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Abstract:
First paper on Bábí history, from a letter to the American Oriental Society, published in multiple newspapers, including translation into German. Includes preface by Steven Kolins.
Notes:
This was originally presented as letter by Wright to the American Oriental Society dated Feb. 18, 1851. An excerpt was printed under the heading "American Oriental Society" in The Literary World, June 14, 1851. See also Wright's 1852 Letter to the Missionary Herald and his 1853 "Short Chapter in the History of Bâbeeism in Persia."
Written in English and German.

(Report to the) American Oriental Society / A New Prophet

by Austin Wright

published in The Literary World, 228:8, page 470
Boston, MA: American Oriental Society, 1851-06-14
Contents
  1. Preface
  2. Text in Literary World
  3. Scan of Literary World
  4. Reprint in Green Mountain Freeman
  5. Reprint in Columbia Phoenix
  6. Translation into German, text
  7. Translation into German, scan

1) Preface
by Steven Kolins, 2016

An almost perfect copy minus some preface information was printed under the title "A New Prophet” in the Green Mountain Freeman newspaper, (June 26, 1851), ed. by Daniel Pierce Thompson.

Wright’s letter was also published in a German newspaper in 1851 translated and sent as a letter by Wright's superior, Rev. Justin Perkins, dated in later March 1851. The German cite was noted among scholars of the Bábí and Bahá'í Faiths for some time under the title “Bab Und Seine Secte in PersienZeitschrift fur Deutschen Morgänlandischen Gesellschaft v. 5, pp. 384–85 as noted as early as 1866 from "Foreign Intelligence… France", The Methodist Quarterly Review, July, 1866, p. 467, as can be seen at the bottom left.

According to Moojan Momen, Wright was the first person to write a paper giving an account on the Bábí Faith, though, like all western accounts, his contains numerous errors - See Momen's The Babi and Bahá'í Religions, 1844-1944: Some Contemporary Western Accounts, pp. 3, 10, 73, 528. An almost identical version was later published without credit as "Bab - A Curious History”, The Daily Phoenix (Columbia, South Carolina), 16 Jun 1865. p. 1, with a brief difference in the editorial introduction and little else different.

The existence of this letter-turned-paper has been known among Bahá’í scholars at least from the 1970s but only from the German form. The original English was not known among any scholars of the Faith at least until 2011. Amin Egea did find publications of the original letter from Wright and presented a paper at the International Conference on 'Modern Religions and Religious Movements in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Babi-Bahai Faiths' in Jerusalem back in March 2011 though reports from the conference have not been circulated, (mentioned in an email exchange March 17, 2015.) But it was found again in March 2015 and has subsequently been more widely circulated.

Wright's text ends proposing that the Bábís had come to an end: "the sect there and elsewhere appears to be extinguished." However, two years later Wright acknowledges that the Babis continue, in his followup piece "A short chapter in the history of Bâbeeism in Persia” in Proceedings of the Semi-Annual Meeting of the American Oriental Society, May 1853. See also Wikipedia's Bahá'í Faith in Greater Boston: Austin_Wright and Bahá'í Faith in South Carolina: 1865.

2) Text of article from Literary World 1851-06-14
by Rev. Austin H. Wright, 1851

Among the correspondence read was a letter from Rev. Austin H. Wright, M.D. Missionary to the Nestorians, dated Oroomiah, Persia, Feb. 10, 1851, from which is extracted the following "notice of a singular character, who has for some years past played a prominent part on the stage of Persian life."

"Some eight or ten years ago, a man appeared in the South of Persia, in the neighborhood of Shirâz, and put forth pretensions that the only way to access to God for mankind was by him; and accordingly he assumed the name of Bâb, the Arabic term for ‘door.’ He found some persons who soon acknowledged his pretensions, and who became his adherents. One of his doctrines was that all men ought to be subject to him, and that consequently the power exercised by the Shah was a usurpation. This was noised abroad, and reached the ears of the king. He was summoned to the capital, where he was kept a while, and then he was moved to Mâkoo, a remote district, six days’ journey from this place, bordering on Turkey. Here he was kept under guard; but such persons as desired to see him were admitted to his presence, and he was allowed to forward letters to his friends, who had become somewhat numerous in various parts of Persia. He was visited by several persons from Oroomiah, who became his decided adherents. He was in the habit of dictating to a writer, what he called his Koran; and so rapidly did the Arabic sentences flow from his tongue, that many of those who witnessed it thought that he must be inspired. It was also reported that he performed miracles, and multitudes readily gave credit to the rumor, as it was known that he was extremely abstemious in his diet, and that he spent most of his time in prayer. You probably know that most Mussulmans believe that a person may by abstinence and prayer attain so high a place in the favor of God as to be empowered to work miracles. Subsequently he was removed by order of the Government to Charee, near Salmas, only two days journey from this place. Here he as almost entirely secluded from the world, but continued to write letters to his friends, who handed them around as the productions of an inspired person, though the only evidence that I ever heard given of it was that they were unintelligible. His disciples became still more numerous, and in some parts of the country they engaged in angry controversy with what was called the orthodox party, which led to a conflict. In Mazanderan some sixty persons, and among them two princes, were killed in a single engagement. The matter became so serious, that the Government issues an order that he should be taken to Tabreez and bastinadoed, and that his disciples wherever found should be fined and punished. On his way to Tabreez he was brought to this place, where he was treated with marked attention by the Governor, and many persons were allowed to visit him. On one occasion a number of persons were in his presence, and as the Governor subsequently told me, the were all mysteriously moved and burst into tears. At Tabreez he was examined as to his doctrines by a high Mollah, who pronounced him a heretic and a madman, and he was publicly beaten. He was removed to Charee, where he was secluded from the world as before. Still he had communication by letter with many persons of influence in various parts of the country; and strange as it may appear, his pretension were extensively acknowledged. At Zengân, a large town on the road from Tabreez to the capital, his disciples became numerous and powerful, so that last year they resisted some of the measures of the Government, which was thereby induced to take a decided step for the suppression of the sect. Bâb himself was removed to Tabreez and shot in the public square with one of his principle adherents, and troops were sent to Zengân to bring to terms the Bâbites there. A spirited resistance was made by them. They determined to die rather than renounce their faith, or yield to the Government. Many of them made their shrouds, and, throwing them over their necks, issued forth with sword in hand, bent on victory of death. Having fortified themselves in a strong part of the town, they held out against the troops seven months, and killed several hundred of them, and some of the chief officers. At last the head of the sect in the place, an energetic and shrewd Mollah, was mortally wounded; and is disciples, many having been already killed, could resist no longer. A hundred of them were taken prisoners, and thrust through with the bayonet. None were left who would venture to offer any resistance, and thus the sect there and elsewhere appears to be extinguished.

“I send you specimens of the papers which Bâb wrote during his confinement at Charee. It is said that several horseloads of such papers were found after his removal from that place. The British Consul, resident at Tabreez, having obtained a number of them, gave to me those I now forward. They have been shown to a Mollah here, who is a good Arabic scholar; but he is unable to decipher them, or to extract any meaning from them.”

3) Image of article from Literary World 1851-06-14


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4) Image of article from Green Mountain Freeman 1851-06-26
(see at chroniclingamerica.loc.gov)


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5) Image of article from The Columbia Phoenix (Columbia, SC) 1865-06-16, p. 1


click for larger image

6) Translation into German: "Bab und seine secte in Persien"
from Zeitschrift fur Deutschen Morgänlandischen Gesellschaft 5 (1851), pp. 384-385

rough OCR, not yet corrected

Bab und seine Secte in Persien.
Von
A. H. Wright.

Vor acht bis zehn. Jahren trat ein Mann im südlichen Persien in der
Gegend von Schir.z auf, welcher behauptete, er sei für die Menschen der
einzige Weg, zu Gott zu gelangeA, und demgem.ss den Namen Bub (das
arabische Wort für „Thor, Thüre") annahm. Er fand einige Leute, welche
seinem Vorgeben glaubten und seine Anh.nger wurden. Eine seiner Lehren
war: alle Menschen sollten ihm unterworfen sein, und die vom Schab ausĀ 
geübte Macht sei foiglicb eine unrechtm.ssige. Dicss wurde weiter ausgeĀ 
sprengt und gelangte bald bis zu den Ohren des K.nigs. Er wurde in die
Hauptstadt entboten , da eine Zeit lang festgehalten , und hierauf nach Maku,
einem entlegenen Districte, sechs Tagereisen von Orumia, an der Gr.nze der
Türkei, verbannt. Hier hielt man ihn in Gewahrsam, doch liess mun dieĀ 
jenigen, welche ihn zusehen wünschten, zu ihm, und erlaubte ihm, Briefe
an seine Freunde zu schreiben , die in verschiedenen Theilen Persiens ziemĀ 
lich zahlreich geworden waren. Es besucbten ihn einige Personen aus Orumia,
welche seine entschiedenen Anb.nger wurden. Er dictirte einem Schreiber
etwas, das er seinen Koran nannte, und die arabiscben Sentenzen fl.ssen
so schnell von seiner Zunge, dass viele der Personen, welche Zeugen davon
waren, ihn für inspirirt hielten. Man erz.hlte auch, er th.te Wunder, und
ganze Haufen Volks schenkten diesem Gerüchte bereitwillig Glauben, da es
bekannt war, dass er ausserordentlich enthaltsam lebte und den gr.ssten
Theil seiner Zeit mit Beten zubrachte In Folge dessen wurde er auf
Befehl der Regierung nach Tschari, nahe bei Salmas, nur zwei Tagereisen
von Orumia, gebracht; daselbst scbloss man ihn g.nzlich von der Welt ab;
doeh fuhr er fort, Briefe an seine Freunde zu sebreiben, welche dieselben
als die Ergüsse eines Inspirirten weiter verbreiteten; indessen habe icb nicbts
weiter von ihnen in Erfahrung gebracht, als dass sie unverst.ndlich waren.
Seine Schüler wurden immer zahlreicher, und in einigen Gegenden des Landes
liessen sie sicb mit der sogenannten orthodoxen Partei in hitzige Streitigkeiten
ein, welche zu Tb.tlichkeiten führten. In Mazander.n wurden bei einem
einzigen Gefechte sechzig Personen get.dtet. Die Sache wurde so ernsthaft,
dass die Regierung den Befehl erliess , den Sectenstifter naeh Tabriz zu DrinĀ 
gen und ihm die Bastonade zu geben, seine Schüler aber überall, wo man
sie f.nde, aufzugreifen und mit Geld- und K.rperstrafen zu belegen. Auf
dem Wege nacb Tabriz wurde B.b nacb Orumia gebracht, wo ihn der
Statthalter mit besonderer Aufmerksamkeit behandelte und viele Personen die
Erlaubniss erhielten , ibn zu besuchen. Bei einer Gelegenheit war eine
Menge Leute bei ihm , und wie der Statthalter nachher bemerkte , waren
diese alle geheimnissvoll bewegt und brachen in Tbr.nen aus. In Tabriz
wurde er von einem hochgestellten Molla binsichllicb seiner Lehren geprüft,
von demselben für einen Ketzer und Narren erkl.rt, und dann .ffentlich
gest.upt. Man schaffte ihn nach Tschari zurück, wo man ihn, wie früher,
von der Welt abschloss; doch unterhielt er immer noch schriftliche VerbinĀ 
dungen mit vielen einflussreicben Personen in verschiedenen Gegenden des LanĀ 
des, und, so sonderbar es scbeinen mag, seine Behauptungen fanden weithin
Anerkennung. In Zeng.n, einer grossen Stadt auf der Strasse von Tabriz nach
Teher.n , wurden seine Parteig.nger so zahlreich und m.chtig, dass sie sich
letztes Jahr einigen Maassregeln der Regierung widersetzten, die sich daĀ 
durch gen.thigt sah , einen entscheidenden Schritt zur Unterdrückung der
Secte zu tbun. B.b wurde nach Tabriz gebracht und mit einem seiner HauptĀ 
schüler auf dem .ffentlichen Platze erschossen ; nach Zeng.n aber sandte
man Truppen , um die dasigen Anh.nger des B.b zu vernichten. Sie verĀ 
theidigten sicb .usserst muthig. Sie waren entschlossen , lieber unterzugehen,
als ihren Glauben zu verleugnen oder der Regierung nachzugeben. Viele
von ibnen machten sicb Leichengew.nder, und mit diesen angethan, das Schwert
in der Hand, zogen sie aus, um entweder zu siegen oder zu sterben. In einem
festen Tbeile der Stadt verschanzt, hielten sie sich sieben Monate lang gegen
die Truppen und t.dteten mehrere Hunderte von ihnen, sowie aucb einige hohe
Offiziere. Endlich wurde das Oberhaupt der Secte in dieser Stadt, ein grimĀ 
miger und energischer Molla, t.dtlich verwundet , und seine Schüler konnten
sich nun nicht l.nger vertheidigen, da schon viele von ihnen gefallen waren.
Gegen hundert von ihnen wurden gefangen genommen und mit dem Bayonnet
erstochen. Man liess keinen am Leben, der irgend Widerstand zu leisten ver
mochte, und so scheint die Secte hier und anderw.rts ausgerottet zu sein.

1) Wir erhielten diese Notiz, unter dem Datum Orumia d. 31. M.rz
1851, mit einem Briefe unseres Correspondenten, .Mission. J. Pcrlins , Orumia
d. 29. M.rz 1851. Die sich darauf beziehenden Worte desselben sind folĀ 
gende : „Witb this letter I send you a brief sketch of a religious fanatic,
who, a few years ago, became very notorious in Persia, attaching to him
many followers, and finally becoming a martyr to bis zeal, his career being
ended by his being shot at Tahreez. — The sketch which I send you is a
copy of a brief account of this fanatic, prepared by my respected associate
Dr. Wright, and forwarded by him to the American Oriental Society.
     D. Red.

2) Es ist ein allgemeiner Glaube nnter den .Muselm.nnern dieser Gegend,
mau k.nne durch Enthaltsamkeit und Gehet in der Gunst Gottes eine so hohe
Stufe ersteigen, dass man die Kraft erlange, Wunder zu thun.

7) Translation into German
from Zeitschrift fur Deutschen Morgänlandischen Gesellschaft 5 (1851)
online at books.google.com and menadoc.bibliothek.uni-halle.de

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