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THE singular placidity with which FADLADEEN had listened, during the latter part of this obnoxious story, surprised the Princess and FERAMORZ exceedingly; and even inclined towards him the hearts of these unsuspicious young persons, who little knew the source of a complacency so marvellous. The truth was, he had been organizing, for the last few days, a most notable plan of persecution against the poet, in consequence of some passages that had fallen from him on the second evening of recital, — which appeared to this worthy Chamberlain to contain language and principles, for which nothing short of the summary criticism of the Chabuk * would be advisable. It was his intention, therefore, immediately on their arrival at Cashmere, to give information to the King of Bucharia of the very dangerous sentiments of his minstrel; and if, unfortunately, that monarch did not act with suitable vigour on the occasion, (that is, if he did not give the Chabuk to FERAMORZ, and a place to FADLADEEN,) there would be an end, he feared, of all legitimate government in Bucharia. He could not help, however, auguring better both for himself and the cause of potentates in general; and it was the pleasure arising from these mingled anticipations that diffused such unusual satisfaction through his features, and made his eyes shine out, like poppies of the desert, over the wide and lifeless wilderness of that countenance.
** The application of whips or rods." - DUBOIS.
Having decided upon the Poet's chastisement in this manner, he thought it but humanity to spare him the minor torture's of criticism. Accordingly, when they assembled the following evening in the pavilion, and LALLA Rookh was expecting to see all the beauties of her bard melt away, one by one, in the acidity of criticism, like pearls in the cup of the Egyptian queen, — he agreeably disappointed her, by merely saying, with an ironical smile, that the merits of such a poem deserved to be tried at a much higher tribunal: and then suddenly passed off into a panegyric upon all Mussulman sovereigns, more particularly his august and Imperial master, Aurungzebe,
- the wisest and best of the descendants of Timur, who among other great things he had done for mankind, had given to him, FADLADEEN, the very profitable posts of Betel-carrier, 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 t, 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, been known to wander with his beloved and beautiful Nourmahal; and here would LALLA Rooku 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. But the time was now fast approaching when she must see him no longer, - or, what was still worse, behold 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 aunk 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 appeared 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. *
* Kæmpfer 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 meastire 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 stand. ard of shape, they were reduced by abstinence till they came within proper
bounds. † The Attock.
“Akbar on his way ordered a fort to be built upon the Nilab, which he called Attock, which means in the Indian language Forbidden; for, by the superstition of the Hindoos, it was held unlawful to cross the river." - Dow's Hindostan.
*“The inhabitants of this country (Zinge) are never afflicted with.sadness or melancholy; on this subject the Sheikh Abu-al-Kheir-Azhari has the following distich:“Who is the man without care or sorrow, (tell) that I may rub my hand to
him. "• (Behold) the Zingians, without care or sorrow, frolicksome with tipsiness
and mirth.' “ The philosophers have discovered that the cause of this cheerfulness proceeds from the influence of the star Soheil or Canopus, which rises over them every night.” – Extract from a Geographical Persian manuscript called Heft Aklim, or the Seven Climates, translated by W. Quseley, Esq.
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 much freer range than they could safely be indulged with in a less sequestered place, ran wild along the gardens and bounded through the meadows, lightly as young roes over the aromatic plains of Tibet. While FADLADEEN, in addition to the spiritual comfort derived by him from a pilgrimage to the tomb of the Saint from whom the valley is named, had also opportunities of indulging, in a small way, his taste for victims, by putting to death some hundreds of those unfortunate little lizards f, 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
About two miles from Hussun Abdaul 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 Rooku all that her heart could fancy of fragrance, coolness, and almost heavenly tranquility. 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 t, 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 I, - 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
* The star Soheil, or Canopus.
t 6. The lizard Sterlio. The Arabs call it Hardun. The Turks kill it, for they imagine that by declining the head it mimics them when they say their prayers." - HASSELQUIST.
For these particulars respecting Hussun Abdaul I am indebted to the very interesting Introduction of Mr. Elphinstone's work upon Caubul.
*“As you enter at that Bazar, without the gate of Damascus, you see the Green Mosque, so called because it hath a steeple faced with green glazed bricks, which render it very resplendant; it is covered at top with a pavilion of the game stuff. The Turks say this mosque was made in that place, because Mahomet being come so far, would not enter the town, saying it was too delicious.” — THEVENOT. This reminds one of the following pretty passage in Isaac Walton;
“When I sat last on this primrose bank, and looked down these meadows, I thought of them as Charles the Emperor did of the city of Florence, 'that they were too pleasant to looked on, but only on holidays.'”
† Nourmahal signifies Light of the Haram. She was afterwards called Nourjehan, or the Light of the World.
See note, p. 192.