The account of the Báb's condemnation and execution contained in the Táríkh-i-Jadíd agrees in the main with the narratives of Gobineau and Kazem-Beg, but adds some curious particulars concerning what passed in the prison on the eve of the martyrdom. Of this passage I here give a translation.
"They imprisoned him who was athirst for the draught of martyrdom [i.e. the Báb] for three days [after sentence of death was passed], along with Áká Seyyid Huseyn [of Yezd] the amanuensis, and Áká Seyyid Hasan, which twain
were brothers wont to pass their time for the most part in the Báb's presence.
"Now before this event the Báb had, for the completion of the proof, graciously sent by means of Áká Seyyid Ahmad of Tabríz known as 'the scribe'1 Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí of Tabríz, and two other persons, sundry epistles containing exhortations, admonitions, and declarations of his truth to the doctors of Tabríz. At the time when these epistles were delivered one of the doctors had desired to show contempt and disrespect towards the blessed epistle. These forerunners of the field of courage put forward the foot of bravery to prevent this, and, their dispute ending in strife, were incarcerated in the prison of His Highness Prince Hamzé Mírzá; where, as is currently reported, two of them would seem to have been poisoned, though, according to one account, the Prince released them unknown to the doctors. But Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí was incarcerated till such time as the Báb was brought to the prison, and there obtained the honour of meeting him.
"On the very eve of the day whereon they martyred that gem of created essences [i.e. the Báb] he said to his companions, 'Tomorrow they will martyr me with boundless shame and dishonour. Let one of you now arise and slay me, so that I may not have to suffer all this dishonour and humiliation from the adversaries; for it is far pleasanter for me to be slain by the hand of friends than by the hands of enemies.' His companions, with expressions of sorrow and grief, sought to excuse themselves, save Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí, who at once made as though he would obey the command. His comrades, however, anxiously seized his hand, crying, 'Such boldness and rashness is not the characteristic of true service.' 'This act of mine,' replied
1 The author appears to have confounded this Áká Seyyid Ahmad of Tabríz (who, according to Subh-i-Ezel's statement, disappeared altogether and broke off all communications with the Bábís after his escape from Tabríz) with Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím of Kazvín, who was commonly known amongst the Bábís by the name of Mírzá Ahmad-i-Kátib ('the Scribe'). There seems to be no doubt that they were quite distinct persons, and that the title Kátib is wrongly applied to the Ahmad here spoken of. Cf. note 2 on p. 41 supra. [page 321]
he, 'is not due to boldness, but rather to an excessive obedience, being [undertaken] in conformity with his command. After carrying out the order of His Highness [the Báb], I will assuredly pour out my own life also at his feet.' His Highness [the Báb] smiled, and, applauding his faithful devotion and sincere belief, said, 'Tomorrow, when they ask of you, renounce [me] and conceal your belief, for thus is the command of God now laid upon you, especially on Áká Seyyid Huseyn, with whom are the gems of knowledge1, which he must convey to the people of God and the seekers after the way of true guidance.' The [Báb's other] companions agreed, but Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí fell at the feet of His Highness [the Báb] and began to entreat and implore, thus praying with utmost self-abasement:- 'Deprive not this thy faithful servant of the blessing of thy presence, and graciously grant to this worthless dust and mote permission to lay down his life.' How much soever His Highness [the Báb] would have prevented him, he continued to pray, crave, and entreat, until [the Báb], through the exceeding kindness of his disposition, consented.
"Now when a little while had elapsed after the rising of the sun, they brought them without cloak ['abá] or coat [kabá], and having [only] their vests on their breasts and their nightcaps on their heads, to the governor's palace, where it was decreed that they should be shot. Áká Seyyid Huseyn the amanuensis and Áká Seyyid Hasan his brother renounced [the Báb] as they had been commanded, and were released, and Áká Seyyid Huseyn bestowed the gems of knowledge treasured in his bosom upon such as sought for them and were worthy of them, and, according to his instructions, conveyed and carried certain secrets of the religion to those who were entitled to receive them. He [subsequently] attained to the rank of martyrdom in Teherán." (Here follows the account of the execution of the Báb and Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí, which, as it agrees substantially with that given in the present work and in other published accounts, I omit.)
1i.e. the Báb's last words, behests, and directions.
According to Subh-i-Ezel, the Báb signified his acceptance of Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí's request that he might share in the glorious martyrdom of his Master in these words:-
[one line of Persian/Arabic text]
"Verily Muhammad 'Alí [shall be] with us in Paradise."
If these words be authentic (and there is no reason for doubting that they are) they offer a most striking analogy to one of the last utterances of Jesus Christ (Luke xxiii. 43).
Whether the narrative of the Táríkh-i-Jadíd be altogether worthy of credence or not, there seems no reason to doubt that Seyyid Huseyn recanted, not, as Kazem-Beg asserts (i. pp. 375-377), from a craven dread of death, but in accordance with the command of his master, the object of this command being the preservation of the last words and writings of the Báb. When we consider how rare was the fear of death and torture amongst the Bábís, and how readily Seyyid Huseyn himself met his fate two years later (cf. Gobineau, pp. 300-301), it seems most improbable that he of all the Bábís, he, the chosen companion, amanuensis, and intimate friend of the Báb, should exhibit so craven a fear. Amongst the Bábís, at least, no stigma of even a temporary and bitterly repented failure of courage, such as is supposed by Gobineau, lies on the memory of Seyyid Huseyn. It is at least certain that he continued to correspond with Suleymán Khán and the other Bábí chiefs after the Báb's execution. Some of these letters, wherein he alludes to Tabríz as ~~~ ('the Place of the Blow') and ~~~ ('the Place of Martyrdom'), were shewn to me by Subh-i-Ezel. From these letters and Subh-i-Ezel's statements it would appear that Seyyid Huseyn was kept in custody for at any rate some considerable portion of the two years by which he survived his master.
Of the touching and beautiful letter written by Mírzá Muhammad 'Alí from his prison to his elder brother the text will be found at p. 992 and the translation at p. 938 of my second paper on the Bábís in the J. R. A.S.for 1889.