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translation from some language less polished than the Persian.* I have however found it requisite to divide the Translation into Books and Chapters.
In comparing Major Davy's Translation with Petis de la Croix's, I have found so much discrepancy between their spelling of Oriental names, that one can hardly suppose the same persons, or places are meant, I have therefore ventured to make an innovation in Anglo-Oriental orthography, by making use of such of our letters as agree with the Persian Alphabet.
The exact pronunciation of a proper name is of little consequence to the European reader, while the Oriental student will be thus enabled to transpose it into the Persian character; some of the names of places have been so long settled, that I have not interfered with them, but take this opportunity of stating that Kund or Kend, in the Turky language, signifies a town, and therefore forms the termination of the names of many cities; Turan, called by the Greeks, Transoxiana, and by the Arabs, Maveralneher, should properly be spelled Ma-vera-al-neher: that which is beyond the river. Khurasan being the Eastern province of Persia, was called the Region of the Sun.
We are very much indebted to the French Literati for information on Oriental subjects, but they have led us into a very false orthography by their partiality for the letter C, which does not exist in the Persian language, and their alteration of several important letters.
Almost all Arabic names have meanings, and are derived from a root of three letters, thus from H. M. D. praise, is derived Muhammed, the greatly praised, consequently the writing of it Mahomet, as is frequently done, destroys the etymology; Amr, signifies command, whence Amyr, Commander, which should always be written with the first letter of the alphabet, although frequently written Emir and Umeer; Amyr al Mumenyn, Commander of the Faithful, must be in the recollection of every person who has read the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.
* The Turky language differs as much from the modern Turkish, as the Saxon does from the English,
Some of the French authors write,
Dragoman for Terjūmān, an Interpreter ;
Chagan for Khakan, an Emperor;
whilst the letters j, y, t and d are constantly interchanged.
The Persian short vowel called Zubber, is sounded in Persia as short a, in Turkey as short e, in India as short u, and causes a difference in the pronunciation of the natives of these countries; but as the letter E has six sounds in French, and at least three in English, the variation is not greater than is to be found in the dialects of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
I am aware that it is impossible to fix the pronunciation of any language, but as it is desirable that Translators should observe an uniform system, and the mode suggested by Sir William Jones having failed of success, I venture to propose a more simple one, which will save most of the diacritical points, so troublesome both to the writer and to the reader; viz. that of using such of our consonants as agree with those of the Persian Alphabet.
With respect to the vowels,
let the short e represent the Persian vowel
short i, short u,
Let our ā, ū, and y, represent the corresponding long vowels, alif, vau, and ye, this latter to be generally sounded ee, or as the French i of Dire, Lire, &c.
Our slender a in Slave, &c. does not exist in Persian, and the only word in which the open o occurs, is in Koh, a mountain, therefore probably a misnomer. In Arabic it is formed by the letters Ain or Alif with the vowel Pysh, as age; nobles. The Arabic K may be sometimes used for C, but as it adds to the number of letters, without an adequate advantage, I think it better omitted.
Note, referred to at page 1. Mr. William Davy went out to India as a Cadet, about the year 1767, and having early applied himself to the study of the Persian language, was selected by Sir Robert Barker, Commander-in-Chief of Bengal, to be his Secretary and Persian Interpreter; in this situation he was in constant habits of associating and transacting business with many of the principal natives, and even with the Great Moghul, or Emperor of Delhy; after a residence of twelve years, he returned to England. When the late Lord Macartney was appointed to the government of Madras, he requested Major Davy to accompany him; they sailed in 1781, but on their arrival found the whole of the Carnatic overrun by the armies of Hyder Aly, and the Major seeing there was no field then open for his abilities, proceeded to Calcutta, and was immediately taken into the family of the Governor General, Warren Hastings, where he employed himself in the duties of his office, the pursuit of his studies, and collecting information.
In the year 1784, he again embarked for England, but died on his passage home; his books and papers were however carefully transmitted to his executors, and by them made over to his son, now Colonel Davy of Tracey Park, near Bath, in whose library, the MS. of which I have undertaken the translation, remained unexamined till last year, when in consequence of my report of it to the Royal Asiatic Society, it was recommended to the Oriental Translation Committee. The following extract of a letter respecting the authenticity of the Institutes, was written by Major Davy, previous to his return to India, and was published with the Preface to that work.
Extract of a Letter from the late Major Davy, to the late Doctor White, Laudian Professor of Arabic in the University of Oxford, dated October 24, 1779.
"The History of Timour, written by himself, carries with it the strongest proofs that he wrote for posterity only; and that he could not, in prudence, or in policy, make his work public during his life: for it contains not only the same accurate detail of the facts and occurrences of his reign, as are found in other authors, but it goes much further. He gives you that which he only had the power to give, the secret springs and motives which influenced his conduct in the various political and military transactions of his life, the arts by which he governed, as well as the power by which he conquered. He acknowledges his weaknesses, honestly owns his errors, describes the difficulties in which he was occasionally involved by those errors, and the policy by which he surmounted and overcame those difficulties. In a word, it is a compleat Index to his head and his heart; and though, take it all in all, it
redounds to the honour of both the one and the other, yet it was a work by no means calculated for the perusal of his enemies, or even his subjects during his life; since it would have enabled those who chose it, to combat him with his own weapons, or, in other words, to have turned his arts and his policy against himself. Hence it is reasonable to suppose, that the work in question was entirely unknown during his life; and its subsequent temporary obscurity may, I think, be plausibly accounted for, by the probability of one copy only existing at the time of his death, by the uncertainty into whose hands that copy fell, and by the divisions which followed in his family after the death of Shaahroch.
"Abu Taulib ul Husseini, in the Dedication of his Translation to Sultaun ul Audil, says, that in the library of Jafir, Haukim of Yemmun, he met with a manuscript in the Turki or Mogul language, which, on inspection, proved to be the History of Timour, written by himself; containing an account of his life and actions from the seventh to the seventy-fourth year of his age, &c. &c. He then proceeds to give the Translation of the said History, in which are included the Institutes.
"It may appear remarkable that the Translator should say so little, or in fact nothing, to prove the authenticity of the valuable work, which he was about to translate. It has an extraordinary appearance, I allow; but, I think, the following inferences only can be drawn from it: either that he thought the work itself contained sufficient proofs of its own authenticity, or that at the period when he translated it, it was so well known, as not to admit of doubt, or dispute. For my part, I think his inattention to this point is a very strong, if not the strongest possible proof, that the History and Institutes of Timour are genuine.
"An European critic may say, that this same Abu Taulib might have wrote the work himself in the Persian language, and have imposed it upon the world as a Translation from the Royal Mogul author. This I take to be impossible. Authors in the East neither sold their works to booksellers, nor published by subscription, nor depended for support on the applause, the generosity, or the credulity of the public: they were patronized by Princes, who rewarded their labours in proportion to the value of their works. And therefore, if Abu Taulib had been capable
of writing such a work, he never would have been guilty of so dangerous and foolish an artifice, which could tend only to diminish both his fame and his profit. The applause and the reward due to the Translator of an excellent work, inust, whatever his merit, be inferior to those which are due to the author of such a work; if therefore he had been master of abilities to write the Life and Institutes of Timour, as there written, he would have spoke in the third person instead of the first (no other alteration being necessary,) and have stood forth as the author of the first and best History of the Life of Timour, that ever was wrote; for which he must have obtained both applause and profit tenfold. The same mode of reasoning will hold good to prove that the Turki copy could not be wrote by any Mogul author, but him to whom it is ascribed, Timour himself.
"The noble simplicity of diction, the plain and unadorned egotism that runs through the whole of the Institutes and History of Timour, are peculiarities which mark their originality and their antiquity also. The Orientals, for some centuries past, have adopted a very different mode of writing; the best of their historical works are filled with poetical and hyperbolical flowers and flourishes, which are so numerous, and occur so frequently, that many a folio volume, weeded and pruned of these superfluities, would be reduced to a very moderate octavo.
"The only work bearing the least resemblance to the Life and Institutes of Timour, which has fallen under my observation, is the History (or Commentaries) of Sultaun Babour, written by himself.* Babour was descended from Timour in the fifth degree; he was the son of Omer, the son of Abu Saeed, the son of Mahummud, the son of Meraun Shaah, the son of Timour. About eighty years elapsed between the death of Timour and the birth of Babour. Babour in the twelfth year of his age, and the 899th year of the Hejra, sat upon the throne of his father, in the kingdom of Furgauneh. The earlier part of his life very much resembled that of his great predecessor, Timour: and his abilities in the field and in the cabinet, his fortitude in distress, his activity and courage when
* See Memoirs of Baber, published by William Erskine, Esq. in 1826, the Preface, Introduction, and Notes to which, contain a vast deal of information, and the whole of the work is highly creditable to the learned author.