Description of Isphahan.

THE number of learned and able men in Ispha­han was so great, that, were I to give a full account of them, I should fall into prolixity. The truth is, that there is no where in the world to be found a city, however large, that contains the universality to be met with here.

Arabic Couplet.*
A country, in which youth untied the amulet of my childhood:
The first earth, whose soil felt my tender touch.

Of an atmosphere so temperate, salubrious, and agreeable, as that of Isphahan; a water, so light and digestible; a town, so clean and neat, so mag­nificent and splendid, with such a multitude of lofty buildings,* of new and ancient monuments, and with such a concourse of elegant and affluent inhabitants, no indication has been given in the habitable world.* The influence of the place is visible, in the education and accomplishment of the minds and persons of its inhabitants, having ever been the source and seminary of learned, great, clever, and honourable men: and however much labour might be bestowed on the description of its fair qualities, still something would remain unsaid. Let a sensible, experienced man, who has seen the world and made the circuit of the universe, come to this city, and, settling there, let him have abundant time and opportunity, and he will continually be discovering properties and qualities to distinguish it above every place on the terrestrial globe. Here good­ness of living is uniform for the poor and the rich, the stranger and the native: here the gain of every perfection and of every kind of pleasure is obtainable and easy. The inhabitants of Ispha­han are of every class of men, and they are all bred to vivacity, manliness and courtesy. The generality of them are adorned with the jewels of modesty and chastity, and a love for religion and the service of God. The innumerable colleges and mosques are frequented, both day and night, by the piety and devotion of men of fortune and seekers of truth; and by the blessing of just and wise princes, promoters of religion, and the example and influence of learned and great men, propaga­tors of virtue, the whole of its population is trained and practised, in laudable rules and observances, in approved customs and proceedings. Abomi­nable things and blameable actions are rare in this city, and carefully suppressed. The Hakim Shefayi, a celebrated poet, in one of his Mesnavis has exerted himself to the utmost in its description, and has said:*

The revolving sphere is the father, and the pillars of heaven the mother;
But Isphahan, the daughter, is better than the parent.
Strong, as the foundation of friendship,
On its pinnacle the orbit is a fort.
Its fortifications are therefore full of twists and turns,
Because within its bowels is the fortune of the world.
Both the East and the West have place within it,
And both have taken a mansion in one street.
From the extreme extent of this greatest of cities,
A hundred hours strike in it at one and the same instant.
In this house, is the rise of morning;
In that street, is night born of darkness.
A hundred times the sun bears his head above the meridian,
Whilst yet, in another place, his face is hidden.
For the water and air of that town God be praised!
From them the intelligent mind is diffused.
Humanity, is an incomparable rose that blooms on its meanest thorns;
Intellect, the common herb of its grass-plots.
At the gate of this world of wisdom,
Greece is but a beggar, in humanity.
In every street, is an Aristotle standing up,
At every step, is a Plato on the ground.
Its merchants and traders are wise and intelligent;
They are both untiers of knots and makers up of observations.
The lowest populace are inventors of such Megistis as Ptolemy's;
The very children carry medicine in their sleeves like Galen.
If the Celestial Paradise has four rivers,
This is a paradise that has a thousand.

Until, from the murderously piercing eye* and malignancy of fortune, there fell on that vast city what befell it, of desolation and ruin, and disper­sion of its inhabitants, and of its ancient and illus­trious families.

Arabic Poetry.*
Fate inevitably will one day meet thee;
Fate, who cares not, whether she tyrannize or act justly.
Persian Couplets.
My beloved's fair face of the pavilion I see the palace now bereft of;
Of the form of that erect cypress I see the garden now deprived.
On the place, where stood the jar and the cup, the wretched blind have set their foot.
Instead of the harp and the flute and the flageolet, is the clamour of the crow and the kite.
Build palaces, and yet you shall dwell under the ground:
What concerns it their property, that they be rolled up in a simple winding-sheet!

Still, notwithstanding that the devastation of this great capital has been completed, it is yet the best of all the countries in the world; and any persons arriving here who should not have witnessed its former condition, would suppose that nothing has been diminished from its ancient splendour. In a very short time, should the excessive iniquity and burning tyranny of its rulers be a little abated, it would return to the beauty of its pristine state, and be the resort of travellers from all parts of the earth. May the Almighty God preserve it in justice and equity!