E. G. Browne's "A Traveller's Narrative:" Note R

[page 317]



        One of the peculiarities of style especially affected by the Báb is the employment of all theoretically possible derivatives of roots, whether sanctioned by usage or not. The number of these derivative forms in Arabic is great, but of course no single root is susceptible to all the modifications which they represent. Custom and authority, as well as the intrinsic meaning of each root, limit the number of actual derivatives employed in any given case to a fractional part of those theoretically possible. It would appear that the Báb believed some special talismanic virtue to reside in each possible form of every Attribute of God. Thus in the Persian Beyán (hid, viii., ch. 2), he says:

[six lines of Persian/Arabic text, with seven footnotes]

[page 318]

        "The quintessence of this chapter is this, that inasmuch as the degrees of Unity are fulfilled in seven letters, which are the Letters of Affirmation, therefore it hath been ordained that, according to the Mystery of the Truth, none shall inherit from the dead save seven persons, even as one can invoke God by every Attribute in seven degrees of that Attribute, as Unissimus, Unator, Unicus, Unus, Unatus, Unificiens, Unificatus1."

        The 'Book of Names' (~~~), of which, according to Subh-i-Ezel's assertion, the extracts from a Bábí MS. published by Dorn in the Bulletin de l'Académie Impériale de St Pétersbourg for December 22nd, 1864, form part, appears to consist in great measure of these permutations2.

        With regard to the derivatives formed as described in the text from the root Behá (~~~), the following passage, occurring in a MS. presented to me by Subh-i-Ezel and called by him ~~~ "the Five States" or "Grades" (because it contains specimens of each of the five styles into which the Báb divides his writings, concerning which see infra, Note U) may serve to give us some idea of what the letter in question must have been like. No attempt has been made to translate what is hardly capable of translation.

[four lines of Persian/Arabic text]

        1 I trust that I may be pardoned the use of such words. Only in this way can one convey some idea of the original to the European reader unacquainted with Arabic.
        2 See p. 202 supra.

[page 319]

[seven lines of Persian/Arabic text]

        This short extract, containing over a dozen derivatives of the root in question, not more than half of which, if so many, could be supported by previous authority, will suffice to give an idea of this style of composition.

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