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The Pacha of Many Tales   By: (1792-1848)

Book cover

First Page:

THE PACHA OF MANY TALES

by

CAPTAIN MARRYAT

List of Tales

Story of the Camel Driver Story of the Greek Slave Story of the Monk Story of the Monk (continued) Huckaback Manuscript of the Monk Third Voyage of Huckaback Fourth Voyage of Huckaback Fifth Voyage of Huckaback Sixth Voyage of Huckaback The Last Voyage of Huckaback The Scarred Lover The Story of Hudusi Tale of the English Sailor The Water Carrier The Wondrous Tale of Han Story of the Old Woman

Prefatory Note

The Pacha of Many Tales, as indeed its title suggests, is constructed in direct imitation of the Arabian Nights . A Pacha of olden days, enchanted by the stories of Schezehezerade, becomes emulous of the great Haroun, and determines to procure his own stock of entertainment. By the assistance of a wily barber vizier he succeeds in the attempt, and listens with greedy credulity to the marvellous histories herein set forth.

On one occasion an English sailor is dragged into the august presence, and demands, with all the dogged independence of his race, the reasons for such treatment.

"You must tell lies, and you will have gold," replies the vizier.

"Tell lies," says Jack Tar, "that is, spin yarns. Well, I can do that."

The volume before us could not be more suggestively described. It is a collection of admirable short stories of intrigue and adventure, traveller's wonders narrated with a perfect air of good faith and no regard for truth or probability. All the countries on the globe, and many existing only in the imagination, are called into requisition to produce a brilliant phantasmagoria of manners and customs. The stories move rapidly and defy criticism by the very occasion of their being, invented to amuse and astonish a jaded autocrat.

Hence we feel no shock in reading of an island where the commonest utensils are made of gold, a nursery of whales, five months in the interior of an iceberg, or a journey among the clouds during a thunderstorm. The demand for brevity strengthens Marryat's style, and saves him from padding. He is very happy in contriving expediences, and evinces considerable wit in the conception, for instance, of Yussuf the water carrier. Some of the stories, again, are really dramatic, and the "Second Voyage of Huckaback" (p. 126) reaches a height of weird horror that recalls, without paling before the thought, certain passages in The Ancient Mariner .

The Pacha of Many Tales was first published in The Metropolitan Magazine , 1831 1835. During its appearance Marryat printed in the same magazine (in 1833) a drama, The Monk of Seville , of which the plot is almost exactly identical with The Story of the Monk (p. 44). "Port Royal Tom," the shark, and his Government pension, also appear in Jacob Faithful , Chap. XXV.

The Pacha of Many Tales is here printed, with a few corrections, from the second edition in 3 vols. A.K. Newman & Co., 1844.

R.B.J

Chapter I

Every one acquainted with the manners and customs of the East must be aware, that there is no situation of eminence more unstable, or more dangerous to its possessor, than that of a pacha. Nothing, perhaps, affords us more convincing proof of the risk which men will incur, to obtain a temporary authority over their fellow creatures, than the avidity with which this office is accepted from the sultan; who, within the memory of the new occupant, has consigned scores of his predecessors to the bowstring. It would almost appear, as if the despot but elevated a head from the crowd, that he might obtain a more fair and uninterrupted sweep for his scimitar, when he cut it off; only exceeded in his peculiar taste by the king of Dahomy, who is said to ornament the steps of his palace with heads, fresh severed, each returning sun, as we renew the decoration of our apartments from our gay parterres. I make these observations, that I may not be accused of a disregard to chronology, in not precisely stating the year, or rather the months, during which flourished one of a race, who, like the flowers of the Cistus, one morning in all their splendour, on the next, are strewed lifeless on the ground to make room for their successors... Continue reading book >>




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