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The Songs of Mirza Schaffy by Auber Forestier

It was in Vienna during the stormy days of October, 1848. The sky was lurid with the glow of surrounding conflagrations: roof and turret were illumined by the glaring reflection of the sea of fire, while the broad Danube madly stretched forth its blood-red tongue to the blood-red walls of the city. The clashing of weapons and rolling of drums resounded through the streets. Every house became in its turn a fortress, every window a porthole. During these days of horror there assembled in the evening at the dwelling of Friedrich Bodenstedt a circle of friends, who sought in conversation on literary topics some relief after the agitating experiences of the day.

"Bodenstedt," exclaimed Auerbach on one of these occasions, "tell us of your adventures in the East. Awake with blithesome touch the memories of your past: transport us into a new world where will be dispelled the gloom of the present."

"Yes, do," chimed in the rest, drawing their chairs closer together.

"Tell us, above all, of your famous teacher, Mirza-Schaffy," added Kaufmann.

One usually narrates one's experiences best in a circle of sympathetic listeners, and even under ordinary circumstances Bodenstedt was esteemed a good talker. Soon a spirit of cheerfulness prevailed, and as the friends sat far into the night, the tumult without, the burning suburbs, the beat of drums and the firing of cannons were forgotten.

Night after night the friends met—poets, philosophers, men of learning, artists—and sat, to use Bodenstedt's own words, "on the carpet of expectation, smoked the pipe of satisfaction, saw the sunshine of wine sparkle up from the flask, and fished for words of pearls with the delicate nets of the ears." The story of Eastern life grew and rounded in its proportions, and Auerbach, who seemed most of all entranced, insisted that the source of so fascinating a narrative should be guided through the "canal of the pen into the sea of publicity." Bodenstedt demurred, maintaining that the "art-hewn path from the head to the hand" was far more difficult to traverse than the natural one from the mouth to the ear.

"Yes, but it leads farther," rejoined Auerbach, "and what pleases us, who listen, you may rest assured, with critical ears, cannot fail to please in more extended circles."

Upon this foundation arose that delightful book, A Thousand and One Days in the Orient, which was the occasion of one of the most amusing mystifications and controversies that ever occupied the German literary world.

Friedrich Bodenstedt was born at Peine in Hanover, April 21, 1819. Notwithstanding his precocious intellectuality and remarkable poetic talents, he was condemned by his parents to a mercantile career. After a mournful apprenticeship he managed, however, to escape from this uncongenial employment, and pursued a course of study at Göttingen, Munich and Berlin, devoting himself chiefly to philology and history. The year 1840 found him in Moscow as private tutor in the family of Prince Galitzin, and shortly after he published his first volume of poetry. Later, he was appointed teacher of languages at the Tiflis Gymnasium, and the result of his learned investigations here were given to the world in his People of Caucasus, in which, however, were wholly thrust into the background poetical reminiscences evoked, as we have seen, by gifted and genial friends.

During his sojourn in Tiflis, the mountain-encompassed capital of Georgia, Bodenstedt undertook the study of the Tartar language, finding it to be a universally-employed means of communication with the many-tongued races of Caucasus. Among the numerous teachers recommended to him, he selected one called Mirza-Schaffy, "the wise man of Gjändsha," being attracted to him partly because of his calm, dignified demeanor, partly because he possessed a sufficient knowledge of Russian, with which Bodenstedt was perfectly familiar, to render intercourse easy and agreeable.

Here it may not be amiss to observe that "Mirza" is a title which placed before a proper name signifies "scribe"—after a name it designates a prince. Thus, Mirza-Schaff[^y] means "Scribe Schaffy," but Schaffy-Mirzâ would mean "Prince Schaffy." Each word, when pronounced separately, has the accent on the last syllable, but together they are pronounced as one word, with the accent on the final syllable.

The Tartars possess no such brilliant stores of literature as the Persians, but they are endowed with a manly vigor which the latter have lost. Mirza-Schaffy was a Tartar by birth, nurtured with Persian culture, and was, when Bodenstedt made his acquaintance, in December, 1843, a man of some forty years of age, of very stately appearance and excessive neatness. He wore a soft silken suit, about which he carelessly draped a blue Turkish cloak, while a tall black sheep-skin hat of sugar-loaf form adorned his shapely head. A dark, well-tended beard framed his handsomely chiseled face, whose calm, earnest expression was heightened by the deep, rich hue of his complexion, and his large, serious eyes were void of the usual cunning of his class. His high-heeled slippers, whose purity he miraculously preserved unimpaired when mud was at its height in the streets of Tiflis, he left always at the threshold of his pupil's room, pressing carpet and divan only with his immaculate variegated stockings.

But Mirza-Schaffy's main charm lay in his thorough genuineness, his earnestness of purpose and the tranquillity of his whole being. Misfortune and sorrow had visited him in many forms, leaving their impress on his brow, yet he had not been crushed; and thoroughly as he appreciated the refined enjoyments of life, he could most gracefully renounce luxuries attainable only by Fortune's favorites. So long as he could have his tschibuq filled with good tobacco and his goblet with good wine, both of which were plentiful in Tiflis, he seemed content with the entire dispensation of the world. Highly as he prized, however, the beneficent effects of wine, he was an enemy to excess, having made moderation in all things the law of his life.

The whole atmosphere surrounding the man produced a deep and lasting impression on Bodenstedt, who, longing to immortalize the name of one who had unfolded to him the treasures of Eastern lore, and from whom he had derived so much pleasure and profit, conceived the idea of representing his teacher in his public characterization with poetic freedom, as a type of the Eastern poet and man of learning. Poet, Mirza-Schaffy was not in reality, for although he was skilled in the art of rhyming, and could translate with ease any simple song from the Persian into the Tartar language, Bodenstedt found only one of his original efforts which was worthy of preservation. The song referred to was one hurled, as it were, at the head of an offending mullah who had derided Mirza-Schaffy for his tenderness to wine, and reads as follows:

Mullah! pure is our wine:

It to revile were sin.

Shouldst thou censure my word,

May'st find truth therein!

No devotion hath me

To thy mosque led to pray:

Through wine render'd free,

I have chanced there to stray.

All other poems introduced into the Thousand and One Days in the Orient are entirely of Bodenstedt's own composition, were designed to add flavor to the picture of an Eastern divan of wisdom, and were usually written while the impression was fresh of intercourse with the wise man of Gjändsha. Shortly after the appearance of the book, which was well received by the public, the publisher proposed to Bodenstedt to issue separately the poems contained in it; and this was finally done in an attractive volume entitled The Songs of Mirza-Schaffy, many additions being made to the original collection. Of these, one of the most fresh and sparkling is a spring song, which has never before appeared in English, and which we present as a fitting introduction:

When young Spring up mountain-peaks doth hie,

And the sunbeams scatter stores of snow—

When the trees put forth their leaflets shy,

And amid grass the first wild flower doth blow—

When in yonder vale

Fleeth in a gale

All the dolesome rain and wintry wail,

Rings from upland air

Forth to many a clime,

"Oh, how wond'rous fair

Is the glad spring-time!"

When the glaciers quail 'neath hot sunbeams,

And all Nature into life doth spring—

When from mountain-sides gush forth cool streams,

And with sounds of glee the forests ring—

Fragrant zephyrs too

Stray the green meads through

And the heavens smile, serene and blue.

While from upland air

Rings to many a clime,

"Oh, how wond'rous fair

Is the glad spring-time!"

And was it not in the days of spring

That thy heart and mine, O maiden fair!

Were united, while our lips did cling

In their first long kiss, so sweet and rare?

What the glad grove sang

Through the wide vale rang,

And the fresh stream from the mountain sprang.

While the upland air

Wafted forth its rhyme,

"Oh, how wond'rous fair

Is the glad spring-time!"

Seldom has a volume of poems been received with more general applause. Their renown spread rapidly through their native land; constantly increasing demand for copies rendered needful frequent new editions, to which at divers times were added by the author freshly-created poems; and the interest is still alive, now nearly quarter of a century after their first appearance, when they have passed their fiftieth edition. They have been at one time or other translated into most of the modern tongues of Europe; and that they have never gained popularity with us is due probably to the fact that in those which have been translated into our tongue neither the essence nor the form of the original has been preserved. By the title no mystification was ever designed: it came, as it were, of itself, and the purport of the narrative through which the main songs were interwoven being well known, it was never, supposed that a doubt concerning the authorship could arise. Nevertheless, the critics accepted them as translations from the Persian, and sharp lines of distinction were drawn between the poet, Mirza-Schaffy, and his translator, Friedrich Bodenstedt, not precisely to the advantage of the latter. Many a hearty laugh did Bodenstedt indulge in on reading in one or another learned dissertation that he was the possessor of a very neat poetic talent, and frequently reminded one in his original compositions of the works of his genial teacher, Mirza-Schaffy, of which he had given admirable translations, though without attaining to the excellence of the original. Now, a poet, in the wildest flights of his imagination, could not hope for a more brilliant success for the poetic fiction of his own creation than to have it accepted by the world as a living reality. In this he would naturally delight, even though his own personality were for a time thrust into the background, precisely like a loving father whose children meet with better fortune in life than himself. Sundry renditions into foreign tongues were even announced as direct translations from the Persian.

After the death of the real Mirza-Schaffy in 1852, which was duly announced by the press, sundry efforts were made by Eastern travelers to visit his grave in Tiflis and gain those particulars concerning him and his writings which Bodenstedt was supposed to have selfishly withheld from the public. Of these, one of the most prominent was Professor H. Brugsch, secretary of the Prussian embassy to Persia in 1860, who in his book of travels thus descants on his futile efforts: "No one could inform us where the last earthly remains of a certain Mirza-Schaffy were laid to rest. We consoled ourselves with the reflection that neither mounds nor monuments are requisite to preserve a poet's fame, but that through his songs is his name transmitted to posterity. Yet even here we were doomed to disappointment. No one whom we encountered knew aught of the songs of the jovial, genial Mirza-Schaffy which in our German Fatherland have penetrated to the very life of the people."

Some years later the Russian imperial state counselor Bergé, while chief of educational institutions in Caucasus, also made the matter a subject of investigation, and in the year 1870 gave the history thereof to the world in the Journal of the German Oriental Society. He tells of his vain efforts to learn something of the genius of Mirza-Schaffy in his own land, and the amusement he created by his queries concerning possible posthumous works, and finally settles the question beyond dispute concerning the authorship of the poems.

After this, Bodenstedt yielded to the solicitations of friends to give in the pages of the popular German magazine Daheim a correct version of the whole affair.

Let the reader present to his mind's eye a picture of the Eastern scribe, clad in the apparel before described, seated on the comfortable divan, with legs crossed after the fashion of the country, the long tschibuq caressingly held in one hand, the other uplifted, and with finger pointed to his brow, haranguing the German man of letters at his side on the advantages to be enjoyed under his tuition, and on the idle pretensions of those who call themselves learned without so much as comprehending the sacred languages. He cherished, however, the pious hope that in the course of time, thanks to his efforts, the enlightenment of the East might take effect in the West, which hope was strengthened by the encouraging fact that Bodenstedt was the fifth scholar who had felt the need of migrating to Tiflis to profit by his instructions. In his excess of national modesty the wise man of Gjändsha only styled himself the first wise man of the East, but since the children of the West dwelt under a dark cloud of unbelief, it resulted as a matter of course that he must be the wisest of all men.

"I, Mirza-Schaffy," said he to his pupil, "am the first wise man of the East, consequently thou, as my disciple, art the second. But misunderstand me not. I have a friend, Omar Effendi, an extremely wise man, who verily is not third among the learned scribes of the land. Did not I live, and were Omar Effendi thy teacher, he would be first, and thou the second wise man."

On being asked what he should do if told that the wise men of the West would consider him as deficient in enlightenment as he did them, he rejoined, "What could I do but be amazed at their folly? What new thing can I learn from their opinions when they merely repeat my own?" Hence the song:

Shall I laugh or fall to wailing

That the most of men so dumb are,

Ever borrowed thoughts retailing,

And in mother-wit so mum are?

No: thanksgiving heavenward rise

That fools so crowd this generation,

Else the wisdom of the wise

Would be lost to observation.

Numerous rivals envied Mirza-Schaffy his lessons, for each of which he was paid a whole silver ruble—an unusually high tuition-fee. Most formidable among these was Mirza-Jussuf (Joseph), the wise man of Bagdad, who called one day on Bodenstedt and boldly informed him that the revered Mirza-Schaffy was an Ischekj ("an ass") among the bearers of wisdom—that he could not write properly, and could not sing at all. "And what is wisdom without song?" he exclaimed. "What is Mirza-Schaffy compared with me?" With bewildering eloquence he set forth his own superior accomplishments, dwelling largely on his name, which had been exalted by the Hebrew poet Moses as well as by the Persian poet Hafiz, and exerting himself to prove that the significance of a great name must be transmitted to all future bearers thereof. He was still speaking when a measured tread was heard in the ante-chamber, and Mirza-Schaffy himself drew near. He appeared to comprehend intuitively the cause of the guest's presence, for he cast on Jussuf, who had become suddenly stricken with modesty, a glance of withering contempt, and was about giving vent to his emotions when Bodenstedt interposed with the words, "Mirza-Schaffy, wise man of Gjändsha, what have my ears heard? You undertake to instruct me, and you can neither write nor sing! You are an Ischekj among the bearers of wisdom: thus sayeth Mirza-Jussuf, the wise man of Bagdad."

Without deigning a word of reply, Mirza-Schaffy clapped his hands, a sign at which the servant usually brought him a fresh pipe, but this time he demanded his thick-soled slippers. With one of these he proceeded to so unmercifully belabor the wise man of Bagdad that the latter besought mercy with the most appealing words and gestures. But the chastiser was inexorable. "What?" said he. "I cannot sing, dost thou say? Wait, I will make music for thee! And I cannot write, either? Let it be, then, on thy head!" Whimpering and writhing beneath the blows accompanying these words, the wise man of Bagdad staggered toward the door and vanished from sight.

More calmly than might have been anticipated did Mirza-Schaffy return from the contest of wisdom, and promptly taking his usual seat on the divan, he began to exhort his German disciple to lend no ear to such false teachers as Jussuf and his fellows, whose name, he said, was legion, whose avarice was greater than their wisdom, and whose aim was to plunder, not teach, their pupils.

Later, Jussuf strove to win Bodenstedt by repeated messages, accompanied by songs in the most exquisite handwriting. Mirza-Schaffy's opinion concerning these compositions is embodied in quite a number of songs, of which space must be found for one:

Forsooth! is Mirza-Jussuf a very well-read man!

Now searcheth he Hafiz, now searcheth the Koran,

Now Dshamy and Chakany, and now the Gülistan.

Here stealeth he a symbol, and there doth steal a flower,

Here robbeth precious thoughts, and there a true word's power.

He giveth as his own what has been said before,

Transplanted! the whole world into his tedious lore;

And proudly decketh he his prey with borrowed plumes,

Then flauntingly that this is poetry assumes.

How differently lives and sings Mirza-Schaffy!

A glowing star his heart to lighten paths of gloom,

His mind a blooming garden, filled with sweet perfume,

And in his rich creations no plagiarist is he:

His songs are full of beauty, and perfect as can be.

Mirza-Schaffy himself was a miracle of skill in chirography: none could equal him in wielding the kalem. His aim was not to impart a precise regularity to the characters, but to indicate by the writing the matter and style. Proverbs or utterances of wisdom were indited by him in a firm, bold hand with unadorned simplicity; love-songs with delicate, clear-cut lines, attractive capricious curves, enigmatical, almost illegible minuteness, designed to set forth the type of female character. The chirography of the songs to wine and earthly pleasure is full of fire and flourish—that of the songs of lamentation neat, legible and unadorned. To impart this skill to his pupil was one of his most earnest endeavors.

One day, when inspired by choice wine and soothed by the fragrant fumes of his tschibuq, Mirza-Schaffy was moved to tell of the love his heart had cherished—love such as man had never before known. The object of his adoration was Zuléikha, daughter of Ibrahim, the chan of Gjändsha. Her eyes, darker than the night, shone with a brighter glow than the stars of heaven: passing description were the graceful loveliness of her form, the dainty perfection of hands and feet, her soft hair long as eternity, and the sweet mouth whose breath was more fragrant than the roses of Schiraz. He who was destined to be her slave had watched her daily for six months—as she sat on the housetop at midday with her companions, or on moonlight evenings when she amused herself with the dancing of her slaves—before he received so much as a sign that she deemed him worthy of her regard. He rejoiced in the splendor of her countenance, but dared no more approach her than the sun in whose warm rays he might bask. By day he was compelled to exercise the utmost caution, as his life would have been in jeopardy had Ibrahim Chan descried him casting loving looks at Zuléikha, but in the evening he was safe to draw attention to himself, as after eight o'clock the old man never crossed his threshold. Then the flames of the lover's heart burst into song, and he gave utterance to a ghazel now of Hafiz, now of Firdusa, while still more frequently he sang his own songs.

Finally, Ibrahim Chan set forth on an expedition against the enemies of Moscow, and thus was afforded a rare opportunity for the enamored Mirza to present himself and his songs to the fair one's notice. One dark evening, when the ladies had failed to appear on the housetop, as Mirza-Schaffy was turning disappointed away he was accosted by a closely-veiled female, who, bidding him follow her, led the way to a secluded spot where interruption would be improbable, and thus addressed him: "I am Fatima, the confidential attendant of Zuléikha. My mistress hath gazed on thee with the eye of satisfaction. The resonance of thy voice hath delighted her ear, the purport of thy songs touched her heart. I am come of my own accord, without my lady's bidding, to let thee drink hope from the fountain of my words, because I wish thee well."

"Has, then, Zuléikha not closed her ear to the poorest of her slaves?" exclaimed the overjoyed Mirza. "And will my heart not be lacerated by the thorn of her displeasure? Allah min! Allah bir! The God of thousands is one only God! Great is His goodness and wonderful are His ways! What have I done that He hath guided the stream of my songs to the sea of beauty?"

Fatima told him he did well to prize the merciful goodness of Allah and the loveliness of her mistress, who was a "jewel in the ring of beauty, a pearl in the shell of fortune." Her noble lady, she said, would have given token of her favor before had not her virtuous modesty exceeded her beauty, and had she not feared the displeasure of her father, who tenderly loved her and would never consent to her stooping to a poor mirza. Then she proceeded to tell how Achmed Chan of Avaria, who was at the war with Ibrahim Chan, was suing for Zuléikha's hand, which was promised by the father should he return triumphant from the campaign. This would render prompt action desirable, and Fatima suggested that Mirza-Schaffy should appear on the following evening, when the call to prayer resounded from the minaret, before the garden with his choicest offering of song, to which, the messenger was ready to wager, would be accorded a rosebud. Intoxicated with joy, Mirza-Schaffy bestowed on the friendly Fatima his purse, his watch and all the valuables about him, also promising a talisman to cure a black spot on her left cheek; and they parted with the understanding that they should meet, again for further communication.

And here, in exemplification of the learned scribe's rejoinders to his pupil's queries concerning the significance of the thorn of displeasure and the rosebud, is introduced the song:

The thorn is token of rejection,

Of disapproval and of scorn:

If she to union hath objection,

She giveth me as sign a thorn.

Yet if, instead, the maiden throws me

A tender rosebud as a token,

That fate propitious is it shows me,

And bids me wait with faith unbroken.

But if a full-blown rose she tenders,

Its open chalice is a token

Which boldest hope in me engenders;

Through it her love is clearly spoken.

On the ensuing evening Mirza-Schaffy presented himself promptly at the appointed place, prepared with a love-song which he knew none of womankind could resist. The evening was calm and clear, and on the housetop, alone with Fatima, was plainly discernible Zuléikha, her veil slightly drawn aside in token of favor. Taking courage, the enamored Mirza pushed back his cap in order to display his freshly shaven head, of whose whiteness he was excessively proud, and which he felt to be irresistible to maidens' eyes, and began to sing his song, having first cast a written copy folded about a double almond-kernel, as a keepsake at the feet of beauty. The song given at this point is excessively flowery, and declares the maiden's eyes to be brighter than those of the wild gazelle, her form more ethereal than the slender pine, and pronounces the wooer, his heart and his tuneful lay to be but slaves of her loveliness. This by way of preparation, the highest point of the offering being the concluding stanzas:

With faithful heart and hopefully

Approach I now Love's sacred bower,

And cast this wistful song at thee,

This fragrant song, as question-flower.

Accept with joy or scornfully,

Give my heart death or consolation,

Cast rosebud, rose, or thorn at me,

I humbly wait thy revelation.

Smilingly the maiden cast a rosebud at her waiting suitor, and for the first time fully displayed to him her beauteous face. From this moment new life dawned on our Mirza, and for six weeks he basked in the sunshine of felicity ere threatening clouds loomed up in his horizon. Then Ibrahim Chan returned from the war, and with him came his daughter's suitor. A troop of horsemen had been despatched to Avaria for the bridal gift, and on their return they were to conduct Achmed Chan and his chosen lady home. Prize combats and festivities were planned to celebrate the return of the heroes, and at Zuléikha's request a singing festival was likewise to take place. All the singers of the land were invited and bidden to prepare their choicest lays extolling the sovereign lady of the fête: to the victorious competitor would be accorded the right to break the instruments of his opponents.

Now was the time for Mirza-Schaffy to gather all his courage, for he knew the crisis of his destiny to be at hand. He arranged with Fatima that the day of the singing festival should be likewise that of his flight with Zuléikha, for he was troubled with no doubt concerning the success of his lyrical efforts. An Armenian who was about setting forth with a caravan was confided in, and engaged to reserve camels for and accord protection to the fugitives.

The minutes seemed like days, the hours like years, until the announcement was heralded that Ibrahim Chan had sallied forth with his guests to the prize combat, and that the ladies awaited the minstrels. They were assembled on the housetop, lovely matrons and maidens, and there was spread a large carpet on which set two players on the sass and tshengir, between whom each singer in turn took his place to sing his offering to the sound of strings. The handsomest boy in Gjändsha was appointed to hand to each singer a silver plate, wherewith to conceal from the eye of beauty the emotions depicted in his countenance while singing. Twenty singers stood in a circle and stepped forth one after the other, Mirza-Schaffy, as the youngest of the number, coming last. All other emanations he felt to be faint sparks in comparison with the fire of his own. How could it be otherwise, considering the source of his inspiration? As he sang his heart swelled with ecstasy, and when he concluded there lay at his feet a full-blown rose. He was victor of the festival, yet so filled was he with thoughts of his beloved that he remembered not to break the instruments of the vanquished.

The flight was effected; the bride, although awaiting the coming of the bridegroom in bridal array, offering all due resistance as he led her from her home; indeed, so zealous was she to be faithful to the customs of her country that her cries would have roused the household had not the prudent Fatima interposed. On reaching the caravan a double security seemed to arise from the Armenian proving to be the accepted lover of Fatima; and Zuléikha, although deeming it a degradation for a daughter of Ali to unite her destinies with an unbeliever, was herself too strongly in the bondage of love to withhold her consent. Then how happy were they all! and what precautions were taken for their safety! Nevertheless, they were overtaken by the angry father and the outraged suitor of his choice. Zuléikha and Fatima were rudely snatched from the protection of their lovers, and the learned scribe—we blush to write it—received on the very soles which had borne him to the summit of bliss the ignominious blows of the bastinado.

From that day Mirza-Schaffy had felt indisposed to bestow his affections on mortal woman, and since the sun of his hopes had set dwelt serenely in the moonlight of remembrance. As Zuléikha, the embodiment of all virtue and beauty, had loved him, he believed himself to be an object of adoration to all feminine hearts, and grimly resolved that all womankind must suffer in expiation of his own sufferings.

During the winter there arrived another student from Germany, who, becoming acquainted with Bodenstedt, arranged to share with him the lessons in Tartar and Persian, which Mirza-Schaffy was pleased to call "hours of wisdom." In course of time other friends joined the circle, so that finally arose a formal divan, where the wise man of Gjändsha discoursed less on personalities, dwelling chiefly on general effusions of wisdom, interspersed with many a song. One of the latter reads as though designed by Bodenstedt to indicate the relation borne by Mirza-Schaffy to his own productions:

Thou art of my song the begetter;

Its drapery putteth my wand on;

Thou yieldest the purest of marble,

And I lay the sculpturing hand on.

Thou givest the spirit, the essence:

Me for utt'rance alone mak'st demand on—

Oft my power's deficient, and madly

Thy crude thoughts I haste to expand on.

Sundry songs extolling the beneficence of wine and earthly pleasure arose at this period. Of these we find none more attractive than that which owed its origin to a conversation held in the divan of wisdom concerning certain Russians and Georgians who drank wine more freely than the camels drank water, yet had gained no inspiration therefrom:

From wine's fiery fascination

From the goblet's mystic pleasure,

Poison foams, and sweet refreshment,

Beauty flows, and degradation,

As the drinker's worth may measure,

According to his brain's assessment.

In debasement deeply sunken

Lies the fool, through wine's might captur'd:

When he drinks becomes he drunken;

When we drink we are enraptured.

Sparkling gleams of wit, worth dreaming,

Flash from tongues like angel's seeming,

And with ardor we are teeming,

And alone with beauty drunken.

Well resembles wine the shower

Which to mire fresh mire amasses,

But to fair fields brings a dower

Rich in blessing as it passes.

One evening Bodenstedt discovered his worthy teacher singing before a house on whose roof sat a graceful maiden, and from the man's whole manner then and thereafter concluded that in the long-faithful heart had been at last replaced the image of Zuléikha. And so it proved. On the very evening when he was returning home with softened heart after the recital of the joys and sorrows of his first love, Mirza-Schaffy's attention had been arrested by a lovely maiden who, as he pushed back his cap—solely, of course, to cool his heated brow—gave incontestable evidences of being smitten with him. When he went to his couch that night sleep refused to visit his eyelids, and as he restlessly tossed to and fro, the image of Zuléikha haunting him with reproachful mien, his thoughts turned ever to the peerless maiden who menaced further fidelity to the old love. Ere morning dawned he had resolved to break the spell, and for several days avoided the locality of the fair enticer. But the attraction became finally too strong to resist. He went, he saw the maiden, and she bestowed on him a glance which rendered him her slave for life;

A wond'rous glance hath met my eyes:

The magic of this moment rare

Worketh for aye a fresh surprise,

A miracle beyond compare.

A question, therefore, ask I thee—

Pay heed, sweet life whom I adore—

Was that fond glance bestowed on me?

A token give, then, I implore.

And round thee could my strong arm cling,

Might I to thee life consecrate,

Loud jubilees my heart would sing,

And these to thee I'd dedicate.

The first interview presents decidedly a comical side. By a confidential attendant Mirza-Schaffy was introduced on the roof disguised in female costume, his face and flowing beard modestly covered with a long veil. Luckily, he was not doomed long to such undignified concealment, for he soon managed, through his beauty and genius, to win favor in the eyes of the lady's mother, and she promised to intercede in his behalf with the stern old father. The latter, however, having eyes neither for beauty nor poetry, thought only to demand what means of support the bold intruder had to offer his daughter, and when he learned how small these were, withheld his consent until the suitor could secure a professorship in some institution of learning. Although loath to renounce his freedom, Mirza-Schaffy determined for Hafisa's sake to make application, as he had often been advised to do, at the Tiflis Gymnasium for the position of teacher of Tartaric. But, alas! there was prepared for our poor Mirza a humiliation second only to the bastinado. His reply was a portentous document in the Russian language, of which he could not read a word. Hafisa's father demanded sight of it, had it interpreted by a learned mullah, and it proved to be a summons for the applicant to appear at an appointed hour for examination. This was too much. Mirza-Schaffy, the first wise man of the East, the pride of his race, the pearl in the shell of poetry, to be examined in his own language! Hafisa's father declared his belief that the mirza's wisdom was as doubtful as his fortune, and the wise man himself began to wonder whether his wisdom had not gone "pleasuring in the dusk of the evening." Moreover, during the conference with the mullah certain revelations came to light concerning the lack of orthodoxy in the mirza's belief and the frequent slurs it was his wont to cast on the powerful mullahs; and this set the old father hopelessly against him, causing him to revoke all promise of possible consent. Such being the case, Mirza-Schaffy had no heart to brave the humiliation of an examination. Shortly after, however, he was honored with a call to the new school at Gjändsha, and Hafisa's father dying about the same time, all obstacles were removed to a union with the maiden of his choice. And so with his bride he returned to his native place, and felt that the summit of earthly bliss was attained.

Friedrich Bodenstedt has been a very prolific author, having published several volumes of poetry, besides numerous romances, tales and miscellaneous works. He is one of a committee of poets and men of learning appointed not long since to retranslate the works of Shakespeare. At present he is adding to his well-earned laurels through his volume Aus dem Nachlasse Mirza-Schaffys. The book is divided into seven parts, the first of which is dedicated to love. Then there are songs of earthly pleasure, songs of consolation, sayings of wisdom, stories in rhyme of Eastern romance, a series of problems and a "bouquet of cypresses and roses."