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Ibrahim: a Persian Tale.
A PERSIAN TALE.
Wise kings by love and mercy reign.-Gay.
A profound peace had reigned in Shirvan, a province of Persia; its happy inhabitants enjoyed quietly all those advantages which a wise prince knows how to procure to his subjects. His name was Ibrahim; wholly intent on the happiness of his people, he tempered his authority with excellent laws; attentively watched over his ministers that they might render impartial justice to all, encouraged industry in agriculture and arts, and wisely distributed rewards and punishments as found requisite; by these means he had fixed on a solid basis, the security and tranquillity of every part of his dominions, and introduced into them a joyful and happy prosperity. While that nation was in the summit of its felicity, and unanimously poured forth blessings, dictated by gratitude, on their sovereign, news was brought of such a nature as to cause the utmost consternation.
The haughty Tamerlane, who had then made himself the terror of Asia, eager to extend still more the boundaries of his empire, was approaching the province of Shirvan with a numerous army to subdue it, and add that to his other conquests. At the sorrowful news, Ibrahim, much more uneasy for his people, whom he saw threatened with the worst of ills, than for himself, assembled without delay his ministers in council, in order to deliberate upon what was to be done. Osman, the general of his army, a haughty and valiant man, cried out immediately, War, war, must be declared. Let the fierce Tamerlane come, it is here that he shall find who can at last pull down his pride. No one, O king! among us will refuse to shed his blood to the last drop for thee, for thy children, for our fields, for our country. The proud foe shall see how hard it is to fight against a nation determined to sacrifice all, sooner than submit to his cruel and abhorred yoke. When the magnanimous warrior had re-seated himself, Usbec the Keeper of the Royal Treasures, rose and said: I Sire, before all, offer for thee my blood, my life, if thou doest decide for war, and thinkest by such a
Ibrahim; a Persian Tale.
measure to save us.
However, against so powerful an army, flushed by repeated victories, how can our people, so inferior in numbers, and by a long peace unaccustomed to warlike enterprises, oppose a proper resistance? Peace, I therefore think, it would be adviseable to ask for, if any other can be hoped from the cruel Tamerlane, but what arises from an intolerable and disgraceful slavery. I see no refuge but in flight. Thy treasures and thy royal person must be speedily sheltered in other regions; we are faithful subjects, will follow thy steps whereever it may please thee to retire. Tamerlane will not make a long stay in an empty kingdom; his ambition will carry him to make more distant conquests; and when the storm is past, heaven may open us a way to return to our possessions, and our former abodes.' The opinons of the grandees were divided between the two opposite parties; some were for opposing force and intrepidity to the forces of Tamerlane; others thought it wiser to avoid his yoke by flight. Ibrahim, having heard the different proposals, said, I commend the spirit and valour of 1 those who are ready, bravely to expose their lives for their country; and by such a proof my love toward you would increase in a high degree, if it were capable of augmentation; but that very love I bear you will not suffer me to see blood, that is so dear to me shed in my behalf. It is true that flight could shelter me from his power, but the rage of Tamerlane would fall much more cruelly upon the unhappy people that remained exposed to his fury. I thank heaven for suggesting to me a better thought to save you all. You soon shall be acquainted with it; meanwhile pray fervently to heaven to second my vows.
The council dissolved, he immediately began preparing gifts of the richest kind, and with them resolved to go to meet Ta merlane, in order to obtain the safety of his people. Tamerlane had commanded that invariably the presents offered to him should be nine in number. Ibrahim conforming to that law, presented himself to him and offered for his acceptance, nine beautiful horses, richly adorned with gold and pearls; nine leopards trained for chase, all having fine golden collars; nine silken tents elegantly embroidered with gold and silver; nine Indian carpets worked in the most masterly style; nine golden vessels set with precious stones of high value; and in the same manner were his other gifts, all extremely rich, and of singuler workmanship. Finally, he presented to him some slaves, but they were
Letter from Andrew Ettleweel.
only eight in number. "Where is the other slave?' asked then fiercely the Tartarian king. 'He is at thy feet,' said Ibrahim, prostrating himself before him. Thou wilt have no slave more submissive, nor more faithful; and my chains will be welcome to me, if by them I can obtain favour and security for my distressed people from thy wrath. O mighty Tamerlane! have pity on them alone, let them be free from all insult; and as for myself, dispose of me as thou pleasest; I am already thine. Moved by this behaviour, that haughty soul, naturally fierce, was totally changed; he raised Ibrahim, and said:—“ A very different lot than slavery is due to such exalted virtue. Thou shalt be the first among my intimate friends: I shall regard thee as a brother—as a father. Return joyfully to thy people: continue to render them happy, as thou hast done till now. If my fate did not call me to more extensive and glorious enterprises, my greatest pleasure would be to live in a small kingdom, doing all my endeavours to imitate thee.'
Townhead, 11th November, 1818.
I'm no sure how far it's richt for me to be fashin' ye sae sume again wi' a letter. I ken weel that my aul-fassont way o' writin's no unco takin' wi the maist o' fok. For now-a-days naething but learnin' an' poleetness 'll gang doon wi' yir gentles. An' a body like me, (wha's up to very little mair nor common sense, an' that I doot just scrimp eneuch) darena preshume to come afore the public wi' ony o' his hamert-made thochts: or gif he dis, ye'll see them turn up their noses at the very sichte o' themand ye'll hear them gi'e them out as some o' the clishmaclaver haverins o' some aul donert fule. Hech! but it's maist like to mak ane scunner to hear some o' yir dashin', buskit-up, spankin' sparks (whase only recommendation lies in their braw cleedin' that's on their back) lay aff their impudent snash again" the weel-meent intentions o' an unlearnt but honest man- -whareas, gif ye ware to put thae sam cratures till't, an' targe them on the commonest subjects, ye wad maybe sune see how sma richte they soud tak to themsel's to fin' faut wi' ithers. I'm no sayin' owre muckle whan I say't, some o' them that carry their head
Letter from Andrew Ettleweel.
sae heigh, haena muckle mair rumlegumtion in them than my Bawtie, that's e'en now snowkin' in the aus-hole-puir brute.
Weel, Sir, as I was gaun to say, we're surely gritly obleeged to ye for gi en kintra fok leave to lowse their tongues an' tell their kennins in their ain gate. It's lang sin' we. had ony lishense o' this kin' gi'en us i' the wast: an' I houp yese no hae raison to think that we'll misus't. It's no to be expecket, to be sure, that we can ha'e ochte muckle to enterteen ye wi'-but I'll no say but at an antrin time ye'll maybe get a thing frae thir muirs that has some smeddum in t. For it's no wi' men o' lear that a' the sense o' the lan' lies. I trow ye, I've seen some o our muirfok keep up an argument wi' mony a fallow that's been at the college-an' wha on that account gie themsels the airs o men o' michty pretensions-but after a' I've seen the like get an unco doonsettin' frae ane wha had nane o' the tules o' lear' to work wi.' I needna gang far for instances in point. There's our John Findlay o' the Heathershaw. I wad ye a plack if ye ware coaxin' him weel (for let me tell ye, he's a wee fasht wi' a blateness) ye wad get frae him ballats an' sangs o' his ain makin' that michte do baith him an' you credit.-An' there's my aul' frien' Gawin Kinloch, the wale o' carles-But waesuck! what'll grief no do. It's no lang sin' he lost his only callan that he was sae muckle set on, an' its like to gang owre sair till his heart. But ye michte fit it frae Kilmarnock to Straven, an' ye wadna gae by a cleverer chiel! I doot however if he'll ever can do yir Mirror ony gude-for. I've my ain thochts, that he's gotten his deadle.
But I'se warran ye're thinkin' by this time that I'm gaun aff at the nail a' thegither wi' ye. I had amaist forgat what it was for that made me address ye at the praisent. Ye'll min' how in my last epissle to ye I fan' faut wi' a thing whilk I thochte was disrespektu' to the house o' God. Weel, Sir, let me tell ye the things ta'en wi'-and fok hae set their heads thegither to put a stop till't. It was just the sabbath after yir beuk cam out that the wark o' reformation begood. Tam Tutap the horsecowper was just gotten the lenthe o' the kirk-yett, and was gettin' his wafers wat to put up some prentit adverteesement about a roup o' kye he was to hae neist ook; an' heth! ane o' the elers o' the kirk teuk speech in han', an' tell't him fu' feetly o' the indecencie o' the thing-an' frae less to mair he was let ken that nouther he nor naebody else need try to put up ony thing o' the
Letter from Andrew Ettleweel.
kin' there in time to come- -if he wad misuse the Lord's day wi' his merchandeezing he michte gang an' ereck them at the Toll o' Kingswall, or at the Corse o' Kilmarnock.
Now, Sir, gif ye wadna think me owre meddlin' i' my way, there's anither thing connecket wi' our Kirk practises, whilk I've lang been thinkin' on-but whilk frae fa'in' in wi' mysel❜ fraé day to day, I neer gied muckle heed to, as to the impropreety o't-An' that's the fasson o' kintra-fok takin' Buns an' yill atween sermons, on the Sundays in the Simmer-time.. Gif ye ware ne'er praisent at a thing o' the kin' ye'll aiblins no can see what I wad be at when I ca' this a wrang thing. Fok maun hae refreshments ye'll say, or at ony rate, a co'erin' frae a shower in a wat day. That's a very true Í grant ye—but still that's no to hin'er me frae speakin' an' compleenin' about it. We're nae suner out o' the kirk, an' hae seen our braw fok munt their carriages an' drive awa—no to come back in the aft rnune again, than the maist feck o' us gang awa' doon to Geordie Tamson's at the Burnfit, an' there we get plantit a' roun his biggest room or barn-an' in comes Geordie carryin' his muckle bakie fu'’o' buns, an' his lassock ahint him wi' as mony bottles as she can manage in her han's an' anoth her oxters. Weel i' the mean time, the tauk's 's gaun on―an' as ye may suppose, the minister's preachin's in the first place turned inside out-an' as ilka man has his ain way o' thinkin' about thae things, its no uncommon to hae a hantle o' bickerin' afore we get a' its mer ts sac areenged as to fa in wi' ilka ane's pleesure about it.-I'll no say but there's w whiles some edification in thae kin' o' bruilies. A kittle point o' faith's sometimes helpet to be redd up-an' at a' events it's no an ill thing to mak us keep min' o' the heads an' particulars o' the ministers sermon muckle better. Gif this waré a' that was transacket at thae gatherins, 1 wad be inclined to think they were usefu' i' their ain way. But there's no a Sunday gangs owre, but Geordie Tamson's is just like a news-house. Fok wha hinna the opportunities o' seein' ither through the ook are fond oʻ kennin' what's gaun on, an' sae the haill news o' the kintra side's brochte afore them, an' discuss't wi' as sma' regard to the day, as if they thochte it ware a Sunday only at the kirk—an' a fairday at Geordie's. An' in trowth, I've whiles seen less daffin' an' gaffain' gaun on at a waddin' or on Hogmanae, than I've witnessed there-at a time too whan fok's min's soud be far itherwise direcket. It was just three Sabbaths sin' whan there