IN the year 1820, Major STEWART, Professor of Persian at the East India College, Haileybury, published a translation of the Seventh book of the ‘Anvár-i Suhailí,’ and dedicated it to the Junior Civil and Military Servants of the Hon. East India Company. In 1835, a literal translation of the First book of the same work was published by the Rev. H. G. KEENE, Arabic and Persian Professor at Haileybury, and dedicated to the Students of the College. In a memorandum inserted by Mr. JAMES ROSS at the beginning of his translation of the ‘Gulistán,’ that gentleman announced his intention of publishing a translation of the first two books of the ‘Anvár-i Suhailí,’ in 1826: but this version never made its appearance, in consequence of the death of the translator, by which melancholy event the public were deprived of several other proposed additions to our knowledge of Persian Literature. Enough however, has been already said to prove that a Translation of the ‘Anvár-i Suhailí,’ has long been considered desirable by competent judges. The high encomiums, too, which have been passed upon the Work in all countries, and by the scholars of all nations; especially by those illustrious Orientalists, Sir WILLIAM JONES and Baron SILVESTRE DE SACY, furnish another justi­fication of this attempt to make it known to English readers. The opinion of the former of these distinguished men as to the merits of the work is couched in the following terms, ‘The most excellent book in the language is, in my opinion, the collection of tales and fables called ‘Anvár-i Suhailí,’ by Ḥusain Vá’iz, surnamed Káshifí, who took the celebrated work of Bidpai or Pilpay for his text, and has comprised all the wisdom of the Eastern nations, in fourteen beautiful chapters.’* In another place he says,* ‘The fables of Vishnu Sharman, whom we ridiculously call Pilpay, are the most beautiful, if not the most ancient, apologues in the world: they were first translated from the Sanskrit, in the sixth century, by order of Buzurjmihr, or ‘Bright as the Sun,’ the chief physician, and afterwards the vazír* of the great Núshírwán, and are extant under various names in more than twenty languages.’ Baron DE SACY remarks, ‘Hosaïn Vaïz s’est proposé comme on le voit, de rendre la lecture du livre de Calila plus agréable à tout le monde, en la rendant plus facile. Il ne s’est pas contenté de supprimer ou de changer tout ce qui pouvoit arrêter un grand nombre de lecteurs, il a encore ajouté au mérite primitif de l’ouvrage, en y insérant un grand nombre de vers empruntés de divers poëtes, et en employant constamment ce style mesuré et cadencé, ce parallélisme des idées et des expressions, qui, joint à la rime, constitue la prose poétique des orientaux, et qui, ajoutant un charme inexprimable aux pensées justes et solides, diminue beaucoup ce que les idées—plus ingénieuses que vraies, les métaphors outrées, les hyperboles extravagantes, trop fréquentes dans les écrits des Persans—ont de rebutant et de ridicules pour le goût sévère et délicat des Européens. Quoique le style de Hosaïn ne soit pas exempt de ces défauts, on lit et on relit, avec un plaisir toujours nouveau, son ouvrage, comme le Gulistan de Saadi.’*

The ‘Anvár-i Suhailí’ is the work which candidates for interpreterships in India are required to read after the ‘Gulistán.’ The vast abundance of words, and the great variety of style, reaching from that of ordinary dialogue to the highest flights of poetry, render it incontestably the best book in the language to be studied by one who desires to make rapid progress in Persian. At the same time, however, as Major STEWART has very justly remarked, ‘It must be acknowledged that it is too difficult for the generality of students without the assistance of a munshí or teacher;’ and as good Persian munshís are not very easily procurable in India—in fact, in many provinces are altogether wanting—it is hoped that this Translation and the Notes appended to it will prove of service to those who desire to qualify themselves for examination in our Indian territories. To them the present Translation is offered with far more confidence than to the English public, for it is impossible not to perceive that those very characteristics of style, which form its chiefest beauties in the eye of Persian taste, will appear to the European reader as ridiculous blemishes. The undeviating equipoise of bi-propositional sentences, and oftentimes their length and intricacy; the hyperbole and sameness of metaphor, and the rudeness and unskilfulness of the plots of some of the stories, cannot but be wearisome and repulsive to the better and simpler judgment of the West. Kings always sit on thrones stable as the firmament, rub the stars with their heads, have all other kings to serve them, and are most just, wise, valiant, and beneficent. Ministers are invariably gifted with intellects which adorn the whole world, and are so sagacious that they can unravel all difficulties with a single thought. Mountains constantly race with the sun in height, all gardens are the envy of Paradise, and every constellation in Heaven is scared away in turn by some furious tiger or lion upon earth. These absurdities are so prominent that they would probably induce the generality of readers to close the book in disgust. Those, however, who have patience enough to proceed with the perusal will not fail to discover many beautiful thoughts, many striking and original ideas forcibly expressed; and though their first beauty cannot but have suffered very considerably in translation, still enough will remain to justify, in some degree, to all candid judges, the celebrity of the work.

It may be here desirable to direct attention to those parts of the Book which are generally considered the best. The whole work consists of an elaborate Preface and Introduction by Ḥusain Vá’iz, and of Fourteen Chapters or Books with a very brief Conclusion. The Preface may be dismissed from consideration at once, as being a turgid specimen of the obscure and repulsive preludes with which Persian writers think fit to commence their compositions. A few helpless infantine ideas struggle in the gigantic coils of an endless prolixity and verboseness, which it would require a Hercules to disentangle. Nevertheless, this Preface may be read by those who wish for a model of such compositions in Persian. The arrangement is the same in all. There is, first, an address to the One God; secondly, a lengthy eulogy of his Prophet, Muḥammad; thirdly, a panegyric on the High Personage to whom the work is dedicated, with a meagre explanation of the reasons which induced the Author to commence his undertaking. The whole is thickly larded with quotations from the Ḳur’án, and with difficult and unusual words; so that it would really seem as if a preface were intended, like a thorny hedge, to repel all intruders, and to preserve the fruit within from the prying eyes of readers.

In the Introduction, Ḥusain Vá’iz is at once simpler and more agreeable. The description of the Bees and their habits, is prettily given. The story of the Pigeon, who left his quiet home to travel; and of the old woman’s Cat, who was discontented with his meagre fare and safe seclusion, are among the happiest in the whole work.