THE story of the loves of Lailî and Majnûn is one of the most popular in the East. There are several poems on the same subject by different authors, but that by Nizámi is considered the best; and I believe this is the first time it has appeared in the European language.

Every nation has its favourite tales of love as well as chivalry. France and Italy have their Abelard and Eloisa, their Petrarch and Laura; and Arabia has its Lailî and Majnûn, the beautiful record of whose sorrows is constant­ly referred to, throughout the East, as an immortal ex­ample of the most faithful love. The reader will, I think, be pleased with the manner in which the Persian poet has depicted the character of a frantic lover, and also the ten­der affections of his Lailî. The sentiments will be found to differ very little from those of the Western world. Hu­man nature is every where the same.

Nizámi is said to be a native of Ganja, or Kenja, near Tefflis, and flourished in the twelfth century, or sixth of the Mohammedan era. He died about the 597th year of the Hijrah; but no mention is made where he was buried.

Besides Lailî and Majnûn, he wrote the story of Khosrú and Shirín, the Treasury of Secrets, and some other works. His last and most considerable poem was the Sekandar-Nama, an epic, celebrating the career of Alexander the Great. At the period it was finished, he is reported to have been more than sixty years of age.

Nizámi was eminently distinguished through life for his rigid sanctity, which formed indeed the peculiarity of his character, cherishing, as he did at the same time, the amatory or metaphysical sentiments which pervade his romantic poem of Lailî and Majnûn. But he may have been a Súfi, and aimed at describing the passions of the soul in its progress to eternity. The Odes of Hafiz have been supposed to have a similar spiritual object!

In honour of Nizámi, it is related that Ata Beg was desirous of forming and cultivating an acquaintance with him, and with that view ordered one of his courtiers to request his attendance. But it was replied, that Nizámi, being an austere recluse, studiously avoided all intercourse with princes. Ata Beg, on hearing this, and suspecting that the extreme piety and abstinence of Nizámi were affected, waited upon him in great pomp for the purpose of tempting and seducing him from his obscure retreat; but the result was highly favourable to the poet; and the prince ever afterwards looked upon him as a truly holy man, frequently visiting him, and treating him with the most profound respect and veneration. Nizámi also receiv­ed many substantial proofs of the admiration in which his genius and learning were held. On one occasion, five thousand dinars were sent to him, and on another he was presented with an estate consisting of fourteen villages. The brief notice in Dowlat Shah's account of the Poets of Persia represents him as the finest writer of the age in which he lived. Hafiz thus speaks of him:—

Not all the treasured store of ancient days
Can boast the sweetness of Nizami's lays.


December 20th, 1835.