E. G. Browne's "A Traveller's Narrative:" Note U
[page 335]



        On October 11th, 1889, I received a letter from Captain Young (dated September 30th) enclosing a letter and sundry other documents from Subh-i-Ezel. Amongst these documents was a list of some of the writings of the Báb and Subh-i-Ezel written out by the latter. Although this list does not profess to be complete, comprising only such works as were carried by the Bábí exiles to Baghdad, and although, in the absence of detailed information about the works enumerated therein, it is incapable of affording much help in the identification of Bábí MSS., I here append a translation of it, in the hope that it may serve in some measure to throw light on the very imperfectly explored bibliography of the sect. Explanatory notes of my own are added in square brackets.


        "What was collected of the books of the Beyán of the remnant left from Persia, which was taken away in Baghdad, carried off by the relations of this humble one [i.e. Subh-i-Ezel].

        [1] Commentary on the Kur'án in the style of the Kur'án, complete, 1 vol.

        [2] Answers and Commentaries ~~~, 1 vol.

        [3] Commentary on the Kur'án in the fashion of the verses of the Kur'án, complete, 1 vol.

        [4] The Five Grades ~~~, 1 vol. [A MS. of this work was forwarded to me by Subh-i-Ezel with the letter above referred to. It comprises 395 pages of 14 lines each, and contains selections of pieces in each of the "five

[page 336]

grades" or "styles" employed by the Báb, the nature of which will be briefly discussed at the end of this note.]

        [5] Verses ~~~, 2 vols.

        [6] The Book of Recompense ~~~, 2 vols. [A small fragment of this work, transcribed by Subh-i-Ezel, is in my possession. One peculiarity thereof is the occurrence of groups of verses differing from one another only in one or two words. By combining the first letters of the divergent words or clauses proper names are formed, so that the book would appear to be in part a cabbalistic register of the names of believers. In the following specimen, which will render the nature of this procedure more clear, the catch-words are indicated by a line drawn over them:-

[ten lines of Persian/Arabic text]

[page 337]

[nine lines of Persian/Arabic text]

        By combining the first letters of the catch-words in the above extract (after discarding the definite article, in cases where this is prefixed) we get the name ~~~ Hájí 'Abdu'l-Muttalib. Similarly the verses immediately succeeding these give the name ~~~ Hájí Muhammad Mahdí.]

        [7] Supplications and Visitations~~~, 1 vol. [In my second article on the Bábís in the J. R. A. S. for 1889, I described one of these "Visitations" under the name Ziyárat-námé (pp. 894-902, 1000), and attempted to prove its identity with Gobineau's "Journal du Plerinage" and with a Bábí MS. described by Mirza Kazem-Beg (ii, pp. 498-502). At that time I was not aware that the Báb had composed more than one work

[page 338]

of this character. I subsequently enquired of Subh-i-Ezel as to the authenticity of this work. In reply he wrote as follows:- "The 'Book of Visitation' (Kitáb-i-ziyárat) which you alluded to is from His Highness the Point (i.e. the Báb), and was after the 'Manifestation,' as its contents testify. He wrote many 'Visitations': it is not limited to one. But there is also a 'Book of Visitations' by myself. That is in another style, but there is in this land but a small portion thereof." Some of these 'Visitations' are included in the MS. of the 'Five Grades' mentioned above, amongst them being one designed for the use of pilgrims visiting the graves of the martyrs who fell at Sheykh Tabarsí. This, according to Subh-i-Ezel, was also composed by the Báb.]

        [8] Prayers (~~~), 1 vol.

        [9] Various Grades (~~~), unbound, 1 [vol.].

        [10] Writings of the Scribe [probably Áká Seyyid Huseyn of Yezd or Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím of Kazvín] comprising what was revealed at Shíráz and Isfahán and during the journey of the Pilgrimage [to Mecca], 3 vols.

        [11] The Best of Stories (~~~), 1 vol. [This work, better known as the 'Commentary of the Súra of Joseph,' is so called in allusion to Kur'án xii, 3, where the history of Joseph is thus characterized. Specimens of it have been published by Baron Rosen in vol. i of the Collections Scientifiques de l'Institut des Langues Orientales (St Petersburg, 1877), pp. 179-191. Some description of it, based on the extracts published by Baron Rosen, is given at pp. 904-909 of my second article on the Bábís. See also p. 3 supra, and note 3 thereon.]

        [12] The Book of Names (~~~), comprising 361 Names, amongst which is the Name 'Musakkin' ('the Calmer'), incomplete, 2 vols. [The extracts from a Bábí MS. in the St Petersburg collection published by Dorn in the Bulletin de l'Académie Impériale de St Pétersbourg of Dec. 22nd, 1864, were pronounced by Subh-i-Ezel, to whose inspection I submitted them, to belong to this work.]

[page 339]

        [13] Writings of the deceased Áká Seyyid Huseyn [of Yezd], original copy, 2 vols.

        [14] Various Grades (~~~), 1 vol.

        [15] The Book of Figures (~~~), 1 vol. [See note 1 on p. 42 supra, Mirza Kazem-Beg, ii, p. 498, and Gobineau, p. 498, note 1.]

        [16] Sundry (~~~), 1 vol.

        [17] Things appertaining to Jenáb-i-Sheykh-i-'Azím [Mullá Sheykh 'Alí, see Note T, p. 329 supra], 3 vols., together with his effects.

        [18] Copies and originals of writings (~~~), tied up together in four bundles.

        [19] Beyán, 1 vol. [Concerning the application of this name see below.]

        [20] Prayers (~~~), 1 vol.

        [21] Prayers and Visitations (~~~), 1 vol.

        [22] The Best of Stories [see No. 11 supra], and another Beyán which is missing (~~~), 2 [vols.].

        [23] The Five Grades [see No. 4 supra], 1 vol.

        [24] Sundry (~~~).

        [25] Another Book, 1 vol.

        "Besides what was destroyed in Persia, some of which never reached [my] hand, and what went to foreign lands and was therefore ignored in [making out the catalogue of] the trust. What was promulgated [by the Báb] at first in Shíráz and other places [included] the Book of seven hundred Súras (~~~); the Book of the Proof (~~~, sic); the Book of the two Sanctu-

[page 340]

uaries (~~~); the [Book of] Justice (~~~); the Prayer of the two alifs (or, of the two thousand, ~~~); Epistles of the earlier period of the dispensation (~~~), each of which was sent to a different destination; the Commentary on the 'Bismi'lláh' (~~~); and the Commentary on [Súra ciii of the Kur'án beginning] 'Wa'l-'asr' (see supra, p. 11).

        "As to what appertained to [i.e. was composed by] the 'Name of the Last' (~~~) [by which title, as Subh-i-Ezel explained elsewhere, Mullá Muhammad 'Alí of Bárfurúsh, called by the Bábís Jenáb-i-Kuddús, is intended], but little remained in [my] hands. All the rest passed into the hands of strangers. Amongst other things the Commentary on [the opening chapter of the Kur'án entitled 'Al-]Hamd,' [the eloquence of] which was beyond the power of man, was entirely destroyed, and no copy remained in [my] possession."


        "What appertaineth to this humble one [i.e. Subh-i-Ezel], apart from that whereof the existence in Persia is unknown [i.e. besides what may exist in Persia unknown to me].

        [1] The Book of Light (~~~), 1 vol. [See Gobineau, pp. 312-313; B. ii. pp. 939-942; and M. C. Huart's Note sur trois ouvrages Bâbis in the Journal Asiatique for 1887 (série viii, tome x, pp. 133-144). M. Huart identified the first of the three works which he described with the Book of Light mentioned by Gobineau, but did not fail to observe the discrepancy in size between the "assez gros in-folio" of the latter writer and the small volume which was the subject of his own description. The solution of the difficulty appears to be that there are two separate works bearing the same name, both composed by

[page 341]

Subh-i-Ezel. I forwarded an abstract of M. Huart's description of the supposed Book of Light to Subh-i-Ezel, who replied as follows:- "The Book of Light is by this humble one [i.e. by myself], but there are two Lights, a first and a second. If it be the second, it will be worthy of attentive perusal, and will be a voluminous work. Some of the names of the súras which you wrote are from the Book of Light, provided that there be not therein interpolations of enemies, such as my relatives have effected in some cases, inserting their own calumnies in certain epistles; though to him who hath knowledge of God this will be apparent." The Book of Light mentioned in this list is, as I ascertained during my sojourn at Famagusta, the larger of the two works bearing this name.]

        [2] The Highest Heaven (~~~), 1 vol. [Of this work Subh-i-Ezel mentioned two copies, one in Persia, and one (the same here mentioned) in the hands of the Behá'ís at Acre.]

        [3] Miscellaneous (~~~), 1 vol.

        [4] The Wakeful, &c (~~~), 1 vol. [A copy extant in Persia.]

        [5] Writings of the Scribe (~~~), 2 vols. [By "the Scribe," as subsequently explained by Subh-i-Ezel, Mullá 'Abdu'l-Karím of Kazvín is intended. See note 2 on p. 41 supra.]

        [6] Tracts, &c., of [the nature of] Visitations (~~~), 1 large vol.

        [7] Another book, miscellaneous, 1 vol.

        [8] Commentary on the Kasída, and other miscellaneous writings (~~~), unbound, 1 vol.

        [9] [Book of] Light, unbound, 1 vol. [The same as No. 1 supra.]

        [10] Verses (~~~), 1 vol.

        "Besides what may exist unknown [to me] in other

[page 342]

lands, and entirely apart from [what exists in] the prison of this land. All these books and epistles have disappeared, save what have remained in other countries and the few which remain in this land."

        In the letter accompanying this list Subh-i-Ezel wrote as follows concerning the fate of the Báb's works generally and of those above enumerated in particular:-

        "As to what you asked concerning the existence of certain epistles, it is even as you have heard, leaving out of account that which from first to last passed into the hands of strangers, whereof no copy was preserved. At the time of the martyrdom [of the Báb] at Tabríz, as they wrote from thence, many of the original writings passed into the hands of persons belonging to the country of your Excellency or to Russia, amongst these being even autograph writings of His Highness the Point [i.e. the Báb]. Search is necessary, for to read the originals is difficult. If this humble one be applied to, copies thereof will be sent. What I myself arranged and copied out while at Baghdad, and what was commanded to be collected of previous and subsequent [writings] until the Day of Martyrdom [of the Báb], was nigh upon thirty volumes of bound books. I myself wrote them with my own hand, and up to the present time I have written many. The originals and copies of these, together with what was in the writing of others, sundry other [books] written in proof of this religion by certain learned friends1, and what I myself wrote and compiled, amounted to numerous volumes, as [recorded in] the list thereof [which] I have sent. For some years all of these were in a certain place in the hands of a friend as a trust. Afterwards they were deposited in another place2.

       1 In answer to a question as to the nature and authorship of the works here alluded to, Subh-i-Ezel informed me that the Báb declared it to be a meritorious action for each of his followers who was competent thereunto to compose a treatise in defence of the Faith. Many such treatises were accordingly composed by the more learned Bábís, amongst them being one by Jenáb-i-'Azím (Mullá Sheykh 'Alí), and one called ~~~ ('The seven hundred') by Jenáb-i-Táhira (Kurratu'l-'Ayn)
       2 One of these depositaries, as I subsequently learned from [footnote goes onto page 343] Subh-i-Ezel, was Áká Seyyid Jawád, who died lately at Kirmán. The other was a certain merchant of great wealth whom I cannot more particularly designate.

[page 343]

Eventually I entrusted them to my own relatives1, [in whose keeping] they were preserved for a while; for, inasmuch as the friends of this recluse [i.e. myself] had attained unto martyrdom through the equity and justice of the oppressors of the age, who consider themselves as seekers after truth and just men, there was no resource but that this humble one [i.e. myself] should make his relatives his trustees. So did this humble one; and whatever [was mine] of books and epistles was [deposited] in their house. The vicissitudes of the world so fell out that these also unsheathed the sword of hatred and wrought what they would. They cruelly put to the sword the remnant of [my] friends who stood firm2, and, making strenuous efforts, got into their hands such of the books of His Highness the Point as were obtainable, with the idea of destroying them, and [thereby] rendering their own works more attractive. They also carried off my trust [i.e. the books above referred to committed to their care], and fell not short in anything which can be effected by foes."

        As to the meaning of the word Beyán, Subh-i-Ezel writes in another passage of the same letter as follows:- "But in the Beyán different grades (~~~) are observed. The first grade is like [i.e. in the style of] previous [sacred] books; the second [is] of the nature of supplications and prayers (~~~); the third [is] the grade of homilies (~~~), wherein he had regard to clearness and eloquence; the fourth [comprises] scientific treatises (~~~), commentaries, and answers to en-

       1 By his 'relatives' Subh-i-Ezel means his half-brother Behá'u'llah and those of his kindred who followed him. I never heard Subh-i-Ezel allude to Behá'u'llah and his followers by name. When he spoke of them at all (which he did but rarely) it was as his 'relatives,' the 'people at Acre,' or the 'Mírzá'ís'
       2 See Note W infra.

[page 344]

quirers; the fifth [comprises what is written] in the Persian language, which is [in substance] identical with the aforementioned grades, 'for that all this is watered with one water'."

        This statement of what is meant by the term Beyán is (with the exception of some slight differences in the arrangement of the 'grades') fully corroborated by the Persian Beyán, which, at the beginning of Váhid iii, ch17, has the following passage:-

[six lines of Persian/Arabic text]

        "The substance of this chapter is this, that all the writings of the Point [i.e. the Báb] are named Beyán. But this name is, in its primary nature, peculiar to verses [i.e. verses written in Arabic in the style of the Kur'án]; then it is uttered in its secondary nature in regard to supplications; then in its tertiary nature in regard to commentaries; then in its quaternary nature in regard to scientific treatises; then in its quinary nature it is used in regard to Persian words [i.e. writings and discourses]. But properly speaking this name [of Beyán] is peculiar to verses, and [is applicable] to nought else."

        Again in Váhid vi, ch. 1, the following passage occurs:-

[one line of Persian/Arabic text]

[page 345]

[seven lines of Persian/Arabic text, with one footnote]

        "The name Beyán is, in its primary nature, applied to verses alone, for they are the chiefest proof and greatest argument, which point not save unto God alone. But in its secondary nature it is applied to supplications; in its tertiary [nature] to commentaries; in its quaternary [nature] to scientific treatises; and in its quinary [nature] to Persian words. But all [these] are mentioned in the shadow of [i.e. as subsidiary or subordinate to] verses, for, although that mysterious eloquence which is apparent in the first [grade] is also observable [or, if we adopt B's reading, latent] in the last, yet, since all cannot understand, they [i.e. the lower grades] are not mentioned [as a proof]."

        From all this it follows that, although the book generally known as the Persian Beyán is a definite work of limited extent, we can no longer employ the term Arabic Beyán in an equally definite sense. As Subh-i-Ezel states in another letter, as a rule only those books which were composed by the Báb during the earlier part of his mission received special names, while at a later date all that he 'uttered' or 'revealed' was named collectively Beyán ('Utterance' or 'Revelation'). Some of these 'utterances' (such as the

[page 346]

'verses' recited by the Báb before his judges at Tabríz, concerning which see Gobineau, pp. 261-262) can hardly have been preserved at all, much less were all ever collected into a single work, though, according to Subh-i-Ezel, a selection in nineteen volumes was compiled, or ordered to be compiled, during the Báb's lifetime. Gobineau, with his usual acumen, appears to have clearly apprehended this peculiar and elastic use of the term Beyán, for he says (p. 311):- "Le mot Biyyan, une fois employé par le Bâb, lui parut convenir trs-bien pour désigner la sphre d'idées dans laquelle sa pensée se mouvait, et il le donna ds lors pour titre tout ce qu'il composa." When, therefore, he speaks of "a Beyán written in Persian, which is not the commentary on the first Beyán written in Arabic," and of "a third Beyán, likewise composed by the first Báb," he apparently intends merely to signalize certain specially noteworthy parts of that almost limitless mass of religious literature emanating from the Báb which is known collectively as the Beyán.

        From what has been said it is evident that the short list of the Báb's works which I gave at the end of my second article on the Bábís in the J. R. A. S. for 1889 (pp. 1000-1002) requires much alteration both in the way of correction and extension. The sum total of the Báb's writings would appear, both from the Persian Beyán and from the Táríkh-i-Jadíd, to have been enormous; and, though much of this mass of literature perished, much is still preserved in Persia and elsewhere in the East. Quite recently I received from Subh-i-Ezel MSS. of the Commentary on the Súratu'l-'asr (see supra, p. 11, and B. ii. p. 912) and the Commentary on the Súratu'l-Bakara (see B. ii, pp. 902-903, 912), which had been brought from Persia to Cyprus during the present year (1890). Of the genuineness of these MSS. I entertain no doubt. Four other MSS. of different works composed by the Báb (amongst which are included the Commentaries on the Súras called Kawthar and Yúsuf) were brought to Cyprus at the same time, but of these I have not yet obtained copies1. Of the Súra-i-

       1 Since writing the above I have received two of these four MSS. One of them is the commentary on the Súratu'l- Kawthar [footnote goes onto page 347] above mentioned. It contains 227 pages, and is dated Zi'l-Hijjé 4th, A.H. 1296 (Nov. 19, A.D. 1879). The other, a much larger work, is named by Subh-i-Ezel "Commentary on the Names" (~~~).

[page 347]

Yúsuf at least two copies are preserved in Europe, one (numbered Or. 3539) in the British Museum, and one (fully described by Baron Rosen at pp. 179-191 of vol. i of the Collections Scientifiques &c.) at St. Petersburg.

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