« ElőzőTovább »
to be, fable carcely
present volume, have been already translated by that distinguished Orientalist, under the title of “ Xitopadesa; or, Pleasing Instruction," – a work which scarcely differs from the Pantcha-Tantra, but in the order of the fables, which the accomplished translator * has pronounced to be the most beautiful, if not the most ancient, apologues in the world. The fifth tantra, indeed, is not in the “ Hitopadesa ;" but the three fables of which it consists are well known to all readers: the first is the story of the dog which, after destroying the serpent that threatened his master's child, was himself killed by the alarmed father; the second is the story of the milkmaid and her vain projects; and the third is familiar to all young ladies and gentlemen who have been forced to study Wanostrocht's Grammar, as The Three Dervishes.
The Indian stories, however, composing the second part of the volume, (which comes recommended by the name of the Abbé Dubois, whom a residence of thirty years in India, and an excellent work upon its manners, eminently qualify for the task he has here undertaken,) present much that is equally new and entertaining. We already knew how deeply we were indebted to the East at the revival of letters for the invention that then suddenly blossomed out over Europe, and we are now aware that the old fabulists derived from Sanscrit originals some of their most brilliant fancies, and most of their diverting incidents : but we were not prepared to meet in Indian fiction with the fine satire and grotesque exaggeration of Rabelais, which the stories at the end of M. Dubois’s volume present us. On the Brahmins, throughout, the nost unsparing ridicule is lavished; and wherever they are not represented as hateful, they are exhibited in a despicable or ludicrous light. We translate a few examples, as a specimen at once of this and of the volume :
There was once a simple gourou (or priest) called Paramarta, who had five foolish disciples, in company with whom the gourou was one day visiting his district : about mid-day they arrived at a river which they had to cross. On finding the part of the river which was most easily fordable, the disciples prepared to enter the water, when the gourou stopped them, and said, “ My sons, this river is often in very bad humour, and many tragical events have been occasioned by it. I bave heard, that in order to avoid accidents it should be crossed only when it is asleep, and never when it is awake: therefore before entering it let one of you go and ascertain whether it is awake or asleep: after which we shall determine whether we should cross it now, or wait for a more favourable opportunity:"
- The gourou's advice appearing very sensible, one of the disciples whose name was Stupid was deputed to ascertain whether the river was asleep or awake. In order to do this, Stupid took the match with which he had just lighted his cigar, and approaching the river very softly, for fear of awaking it, he touched the surface of the water with the burn
* Sir W. Jones, Discourse III.
ing match. As soon as the fire and water came in contact, the latter sent forth a hissing noise accompanied with the smoke of the extinguished match.
At the sight of these alarming phenomena, Stupid runs back to the gourou and assures him that the angry river is awake. They remain accordingly for a long time on the bank, waiting for a more favourable opportunity, when they see a man on horseback traverse the river without difficulty. Stupid is then sent back to examine once more the river; and that ingenious disciple finding that the insertion of the extinguished match produces no bubbling of the water, he returns to report that the river is asleep; and the priest and his disciples accordingly cross it without danger.
On reaching the other side they mutually congratulated each other on their happy escape from danger, and one of the disciples named Idiot began to count their number, to ascertain whether any of them had been drowned in crossing : but in counting he forgot to reckon himself, and counted only the five others. Having repeated his calculation several times, and still finding only five, he broke out into loud lamentations, in which he was joined by Paramarta and the other disciples. Their regrets soon changed into curses, and one of them, apostrophising the river, prayed that the fire might devour it. A traveller happening to pass that way, and witnessing this scene, asked them for an explanation of it; and the gourou detailed the affair at full length. The traveller seeing their excessive stupidity, and being resolved to take advantage of it, professed to be a sorcerer, and offered for an adequate reward to restore by his charms the defunct to life. Paramarta assured him that he only possessed forty fanons of gold, but offered him that sum on condition of restoring the lost member of their society to life. The pretended magician observed that the sum. was very disproportionate to the service required, but that under all the circumstances he would accept Paramarta's offer. He then showed the group a huge stick which he held in his hand : “ All my magic power," said he, “ lies in this stick; and it is from the end of this enchanted wand that the missing member must spring: range yourselves in a line, and each of you must allow me to apply a good blow with this stick upon his shoulders : on receiving the stroke, each must call out his name; at the same time I will count your number, and finally there will appear on the scene six persons, the number which there was before you crossed the river."
• He then made them stand in a line, and beginning with the gourou, he discharged on his shoulders a stiff blow with his magic wand : “ Gently," cried the patient : “it is I - the gourou Paramarta.”
«« One," said the magician: then giving Stupid a still harder blow on the back : " Ah,” cried he, my back is broken: it is I — the disciple Stupid.”
*“ Two,” cried the magician ; and continuing to apply smart strokes on the shoulders of the next three, he arrived at Idiot, who had made the erroneous calculation. The sorcerer, giving him a heavy blow which laid him Alat on the ground : “ There," said he, “ is the sixth : that is the lost one, whom I here restore to you in perfect health.”
• Paramarta and his disciples, fully convinced of the wonderful powers of the traveller's magic wand, paid him the forty fanons agreed on; and without testifying the slightest wish that he should repeat the calcul.
ation of their number, they thanked him, and returned to their mata,'* - pp. 231—247.
A great number of similar adventures are detailed, in which the simplicity of the priest and the stupidity of his disciples are very ludicrously exhibited : in one instance Paramarta having hired an ox to ride on by the day, lies down under its shadow : for this the proprietor wishes to exact an additional sum. Paramarta refuses to pay it, and appeals to the chief of the neighbouring village, who decides the question in the same way as the arbiter in the following. story, which he relates as a-propos to Paramarta's adventure :
“I was myself on a journey some years ago, and one evening I arrived at an inn where I intended to pass the night. This inn presented not only a place of repose, but in the keeper of it travellers found a. person who for their money would cook their victuals. He was then preparing a ragoût so well seasoned, that the perfume which it sent forthfilled all the room, and was highly agreeable. I should have been glad. to have eaten part of it, but not having money to pay for it, I could not satisfy my longing. I had brought with me my little portion of boiled rice, and approaching the fire-place where the ragoût was preparing, I begged the cook to allow me to hold my bag of rice in the fragrant steam, in order that it might catch some of the odour, as I could not afford to pay for the substance.
· The cook, with more complaisance than generally belongs to that class, granted my request. I accordingly held my rice over the steam of the ragoût until it was withdrawn from the fire. I then retired to a. corner, and ate my rice, which, though it had only been seasoned by vapour, appeared to me excellent.
Next morning when I was about to proceed on my journey, the innkeeper stopped me, and in a determined tone insisted on my paying him for the vapours of his ragoût, with which I had seasoned my rice the preceding evening
* What!cried I, with equal astonishment and indignation : “ Did ever any one hear of paying money for smoke ?” I refused to pay; and my adversary seizing me by the collar, swore he would not loose his hold till I had paid him for the steam of his ragoût. I still refused; and we mutually agreed to refer our dispute to the chief of the village, who fortunately was a very equitable person.
* This worthy man gave his decision on the point in the following terms:
"“ Those who ate of the ragoût shall pay in hard cash.
"“ Those who have only swallowed the vapours of it should pay. only with the smell of money.”
• Then taking a small bag of money which he had about him, he approached my adversary, and seizing him with one hand by the nape of the neck, he rubbed his nose roughly with the coin, saying, “ Smell it, my good friend, smell it: take payment for the odour of your ragoût.”
*“ Enough, enough,” cried my adversary : “ you'll rub my nose off: I'm quite satisfied, and am ready to give a receipt in full.” 'pp. 272—275.
6 * Conventi'
We cannot afford room for any other adventures of the worthy Paramarta ; but we must extract one short story, incidentally told by a village buffoon, who is called in when the gourou fancies himself in extremis, in consequence of his approaching death being predicted by a Pourohita Brahmin or astrologer. The visitor advises Paramarta to perform the sacrifice of the pestle, of which, of course, the gourou has never heard; and the visitor gives the sick man the following account of this famous sacrifice, in which the Brahmins are, as usual throughout these tales, represented as utterly stupid and contemptible :
• There was once a merchant of the sect of Siva, who testified his devotion to the goddess by his bounty to the pandarangs *; and whereever he met any of these penitents, he invited them to his house. His wife, who was far from having the same affection for these pious persons entertained by her husband, and who besides was forced to cook for
hem, was rather annoyed at the numerous and frequent visits of the pandarangs. Seeing that her remonstrances with her husband produced no effect, she had at last recourse to a stratagem for diminishing the number of her visitors.
One day her husband went into the market-place on business, and met in the streets a pandarang who asked alms. “I have not time to attend to you at present," replied the merchant; “but go to my house, nd tell my wife that I have desired you to wait there till my return."
The pandarang gladly accepted the invitation, and proceeded to the house where he found the merchant's wife, who begged him to sit down on a mat near the door. The pandarang did so, and the woman proceeded to sweep and arrange the room, after which she washed her face, arms, and feet, and embellished her forehead with sandal-wood dust, and her feet and hands with saffron. After completing her toilette she took the pestle with which rice is pounded, and approached with a solemn air the spot where the pandarang sat. She then went to the hearth, and taking two handfulls ot' ashes, she rubbed her forehead, and the pestle therewith, and then placing the pestle in the midst of the room, she adored it by prostrating herself thrice before it.
The pandarang, who had observed all the ceremony in silence and astonishment, then said, “ This is something quite new to me : till this day I never witnessed nor heard of such a sacrifice as that you have just performed. Pray, madam, do me the favour to tell me what it all signifies : can this pestle be one of your household gods ?”
o« The ceremony I have just performed,” replied the merchant's wife, “ is one peculiar to the women of our caste ;” and after saying these words, she desired the Brahmin in a very angry voice to follow her into the inner room : “ for,” added she in an under tone, but so
oud as to be perfectly heard by the pandarang, “ the sacrifice of the pestle is not yet completed ; and in order that you may remember it, it shall be accomplished on your shoulders, to remind you and your crew never to come prowling here again.”
• The pandarang, on hearing this, got up, but instead of following the woman he rushed out at the door as quickly as possible, in order to avoid the accomplishment of the sacrifice on his head and shoulders.
* Mendicant priests of the sect of Siva.'
• Soon after his departure, the merchant returned, and enquired about the pandarang. “Ay,” cried his wife, “ that was a pretty pandarang you sent here: he must have been mad. As soon as he came in, he asked for our pestle, intending to carry it off: I can't give it you, said I, without my husband's permission : he is now in the marketplace, but you may sit down, and wait till his return. On this, your pandarang got up in a rage, and went off.”
"“ You were wrong to refuse the holy man,” said her husband : “ give me the pestle, and I'll take it to him myself." The merchant then took the pestle and hastened after the pandarang, whom he saw at a little distance. " Stop, pandarang!” he shouted, “Stop! here is the pestle you wanted.” The Brahmin, seeing the merchant coming with a pestle in his hand, felt convinced that he intended to consummate the sacrifice on his shoulders which his wife had not completed, and instead of stopping, continued to run as fast as he could. The merchant seeing him run was satisfied that he was mad, as his wife had said ; and his age and belly not allowing him to run as fast as the other, he ceased to pursue him.
- This artifice of the woman produced the intended effect; and the story having spread among the pandarangs, not one thenceforth ventured to enter the merchant's house, lest he should be welcomed by the sacrifice of the pestle.' — pp. 326–332.
We must here conclude by assuring our readers, that if they have derived any amusement from the extracts which we have given, they may enjoy a much higher degree of pleasure from some other stories which we have been prevented, by their length, from translating into English.
ART. VII. Sketches of Portuguese Life, Manners, Costume, and Charac
ter. Illustrated by Twenty coloured Plates. By A. P. D. G. 8vo.
pp. 364. 16s. London. Whittaker. 1826. CONSIDERING the close and uninterrupted intercourse, political and commercial, which has subsisted between this country and Portugal for nearly a century and a half, and which was drawn still closer by the events of the last war, it is a little surprising how rarely and imperfectly the attempt has been made to familiarise the English reader with Portuguese manners, scenes, and national peculiarities. And yet there is a great deal both in the people and their country which is highly remarkable and curious; and, assuredly, there is no portion of Europe which may be said to offer a more distinct and striking individuality of aspect and character.
The ardent, deep-toned temperament, the excited mannerism and the southern features of its people, the variegated costume and primitive appurtenances of the peasantry, the gorgeous processions and pageantry of the public worship; — then the endless variety of architecture, aqueducts, and fountains, stately palaces, masses of conventual gloom, cottages of primæval rudeness, Gothic and Moorish ruins of frowning grandeur or fantastic tracery; — again, the