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as the hereditary representative of the oldest fabulist of India would not, when the fate of fashion had otherwise determined, have preserved him from neglect, had the pedigree on which that claim is founded been as deducible as subsequent discoveries have made it, and as from different sources we are about to exhibit it to our readers. The high antiquity of this collection of Fables, and its curious progress from one language to another, together with its various changes of form and matter and even of title, are the most remarkable circumstances in its history; yet as a work of invention it has great merit, and as it would be too much to believe, with one of its eulogists, that it has been held in more universal estimation than any book except the Bible, so its great reputation in the East is assuredly to be attributed to excellence of a very high order.
Fables have been employed as the vehicles of instruction from the earliest ages. It is not easy to trace from what peculiarity of the human mind the love of allegory proceeds, but it is certain that the earliest dawning of intellect in every nation of the earth has been and is shewn by the use of this embellishment of language; and here, without doubt, is to be found the source of moral fable. For we may judge, from modern experience, that the first advisers of any race of mankind would find that all the admonition liberally bestowed in their honest zeal for the improvement of the species, would be but ill received, unless mixed with something that should render it more palatable. The personification of the passions of man appears to have been introduced long after the members of the irrational or inanimate creation had assumed their parts in these little dramas; or, if the deities of ancient mythology were originally the representatives of their respective attributes, the minds of the vulgar were unprepared to understand the more refined applications of allegorical writing, and mistook the metaphorical gods for real divinities. The most popular and the most ancient specimens of this kind of composition have usually animals, sometimes plants, as the actors of the piece; and of this species there are two schools, which may be respectively named after iEsop and Pilpay. iEsop's fables are short tales, in each of which, from the conversation or adventures of the actors, a single moral is readily extracted; Pilpay's are a series of fables, each incumbered with a string of morals, woven one within another, and all connected together by a leading story which is only introduced for the purpose of this connexion. The apparent aim of iEsop is to instruct without fatiguing the reader; the intention of Pilpay is to allure his attention by adopting an arrangement from which the mind may be induced, without a pause in the narrative, to master his whole system of ethics. There is great uncertainty in the history of the Phrygian's works. It is generally believed that they were not committed to paper, but to the memory of the people, and that it was by this means that they reached the time of Socrates, who, under the supposed command of a superior power, employed some of his last moments in versifying them. But there can be no doubt that their principal characteristic must have been the simple construction just mentioned, which is, indeed, preserved in every edition ancient and modern, while the labyrinthine intricacy of his Indian rival is equally apparent in every translation and imitation.
The great charm of this manner of conveying instruction is, that it enlists the vanity of those admonished on the side of morality. It is an old observation, that the mind of the reader is flattered by the discovery of the moral application of a story, and gives more attention to the lessons which are prompted by its own ingenuity, than to the more offensive intrusion of a stranger's counsel. To this end the least complex fable seems best adapted, and we, therefore, find the most ancient apologues in this class. It may seem extraordinary that the oldest fable extant should give life and reason to the inanimate creation: it is Jotham's Fable of the Trees, in the Book of Judges. This, as well as that addressed by Nathan to David, is of a very simple construction. Though iEsop is often considered as the father of this style of writing among the Greeks, it was probably in continual use long before his time: indeed, Hesiod affords us an instance of its employment at least two hundred years before him, and in the very form that marks his compositions.
The Hawk and the Nightingale.
High in the clouds a mighty bird of prey
Bore a melodious nightingale away;
And to the captive, shivering in despair,
Thus, cruel, spoke the tyrant of the air; .
'Why mourns the wretch in my superior power?
Thy voice avails not in the ravish'd hour.
Vain are thy cries; at my despotic will
Or I can set thee free or I can kill.'
Unwisely who provokes his abler foe,
Conquest still flies him and he strives for woe.
Cooke's Hesiod—Works and Days; I. 270*
jEsop was the master whom the Romans imitated. But long before the version of Phadrus had given him the advantage of the wide extension of the Latin language, we find a verystriking instance of the practical effect of this manner of giving counsel, in calming the passions of a stormy multitude. The well-known fable of The Belly and the Members was employed by Menenius Agrippa to reclaim the people, who, on a dispute with the patricians, had retired to the Mons Sacer. We learn from Livy, that he followed his more ancient model in leaving the application of the moral to the minds of his auditors, and to this and their satisfaction in unravelling the mystery, is probably to be attributed the success of the experiment. At least, the discontented mobs of that day must have possessed a meekness unattainable by the tumultuous national assemblies of modern times, who would not readily allow even the most artful monitor "to fob off their disgraces with a tale," or persuade them that "the senators of Rome are this good belly and they the mutinous members." This kind of fable seems, however, admirably suited to popular understandings, and was, perhaps, in its origin, invented for the instruction of that class of men, on which philosophical reasoning could produce no effect. This is another peculiarity of our first school of fable; namely, its suitableness to the capacity of the vulgar, in which it greatly differs from its rival. But the eastern series of tales, whose history we are about to trace, was not designed for the common people, but as a system of morality for a prince. Perhaps this last circumstance will best explain the variation between the instructive fictions of the East and West. A peasant might be taught his lesson of morality in scraps, but a well compiled volume could alone be offered to the monarch of India. The grave majesty of a sultan might have been better consulted in a historical exhibition of the example of his ancestors, had Asiatic despotism ever furnished an example that even Asiatic courtiers would have recommended. In drawing a character for the royal pupil to imitate, their only resource was in fiction. They might have thought, what Voltaire has said, of fables—" ce sont des le§ons de vertu, et presque toute l'histoire est le succes des crimes.*"
Lokman's fables are imitated, or, perhaps, transcribed from the work that passed under the name of iEsop, when the early Arabian literature was continually enriched by translations from the Greeks. They are exactly in his style; and this circumstance, together with a general resemblance in the history and age of these authors, has given rise to a suspicion that the two names refer to one person. D'Herbelot thinks, with great probability, that when iEsop's work had assumed an Arabian dress, it was honored by the addition of the name of a sage whose traditionary reputation for wisdom still flourished among his countrymen, and whom Mahomet himself had distinguished by naming the thirty-first chapter of the Koran, " The Chapter of Lokman." Much has been written on his history, but the obscurity with which it is surrounded has not been dissipated, nor is it certain to what country of the East he owes his birth. It is sufficient, for our present purpose, to mention that he evidently belongs to that class of the writers of fable of which iEsop is the head.
Let us now turn to the principal object of these remarks, the Indian school of moral fable. Its principal characteristics, so distinct from those of its western rival, have been already named. The various books on this model, which abound in almost all parts of Asia, may be all traced to one source; but, although the collection of tales which we call Pilpay's Fables has been for ages the delight and wonder of the East, and for more than two hundred years has been known to the people of Europe—yet its source, like that of the mighty Ganges, remained concealed from every eye till the beginning of the present century. From this head-spring of oriental wisdom we mean to track its course to the present time, and to present our readers with a sketch of its windings and its wanderings, not so much as the result of our own researches as from the information derived from some excellent guides in the labyrinths of Indian history.
The original book, from which have been derived the numerous copies of fables, which, under different titles, are current in the East, is the Panchatantra, or " The Five Chapters." It exists only in Sanscrit, and was first made known to the scholars of Europe by Mr. Colebrooke, in his preface to the edition of the Hitopades, printed at Serampore in 1804, which has been reprinted in London without his preface. From him
poetry and applied it to fable. "Cum Historia vera successus rerum minime pro meritis virtutum etscelerum narret, corrigit earn Poesis,et exitus et fortunas secundum merita et ex lege Nemese&s exhibet.''
Bacon de Aug. Scient. lib. 2. 13. we learn the great probability that the various versions and paraphrases which are found in the most popular languages of Asia are copied from this older work, and it is, indeed, referred to in the following passage, taken from the introduction to the Hilopades, which has for many years been supposed to be the Sanscrit original of Pilpay. "The acquisition of friends, the breach of friendship, war, and lastly peace. These four parts are here written extracted from the Tantra and other works." We cannot give any specimens of the Pancha Tantra, as it is still locked up from vulgar eyes in the sacred language of the Hindoos. It is contained in the magnificent collection of Sanscrit manuscripts, which has been deposited by Mr. Colebrooke, in the East-India Company's Library, in Leadenhall Street.
The Hitopades, or " Amicable Instruction," has been twice translated into English, by Dr. Charles Wilkins, and by Sir William Jones. The latter thus expresses his admiration of it in his discourse on the Hindoos. "The fables of Vishnusarman, whom we ridiculously call Pilpay, are the most beautiful, if not the most ancient collection of apologues in the world." In a note to his translation, he traces the barbarous name of the author, which we have taken from the Persians, to a Sanscrit word, signifying the beloved or favorite physician, which was, it may be supposed, bestowed as an honorary title on the tutor, for the moral medicine which had worked so efficaciously on the minds of his royal pupils, whose disease was ignorance. The plan of the Hitopadesa is so much like that of its predecessor, that in giving a sketch of it, we cannot be very far from giving our readers a correct idea of the arrangement of the oldest book of Indian fables.
After a short introduction, the first book relates that an Indian rajah, "adorned with every kingly virtue," one day overheard a person reciting the following couplet; "youth, wealth, dominion, inconsiderate actions; each of these occasions danger: oh! what must all four of them do, where they are united?" The rajah, afflicted at the conduct of his sons, to whom what he had overheard seemed exactly applicable, after quoting to himself a whole string of proverbs in verse, gave orders for an assembly of learned men, among whom was VisKnusarman, the great philosopher, who undertook, on being made acquainted with the case, to instruct the king's sons in morality in six months. Delighted with the proposal, the father delivered the young princes to his care, and on the top of the palace the preceptor read his lecture on ethics, relieving the dryness of the subject by an ever-changing variety of poetry and narrative. Having roused their attention and excited their curiosity, he continued his discourse:
VOL. III. PART II. R