, a celebrated Persian poet, and, according to sir William Jones, at the head of all Persian poets, was a native of Tus or Meshed. He was originally a peasant, but his talents procuring him distinction, he was admitted to the court of the sultan Mahmud, who reigned in the city of Gazna, at the close of the tenth and the beginning of the eleventh centuries, and entertained several poets in his palace. Ferdusi, happening to find a copy of an old Persian history, read it with great eagerness, and found it involved in fables, but bearing the marks of high antiquity. The most ancient part of it, and principally the war of Afrasiab and Kosru, or Cyrus, seemed to afford an excellent subject for an heroic poem, which he accordingly began to compose. Some of his episodes and descriptions were shewn to the sultan, who commended them exceedingly, and ordered him to comprize the whole history of Persia in a series of epic poems. The poet obeyed, and | after the happiest exertion of his fancy and art for near“thirty years, finished his work, which contained sixty thousand couplets in rhyme, all highly polished, with the spirit of our Dryden, and the sweetness of Pope. He presented an elegant transcript of his hook to Mahmud, who coldly applauded his diligence, and dismissed him. Many months elapsed, and Ferdusi heard no more of his work: he then took occasion to remind the king of it by some little epigrams, which he contrived to let fall in the palace; but, says sir William Jones,” where an epic poem had failed, what effect could be expected from an epigram“At length the reward came, which consisted only of as many small pieces of money, as there were couplets in the volume. The high-minded poet could not brook this insult; he retired to his closet with bitterness in his heart, where he wrote a most noble and animated invective against the sultan, which he sealed up, and delivered to a courtier, who, as he had reason to suspect, was his greatest enemy, assuring him that it was” a diverting tale,“and requesting him to give it to Mahmud,” when any affair of state or bad success in war should make him more uneasy and splenetic than usual." Having thus given vent to his indignation, he left Gazna in the night, and took refuge in Bagdad, where the calif protected him from the sultan Mahmud, who demanded him in a furious and menacing letter. Ferdusi is supposed to have died in the 411th year of the Hegira, or A. D. 1020.

The work of Ferdusi remains entire, a glorious monument of eastern genius and learning; which, if ever it should be understood in its original language, will contest the merit of invention with Homer himself, whatever be thought of its subject, or the arrangement of the incidents. The whole collection of his works is called “Shahnama,” and contains the history of Persia, from the earliest times to the invasion of the Arabs, in a series of very noble poems; the longest and most regular of which is an heroic poem of one great and interesting action, namely the delivery of Persia by Cyrus from the oppressions of Afrasiab, king of the Transoxan Tartary, who, being assisted by the emperors of India and China, had carried his conquests very far, and had become exceeding formidable to the Persians. The poem is longer than the Iliad the characters in it are various and striking the figures bold and animated; and the diction every where sonorous, yet noble; | polished, yet full of fire. Of Ferdusi’s satire against the sultan, there is a translation in a “Treatise on Oriental Poetry,” added to the Life of Nader-Shah in French. Sir William Jones said it is not unlike the XagiTts of Theocritus, who, like the impetuous Ferdusi, had dared to expose the vices of a low-minded king. 1


Sir William Jones’s History of the Life of Nader Shah.