Billeder på siden

ants of Timur,--who, among other great things he had done for mankind, had given to him, FADLADEEN, the very profitable posts of BetelCarrier and Taster of Sherbets to the Emperor, Chief Holder of the Girdle of beautiful Forms, * and Grand Nazir, or Chamberlain of the Haram.

They were now not far from that Forbidden River, † beyond which no pure Hindoo can pass ; and were reposing for a time in the rich valley of Hussun Abdaul, which had always been a favourite resting-place of the Emperors in their annual migrations to Cashmere. Here often had the Light of the Faith, Jehanguire, wandered with his beloved and beautiful Nourmahal; and here would Lalla Rookh have been happy to remain for ever, giving up the throne of Bucharia and the world, for FERAMORZ and love in this sweet lonely valley. The time was now fast approaching when she

* Kempfer mentions such an officer among the attendants of the King of Persia, and calls him “formæ corporis estimator.” His business was, at stated periods, to measure the ladies of the Haram by a sort of regulation-girdle, whose limits it was not thought graceful to exceed. · If any of them outgrew this standard of shape, they were reduced by abstinence till they came within its bounds.

+ The Attock.

must see him no longer,-or see him with eyes whose every look belonged to another; and there was a melancholy preciousness in these last moments, which made her heart cling to them as it would to life. During the latter part of the journey, indeed, she had sunk into a deep sadness, from which nothing but the presence of the young minstrel could awake her. Like those lamps in tombs, which only light up when the air is admitted, it was only at his approach that her eyes became smiling and animated. But here, in this dear valley, every moment was an age of pleasure; she saw him all day, and was, therefore, all day happy,-resembling, she often thought, that people of Zinge, who attribute the unfading cheerfulness they enjoy to one genial star that rises nightly over their heads. *

The whole party, indeed, seemed in their liveliest mood during the few days they passed in this delightful solitude. The young attendants of the Princess, who were here allowed a freer range than they could safely be indulged with in a less sequestered place, ran wild among the gardens and bounded through the meadows, lightly as young roes over the aromatic plains of Tibet. While FADLADEEN, beside the spiritual comfort he derived from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Saint from whom the valley is named, had opportunities of gratifying, in a small way, his taste for victims, by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate little lizards, which all pious Mussulmans make it a point to kill;— taking for granted, that the manner in which the creature hangs its head is meant as a mimicry of the attitude - in which the Faithful say their prayers !

* The star Sohci), or Canopus.

About two miles from Hussun Abdául were those Royal Gardens, which had grown beautiful under the care of so many lovely eyes, and were beautiful still, though those eyes could see them no longer. This place, with its flowers and its holy silence, interrupted only by the dipping of the wings of birds in its marble basins filled with the pure water of those hills, was to Lalla Rookh all that her heart could fancy of fragrance, coolness, and almost heavenly tranquillity. As the Prophet said of Damascus, “ it was too delicious;" --and here, in listening to the sweet voice of FERAMORZ, or reading in his eyes what yet he never dared to tell her, the most exquisite moments of her whole life were passed. One evening, when they had been talking of the Sultana Nourmahal,—the Light of the Haram, * who had so often wandered among these flowers, and fed with her own hands, in those marble basins, the small shining fishes of which she was so fond, † -the youth, in order to delay the moment of separation, proposed to recite a short story, or rather rhapsody, of which this adored Sultana was the heroine. It related, he said, to the reconcilement of a sort of lovers' quarrel, which took place between her and the Emperor during a Feast of Roses at Cashmere; and would remind the Princess of that difference between Harounal-Raschid and his fair mistress Marida, which was so happily made up by the soft strains of the musician, Moussali. As the story was chiefly to be told in song, and FERAMORZ had unluckily forgotten his own lute in the valley, he borrowed the vina of LALLA Rooki's little Persian slave, and thus began:-

- Nourmahal signifies Light of the Haram. She was afterwards called Nourjehan, or the Light of the World,

+ See note, p. 230.


Who has not heard of the Vale of CASHMERE,

With its roses, the brightest that earth ever gave, * Its temples, and grottos, and fountains as clear

As the love-lighted eyes that hang over their wave?

Oh! to see it at sunset,—when warm o'er the Lake

Its splendour at parting a summer eve throws, Like a bride full of blushes, when lingering to take

A last look of her mirror at night ere she goes !When the shrines through the foliage are gleaming half

shown, And each hallows the hour by some rites of its own. Here the music of prayer from a minaret swells,

Here the Magian his urn full of perfume is swinging, And here, at the altar, a zone of sweet bells

Round the waist of some fair Indian dancer is ringing. +

* “ The rose of Kashmire, for its brilliancy and delicacy of odour, has long been proverbial in the East.”-FORSTER.

+ " Tied round her waist the zone of bells, that sounded with ravishing melody.”-Song of Jayadeva.

« ForrigeFortsæt »