27 JULY 1850, Page 17


IT is reported of a simpleminded country clergyman of the last century, that having produced a sermon to his own very great satisfaction, he determined on giving it to the world. Ignorant of the laws of literary demand, he reasoned thus concerning the num- ber of copies to be printed—" Surely one person in every parish will buy the sermon; and I may safely print as many copies as there are parishes." He therefore directed his London bookseller to order an impression of fifteen thousand-; and when, some months afterwards, he went up to town, big with expectations of fame and profit, he found that only one copy had been disposed of. Colonel Chesney has displayed as much more literary simplicity than the old divine, by as much as two bulky volumes of upwards of fifteen hundred pages exceed the size of the longest drawn-out sermon. It may be a pity, but "pity list 'tie true," that the pub- lic at large care little for scientific discussion, especially about re- mote matters ; they do not want to be instructed, but only amused. All they required in this ease, all they were disposed willingly to pay for, was a plain (or if a graphic so much the better) account of Colonel Chesney's official expedition and its adventures in sur- veying the Euphrates and Tigris, with a view to determine the commercial capabilities of the re0on, and its use as a route to In- dia. Even this they would have liked better had it been given them ten or a dozen years ago, before the practical part of the question seems settled by the fact, that be the arguments what they may, practice prefers the lied Sea route.

But although the narrative in 18.50 of what was finished in 1837 is a day after the fair, we have not got to the narrative even now. The two large volumes before us are only introductory. Colonel Chesney has fallen into the mistake of supposing that the world' wishes to have a minutely detailed account of the topogra- phy, productions, tribes and history in all its phases, of the re-

ons lying between the Mediterranean and the Indus in one direction and the Caspian Sea and the river Nile in the other. First and foremost, the four rivers that have their origin not far from Mount Ararat—the Halys the Araxes, the Tigris, and the Euphrates—are minutely described, in as many chapters, in their courses and with their tributaries. Iran in its largest sense- • The Expedition for the Survey of the Rivers Euphrates and Tigris, carried on by Order of the British Government, in the years 1833, 1838, and 1837; preceded by Geographical and Historical Notices of the Regions situated between the bide and Indus. In four volumes. With fourteen Maps and Charts, and embellished with ninety-seven Plates, besides numerous Wood-cuts.. By Lieutenant-Colonel Ches- ney. R.A., F.R.S., Ste. &c., Commander of the Expedition. By Authority. Volumes

1.11. Published by Longman and Co.

that is, ancient Persia—is then handled, in eight chapters, with similar gazetteer minuteness; while thirteen more chapters are de- voted to Atha Minor, Syria, Phcenicia, Palestine, Arabia, titc. ; and the text of the first volume closes at the seven hundredth page, a variety of tabular matter being added in an appendix. The second volume embraces the history of those regions from the earliest period to the establishment of the Turkish power in Europe ; opened with a discussion on the seat of Paradise, the state of the world before the Deluge, and the residence of Noah. When he has finished the history, Colonel Chesney endeavours, in "chapters x-vr and xvu, to show the connexion at different periods between Asia and Europe with respect to literature and science. The eighteenth chapter is devoted to ancient and modem commerce. The nine- teenth describes the architecture, sculpture, &c. of Iran; and the twentieth the boats and hydraulic works of the East." All this is not badly done by Colonel Chesney ; the mistake lies in doing it at all. The local minuthe the public do not care for ; those who do care could have gotit for themselves, except of course Colonel Chesney's discoveries, and these should have been presented by themselves. The larger and more interesting subjects are already familiar to the public, for they form a portion of the most interesting histories. Till the downfall of the successors of Alexander, the best parts of Persian story are indissolubly con- nected with Greece; afterwards they are interwoven with the Ro- man Republic, and then with the Empire, till the fall of Con- stantinople. The literary and commercial connexion of Europe and Asia, with the influence ot the latter upon the former, have been treated with learning and critical skill ; the earlier periods of Assyrian when it was connected with Hebrew history have been discussed to tiresomeness. It is true that Colonel Chesney's zeal and knowledge impart more of breadth to the minute and more of life to the matter-of-fact accounts than might have been expected; that his practical acquaintance with the country and the people en- ables him to give certainty to his sketches of manners and opinions, as his military experience gives distinctness to his narrative of Warlike operations. Nevertheless, it strikes us that the book is a great mistake—for the most part a repertory, when other reper- tories were already in being. At the same time, those who want one cannot do better than get Colonel Chesney's.

A single extract will Suffice as an example of his style : we take part of an account of the religions of Persia at the present day.

"The title of Mfilla is conferred on a candidate by some member of the order, after the requisite examination in theology and law; and the person is then intrusted with the education of youth, as well as the administration of justice, and the practice of law. The Mdllas sometimes possess sufficient power not only to influence the people at large, but even the King himself.

"Of this chid of priestat those who have been successful in life are either placed in mosques or private families, waiting for advancement ; but a greater number are nominally attached to colleges, and live by the practice of astrology, fortune-telling, the sale of charms, talismans, &c. They who are not possessed of the requisite ingenuity to subsist by the credulity of others, take charge of an inferior school, or write letters, and draw up mar- riage and other engagements, for those who are unequal to the task ; they mix at the seine time largely in the domestic concerns of families. But in addition to these and other vocations, a considerable number of the lowest priests derive a scanty support from that charity which no one denies to the true believer. These men wander as fakirs from place to place ; carrying news, and repeating poems, tales, &c., mixed with verses from the Koran. The heterodox religions are very -numerous • nor is Iran without her free- thinkers, as the Katindra and Mu'taselis (ifitanlis), who deny everything which they cannot prove by natural reason. A third sect, the Mahadelis, or Molochadis, still maintain the Magian belief that the stars and the planets govern all things. Another, the EM el Tabkwid (men of truth), hold that there is no God except the four elements, and no rational soul or life after this one: they maintain also, that all living bodies, being mixtures of the elements, will after death return to their first principles. They also affirm that paradise and bell belong to this world, into which every man returns in the form of a beast, a plant, or again as a man ; and that in this second state he is great, powerful, and happy, or poor, despicable, and unhappy, according to his Ibrmer merits or demerits. In practice they inculcate kind- ness to and respect for each other, with implicit obedience to their chiefs, who are called Fir (old men), and are furnished with all kinds of provisions for their subsidence. This sect is found in the provinces of 'Irak and Fars. "The Tarlich Zenidikali (way of the covetous) are directly opposed to the list on the subject of transmigration; and they believe that God is in all places, and performs all things. They likewise maintain, that the whole visible universe is only a mandeatation of the Supreme Being ; the soul itself being a portion of the Divine essence. Therefore, they consider that what- ever appears to the eye is God, and that all religious rites should be com- prised in the contemplation of God's goodness and greatness. "On these various creeds the different branches of Suffeeism seem to have been founded. One of the most extraordinary of these sects is the Raushanf- yah; the followers of which believe in the transmigration of souls, and the manifestation of the Divinity in the persons of holy men. They maintain likewise, that all men who do not join their sect are to be considered as dead, and that their goods belong, in consequence, to the true believers, as the only survivors."

The work is accompanied by a general map of Asia, and a very full chart of the Tigris and Euphrates, besides being illustrated by a variety of plates and wood-cuts.