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AN EASTERN NARRATIVE.
W. GIFFORD PALGRAVE,
AUTHOR OF "TRAvELS IN CENTRAL ARABIA,"
“ I ran it through, even from my boyish days,
Of hair-breadth ’scapes.—
Of being taken by the insolent foe
And sold to slavery ; of my redemption thence
TALES called “ Eastern,” are very generally characterised by an extravagance in plot and in detail, an exaggeration in sentiment and in expression, which bear a hardly nearer resemblance to the realities of Eastern life, than the “Cato” of Addison or the “Count Robert” of Scott do to the times and persons they profess to represent. Even the current versions—not Lane’s—or rather paraphrases, of the “ Arabian Nights,” belong in great measure to this class; while Hope’s inimitable “Anastasius,” so perfect in its Levantine delineations, becomes unreal when venturing into the regions of unalloyed Oriental existence.
This is a thing to be regretted; for false notions, though on subjects of comparatively
some way or other, injurious; and whatever is worth knowing at all, is worth knowing rightly.
In the following narrative, I have accordingly endeavoured to lay open before Western eyes a page, one page only, from the great volume of Eastern life. Its characters are all the better legible through the light thrown by the reflex or subjective European intellect on the more spontaneous and objective ways and habits of Asia, especially when the two natures are brought, as they are in this narrative, into intimate contact. The result of such contact is often a strange one; it was so in the present instance; so strange, indeed, that some apology might seem requisite for its publication.
Be its apology then, that it is not fiction, but reality; not invention, but narration. Hence also, like whatever is true, it has its moral, or indeed its many morals; they may be found
by those who seek them, in the incidents them
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selves, of the manifold loom of life that weaves the chequer-work of colour and race in the lands where, as some think, all races and all
The narrator, and at the same time the principal character, of this story is Hermann Wolff, a Saxon, native of the village of Rosenau, near Torzberg, on the south-eastern frontier of Transylvania. Hermann had, while yet a boy, in the year 1762, been carried off into slavery by a band of Turkish marauders. But at the time here chronicled, that is, in the month of june nine years later, he was already an officer of high trust in the service of the famous ’Alee Beg Baloot-Kapan, the Georgian, then for a short space independent ruler of Egypt; and as such, he held rank in the conquering fleet that sailed from Egypt to Syria in I 771. It is well known how ’Alee Beg threw off, in 1768, the allegiance of the Porte; and, in the