The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

The Righteous Wazir Wrongfully Gaoled.331

It is related that there was a King among the manifold Kings of Al-Hind, and he had a Wazir which was a right good counsellor to the realm and pitiful to the lieges and the Fakirs and merciful to the miserable and just in all his dealings. Despite this the Grandees of the kingdom hated him and envied him, and at all times and seasons when he went forth the presence or returned to his house, one of the Emirs would come forward and say to the King, “O our lord, verily the Wazir doth of doings thus and thus,"— And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

331 Scott (vi.375) “Story of the Good Vizier unjustly imprisoned.” Gauttier (vi. 394) Histoire du bon Vizier injustement emprisonné.

The Seven Hundred and Twenty-ninth Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Lords of the land, whenever the Wazir was absent traduced him and maligned him in the presence of the Sultan, saying, “The Minister doth such and such doings,” and this continued for a while of time. Now one day of the days, as the Sultan was sitting in his palace behold, a running messenger came to him bearing letters from sundry of the provinces which were in his reign imploring help against their foemen’s violence. “What may be done in this case?” asked the Sultan, and his Nobles answered saying, “Send to them the Wazir,” but they spake not this speech save in their resolve to ruin him and their determination to destroy him. Hereupon the King sent for him and summoned him and commended him to journey to the places in question; but those of whom the complaints had been made threw dangers and difficulties in his way. Said the Wazir, “Hearing and obeying;” and after preparing himself for wayfare he set forth on his way. Now the Lords had despatched letters to the province whither he intended, apprising the folk of his coming, and saying to them, “Empower him not with anything, and if you avail to work him aught of wrong, so do.” When the Wazir marched upon those places he was met by the people with welcomes and deputations to receive him and offer him presents and rarities and sumptuous gifts, and all who were therein honoured him with highmost honour. Presently he sent for their adversaries, and having brought them before him made peace between the two parties, and their gladness increased and their sadness ceased, and he tarried with them for a month full-told; after which he set out on his homeward march. The Lords, however, had reported all this to the King and they were right sore and sorrowful, for that their desire had been the destruction of the Minister. And one day of the days as the Wazir was sitting at home, behold, a party of Chamberlains appeared before him and summoned him to the presence, saying, “Arise, the King requireth thee.” He rose without stay or delay, and taking horse made for the presence, and ceased not riding until he had reached the palace and had gone in to the King, who forthright bade throw him into gaol. (Now it happened that the prison had seven doors.)332 Cried the Wazir, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great; and verily we be Allah’s and unto Him are we returning! Would I wot why and wherefore the King hath confined me and for what cause; but Omnipotence is Allah’s.” As soon as the Minister was quartered in his new quarters the Sovran sent to interdict his eating any food of **flesh-kind, allowing only bread and cheese and olives and oil, and so left him in durance vile. Hereupon all the folk applied them to addressing the King with petitions and to interceding for the captive; but this was not possible; nay, the Sultan’s wrath waxed hotter nor did it soon cool, for the Wazir abode in gaol during the longsome length of seven years. At last one day of the days that Sultan went forth disguised in Darwaysh-garb and toured about town unattended, and ceased not walking until he reached and passed before the palace of the Wazir, where he found a gathering of much folk, some sweeping and others sprinkling water, and others spreading333, whilst the Harem and household were in high glee and gladness. He stood there amongst the spectators and presently asked what was doing, and they informed him, saying, “The Wazir returneth from abroad this night and folk have been informed by messenger that the Sultan hath deigned restore him to favour and expressed himself satisfied, so presently we shall see him once more at home.” “Praise be to Allah!” quoth the King in his mind; “by the Almighty, this occurrence hath no cause, and how went the bruit abroad that the King hath again accepted him? And now there is no help but that I forgather with the Wazir and see what there may be to do and how this occurred.” The Sultan increased in disquietude therefor, so he went and bought a somewhat of bread and repairing to the gaol (he being still in Fakir’s garb) accosted the gaoler and said to him, “Allah upon thee, O my lord, open to me the bridewell that I may enter and distribute this provaunt among the prisoners, for that I have obliged myself to such course by oath, and the cause is that when suffering from a sickness which brought me nigh to death’s door I vowed a vow and sware a strong swear that, an Almighty Allah deign heal me, I would buy somewhat of bread and dole it out to the inmates of the gaol334. So here am I come for such purpose.” Upon this the man opened to him the door and he went in and divided all the bread amongst the captives yet he saw not the Wazir; so he said to the gaoler, “Hath any one remained that I may dole to him his share?” “O Darwaysh,” said the other, “whereof askest thou?” and said the Fakir, “O my lord, I have sworn an oath and Allah upon thee, if there be among the captives any save these I have seen, do thou tell me thereof.” Quoth the man, “There remaineth none save the Wazir who is in another place, but indeed he is not in want;” and quoth the Fakir, “O my lord, my desire is to free myself from the obligation of mine oath.” Accordingly the gaoler led him in to the Wazir and when the Darwaysh drew nigh the visitor shrieked and fell fainting to the floor, and the warder seeing him prostrate left him to himself and went his ways. Hereupon the Minister came to him and sprinkling somewhat of water upon his face said to him, “O Darwaysh, there is no harm to thee!” So the Fakir arose and said, “O my lord, my heart hath been upon thee for a while of time;"— And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

332 This detail has no significance, though perhaps its object may be to affect the circumstantial, a favourite manoeuvre with the Ráwí. [It may mean that the prisoner had to pass through seven gates before reaching it, to indicate its formidable strength and the hopelessness of all escape, except perhaps by a seven-warded, or as the Arabs would say, a seven-pinned key of gold. In the modern tale mentioned on p. 174 the kidnapped Prince and his Wazir are made to pass “through one door after the other until seven doors were passed,” to emphasize the utter seclusion of their hiding place. — ST.]

333 i.e. the mats and mattresses, rugs and carpets, pillows and cushions which compose the chairs, tables and beds of a well-to-do Eastern lodging.

334 The pretext was natural. Pious Moslems often make such vows and sometimes oblige themselves to feed the street dogs with good bread.

The Seven hundred and Thirty-First Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds fair seeming and worthy celebrating, that quoth the Fakir to the Wazir, “By Allah, O my lord, my heart hath indeed been with thee for this space of seven years; and often as I went to thy mansion, they told me that the Sultan is wroth with the Wazir; withal I still awaited for thee until this very day, when I repaired to thy quarters according to my custom and I found in thy house much folk, this sweeping and that sprinkling and that spreading, and all were in joyous case. So I asked of the by-standers and they informed me that the Sovran hath become satisfied with thee and that on the ensuing night thou wilt hie thee home for that this thy saying is soothfast.”335 “O Darwaysh,” replied the other, “ ’Tis true that I sent to my household and informed them thereof, for that I have received welcome news from an event befel me; so I bade apprise those at home that the Sultan is satisfied with me; and to me, O Darwaysh, hath betided a matter wondrous and an occurrence marvellous; were it written with needle-gravers upon the eye-corners it had been a warning to whoso would be warned.” The Fakir asked, “And what may be that?” and the other answered, “By Allah, O Darwaysh, the while I was in the service of His Highness the King, I was a true counsellor to him and pitiful to the lieges and I never deceived him nor did I betray him at any time at all; and often as he sent me to a place wherein were mutual strife and trouble and wrong and tyranny, I smoothed matters and pacified the folk and righted wrongs amongst them by the power of Almighty Allah. But one day of the days, my mind was set upon riding out to the waste lands about the town and the gardens thereof, by way of solacing my self; so I embarked in a little caïque336 upon the river and when we were amid stream I had a longing for coffee337; so I said to the boatman, ‘Abide this place and throw out the anchor while we drink coffee.’ Hereat all my suite arose and busied themselves in preparing it until ’twas ready and I had a finján338 worth a treasury339 of money which they filled and passed to me. I took it as I was sitting upon the gunwale of the boat whence it dropped into the stream; and I was sorely sorrowful therefor, because that cup was a souvenir. Seeing this, all in the boat arose and sent for a diver who asked, saying, ‘In what place hath the finjan fallen that I may seek it? and do ye inform me of its whereabouts.’ So we sought for a pebble in the caïque but we found none, and as I wore upon my finger a signet ring which was worth two treasuries of money I drew it off and cast it into the water crying, ‘The cup fell from me in this place.’ But when the ducker saw me throw my ring he said to me, ‘Wherefore, O my lord, hast thou parted with thy seal?’ and said I to him, ‘The deed is done.’ Then he went down and plunged into the deep for a while and behold he came up grasping the cup, in the middle of which we saw the signet ring. Now when this mighty great matter befel me, I said to myself, ‘Ho certain person, there remaineth upon this good luck no better luck; and haply there will befal thee somewhat contrary to this.’340 However those with me rejoiced at the finding of my two losses, not did any fear therefrom my change of state and downfall, but they wondered and said, ‘By Allah, this is a rare matter!’ Then we went forward in the caïque until we had reached the place intended, where we tarried the whole of that day and presently returned home. But hardly was I settled and had I taken seat in my home quarters when behold, a party of Chamberlains of the King’s suite came in to me and said, ‘The Sultan requireth thee!’ Accordingly, I arose and mounted horse and rode on till I had come to the palace and entered the presence; and I designed to offer suit and service to the King as was my wont, when suddenly he cried, ‘Carry him away.’ So they bore me off and confined me in this place, after which the Sultan sent and interdicted me from eating a tittle of flesh food, and here I am after the space of seven years, O Darwaysh, still in the same condition. Now on the morning of this day my stomach craved for meat, so I said to the gaoler, ‘O Such-and-such, ’tis now seven years since I tasted flesh, so take this ashrafi and bring us an ounce of meat.’ He accepted the money saying, ‘ ’Tis well,’ and went forth from me and brought me my need."— And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, “How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and delectable!” Quoth she, “And where is this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer me to survive?” Now when it was the next night and that was

335 In text “Min hakk házá ‘l-Kalám sahíh.”

336 In text “Káík” and “Káík-jí,” the well-known caïque of the Bosphorus, a term which bears a curious family resemblance to the “Kayak” of the Eskimos.

337 Here coffee is mentioned without tobacco, whereas in more modern days the two are intimately connected. And the reason is purely hygienic. Smoking increases the pulsations without strengthening them, and depresses the heart-action with a calming and soothing effect. Coffee, like alcohol, affects the circulation in the reverse way by exciting it through the nervous system; and not a few authorities advise habitual smokers to end the day and prepare for rest with a glass of spirits and water. It is to be desired that the ignorants who write about “that filthy tobacco” would take the trouble to observe its effects on a large scale, and not base the strongest and extremest opinions, as is the wont of the Anglo-Saxon Halb-bildung, upon the narrowest and shakiest of bases. In Egypt, India and other parts of the Eastern world they will find nicotiana used by men, women and children, of all ranks and ages; and the study of these millions would greatly modify the results of observing a few hundreds at home. But, as in the case of opium-eating, populus vult decipi, the philanthrope does not want to know the truth, indeed he shrinks from it and loathes it. All he cares for is his own especial “fad.”

338 Arab. “Fínjál” systematically repeated for “Finján” pronounced in Egypt “Fingán” see vol. viii. 200. [The plural “Fanájíl,” pronounced “Fanágíl,” occurs in Spitta Bey’s Contes Arabes Modernes, p. 92, and in his Grammar, p. 26, the same author states that the forms “Fingán” and “Fingál” are used promiscuously. — ST.]

339 For the “Khaznah” (Khazínah) or 10,000 kís each = £5, see vols. ii. 84; iii. 278.

340 A euphuism meaning some disaster. The text contains a favourite incident in folklore; the first instance, I believe, being that of Polycrates of Samos according to Herodotus (lib. iii. 41-42). The theory is supported after a fashion by experience amongst all versed in that melancholy wisdom the “knowledge of the world.” As Syr Cauline the knight philosophically says:—

Everye white will have its blacke,

And everye sweete its sowre: etc.

The Seven Hundred and Thirty-Third Night,

Dunyazad said to her, “Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale, that we may cut short the watching of this our latter night!” She replied, “With love and good will!” It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the director, the right guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting, and of deeds fair seeming and worthy celebrating, that the Wazir continued to the Fakir, “Then, O Darwaysh, we divided the meat (I and the gaoler) with our fingers, and we washed it and set it upon the hearth, building a fire beneath it until it was cooked, when we took it off, and after waiting awhile dished it up and were about to eat it. But it happened to be noon-tide, and the hour of incumbent orisons, so we said, ‘Let us pray our prayers;’ and we arose and made the Wuzú-ablution, and went through the mid-day devotions. After this we set the plate before us; and I, removing its cover, put forth my hand to take up a bit of meat, but as I took it, behold, a mouse passed over that same morsel with its tail and paws341. I cried, ‘There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah the Glorious, the Great! I have divided this meat with my own hand and have cooked it myself, so how could this matter have occurred? How ever, Allah the Omniscient haply knoweth that the stumbling stone hath been removed from my path,’ and this I said, for when I saw that mouse do on such wise I felt that glad news and good tidings were coming from the Lord of the Heavens and the Earth. So I sent to my home and informed them that the Sultan was satisfied with me, for things when at their worst mend, and in joyance end; and I opine, O Darwaysh, that all my troubles have now ceased.” Said to him the Fakir, “Alhamdolillah — Glory be to God — O my lord, who hath sent thee forerunners of welfare.” Then he arose from beside the Wazir, and went forth and ceased not wending until he came to his palace where he doffed his disguise and donned the garments of the Kings, and taking seat upon the throne of his Kingship summoned the Wazir from his gaol in all joy, and set him between his hands and gifted him with sumptuous gifts. And all displeasure in the Sultan’s heart being removed from the Wazir he committed to him once more the management of all his affairs342. But when Ibn Ahyam (continued Shahrazad) had ended his history of the Righteous Wazir he presently began to tell the tale of

341 Thus making the food impure and unfit for a religious Moslem to eat. Scott (vi. 378) has “when a huge rat running from his hole leaped into the dish which was placed upon the floor.” He is probably thinking of the East Indian “bandycoot.”

342 In text this tale concludes, “It is ended and this (next) is the History of the Barber.”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97b/v15.7.html

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