THE full title of this work is Rauzatu-s Safá fí Síratu-l Ambiá wau-l Mulúk wau-l Khulafá, “The Garden of Purity, containing the History of Prophets, Kings, and Khalifs.” It was composed by Mírkhond, or more correctly Mír Kháwand, whose true name at length is Muhammad bin Kháwand Sháh bin Mahmúd. He was born towards the close of the year 836 H., or the beginning of 837—A.D. 1433.

We gather some few particulars of him and of his family from the account of his patron, the minister, 'Alí Shír, and of his son, Khondamír. The father of Mírkhond was Saiyid Burhánu-dín Kháwand Sháh, a native of Máwaráu-n nahr, who traced his pedigree to Hasan, the son of 'Alí. When his father died, Kháwand Sháh was young, and being compelled by circumstances to abandon his country, he fixed his residence in the town of Balkh, where he indulged himself in the study of literature and science, and after an intermediate residence at Hirát, returned to Balkh, and died there.

Of Mírkhond himself very little is known. When he was only thirteen years of age he accompanied his father on a poli­tical embassy, which was not only entirely unsuccessful, but the negociators were unfortunately pillaged by the Turks and de­prived of every thing they took with them. On another occasion, he tells us, that he was on a hunting expedition, when, for leaving his post to join in mid-day prayer, he was reprimanded by some of the royal servants, and was so much alarmed at the reproaches and at the extortions to which he was exposed in consequence, that he fell ill and remained in a bad state for seven days. “Frightful dreams troubled him during the night, and before his departure the humble author of this history took God to witness, and vowed that on no account would he ever be in­duced to join another hunting expedition.”

These luckless adventures seemed to have indisposed him to­wards an active and public life, and he devoted himself early to literature. His son tells us that Mírkhond having employed his early life in acquiring all that was attainable in Eastern science, in which he soon outstripped all his contemporaries, he applied himself with equal assiduity and success to the study of history. “Through the seductions of a convivial disposition, however, and too unrestrained an intercourse with the votaries of pleasure, it never occurred to him to engage in the labours of composition, until, by the goodness of Providence and the influence of his better destiny, he found means to be introduced to the excellent 'Alí Shír, from whom he immediately experienced every mark of kindness and encouragement.” He assigned to Mírkhond apart­ments in the Khánkáh Akhlásía, a building erected by him “to serve as a retreat and asylum to men of merit distinguished by their attainments,” and cheered him with intellectual converse when exhausted with the labours of composition.

'Alí Shír himself, in the biographical article which he devotes to Mírkhond, vaunts in pompous terms the distinguished talents of the historian, and greatly applauds himself for having by his counsels and urgent remonstrances overcome the modesty of this honourable man, and for having thus contributed to enrich Persian literature with a production so remarkable as the Rauzatu-s Safá.

A great portion of this work was composed on a bed of sick­ness, and the author has himself given an account of the painful circumstances under which he was compelled to write. It is fortunate that writing was found rather to relieve than aggravate his disease. “I wrote all, chapter by chapter, lying on my right side; and because of the violent pains I felt in my loins, I was not able to write a single page sitting down. Clever phy­sicians assured me that this occupation would relieve me of the malady, or at least prevent its becoming worse. If on any night I happened to neglect my usual labour, and wished to abandon myself to repose, I had troublesome dreams, woke up in affright, or an excessive heat came over me which prevented my sleeping. If, on the contrary, I set myself to write as usual, I had a good sleep and agreeable dreams.”

For a whole twelvemonth before his death he gave himself up entirely to religious duties, while his malady increased upon him every day, and after a lingering illness he expired in the month Zí-l ka'da, 903, corresponding with June, 1498—aged sixty-six years.*

There is no Oriental work that stands higher in public estima­tion than the Rauzatu-s Safá. The author has availed himself of no less than nineteen Arabic and twenty-two Persian histories, besides others which he occasionally quotes. His work forms the basis of many other compilations, and the greater portion of Hájí Khalfa's History may be considered to be founded upon it. It must be confessed, however, that the Rauzatu-s Safá is very unequal in its execution, some portions being composed in great detail, and others more compendiously. It is most copious in what concerns the kings of Persia.