Appendix to the Autograph Edition

To the Reader

IN THE YEAR OF GRACE 1876 some amateurs who were passionately fond of Arabian literature combined for the purpose of reproducing, by autographic process, a number of copies of a French translation of a work written by the Sheikh Nefzaoui, which book had, by a lucky chance, fallen into their hands. Each brought to the undertaking such assistance as his special knowledge allowed, and it was thus that a tedious work was achieved by amateurs, amidst obstacles which were calculated to abate the ardour of their enthusiasm.

Thus, as the reader has doubtless already divined, it was not an individual, but a concourse of individuals, who, taking advantage of a union of favourable circumstances and facilities, not of common occurrence, offered to their friends the first fruit of a work, interesting, and of such rarity that to the present time very few have had the opportunity of reading it, while they could only gather their knowledge from incorrect manuscripts, unsophisticated copies, and incomplete translations! It is to this association of efforts, guided by the principle of the division of labour for the earring out of a great undertaking, that the appearance of this book is due.

The Editor (it is under this name that the Society J.M.P.Q. has been, is, and will be designated) is assured beforehand, notwithstanding the imperfection of his production, of the sympathies of his readers, who are all friends of his, or friends of his friends, and for whose benefit he has worked. For this reason he is not going to claim an indulgence which has been already extended to him; his wish is only to make clear to everybody the exact value and nature of the book which he is offering, and to make known on what foundations the work has been done, in how far the remarkable translation of M- has been respected, and, in short, what reliance may be placed in the title, `Translated from the Arabic by M-, Staff Officer'.

It is, in fact, important that there should be no misunderstanding on this point, and that the reader should not imagine that he holds an exact copy of that translation in his hands; for we confess that we have modified it, and we give these explanations in order to justify the alterations which were imposed by the attending circumstances.

As far as we are aware, there have been made until now only two proper translations of the work of the Sheikh Nefaaoui. One, of which we have availed ourselves, is due, as is well known, to M-, a fanatical and distinguished Arabophile; the other is the work of Doctor L-; the latter we have never seen.

A learned expounder commenced a translation which promised to leave the others far behind. Unfortunately, death interrupted the accomplishment of this work, and there was no one to continue it.

Our intention, at the outset, was to reproduce simply the first of the aforenamed translations, making, however, such rectifications as were necessitated by gross mistakes in the orthography, and in the French idiom, by which the manuscript in our possession was disfigured. Our views did not go beyond that; but we had scarcely made any progress with the book when we found that it was impossible to keep to the translation as it stood. Obvious omissions, mistaken renderings of the sense, originating, no doubt, with the faulty Arab text which the translator had at his disposal, and which were patent at first sight, imposed upon us the necessity of consulting other resources. We were thus induced to examine all the Arab manuscripts of the work which we could by any possibility obtain.

Three texts were to this end put under contribution. These treated of the same subjects in the same order, and presented the same succession of chapters, corresponding, however, in this respect, point by point, with the manuscript upon which our translator had to work; but while two of them gave a kind of abstract of the questions treated, the third, on the contrary, seemed to enlarge at pleasure upon every subject.

We shall expatiate to some slight extent upon this last-named text, since the study of it has enabled us to clear up a certain number of points upon which M-, notwithstanding his conscientious researches, has been unable to throw sufficient light.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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