The readers of my translation of the Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night will remember that, in the terminal essay (1884) on the history and character of the collection, I expressed my conviction that the eleven (so-called) interpolated tales, [FN#1] though, in my judgment, genuine Oriental stories, had (with the exception of the Sleeper Awakened and Aladdin) no connection with the original work, but had been procured by Galland from various (as yet) unidentified sources, for the purpose of supplying the deficiencies of the imperfect MS. of the Nights from which he made his version. [FN#2] My opinion as to these talcs has now been completely confirmed by the recent discovery (by M. Zotenberg, Keeper of Oriental MSS. in the BibliothPque Nationale at Paris) of two Arabic MSS. of the Nights, both containing three of the missing stories, i.e. (1 ) Zeyn Alasnam, (3) The Sleeper Awakened and (4) Aladdin, and by the publication (also by M. Zotenberg) of certain extracts from Galland's diary, giving particulars of the circumstances under which the interpolated tales were incorporated with his translation of the Arabian Nights. The Arabic text of the Story of Aladdin, as given by the completer and more authentic of the newly-discovered MSS., has recently been made by M. Zotenberg the subject of a special publication, [FN#3] in the preface to which (an exhaustive bibliographical essay upon the various Texts of the Thousand and One Nights, considered in relation to Galland's translation) he gives, in addition to the extracts in question from Galland's Diary, a detailed description of the two MSS. aforesaid, the more interesting particulars of which I now proceed to abstract for the benefit of my readers.
The first MS. commences precisely where the third volume of Galland's MS. ends, to wit, (see my Terminal essay, p. 265, note1) with the 281st Night, in the middle of the story of Camaralzaman [FN#4] and contains, (inter alia) besides the continuation of this latter (which ends with Night CCCXXIX), the stories of the Sleeper Awakened (Nights CCCXXX-CCCC), Ganem (Nights CCCCXXVIII-CCCCLXX1V), Zeyn Alasnam (Nights CCCCLXXV-CCCCXCI), Aladdin (Nights CCCCXCII-DLXIX) and three others not found in Galland's version. The MS. ends in the middle of the 631st night with the well-known Story of King Bekhtzad (Azadbekht) and his son or the Ten Viziers, (which will be found translated in my Tales from the Arabic, Vol. I. pp. 61 et seq.) and contains, immediately after Night CCCCXXVII and before the story of Ganem, a note in Arabic, of which the following is a translation:
The fourth volume of the wonders and marvels of the stories of the Thousand Nights and One Night was finished by the hand of the humblest of His [FN#5] servants in the habit of a minister of religion (Kahin, lit. a diviner, Cohen), the [Christian] priest Dionysius Shawish, a scion (selil) of the College of the Romans (Greeks, Europeans or Franks, er Roum), by name St. Athanasius, in Rome the Greatest (or Greater, utsma, fem. of aatsem, quÉre Constantinople ?) on the seven-and-twentieth of the month Shubat (February) of the year one thousand seven hundred fourscore and seven, [he being] then teacher of the Arabic tongue in the Library of the Sultan, King of France, at Paris the Greatest.
From this somewhat incoherent note we may assume that the MS. was written in the course of the year 1787 by the notorious Syrian ecclesiastic Dom Denis Chavis, the accomplice of Cazotte in the extraordinary literary atrocity shortly afterward perpetrated by the latter under the name of a sequel or continuation of the Thousand and One Nights [FN#6] (v. Cabinet des Fées, vols. xxxviii)xli), [FN#7] and in all probability (cf. the mention in the above note of the first part, i.e. Nights CCLXXXI-CCCCXXVII, as the fourth volume) to supply the place of Galland's missing fourth volume for the BibliothPque Royale; but there. is nothing, except a general similarity of style and the occurrence in the former of the rest of Camaralzaman and (though not in the same order) of four of the tales supposed to have been contained in the latter, to show that Dom Chavis made his copy from a text identical with that used by the French savant. In the notes to his edition of the Arabic text of Aladdin, M. Zotenberg gives a number of extracts from this MS., from which it appears that it is written in a very vulgar modern Syrian style and abounds in grammatical errors, inconsistencies and incoherences of every description, to say nothing of the fact that the Syrian ecclesiastic seems, with the characteristic want of taste and presumption which might be expected from the joint-author of Les Veillées Persanes, to have, to a considerable extent, garbled the original text by the introduction of modern European phrases and turns of speech B la Galland. For the rest, the MS. contains no note or other indication, on which we can found any opinion as to the source from which the transcriber (or arranger) drew his materials; but it can hardly be doubted, from internal evidence, that he had the command of some genuine text of the Nights, similar to, if not identical with, that of Galland, which he probably arranged to suit his own (and his century's) distorted ideas of literary fitness. The discovery of the interpolated tales contained in this MS. (which has thus presumably lain unnoticed for a whole century, under, as one may say, the very noses of the many students of Arabic literature who would have rejoiced in such a find) has, by a curious freak of fortune, been delayed until our own day in consequence of a singular mistake made by a former conservator of the Paris BibliothPque, the well-known Orientalist, M. Reinaud, who, in drawing up the Catalogue of the Arabic MSS. in the collection described (or rather misdescribed) it under the following heading:
Supplement Arabe 1716. Thousand and One Nights, 3rd and 4th parts. This volume begins with Night CCLXXXII and ends with Night DCXXXI. A copy in the handwriting of Chavis. It is from this copy and in accordance with the instructions (d'aprPs la indications) of this Syrian monk that Cazotte composed (redigea) the Sequel to the Thousand and One Nights, Cabinet des Fées, xxxvii et xl (should be tt. xxxviii-xli).
It is of course evident that M. Reinaud had never read the MS. in question nor that numbered 1723 in the Supplement Arabe, or he would at once have recognized that the latter, though not in the handwriting of the Syrian ecclesiastic, was that which served for the production of the Sequel in question; but, superficial as was the mistake, it sufficed to prevent the examination by students of the MS. No. 1716 and so retarded the discovery of the Arabic originals of Aladdin and its fellows till the acquisition (some two years ago) by the BibliothPque Nationale of another (and complete) MS. of the Thousand and One Nights, which appears to have belonged to the celebrated Orientalist M. Caussin de Perceval, although the latter could not have been acquainted with it at the time (1806) he published his well-known edition and continuation of Galland's translation, in the eighth and ninth volumes of which, by the by, he gives a correct version of the tales so fearfully garbled by Chavis and Cazotte in their so-called translation as well nigh to defy recognition and to cause Orientalists in general to deny the possibility of their having been derived from an Oriental source until the discovery of the actual Arabic originals so barbarously maltreated [FN#8]
This MS. is in the handwriting of of Sebbagh, the well-known Syrian collaborator of Silvestre de Sacy, and is supposed to have been copied by him at Paris between the years 1805 and 1810 for some European Orientalist (probably de Perceval himself) from a Baghdad MS. of the early part of the 18th century, of which it professes to be an exact reproduction, as appears from a terminal note, of which the following is a translation:
And the finishing of it was in the first tenth (decade) of Jumada the Latter [in the] year one thousand one hundred and fifteen of the Hegira (October, 1703) in the handwriting of the neediest of the faithful [FN#9] unto God [FN#10] the Most High, Ahmed ibn Mohammed et Teradi, in the city of Baghdad, and he the Shafiy by sect and the Mosuli by birth and the Baghdadi by sojourn, and indeed he wrote it for himself and set upon it his seal, and God bless and keep our lord Mohammed and his companions! Kebikej [FN#11] (ter).
This MS. contains the three interpolated tales aforesaid, i.e. the Sleeper Awakened (Nights CCCXXXVII-LXXXVI), Zeyn Alasnam (Nights CCCCXCVII-DXIII) and Aladdin (Nights DXIV-XCI), the last two bearing traces of a Syrian origin, especially Aladdin, which is written in a much commoner and looser style than Zeyn Alasnam. The two tales are evidently the work of different authors, Zeyn Alasnam being incomparably superior in style and correctness to Aladdin, which is defaced by all kinds of vulgarisms and solecisms and seems, moreover, to have been less correctly copied than the other. Nevertheless, the Sebbagh text is in every respect preferable to that of Shawish (which appears to abound in faults and errors of every kind, general and particular,) and M. Zotenberg has, therefore, exercised a wise discretion in selecting the former for publication.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of M. Zorenberg's long and interesting introduction is a series of extracts from the (as yet unpublished) MS. Diary regularly kept by Galland, the last four volumes (1708-15) of which are preserved in the BibliothPque Nationale. These extracts effectually settle the question of the origin of the interpolated tales, as will be seen from the following abstract.
On the 25th March, 1709, Galland records having that day made the acquaintance of a Maronite scholar, by name Youhenna Diab, [FN#12] who had been brought from Aleppo to Paris by Paul Lucas, the celebrated traveller, and with whom he evidently at once broached the question of the Nights, [FN#13] probably complaining to him of the difficulty (or rather impossibility) of obtaining a perfect copy of the work; whereupon Hanna (as he always calls him) appears to have volunteered to help him to fill the lacune by furnishing him with suitable Oriental stories for translation in the same style as those already rendered by him and then and there (says Galland) told me some very fine Arabian tales, which he promised to put into writing for me. There is no fresh entry on the subject till May 5 following, when (says Galland) The Maronite Hanna finished telling me the tale of the Lamp. [FN#14]
Hanna appears to have remained in Paris till the autumn of the year 1709 and during his stay, Galland's Diary records the communication by him to the French savant of the following stories, afterwards included in the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth volumes of the latter's translation, (as well as of several others which he probably intended to translate, had he lived,) [FN#15] i.e. (May 10, 1709) Babe Abdalla and Sidi Nouman, (May 13, 1709) The Enchanted Horse, (May 22, 1709) Prince Ahmed and Pari Banou, (May 25, 1709) The Two Sisters who envied their younger Sister, (May 27, 1709) All Baba and the Forty Thieves, (May 29, 1709) Cogia Hassan Alhabbal and (May 31, 1709) Ali Cogia. The Maronite seems to have left for the East in October, 1709, (Galland says under date October 25, Received this evening a letter from Hanna, who writes me from Marseilles, under date the 17th, in Arabic, to the effect that he had arrived there in good health,) but not without having at least in part fulfilled his promise to put in writing the tales communicated by him to Galland, as appears by the entry of November 3, 1710, Began yesterday to read the Arabian story of the Lamp, which had been written me in Arabic more than a year ago by the Maronite of Damascus [FN#16] whom M. Lucas brought with him, with a view to putting it into French. Finished reading it this morning. Here is the title of this tale, 'Story of Aladdin, son of a tailor, and that which befell him with an African Magician on account of (or through) a lamp. (The Diary adds that he began that evening to put his translation into writing and finished it in the course of the ensuing fortnight.) And that of January 10, 1711, Finished the translation of the tenth volume of the 1001 Nights after the Arabic text which I had from the hand (de la main) of Hanna or Jean Dipi, [FN#17] whom M. Lucas brought to France on his return from his last journey in the Levant. The only other entry bearing upon the question is that of August 24, 1711, in which Galland says, Being quit of my labours upon the translation etc. of the Koran, I read a part of the Arabian Tales which the Maronite Hanna had told me and which I had summarily reduced to writing, to see which of them I should select to make up the eleventh volume of the Thousand and One Nights.
From these entries it appears beyond question that Galland received from the Maronite Hanna, in the Spring and Summer of 1709, the Arabic text of the stories of Aladdin, Baba Abdalla, Sidi Nouman and Cogia Hassan Alhabbal, i.e. the whole of the tales included in his ninth and tenth volumes (with the exception of The Sleeper Awakened, of which he does not speak) and that he composed the five remaining tales contained in his eleventh and twelfth volumes (i.e. Ali Baba, Ali Cogia, The Enchanted Horse, Prince Ahmed and Pari Banou and The Two Sisters who envied their younger Sister,) upon the details thereof taken down from Hanna's lips and by the aid of copious summaries made at the time. These entries in Galland's diary dispose, therefore, of the question of the origin of the interpolated tales, with the exception (1) of The Sleeper Awakened (with which we need not, for the present, concern ourselves farther) and (2) of Nos. 1 and 2a and b, i.e. Zeyn Alasnam, Codadad and his brothers and The Princess of Deryabar (forming, with Ganem, his eighth volume), as to which Galland, as I pointed out in my terminal essay (p. 264), cautions us, in a prefatory note to his ninth volume, that these two stories form no part of the Thousand and One Nights and that they had been inserted and printed without the cognizance of the translator, who was unaware of the trick that had been played him till after the actual publication of the volume, adding that care would be taken to expunge the intrusive tales from the second edition (which, however, was never done, Galland dying before the republication and it being probably found that the stranger tales had taken too firm a hold upon public favour to be sacrificed, as originally proposed); and the invaluable Diary supplies the necessary supplemental information as to their origin. M. Petis de la Croix, says Galland under date of January 17, 1710, Professor and King's Reader of the Arabic tongue, who did me the honour to visit me this morning, was extremely surprised to see two of the Turkish [FN#18] Tales of his translation printed in the eighth volume of the 1001 Nights, which I showed him, and that this should have been done without his participation.
Petis de la Croix, a well-known Orientalist and traveller of the time, published in the course of the same year (1710) the first volume of a collection of Oriental stories, similar in form and character to the 1001 Nights, but divided into Days instead of Nights and called The Thousand and One Days, Persian Tales, the preface to which (ascribed to Cazotte) alleges him to have translated the tales from a Persian work called Hezar [o] Yek Roz, i.e. The Thousand and One Days, the MS. of which had in 1675 been communicated to the translator by a friend of his, by name Mukhlis, (Cazotte styles him the celebrated Dervish MoclPs, chief of the Soufis of Ispahan) during his sojourn in the Persian capital. The preface goes on to state that Mukhlis had, in his youth, translated into Persian certain Indian plays, which had been translated into all the Oriental languages and of which a Turkish version existed in the BibliothPque Royale, under the title of Alfaraga Badal-Schidda (i.e. El Ferej bad esh Shiddeh), which signified Joy after Affliction; but that, wishing to give his work an original air, he converted the aforesaid plays into tales. Cazotte's story of the Indian plays savours somewhat of the cock and the bull and it is probable that the Hezar o Yek Roz (which is not, to my knowledge, extant) was not derived from so recondite a source, but was itself either the original of the well-known Turkish collection or (perhaps) a translation of the latter. At all events, Zeyn Alasnam, Codadad and the Princess of Deryabar occur in a copy (cited by M. Zotenberg), belonging to the BibliothPque Nationale, of El Ferej bad esh Shidded (of which they form the eighth, ninth and sixth stories respectively) and in a practically identical form, except that in Galland's vol. viii. the two latter stories are fused into one. Sir William Ouseley is said to have brought from Persia a MS. copy of a portion of the Hezar o Yek Roz which he describes as agreeing with the French version, but, in the absence of documentary proof and in view of the fact that, notwithstanding the unauthorized incorporation of three of the tales of his original with Galland's Vol. viii, the published version of the Thousand and One Days is apparently complete and shows no trace of the omission, I am inclined to suspect Petis de la Croix of having invented the division into Days, in order to imitate (and profit by the popularity of) his fellow savant's version of the Thousand and One Nights. Galland's publisher was doubtless also that of Petis de la Croix and in the latter capacity had in hand a portion of the MS. of the 1001 Days, from which, no doubt weary of waiting till Galland (who was now come to the end of his genuine Arabic MS. of the 1001 Nights and was accordingly at a standstill, till he met with Hanna,) should have procured fresh material to complete the copy for his eighth volume, of which Ganem only was then ready for publication, he seems to have selected (apparently on his own responsibility, but, it must be admitted, with considerable taste and judgment,) the three tales in question from the MS. of the 1001 Days, to fill up the lacune. It does not appear whether he found Codadad and the Princess of Deryabar arranged as one story ready to his hand or himself performed (or procured to be performed) the process of fusion, which, in any case, was executed by no unskilful hand. Be this as it may, Galland was naturally excessively annoyed at the publisher's unceremonious proceeding, so much so indeed as for a time to contemplate renouncing the publication of the rest of the work, to spare himself (as he says in his Diary, under date of Dec. 12, 1709) similar annoyances (mortifications) to that which the printing of the eighth volume had caused him. Indeed, the effect of this incident was to induce him, not only to change his publisher, but to delay the publication of the next volume (which, as we learn from the Diary, was ready for the press at the end of November or the beginning of December, 1709) for a whole year, at the end of which time (Diary, November 21, 1710) he made arrangements with a new (and presumably more trustworthy) publisher, M. Florentin de Laune, for the printing of Vol. ix.
Notwithstanding the discovery, as above set out, of three of the doubtful tales, Zeyn Alasnam, Aladdin and The Sleeper Awakened, in two MSS. (one at least undoubtedly authentic) of the Thousand Nights and One Night, I am more than ever of opinion that none of the eleven interpolated stories properly belongs to the original work, that is to say, to the collection as first put into definite form somewhere about the fourteenth century. [FN#19] The Sleeper Awakened was identified by the late Mr. Lane as a historical anecdote given by the historian El Ishaki, who wrote in the first quarter of the seventeenth century, and the frequent mention of coffee in both MSS. of Aladdin justifies us in attributing the composition of the story to (at earliest) the sixteenth century, whilst the modern vulgarisms in which they abound point to a still later date. Zeyn Alasnam (in the Sebbagh MS. at least) is written in a much purer and more scholarly style than Aladdin, but its pre-existence in El Ferej bad esh Shiddeh (even if we treat as apocryphal Petis de la Croix's account of the Hezar o Yek Roz) is sufficient, in the absence of contrary evidence, to justify us in refusing to consider it as belonging to the Thousand Nights and One Night proper. As shown by Galland's own experience, complete copies of the genuine work were rarely to be met with, collections of silly stories (as the Oriental savant, who inclines to regard nothing in the way of literature save theology, grammar and poetry, would style them), being generally considered by the Arab bibliographer undeserving of record or preservation, and the fragmentary copies which existed were mostly in the hands of professional story-tellers, who were extremely unwilling to part with them, looking upon them as their stock in trade, and were in the habit of incorporating with the genuine text all kinds of stories and anecdotes from other sources, to fill the place of the missing portions of the original work. This process of addition and incorporation, which has been in progress ever since the first collection of the Nights into one distinct work and is doubtless still going on in Oriental countries, (especially such as are least in contact with European influence,) may account for the heterogeneous character of the various modern MSS. of the Nights and for the immense difference which exists between the several texts, as well in actual contents as in the details and diction of such stories as are common to all. The Tunis MS. of the 1001 Nights (which is preserved in the Breslau University Library and which formed the principal foundation of Habicht's Edition of the Arabic text) affords a striking example of this process, which we are here enabled to see in mid-operation, the greater part of the tales of which it consists having not yet been adapted to the framework of the Nights. It is dated A.H. 1144 (A.D. 1732) and of the ten volumes of which it consists, i, ii (Nights I)CCL) and x (Nights DCCCLXXXV-MI) are alone divided into Nights, the division of the remaining seven volumes (i.e. iii)ix, containing, inter alia, the Story of the Sleeper Awakened) being the work of the German editor. It is my belief, therefore, that the three interpolated tales identified as forming part of the Baghdad MS. of 1703 are comparatively modern stories added to the genuine text by Rawis (story-tellers) or professional writers employed by them, and I see no reason to doubt that we shall yet discover the Arabic text of the remaining eight, either in Hanna's version (as written down for Galland) or in some as yet unexamined MS. of the Nights or other work of like character.
M. Zotenberg has, with great judgment, taken as his standard for publication the text of Aladdin given by the Sebbagh MS., inasmuch as the Shawish MS. (besides being, as appears from the extracts given. [FN#20] far inferior both in style and general correctness,) is shown by the editor to be full of modern European phrases and turns of speech and to present so many suspicious peculiarities that it would be difficult, having regard, moreover, to the doubtful character and reputation of the Syrian monkish adventurer who styled himself Dom Denis Chavis, to resist the conviction that his MS. was a forgery, i.e. professedly a copy of a genuine Arabic text, but in reality only a translation or paraphrase in that language of Galland's version,--were it not that the Baghdad MS. (dated before the commencement, in 1704, of Galland's publication and transcribed by a man--Mikhail Sebbagh--whose reputation, as a collaborator of Silvestre de Sacy and other distinguished Orientalists, is a sufficient voucher for the authenticity of the copy in the BibliothPque Nationale,) contains a text essentially identical with that of Shawish. Moreover, it is evident, from a comparison with Galland's rendering and making allowance for the latter's system of translation, that the Arabic version of Aladdin given him by Hanna must either have been derived from the Baghdad text or from some other practically identical source, and it is therefore probable that Shawish, having apparently been employed to make up the missing portion of Galland's Arabic text and not having the Hanna MS. at his command, had (with the execrable taste and want of literary morality which distinguished Cazotte's monkish coadjutor) endeavoured to bring his available text up to what he considered the requisite standard by modernizing and Gallicizing its wording and (in particular) introducing numerous European phrases and turns of speech in imitation of the French translator. The whole question is, of course, as yet a matter of more or less probable hypothesis, and so it must remain until further discoveries and especially until the reappearance of Galland's missing text, which I am convinced must exist in some shape or other and cannot much longer, in the face of the revived interest awakened in the matter and the systematic process of investigation now likely to be employed, elude research.
M. Zotenberg's publication having been confined to the text of Aladdin, I have to thank my friend Sir R. F. Burton for the loan of his MS. copy of Zeyn Alasnam, (the Arabic text of which still remains unpublished) as transcribed by M. Houdas from the Sebbagh MS.