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contains fourteen sections in prose and verse, and a very elegant introduction, and an entertäining preface. I máy justly assert, that it comprises all the beauties of the Turkish language; but it is so mixed with Persian and Arabic phrases, that a Turk of nô education would not be able to read a page of it. A beautiful copy of this book is preserved in the British Museum, among the manuscripts of Sir Hans Sloane*: and it would be highly useful to any person, who had access to that collection, and wished to learn Turkish; especially as part of it has been translated into French, and part very elegantly into Spanish, by the help of whichi translations he might pursue his study with incredible ease, providéd that he had a moderate knowledge of Arabic, which may truly be called the basis and groundwork of Eastern learning.
This is the principal system of Ethics among
* No. 3586. In the same collection, No. 5456, is a very agreeable romancé, intitled, the Life of Abu Sina, by Hassan, preceptor to Morad the Third. Both these books, as well as the rest, which follow, are often cited by Meninski
the Turks, if we except, perhaps, a moral work on the duties of man, intitled, Icsíri devlet, which seems also to be written in a very polished style. The Tales of the Forty Visirs, composed by a preceptor of Morad the Second, are amusing and ingenious; but as they are not remarkable for any beauty of language, they do not deserve to be mentioned as a classical work; since an elegance of diction, as well as a loftiness of sentiment, are necessary to constitute a fine piece of writing.
The noblest historical work in the Turkish language was composed by Saadeddin, who was Mufti of Conftantinople in the reign of Morad'the Third. It contains the history of the Othmans, from the founder of that family to Selim I. This elegant work has been translated into Italian by a very able interpreter of the Eastern languages ; and the excellent prince Cantemir has inserted the substance of it in his history of the Turks.
There are a great number of other histories in Turkish, some of the whole Othman family, and fome only of distinct reigns; as Solimám
Nâmeh, the Life of Solimán; Selím Nâmeh, the Life of Selim; and niany more, which are highly esteemed by the Turks themselves : yet it must be confessed, that the style of these writers, and principally of Saadeddîn, by no means answers to our ideas of the simple and graceful diction, the kind of writing which Cicero commends, diffused, expanded, and flowing with a natural smoothness; on the contrary, most of their figures are so extravagant, and many
of their expressions fo ridiculously bombast, that an European must have a very fingular taste, who can read them either with pleasure or patience*: but such is the genius of the nation; and we can no more wonder, that their rules of composition are different from
ours, than that they build their palaces of wood, and sit on sofas instead of chairs.
* Thus a Turkish historian, instead of saying that a prince was just and pious, tells us that the footstool of his sovereignty was decked with the ornament of piety, and the throne of his dignity embellished with the rich mantle of justice ;-Rutbeti khilafetleri zineti tekwa ileh arásteh, we seriri seltanetleri hilyei maadilet ileh pirasteh; the two members of which sentence end like a poetical couplet, with similar sounds..
The Byzantine historians cannot be so eafily excused; they had the finest models of composition before them, which they neglected : but the Turks cannot be condemned for departing from a standard of taste, of which they were wholly ignorant.
It is by no means true, however, that the Asiatic histories are no more than chronicles, and contain no sensible remarks on the conduct of princes, whom they consider, we are told, as something more than mortal; there are, indeed, many dull compilations in the languages of Afia, as well as in those of Europe; but the most approved historians of the East intersperse their narratives with excellent maxims, and boldly interpose their judgment on the counsels of ministers, and the actions of monarchs, unless when they speak of very recent events, and living characters, on which occasions they are more circumspect: and probably Saadeddîn continued his history no lower than the reign of Selim, that he might not be restrained in his reflections by any fear of giving offence.
I have not yet been fortunate enough to meet with the valuable work of Ali Efendi, containing the history of the lives of Mohammed II. Bayazid II. Selim, and Solimán, of which Prince Cantemir gives so high an encomium ; “ This book, (says he,) which is ex
tremely scarce, contains every quality of an “ excellent history; a noble fimplicity of style, a “ warm love of truth, and an abhorrence of flat“tery. I am indebted to this author, (conti
nues the Prince,) for many striking pasages “ in my own piece."
The Turks have also many treatíses on their government, laws, and military institutions, which, if they were translated into some European language, would throw a wonderful light on the manners of this extraordinary nation, and present us with a full view of their real character.
One of the most curious manuscripts that I have seen in the Turkish language, is a very long roll of filky paper*, containing, as it were, a map of the Asiatic history from the earliest times to Selim the Second: the names
* Bodl. Marsh. 196.