The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

When it was the Nine Hundred and Twelfth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth, the son of King Jali’ad, said to Shimas the Wazir, “It behoveth the Minister to bear himself towards the Monarch according to that which he seeth of his condition, and not to presume upon the superiority of his own judgment lest the King wax jealous of him.” Quoth Shimas, “How shall the Wazir grace himself in the King’s sight.”—“By the performance of the trust committed to him and of loyal counsel and sound judgment and the execution of his commands.” Q “As for what thou sayest of the Wazir’s duty to avoid the King’s anger and perform his wishes and apply himself diligently to the doing of that where with he chargeth him, such duty is always incumbent on him; but how, an the King’s whole pleasure be tyranny and the practice of oppression and exorbitant extortion; and what shall the Wazir do if he be afflicted by intercourse with this unjust lord? An he strive to turn him from his lust and his desire, he cannot do this, and if he follow him in his lusts and flatter him with false counsel, he assumeth the weight of responsibility herein and becometh an enemy to the people. What sayst thou of this?”— “What thou speakest, O Wazir, of his responsibility and sinfulness ariseth only in the case of his abetting the King in his wrong doing; but it behoveth the Wazir, when the King taketh counsel with him of the like of this, to show forth to him the way of justice and equity and warn him against tyranny and oppression and expound to him the principles of righteously governing the lieges, alluring him with the future reward that pertaineth to this and restraining him with warning of the punishment he otherwise will incur. If the King incline to him and hearken unto his words, his end is gained, and if not, there is nothing for it but that he depart from him after courteous fashion, because in parting for each of them is ease.” Q “What are the duties of the King to his subjects and what are the obligations of the lieges to their lord?”—“They shall do whatso he ordereth them with pure intent and obey him in that which pleaseth him and pleaseth Allah and the Apostle of Allah. And the lieges can claim of the lord that he protect their possessions and guard their women,1 even as it is their duty to hearken unto him and obey him and expend their lives freely in his defence and give him his lawful due and praise him fairly for that which he bestoweth upon them of his justice and bounty.” Q “Have his subjects any claim upon the King other than that which thou hast said?”—“Yes. The rights of the subjects from their Sovran are more binding than the liege lord’s claim upon his lieges, for that the breach of his duty towards them is more harmful than that of their duty towards him, because the ruin of the King and the loss of his kingdom and fortune befal not save by the breach of his devoir to his subjects; wherefore it behoveth him who is invested with the kingship to be assiduous in furthering three things: to wit, the fostering of the faith, the fostering of his subjects and the fostering of government; for by the ensuing of these three things, his kingdom shall endure.” Q “How cloth it behove him to do for his subjects’ weal?”—“By giving them their due and maintaining their laws and customs2 and employing Olema and learned men to teach them and justifying them, one of other, and sparing their blood and defending their goods and lightening their loads and strengthening their hosts.” Q “What is the Minister’s claim upon the Monarch?”—“None hath a more imperative claim on the King than hath the Wazir, for three reasons: firstly, because of that which shall befal him from his liege lord in case of error in judgment, and because of the general advantage to King and commons in case of sound judgmen; secondly, that folk may know the goodliness of the degree which the Wazir holdeth in the King’s esteem and therefore look on him with eyes of veneration and respect and submission3; and thirdly, that the Wazir, seeing this from King and subjects, may ward off from them that which they hate and fulfil to them that which they love.” Q “I have heard all thou hast said of the attributes of King and Wazir and liege and approve thereof; but now tell me what is incumbent in keeping the tongue from lying and folly and slandering good names and excess in speech.”—“It behoveth a man to speak naught but good and kindness and to talk not of that which toucheth him not, to leave detraction nor carry tale he hath heard from one man to his enemy, neither seek to harm his friend nor his foe with his Sultan and reck not of any (neither of him from whom he hopeth for good nor of him whom he feareth for mischief) save of Allah Almighty; for He indeed is the only one who harmeth or profiteth. Let him not impute default unto any nor talk ignorantly, lest he incur the weight and the sin thereof before Allah and earn hate among men; for know thou that speech is like an arrow which once shot none can avail to recall. Let him also beware of disclosing his secret to one who shall discover it, lest he fall into mischief by reason of its disclosure, after confidence on its concealment; and let him be more careful to keep his secret from his friend than from his foe, for the keeping a secret with all folk is of the performance of faithful trust.” Q “Tell me how a man should bear himself with his family and friends.”—“There is no rest for a son of Adam save in righteous conduct; he should render to his family that which they deserve and to his brethren whatso is their due.” Q “What should one render to one’s kinsfolk?”—“To parents, submission and soft speech and affability and honour and reverence. To brethren, good counsel and readiness to expend money for them and assistance in their undertakings and joyance in their joy and grieving for their grief and closing of the eyes toward the errors that they may commit; for, when they experience this from a man, they requite him with the best of counsel they can command and expend their lives in his defence; wherefore, an thou know thy brother to be trusty, lavish upon him thy love and help him in all his affairs.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 In India it is popularly said that the Rajah can do anything with the Ryots provided he respects their women and their religion — not their property.

2 Arab. “Sunan” for which see vol. v. 36, 167. Here it is=Rasm or usage, equivalent to our precedents, and held valid, especially when dating from olden time, in all matters which are not expressly provided for by Koranic command. For instance a Hindí Moslem (who doubtless borrowed the customs from Hindús) will refuse to eat with the Kafir, and when the latter objects that there is no such prohibition in the Koran will reply, “No but it is our Rasm.” As a rule the Anglo–Indian is very ignorant on this essential point.

3 Lit. “lowering the wings,” see supra p. 33.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Thirteenth Night,

She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the youth, the son and heir of King Jali’ad, when questioned by the Wazir upon the subjects aforesaid, returned him satisfactory replies; when Shimas resumed, “I see that brethren are of two kinds, brethren of trust and brethren of society.1 As for the first who be friends, there is due to them that which thou hast set forth; but now tell me of the others who be acquaintances.”— As for brethren of society, thou gettest of them pleasance and goodly usance and fair speech and enjoyable company; so be thou not sparing to them of thy delights, but be lavish to them thereof, like as they are lavish to thee, and render to them that which they render to thee of affable countenance and an open favour and sweet speech, so shall thy life be pleasant and thy words be accepted of them.” Q “Tell me now of the provision decreed by the Creator to all creatures. Hath He alloted to men and beasts each his several provision to the completion of his appointed life term; and if this allotment be thus, what maketh him who seeketh his livelihood to incur hardships and travail in the quest of that which he knoweth must come to him, if it be decreed to him, albeit he incur not the misery of endeavour; and which, if it be not decreed to him, he shall not win, though he strive after it with his uttermost striving? Shall he therefore stint endeavour and in his Lord put trust and to his body and his soul give rest?”— “Indeed, we see clearly that to each and every there is a provision distributed and a term prescribed; but to all livelihood are a way and means, and he who seeketh would get ease of his seeking by ceasing to seek; withal there is no help but that he seek his fortune. The seeker is, however, in two cases: either he gaineth his fortune or he faileth thereof. In the first case, his pleasure consisteth in two conditions: first, in the having gained his fortune, and secondly, in the laudable2 issue of his quest; and in the other case, his pleasure consisteth, first, in his readiness to seek his daily bread; secondly, in his abstaining from being a burthen to the folk; and thirdly, in his freedom from liability to blame.” Q “What sayst thou of the means of seeking one’s fortune?”—“A man shall hold lawful that which Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) alloweth, and unlawful whatso He forbiddeth.” Reaching this pass the discourse between them came to an end, and Shimas and all the Olema present rose and prostrating themselves before the young Prince, magnified and extolled him, whilst his father pressed him to his bosom and seating him on the throne of kingship, said, “Praised be Allah who hath blessed me with a son to be the coolth of mine eyes in my lifetime!” Then said the King’s son to Shimas in presence of all the Olema, “O sage that art versed in spiritual questions, albeit Allah have vouchsafed to me but scanty knowledge, yet do I comprehend thine intent in accepting from me what I proffered in answer concerning that whereof thou hast asked me, whether I hit or missed the mark therein, and belike thou forgavest my errors; but now I am minded to question thee anent a thing, whereof my judgment faileth and whereto my capacity is insufficient and which my tongue availeth not to set forth, for that it is obscure to me, with the obscurity of clear water in a black vessel. Wherefore would have thee expound it to me so no iota thereof may remain doubtful to the like of me, to whom its obscurity may present itself in the future, even as it hath presented itself to me in the past; since Allah, even as He hath made life to be in lymph3 and strength in food and the cure of the sick in the skill of the leach, so hath He appointed the healing of the fool to be in the learning of the wise. Give ear, therefore, to my speech.” Replied the Wazir, “O luminous of intelligence and master of casuistical questions, thou whose excellence all the Olema attest, by reason of the goodliness of thy discretion of things and thy distribution4 thereof and the justness of thine answers to the questions I have asked thee, thou knowest that thou canst enquire of me naught but thou art better able than I to form a just judgment thereon and expound it truly, for that Allah hath vouchsafed unto thee such wisdom as He hath bestowed on none other of men. But inform me of what thou wouldst question me.” Quoth the Prince, “Tell me from what did the Creator (magnified be His all-might!) create the world, albeit there was before it naught and there is naught seen in this world but it is created from something; and the Divine Creator (extolled and exalted be He!) is able to create things from nothing,5 yet hath His will decreed, for all the perfection of His power and grandeur, that He shall create naught but from something.” The Wazir replied, “As for those, who fashion vessels of potter’s clay,6 and other handicraftsmen, who cannot originate one thing save from another thing, they are themselves only created entities; but, as for the Creator, who hath wrought the world after this wondrous fashion, an thou wouldst know His power (extolled and exalted be He!) of calling things into existence, extend thy thought and consider the various kinds of created things, and thou wilt find signs and instances, proving the perfection of His puissance and that He is able to create the ens from the non-ens; nay, He called things into being, after absolute non-existence, for the elements which be the matter of created things were sheer nothingness. I will expound this to thee, so thou mayst be in no scepticism thereof, and the marvel-signs of the alternation of Night and Day shall make this clear to thee. When the light goeth and the night cometh, the day is hidden from us and we know not the place where it abideth; and when the night passeth away with its darkness and its terror, the day cometh and we know not the abiding-place of the night.7 In like manner, when the sun riseth upon us, we know not where it hath laid up its light, and when it setteth, we ignore the abiding-place of its setting; and the examples of this among the works of the Creator (magnified be His name and glorified be His might!) abound in what confoundeth the thought of the keenest witted of human beings.” Rejoined the Prince, “O sage, thou hast set before me of the power of the Creator what is incapable of denial; but tell me how He called His creatures into existence.” Answered Shimas, “He created them by the sole power of His one Word,8 which existed before time, and wherewith he created all things.” Quoth the Prince, “Then Allah (be His name magnified and His might glorified!) only willed the existence of created things, before they came into being?” Replied Shimas, “And of His will He created them with His one Word and, but for His speech and that one Word, the creation had not come into existence.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1.i.e. friends and acquaintances.

2 Arab. “Hamídah”=praiseworthy or satisfactory.

3 Not only alluding to the sperm of man and beast, but also to the “Neptunist” doctrine held by the ancient Greeks and Hindus and developed in Europe during the last century.

4 Arab. “Taksím” dividing into parts, analysis.

5 this is the usual illogical contention of all religions. It is not the question whether an Almighty Being can do a given thing: the question is whether He has or has not done it.

6 Upon the old simile of the potter I shall have something to say in a coming volume.

7 A fine specimen of a peculiarity in the undeveloped mind of man, the universal confusion between things objective as a dead body and states of things as death. We begin by giving a name, for facility of intercourse, to phases, phenomena and conditions of matter; and, having created the word we proceed to supply it with a fanciful entity, e.g. “The Mind (a useful term to express the aggregate action of the brain, nervous system etc.) of man is immortal.” The next step is personification as Time with his forelock, Death with his skull and Night (the absence of light) with her starry mantle. For poetry this abuse of language is a sine qua non, but it is deadly foe to all true philosophy.

8 Christians would naturally understand this “One Word” to be the {Greek letters} of the Platonists, adopted by St. John (comparatively a late writer) and by the Alexandrian school, Jewish (as Philo Judaeus) and Christian. But here the tale-teller alludes to the Divine Word “Kun” (be!) whereby the worlds came into existence.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fourteenth Night,

She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after the King’s son had asked his sire’s Wazir the casuistical questions aforesaid, and had received a sufficient answer, Shimas said to him, “O dear my son,1 there is no man can tell thee other but tints I have said, except he twist the words handed down to us of the Holy Law and turn the truths thereof from their evident meaning. And such a perversion is their saying that the Word hath inherent and positive power and I take refuge with Allah from such a mis-belief! Nay, the meaning of our saying that Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) created the world with His Word is that He (exalted be His name!) is One in His essence and His attributes and not that His Word hath independent power. On the contrary, power is one of the attributes of Allah, even as speech and other attributes of perfection are attributes of Allah (exalted be His dignity and extolled be His empery!); wherefore He may not be conceived without His Word, nor may His Word be conceived without Him, for, with His Word, Allah (extolled be His praise!) created all His creatures, and without His Word, the Lord created naught. Indeed, He created all things but by His Word of Truth, and by Truth are we created.” Quoth the Prince, “I comprehend that which thou hast said on the subject of the Creator and from thee I accept this with understanding, but I hear thee say that He created the world by His Word of Truth. Now Truth is the opposite of Falsehood; whence then arose Falsehood with its opposition unto Truth, and how cometh it to be possible that it should be confounded therewith and become doubtful to human beings, so that they need to distinguish between the twain? And cloth the Creator (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) love Falsehood or hate it? An thou say He loveth Truth and by it created all things and abhorreth Falsehood, how came the False, which the Creator hateth, to invade the True which He loveth?” Quoth Shimas, “Verily Allah the Most High created man all Truth2, loving His name and obeying His word, and on this wise man had no need of repentance till Falsehood invaded the Truth whereby he was created by means of the capability3 which Allah had placed in him, being the will and the inclination called lust of lucre.4 When the False invaded the True on this wise, right became confounded with wrong, by reason of the will of man and his capability and greed of gain, which is the voluntary side of him together with the weakness of human nature; wherefore Allah created penitence for man, to turn away from him Untruth and stablish him in Truth, and He created for him also punishment if he should abide in the obscurity of Falsehood.” Quoth the Prince, “Tell me how came Untruth to invade Truth, so as to be confounded therewith, and how became man liable to punishment and so stood in need of repentance.” Replied Shimas, “When Allah created man with Truth, He made him loving to Himself and there was for him neither repentance nor punishment; but he abode thus till Allah put in him the soul, which is of the perfection of humanity, albeit naturally inclined to lust which is inherent therein. From this sprang the growth of Untruth and its confusion with Truth, wherewith man was created and with the love whereof his nature had been made; and when man came to this pass, he declined from the Truth with disobedience, and whoso declineth from the Truth falleth into Falsehood.” Said the Prince, “Then Falsehood invaded Truth only by reason of disobedience and transgression?” Shimas replied, “Yes, and it is thus because Allah loveth mankind, and of the abundance of His love to man He created him having need of Himself, that is to say, of the very Truth. But oftentimes man lapseth from this by cause of the inclination of the soul to lusts and turneth to frowardness, wherefore he falleth into Falsehood by the act of disobeying his Lord and thus deserveth punishment, and, by putting away from himself Falsehood with repentance and by the returning to the love of the Truth, he meriteth future reward.” Quoth the Prince, “Tell me the origin of sin, whilst all mankind trace their being to Adam, and how cometh it that he, being created of Allah with truth, drew disobedience on himself; then was his disobedience coupled with repentance, after the soul had been set in him, that his issue might be reward or retribution? Indeed, we see some men constant in sinfulness, inclining to that which He loveth not and transgressing in this the original intent and purpose of their creation, which is the love of the Truth, and drawing on themselves the wrath of their Lord, whilst we see others constant in seeking the satisfaction of their Creator and obeying Him and meriting mercy and future recompense. What causeth this difference prevailing between them?” Replied Shimas, “The origin of disobedience descending upon mankind is attributable to Iblis, who was the noblest of all that Allah (magnified be His name!) created of angels5 and men and Jinn, and the love of the Truth was inherent in him, for he knew naught but this; but whenas he saw himself unique in such dignity, there entered into him pride and conceit, vainglory and arrogance which revolted from loyalty and obedience to the commandment of His Creator; wherefore Allah made him inferior to all creatures and cast him out from love, making his abiding-place to be in disobedience. So when he knew that Allah (glorified be His name!) loved not disobedience and saw Adam and the case wherein he was of truth and love and obedience to his Creator, envy entered into him and he devised some device to pervert Adam from the truth, that he might be a partaker with himself in Falsehood; and by this, Adam incurred chastisement for his inclining to disobedience, which his foe made fair to him, and his subjection to his lusts, whenas he transgressed the charge of his Lord, by reason of the appearance of Falsehood. When the Creator (magnified be the praises of Him and hallowed be the names of Him!) saw the weakness of man and the swiftness of his inclining to his enemy and leaving the truth, He appointed to him, of His mercy, repentance, that therewith he might arise from the slough6 of inclination to disobedience and taking the arms and armour of repentance, overcame therewith his foe Iblis and his hosts and return to the Truth, wherein he was created. When Iblis saw that Allah (magnified be His praise!) had appointed him a protracted term,7 he hastened to wage war upon man and to best him with wiles, to the intent that he might oust him from the favour of his Lord and make him a partaker with himself in the wrath which he and his hosts had incurred; wherefore Allah (extolled be His praises!) appointed unto man the capability of penitence and commanded him to apply himself to the Truth and persevere therein; and forbade him from disobedience and frowardness and revealed to him that he had on the earth an enemy warring against him and relazing not from him night nor day. Thus hath man a right to future reward, if he adhere to the Truth, in the love of which his nature was created; but he becometh liable to punishment, if the flesh master him and incline him to lusts.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Ya bunayyí” a dim. form lit. “O my little son!” an affectionate address frequent in Russian, whose “little father” (under “Bog”) is his Czar.

2 Thus in two texts. Mr. Payne has, “Verily God the Most High created man after His own image, and likened him to Himself, all of Him truth, without falsehood; then He gave him dominion over himself and ordered him and forbade him, and it was man who transgressed His commandment and erred in his obedience and brought falsehood upon himself of his own will.” Here he borrows from the Bresl. Edit. viii. 84 (five first lines). But the doctrine is rather Jewish and Christian than Moslem: Al–Mas’údi (ii. 389) introduces a Copt in the presence of Ibn Tutún saying, “Prince, these people (designing a Jew) pretend that Allah Almighty created Adam (i.e. mankind) after His own image” (‘Alá Súrati-h).

3 Arab. “Istitá‘ah”=ableness e.g. “Al hajj ‘inda ‘l-Istitá‘ah”=Pilgrimage when a man is able thereto (by easy circumstances).

4 Arab. “Al–Kasab,” which phrenologists would translate “acquisitiveness,” The author is here attempting to reconcile man’s moral responsibility, that is Freewill, with Fate by which all human actions are directed and controlled. I cannot see that he fails to “apprehend the knotty point of doctrine involved”; but I find his inability to make two contraries agree as pronounced as that of all others, Moslems and Christians, that preceded him in the same path.

5 The order should be, “men, angels and Jinn,” for which see vol. i. p. 10. But “angels” here takes precedence because Iblis was one of them.

6 Arab. “Wartah”=precipice, quagmire, quicksand and hence sundry secondary and metaphorical significations, under which, as in the “Semitic” (Arabic) tongues generally, the prosaical and material sense of the word is clearly evident. I noted this in Pilgrimage iii. 66 and was soundly abused for so saying by a host of Sciolists.

7 i.e. Allowing the Devil to go about the world and seduce mankind until Doomsday when “auld Sootie’s” occupation will be gone. Surely “Providence” might have managed better.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Fifteenth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the young Prince had questioned Shimas touching disputed points of olden time and had been duly answered, he presently said, “Now tell me by what power is the creature able to transgress against his Creator, seeing that His omnipotence is without bounds, even as thou hast set forth, and that naught can overcome Him or depart from His will? Deemest thou not that He is able to turn His creatures from this disobedience and compel them eternally to hold the Truth?” Answered Shimas, “In very sooth Almighty Allah (honoured be His name!) is just and equitable and loving-kind to the people of His affection.1 He created His creatures with justice and equity and of the inspiration of His justice and the overflowing of His mercy, He gave them kingship over themselves, that they should do whatever they might design. He showeth them the way of rightwousness and bestoweth on them the power and ability of doing what they will of good: and if they do the opposite thereof, they fall into destruction and disobedience.” Q “If the Creator, as thou sayest, have granted to mankind power and ability2 and they by reason thereof are empowered to do whatso they will, why then doth He not come between them and that which they desire of wrong and turn them to the right?”—“This is of the greatness of His mercy and the goodliness of His wisdom; for, even as aforetime he showed wrath to Iblis and had no mercy on him, even so he showed Adam mercy, by means3 of repentance, and accepted of him, after He had been wroth with him.” Q “He is indeed mere Truth, for He it is who requiteth every one according to his works, and there is no Creator save Allah who hath power over all things. But tell me, hath He created that which He loveth and that which He loveth not or only that which He loveth?”—“He created all things, but favoureth only that which he loveth.” Q “What reckest thou of two things, one whereof is pleasing to God and earneth future reward for him who practiseth it and the other offendeth Allah and entaileth lawful punishment upon the doer?”—“Expound to me these two things and make me to apprehend them, that I may speak concerning them.” Q “They are good and evil, the two things inherent in the body and in the soul.”—“O wise youth, I see that thou knowest good and evil to be of the works which the soul and the body combine to do. Good is named good, because it is in favour with God, and evil is termed ill, for that in it is His ill-will. Indeed, it behoveth thee to know Allah and to please Him by the practice of good, for that He hath bidden us to this and forbidden us to do evil.” Q “I see these two things, to wit, good and evil, to be wrought only by the five senses familiarly known in the body of man, which be the sensorium4 whence proceed speech, hearing, sight, smell and touch. Now I would have thee tell me whether these five senses were created altogether for good or for evil.”—“Apprehend, O man, the exposition of that whereof thou askest and it is a manifest proof; so lay it up in thine innermost thought and take it to thy heart. And this it is that the Creator (extolled and exalted be He!) created man with Truth and impressed him with the love thereof and there proceedeth from it no created thing save by the puissance of the Most High, whose trace is in every phenomenon. He5 (extol we Him and exalt we Him!) is not apt but to the ordering of justice and equity and beneficence, and He created man for the love of Him and set in him a soul, wherein the inclination to lusts was innate and assigned him capability and ableness and appointed the Five Senses aforesaid to be to him a means of winning Heaven or Hell.” Q “How so?”—“In that He created the Tongue for speech, the Hands for action, the Feet for walking and the Eyes for seeing and the Ears for hearing, and upon each bestowed especial power and incited them to exercise and motion, bidding each of them do naught save that which pleaseth Him. Now what pleaseth Him in Speech is truthfulness and abstaining from its opposite, which is falsehood; and what pleaseth Him in Sight is turning it unto that which He loveth and leaving the contrary, which is turning it unto that which He hateth, such as looking unto lusts; and what pleaseth Him in Hearing is hearkening to naught but the True, such as admonition and that which is in Allah’s writ and leaving the contrary, which is listening to that which incurreth the anger of Allah; and what pleaseth Him in the Hands is not hoarding up that which He entrusteth to them, but expending it in such way as shall please Him and leaving the contrary, which is avarice or spending in sinfulness that which He hath committed to them; and what pleaseth Him in the Feet is that they be constant in the pursuit of good, such as the quest of instruction, and leave its contrary, which is the walking in other than the way of Allah. Now respecting the rest of the lusts which man practiseth, they proceed from the body by command of the soul. But the lusts which proceed from the body are of two kinds, the lust of reproduction and the lust of the belly. As for the former, that which pleaseth Allah thereof is that it be not other than lawful6 and He is displeased with it if contrary to His law. As for the lust of the belly, eating and drinking, what pleaseth Allah thereof is that each take naught save that which the Almighty hath appointed him be it little or mickle, and praise the Lord and thank Him; and what angereth Him thereof is that a man take that which is not his by right. All precepts other than these are false, and thou knowest that Allah created everything and delighteth only in Good and commandeth each member of the body to do that which He hath made on it incumbent, for that He is the All-wise, the All-knowing.” Q “Was it foreknown unto Allah Almighty (exalted be His power!) that Adam, by eating of the tree from which He forbade him and whence befel what befel, would leave obedience for disobedience?”—“Yes, O sage youth. This was foreknown unto Allah Almighty ere He created Adam, and the proof and manifestation attached thereto is the warning He gave him against eating of the tree and His informing him that, if he ate of the fruit he would be disobedient. And this was in the way of justice and equity, lest Adam should have an argument wherewith he might excuse himself against his Lord. When therefore, he fell into error and calamity and when disgrace waxed sore upon him and reproach, this passed to his posterity after him; wherefore Allah sent Prophets and Apostles and gave to them Books and they taught us the divine commandments and expounded to us what was therein of admonitions and precepts and made clear to us and manifest the way of righteousness and explained to us what it behoved us to do and what to leave undone. Now we are endowed with Freewill and he who acteth within these lawful limits winneth his wish and prospereth, while whoso transgresseth these legal bounds and doeth other than that which these precepts enjoin, resisteth the Lord and is ruined in both Abodes. This then is the road of Good and Evil. Thou knowest that Allah over all things is Omnipotent and created not lusts for us but of His pleasure and volunty, and He bade us use them in the way of lawfulness, so they might be to us a good; but, when we use them in the way of sinfulness they are to us an evil. Therefore what of righteous we compass is from Allah Almighty, and what of wrongous from ourselves7 His creatures, not from the Creator, exalted be He herefor with highmost exaltation!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 i.e. to those who deserve His love.

2 Here “Istitá‘ah” would mean capability of action, i.e. freewill, which is a mere word like “free-trade.”

3 Arab. “Bi al-taubah” which may also mean “for (on account of his) penitence.” The reader will note how the learned Shimas “dodges” the real question. He is asked why the “Omnipotent, Omniscient did not prevent (i.e. why He created) sin?” He answers that He kindly permitted (i.e. created and sanctioned) it that man might repent. Proh pudor! If any one thus reasoned of mundane matters he would be looked upon as the merest fool.

4 Arab. “Mahall al-Zauk,” lit.=seat of taste.

5 Mr. Payne translates “it” i.e. the Truth; but the formula following the word shows that Allah is meant.

6 Moslems, who do their best to countermine the ascetic idea inherent in Christianity, are not ashamed of the sensual appetite; but rather the reverse. I have heard in Persia of a Religious, highly esteemed for learning and saintly life who, when lodged by a disciple at Shiraz, came out of his sleeping room and aroused his host with the words “Shahwat dáram!” equivalent to our “I want a woman.” He was at once married to one of the slave-girls and able to gratify the demands of the flesh.

7 Koran iv. 81, “Whatever good betideth thee is from God, and whatever betideth thee Of evil is from thyself”: rank Manichæism, as pronounced as any in Christendom.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Sixteenth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the youth, King Jali’ad’s son had questioned Shimas concerning these subtleties and had been duly answered, he pursued, “That which thou hast expounded to me concerning Allah and His creatures I understand; but tell me of one matter, concerning which my mind is perplexed with extreme wonderment, and that is that I marvel at the sons of Adam, how careless they are of the life to come and at their lack of taking thought thereof and their love to this world, albeit they know that they must needs leave it and depart from it, whilst they are yet young in years.”—“Yes, verily; and that which thou seest of its changefulness and traitorousness with its children is a sign that Fortune to the fortunate will not endure nor to the afflicted affliction; for none of its people is secure from its changefulness and even if one have power over it and be content therewith, yet there is no help but that his estate change and removal hasten unto him. Wherefore man can put no trust therein nor profit by that which he enjoyeth of its gilding and glitter1; and we knowing this will know that the sorriest of men in condition are those who are deluded by this world and are unmindful of the other world; for that whatso of present ease they enjoy will not even the fear and misery and horrors which will befal them after their removal therefrom. Thus are we certified that, if the creature knew that which will betide him with the coming of death2 and his severance from that which he enjoyeth of pleasure and delight, he would cast away the world and that which is therein; for we are certified that the next life is better for us and more profitable.” Said the Prince, “O sage, thou hast dispelled the darkness that was upon my heart by the light of thy shining lamp and hast directed me into the right road I must tread on the track of Truth and hast given me a lantern whereby I may see.” Then rose one of the learned men who was in the presence and said, “When cometh the season of Prime, needs must the hare seek the pasture as well as the elephant; and indeed I have heard from you twain such questions and solutions as I never before heard; but now leave that and let me ask you of somewhat. Tell me, what is the best of the goods of the world?” Replied the Prince, “Health of body, lawful livelihood and a virtuous son.” Q “What is the greater and what is the less?”— “The greater is that to which a lesser than itself submitteth and the less that which submitteth to a greater than itself.” Q “What are the four things wherein concur all creatures?”—“Men concur in meat and drink, the sweet of sleep, the lust of women and the agonies of death.” Q “What are the three things whose foulness none can do away?”—“Folly, meanness of nature, and lying.” Q “What is the best kind of lie,3 though all kinds are foul?”—“That which averteth harm from its utterer and bringeth gain.” Q “What kind of truthfulness is foul, though all kinds are fair?”—“That of a man glorying in that which he hath and vaunting himself thereof.” Q “What is the foulest of foulnesses?”—“When a man boasteth himself of that which he hath not.” Q “Who is the most foolish of men?”—“He who hath no thought but of what he shall put in his belly.” Then said Shimas, “O King, verily thou art our King, but we desire that thou assign the kingdom to thy son after thee, and we will be thy servants and lieges.” So the King exhorted the Olema and others who were in the presence to remember that which they had heard and do according thereto and enjoined them to obey his son’s commandment, for that he made him his heir-apparent,4 so he should be the successor of the King his sire; and he took an oath of all the people of his empire, literates and braves and old men and boys, to mention none other, that they would not oppose him in the succession nor transgress against his commandment. Now when the Prince was seventeen years old, the King sickened of a sore sickness and came nigh to die, so, being certified that his decease was at hand, he said to the people of his household, “This is disease of Death which is upon me; wherefore do ye summon my son and kith and kin and gather together the Grandees and Notables of my empire, so not one of them may remain except he be present.” Accordingly they fared forth and made proclamation to those who were near and published the summons to those who were afar off, and they all assembled and went in to the King. Then said they to him, “How is it with thee, O King, and how deemest thou for thyself of these thy dolours?” Quoth Jali’ad, “Verily, this my malady is mortal and the shaft of death hath executed that which Allah Almighty decreed against me: this is the last of my days in the world here and the first of my days in the world hereafter.” Then said he to his son, “Draw near unto me.” So the youth drew near, weeping with weeping so sore, that he well nigh drenched the bed, whilst the King’s eyes welled tears and all who were present wept. Quoth Jali’ad, “Weep not, O my son; I am not the first whom this Inevitable betideth; nay, it is common to all that Allah hath created. But fear thou the Almighty and do good deeds which shall precede thee to the place whither all creatures tend and wend. Obey not thy lusts, but occupy thy soul with lauding the Lord in thy standing up and thy sitting down, in thy waking and in thy sleeping. Make the Truth the aim of thine eyes; this is the last of my speech with thee and — The Peace.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Zukhruf” which Mr. Payne picturesquely renders “painted gawds.”

2 It is the innate craving in the “Aryan” (Iranian, not the Turanian) mind, this longing to know what follows Death, or if nothing follows it, which accounts for the marvellous diffusion of the so-called Spiritualism which is only Swedenborgianism systematised and earned out into action, amongst nervous and impressionable races like the Anglo–American. In England it is the reverse; the obtuse sensitiveness of a people bred on beef and beer has made the “Religion of the Nineteenth Century” a manner of harmless magic, whose miracles are table-turning and ghost seeing whilst the prodigious rascality of its prophets (the so-called Mediums) has brought it into universal disrepute. It has been said that Catholicism must be true to co-exist with the priest and it is the same with Spiritualism proper, by which I understand the belief in a life beyond the grave, a mere continuation of this life; it flourishes (despite the Medium) chiefly because it has laid before man the only possible and intelligible idea of a future state.

3 See vol. vi. p. 7. The only lie which degrades a man in his own estimation and in that of others, is that told for fear of telling the truth. Au reste, human society and civilised intercourse are built upon a system of conventional lying. and many droll stories illustrate the consequences of disregarding the dictum, la verité n’est pas tonjours bonne à dire.

4 Arab. “Walí‘ahd” which may mean heir-presumptive (whose heirship is contingent) or heir-apparent.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Seventeenth Night,

She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King Jali’ad charged his son with such injunctions and made him his heir to succeed him in his reign, the Prince said, “O dear father mine,1 thou knowest that I have ever been to thee obedient and thy commandment carrying out, mindful of thine injunctions and thine approof seeking, for thou hast been to me the best of fathers; how, then, after thy death, shall I depart from that which contenteth thee? And now, having fairly ordered my nurture thou art about to depart from me and I have no power to bring thee back to me; but, an I be mindful of thy charge, I shall be blessed therein and great good fortune shall betide me.” Quoth the King, and indeed he was in the last agony of departing life, “Dear my son, cleave fast unto ten precepts, which if thou hold, Allah shall profit thee herewith in this world and the next world, and they are as follows. Whenas thou art wroth, curb thy wrath; when thou art afflicted, be patient; when thou speakest be soothfast; when thou promisest, perform; when thou judgest, do justice; when thou hast power, be merciful; deal generously by thy governors and lieutenants, forgive thy foes; be lavish of good offices to thine adversary, and stay thy mischief from him. Observe also other ten precepts,2 wherewith Allah shall profit thee among the people of thy realm: to wit, when thou dividest, be just; when thou punishest, oppress not; when thou engagest thyself, fulfil thine engagement; hearken to those that give thee loyal counsel; when offence is offered to thee, neglect it; abstain from contention; enjoin thy subjects to the observance of the divine laws and of praiseworthy practices; abate ignorance with a sharp sword; withhold thy regard from treachery and its untruth; and, lastly, do equal justice between the folk, so they may love thee, great and small, and the wicked and corrupt of them may fear thee.” Then he addressed himself to the Emirs and Olema which were present when he appointed his son to be his successor, saying, “Beware ye of transgressing the commandment of your King and neglecting to hearken to your chief, for therein lieth ruin for your realm and sundering for your society and bane for your bodies and perdition for your possessions, and your foe would exult over you. Well ye wot the covenant ye made with me, and even thus shall be your covenant with this youth and the troth which plighted between you and me shall be also between you and him; wherefore it behoveth you to give ear unto and obey his commandment, for that in this is the well being of your conditions. So be ye constant with him anent that wherein ye were with me and your estate shall prosper and your affairs be fair; for behold, he hath the Kingship over you and is the lord of your fortune, and — The Peace.” Then the death agony3 seized him and his tongue was bridled; so he pressed his son to him and kissed him and gave thanks unto Allah, after which his hour came and his soul fared forth. All his subjects and the people of his court mourned and keened over him and they shrouded him and buried him with pomp and honour and reverence, after which they returned with the Prince and clad him in the royal robes and crowned him with his father’s crown and put the seal-ring on his finger, after seating him on the Throne of Sovranship. The young King ordered himself towards them, after his father’s fashion of mildness and justice and benevolence, for a little while till the world waylaid him and entangled him in its lusts, whereupon, its pleasures made him their prey and he turned to its gilding and gewgaws, forsaking the engagements which his father had imposed upon him and casting off his obedience to him, neglecting the affairs of his reign and treading a road wherein was his own destruction. The love of women waxed stark in him and came to such a pass that, whenever he heard tell of a beauty, he would send for her and take her to wife; and after this wise, he collected women more in number than ever had Solomon, David-son, King of the children of Israel. Also he would shut himself up with a company of them for a month at a time, during which he went not forth neither enquired of his realm or its rule nor looked into the grievances of such of his subjects as complained to him; and if they wrote to him, he returned them no reply. Now when they saw this and witnessed his neglect of their affairs and lack of care for their interests and those of the state, they were assured that ere long some calamity would betide them and this was grievous to them. So they met privily one with other and took counsel together blaming their King, and one of them said to the rest, “Come, let us go to Shimas, Chief of the Wazirs, and set forth to him our case and acquaint him with that wherein we are by reason of this King, so he may admonish him; else, in a little, calamity will dawn upon us, for the world hath dazzled the Sovran with its delights and seduced him with its snares.” Accordingly, they repaired to Shimas and said to him, “O wise man and prudent, the world hath dazed the King with its delights and taken him in its toils, so that he turneth unto vanity and worketh for the undoing of the state. Now with the disordering of the state the commons will be corrupted and our affairs will run to ruin. We see him not for days and months nor cometh there forth from him any commandment to us or to the Wazir or any else. We cannot refer aught of our need to him and he looketh not to the administration of justice nor taketh thought to the condition of any of his subjects, in his disregard of them.4 And behold we are come to acquaint thee with the truth of things, for that thou art the chiefest and most accomplished of us and it behoveth not that calamity befal a land wherein thou dwellest, seeing that thou art most able of any to amend this King. Wherefore go thou and speak with him; haply he will hearken to thy word and return unto the way of Allah.”5 So Shimas arose forthright and repairing to the palace, foregathered with the first page he could find and said to him, “Fair my son, I beseech thee ask leave for me to go in to the King, for I have an affair, concerning which I would fain see his face and acquaint him therewith and hear what he shall answer me there anent.” Answered the page, “O my lord, by Allah, this month past hath he given none leave to come in to him, nor have I all this time looked upon his face; but I will direct thee to one who shall crave admission for thee. Do thou lay hold of such a blackamoor slave who standeth at his head and bringeth him food from the kitchen. When he cometh forth to go to the kitchen, ask him what seemeth good to thee, for he will do for thee that which thou desirest.” So the Wazir repaired to the door of the kitchen and sat there a little while, till up came the black and would have entered the kitchen; but Shimas caught hold of him and said to him, “Dear my son, I would fain stand in presence of the King and speak with him of somewhat especially concerneth him; so prithee, of thy kindness, when he hath ended his undurn-meal and his temper is at its best, speak for me and get me leave to approach him, so I may bespeak him of that which shall suit him.” “I hear and obey,” answered the black and taking the food carried it to the King, who ate thereof and his temper was soothed thereby. Then said the black to him, “Shimas standeth at the door and craveth admission, so he may acquaint thee with matters that specially concern thee.” At this the King was alarmed and disquieted and commanded to admit the Minister. — And Shahrazed perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Arab. “Yá abati”= my papa (which here would sound absurd).

2 All the texts give a decalogue; but Mr. Payne has reduced it to a heptalogue.

3 The Arabs who had a variety of anæsthetics never seem to have studied the subject of “euthanasia.” They preferred seeing a man expire in horrible agonies to relieving him by means of soporifics and other drugs: so I have heard Christians exult in saying that the sufferer “kept his senses to the last.” Of course superstition is at the bottom of this barbarity; the same which a generation ago made the silly accoucheur refuse to give ether because of the divine (?) saying “In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children.” (Gen iii. 16.) In the Bosnia–Herzegovina campaign many of the Austrian officers carried with them doses of poison to be used in case of being taken prisoners by the ferocious savages against whom they were fighting. As many anecdotes about “Easing off the poor dear” testify, the Euthanasia-system is by no means unknown to the lower classes in England. I shall have more to say on this subject.

4 See vol. iii. p. 253 for the consequences of royal seclusion of which Europe in the present day can contribute examples. The lesson which it teaches simply is that the world can get on very well without royalties.

5 The grim Arab humour in the text is the sudden change for the worse of the good young man. Easterns do not believe in the Western saw, “Nemo repente fuit turpissimus.” The spirited conduct of the subjects finds many parallels in European history, especially in Portugal: see my Life of Camoens p. 234.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Eighteenth Night,

She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King bade the blackamoor admit Shimas, the slave went forth to him and bade him enter; whereupon he went in and falling prone before Allah, kissed the King’s hands and blessed him. Then said the King, “What hath betided thee, O Shimas, that thou seekest admission unto me?” He answered, “This long while have I not looked upon the face of my lord the King and indeed I longed sore for thee; and now, behold, I have seen thy countenance and come to thee with a word which I would fief say to thee, O King stablished in all prosperity!” Quoth the King, “Say what seemeth good to thee;” and quoth Shimas, “I would have thee bear in mind O King, that Allah Almighty hath endowed thee with learning and wisdom, for all the tenderness of thy years, such as He never vouchsafed unto any of the Kings before thee, and hath fulfilled the measure of his bounties to thee with the Kingship; and He loveth not that thou depart from that wherewith He hath endowed thee unto other than it, by means of thy disobedience to Him; wherefore it behoveth thee not to levy war against1 Him with thy hoards but of His injunctions to be mindful and unto His commandments obedient. Indeed, I have seen thee, this while past, forget thy sire and his charges and reject his covenant and neglect his counsel and words of wisdom and renounce his justice and good governance, remembering not the bounty of Allah to thee neither requiting it with gratitude and thanks to Him.” The King asked, “How so? And what is the manner of this?”; and Shimas answered, “The manner of it is that thou neglectest to administer the affairs of the state and that which Allah hath committed unto thee of the interests of thy lieges and surrenderest thyself to thy lower nature in that which it maketh fair to thee of the slight lusts of the world. Verily it is said that the welfare of the state and of the Faith and of the folk is of the things which it behoveth the King to watch; wherefore it is my rede, O King, that thou look fairly to the issue of thine affair, for thus wilt thou find the manifest road wherein is salvation, and not accept a trifling pleasure and a transient which leadeth to the abyss of destruction, lest there befal thee that which befel the Fisherman.” The King asked, “What was that?”; and Shimas answered, “there hath reached me this tale of

1 Arab. “Muhárabah” lit.=doing battle; but is sometimes used in the sense of gain-saying or disobeying.

The Foolish Fisherman.

A fisherman went forth to a river for fishing therein as was his wont, and when he came thither and walked upon the bridge, he saw a great fish and said in himself, “’Twill not serve me to abide here, but I will follow yonder fish whitherso it goeth, till I catch it for it will relieve me from fishing for days and days.” So he did off his clothes and plunged into the river after the fish. The current bore him along till he overtook it and laid hold of it, when he turned and found himself far from the bank. But albeit he saw what the stream had done with him, he would not loose the fish and return, but ventured life and gripping it fast with both hands, let his body float with the flow, which carried him on till it cast him into a whirlpool1 none might enter and come out therefrom. With this he fell to crying out and saying, “Save a drowning man!” And there came to him folk of the keepers of the river and said to him, “What ailed thee to cast thyself into this great peril?” Quoth he, “It was I myself who forsook the plain way wherein was salvation and gave myself over to concupiscence and perdition.” Quoth they, “O fellow, why didst thou leave the way of safety and cast thyself into this destruction, knowing from of old that none may enter herein and be saved? What hindered thee from throwing away what was in thy hand and saving thyself? So hadst thou escaped with thy life and not fallen into this perdition, whence there is no deliverance; and now not one of us can rescue thee from this thy ruin.” Accordingly the man cut off all his hopes of life and lost that which was in his hand and for which his flesh had prompted him to venture himself, and died a miserable death. “And I tell thee not this parable, O King,” added Shimas, “but that thou mayest leave this contemptible conduct that diverteth thee from thy duties and look to that which is committed to thee of the rule of thy folk and the maintenance of the order of thy realm, so that none may see fault in thee.” The King asked “What wouldst thou have me do?” And Shimas answered, “Tomorrow, an thou be well and in good case,2 give the folk leave to come in to thee and look into their affairs and excuse thyself to them and promise them of thine own accord good governance and prosperity.” Quoth the King, “O Shimas, thou hast spoken sensibly and rightly; and to-morrowf, Inshallah, I will do that which thou counsellest me.” So the Wazir went out from him and told the lieges all he had said to him; and, when morning morrowed, the King came forth of his privacy and bade admit the people, to whom he excused himself, promising them that thence forward he would deal with them as they wished, wherewith they were content and departed each to his own dwelling.3 Then one of the King’s wives, who was his best-beloved of them and most in honour with him, visited him and seeing him changed of colour and thoughtful over his affairs, by reason of that which he had heard from his Chief Wazir, said to him, “O King, how is it that I see thee troubled in mind? Hast thou aught to complain of?” Answered he, “No, but my pleasures have distracted me from my duties. What right have I to be thus negligent of my affairs and those of my subjects? If I continue on this wise, soon, very soon, the kingdom will pass out of my hand.” She rejoined, “I see, O King, that thou hast been duped by the Wazirs and Ministers, who wish but to torment and entrap thee, so thou mayst have no joyance of this thy kingship neither feel ease nor taste delight; nay, they would have thee consume thy life in warding off trouble from them, till thy days be wasted in travail and weariness and thou be as one who slayeth himself for the benefit of another or like the Boy and the Thieves.” Asked the King, “How was that?” and she answered, “They tell the following tale anent

1 Arab. “Duwámah” (from “duwám”=vertigo, giddiness) also applied to a boy’s whip ton.

2 Arab. “Khayr o (we) Áfiyah,” a popular phrase much used in salutations, &c.

3 Another instance, and true to life, of the democracy of despotism in which the express and combined will of the people is the only absolute law. Hence Russian autocracy is forced into repeated wars for the possession of Constantinople which, in the present condition of the Empire, would be an unmitigated evil to her and would be only too glad to see a Principality of Byzantium placed under the united protection of the European Powers. I have treated of this in my paper on the “Partition of Turkey,” which first appeared, headed the “Future of Turkey,” in the Daily Telegraph, of March 7, 1880, and subsequently by its own name in the Manchester Examiner, January 3, 1881. The main reason why the project is not carried out appears to be that the “politicals” would thereby find their occupation gone and they naturally object to losing so fine a field of action. So Turkey still plays the rôle of the pretty young lady being courted by a rabble of valets.

The Boy and the Thieves.

Seven Thieves once went out to steal, according to their custom, and fell in with a Boy, poor and orphaned to boot, who besought them for somewhat to eat. One of them asked him, “Wilt go with us, O Boy, and we will feed thee and give thee drink, clothe thee and entreat thee kindly?” And he answered, “Needs must I go with you whitherso ye will and ye are as my own kith and kin.” So they took him and fared on with him till they came to a garden, and entering, went round about therein till they found a walnut tree laden with ripe fruit and said to him, “O Boy, wilt thou enter this garden with us and swarm up this tree and eat of its walnuts thy sufficiency and throw the rest down to us?” He consented and entered with them — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Nineteenth Night,

She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Boy consented and entered with the Thieves, one of them said to other, “Look which is the lightest and smallest of us and make him climb the tree.” And they said, “None of us is slighter than this Boy.” So they sent him up into the tree and said to him, “O Boy, touch not aught of the fruit, lest someone see thee and work thee a mischief.” He asked, “How then shall I do?”, and they answered, “Sit among the boughs and shake them one by one with all thy might, so that which is thereon may fall, and we will pick it up. Then, when thou hast made an end of shaking down the fruit, come down and take thy share of that which we have gathered.” Accordingly he began to shake every branch at which he could come, so that the nuts fell and the thieves picked them up and ate some and hid other some till all were full, save the Boy who had eaten naught. As they were thus engaged, behold, up came the owner of the garden who, standing to witness the spectacle, enquired of them, “What do ye with this tree?” They replied, “We have taken naught thereof, but we were passing by and seeing yonder Boy on the tree, took him for the owner thereof and besought him to give us to eat of the fruit. thereat he fell to shaking one of the branches so that the nuts dropped down, and we are not at fault.” Quoth the master to the Boy, “What sayst thou?”; and quoth he, “These men lie, but I will tell thee the truth. It is that we all came hither together and they bade me climb the tree and shake its boughs that the nuts might fall down to them, and I obeyed their bidding.” Said the master, “Thou hast cast thyself into sore calamity, but hast thou profited by eating aught of the fruit?”; and he said, “I have eaten naught thereof.” Rejoined the owner of the garden, “Now know I thy folly and thine ignorance in that thou hast wrought to ruin thyself and profit others.” Then said he to the Thieves, “I have no resort against you, so wend your ways!” But he laid hands on the Boy and punished him. “On likewise,” added the favourite, “thy Wazirs and Officers of state would sacrifice thee to their interests and do with thee as did the Thieves with the Boy.” Answered the King, “Thou sayst sooth, and speakest truth. I will not go forth to them nor leave my pleasures.” Then he passed the night with his wife in all delight till the morning, when the Grand Wazir arose and, assembling the Officers of state, together with those of the lieges who were present with them, repaired with them to the palace-gate, congratulating one another and rejoicing. But the door opened not nor did the King come forth unto them nor give them leave to go in to him. So, when they despaired of him, they said to Shimas, “O excellent Wazir and accomplished sage, seest thou not the behaviour of this lad, young of years and little of wit, how he addeth to his offences falsehood? See how he hath broken his promise to us and hath not performed that for which he engaged unto us, and this sin it behoveth thee join unto his other sins; but we beseech thee go in to him yet again and discover what is the cause of his holding back and refusal to come forth, for we doubt not but that the like of this action cometh of his corrupt nature, and indeed he is now hardened to the highest degree.” Accordingly, Shimas went in to the King and bespake him, saying, “Peace be with thee, O King! How cometh it that I see thee give thyself up to these slight pleasures and neglect the great affair whereto it behoveth thee sedulously apply thyself? Thou art like unto a man who had a milch camel and, coming one day to milk her, the goodness of her milk made him neglect to hold fast her halter, which whenas she felt, she haled herself free and made off into the world. Thus the man lost both milk and camel and the loss that betided him surpassed his gain. Wherefore, O King, do thou look unto that wherein is thy welfare and the weal of thy subjects; for, even as it behoveth not a man to sit forever at the kitchen door, because of his need unto food, so should he not alway company with women, by reason of his inclination to them. And as a man should eat but as much food as will guard him from the pains of hunger and drink but what will ward off the pangs of thirst, in like manner it behoveth the sensible man to content himself with passing two of the four-and-twenty hours of his day with women and expend the rest in ordering his own affairs and those of his people. For to be longer than this in company with women is hurtful both to mind and body, seeing that they bid not unto good neither direct thereto; wherefore it besitteth not a man to accept from them or word or deed, for indeed it hath reached me that many men have come to ruin through their women, and amongst others a certain man who perished through conversation with his wife at her command.” The King asked, “How was that?” and Shimas answered, saying, “Hear, O King the tale of

The Man and his Wife.

They relate that a certain man had a wife whom he loved and honoured, giving ear to her speech and doing according to her rede. Moreover, he had a garden, which he had newly planted with his own hand and was wont to go thither every day, to tend it and water it. One day his wife asked him, “What hast thou planted in thy garden?”, and he answered, “All thou lovest and desirest, and I am assiduous in tending and watering it.” Quoth she, “Wilt thou not carry me thither and show it to me, so I may look upon it and offer thee up a pious prayer for its prosperity seeing that my orisons are effectual?” Quoth he, “I will well, but have patience with me till the morrow, when I will come and take thee.” So early on the ensuing day, he carried her to the garden which he entered with her. Now two young men saw them enter from afar and said each to other, “Yonder man is an adulterer and yonder woman an adulteress, and they have not entered this garden but to commit adultery.” Thereupon they followed the couple to see what they would do, and hid themselves in a corner of the garden. The man and his wife after entering abode awhile therein, and presently he said to her, “Pray me the prayer thou didst promise me;” but she replied, saying, “I will not pray for thee, until thou do away my desire of that which women seek from men.” Cried he, “Out on thee, O woman! Hast thou not thy fill of me in the house? Here I fear scandal, especially as thou divertest me from my affairs. Fearest thou not that someone will see us?” Quoth she, “We need have no care for that, seeing that we do neither sin nor lewdness; and, as for the watering of the garden, that may wait, because thou canst water it when thou wilt.” And she would take neither excuse nor reason from him, but was instant with him in seeking carnal coition. So he arose and lay with her, which when the young men aforesaid saw, they ran upon them and seized them,1 saying, “We will not let you go, for ye are adulterers, and except we have carnal knowledge of the woman, we will report you to the police.” Answered the man, “Fie upon you! This is my wife and I am the master of the garden.” They paid no heed to him, but fell upon the woman, who cried out to him for succour, saying, “Suffer them not to defile me!” Accordingly he came up to them, calling out for help; but one of them turned on him and smote him with his dagger and slew him. — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

1 Good Moslems are bound to abate such scandals; and in a case of the kind even neighbours are expected to complain before the Chief of Police. This practice forms “Viligance Committees” all over the Mahommedan East: and we may take a leaf out of their books if dynamite-outrages continue.

When it was the Nine Hundred and Twentieth Night,

She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that after slaying the husband the two young men returned to the wife and ravished her. “This I tell thee, O King,” continued the Wazir, “But that thou mayst know that it becometh not men to give ear unto a woman’s talk neither obey her in aught nor accept her judgment in counsel. Beware, then, lest thou don the dress of ignorance, after the robe of knowledge and wisdom, and follow perverse rede, after knowing that which is righteous and profitable. Wherefore pursue thou not a paltry pleasure, whose trending is to corruption and whose inclining is unto sore and uttermost perdition.” When the King heard this from Shimas he said to him, “To-morrow I will come forth to them, an it be the will of Allah the Most High.” So Shimas returned to the Grandees and Notables who were present and told them what the King had said. But this came to the ears of the favourite wife; whereupon she went in to the King and said to him, “The subjects of a King should be his slaves; but I see, O King, thou art become a slave to thy subjects, because thou standest in awe of them and fearest their mischief.1 They do but desire to make proof of thine inner man, and if they find thee weak, they will disdain thee; but, if they find thee stout and brave, they will dread thee. On this wise do ill Wazirs with their King, for that their wiles are many; but I will make manifest unto thee the truth of their malice. An thou comply with the conditions they demand, they will cause thee cease ruling and do their will; nor will they leave leading thee on from affair to affair, till they cast thee into destruction, and thy case will be as that of the Merchant and the Robbers.” Asked the King, “How was that?” and she answered, “I have heard tell this tale anent

1 But a Hadis, attributed to Mohammed, says, “The Prince of a people is their servant.” See Matth. xx. 26–27.

The Merchant and the Robbers.

There was once a wealthy Merchant, who set out for a certain city purposing to sell merchandise there, and when he came thither, he hired him a lodging wherein he took up his abode. Now certain Robbers saw him, men wont to lie in wait for merchants, that they might rob their goods; so they went to his house and sought some device whereby to enter in, but could find no way thereto, and their Captain said, “I’ll manage you his matter.” Then he went away and, donning the dress of a leach, threw over his shoulder a bag containing somewhat of medicines, after which he set out crying, ‘Who lacks a doctor?’ and fared on till he came to the merchant’s lodging and him sitting eating the noon-day dinner. So he asked him, “Dost thou need thee a physician?”; and the trader answered, “I need naught of the kind, but sit thee down and eat with me.” The thief sat down facing him and began to eat. Now this merchant was a belle fourchette, and the Robber seeing this, said to himself, “I have found my chance.” Then he turned to his host and said to him, “’Tis but right for me to give thee an admonition, and after thy kindness to me, I cannot hide it from thee. I see thee to be a great eater and the cause of this is a disorder in thy stomach; wherefore unless thou take speedy measures for thy cure, thine affair will end in perdition.” Quoth the merchant, “My body is sound and my stomach speedy of digestion, and though I be a hearty eater, yet is there no disease in my body, to Allah be the praise and the thanks!” Quoth the Robber, “It may appear thus unto thee, but I know thou hast a disease incubating in thy vitals and if thou hearken to me, thou wilt medicine thyself.” The Merchant asked, “And where shall I find him who knoweth my remedy?”; and the Robber answered, “Allah is the Healer; but a physician like myself cureth the sick to the best of his power.” Then the other said, “Show me at once my remedy and give me thereof.” Hereupon he gave him a powder, wherein was a strong dose of aloes,1 saying, “Use this to-night;” and he accepted it gratefully. When the night came, the Merchant tasted somewhat of the powder and found it nauseous of gust; nevertheless he misdoubted not of it, but swallowed it all and therefrom found ease that night. Next night the thief brought him another powder, wherein was yet more aloes and he took it; it purged him that night, but he bore patiently with this and rejected it not. When the Robber saw that he gave ear unto his word and put trust in him nor would gainsay him in aught, he brought him a deadly drug2 and gave it to him. The Merchant swallowed it and no sooner had he done this than that which was in his stomach fell down and his bowels were rent in sunder, and by the morrow he was a dead man; whereupon the Robbers came and took all the merchandise and monies that belonged to him. “This I tell thee, O King,” added the favourite “but that thou mayst not accept one word from these deluders, else will there befal thee that whereby thou wilt destroy thyself.” Cried the King, “Thou sayst sooth. I will not go forth to them.” Now when the morning morrowed, the folk assembled together and repairing to the King’s door, sat there the most part of the day, till they despaired of his coming forth, when they returned to Shimas and said to him, “O sage philosopher and experienced master, seest thou not that this ignorant lad cloth naught but redouble in falsehood to us? Verily ’twere only reasonable and right to take the Kingdom from him and give it to another, so our affairs may be ordered and our estates maintained; but go thou in to him a third time and tell him that naught hindereth us from rising against him and taking the Kingship from him but his father’s goodness to us and that which he required from us of oaths and engagements. However, to-morrow, we will all, to the last of us, assemble here with our arms and break down the gate of the citadel3; and if he come forth to us and do that which we wish, no harm is yet done4, else we will go in to him and slay him and put the Kingdom in the hand of other than he.” So the Wazir Shimas went in to him and said, “O King, that grovellest in thy gusts and thy lusts, what is this thou dost with thyself? Would Heaven I wot who seduced thee thereto! An it be thou who sinnest against thyself, there hath ceased from thee that which we knew in thee aforetime of integrity and wisdom and eloquence. Could I but learn who hath thus changed thee and fumed thee from wisdom to folly and from fidelity to iniquity and from mildness to harshness and from acceptation of me to aversion from me! How cometh it that I admonish thee thrice and thou acceptest not mine admonition and that I counsel thee rightfully and stir thou gainsayest my counsel? Tell me, what is this child’s play and who is it prompteth thee thereunto? Know that the people of thy Kingdom have agreed together to come in to thee and slay thee and give thy Kingdom to another. Art able to cope with them all and save thyself from their hands or canst quicken thyself after being killed? If, indeed, thou be potent to do all this, thou art safe and hast no occasion for my rede; but an thou have any concern for thy life and thy kingship, return to thy sound sense and hold fast thy reign and show forth to the folk the power of thy prowess and persuade the people with thine excuse, for they are minded to tear away that which is in thy hand and commit it unto other, being resolved upon revolt and rebellion, led thereto by that which they know of thy youth and thy self-submission to love-liesse and lusts; for that stones, albeit they lie long underwater, an thou withdraw them therefrom and smite one upon other, fire will be struck from them. Now thy lieges are many folk and they have taken counsel together against thee, with a design to transfer the Kingship from thee to another and accomplish upon thee whatso they desire of thy destruction. So shalt thou fare as did the Jackals with the Wolf.”—— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

1 Easterns are well aware of the value of this drug which has become the base of so many of our modern medicines.

2 The strangest poison is mentioned by Sonnini who, as a rule, is a trustworthy writer. Noticing the malignity of Egyptian women he declares (p. 628, English trans.) that they prepare a draught containing a quant. suff. of menstruous discharge at certain phases of the moon, which produces symptoms of scurvy; the gums decay, the teeth, beard and hair fall off, the body dries, the limbs lose strength and death follows within a year. He also asserts that no counterpoison is known and if this be true he confers a boon upon the Locustæ and Brinvilliers of modern Europe. In Morocco “Ta’am” is the vulgar name for a mixture of dead men’s bones, eyes, hair and similar ingredients made by old wives and supposed to cause a wasting disease for which the pharmacopoeia has no cure. Dogs are killed by needles cunningly inserted into meat-balls; and this process is known through out the Moslem world.

3 Which contained the Palace.

4 Arab. “Lá baas.” See Night vol. iv. 164.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/part94.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31