber has sufshudder; the hateful assailants go off in triumph ; Ali re- fered martyrdom; O my unclel thou hast no warriors left, enters, picks up the stunned and wounded children, brings and no standard-bearer. The roses are gone and gone are them round, and takes Hussein back to his mother Fatima. their buds; the jessamine is gone, the poppies are gone.

I But let us now come at once to the days of martyrdom alone, I am still left in the garden of the Faith, a thorn, and and to Kerbela. One of the most famous pieces of the cycle miserable. If thou hast any kindness for the orphan, suffer is a piece called the Marriage of Kassem, which brings us me to go forth and fight.” into the very middle of these crowning days. Count Gobi- Hussein refuses. My child,” he says, “thou wast the neau has given a translation of it, and from this translation light of the eyes of the Imam Hassan; thou art my beloved we will take a few extracts. Kassem is the son of Hussein's remembrance

of him; ask me not this ; urge me not, entreat elder brother, the Imam Hassan, who had been poisoned by me not; to have lost Ali-Akber is enough.” Yezid's instigation at Medina. Kassem and his mother are Kassem answers :-“That Kassem should live and Aliwith the Imam Hussein at Kerbela; there, too, are the Akber be martyred sooner let the earth cover me! O women and children of the holy family, Omm-Leyla, Hus- king, be generous to the beggar at thy gate. See how my sein's wife, the Persian princess, the last child of Yezdejerd, eyes run with tears and my lips are dried up with thirst. the last of the Sassanides ; Zeyneb, Hussein's sister, the off- Cast thine eyes toward the waters of the heavenly Euphraspring, like himself, of Ali and Fatima, and the grand- tes! I die of thirst; grant me, O thou marked of God! daughter of Mahomet; his nephew Abdallah, still a little a full pitcher of the water of life; it flows in the paradise child; finally, his beautiful daughter Zobeyda. When the which awaits me." piece begins, the Imam's camp in the desert has already Hussein still refuses; Kassem breaks forth in complaints been cut off from the Euphrates and besieged several days and lamentations; his mother comes to him and learns the by the Syrian troops under Ibn-Said and Shemer, and by

She then says: the treacherous men of Kufa. The Family of the Tent Complain not against the Imam, light of my eyes; only were suffering torments of thirst; one of the children had by his order can the commission of martyrdom be given. brought an empty water-bottle, and thrown it, as silent token In that commission are sealed two-and-seventy witnesses, of distress, before the feet of Abbas, the uncle of Hussein ; all righteous, and among the two-and-seventy is thy name. Abbas had sallied out to cut his way to the river, and had Know that thy destiny of death is commanded in the writheen slain. Afterwards Ali-Akber, Hussein's eldest son, ing which thou wearest on thine arm. had made the same attempt and met with the same fate. This writing is the testament of his father Hassan. He Two younger brothers of Ali-Akber followed his example, bears it in triumph to the Imam Hussein, who finds written and were likewise slain. The Imam Hussein had rushed there that he should, on the death-plain of Kerbela, suffer amidst the enemy, beaten them from the body of Ali-Akber, Kassem to have his will, but that he should marry him first and brought the body back to his tent: but the river was to his daughter Zobeyda. Kassem consents, though in still inaccessible. At this point the action of the Marriage astonishment. “Consider," he says; "there lies Ali-Akber, of Kissem begins. Kassem, a youth of sixteen, is burning mangled by the enemies' hands! Under this sky of ebon



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blackness, how can joy show her face? Nevertheless, if ble beard; and the boldest of his men fell back on every thou commandest it, what have I to do but obey? Thy side as the dying Imam threw himself among them. The commandment is that of the Prophet, and his voice is that remorseless Shemer

- a dame detested by the faithful of God.” But Hussein has also to overcome the reluctance reproached their cowardice; and the grandson of Mahomet of the intended bride and of all the women of his family. was slain with three-and-thirty strokes of lances and

“ Heir of the vicar of God,” says Kassem's mother to swords. After they had trampled on his body, they carried the Imam, “ bid me die, but speak not to me of a bridal. his head to the castle of Kufa, and the inhuman Obeidallah If Zobeyda is to be a bride and Kassem a bridegroom, (the governor) struck him on the mouth with a cane. where is the henna to tinge their hands? where is the bridal Alasl'exclaimed an aged Mussulman, 'on those lips have chamber?" “Mother of Kassem, answers the Imam, I seen the lips of the Apostle of God !"" solemnly, “yet a few moments, and in this field of anguish For tlis catastrophe no one lazya suffices; all the comthe tomb shall be for marriage-bed, and the winding-sheet panies of actors unite in a vast open space; booths and for bridal garment!” All give way to the will of their sa- tents are pitched round the out-side circle for the spectacred Head. The women and children surround Kassem, tors; in the centre is the Imam's camp, and the day ends sprinkle him with rose-water, hang bracelets and necklaces with its conflagration. on him, and scatter bon-bons around; and then the mar- Nor are there wanting pieces which carry on the story riage procession is formed. Suddenly drums and trumpets beyond the death of Hussein. One which produces an exare heard, and the Syrian troops appear. Ibn-Said and traordinary effect is The Christian Damsel. The carnage is Shemer are at their head. “ The Prince of the Faith cele- over, the enemy are gone; to the awe-struck beholders, the brates a marriage in the desert,” they exclaim tauntingly; scene shows the silent plain of Kerbela and the tombs of

we will soon change his festivity into mourning.” They the martyrs. Their bodies, full of wounds, and with weappass by, and Kassem takes leave of his bride.

ons sticking in them still

, are exposed to view; but around thee, my bride,” he says, embracing her, "for I must for- them all are crowns of burning candles, circles of light, to sake thee!” “One moment,” she says, "remain in thy show that they have entered into glory. At one end of the place one moment! thy countenance is as the lamp which sakou is a high tomb by itself; it is the tomb of the Imam giveth us light; suffer me to turn around thee as the but- Hussein, and his pierced body is seen stretched out upon it. terfly turneth, gently, gently !” And making a turn A brilliant caravan enters, with camels, soldiers, servants, around him, she performs the ancient Eastern rite of re- and a young lady on horseback, in European costume, or spect from a new-married wife to her husband. Troubled, what passes in Persia for European costume. She halts he rises to go; “ The reins of my will are slipping away near the tombs, and proposes to encamp.

Her servants try from me!” he murmurs. She lays hold of his robe; " Take to pitch a tent; but wherever they drive a pole into the off thy hand,” he cries, “we belong not to ourselves!”. ground, blood springs up, and a groan of horror bursts

Then he asks the Imam to array him in his winding-sheet. from the audience. Then the fair traveller, instead of en“O nightingale of the divine orchard of martyrdom," camping, mounts into the tâgnumâ, lies down to rest there, says Hussein, as he complies with his wish, “I clothe thee and falls asleep. Jesus Christ appears to her, and makes with thy winding-sheet, I kiss thy face; there is no fear, known that this is Kerbela, and what has happened here. and no hope, but of God!" Kassem commits his little Meanwhile, an Arab of the desert, a Bedouin who had brother Abdallah to the Imam's care; Omm-Leyla looks up formerly received Hussein's bounty, comes stealthily, intent from her son's corpse, and says to Kassem : " When thou on plunder, upon the sakou. He finds nothing, and in a enterest the garden of Paradise, kiss for me the head of paroxysm of brutal fury he begins to ill-treat the corpses. Ali-Akber 1"

Blood flows. The feeling of Asiatics about their dead is The Syrian troops again appear; Kassem rushes upon well known, and the horror of the audience rises to its them and they all go off fighting. The Family of the height. Presently the ruffian assails and wounds the Tent, at Hussein's command, put the Koran on their heads corpse of the Imam himself, over whom white doves are and pray, covering themselves with sand. Kassem re-ap- hovering; the voice of Hussein, deep and mournful, calls pears victorious; he has slain Azrek, a chief captain of from his tomb: “ There is no God but God!The robber the Syrians, but his thirst is intolerable.

“Uncle," he says flies in terror; the angels, the prophets, Mahomet, Jesus to the Imam, who asks him what reward he wishes for his Christ, Moses, the Imams, the holy women, all come upon valor, “my tongue cleaves to the roof of my mouth; the the sakou, press round Hussein, load him with honors. The reward I wish is water." “ Thou coverest me with shame, Christian damsel wakes, and embraces Islam, the Islam of Kassem,” his uncle answers ; “ what can I do? Thou ask- the sect of the Shiahs. est water; there is no water!”

Another piece closes the whole story, by bringing the Kassem. — “If I might but wet my mouth, I could present- captive women and children of the Imam's family to Damasly make an end of the men of Kufa.”

cus, to the presence of the Caliph Yezid. It is in this Hussein. — “As I live, I have not one drop of water!” piece that there comes the magnificent tableau, of which I

Kassein. “Were it but lawful, I would wet my mouth have already spoken, of the court of the caliph; the crown with my own blood.”

jewels are lent for it, and the dresses of the ladies of Yezid's Hussein. “ Beloved child, what the Prophet forbids, court, represented by boys chosen for their good looks, are that cannot I make lawful."

said to be worth thousands and thousands of pounds; but Kassem. -" I beseech thee, let my lips be but once moist- the audience see them without favor, for this brilliant ened, and I will vanquish thine enemies ! "

court of Yezid is cruel to the captives of Kerbela. The Hussein presses his own lips to those of Kassem, who, captives are thrust into a wretched dungeon under the palrefreshed, again rushes forth, and returns bleeding and ace walls; but the Caliph's wife had formerly been a slave stuck with darts, to die at the Imam's feet in the tent. So of Mahomet's daughter Fatima, the mother of Hussein and ends the marriage of Kassem.

Zeyneb. She goes to see Zeyneb in prison; her heart is But the great day is the tenth day of the Moharrem, touched, she passes into an agony of repentance, returns to when comes the death of the Imam himself. The narrative her husband, upbraids him with his crimes, and intercedes of Gibbon well sums up the events of this great tenth day. for the women of tho holy family, and for the children, who "The battle at length expired by the death of the last of keep calling for the Imam Hussein. Yezid orders his wife the companions of Hussein. Alone, weary, and wounded, to be put to death, and sends the head of Hussein to the he scate) himself at the door of his tent. He was pierced children. Sekyna, the Imam's youngest daughter, a child in the mouth with a dart. Ile lifted his hands to heaven of four years old, takes the beloved head in her arms, kisses - they were full of blood and he uttered a funeral prayer it, and 'lies down beside it. Then Hussein appears to her for the living and the dead. In a transport of despair, his as in life; “O my father," she cries, “where wast thou ? sister issued from the tent, and adjured the general of the I was hungry, I was cold, I was beaten — where wast Kufians that he would not suffer Hussein to be murdered thou?” But now she sees him again, and is happy. In before his eyes. A tear trickled down he soldier's venera- the vision of her happiness she passes away out of lif she


enters into rest, and the piece ends with her mother and her which are said to attest them, fictitious. We forget that aunts burying her.

this is a game which two can play at; although the believer

of each religion always imagines the prodigies which attest These are the martyrs of Kerbela; and these are the his own religion to be fenced by a guard granted to them sufferings which awaken in an Asiatic audience sympathy alone. Yet how much more safe is it, as well as more fruitso deep and serious, transports so genuine of pity, love, and ful, to look for the main confirmation of a religion in its ingratitude, that to match them at all one must take the feel- trinsic correspondence with urgent wants of human nature, ings raised at Ammergau. And now, where are we to look in its profound necessity! Differing religions will then be in the subject-matter of the Persian passion play, for the found to have much in common; but this will be an addisource of all this emotion ? Count Gobineau suggests that tional proof of the value of that religion which does most it is to be found in the feeling of patriotism; and that our for that which is thus commonly rocognized as salutary and Indo-European kinsmen, the Persirds, conquered by the necessary. In Christendom one need not go about to esSemitic Arabians, find in the sufferings of Hussein a por- tablish that the religion of the Hebrews is a better religion trait of their own martyrdom. “ Hussein,” says Count than the religion of the Arabs, or that the Bible is a better Gobineau, is not only the son of Ali, he is the husband of book than the Koran. The Bible grew, the Koran was a princess of the blood of the Persian kings ; he, his father made there lies the immense difference in depth and truth Ali, the whole body of Imams taken together, represent the between them! This very inferiority may make the Koran nation, represent Persia, invaded, ill-treated,' despoiled, for certain purposes and for people at a low stage of mental stripped of its inhabitants, by the Arabians. The right growth, a more powerful instrument than the Bible. From which is insulted and violated in Hussein, is identified with the circumstances of its origin, the Koran has the intensely the right of Persia. The Arabians, the Turks, the Afghans dogmatic character, it has the perpetual insistance on the

Persia's implacable and hereditary enemies — recognize motive of future rewards and punishments, the palpable Yezid as legitimate caliph ; Persia finds therein an excuse exhibition of paradise and hell, which the Bible has not. for hating them the more, and identifies herself the more Therefore, to get the sort of power which all this gives, with the usurper's victims. It is patriotism, therefore, which popular Christianity is apt to treat the Bible as if it was has taken the form, here, of the drama to express itself.” just like the Koran; and because of this sort of power, No doubt there is much truth in what Count Gobineau among the little known and little advanced races of the thus says; and it is certain that the division of Shiahs and great African continent, the Mahometan missionaries are Sunis has its true cause in a division of races, rather than said to be much more successful than ours. Nevertheless in a difference of religious belief.

even in Africa it will assuredly one day be manifest, that But I confess that if the interest of the Persian passion whereas the Bible-people trace themselves to Abraham plays had seemed to me to lie solely in the curious evidence through Isaac, and the Koran-people trace themselves to they afford of the working of patriotic feeling in a conquered Abraham through Ishmael, the difference between the people, I should hardly have occupied myself with them religion of the Bible and the religion of the Koran is almost at all this length. I believe that they point to something as the difference between Isaac and Ishmael. I mean that much more interesting. What this is I cannot do more the seriousness about righteousness, which is what the than just indicate; but indicate it I will, in conclusion, and hatred of idolatry really means, and the profound and inthen leave the student of human nature to follow it out for exhaustible doctrines that the righteous Eternal loveth himself.

righteousness, that there is no peace for the wicked, that When Mahomet's cousin Jaffer, and others of his first the righteous is an everlasting foundation, are exhibited and converts, persecuted by the idolaters of Mecca, fled in the inculcated in the Old Testament with an authority, majesty year of our era 615, seven years before the Hegira, into and truth which leave the Koran iinmeasura behind, Abyssinia, and took refuge with the king of that country, and which, the more mankind grows and gains light, the the people of Mecca sent after the fugitives to demand that more will be felt to have no follows. Mahomet was no they should be given up to them. Abyssinia was then doubt acquainted with the Jews and their documents, and already Christian. The king asked Jaffer and his compan- gained something from this source for his religion; but his ions what was this new religion for which they had left their religion is not a mere plagiarism from Judea, any more than country. Jaffer answered : “ We were plunged in the dark- it is a mere mass of falsehood. No; in the seriousness, eleness of ignorance; we were worshippers of idols. Given vation, and moral energy of himself and of that Seinitic over to all our passions, we knew no law but that of the race from which he sprang and to which he spoke, Mahomet strongest, when God raised up among us a man of our own mainly found that scorn and hatred of idolatry, that sense of race, of noble descent, and long held in esteem by us for his the worth and truth of righteousness, judgment, and justice, virtues. This apostle called us to believe in one God, to which make the real greatness of him and his Koran, and worship God only, to reject the superstitions of our fathers, which are thus rather an independent testimony to use to despise divinities of wood and stone. He commanded us essential doctrines of the Old Testament than a plagiarism to eschew wickedness, to be truthful in speech, faithful to from them. The world needs righteousness and the Bible our engagements, kind and helpful to our relations and is the grand teacher of it; but, for certain times and cerneighbors. He bade us respect the chastity of women, and tain men, Mahomet, too, in his way, was a teacher of rightnot to rob the orphan. He exhorted us to prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. We believed in his mission, and we But we know how the Old-Testament conception of accepted the doctrines and the rule of life which he brought righteousness ceased, with time, to have the freshness and to us from God. For this our countrymen have persecuted force of an intuition; became something petrified, narrow, us; and now they want to make us return to their idolatry.” and formal, and needed renewing. We know how ChristianThe king of Abyssinia refused to surrender the fugitives, ity renewed it, carrying into these hard waters of Judaism a and then, turning again to Jaffer, after a few more explana- sort of warm gulf-stream of tender emotion, due chiefly to tions, he picked up a straw from the ground, and said to qualities which may be summed up as those of inwardness, him : " Between your religion and ours there is not the mildness, and self-renouncement. Mahometanism had no thickness of this straw difference."

such renewing; It began with a conception of righteousThat is not quite so; yet thus much we may affirm, that ness, lofty indeed, but narrow, and which we may call old Jaffer's account of the religion of Mahomet is a great deal Jewish ; and there it remained; it is not a feeling religion. truer than the accounts of it which are commonly current No one would say that the virtues of gentleness, mildness, amongst us. Indeed, for the credit of humanity, as more and self-sacrifice were its virtues; and the more it went on, than a hundred millions of men are said to profess the the more the faults of its original narrow basis became visiMahometan religion, one is glad to think so. To popular ble, more and more it became fierce and militant, less and religion everywhere, religion is proved by miracles. All less was it amiable. Now, what are Ali, and Hassan, and religions but a man's own are utterly false and vain; the Hussein, and the Imams, but an insurrection of noble and pious authors of them are mere impostors; and the wonders natures against this hardness and aridity of the religion


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