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“ A PREFACE —What, sir, is a preface ?" demanded an author of a wit.—" Why,” replied the latter, “it is that beginning of a book which every one condemnsevery other person writes—and every third person reads."
Two things frequently frighten novel readers (unless extraordinarily curious or voracious) from Eastern Tales. The first is a dread of meeting a multitude of jaw-breaking unintelligible words ;—and the second, a suspicion that the actions described are fabulous, or may be so from the terra incognita where they occur. Good fire-side folks are aware that a facility of embroidery belongs to our genus,--and, besides this, they think nothing interesting can be associated with what is distant and dusky. On the contrary, however, there are those whose luxurious imaginations revel in the scenes of Eastern climes, and the ideas associated with them; and whose souls warm into enthusiasm at the recollection of those hours passed at the idle school-boy's desk, when they hung enchanted over the absorbing tales of the heroic Schezerade. To
these, then, we must trust; and if our pages want the glowing genius of the doomed Sultana, we hope they will be found somewhat more assimilated with the taste of the day. Our story is historical and true; and
local scene drawn,—not from the camera lucida of fancy, but from personal observation. We quite agree with Lafeu that “a good traveller is something at the latter end of a dinner; but one that lies three thirds, and uses a known truth to pass a thousand nothings with, should be once heard, and thrice beaten."
Thus much for the preamble the rest, gentle reader, is for you.
« What cannot praise effect in Mighty minds,
When Flattery soothes, and when Ambition blinds?
To the proper understanding of any story, some political sketch of the times in which it occurred is generally requisite, but with regard to ours it is absolutely indispensable. For it is no more to be expected, than perhaps wished, that our readers should be acquainted with the ambitious strifes, and intrigues of eastern monarchs ; wherefore we must first pioneer the path to amusement by a few shovels-full of dusty history-as few you may rely as possible.
Churrum, or as he was afterwards styled Shaw Jehan, on the death of his father Jehangire (against whom he had long waged a most unnatural war) obtained the imperial sceptre,--but this was not effected without the dagger and the bowl; the blood of brothers, nephews, kinsmen, and many nobility having watered the steps by which he at length mounted the musnud of the Moguls. To European nations, such savage means of acquiring