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SAKOONTALÁ, OR THE LOST value to England in the retention and increase of her

Indian empire than an army of 100,000 men.- Popular

Science Monthly, January, 1888.] "Wouldst thou the young year's blossoms and the fruit of its decline,

Only seventy years have elapsed since the great And all by which the soul is charmed, enraptured,

English Orientalist, Sir William Jones, astonished the feasted, fed ?

learned world by the discovery of a Sanskrit dramatic

literature, He has himself given us the history of this Would thou the earth and heaven itself in one sole

discovery. It appears that, on his arrival in Bengal, name combine?

he was very solicitous to procure access to certain books I name thee, O'Sakoon talá !' and all at once is

called Nátaks, of which he had read in one of tho said."


Lettres Édifiantes et Curieuses, written by the Jesuit [" How AN ANCIENT LITERATURE DID MORE THAN

missionaries of China. But, although he sought inforGREAT ARMIES COULD.-When the people of Hindustan,

mation by consulting both Brábmans and Europeans, in the last century, came under the British power, they he was wholly unable for some time to satisfy his curiwere regarded as a debased and alien race. Theirosity as to the nature of these books. It was reported complexion reminded their conquerors of Africa. Their

to him that they were not histories, as he had hoped, divinities were hideous monsters. Their social system

but that they abounded with fables, and consisted of was anti-human and detestable. Suttee, thuggee, Jug.

conversations in prose and verse held before ancient gernaut, all sorts of cruel and shocking abominations, Rájás in their public assemblies. Others, again, asseemed to characterize and degrade them. The proud

serted that they were discourses on dancing, music, and est Indian prince was, in the sight and ordinary speech poetry. At length, a sensible Bráhman, conversant of the rawest white subaltern, only a "nigger.” This with European manners, removed all his doubts, and universal contempt was retorted with a batred as uni- gave him no less delight than surprise by telling him versal, and threatening in the future most disastrous that the English nation had compositions of the same consequences to the British rule. Then came an unex- sort, which were publicly represented at Calcutta in the pected and wonderful discovery. European philolo

cold season, and bore the name of plays. The same gists, studying the language of the conquered race, dis- Bráhman, when asked which of these Nátaks was most covered that the classic mother-tongue of Northern universally esteemed, answered without hesitation, Hindustan was the elder sister of the Greek, the Latin,

“ Sakoon talá." the German, and the Celtic languages. At the same It may readily be imagived with what interest the time a splendid literature was unearthed, which filled

keen Orientalist received this communication; with the scholars of Europe with astonishment and delight. what rapidity he followed up the clue; and, when at The despised Asiatics became not only the blood rela- length his zeal was rewarded by actual possession of a tions, but the teachers and exemplars of their con- MSS. copy of one of these dramas, with what avidity he querors. The revulsion of feeling on both sides was

proceeded to explore the treasures which, for eighteen immense. Mutual esteem and confidence, to a large

hundred years, had remained as unknown to the Euro. extent, took the place of repulsion and distrust. Even pean world as the gold-fields of Australia. Indeed, it in the matiny which occurred while the change was

has now been ascertained that the antiquity of some of yet in progress, a very large proportion of the native the Sanskrit dramas thus brought to light extends back princes and people refused to take part in the outbreak.

to a still more remote period than the commencement Since that time the good will has steadily grown with

of the Christian era. the fellowship of common studies and aims.

The earliest with which we are acquainted, “The fairly be affirmed at this day that the discovery of the

Toy-Cart," translated by Professor H. H. Wilson, is Sanskrit language and literature has been of more

attributed to a regal author, King Súdraka, whoso

reign 18 generally fixed in the second century B. C., and 1 See Michilet's “Bible of Humanity,” Library of it is not improbable that others, the names of which only Choice Literature, Vol. III., page 89.

have been preserved, may belong to a previous century. Vol. X.


It may

Considering that the nations of Europe can scarcely be | admired. Its excellence is now recognized in every said to have possessed a dramatic literature before the literary circle throughout the continent of Europe; and fourteenth or fifteenth century of the present era, the its beauties, if not yet universally known and appregreat age of the Hindú plays would of itself be a most ciated, are at least acknowledged by many learned med interesting and attractive circumstance, even if their in every country of the civilized world. poetical merit were not of a very high order. But when to the antiquity of these productions is added PERSONS REPRESENTED AND REFERRED their extreme beauty and excellence as literary compo

TO IN THIS EXTRACT. sitions, and when we also take into account their value as representations of the early condition of Hindú

DUSHYANTA, king of INDIA. society-which, notwithstanding the lapse of two thou

MÁTHAVYA, the joster, friend and companion of the King.

Kanwa, chief of the hermits, foster-father of SAKOONTALÁ. sand years, has in many particulars obeyed the law of

SÁRNGARAVA, two Bráhmans, belonging to the hermitago unchangeableness ever stamped on the manners and

SÁRADWATA, 1 of KANWA. customs of the East-We are led to wonder that the study of the Indiau drama has not commended itself in

KARABHAKA, a messenger of the queen-mother.

RAIVATAKA, the rarder or door-keeper. a greater degree to the attention of Europeans.

Of all Indian dramatists, and indeed of all Indian SAKOONTALá, daughter of the sage ViswÁMITRA and the poets, the most celebrated is Kalidása, the writer of


nymph MENAKA, fosler-child of the hermit KANWA. "Sakoon talá." He comes next in date to Súdraka, the

PriyamVADÁ and ANASUYA, Jemale attendants, companauthor of “The Toy-Cart;" and although little is

ions of SAKOONTALÁ. known of the circumstances of his life, yet there is sat- Gautami, a holy matron, superior of the female inhabitants isfactory evidence to prove that he lived in the time of

of the hermitage. King Vikramaditya I., whose capital was Ujjayiní, now (The first act is occupied with the introduction of Oujein (a sacred and very ancient city, situated to the KING DUSHYANTA who, with numerous attendants, is northeast of Gujarát), and who flourished in the middle on a hunting expedition, and the act finishes with the of the century preceding the commencement of our accidental meeting between the King and SAKOON

TALÁ.] From the absence of historical literature in India, our knowledge of the state of Hindústán between the in- SCENE.-A plain on the skirts of the forest. cursion of Alexander and the Mohammedan conquest is Enter the Jester, MÁTHAVYA, in a melancholy very slight. But it is ascertained with tolerable accu

mood. racy that, after the invasion of the kingdoms of Bactria and Afghánistán, the Tartars or Scythians (called by the

MÁTHAVYA. [Sighing. Hindús "Sakas'') overran the northwestern provinces HEIGH-HO! what an unlucky fellow I am! of India, and retained possession of them till the reign worn to a shadow by my royal friend's sportof Vikramáditya. This great monarch succeeded in ing propensities. “Here's a deer!” “There driving back the barbaric hordes beyond the Iudus, and 60 colisolidated his empire that his dominion extended goes a boar!” “Yonder’s a tiger!” This is over the whole of Northern Hindústán. His name is

the only burden of our talk, while in the heat even now cherished among the Hindus with pride and

of the meridian sun we toil on from jungle to affection, and the date of his victory over the Scythians, jungle, wandering about in the paths of the B. c. 56, is the starting-point of the Samvat era, from woods, where the trees afford us no shelter. which they still continue to count. There is good Are we thirsty? We have nothing to drink authority for affirming that the reign of Vikramaditya but the foul water of some mountain stream, I. was equal in brilliancy to that of any monarch in any age or country. He was a liberal patron of science and filled with dry leaves, which give it a most literature, and gave the most splendid encouragement pungent flavor. Are we hungry? We have to poets, philologists, astronomers, and mathematicians. nothing to eat but roast game, which we must Nine illustrious men of genius adorned his court, and swallow down at odd times as best we can. were supported by his bounty. They were called the Even at night there is no peace to be had. " Nine Gems ;” and Kalidása is by general consent Sleeping is out of the question, with joints allowed to have been the brightest of the nine. To

all strained by dancing attendance upon my him (as to another celebrated Indian dramatist, Bharabhuti, who flourished in the eighth century) only three sporting friend; or if I do happen to doze, I plays are attributed; and of these the "Sakoontala," am awakened at the very earliest dawn by the the third and fourth acts of which are here translated, horrible din of a lot of rascally beaters and has acquired the greatest celebrity.

huntsmen, who must needs surround the wood Indeed, the popularity of this play with the natives

before sunrise, and deafen me with their clatof India exceeds that of any other dramatic, and prob. ably of any other poetical composition. But it is not

ter. Nor are these my only troubles. Here's in India alone that the "Sakoon talá" is kuown and

a fresh grievance, like a new boil rising upon





an old one! Yesterday, while we were lagging transformed into a crooked plant by its own behind, my royal friend entered yonder her act, or by the force of the current? mitage after a deer; and there, as ill-luck would have it, caught sight of a beautiful The current of the river causes it, I suppose. girl, called Sakoontalá, the hermit's daughter.

MÁTHAVYA. From that moment, not another thought about

Aye; just as you are the cause of my cripreturning to the city! and all last night, not a

pled limbs. wink of sleep did he get for thinking of the damsel. What is to be done? At any rate, I How so? will be on the watch for him as soon as he has

MÁTAAVYA. finished his toilet. [Walking and looking

Here are you living the life of a wild man about.] Oh! here he comes, attended by the of the woods in a savage, unfrequented region, Yavana women with bows in their hands, while your state affairs are left to shift for and wearing garlands of wild flowers. What themselves; and as for poor me, I am no shall I do? I have it. I will pretend to stand longer master of my own limbs, but have to in the easiest attitude for resting my bruised follow you about day after day in your chases and crippled limbs. [Stands leaning on a staff. after wild animals, till my bones are all cripEnter King DUSHYANTA, followed by a

pled and out of joint. Do, my dear friend, let

me have one day's rest. retinue.


This fellow little knows, while he talks in True, by no easy conquest may I win her,

this manner, that my mind is wholly enYet are my hopes encouraged by her mien. grossed by recollections of the hermit's daughLove is not yet triumphant; but, methinks, ter, and quite as disinclined to the chase as

The hearts of both are ripe for his delights. his own. [Smiling.) Ah! thus does the lover delude himself; judging of the state of his loved one's

No longer can I bend my well-braced bow feelings by his own desires. But yet,

Against the timid deer; nor e'er again

With well-aimed arrows can I think to The stolen glance with half-averted eye,

harm The hesitating gait, the quick rebuke

These her beloved associates, who enjoy Addressed to her companion, who would

The privilege of her companionship; fain Have stayed her counterfeit departure;

Teaching her tender glances in return. these

MÁTHAVYA. (Looking in the KING's face. Are signs not unpropitious to my suit. I may as well speak to the winds, for any So eagerly the lover feeds his hopes,

attention you pay to my requests. I suppose Claiming each trivial gesture for his own.

you have something on your mind, and are MÁTHAVYA. [Still in the same attitude.

talking it over to yourself. Ah, friend, my hands cannot move to greet

[Smiling. you with the usual salutation. I can only I was only thinking that I ought not to disjust command my lips to wish your majesty regard a friend's request. victory.


Then may the King live forever! [Moves off. Why, what has paralyzed your limbs ?

You might as well ask me how my eye

Stay a moment, my dear friend. I have

something else to say to you. comes to water after you have poked your finger into it.


Say on, then. I don't understand you; speak more in

KING! telligibly.

When you have rested, you must assist me MÁTHAVYA.

in another business, which will give you no Ah, my dear friend, is yonder upright reed | fatigue.





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