The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night

Appendix ii.

I. — Notes on the Stories Contained in Volume xiv.640

By W. F. Kirby.
Story of the Sultan of Al-yaman and His Three Sons.

P. 5. — The hippopotamus has also been observed, at the Zoölogical Gardens, to scatter his dung in the manner described.

P. 7. — It is evident from the importance which the author attaches to good birth and heredity, that he would hardly approve of the Socialistic custom, so prevalent in the East, of raising men of low birth to important offices of State.

640 Further notes illustrative of this and the succeeding volumes will be found in the Bibliography in Volume xvi. I frequently refer to tales by their numbers in the Table (Nights, vol. x., pp. 455-472).

The Story of the Three Sharpers (pp. 10-23).

P. 10. — In quoting the titles of this and other tales of the Wortley Montague MS., in which the word Ja’ídí frequently occurs, Scott often wrote “labourer” or “artisan” instead of “sharper.” The term “sharper” is hardly applicable here, for the fellows appear really to have possessed the knowledge to which they laid claim. The “sharpers” in this story differ much from such impostors as the Illiterate Schoolmaster (No. 93, vol. v. pp. 119-121), who escapes from his dilemma by his ready wit, or from European pretenders of the type of Grimm’s Dr. Knowall, who escapes from his difficulties by mere accident; or again from our old friend Ma’aruf (No. 169), whose impudent pretensions and impostures are aided by astounding good luck.

P. 13. — This test was similar to that given to Ma’aruf (vol. x. pp. 16,17), but there is nothing in the latter passage to show whether Ma’aruf had any real knowledge of gems, or not. In the present story, the incident of the worm recalls the well-known incident of Solomon ordering worms to pierce gems for Bilkees, the Queen of Sheba.

P. 13. — English schoolboys sometimes play the “trussing game.” Two boys have their wrists and ankles tied together, and their arms are passed over their knees, and a stick thrust over the arms and under the knees, and they are then placed opposite each other on the ground, and endeavour to turn each other over with their toes.

P. 15 note. — Can the word Kashmar be a corruption of Kashmiri?

History of Mohammed, Sultan of Cairo (pp. 25-35).

P. 25. — A few years ago, a travelling menagerie exhibited a pair of dog-faced baboons in Dublin as “two monstrous gorillas!”

P. 28. — Ma’aruf’s jewel has been already referred to. The present incident more resembles the demand made by the king and the wazir from Aladdin and his mother, though that was far more extravagant.

P. 29. — A more terrible form of these wedding disillusions, is when the bridegroom is entrapped into marriage by an evil magician, and wakes in the morning to find the phantom of a murdered body in the place of his phantom bride, and to be immediately charged with the crime. Compare the story of Naerdan and Guzulbec (Caylus’ Oriental Tales; Weber, ii. pp. 632-637) and that of Monia Emin (Gibb’s Story of Jewad, pp. 36, 75). Compare my Appendix, Nights, x. pp. 443, 449, 450.

P. 31. — There is a Western story (one of the latest versions of which may be found in Moore’s Juvenile Poems under the title of “The Ring”) in which a bridegroom on his wedding-day places the ring by accident on the finger of a statue of Venus; the finger closes on it, and Venus afterwards interposes continually between him and his bride, claiming him as her husband on the strength of the ring. The unfortunate husband applies to a magician, who sends him by night to a meeting of cross-roads, where a procession similar to that described in the text passes by. He presents the magician’s letters to the King (the devil in the mediæval versions of the story) who requires Venus to surrender the ring, and with it her claim to the husband.

One of the most curious stories of these royal processions is perhaps the Lithuanian (or rather Samoghitian) story of

The King of the Rats.641

Once upon a time a rich farmer lived in a village near Korzian, who was in the habit of going into the wood late in the evening. One evening he went back again into the wood very late, when he distinctly heard the name Zurkielis shouted. He followed the voice, but could not discover from whence the sound proceeded.

On the next evening the farmer went into the wood, and did not wait long before he heard the cry repeated, but this time much louder and more distinctly. On the third evening the farmer went again to the wood; but this time on Valpurgis-night — the Witch’s Sabbath. Suddenly he saw a light appear in the distance; then more lights shone out, and the light grew stronger and stronger; and presently the farmer saw a strange procession advancing, and passing by him. In front of the procession ran a great number of mice of all sorts, each of whom carried a jewel in his mouth which shone brighter than the sun. After these came a golden chariot, drawn by a lion, a bear, and two wolves. The chariot shone like fire, and, instead of nails, it was studded with dazzling jewels. In the chariot sat the King of the Rats and his consort, both clad in golden raiment. The King of the Rats wore a golden crown on his head, and his consort marshalled the procession. After the chariot followed a vast procession of rats, each of whom carried a torch, and the sparks which flew from the torches fell to the earth as jewels. Some of the rats were shouting “Zurkielis” incessantly; and whenever a rat uttered this cry, a piece of gold fell from his mouth. The procession was followed by a great number of fantastic forms, which collected the gold from the ground, and put it into large sacks. When the farmer saw this he also gathered together as much of the gold and jewels as he could reach. Presently a cock crew, and everything vanished. The farmer returned to his house, but the gold and jewels gave him a very tangible proof that the adventure had not been a dream.

A year passed by, and on the next Valpurgis-night the farmer went back to the wood, and everything happened as on the year before. The farmer became immensely rich from the gold and jewels which he collected; and on the third anniversary of the Valpurgis-night he did not go to the wood, but remained quietly at home. He was quite rich enough, and he was afraid that some harm might happen to him in the wood. But on the following morning a rat appeared, and addressed him as follows: “You took the gold and jewels, but this year you did not think it needful to pay our king and his consort the honour due to them by appearing before them during the procession in the wood; and henceforward it will go ill with you.”

Having thus spoken, the rat disappeared; but shortly afterwards such a host of rats took up their abode in the farmer’s house that it was impossible for him to defend himself against them. The rats gnawed everything in the house, and whatever was brought into it. In time the farmer was reduced to beggary, and died in wretchedness.

641 Veckenstedt, Mythen, Sagen und Legenden der Zamaiten, ii. pp. 160,162.

Story of the Second Lunatic (pp. 49-55).

This is a variant of “Woman’s Craft” (No. 184 of our Table), or “Woman’s Wiles,” (Supp. Nights, ii. pp. 99-107). Mr. L. C. Smithers tells me that an English version of this story, based upon Langlès’ translation (Cf. Nights, x. App., p. 440, sub “Sindbad the Sailor”), appeared in the Literary Souvenir for 1831, under the title of “Woman’s Wit.”

Pp. 51-56. — Concerning the Shikk and the Nesnás, Lane writes (1001 Nights, i., Introd. note 21): “The Shikk is another demoniacal creature, having the form of half a human being (like a man divided longitudinally); and it is believed that the Nesnás is the offspring of a Shikk and of a human being. The Shikk appears to travellers; and it was a demon of this kind who killed, and was killed by, ‘Alkamah, the son of Safwán, the son of Umeiyeh, of whom it is well known that he was killed by a Jinnee. So says El-Kazweenee.

“The Nesnás (above-mentioned) is described as resembling half a human being, having half a head, half a body, one arm, and one leg, with which it hops with much agility; as being found in the woods of El-Yemen, and being endowed with speech; ‘but God,’ it is added, ‘is all-knowing.’ (El-Kazweenee in the khatimeh of his work.) It is said that it is found in Hadramót as well as El-Yemen; and that one was brought alive to El-Mutawekkil; it resembled a man in form, excepting that it had but half a face, which was in its breast, and a tail like that of a sheep. The people of Hadramót, it is added, eat it; and its flesh is sweet. It is only generated in their country. A man who went there asserted that he saw a captured Nesnás, which cried out for mercy, conjuring him by God and by himself. (Mi-rát ez-Zemán.) A race of people whose head is in the breast is described as inhabiting an island called Jábeh (supposed to be Java) in the Sea of El-Hind or India; and a kind of Nesnás is also described as inhabiting the Island of Raíj, in the Sea of Es-Seen, or China, and having wings like those of the bat. (Ibn El-Wardee.)” Compare also an incident in the story of Janshah (Nights v. p. 333, and note) and the description of the giant Haluka in Forbes’ translation of the Persian Romance of Hatim Tai (p. 47): “In the course of an hour the giant was so near as to be distinctly seen in shape like an immense dome. He had neither hands nor feet, but a tremendous mouth, situated in the midst of his body. He advanced with an evolving motion, and from his jaws issued volumes of flame and clouds of smoke.” When his reflection was shown him in a mirror, he burst with rage.

I may add that a long-tailed species of African monkey (Cercopithecus Pyrrhonotus) is now known to naturalists as the Nisnas.

Story of the Broken-backed Schoolmaster (pp. 72-74).

I once heard a tale of two Irishmen, one of whom lowered the other over a cliff, probably in search of the nests of sea-fowl. Presently the man at the top called out, “Hold hard while I spit on my hands,” so he loosed the rope for that purpose, and his companion incontinently disappeared with it.

Story of the Split-mouthed Schoolmaster (pp. 74-77).

In Scott’s “Story of the Wry-mouthed Schoolmaster” (Arabian Nights vi. pp. 74 75) the schoolmaster crams a boiling egg into his mouth, which the boy smashes.

Night Adventure of Sultan Mohammed of Cairo (pp. 68-84).

P. 78. — Scott (vi. p. 403) makes the proclamation read, “Whoever presumes after the first watch of the night to have a lamp lighted in his house, shall have his head struck off, his goods confiscated, his house razed to the ground, and his women dishonoured.” A proclamation in such terms under the circumstances (though not meant seriously) would be incredible, even in the East.

Story of the Kazi Who Bare a Babe (pp. 130-144).

In the Esthonian Kalevipoeg we read of two giants who lay down to sleep on opposite sides of the table after eating a big supper of thick peas-soup. An unfortunate man was hidden under the table, and the consequence was that he was blown backwards and forwards between them all night.

History of the Bhang-Eater and His Wife (pp. 155-161).

Selling a bull or a cow in the manner described is a familiar incident in folk-lore; and in Rivière’s “Contes Populaires Kabyles” we find a variant of the present story under the title of “L’Idiot et le Coucou.” In another form, the cow or other article is exchanged for some worthless, or apparently worthless, commodity, as in Jack and the Bean-stalk; Hans im Gluck; or as in the case of Moses in the Vicar of Wakefield. The incident of the fool finding a treasure occurs in Cazotte’s story of Xailoun.642

642 Compare, too, Mr. Clouston’s “Book of Noodles,” chap. v., “The Silly Son.”

How Drummer Abu Kasim Became a Kazi (pp. 161-163).

I have heard an anecdote of a man who was sued for the value of a bond which he had given payable one day after the day of judgment. The judge ruled, “This is the day of judgment, and I order that the bill must be paid to-morrow!”

Story of the Kazi and His Slipper (pp. 163-165).

This story is well known in Europe, though not as forming part of The Nights. Mr. W. A. Clouston informs me that it first appeared in Cardonne’s “Mélanges de littérature orientale” (Paris, 1770). Cf. Nights x. App. pp. 450 and 452.

History of the Third Larrikin (pp. 231-233).

Such mistakes must be very frequent. I remember once seeing a maid stoop down with a jug in her hand, when she knocked her head against the table. Some one sitting by, thinking it was the jug, observed, “Never mind, there’s nothing in it.”

Another time I was driving out in the country with a large party, and our host got out to walk across to another point. Presently he was missed, and they inquired, “Where is he?” There was a dog lying in the carriage, and one of the party looked round, and not seeing the dog, responded, “Why, where is the dog?”

Tale of the Fisherman and His Son (pp. 247-260).

The present story, though not very important in itself, is interesting as combining some of the features of three distinct classes of folk-tales. One of these is the anti-Jewish series, of which Grimm’s story of the Jew in the Bramble-Bush is one of the most typical examples. According to these tales, any villainy is justifiable, if perpetrated on a Jew. We find traces of this feeling even in Shakespeare, and to this day Shylock (notwithstanding the grievous wrongs which he had suffered at the hands of Christians) rarely gets much sympathy from modern readers, who quite overlook all the extenuating circumstances in his case.643 Nor do we always find the Jew famous for ‘cuteness in folk-tales. This phase of his reputation is comparatively modern, and in the time of Horace, “Credat Judæus” was a Roman proverb, which means, freely translated, “Nobody would be fool enough to believe it except a Jew.”

The present story combines the features of the anti-Jewish tales, the Alaeddin series, and the Grateful Beasts series. (Compare Mr. W. A. Clouston’s remarks on Aladdin, Supp. Nights, App. iii., pp. 371-389; and also his “Tales and Popular Fictions.")

In vol. 53 of the Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal (1884, pp. 24-39) I find a Nicobar story which relates how Tiomberombi received a magic mirror from a snake whose enemy he had killed. Its slaves obeyed all his orders if he only put the key into the keyhole, but he was not allowed to open the mirror, as he was too weak to face the spirits openly. He dwelt on an island, but when a hostile fleet came against him, the gunners could not hit it, as the island became invisible. The hostile chief sent an old woman to worm the secret out of Tiomberombi’s wife; the mirror was stolen, and Tiomberombi and his wife were carried off. On reaching land, Tiomberombi was thrown into prison, but he persuaded the rats to fetch him the mirror.644 He destroyed his enemies, went home, and re-established himself on his island, warning his wife and mother not to repeat what had happened, lest the island should sink. They told the story while he was eating; the island sank into the sea, and they were all drowned.

643 Cf. “An Apology for the Character and Conduct of Shylock,” in a volume of Essays published by a Society of Gentlemen in Exeter (1796), pp. 552-573.

644 This incident shews that the story belongs to the Grateful Beasts’ class, though it is not said that Tiomberombi had conferred any benefit on the rats; it is only implied that he understood their language.

The History of Abu Niyyah and Abu Niyyatayn (pp. 264-279).

This story combines features which we find separately in Nos. 3b (ba); 162 and 198. The first story, the Envier and the Envied, is very common in folk-lore, and has been sometimes used in modern fairy-tales. The reader will remember the Tailor and the Shoemaker in Hans Christian Andersen’s “Eventyr.” Frequently, as in the latter story, the good man, instead of being thrown into a well, is blinded by the villain, and abandoned in a forest, where he afterwards recovers his sight. One of the most curious forms of this story is the Samoghitian

Truth and Injustice.645

Truth and Injustice lived in the same country, and one day they happened to meet, and agreed to be friends. But as Injustice brought many people into trouble, Truth declared that she would have no more to do with her, upon which Injustice grew angry, and put out the eyes of Truth. Truth wandered about for a long time at random, and at last she came to a walnut-tree, and climbed up it to rest awhile in safety from wild beasts. During the night a wolf and a mouse came to the foot of the tree, and held the following conversation. The wolf began, “I am very comfortable in the land where I am now living, for there are so many blind people there that I can steal almost any animal I like without anybody seeing me. If the blind men knew that they had only to rub their eyes with the moss which grows on the stones here in order to recover their sight, I should soon get on badly with them.”

The mouse responded, “I live in a district where the people have no water, and are obliged to fetch it from a great distance. When they are away from home I can enjoy as much of their provisions as I like; indeed, I can heap together as large a store as I please without being disturbed. If the people knew that they had only to cut down a great oak tree and a great lime tree which grow near their houses, in order to find water, I should soon be badly off.”

As soon as the wolf and the mouse were gone, Truth came down from her tree, and groped about until she found a moss-covered stone, when she rubbed her eyes with the moss. She recovered her sight immediately, and then went her way till she came to the country where most of the people were blind. Truth demanded that the blind people should pay her a fixed sum of money, when she would tell them of a remedy by which they could recover their sight. The blind men gave her the money, and Truth supplied them with the remedy which had cured herself.

After this, Truth proceeded further till she came to the district where the people had no water. She told them that if they would give her a carriage and horses, she would tell them where to find water. The people were glad to agree to her proposal.

When Truth had received the carriage and horses, she showed the people the oak and the lime tree, which they felled by her directions, when water immediately flowed from under the roots in great abundance.

As Truth drove away she met Injustice, who had fallen into poverty, and was wandering from one country to another in rags. Truth knew her immediately, and asked her to take a seat in her carriage. Injustice then recognised her, and asked her how she had received the light of her eyes, and how she had come by such a fine carriage. Truth told her everything, including what she had heard from the wolf and the mouse. Injustice then persuaded her to put out her eyes, for she wanted to be rich, and to have a fine carriage too; and then Truth told her to descend. Truth herself drove away, and seldom shows herself to men.

Injustice wandered about the country till she found the walnut tree, up which she climbed. When evening came, the wolf and the fox met under the tree again to talk. Both were now in trouble, for the wolf could not steal an animal without being seen and pursued by the people, and the mouse could no longer eat meat or collect stores without being disturbed, for the people were no longer obliged to leave their home for a long time to fetch water. Both the wolf and the mouse suspected that some one had overheard their late conversation, so they looked up in search of the listener, and discovered Injustice in the tree. The animals supposed that it was she who had betrayed them, and said in anger, “May our curse be upon you that you may remain for ever blind, for you have deprived us of our means of living.”

After thus speaking, the animals ran away, but Injustice has ever since remained blind, and does harm to everybody who chances to come in her way.

645 Veckenstedt, Mythen, Sagen und Legenden der Zamaiten, i. pp. 163-166.

ii. — Notes on the Stories Contained in Volume xv.

By W. F. Kirby.
History of the King’s Son of Sind and the Lady Fatimah (pp. 1-13).

P. 3. — This mixture of seeds, &c., is a very common incident in folk-tales.

P. 7. — Compare the well-known incident in John xviii. 1-11, which passage, by the way, is considered to be an interpolation taken from the lost Gospel of the Hebrews.

History of the Lovers of Syria (pp. 13-26).

P. 18. — Divination by the flight or song of birds is so universal that it is ridiculous of Kreutzwald (the compiler of the Kalevipoeg) to quote the fact of the son of Kalev applying to birds and beasts for advice as being intended by the composers as a hint that he was deficient in intelligence.

In Bulwer Lytton’s story of the Fallen Star (Pilgrims of the Rhine, ch. xix.) he makes the imposter Morven determine the succession to the chieftainship by means of a trained hawk.

P. 26, note 2. — Scott may possibly refer to the tradition that the souls of the dead are stored up in the trumpet of Israfil, when he speaks of the “receiving angel.”

History of Al-hajjaj Bin Yusuf and the Young Sayyid (pp. 26-44).

P. 30, note 2. — I doubt if the story-teller intended to represent Al-Hajjaj as ignorant. The story rather implies that he was merely catechising the youth, in order to entangle him in his talk.

P. 33. — Compare the story of the Sandal-wood Merchant and the Sharpers (Nights, vi. p. 206) in which the Merchant is required to drink up the sea [or rather, perhaps, river], and requires his adversary to hold the mouth of the sea for him with his hand.

P. 38, note 1. — It is well known that children should not be allowed to sleep with aged persons, as the latter absorb their vitality.

Night Adventure of Harun Al-rashid and the Youth Manjab (pp. 45-80).

P. 77. — In the Danish ballads we frequently find heroes appealing to their mothers or nurses in cases of difficulty. Compare “Habor and Signild,” and “Knight Stig’s Wedding,” in Prior’s Danish Ballads, i. p. 216 and ii. p. 339.

Story of the Darwaysh and the Barber’s Boy and the Greedy Sultan (pp. 80-88).

This story belongs to the large category known to students of folk-lore as the Sage and his Pupil; and of this again there are three main groups:

1. Those in which (as in the present instance) the two remain on friendly terms.

2. Those in which the sage is outwitted and destroyed by his pupil (e.g., Cazotte’s story of the Maugraby; or Spitta Bey’s tales, No. 1).

3. Those in which the pupil attempts to outwit or to destroy the sage, and is himself outwitted or destroyed (e.g., The Lady’s Fifth Story, in Gibb’s Forty Vezirs, pp. 76-80; and his App. B. note v., p. 413).

The Loves of Al-hayfa and Yusuf (pp. 93-166).

P. 114, note 4. — I believe that a sudden attack of this kind is always speedily fatal.

The Goodwife of Cairo and Her Four Gallants (pp. 193-217).

P. 194, note 2. — It may be worth while to note that Swedenborg asserts that it is unlawful in Heaven for any person to look at the back of the head of another, as by so doing he interrupts the divine influx. The foundation of this idea is perhaps the desire to avoid mesmeric action upon the cerebellum.

Tale of Mohsin and Muss (pp. 232-241).

The notes on the story of Abu Niyyat and Abu Niyyateen (supra, pp. 356) will apply still better to the present story.

The Merchant’s Daughter, and the Prince of Al-irak (pp. 264-317).

Pp. 305-312. — The case of Tobias and Sara (Tobit, chaps. iii.-viii.) was very similar: but in this instance the demon Asmodeus was driven away by fumigating with the liver and heart of a fish.

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