It is interesting to observe how rapidly, and yet how readily, this empire grew on, how all events fell out to advance it, how all contingencies coincided to effect its augmentation. Sabaktagin and Mahmúd are led into war, or take up arms, sometimes being in the right, sometimes in the wrong, but they always succeed; they capture Bost and Kasdar, they overcome Dilam, they in­trigue in Bukhárá, and so manage that upon the extinction of the Sámánides the possessions of that family accrue to their own, and they had very early become feudal lords over the princes of Boyah.* It is not surprising that Mahmúd should have regarded those who opposed him as not only rebellious, but impious; he saw events around him so wonderfully controlled and directed by Providence to concur towards the aggrandizement of his empire and the furtherance of his projects, that he may almost be pardoned for regarding himself not only as the instrument and agent, but also as the favorite of Heaven.

It appears, indeed, that Mahmúd of Ghazna was respected as an eminent theologian as well as an illustrious warrior, and he flourished at a time when there existed ample opportunity for the exercise of his ingenuity as a Muhammadan divine. He was a contemporary of the eccentric Egyptian Khálif Hakim-biamr-Illah, during whose reign the whole Muhammadan world was in a ferment, through the pretensions of the Sayyads, or de­scendants of Muhammad, and the doctrines of the Batenians, the maintainers of the Tashbiah, and the followers of the remarkable tenets of Ali-Ilahia; the coalesceing fusion of all which peculiar notions at last formed the grand section of Muhammad­anism— the Shiites, and the philosophical school of the Sáfis,— and also established a ground for that curious fact, the blending or partial reconciliation of Islám with Hindúism. The Sayyads or Saids caused some trouble to Mahmúd. It was wisely ordered that all traces of the kindred of the Messiah should soon disappear from Christian history, and indeed the discussions and dissensions which arose respecting His divinity might tend to discountenance much regard to all that was associated with His humanity.

But numberless descendants, real or pretended, of Muhammad, through his daughter Fatima, and his cousin Ali, have been the source of continual trouble and weakness to his religion, not only through the disgrace which an hereditary race of arrogant, ignorant, and prejudiced idlers, would naturally often produce, but also because they would, as might be supposed, be inclined to main­tain and encourage those doctrines which tended most to promote their own importance and dig­nity. They therefore possessed most influence amongst the Shiites, and they supported more or less the doctrines which possessed most affinity with those of that great sect. These doctrines were such as were professed, in various degrees, by the adherents of the Tashbiah, and of the Ali-Ilahia, doctrines which have always been deeply offensive to the Sunnite Muhammadans, and not without good cause, for, if tolerated and carried out, they might found a Preparatio Evangelica, a platform for Christianity. They were probably originally Christian doctrines, deeply disguised. It is not likely that the Christians of the Greek Empire, of Armenia, of Parthia, of Chaldea, and of Egypt, so forcibly converted to Muham­madanism, would lose all Christian persuasion and habit of thought in that cold and barren phase of unsympathizing monotheism.* They still re­tained much of the geniality of Christian doctrine, as regards the relation of Deity to man. But as they dared not hint at any point directly Chris­tian, they were compelled to disguise their feelings under a dark esoteric veil. Those who adhered to these suspected notions were termed generally Batenians, or interiors. “These are so called,” remarks M. de Sacy, “because they establish an interior sense of the Scripture besides the exterior; they say, whoever attaches himself to the exterior fatigues himself with vain practices, whilst he who follows the interior may dispense with all actions— they give to faith a preference over Islamism.”

A specific branch of these Batenians is the sect of Tashbiah, Assimilation, who (besides a kind of Platonism), assert theologically, “that there is a connexion between God and the other beings; that the age is never destitute of a prophet or of law, that it is never destitute of an Imám, or his authority, and that the existence of an Imám through all times is necessary, whether manifest or concealed.” All this would greatly infringe upon various positions and organic maxims of the Kurán. But the maintainers of the Ali-Ilahia advance far beyond these assertions. These sectaries are numerous in India, but they seem to have abounded also in Syria, Egypt, &c., during the first six or seven centuries of the Hejira; they teach, “that it is necessary to the Almighty God and eternal Lord, that He should descend from the dignity of purity and from the station of unity and absoluteness, and that according to the abundance of His clemency, He should, in every period and revolution of time unite His spirit with a bodily frame, in order that his creatures may behold this glorious and exalted Lord; and in whatever manner He ordains, acknowledge and reverence Him.” “That it is determined that a pure spirit may assume a bodily likeness.”— (See Dabistan, vol. 2, by Shea and Troyer.)*

Opinions like these would at once set aside the exclusiveness of Muhammadanism, and with its exclusiveness its main column, and doubtless Mah­múd regarded a deadly onset against them to be as meritorious as the sacred war upon infidels. What would he have said, if he had beheld such doctrines so permeate and so prevail throughout India, that there are now saints whom all parties claim and reverence, that the cries of Rama and Allah Akbar have been blended, and that Muham­madans have enjoined the idolatrous reverence for the cow?

The Translator has been unable to discover any distinct allusion to artillery and fire-arms, which are, however, supposed to have been in some form not entirely unknown in those early times. It appears certain that Greek fire and rockets were employed, as well as slinging and stoning machines, and the allusion in one of the poems to the “fire-eyed rocket” is plain. The use of such projectiles aproximates to that of artillery.* But the beseiged in the citadel of Ark cast on the besiegers pots full of scorpions and serpents, and the gates of a for­tress were forced open by means of elephants. However, if these engines of war were at all known, they would scarcely have been acceptable. Inven­tors must meet with men and times ready to receive and value their discoveries, as well as produce new facts and combinations. It was probably not so much bards who were wanting in the earliest age to sing the praises of heroes, as heroes who would delight in their strains, and if such machines be­came universal, who could hope to be a Rustâm, or rise to royalty by the sword?

The Translator connot discover any allusion to Ferdusi, or to the envious Vizir who injured him. He cannot find the word Somnath, or the story respecting the idol broken by Mahmúd, although the expedition in which this event is alleged to have occurred, appears to be included in this Chronicle of Utbí. It is not however, possible, to decide with regard to omissions, without the assistance of additional manuscripts.*

There is another point to which it is desired to advert: the order and arrangement of early Eastern Histories or Chronicles is but rough and imperfect. Like those of the middle ages in Europe, they are often composed of chapters containing facts, with­out any intimation of the bearing or relation of these chapters to one another, or to the whole narrative. Thus, in the present work, various chapters contain the history of the several provinces from which the Ghaznevide Empire was ultimately made up, but no intimation is afforded with regard to the point where the thread of these episodical, yet essential accounts joins that of the main narration; how, for example, the affairs of Dilam or of Bukhárá became involved with those of Ghazna. The Translator has occasionally sup­plied this information, but in general the reader must be left to judge what portion belongs to reca­pitulation, what to explanatory anticipation, and what to the grand current of the story. There is also a confusion and obscurity in literal translation, which arises from too loose and liberal employment of pronouns, or even their entire omission. The Translator has in these instances been contented to offer a close rendering to the reader, without adding an explanation which is sometimes as em­barrassing as the text.

Whilst this work was passing through the press, the attention of the Translator was invited, by the obliging courtesy of Professor G. Fluëgel, of Dresden, to a Paper read in January, 1850, before the Imperial Academy of Sciences, at Vienna, upon the subject of the Kitáb-i-Yamini, by Dr. T. Nöldecke. The learned author of this Paper communicates his discovery in the Imperial Library of two MSS. of the Arabic original, and of two MSS. of the Persian Translation, as well as of a Commentary. If this discovery had been made at an earlier period, the Translator might possibly have endeavoured to obtain a copy of the best of the two Arabic MSS. in order to translate from it, yet he doubts whether this communication would have altered his resolution to adopt the Persian: the Arabic MSS. of Dr. Nöldecke’s notice are, both of them modern, one dated a.d. 1772, the other 1747, whereas the two copies of the MSS. of the Persian version are dated, the one a.d. 1316, the other 1321, about 150 years, that is, from the publication. If, therefore, the Translator had possessed the advantage of an acquaintance with these MSS., he would probably still have availed himself of the assistance of the ancient Persian, whereupon to ground an English version, rather than have adopted MSS. which may possibly prove to be of minor authority.

If, however, the Arabic original text and that of the Persian version should ever be published, and the publication by authority appears to be almost a duty, these four MSS., and the critical remarks of Dr. Nöldecke, will be most valuable, and will doubtless be duly consulted.

This learned dissertation comprises two extracts from the Arabic, one from the Persian version, and a specimen of the Comment, &c.

The Translator feels it incumbent upon him to offer his best acknowledgements to the Committee of the Oriental Translation Fund, for their liberality in publishing the present volumes. He has felt much interest in pursuing a subject so con­genial to a profession which is bound so especially to trace out and diffuse every ray of “Light from the East,”— light now so sadly obscured and divided in its original glorious abode from its primeval sources. The credit obtained by these studies is not general, but that disadvantage will be fully compensated if they be in any degree useful, and the Translator will be rewarded if he win the approbation of those who are so well qualified to judge upon points of Oriental litera­ture, with whom he has had the honour and pleasure of being so long officially connected, and to whom he is bound by so much kindness and attention.