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Payne Voume I

Payne Voume I

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Published by ak331

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Published by: ak331 on Nov 11, 2010
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Now First Completely Done Into English
Prose and Verse, From The Original Arabic,
By John Payne
(Author of "The Masque of Shadows," "Intaglios: Sonnets," "Songs of Life and Dea
"Lautrec," "The Poems of Master Francis Villon of Paris," "New Poems," Etc, Etc.
In Nine Volumes:
Printed For Subscribers Only
Delhi Edition
The present is, I believe, the first complete translation of the great Arabic co
mpendium of romantic fiction that has been attempted in any European language co
mprising about four times as much matter as that of Galland and three times as m
uch as that of any other translator known to myself; and a short statement of th
e sources from which it is derived may therefore be acceptable to my readers. Th
ree printed editions, more or less complete, exist of the Arabic text of the Tho
usand and One Nights; namely, those of Breslau, Boulac (Cairo) and Calcutta (183
9), besides an incomplete one, comprising the first two hundred nights only, pub
lished at Calcutta in 1814. Of these, the first is horribly corrupt and greatly
inferior, both in style and completeness, to the others, and the second (that of
Boulac) is also, though in a far less degree, incomplete, whole stories (as, fo
r instance, that of the Envier and the Envied in the present volume) being omitt
ed and hiatuses, varying in extent from a few lines to several pages, being of f
requent occurrence, whilst in addition to these defects, the editor, a learned E
gyptian, has played havoc with the style of his original, in an ill-judged attem
pt to improve it, producing a medley, more curious than edifying, of classical a
nd semi-modern diction and now and then, in his unlucky zeal, completely disguis
ing the pristine meaning of certain passages. The third edition, that which we o
we to Sir William Macnaghten and which appears to have been printed from a super
ior copy of the manuscript followed by the Egyptian editor, is by far the most c
arefully printed and edited of the three and offers, on the whole, the least cor
rupt and most comprehensive text of the work. I have therefore adopted it as my
standard or basis of translation and have, to the best of my power, remedied the
defects (such as hiatuses, misprints, doubtful or corrupt passages, etc.) which
are of no infrequent occurrence even in this, the best of the existing texts, b
y carefully collating it with the editions of Boulac and Breslau (to say nothing
of occasional references to the earlier Calcutta edition of the first two hundr
ed nights), adopting from one and the other such variants, additions and correct
ions as seemed to me best calculated to improve the general effect and most homo
geneous with the general spirit of the work, and this so freely that the present
version may be said, in great part, to represent a variorum text of the origina
l, formed by a collation of the different printed texts; and no proper estimate
can, therefore, be made of the fidelity of the translation, except by those who
are intimately acquainted with the whole of these latter. Even with the help of
the new lights gained by the laborious process of collation and comparison above
mentioned, the exact sense of many passages must still remain doubtful, so corr
upt are the extant texts and so incomplete our knowledge, as incorporated in dic
tionaries, etc, of the peculiar dialect, half classical and half modern, in whic
h the original work is written.
One special feature of the present version is the appearance, for the first time
, in English metrical shape, preserving the external form and rhyme movement of
the originals, of the whole of the poetry with which the Arabic text is so freel
y interspersed. This great body of verse, equivalent to at least ten thousand tw
elve-syllable English lines, is of the most unequal quality, varying from poetry
worthy of the name to the merest doggrel, and as I have, in pursuance of my ori
ginal scheme, elected to translate everything, good and bad (with a very few exc
eptions in cases of manifest mistake or misapplication), I can only hope that my
readers will, in judging of my success, take into consideration the enormous di
fficulties with which I have had to contend and look with indulgence upon my eff
orts to render, under unusually irksome conditions, the energy and beauty of the
original, where these qualities exist, and in their absence, to keep my version
from degenerating into absolute doggrel.
The present translation being intended as a purely literary work produced with t
he sole object of supplying the general body of cultivated readers with a fairly
representative and characteristic version of the most famous work of narrative
fiction in existence, I have deemed it advisable to depart, in several particula
rs, from the various systems of transliteration of Oriental proper names followe
d by modern scholars, as, although doubtless admirably adapted to works having a
scientific or non-literary object, they rest mainly upon devices (such as the u
se of apostrophes, accents, diacritical points and the employment of both vowels
and consonants in unusual groups and senses) foreign to the genius of the Engli
sh language and calculated only to annoy the reader of a work of imagination. Of
these points of departure from established usage I need only particularize some
of the more important; the others will, in general, be found to speak for thems
elves. One of the most salient is the case of the short vowel fet-heh, which is
usually written , but which I have thought it better to render, as a rule, by ,
as in "bed" (a sound practically equivalent to that of a, as in "beggar," adopte
d by the late Mr. Lane to represent this vowel), reserving the English a, as in
"father," to represent the alif of prolongation or long Arabic a, since I should
else have no means of differentiating the latter from the former, save by the u
se of accents or other clumsy expedients, at once, to my mind, foreign to the pu
rpose and vexatious to the reader of a work of pure literature. In like manner,
I have eschewed the use of the letter q, as an equivalent for the dotted or gutt
ural kaf (choosing to run the risk of occasionally misleading the reader as to t
he original Arabic form of a word by leaving him in ignorance whether the k used
is the dotted or undotted one,--a point of no importance whatever to the non-sc
ientific public,--rather than employ an English letter in a manner completely un
warranted by the construction of our language, in which q has no power as a term
inal or as moved by any vowel other than u, followed by one of the four others)
and have supplied its place, where the dotted kaf occurs as a terminal or as pre
ceding a hard vowel, by the hard c, leaving k to represent it (in common with th
e undotted kaf generally) in those instances where it is followed by a soft vowe
l. For similar reasons, I have not attempted to render the Arabic quasi-consonan
t aïn, save by the English vowel corresponding to that by which it is moved, prefe
rring to leave the guttural element of its sound (for which we have no approach
to an equivalent in English) unrepresented, rather than resort to the barbarous
and meaningless device of the apostrophe. Again, the principle, in accordance wi
th which I have rendered the proper names of the original, is briefly (and subje
ct to certain variations on the ground of convenience and literary fitness) to p
reserve unaltered such names as Tigris, Bassora, Cairo, Aleppo, Damascus, etc.,
which are familiar to us otherwise than by the Arabian Nights and to alter which
, for the sake of mere literality, were as gratuitous a piece of pedantry as to
insist upon writing Copenhagen Kjobenhavn, or Canton Kouang-tong, and to transli
terate the rest as nearly as may consist with a due regard to artistic considera
tions. The use of untranslated Arabic words, other than proper names, I have, as
far as possible, avoided, rendering them, with very few exceptions, by the best
English equivalents in my power, careful rather to give the general sense, wher
e capable of being conveyed by reasonable substitution of idiom or otherwise, th
an to retain the strict letter at the expense of the spirit; nor, on the other h
and, have I thought it necessary to alter the traditional manner of spelling cer
tain words which have become incorporated with our language, where (as in the ca
se of the words genie, houri, roe, khalif, vizier, cadi, Bedouin, etc. etc.) the
English equivalent is fairly representative of the original Arabic.
I have to return my cordial thanks to Captain Richard F. Burton, the well-known
traveller and author, who has most kindly undertaken to give me the benefit of h
is great practical knowledge of the language and customs of the Arabs in revisin
g the manuscript of my translation for the press.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful! Praise be to God, the Lord
of the two worlds, (1) and blessing and peace upon the Prince of the Prophets, o
ur lord and master Mohammed, whom God bless and preserve with abiding and contin
uing peace and blessing until the Day of the Faith! Of a verity, the doings of t
he ancients become a lesson to those that follow after, so that men look upon th
e admonitory events that have happened to others and take warning, and come to t
he knowledge of what befell bygone peoples and are restrained thereby. So glory
be to Him who hath appointed the things that have been done aforetime for an exa
mple to those that come after! And of these admonitory instances are the histori
es called the Thousand Nights and One Night, with all their store of illustrious
fables and relations.
It is recorded in the chronicles of the things that have been done of time past
that there lived once, in the olden days and in bygone ages and times, a king of
the kings of the sons of Sasan, who reigned over the Islands (2) of India and C
hina and was lord of armies and guards and servants and retainers. He had two so
ns, an elder and a younger, who were both valiant cavaliers, but the elder was a
stouter horseman than the younger. When their father died, he left his empire t
o his elder son, whose name was Shehriyar, and he took the government and ruled
his subjects justly, so that the people of the country and of the empire loved h
im well, whilst his brother Shahzeman became King of Samarcand of Tartary. The t
wo kings abode each in his own dominions, ruling justly over their subjects and
enjoying the utmost prosperity and happiness, for the space of twenty years, at
the end of which time the elder king yearned after his brother and commanded his
Vizier to repair to the latter's court and bring him to his own capital. The Vi
zier replied, "I hear and obey," and set out at once and journeyed till he reach
ed King Shahzeman's court in safety, when he saluted him for his brother and inf
ormed him that the latter yearned after him and desired that he would pay him a
visit, to which King Shahzeman consented gladly and made ready for the journey a
nd appointed his Vizier to rule the country in his stead during his absence. The
n he caused his tents and camels and mules to be brought forth and encamped, wit
h his guards and attendants, without the city, in readiness to set out next morn
ing for his brother's kingdom. In the middle of the night, it chanced that he be
thought him of somewhat he had forgotten in his palace; so he returned thither p
rivily and entered his apartments, where he found his wife asleep in his own bed
, in the arms of one of his black slaves. When he saw this, the world grew black
in his sight, and he said to himself, "If this is what happens whilst I am yet
under the city walls, what will be the condition of this accursed woman during m
y absence at my brother's court?" Then he drew his sword and smote the twain and
slew them and left them in the bed and returned presently to his camp, without
telling any one what had happened. Then he gave orders for immediate departure a
nd set out a'once and travelled till he drew near his brother's capital when he
despatched vaunt-couriers to announce his approach. His brother came forth to me
et him and saluted him and rejoiced exceedingly and caused the city to be decora
ted in his honour. Then he sat down with him to converse and make merry; but Kin
g Shahzeman could not forget the perfidy of his wife and grief grew on him more
and more and his colour changed and his body became weak. Shehriyar saw his cond
ition, but attributed it to his separation from his country and his kingdom, so
let him alone and asked no questions of him, till one day he said to him, "O my
brother, I see that thou art grown weak of body and hast lost thy colour." And S
hahzeman answered, "O my brother, I have an internal wound," but did not tell hi
m about his wife. Said Shehriyar, "I wish thou wouldst ride forth with me a-hunt
ing; maybe it would lighten thy heart." But Shahzeman refused; so his brother we
nt out to hunt without him. Now there were in King Shahzeman's apartments lattic
e-windows overlooking his brother's garden, and as the former was sitting lookin

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