FADLADEEN, at the conclusion of
this light rhapsody, took occasion to sum up his
opinion of the young Cashmerian's poetry, --of which, he trusted, they
had that evening heard the last. Having recapitulated the epithets, "frivolous"--
"inharmonious"-- "nonsensical," he proceeded to say that, viewed in the
most favorable light it resembled one of those Maldivian boats, to which
the Princess had alluded in the relation of her dream, -- a slight, gilded
thing, sent adrift without rudder or ballast, and with nothing but vapid
sweets and faded flowers on board. The profusion, indeed, of flowers and
birds, which this poet had ready on all occasions, --not to mention dews,
gems, etc.-- was a most oppressive kind of opulence to his hearers; and
had the unlucky effect of giving to his style all the glitter of the flower
garden without its method, and all the flutter of the aviary without its
song. In addition to this, he chose his subjects badly, and was always
most inspired by the worst parts of them. The charms of paganism, the merits
of rebellion, --these were the themes honored with his particular enthusiasm;
and, in the poem just recited, one of his most palatable passages was in
praise of that beverage of the Unfaithful, wine; --"being, perhaps," said
he, relaxing into a smile, as conscious of his own character in the Haram
on this point, "one of those bards, whose fancy owes all its illumination
to the grape, like that painted porcelain, so curious
and so rare, whose images are only visible when liquor is poured into it."
Upon the whole, it was his opinion, from the specimens which they had heard,
and which, he begged to say, were the most tiresome part of the journey,
that-- whatever other merits this well-dressed young gentleman might possess--
poetry was by no means his proper avocation; "and indeed," concluded the
critic, "from his fondness for flowers and for birds, I would venture to
suggest that a florist or a bird-catcher is a much more suitable calling
for him than a poet."
They had now begun to ascend those
barren mountains which separate Cashmere from the rest of India; and, as
the heats were intolerable, and the time of their encampments limited to
the few hours necessary for refreshment and repose, there was an end to
all their delightful evenings, and LALLA ROOKH saw no more of FERAMORZ.
She now felt that her short dream of happiness was over, and that she had
nothing but the recollection of its few blissful hours, like the one draught
of sweet water that serves the camel across the wilderness, to be her heart's
refreshment during the dreary waste of life that was before her. The blight
that had fallen upon her spirits soon found its way to her cheek, and her
ladies saw with regret-- though not without some suspicion of the cause--
that the beauty of their mistress, of which they were almost as proud as
of their own, was fast vanishing away at the very moment of all when she
had most need of it. What must the King of Bucharia feel, when, instead
of the lively and beautiful LALLA ROOKH, whom the poets of Delhi had described
as more perfect than the divinest images in the house of AZOR,
he should receive a pale and inanimate victim, upon whose cheek neither
health nor pleasure bloomed, and from whose eyes Love had fled, --to hide
himself in her heart?
If anything could have charmed away
the melancholy of her spirits, it would have been the fresh airs and enchanting
scenery of that Valley, which the Persians so justly called the Unequalled.
But neither the coolness of its atmosphere, so luxurious after toiling
up those bare and burning mountains, --neither the splendor of the minarets
and pagodas, that shone put from the depth of its woods, nor the grottoes,
hermitages, and miraculous fountains, which make
every spot of that region holy ground, --neither the countless waterfalls,
that rush into the Valley from all those high and romantic mountains that
encircle it, nor the fair city on the Lake, whose houses, roofed with flowers,
appeared at a distance like one vast and variegated parterre; --not all
these wonders and glories of the most lovely country under the sun could
steal her heart for a minute from those sad thoughts which but darkened
and grew bitterer every step she advanced.
The gay pomps and processions that
met her upon her entrance into the Valley, and the magnificence with which
the roads all along were decorated, did honor to the taste and gallantry
of the young King. It was night when they approached the city, and, for
the last two miles, they had passed under arches, thrown from hedge to
hedge, festooned with only those rarest roses from which the Attar Gul,
more precious than gold, is distilled, and illuminated in rich and fanciful
forms with lanterns of the triple-colored tortoise-shell of Pegu.
Sometimes, from a dark wood by the side of the road, a display of fireworks
would break out, so sudden and so brilliant, that a Brahmin might fancy
he beheld that grove, in whose purple shade the God of Battles was born,
bursting into a flame at the moment of his birth; --while, at other times,
a quick and playful irradiation continued to brighten all the fields and
gardens by which they passed, forming a line of dancing lights along the
horizon; like the meteors of the north as they are seen by those hunters
who pursue the white and blue foxes on the confines of the Icy Sea.
These arches and fireworks delighted
the Ladies of the Princess exceedingly; and, with their usual good logic,
they deduced from his taste for illuminations, that the King of Bucharia
would make the most exemplary husband imaginable. Nor, indeed, could LALLA
ROOKH herself help feeling the kindness and splendor with which the young
bridegroom welcomed her; --but she also felt how painful is the gratitude
which kindness from those we cannot love excites; and that their best blandishments
come over the heart with all that chilling and deadly sweetness which we
can fancy in the cold, odoriferous wind that is
to blow over this earth in the last days.
The marriage was fixed for the morning
after her arrival, when she was, for the first time, to be presented to
the monarch in that Imperial Palace beyond the lake, called the Shalimar.
Though never before had a night of more wakeful and anxious thought been
passed in the Happy Valley, yet, when she rose in the morning, and her
Ladies came around her, to assist in the adjustment of the bridal ornaments,
they thought they had never seen her look half so beautiful. What she had
lost of the bloom and radiancy of her charms was more than made up by that
intellectual expression, that soul beaming forth from the eyes, which is
worth all the rest of loveliness. When they had tinged her fingers with
the Henna leaf, and placed upon her brow a small coronet of jewels, of
the shape worn by the ancient Queens of Bucharia, they flung over her head
the rose-colored bridal veil, and she proceeded to the barge that was to
convey her across the lake; --first kissing, with a mournful look, the
little amulet of cornelian, which her father at parting had hung about
The morning was as fresh and fair
as the maid on whose nuptials it rose, and the shining lake, all covered
with boats, the minstrels playing upon the shores of the islands, and the
crowded summer-houses on the green hills around, with shawls and banners
waving from their roofs, presented such a picture of animated rejoicing,
as only she, who was the object of it all, did not feel with transport.
To LALLA ROOKH alone it was a melancholy pageant; nor could she have even
borne to look upon the scene, were it not for a hope that among the crowds
around, she might once more perhaps catch a glimpse of FERAMORZ. So much
was her imagination haunted by this thought that there was scarcely an
islet or boat she passed on the way at which her heart did not flutter
with the momentary fancy that he was there. Happy, in her eyes, the humblest
slave upon whom the light of his dear looks fell! --In the barge immediately
after the Princess sat FADLADEEN, with his silken curtains thrown widely
apart, that all might have the benefit of his august presence, and with
his head full of the speech he was to deliver to the King, "concerning
FERAMORZ and literature and the Chabuk as connected therewith."
They now had entered the canal which
leads from the Lake to the splendid domes and saloons of the Shalimar and
went gliding on through the gardens that ascended from each bank, full
of flowering shrubs that made the air all perfume; while from the middle
of the canal rose jets of water, smooth and unbroken, to such a dazzling
height that they stood like tall pillars of diamond in the sunshine. After
sailing under the arches of various saloons they at length arrived at the
last and most magnificent, where the monarch awaited the coming of his
bride; and such was the agitation of her heart and frame that it was with
difficulty she could walk up the marble steps which were covered with cloth
of gold for her ascent from the barge. At the end of the hall stood two
thrones, as precious as the Cerulean Throne of Koolburga,
on one of which sat ALIRIS, the youthful King of Bucharia, and on the other
was in a few minutes to be placed the most beautiful Princess in the world.
Immediately upon the entrance of LALLA ROOKH into the saloon the monarch
descended from his throne to meet her; but scarcely had he time to take
her hand in his when she screamed with surprise and fainted at his feet.
It was FERAMORZ, himself, who stood before her! FERAMORZ, was, himself,
the Sovereign of Bucharia, who in this disguise had accompanied his young
bride from Delhi, and having won her love as an humble minstrel now amply
deserved to enjoy it as a King.
The consternation of FADLADEEN at
this discovery was, for the moment, almost pitiable. But change of opinion
is a resource too convenient in courts for this experienced courtier not
to have learned to avail himself of it. His criticisms were all, of course,
recanted instantly: he was seized with an admiration of the King's verses,
as unbounded as, he begged him to believe, it was disinterested; and the
following week saw him in possession of an additional place, swearing by
all the Saints of Islam that never had there existed so great a poet as
the Monarch ALIRIS, and moreover ready to prescribe his favorite regimen
of the Chabuk for every man, woman and child that dared to think otherwise.
Of the happiness of the King and
Queen of Bucharia, after such a beginning, there can be but little doubt;
and among the lesser symptoms it is recorded of LALLA ROOKH that to the
day of her death in memory of their delightful journey she never called
the King by any other name than FERAMORZ.
 "The Chinese had formerly the art of painting
on the sides of porcelain vessels fish and other animals, which were only
perceptible when the vessel was full of some liquor. They call this species
Kia-tsin, that is, azure is put in press, on account of the manner
in which the azure is laid on." --"They are every now and then trying to
discover the art of this magical painting, but to no purpose." --Dunn.
 An eminent carver of idols, said in the
Koran to be father to Abraham. "I have such a lovely idol as is not to
be met with in the house of Azor." --Hafiz.
 Kachmire be Nazeer. --Forster.
 Jehan-Guire mentions "a fountain in Cashmere
called Tirnagh, which signifies a snake; probably because some large snake
had formerly been seen there." --"During the lifetime of my father, I went
twice to this fountain, which is about twenty coss from the city of Cashmere.
The vestiges of places of worship and sanctity are to be traced without
number amongst the ruins and the caves which are interspersed in its neighborhood."
--Toozek Jehangeery. --v. Asiat. Misc. vol. ii.
 "On a standing roof of wood is laid a covering
of fine earth, which shelters the building from the great quantity of snow
that falls in the winter season. This fence communicates an equal warmth
in winter, as a refreshing coolness in the summer season, when the tops
of the houses, which are planted with a variety of flowers, exhibit at
a distance the spacious view of a beautifully checkered parterre." --Forster.
 "Two hundred slaves there are, who have
no other office than to hunt the woods and marshes for triple-colored tortoises
for the King's Vivary. Of the shells of these also lanterns are made."
--Vincent le Blanc's Travels.
 This wind, which is to blow from Syria Damascena,
is, according to the Mahometans, one of the signs of the Last Day's approach.
Another of the signs is, "Great distress in the
world, so that a man when he passes by another's grave shall say, Would
to God I were in his place!" --Sale's Preliminary Discourse.
 "On Mahommed Shaw's return to Koolburga
(the capital of Dekkan), he made a great festival, and mounted this throne
with much pomp and magnificence, calling it Firozeh or Cerulean. I have
heard some old persons, who saw the throne Firozeh in the reign of Sultan
Mamood Bhamenee, describe it. They say that it was in length nine feet,
and three in breadth; made of ebony covered with plates of pure gold, and
set with precious stones of immense value. Every prince of the house of
Bhamenee, who possessed this throne, made a point of adding to it some
rich stones; so that when in the reign of Sultan Mamood it was taken to
pieces to remove some of the jewels to be set in vases and cups, the jewellers
valued it at one corore of oons (nearly four millions sterling). I learned
also that it was called Firozeh from being partly enamelled of a sky-blue
color which was in time totally concealed by the number of jewels." --