Segrais, Tachmas Prince of Persia (1676)

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[Segrais, Jean Regnauld de,] Tachmas, prince of Persia (London: Printed for Dorman Newman, 1676).


Title Page Transcript

Tachmas, prince of Persia an historical novel which happen'd under the Sophy Seliman who reigns at this day render'd into English by P. Porter. London: Printed for Dorman Newman, 1676.


[7], 110 p.; A2r – A4[i.e. A3]v: Translator’s Dedication to Thomas Earl of Ossory; A4r – A4v: Preface


Jean Regnauld de Segrais, 1624-1701.

Bibliographical Reference

Wing / T100


Cambridge University Library

UMI Collection / reel number: Wing / 1214:10

History of Publication

See French source: Segrais, Tachmas prince de Perse (1676). Fr-1676-0001


The excellent Tachmas falls victim to the envy and jealousy of others, and also to his own misjudgement of these.The preface points out that the story is true; it was reported “by a young Persian” (A4r):

The obscurity with which all things are transacted in the Palaces of the Sophies of Persia, might afford a Field large enough to Lye with impunity. But we chose rather to offer nothing more than the true and faithful relation as we received it. We have likewise wilfully affected a grave Stile, and altogether different from what they call the Romantick. And we thought it enough to make a decent Connection of all the Transactions together, and from time to time to make some Reflections upon them. (Preface, A4r – A4v)

The reflections consist chiefly in an analysis of the operation of the passions in the various characters, and of the mistakes one may make in consequence of being under the influence of these passions, or of misjudging their influence on others.

Prince Tachmas is the younger brother to Seliman, the current ruler of Persia, who is jealous of his perfections of body and mind (p. 3). He makes the mistake of seeking to conciliate his former enemy Allagolikan. Tachmas’ father had imprisoned Allagolikan for his enmity to Tachmas, Seliman frees him on his accession to the throne, and Tachmas even makes him his confidant (“… in which Tachmas is to be blamed [...] for having forgotten the Maxime, That Reconciled Enemies ought alwayes to be suspected”, p. 22).

There is mutual love between Tachmas and the princess Negara, and while he pretends to help secure Seliman’s consent to the match, Allagolikan secretly directs Seliman’s desire at Negara. The resulting conflict nearly leads to Tachmas’s execution – what saves him are Seliman’s own brotherly affections, helped by the interventions of their mother Begona and of Negara, who has to promise, however, to “forever smother all thoughts of Love or Tenderness” towards Tachmas (p. 73).
Next, Tachmas is persecuted by Sunamire, an “ambitious slave” in whom unreturned love has turned into jealousy, fury, and a desire for revenge. She joins forces with Allagolikan and the dissembling Eunuch Metardaout, and they devise a plot as follows: Negara is made to ‘find’ a forged letter purporting to be from Tachmas to Sunamire, in which he appears to assure her of his love and to plot to kill Seliman. Negara’s jealously is greater than her judgment, she takes the letter to Seliman. When Tachmas writes to her, protesting his innocence, it is too late. A council decrees that Tachmas is to be blinded for his offence. Negara and Begona, who suppose him to have been executed, poison themselves. Sunamire confesses her part in the treason, and stabs herself. It is too late to prevent Allagolikan from putting out Tachmas’s eyes, but Seliman’s passions now turn against him: “Seliman, whose Jealousie was now extinguished by so many Tragical Events, fell into a furious Rage against Allagolikan ; He caused him to be strangled before his Face, thereby making this Traytor at his turn to suffer the just punishment of all his Crimes.” (p. 110)

The Novel in Europe, 1650-1749