HAVING in the preceding section glanced at the various works of fiction in different languages which have been derived or imi­tated from the Book of Sindibād, let us now proceed to examine the degree of relationship which the Bakhtyār Nāma bears to the same work. The learned writer of an able and interesting analysis, in the Asiatic Journal, vol. xxx, 1839, of two different manuscripts of the Thousand and One Nights, pre­served in the British Museum, has fallen into a singular mistake when he says: “It is curious enough that in each of the two MSS. a tale is interpolated on the plan of the Bakhtyār Nāma. A King wishes to destroy his son, and his Viziers relate stories to prove the malice of women, alternately with the King's concubine, who has falsely accused the young man, and who tells stories of the subtlety of men.” This is the frame of the Sindibād Nāma, not that of the Bakhtyār Nāma, since in the former the Viziers are the defenders of the innocent, and relate stories on his behalf; while the case is precisely reversed in the Bakhytār Nāma, where the Viziers are the ac­cusers, eager for the death of the innocent young man, and it is the accused youth himself who relates the stories. The only resemblance which the Ro­mance of Prince Bakhtyār bears to the leading story of the Book of Sindibād (and its offspring) is the incident of a youth being falsely accused of attempt­ing to violate the Queen, as will be seen from the following outline of the Bakhtyār Story.

A King, flying from his own kingdom, with his Queen, is obliged to abandon in the desert a new­born male infant, close to a well. This infant is dis­covered by a band of robbers, the chief of whom, struck with his beauty and the richness of his clothes, carries him to his house, adopts him as his own son and gives him an excellent education. At the age of fifteen years the youth accompanies all the banditti on a plundering expedition, in which they attack a caravan, but are defeated, and many of their number, including the adopted son of their chief, are taken prisoners and brought before the King—the father of the youth, who had in the meanwhile recovered his kingdom. The young man's grace and beauty so win the King's heart, that he not only pardons the whole company, but takes the youth into his service, changing his name from Khudādād (God-given) to Bakhtyār (Be­friended by Fortune). Bakhtyār acquits himself of his new duties so well that the King promotes him to a more important position—that of keeper of the royal treasury, and his own intimate friend and counsellor. These distinguished favours excite the envy of the King's Ten Viziers, who become eager for some oppor­tunity of bringing the favourite to disgrace and ruin. And it so chances, one evening, that Bakhtyār, being muddled with wine, straggles into one of the cham­bers of the harem, and throws himself upon the royal couch, where he falls asleep. Shortly afterwards, the King enters, and, discovering his favourite in the for­bidden part of the palace, his jealousy is aroused, and he orders the attendants to seize the unhappy young man, then sends for the Queen, and accuses her of having introduced Bakhtyār into the harem. The Queen protests that she is entirely innocent of the charge, and at her suggestion the King causes them both to be confined for that night in separate apart­ments, resolving to investigate the affair in the morning. Next day, the first of the Viziers, waiting on the King, is informed of the supposed violation of the harem by Bakhtyār, upon which the Vizier obtains leave to visit the Queen, and ascertain from her the particulars of the affair. The Queen, on being questioned by the Vizier, denies all knowledge of Bakhtyār's presence in the King's chamber (it does not appear, indeed, that she had ever seen him before); but the Vizier assures her that the King would not credit her assertion, and counsels her, if she would save her own life, to accuse Bakhtyār to the King of having presumed to make dishonourable proposals to her, which she had, of course, rejected with indignation. After much persuasion, she at length consents, and accordingly accuses the young man of this capital offence. The King immediately commands Bakhtyār to be brought before him, and after bitterly reproaching him with ingratitude for the many and unprecedented favours which he had bestowed upon him, in the meantime sends him back to prison. On the following day, the second Vizier urges the King to put him to death; and the King causes him to be brought into his presence, and tells him that he must forfeit his life. Bakhtyār, however, in eloquent terms, protests that he is perfectly innocent of the crime of which he is accused, but ex­presses his submission to the will of Providence, like a certain unlucky merchant, with whom no affair pros­pered. This arouses the King's curiosity, and Bakht-yār is permitted to relate the story, after which the King sends him back to prison for that day. Every morning of the eight following days one of the Viziers, in turn, presents himself before the King, and urges that Bakhtyār's execution should be no longer delayed; but when the youth is brought into the King's presence, as on the first day, he pleads his own cause so well, and excites the King's curiosity by reference to some remarkable story, which he is allowed to relate, that his execution is deferred from day to day, until at length the King is reluctantly compelled by the Viziers' complaints to give orders for the public execution of the young man. It happens, however, that the robber-chief who had found the royal infant at the well, and brought him up, is, with a party of his men, among the crowd assembled round the scaffold, and recognising in Bakhtyār his adopted son, rescues him from the guard, and hastens to the palace, where, obtaining audience of the King, the secret of Bakht-yār's birth is discovered; and the King resigns the throne in favour of his son, and causes the Ten envious Viziers to be put to death.

Such is the frame within which nine different stories are inserted; and although it was doubtless imitated from, it has but a faint likeness to, that of the Book of Sindibād. The work which appears most closely to resemble the Romance of Prince Bakhtyār, in the frame, is a collection of Tales in the Tamul language, entitled, Alakeswara Kathá, in which four ministers of the King of Alakapur are falsely accused of violat­ing the King's private apartments, and vindicate their innocence, and disarm the King's wrath, by relating a number of stories.*

According to M. Deslongchamps, in his learned and elaborate Essai sur les Fables Indiennes, there exist in Oriental languages three versions of the Bakhtyār Nāma—Persian, Arabic, and Turkī (i.e., Eastern Tur­kish—Uygur). Of the Persian version it is said there are numerous manuscripts in the great libraries of England and France; and besides the printed text appended to Sir William Ouseley's English transla­tion, published in 1800, a lithographed text was issued, at Paris, in 1839, probably from a manuscript in the Royal Library. The Arabian version, under the title of “The History of the Ten Viziers,” forms part of the text of the Thousand and One Nights, in 12 volumes, of which Dr Maximilian Habicht edited vols. 1 to 8, published at uncertain intervals, at Bres-lau, from 1825 to 1838 inclusive, when the work was stopped by Habicht's death. In 1842-3 Professor H. L. Fleischer issued the remaining vols., 9 to 12. The same year when Habicht began the publication of his Arabian text he issued a complete German translation, also at Breslau, in 15 small square volumes, under the title of Tausend und Eine Nacht: Arabische Erzählungen. Zum erstenmal aus einer Tunesischen Handschrift, ergänzt und vollständig übersetzt, von Max. Habicht, F. H. Von der Hagen, und Karl Schall.* But both the number and the order of the tales of our romance are quite different in the trans­lation and the text: the sixth volume of the latter, which contains the romance, was not published till 1834, or nine years after the first issue of the trans­lation; and it would seem that Habicht, in editing his Tunisian manuscript, compared it with other texts, and made very considerable changes. The romance is found in a dislocated form in a work, published at Paris in 1788, entitled, Nouveaux Contes Arabice, ou Supplement aux Mille et Une Nuits, &c., par M. l'Abbè * * * In this book (which is of little or no value) the several tales are not placed within the frame, or leading story, which, however, appears in connection with one of them. It is also included in the French Continuation of the Thousand and One Nights, translated by Dom Chavis and edited by M. Cazotte,* “but singularly disfigured,” says Deslong-champs, “like the other Oriental Tales published by Cazotte;” in Caussin de Perceval's excellent edition of the Nights, published, at Paris, in 1806, vol. viii, and in Gauttier's edition, vol. vi. The learned Swede Gustav Knös published, at Gœtingen, in 1806, a dis­sertation on the Romance of Prince Bakhtyār, and the year following the Arabic text, with a Latin translation, under the title of Historia Decem Vizirorum et filii Regis Azād-bacht. He also issued a translation in the Swedish language, at Upsal, in two parts, the second of which appeared in 1814. Of the Turkī version M. Amédée Jaubert has furnished, in the Journal Asiatique, Mars 1827, t. x, an interesting account, together with a translation of one of the stories,* from the unique manuscript preserved in the Bodleian Library at Ox­ford, which he describes as very beautifully written, the titles of the several tales and the names of the principal characters being in red ink. Unfortunately the manuscript is imperfect; at present it comprises 294 folia. M. Jaubert remarks that this Turkī version is characterised by “great sobriety of ornament and extreme simplicity of style, and the evident intention on the part of the translator to suppress all that may not have appeared to him sufficiently probable, and all that might justly be taxed with exaggeration.”

There is another Oriental rendering, of which M. Deslongchamps was ignorant, in the language of the Malays, with whom the romance is said to be a great favourite, indeed they have at least two very different versions of its frame, if not of the subordinate stories. In Newbold's work on Malacca,* vol. ii, an outline is given of the leading story, or frame, of one Malay version, which exactly corresponds with that of the Persian original, excepting that for Āzād-bakht we find Zād-bokhtin, and that the minister's daughter, who is carried to the city by the King and in our version is nameless, is called Mahrwat. I am indebted to the courtesy of the learned Dr R. Rost, Librarian to the India Office, for the following particulars regarding two other Malay versions, from Van den Berg's account of Malay, Arabic, Javanese and other MSS., published at Batavia, 1877. One of these (p. 21, No. 132) is entitled “The History of Ghulām, son of Zād-bokhtān, King of Adān, in Persia,” and the frame agrees with that of our version, as already sketched in the present section, excepting that the robber-chief who had brought up Ghulām (our Bakhtyār),* “learning that he had be­come a person of consequence,” says Van den Berg, “came to his residence to visit him, but finding him imprisoned, he was much concerned, and asked the King's pardon on his behalf, telling him at the same time how he had formerly found Ghulām in the jungle; from which the King knew that Ghulām was his son,” and so on. The other version (p. 32, No. 179), though similar in title to the Persian original, “History of Prince Bakhtyār,” differs very consider­ably in the frame, which is thus analysed by Van den Berg: “This Prince, when his father was put to flight by a younger brother, who wished to dethrone him, was born in a jungle and abandoned by his parents. A merchant, Idrīs (Enoch), took charge of him and brought him up. Later on he became one of the officers of state with his own father, who had in the meanwhile found another kingdom, and decided with fairness the cases laid before him. He was, however, put in prison, on account of a supposed attempt upon the King's life, and he would have been put to death had he not stayed the execution by telling various beautiful stories. Even the King came repeatedly to listen to him. At one of these visits Bakhtyār's foster-father Idrīs was likewise present, who related to his adopted son how he had found him in the jungle. The King, on hearing this, now perceived that it was his son who had been brought up by Idrīs, recognised Bakhtyār as such, and made over to him his kingdom.”

So far as I am aware, there are but two translations of the Persian version in European languages; one in English, by Sir William Ouseley,* which is reproduced in the present volume; the other in French, by M. Lescallier.* In his Preface, Sir William Ouseley states that he selected for translation a text composed in the least ornate style, and he seems to have con­tented himself with a rather free rendering (see prefa­tory remarks, Notes and Illustrations, page 121 of the present work). M. Lescallier takes care to inform his reader that he adopted another plan: picking out passages from two different manuscripts, and amal­gamating his selections into a work which, it is safe to say, does not find its original in any single Persian text extant: his object, indeed, seems to have been to present an entertaining romance to French readers, rather than to produce a translation of any parti­cular Persian original; and it must be admitted that many of the lengthy conversations which occur in his volume are quite as well omitted by Ouseley.

The name of the author of this romance and the precise time when it was composed are not known. Ouseley states that none of the manuscripts of the work which he had seen appeared to be much older than the end of the 17th century. But we are now able to place the date of its composition at least three centuries earlier, since the manuscript of the Turkī version, already referred to, bears to have been tran­scribed A.H. 838, or A.D. 1434; and it is not unlikely that the translation was made several years before that date. And as well-known or popular works are usually selected for translation, we may reasonably conclude that the Persian Romance of Prince Bakht-yār was composed not later than the end of the 14th century. That it is posterior to the end of the 13th century might be supposed from the circumstance that the author in two instances* employs maxims which are found in the writings of the great Persian poet Sa'dī, if we were sure that these maxims are really Sa‘dī’s own.* It has struck me as rather singular that I can recognise only two of the nine stories which Bakhtyār relates as existing in another Eastern work, namely, the Tūtī Nāma, or Tales of a Parrot, of Nak-shabī. This work, according to Pertsch, was written in A.D. 1330, and was preceded by another Persian book on the same subject, by an unknown writer, which was based on an older Sanskrit book (now lost), of which the Suka Saptati, or Seventy Tales of a Parrot, is only an abstract. Nakshabī's work (adds Pertsch), copies of which are rare, has been greatly superseded by Kāderī's abridgment, which was written in India, probably about the middle of the 17th cen­tury.* The “Story of the King of Abyssinia” (pp. 74-85 of the present work) is identical with the story told by the Parrot on the 50th Night in the Tūtī Nāma of Nakshabī (India Office MS. 2573), where it bears the title of “Story of the Daughter of the Kaisar of Rūm, and her trouble by reason of her Son;” and the “Story of the King of Abyssinia” (pp. 62-72) cor­responds with the 51st Night, “Story of the Daughter of the Vizier Khāssa, and how she found safety through the blessing of her own purity” (for King Dādīn, and his Viziers Kāmkār and Kārdār of our story, Nak-shabī has King Bahrām, and the Viziers Khāssa and Khalāssa). Here the question naturally suggests itself: did Nakshabī take these two stories from the Bakhtyār Nāma, or did the author of the latter borrow them from Nakshabī? It is at least a rather curious coincidence that in the Persian romance of the “Four Dervishes” (Chehār Darvīsh), ascribed to Amīr Khusrū (about A.D. 1300), a work which is best known by its Hindustanī version, Bāgh o Bāhar, or Garden and Spring, occur the names of three of the persons who figure in the Bakhtyār romance: the King, as in our work, is called Āzādbakht, his son Bakhtyār, and Bihzād is the name of a third.

Lescallier, in the Preface to his translation, makes a very extraordinary statement: he says that although nothing is known regarding the authorship and date of the romance, yet the work appears to be very an­cient; and remarks that there is nothing found in the book to announce the institution of Muhammadanism —the invocation of the Deity and salutation of the Prophet, at the opening of the work, he thought likely to be an interpolation of the copyists. Now the fact is, that even in his own translation allusions to the rites of Islām, if they are not of frequent occurrence, are yet sufficiently numerous to prove beyond question that the Bakhtyār Nāma, as it exists at present in Persian, has been written, or modified, by a Muslim. To cite a few instances: At page 17 of Lescallier's volume, we find the King, when he had abandoned his child in the desert, represented as comparing his condition to that of Jacob the Hebrew patriarch when he believed that his son Joseph was dead. M. Le-scallier could never suppose that the romance was written either by a Jew or a Christian; therefore this passage clearly came from a Muslim pen. At page 27 mention is made of the “hour of mid-day prayer,” one of the five times of obligatory prayer prescribed to Muslims. At page 94 (p. 52 of the present volume) the two sons of Abū Saber are represented as having said to the merchant who purchased them of the robbers: “We are free-born and Mussulmans.” At page 140 (p. 70 of this work) the cameleer and the lady reach the city “at the hour of evening prayer.” Nevertheless M. Lescallier could not find anything in the work “qui annonce l'établissement du Maho-métisme!”

Since the Arabian version of the Romance of the Ten Viziers given in the French Continuation of the Thousand and One Nights, translated, as already stated, by Dom Chavis and edited by M. Cazotte, is not mentioned by M. Lescallier, we must conclude, either that he did not know of it, or that he deemed it beneath his notice. Dom Chavis and M. Cazotte have, in truth, received rather hard treatment at the hands of their critics. Dr Jonathan Scott, amongst others, must gird at Cazotte, though without the shadow of reason. In his edition of the Arabian Nights, published in 1811,* Appendix to vol. vi, re­ferring to the English translation of the “Continua­tion” (see foot-note, page xxxvii), he says that “the twelve first stories in the third volume had un­doubtedly an Oriental foundation: they exist, among many others, in a Persian manuscript, lately in my possession, entitled Jamī'u-'l-Hikāyāt, or a Collection of Narratives. Sir William Ouseley has published a liberal* translation of them, with the Persian text, by reading which the liberties M. Cazotte has taken in the tale of ‘Bohetzād and his Ten Viziers’ may be fairly seen, and a reasonable conjecture formed of his amplification of all others. Sir William Ouseley's hero is named Bakht-yār, i.e., Befriended by Destiny, as in my manuscript, in that of M. Cazotte it is prob­ably Bakht-zād, i.e., Born under a Fortunate Planet.” In this last sentence Scott has strangely blundered: the hero of the Persian Tale is certainly called Bakht-yār, but in Cazotte's version it is the King who is called Bohetzād (or Bakht-zād), and the hero, Aladdin. From these strictures of his it is very obvious that he was not aware of the existence of an Arabian ver­sion of this romance. According to Lowndes' Biblio­grapher's Manual, “a valuable edition of the Arabian Nights was published, in 1798, by Richard Gough, considerably enlarged, from the Paris edition, with notes of illustration, and a preface, in which the sup­plementary tales published by Dom Chavis are proved to be a palpable forgery.” Gough's name has not come down to us in connection with the Arabian Nights—except through Lowndes, where it is but a name. And Habicht's Arabian text has very conclu­sively disproved all Gough's absurd “proofs;” and, what is more, a comparison of the Romance as given by M. Cazotte with Habicht's text will not only show that in both are the Tales of the same num­ber and placed in the same order, but the incidents are almost invariably identical. The following is a comparative table of the order of the Tales in the “History of the Ten Viziers,” as they are found in Habicht's Arabian text, Cazotte, Caussin de Perceval, the German translation, and the Persian version—of the last the order and number of the tales are alike in Ouseley, Lescallier, and the lithographed text:

HABICHT'S ARABIAN TEXT. Cazotte's Translation. C. de Perceval. German Translation. Persian Texts.
1 Introductory Story (King Āzādbakht) 1 1 1 1
2 History of the Merchant pursued by Ill-Fortune 2 4 2 2
3 History of the Jewel Merchant 3 8 8 8
4 History of Abū Saber 4 7 4 4
5 History of Prince Bihzād 5 3 3 3
6 History of King Dādbīn and his Two Viziers 6 10 6 6
7 History of Bakhtzamān 7 6
8 History of King Bīhkard 8 5 5 5
9 History of Īlan Shāh and Abū Temām 9 * 9 9
10 History of King Ibrahīm and his Son 10 9 10
11 History of Sulaymān Shāh, his Sons, his Niece, and their Children 11 2 7 7

It will be observed from this table that in Habicht's Arabian text, in Cazotte, and C. de Perceval there are eleven stories, including the Introductory Tale, which forms part of the frame; and this arrangement is more in accordance with what was evidently the original plan of the romance than is our Persian version, in which there is no story to counteract the arguments employed by the First Vizier against Bakhtyār. In all other romances of the Sindibād cycle, where the sages, or counsellors, relate stories in behalf of the accused, the narrators appear in regular succession, from the first to the seventh (or, in the case of the Forty Viziers, from the first to the fortieth); and there can be little doubt, I think, that in the original Persian romance—probably no longer extant—the First Vizier, as in the Arabian version, was represented as appear­ing before the King on the first day after Bakhtyār was committed to prison, urging his immediate execution, and the youth, on being brought into the King's pre­sence, as relating one of the tales included in Ha-bicht's text, but omitted in our present version. On the Eleventh Day in Cazotte (reckoning the day of our hero's unhappy adventure as one) the young man re­lates two stories, that of “Sulaymān Shāh and his Family,” which exactly agrees with Habicht's text; and a rather pointless story, entitled “The King of Haram and his Slave,” which is probably identical with the eleventh tale in C. de Perceval, entitled “The Freed Slave,” which takes the place of the story of Abū Temām, omitted. The titles of the several stories as given in the above table are those in Habicht's text. No. 3 in Cazotte is entitled “Ilage Mahomet and his Sons.” No. 8 is “Baharkan, or the Intemperate (i.e., hasty-tempered) Man”—our “King of Yemen” and in the German translation “The Prince of Zanzībār.” No. 10 is in Cazotte also “Ibrahīm and his Son,” and the incidents are the same in both. No. 7, “The History of Bakht-zamān,” also in Cazotte and C. de Perceval, but omitted in the Persian version, treats of the vain attempts of a man to succeed in war or peace without God's help—utterly vain, unless prayers are offered up for His assistance. No. 11 (our “King of Abyssinia”) has the same title in Cazotte, and in both the story is very differently told from the Persian narrative; it is, however, an excellent tale, and I regret that I have not space here for an analysis of it. In the German trans­lation our tenth story (“King of Persia”) is omitted, although it is found in the Arabian text.

To conclude: I am disposed to believe that the Turkī translation was made from the Arabic, because the story of “King Dādīn and his Two Viziers,” given in pages 189-194, corresponds with Habicht's text and with Cazotte's translation, but varies materially from the Persian text, in which the cameleer, who discovers the pious daughter of the murdered Vizier, is represented as being in the service of King Dādīn, who, when informed of the lady's wonderful sanctity, visits her at the cameleer's house and becomes reconciled to her; while in the Turkī version, in Habicht's text, and in Cazotte (who probably knew nothing of the Turkī translation) the cameleer is in the service of the King of Persia, who visits the maiden, marries her, and punishes King Dādīn and the wicked Vizier. If, then, the Turkī version, which dates as far back as A.D. 1434, was made from the Arabic, and if the latter was trans­lated, or adapted, from the Persian, it is not unlikely that the History of the Ten Viziers in its Arabian dress existed some time before the Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night was composed in its present form; and therefore the Persian version may be, as Lescallier conjectured, “very ancient.” And since we have discovered that two of the stories exist in a work which is of Sanskrit origin (see pp. xliii and xliv —and in line 6 of the latter for “King of Abyssinia” read “King Dādīn,”), we may go a step farther, and suppose the other stories in the Romance of Bakhtyār to have been also derived from Indian sources.