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are his debtors. Joseph Cook’s rendering of some passages froin “ Richard the Third” is like a new revelation from the sky. The dream of Richard on the eve of the battle, as given by him, thrilled us to the very core.
There are many who object to the realistic pictures with which our great artist's works abound. And yet the objectors are per
very persons who listen admiringly to lascivious Italian songs, or read with undisguised satisfaction the nastiest French novels. Consistency is worth something, but these hypocrites ignore it. Every objection in this direction lies with measurable force against the Bible as translated under the patronage of King James. As compared with much that is read withont a blush or an uttered protest, Shakespeare lies
Upon the wings of night
In selecting an edition of this great master of English thought and expression, the student will, of course, be guided by his tastes, his means, and by the end he seeks to gain in his studies.
There are several editions that are utterly beyond the reach of all but millionaires. The Boydell edition of 1802 is withont question the most sumptuous ever given to the public. The paper is heavy, the type larger than any we have elsewhere seen. The illustrations have a world-wide faine. It is difficult
a to obtain this edition at any price. It can be seen in some public libraries. We have not space to dwell upon other and equally rare editions, nor need we, as it would take the price of a principality to buy the cheapest of them.
A writer in the “Quarterly Review” (Eng.) in 1859 tells us that the works of Shakespeare have passed through three stages. In the first, they were printed with care. In the second, conjectural criticism prevailed. In the third, ancient readings were more thoroughly ascertained, and the Elizabethan literature ransacked to clear up the allusions and the language. They have now reached a fourth and, it may be, a final onea stage of digestion and comparison. This stage was inaugurated by Knight, who had perhaps an undue faith in the readings of the first folios. In 1813 Mr. Collier entered the lists, and he put his confidence in the quartos. Then came the Dyce editions. That of .1875 is remarkable for the purity of its text. The notes are few, and they are marked by brevity and pointedness. The type is magnificent, it has broad margins, and is correspondingly expensive.
* “ Romeo and Juliet," Act iii, Scene 2.
Furness' “ New Variorum,” (Phil., 1873,) is as yet incomplete, and belongs to the luxurious class. It bids fair to occupy a very enviable position among scholars, but its cost places it out of the reach of men of ordinary means. Nothing of this kind can be said of the Globe, and numerous other cheap editions. They are, however, printed in small type and often on inferior paper, and to most they would be dear at any price.
Much might be said in commendation of Hudson's edition, but upon the whole we give decided preference to the one in course of publication for Mr. Rolfe, of Cambridge, by the Harper Brothers. Twenty-five of the thirty-seven plays are already before the public. They are profusely illustrated, and in the higbest style of typographical art. They are marvels of careful collation and painstaking accuracy.
If “Rolfe's Edition” was not sufficiently distinctive, we would call it the “Friendly Edition,” the edition which we can make a companion of. It is not a fatiguing book to hold, a play can be selected and put in our pocket, or it will lie modestly at the bottom of the smallest traveling-bag, furnishing just such a dainty morsel as an intellectual lunch should ever be. The compactness of the notes entitles it to the position of a standard “ Variorum” edition. It contains a vast amount of incidental information illustrative of the times of the poet, the manners of the people, and of contemporary writers. As to Shakespearian localities, this edition is far in advance of all others. It is surprising how ignorant some English editors seem to have been of the topography of their own country. Mr. Rolfe not only avoids all errors of this kind himself, but exhaustively corrects the errors of others. For instance, in “ Richard the Third” we do not know of a single English editor who seems to know the truth as to what “ Crosby House” was or is. Their statements are as various as the authorities on which they depend. The same and more is true of “Baynard's Castle,” and “ The Blue Boar.” Of all editions, this for the teacher and the student is the best. To say more would be wasteful and ridiculous excess."
ART. IV.-PERSIAN POETRY.
Gulistán. Sheikh Sadi Shirazi. Munshi Newul Kishore Press, Lucknow. 1881. Bostán. Sheikh SADI Shirazi. Munshi Newul Kishore Press, Lucknow. 1881.
“ Poetry has ever been held in the greatest veneration in the East. If the ancient Greeks and Romans gave to their poets all the honors they lavished on their inferior divinities, the Persians have ranked them with their Imams and Prophets, and have as willingly abided by their commands as by the injunctions of their Holy Writ. The Persians are enthusiastically devoted to poetry. It forms the very essence of their religion. The meanest artisan, the rudest soldier, the proudest noble, and the tyrant king, are alike charmed by the strains of the minstrel who sings a mystic song of divine love. They may forget the words of Mohammed, they may neglect the maxims of their Sharehs, but the verses of Sadi and Hafiz are indelibly impressed on their memory.”
Centuries, long and busy and full of change, have passed since Ferdusi, Sadi, and Hafiz delighted the people of the country they adorned, but to-day, throughout Persia, India, and the lands that lie between, they are appealed to and their words quoted with a readiness and frequency difficult to describe. In street-preaching among Mohammedans we often hear the verse from Sadi,
Darogh i maslahat-amez bih az rást i fitna-angez.
This is quoted with the greatest possible assurance, and the verse is used in its widest signification. In the year 1792, when the embassadors of Tippoo Sultan were at Madras, engaged in their mission of raising an insurrection against the British Government, one of them, in his letter to his master, advises him to agree to a proposal “ upon the principle recommended by the sage and worthy Khivaja Hafiz Shirazi, (on whom may the mercy of the Lord forever rest,) With friends cordiality, with enemies dissimulation."
As has been well remarked by Sir William Jones, the verses which justify vice are oftener quoted than those in praise of virtue—so weak, alas! is human nature, especially in Oriental lands. On the other hand, however, instances are not wanting. It is related that one of the kings of Persia, a man of acknowledged talents, being out one Friday to attend service at the royal mosque, one of his attendants struck a poor Christian who ventured to approach the cavalcade, accompanying the blow with an awful imprecation : “Begone to hell, O cursed dog; this is not your church !” The injured youth with much presence of mind replied in a couplet from Hafiz:
I have been to the temple, the mosque, and the church,
The king smiled with admiration, and extended his hand to the young man, who went home richer by two hundred rupees.
Hafiz especially is constantly resorted to by Mohammedans when seeking for an omen. Owing, no doubt, to the ambiguous nature of many of the couplets in his “ Diwán,” this book is regarded as the one of all others from which to draw an augury. The female members of the Mohammedan household make it the constant court of appeal in deciding the grave questions of every-day life. This practice is not confined to the zenanas ; it is said that the king, Nadir Shah, chose a passage from the odes of Hatiz before undertaking a siege.
The oldest extant specimen of Persian poetry is the romance of Wamik and Asra, which appeared in the latter part of the sixth century, while as yet the worship of fire had not been superseded by the religion of Mohammed. The theme of the
poem is :
Old as the rose, first into beauty blowing,
Old as the sun himself first into passion glowing. Wamik and Asra, the Glowing and the Blowing, are personifications of the two great principles of heat and vegetation, the vivifying energy of heaven and the corresponding fertility of earth.
After the Moslem conquest of the country in 636, literature declined, and thus remained until the tenth century, when the language was restored, and there was hardly a prince or governor of a city who had not poets and literati in his train. One of the most distinguished of these patrons of letters was Mahmud of Ghazni, famous also as being the first Mohammedan ruler who successfully invaded India. To his court repaired the peasant Ferdusi, to whom the sultan committed the execution of a long-cherished project-the composition of a poetical history of Persia from the foundation of the monarchy till the Moslem conquest. A mass of materials, consisting of oral traditions collected by a previous poet, was placed at his disposal, and his reward was to be a dinár for every distich. The task occupied thirty years; the work, entitled the “Shahnamali," included sixty thousand distichs, and secured for its author the title of the Homer of Persia.”
Of this production (which is still popular throughout India, where it is read in the original and in an Urdu translation) so eminent an authority as Sir W. Jones has declared that "the plan of the “Shalınamah' was in some respects finer than that of the “Iliad ; ' ” but, as has been pointed out by later writers, the two plans cannot be compared because they have nothing in common. The “Shalınamah” cannot properly be styled an epic. “ There is not from beginning to end so much as an endeavor to delineate character. Rustun, the hero, is no more of a human being than the Iron Man in Spenser's “ Faerie Queene." Ile is simply a machine in the form of a man, and possessed of almost unlimited force. At the age of five he kills with one blow of a club a mad white elephant. When he puts his hand on the backs of the strongest horses they sink down and roll upon the earth incapable of enduring the pressure.” The author excels, it is true, like the II omer with whom he is compared, in his descriptions of battles.
On the completion of his work the poet was paid with sixty thousand pieces of silver instead of gold. Indignant at this evasion of the contract, Ferdusi distributed the money on the spot to the people abont him, and vowed to avenge himself in a manner worthy of a poet. He left Ghazni, but before his departure he committed to the monarch's private secretary a carefully sealed packet, desiring him to present it the first time his master happened to be in a melancholy mood. The packet contained the following bitter satire :
What could one expect from the son of a slave,