She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Shimas the Wazir, said to the King, “And now Almighty Allah hath accepted of us and answered our petition and brought us speedy relief, even as He did to the Fishes in the pond of water.” The King asked, “And how was that, and what is the tale?”; and Shimas answered him, “Hear, O King the story of
In a certain place there was a piece of water, wherein dwelt a number of Fishes, and it befel that the pond dwindled away and shrank and wasted, till there remained barely enough to suffice them and they were nigh upon death and said, “What will become of us? How shall we contrive and of whom shall we seek counsel for our deliverance?” Thereupon arose one of them, who was the chiefest in wit and age, and cried, “There is nothing will serve us save that we seek salvation of Allah; but let us consult the Crab and ask his advice: so come ye all1 and hie we himwards and hear his rede for indeed he is the chiefest and wisest of us all in coming upon the truth.” Each and every approved of the Fish’s advice and betook themselves in a body to the Crab, whom they found squatted in his hole, without news or knowledge of their strait. So they saluted him with the salam and said, “O our lord, cloth not our affair concern thee, who art ruler and the head of us?” The Crab returned their salutation, replying, “And on you be The Peace! What aileth you and what d’ye want?” So they told him their case and the strait wherein they were by reason of the wastage of the water, and that, when it should be dried up destruction would betide them, adding, “Wherefore we come to thee, expecting thy counsel and what may bring us deliverance for thou art the chiefest and the most experienced of us.” The Crab bowed his head awhile and said, “Doubtless ye lack understanding, in that ye despair of the mercy of Allah Almighty and His care for the provision of His creatures one and all. Know ye not that Allah (extolled and exalted be He!) provideth all His creatures without account and that He foreordained their daily meat ere He created aught of creation and appointed to each of His creatures a fixed term of life and an allotted provision, of His divine All might? How then shall we burthen ourselves with concern for a thing which in His secret purpose is indite? Wherefore it is my rede that ye can do naught better than to seek aid of Allah Almighty, and it behoveth each of us to clear his conscience with his Lord, both in public and private, and pray Him to succour us and deliver us from our difficulties; for Allah the Most High disappointeth not the expectation of those who put their trust in Him and rejecteth not the supplications of those who prefer their suit to Him. When we have mended our ways, our affairs will be set up and all will be well with us, and when the winter cometh and our land is deluged, by means of a just one’s prayer, He will not cast down the good He hath built up. So ’tis my counsel that we take patience and await what Allah shall do with us. An death come to us, as is wont, we shall be at rest, and if there befal us aught that calleth for flight, we will flee and depart our land whither Allah will.’’2 Answered all the fishes with one voice “Thou sayst sooth, O our lord: Allah requite thee for us with weal!” Then each returned to his stead, and in a few days the Almighty vouchsafed unto them a violent rain and the place of the pond was filled fuller than before. ‘On likewise, O King,” continued Shimas, “we despaired of a child being born to thee, and now that God hath blessed us and thee with this well omened son, we implore Him to render him blessed indeed and make him the coolth of thine eyes and a worthy successor to thee and grant us of him the like of that which He hath granted us of thee; for Almighty Allah disappointeth not those that seek Him and it behoveth none to cut off hope of the mercy of his God.” Then, rose the second Wazir and saluting the King with the salam spake after his greeting was returned, as follows: “Verily, a King is not called a King save he give presents and do justice and rule with equity and show munificence and wisely govern his lieges, maintaining the obligatory laws and apostolic usages established among them and justifying them, one against other, and sparing their blood and warding off hurt from them; and of his qualities should be that he never abide incurious of the poor and that he succour the highest and lowest of them and give them each the rights to them due, so that all bless him and are obedient to his commend. Without doubt, a King who is after this wise of his lieges is beloved and gaineth of this world eminence and of the next honour and favour with the Creator thereof. And we, the body politic of thy subjects, acknowledge in thee, O King, all the attributes of kingship I have noted, even as it is said, ‘The best of things is that the King of a people be just and equitable, their physician skilful and their teacher experience-full, acting according to his knowledge.’ Now we enjoy this happiness, after we had despaired of the birth of a son to thee, to inherit thy kingship; however, Allah (extolled be His name!) hath not disappointed thine expectation, but hath granted thy petition, by reason of the goodliness of thy trust in Him and thy submission of thine affairs to Him. Then fair fall thy hope! there hath betided thee that which betided the Crow and the Serpent.” Asked the King “What was that?”; and the Wazir answered, “Hear, O King, the tale of
1 ‘Arab. “Halummú” plur. of “Halumma”=draw near! The latter form is used by some tribes for all three numbers; others affect a dual and a plural (as in the text). Preston ( Al Hariri, p. 210) derives it from Heb., but the geographers of Kufah and Basrah (who were not etymologists) are divided about its origin. He translates (p. 221) “Halumma Jarran = being the rest of the tale in continuation with this, i.e. in accordance with it like our “and so forth.” And in p. 271, he makes Halumma=Hayya i.e. hither’ (to prayer, etc.).
2 This is precisely the semi-fatalistic and wholly superstitious address which would find favour with Moslems of the present day they still prefer “calling upon Hercules” to putting their shoulders to the wheel. Mr. Redhouse had done good work in his day but of late he has devoted himself, especially in the “Mesnevi,” to a rapprochement between Al–Islam and Christianity which both would reject (see supra, vol. vii. p. 135). The Calvinistic predestination as shown in the term “vessel of wrath,” is but a feeble reflection of Moslem fatalism. On this subject I shall have more to say in a future volume.
A crow once dwelt in a tree, he and his wife, in all delight of life, till they came to the time of the hatching of their young, which was the midsummer season, when a Serpent issued from its hole and crawled up the tree wriggling around the branches till it came to the Crows’ nest, where it coiled itself up and there abode all the days of the summer, whilst the Crow was driven away and found no opportunity to clear his home nor any place wherein to lie. When the days of heat were past, the Serpent went away to its own place and quoth the Crow to his wife, “Let us thank Almighty Allah, who hath preserved us and delivered us from this Serpent, albeit we are forbidden from increase this year. Yet the Lord will not cut off our hope; so let us express our gratitude to Him for having vouchsafed us safety and soundness of body: indeed, we have none other in whom to confide, and if He will and we live to see the next year, He shall give us other young in the stead of those we have missed this year.” Next summer when the hatching-season came round, the Serpent again sallied forth from its place and made for the Crows’ nest; but, as it was coiling up a branch, a kite swooped down on it and struck claws into its head and tare it, whereupon it fell to the ground a-swoon, and the ants came out upon it and ate it.1 So the Crow and his wife abode in peace and quiet and bred a numerous brood and thanked Allah for their safety and for the young that were born to them. “In like manner, O King,” continued the Wazir, “it behoveth us to thank God for that wherewith He hath favoured thee and us in vouchsafing us this blessed child of good omen, after despair and the cutting off of hope. May He make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 The inhabitants of temperate climates have no idea what ants can do in the tropics. The Kafirs of South Africa used to stake down their prisoners (among them a poor friend of mine) upon an ant-hill and they were eaten atom after atom in a few hours. The death must be the slowest form of torture; but probably the nervous system soon becomes insensible. The same has happened to more than one hapless invalid, helplessly bedridden, in Western Africa. I have described an invasion of ants in my “Zanzibar,” vol. ii. 169; and have suffered from such attacks in many places between that and Dahomey.
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the second Wazir had ended with the words, “Allah make fair thy future reward and the issue of thine affair!”, the third Wazir, presently rose and said, “Rejoice, O just King, in the assurance of present prosperity and future felicity; for him, whom the denizens of Earth love, the denizens of Heaven likewise love, and indeed Almighty Allah hath made affection to be thy portion and hath stablished it in the hearts of the people of thy kingdom; wherefore to Him be thanks and praise from us and from thee, so He may deign increase His bounty unto thee and unto us in thee! For know, O King, that man can originate naught but by command of Allah the Most High and that He is the Giver and all good which befalleth a creature hath its end and issue in Him. He allotteth His favours to His creatures, as it liketh Him; to some he giveth gifts galore while others He doometh barely to win their daily bread. Some He maketh Lords and Captains, and others Recluses, who abstain from the world and aspire but to Him, for He it is who saith, ‘I am the Harmer with adversity and the Healer with prosperity. I make whole and make sick. I enrich and impoverish. I kill and quicken; in my hand is everything and unto Me all things do tend.’ Wherefore it behoveth all men to praise Him. Now, especially thou, O King, art of the fortunate, the pious, of whom it is said, ‘The happiest of the just is he for whom Allah uniteth the weal of this world and of the next world; who is content with that portion which Allah allotteth to him and who giveth Him thanks for that which He hath stablished.’ And indeed he that is rebellious and seeketh other than the dole which God hath decreed unto him and for him, favoureth the wild Ass and the Jackal.’’1 The King asked, “And what is the story of the twain?”; the Wazir answered, “Hear, O King, the tale of
1 Arab. “Sa’lab.” See vol. iii 132, where it is a fox. I render it jackal because that cousin of the fox figures as a carnon-eater in Hindu folk-lore, the Hitopadesa, Panchopakhyan, etc. This tale, I need hardly say, is a mere translation; as is shown by the Kathá s.s. “Both jackal and fox are nicknamed Joseph the Scribe (Tálib Yúsuf) in the same principle that lawyers are called landsharks by sailors.” (P. 65, Moorish Lotus Leaves, etc., by George D. Cowan and R. L. N. Johnston, London, Tinsleys, 1883.)
A certain Jackal was wont every day to leave his lair and fare forth questing his daily bread. Now one day, as he was in a certain mountain, behold, the day was done and he set out to return when he fell in with another Jackal who saw him on the tramp, and each began to tell his mate of the quarry he had gotten. Quoth one of them, “The other day I came upon a wild Ass and I was an hungered, for it was three days since I had eaten; so I rejoiced in this and thanked Almighty Allah for bringing him into my power. Then I tare out his heart and ate it and was full and returned to my home. That was three days ago, since which time I have found nothing to eat, yet am I still full of meat.” When the other Jackal heard his fellow’s story, he envied his fulness and said in himself, “There is no help but that I eat the heart of a wild Ass.” So he left feeding for some days, till he became emaciated and nigh upon death and bestirred not himself neither did he endeavour to get food, but lay coiled up in his earth. And whilst he was thus, behold, one day there came out two hunters trudging in quest of quarry and started a wild Ass. They followed on his trail tracking him all day, till at last one of them shot at him a forked1 arrow, which pierced his vitals and reached his heart and killed him in front of the Jackal’s hole. Then the hunters came up and finding him dead, pulled out the shaft from his heart, but only the wood came away and the forked head abode in the Ass’s belly. So they left him where he lay, expecting that others of the wild beasts would flock to him; but, when it was eventide and nothing fell to them, they returned to their abiding places. The Jackal, hearing the commotion at the mouth of his home, lay quiet till nightfall, when he came forth of his lair, groaning for weakness and hunger, and seeing the dead Ass lying at his door, rejoiced with joy exceeding till he was like to fly for delight and said, “Praised be Allah who hath won me my wish without toil! Verily, I had lost hope of coming at a wild Ass or aught else; and assuredly2 the Almighty hath sent him to me and crave him fall to my homestead.” Then he sprang on the body and tearing open its belly, thrust in his head and with his nose rummaged about its entrails, till he found the heart and tearing a tidbit swallowed it: but, as soon as he had so done, the forked head of the arrow struck deep in his gullet and he could neither get it down into his belly nor bring it forth of his throttle. So he made sure of destruction and said, “Of a truth it beseemeth not the creature to seek for himself aught over and above that which Allah hath allotted to him. Had I been content with what He appointed to me, I had not come to destruction.” “Wherefore, O King,” added the Wazir, “it becometh man to be content with whatso Allah hath distributed to him and thank Him for His bounties to him and cast not off hope of his Lord. And behold, O King, because of the purity of thy purpose and the fair intent of thy good works, Allah hath blessed thee with a son, after despair, wherefore we pray the Almighty to vouchsafe him length of days and abiding happiness and make him a blessed successor, faithful in the observance of thy covenant, after thy long life.” Then arose the fourth Wazir, and said, “Verily, an the King be a man of understanding, a frequenter of the gates of wisdom,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the fourth Wazir, arose and said, “Verily an the King be a man of understanding, a frequenter of the gates of wisdom, versed in science, government and policy, and eke upright in purpose and just to his subjects, honouring those to whom honour is due, revering those who are digne of reverence, tempering puissance with using clemency whenas it behoveth, and protecting both governors and governed, lightening all burthens for them and bestowing largesse on them, sparing their blood and covering their shame and keeping his troth with them. Such a King, I say, is worthy of felicity both present and future, worldly and other-worldly, and this is of that which protecteth him from ill-will and helpeth him to the stablishing of his Kingdom and the victory over his enemies and the winning of his wish, together with increase of Allah’s bounty to him and His favouring him for his praise of Him and the attainment of His protection. But an the King be the contrary of this, he never ceaseth from misfortunes and calamities, he and the people of his realm, for that his oppression embraceth both stranger far and kinsman near and there cometh to pass with him that which befel the unjust King with the pilgrim Prince.” King Jali’ad asked, “And how was that?” and the Wazir answered, “Hear, O King, the tale of
There was once in Mauritania-land1 a King who exceeded in his rule, a tyrant, violent and over severe, who had no respect for the welfare or protection of his lieges nor of those who entered his realm; and from everyone who came within his Kingdom his officers took four-fifths of his monies, leaving him one-fifth and no more. Now Allah Almighty decreed that he should have a son, who was fortunate and God-favoured and seeing the pomps and vanities of this world to be transient as they are unrighteous, renounced them in his youth and rejected the world and that which is therein and fared forth serving the Most High, wandering pilgrim-wise over words and wastes and bytimes entering towns and cities. One day, he came to his father’s capital and the guards laid hands on him and searched him but found naught upon him save two gowns, one new and the other old.2 So they stripped the new one from him and left him the old, after they had entreated him with contumely and contempt; whereat he complained and said, “Woe to you, O ye oppressors! I am a poor man and a pilgrim,3 and what shall this gown by any means profit you? Except ye restore it to me, I will go to the King and make complaint to him of you.” They replied, “We act thus by the King’s command: so do what seemeth good to thee.” Accordingly he betook himself to the King’s palace and would have entered, but the chamberlains denied him admittance, and he turned away, saying in himself, “There is nothing for me except to watch till he cometh out and complain to him of my case and that which hath befallen me.” And whilst he waited, behold, he heard one of the guards announce the King’s faring forth; whereupon he crept up, little by little, till he stood before the gate; and presently when the King came out, he threw himself in his way and after blessing him and wishing him weal, he made his complaint to him informing him how scurvily he had been entreated by the gatekeepers. Lastly he gave him to know that he was a man of the people of Allah4 who had rejected the world seeking acceptance of Allah and who went wandering over earth and entering every city and hamlet, whilst all the folk he met gave him alms according to their competence. “I entered this thy city” (continued he), “hoping that the folk would deal kindly and graciously with me as with others of my condition,5 but thy followers stopped me and stripped me of one of my gowns and loaded me with blows. Wherefore do thou look into my case and take me by the hand and get me back my gown and I will not abide in thy city an hour.” Quoth the unjust King, “Who directed thee to enter this city, unknowing the custom of its King?”; and quoth the pilgrim, “Give me back my gown and do with me what thou wilt.” Now when the King heard this, his temper changed for the worse and he said, “O fool,6 we stripped thee of thy gown, so thou mightest humble thyself to us, but since thou makest this clamour I will strip thy soul from thee.” Then he commanded to cast him into gaol, where he began to repent of having answered the King and reproached himself for not having left him the gown and saved his life. When it was the middle of the night, he rose to his feet and prayed long and prayerfully, saying, “O Allah, Thou art the Righteous Judge. Thou knowest my case and that which hath befallen me with this tyrannical King, and I, Thine oppressed servant, beseech Thee, of the abundance of Thy mercy, to deliver me from the hand of this unjust ruler and send down on him Thy vengeance; for Thou art not unmindful of the upright of every oppressor. Wherefore, if Thou know that he hath wronged me, loose on him Thy vengeance this night and send down on him Thy punishment; for Thy rule is just and Thou art the Helper of every mourner, O Thou to whom belong the power and the glory to the end of time!” When the gaoler heard the prayer of the poor prisoner he trembled in every limb, and behold, a fire suddenly broke out in the King’s palace and consumed it and all that were therein, even to the door of the prison,7 and none was spared but the gaoler and the pilgrim. Now when the gaoler saw this, he knew that it had not befallen save because of the pilgrim’s prayer; so he loosed him and fleeing with him forth of the burning, betook himself, he and the King’s son, to another city. So was the unjust King consumed, he and all his city, by reason of his injustice, and he lost the goods both of this world and the next world. “As for us, O auspicious King” continued the Wazir, “we neither lie down nor rise up without praying for thee and thanking Allah the Most High for His grace in giving thee to us, tranquil in reliance on thy justice and the excellence of thy governance; and sore indeed was our care for thy lack of a son to inherit thy kingdom, fearing lest after thee there betide us a King unlike thee. But now the Almighty hath bestowed His favours upon us and done away our concern and brought us gladness in the birth of this blessed child; wherefore we beseech the Lord to make him a worthy successor to thee and endow him with glory and felicity enduring and good abiding.” Then rose the fifth Wazir and said, “Blessed be the Most High,”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Maghrib” (or in full Maghrib al Aksá) lit. =the Land of the setting sun for whose relation to “Mauritania” see vol. vii. 220. It is almost synonymous with “Al–Gharb”=the West whence Portugal borrowed the two Algarves, one being in Southern Europe and the other over the straits about Tangier Ceuta; fronting Spanish Trafalgar, i.e. Taraf al Gharb, the edge of the West. I have noted (Pilgrimage i. 9) the late Captain Peel’s mis-translation “Cape of Laurels” (Al–Ghár).
2 Even the poorest of Moslem wanderers tries to bear with him a new suit of clothes for keeping the two festivals and Friday service in the Mosque. See Pilgrimage i. 235; iii. 257, etc.
3 Arab. “Sáyih” lit. a wanderer, subaudi for religious and ascetic objects; and not to be confounded with the “pilgrim” proper.
4 i.e. a Religious, a wandering beggar.
5 This was the custom of the whole Moslem world and still is where uncorrupted by Christian uncharity and contempt for all “men of God” save its own. But the change in such places as Egypt is complete and irrevocable. Even in 1852 my Dervish’s frock brought me nothing but contempt in Alexandria and Cairo.
6 Arab. “Ya jáhil,” lit. =O ignorant. The popular word is Ahmak which, however, in the West means a maniac, a madman, a Santon; “Bohlí” being= a fool.
7 The prison according to the practice of the East being in the palace: so the Moorish ‘Kasbah,” which lodges the Governor and his guard, always contains the jail.
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the fifth Wazir said, “Blessed be the Most High, Giver of all good gifts and graces the most precious! But to continue: we are well assured that Allah favoureth whoso are thankful to Him and mindful of His faith; and thou, O auspicious King, art far-famed for these illustrious virtues and for justice and equitable dealing between subject and subject and in that which is acceptable to Allah Almighty. By reason of this hath the Lord exalted thy dignity and prospered thy days and bestowed on thee the good gift of this august child, after despair, wherefrom there hath betided us gladness abiding and joys which may not be cut off; for we before this were in exceeding cark and passing care, because of thy lack of issue, and full of concern bethinking us of all thy justice and gentle dealing with us and fearful lest Allah decree death to thee and there be none to succeed thee and inherit the kingdom after thee, and so we be divided in our counsels and dissensigns arise between us and there befal us what befel the Crows.” Asked the King, “And what befel the Crows?”; and the Wazir answered saying, “Hear, O auspicious King, the tale of
There was once, in a certain desert, a spacious Wady, full of rills and trees and fruits and birds singing the praises of Allah the One of All might, Creator of day and night; and among them was a troop of Crows, which led the happiest of lives. Now they were under the sway and government of a Crow who ruled them with mildness and benignity, so that they were with him in peace and contentment; and by reason of their wisely ordering their affairs, none of the other birds could avail against them. Presently it chanced that there befel their chief the doom irrevocably appointed to all creatures and he departed life;1 whereupon the others mourned for him with sore mourning, and what added to their grief was that there abided not amongst them like him one who should fill his place. So they all assembled and took counsel together concerning whom it befitted for his goodness and piety to set over them; and a party of them chose one Crow, saying, “It beseemeth that this be King over us,” whilst others objected to him and would none of him; and thus there arose division and dissension amidst them and the strife of excitement waxed hot between them. At last they agreed amongst themselves and consented to sleep the night upon it and that none should go forth at dawn next day to seek his living, but that all must wait till high morning, when they should gather together all in one place. “Then,” said they, “we will all take flight at once and whichsoever shall soar above the rest in his flying, he shall be accepted of us as ruler and be made King over us.” The fancy pleased them; so they made covenant together and did as they had agreed and took flight all, but each of them deemed himself higher than his fellow; wherefore quoth this one, “I am highest,” and that, “Nay, that am I.” Then said the lowest of them, “Look up, all of you, and whomsoever ye find the highest of you, let him be your chief.” So they raised their eyes and seeing the Hawk soaring over them, said each to other, “We agreed that which bird soever should be the highest of us we will make king over us, and behold, the Hawk is the highest of us; what say ye to him?” And they all cried out, “We accept of him.” Accordingly they summoned the Hawk and said to him, “O Father of Good,2 we have chosen thee ruler over us, that thou mayst look into our affair.” The Hawk consented, saying, “Inshallah, ye shall win of me abounding weal.” So they rejoiced and made him their King. But after awhile, he fell to taking a company of them every day and betaking himself with them afar off to one of the caves, where he struck them down and eating their eyes and brains, threw their bodies into the river. And he ceased not doing on this wise, it being his intent to destroy them all till, seeing their number daily diminishing, the Crows flocked to him and said, “O our King, we complain to thee because from the date we made thee Sovran and ruler over us, we are in the sorriest case and every day a company of us is missing and we know not the reason of this, more by token that the most part thereof are the high in rank and of those in attendance on thee. We must now look after our own safety.” Thereupon the Hawk waxed wroth with them and said to them, “Verily, ye are the murtherers, and ye forestall me with accusation!” So saying, he pounced upon them and tearing to pieces half a score of their chiefs in front of the rest, threatened them and crave them out, sorely cuffed and beaten, from before him. Hereat they repented them of that which they had done and said, “We have known no good since the death of our first King especially in the deed of this stranger in kind; but we deserve our sufferings even had he destroyed us one by one to the last of us, and there is exemplified in us the saying of him that saith, ‘Whoso submitteth him not to the rule of his own folk, the foe hath dominion over him, of his folly.’ And now there is nothing for it but to flee for our lives, else shall we perish.” So they took flight and dispersed to various places. “And we also, O King,” continued the Wazir, “feared lest the like of this befal us and there become ruler over us a King other than thyself; but Allah hath vouchsafed us this boon and hath sent us this blessed child, and now we are assured of peace and union and security and prosperity in our Mother-land. So lauded be Almighty Allah and to Him be praise and thanks and goodly gratitude! And may He bless the King and us all his subjects and vouchsafe unto us and him the acme of felicity and make his life-tide happy and his endeavour constant!” Then arose the sixth Wazir and said, “Allah favour thee with all fell city, O King, in this world and in the next world! Verily, the ancients have left us this saying, ‘Whoso prayeth and fasteth and giveth parents their due and is just in his rule meeteth his Lord and He is well pleased with him.’ Thou hast been set over us and hast ruled us justly and thine every step in this hath been blessed; wherefore we beseech Allah Almighty to make great thy reward eternal and requite thee thy beneficence. I have heard what this wise man hath said respecting our fear for the loss of our prosperity, by reason of the death of the King or the advent of another who should not be his parallel, and how after him dissensions would be rife among us and calamity betide from our division and how it behoved us therefore to be instant in prayer to Allah the Most High, so haply He might vouchsafe the King a happy son to inherit the kingship after him. But, after all, the issue of that which man desireth of mundane goods and wherefor he lusteth is unknown to him and consequently it behoveth a mortal to ask not of his Lord a thing whose end he wotteth not; for that haply the hurt of that thing is nearer to him than its gain and his destruction may be in that he seeketh and there may befal him what befel the Serpent charmer, his wife and children and the folk of his house.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Tuwuffiya,” lit.=was received (into the grace of God), an euphemistic and more polite term than “máta”=he died. The latter term is avoided by the Founder of Chnstianity; and our Spiritualists now say “passed away to a higher life,” a phrase embodying a theory which, to say the least, is “not proven ”
2 Arab. “Yá Abá al-Khayr”= our my good lord, sir, fellow, etc.
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the sixth Wazir said, “It behoveth not a man to ask of his Lord aught whereof he ignoreth the issue for that haply the hurt of that thing may be nearer than its gain, his destruction may be in that he seeketh and there may befal him what befel the Serpent charmer, his children, his wife and his household,” the King asked, “What was that?”; and the Wazir answered, “Hear, O King the tale of
There was once a man, a Serpent-charmer,1 who used to train serpents, and this was his trade; and he had a great basket,2 wherein were three snakes, but the people of his house knew this not. Every day he used to go round with this pannier about the town gaining his living and that of his family by showing the snakes, and at eventide he returned to his house and clapped them back into the basket privily. This lasted a long while, but it chanced one day, when he came home, as was his wont, his wife asked him, saying, “What is in this pannier?” And he replied, “What wouldest thou with it? Is not provision plentiful with you? Be thou content with that which Allah hath allotted to thee and ask not of aught else.” With this the woman held her peace; but she said in herself, “There is no help but that I search this basket and know what is there.” So she egged on her children and enjoined them to ask him of the pannier and importune him with their questions, till he should tell them what was therein. They presently concluded that it contained something to eat and sought every day of their father that he should show them what was therein; and he still put them off with pleasant presences and forbade them from asking this. On such wise they abode awhile, the wife and mother still persisting in her quest till they agreed with her that they would neither eat meat nor drain drink with their father, till he granted them their prayer and opened the basket to them. One night, behold, the Serpent-charmer came home with great plenty of meat and drink and took his seat calling them to eat with him, but they refused his company and showed him anger. Whereupon he began to coax them with fair words, saying, “Lookye, tell me what you would have, that I may bring it you, be it meat or drink or raiment.” Answered they, “O our father, we want nothing of thee but that thou open this pannier that we may see what is therein, else we will slay ourselves.” He rejoined, “O my children, there is nothing good for you therein and indeed the opening of it will be harmful to you.” Hereat they redoubled in rage for all he could say, which when he saw, he began to scold them and threaten them with beating, except they returned from such condition; but they only increased in anger and persistence in asking, till at last he waxed wroth and took a staff to beat them, and they fled from before him within the house. Now the basket was present and the Serpent-charmer had not hidden it anywhere, so his wife left him occupied with the children and opened the pannier in haste, that she might see what was therein. Thereupon behold, the serpents came out and first struck their fangs into her and killed her; then they tried round about the house and slew all, great and small, who were therein, except the Serpent-charmer, who left the place and went his way. “If then, O auspicious King,” continued the Wazir, “thou consider this, thou wilt be convinced that it is not for a man to desire aught save that which God the Great refuseth not to him; nay, he should be content with what He willeth. And thou, O King, for the overflowing of thy wisdom and the excellence of thine understanding, Allah hath cooled thine eyes with the advent of this thy son, after despair, and hath comforted thy heart; wherefore we pray the Almighty to make him of the just successors acceptable to Himself and to his subjects.” Then rose the seventh Wazir and said, “O King, I know and certify all that my brethren, these Ministers wise and learned, have said in the presence, praising thy justice and the goodness of thy policy and proving how thou art distinguished in this from all Kings other than thyself; wherefore they gave thee the preference over them. Indeed, this be of that which is incumbent on us, O King, and I say, ‘Praised be Allah!’ in that He hath guerdoned thee with His gifts and vouchsafed thee of His mercy, the welfare of the realm; and hath succoured thee and ourselves, on condition that we increase in gratitude to Him; and all this no otherwise than by thine existence! What while thou remainest amongst us, we fear not oppression neither dread upright, nor can any take long-handed advantage of our weakness! and indeed it is said, ‘The greatest good of a people is a just King and their greatest ill an unjust King’; and again, ‘Better dwell with rending lions than with a tyrannous Sultan.’ So praised be Almighty Allah with eternal praise for that He hath blessed us with thy life and vouchsafed thee this blessed child, whenas thou wast stricken in years and hadst despaired of issue! For the goodliest of the gifts in this world is a virtuous sire, and it is said, ‘Whoso hath no progeny his life is without result and he leaveth no memory.’ As for thee, because of the righteousness of thy justice and thy pious reliance on Allah the Most High, thou hast been vouchsafed this happy son; yea, this blessed3 child cometh as a gift from the Most High Lord to us and to thee, for the excellence of thy governance and the goodliness of thy long-sufferance; and in this thou hast fared even as fared the Spider and the Wind.” Asked the King, “And what is the story of the Spider and the Wind?”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Háwi” from “Hayyah,” a serpent. See vol. iii. 145. Most of the Egyptian snake charmers are Gypsies, but they do not like to be told of their origin. At Baroda in Guzerat I took lessons in snake-catching, but found the sport too dangerous; when the animal flees, the tail is caught by the left hand and the right is slipped up to the neck, a delicate process, as a few inches too far or not far enough would be followed by certain death in catching a Cobra. At last certain of my messmates killed one of the captives and the snake-charmer would have no more to do with me.
2 Arab. “Sallah,” also Pers., a basket of wickerwork. This article is everywhere used for lodging snakes from Egypt to Morocco.
3 Arab. “Mubarak.” It is a favourite name for a slave in Morocco, the slave-girl being called Mubárakah; and the proverb being, “Blessed is the household which hath neither M’bárk nor M’bárkah” (as they contract the words).
She continued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King asked, “And what is the story of the twain?”, the Wazir answered, “Give ear, O King, to the tale of
A Spider once attached herself to a high gate1 and retired and span her web there and dwelt therein in peace, giving thanks to the Almighty, who had made this dwelling-place easy to her and had set her in safety from noxious reptiles. On this wise she abode a long while, still giving thanks to Allah for her ease and regular supply of daily bread, till her Creator bethought Him to try her and make essay of her gratitude and patience. So he sent upon her a strong east Wind, which carried her away, web and all, and cast her into the main. The waves washed her ashore, and she thanked the Lord for safety and began to upbraid the Wind, saying, “O Wind, why hast thou dealt thus with me and what good hast thou gotten by bearing me hither from my abiding-place, where indeed I was in safety, secure in my home on the top of that gate?” Replied the Wind, saying, “O Spider, hast thou not learnt that this world is a house of calamities; and, say me, who can boast of lasting happiness that such portion shall be thine? Wottest thou not that Allah tempteth His creatures in order to learn by trial what may be their powers of patience? How, then, cloth it beset thee to upbraid me, thou who hast been saved by me from the vasty deep?” “Thy words are true, O Wind,” replied the Spider, “yet not the less do I desire to escape from this stranger land into which thy violence hath cast me.” The Wind rejoined, “Cease thy blaming, for right soon I will bear thee back and replace thee in thy place, as thou wast aforetime.” So the Spider waited patiently till the north-east Wind left blowing, and there arose a south-west Wind, which gently caught her up and flew with her towards her dwelling-place; and when she came to her abode, she knew it and clung to it. “And we,” continued the Wazir, “beseech Allah (who hath rewarded the King for his singleness of heart and patience and hath taken pity on his subjects and blessed them with His favour and hath vouchsafed the King this son in his old age, after he had despaired of issue and removed him not from the world, till He had blessed him with coolth of eyes and bestowed on him what He hath bestowed of Kingship and Empire!) to vouchsafe unto thy son that which He hath vouchsafed unto thee of dominion and Sultanship and glory! Amen.” Then said the King, “Praised be Allah over all praise and thanks be to Him over all thanks! There is no god but He, the Creator of all things, by the light of whose signs we know the glory of His greatness and who giveth kingship and command over his own country to whom He willeth of His servants! He chooseth of them whomso He please to make him His viceroy and viceregent over His creatures and commandeth him to just and equitable dealing with them and the maintenance of religious laws and practices and right conduct and constancy in ordering their affairs to that which is most acceptable to Him and most grateful to them. Whoso cloth thus and obeyeth the commandment of his Lord, his desire attaineth and the orders of his God maintaineth; so Providence preserveth him from the perils of the present world and maketh ample his recompense in the future world; for indeed He neglecteth not the reward of the righteous. And whoso cloth otherwise than as Allah biddeth him sinneth mortal sin and disobeyeth his Lord, preferring his mundane to his supra-mundane weal. He hath no trace in this world and in the next no portion, for Allah spareth not the unjust and the mischievous, nor cloth He neglect any of His servants. These our Wazirs have set forth how, by reason of our just dealing with them and our wise governance of affairs, Allah hath vouchsafed us and them His grace, for which it behoveth us to thank Him, because of the great abundance of His mercies; each of them hath also spoken that wherewith the Almighty inspired Him concerning this matter, and they have vied one with another in rendering thanks to the Most High Lord and praising Him for His favours and bounties. I also render thanks to Allah for that I am but a slave commanded; my heart is in His hand and my tongue in His subjection, accepting that which He adjudgeth to me and to them, come what may thereof. Each one of them hath said what passed through his mind on the subject of this boy and hath set froth that which was of the renewal of divine favour to us, after my rears had reached the term when confidence faileth and despair assaileth. So praised be Allah who hath saved us from disappointment and from the alternation of rulers, like to the alternation of night and day! For verily, this was a great boon both to them and to us; wherefore we praise Almighty Allah who hath given a ready answer to our prayer and hath blessed us with this boy and set him in high place, as the inheritor of the kingship. And we entreat him, of His bounty and clemency, to make him happy in his actions, prone to pious works, so he may become a King and a Sultah governing his people with justice and equity, guarding them from perilous error and frowardness, of His grace, goodness and generosity!” When the King had made an end of his speech, the sages and Olema rose and prostrated themselves before Allah and thanked the King; after which they kissed his hands and departed, each to his own house, whilst Jali’ad withdrew into his prayers for him and named him Wird Khán.2 The boy grew up till he attained the age of twelve,3 when the King being minded to have him taught the arts and sciences, bade build him a palace amiddlemost the city, wherein were three hundred and threescore rooms,4 and lodged him therin. Then he assigned him three wise men of the Olema and bade them not be lax in teaching him day and night and look that there was no kind of learning but they instruct him hterin, so he might become versed in all knowledge. He also commanded them to sit with him one day in each of the rooms by turn and write on the door thereof that which they had taught him therein of various kinds of lore and report to himself, every seven days, whatso instructions they had imparted to him. So they went in to the Prince and stinted not from educating him day nor night, nor withheld from him aught of that they knew; and presently there appeared in him readiness to receive instruction such as none had shown before him. Every seventh day his governors reported to the King what his son had learnt and mastered, whereby Jali’ad became proficient in goodly learning and fair culture, and the Olema said to him, “Never saw we one so richly gifted with understanding as is this boy Allah bless thee in him and give thee joy of his life!” When the Prince had completed his twelfth year, he knew the better part of every science and excelled all the Olema and sages of his day; wherefore his governors brought him to his sire and said to him “Allah gladden thine eyes, O King, with this auspicious youth! We bring him to thee after he hath learnt all manner knowledge; and there is not one of the learned men of the time nor a scientist who hath attained to that whereto he hath attained of science.” The King rejoiced in this with joy exceeding and, thanking the Almighty, prostrated himself in gratitude before Allah (to whom belong Majesty and Might!), saying, “Laud be to the Lord for His mercies incalculable!” Then he called his Chief Wazir and said to him, “Know, O Shimas, that the governors of my son are come to tell me that he hath mastered every kind of knowledge and there is nothing but they have instructed him therein, so that he surpasseth in this all who forewent him. What sayst thou, O Shimas?” Hereat the Minister prostrated himself before Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) and kissed the King’s hand, saying, “Loath is the ruby stone, albeit be bedded in the hardest rock on hill, to do aught but shine as a lamp, and this thy son is such a gem. His tender age hath not hindered him from becoming a sage and Alhamdolillah — praised be Allah — for that which He deigned bestow on him! But to-morrow I will call an assembly of the flower of the Emirs and men of learning and examine the Prince and cause him speak forth that which is with him in their presence, Inshallah!” — And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
1 The Bresl. Edit. (viii. 48) instead of the Gate (Báb) gives a Bádhanj=a Ventilator; for which latter rendering see vol. i. 257. The spider’s web is Koranic (lxxxi. 40) “Verily frailest of all houses is the house of the spider.”
2 Prob. from the Persian Wird=a pupil, a disciple.
3 And yet, as the next page shows the youth’s education was complete in his twelfth year. But as all three texts agree, I do not venture upon changing the number to six or seven, the age at which royal education outside the Harem usually begins.
4 i.e. One for each day in the Moslem year. For these object-lessons, somewhat in Kinder-garten style, see the Book of Sindibad or The Malice of Women (vol. vi. 126).
She pursued: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the King Jali’ad heard the words of his Wazir, Shimas, he commended the attendance of the keenest-witted1 of the Olema and most accomplished of the learned and sages of his dominions, and they all presented themselves on the morrow at the door of the palace, whereupon the King bade admit them. Then entered Shimas and kissed the hands of the Prince, who rose and prostrated himself to the Minister. But Shimas said, “It behoveth not the lion-whelp to prostrate himself to any of the wild beasts, nor besitteth it that Light prostrate itself to shade.” Quoth the Prince, “Whenas the lion-whelp seeth the leopard,2 he riseth up to him and prostrateth himself before him because of his wisdom, and Light prostrateth itself to shade for the purpose of disclosing that which is therewithin.” Quoth Shimas, “True, O my lord, but I would have thee answer me anent whatso I shall ask thee, by leave of His Highness and his lieges.” And the youth said, “And I, with permission of my sire, will answer thee.” So Shimas began and said, “Tell me what is the Eternal, the Absolute, and what are the two manifestations thereof and whether of the two is the abiding one?” Answered the Prince, “Allah (to whom belong Might and Majesty!) is the Eternal, the Absolute; for that He is Alpha, without beginning, and Omega, without end. Now his two manifestations3 are this world and the next, and the abiding one of the two is the world to come.” Q “Thou sayst truly and I approve thy reply; but I would have thee tell me, how knowest thou that one of Allah’s manifestations is this world and the other the world to come?”—“I know this because this world was created from nothingness and had not its being from any existing thing; wherefore its affair is referable to the first essence. Moreover, it is a commodity swift of ceasing, the works whereof call for requital of action and this postulateth the reproduction4 of whatso passeth away; so the next world is the second manifestation.” Q “Now inform me how knowest thou that the world to come is the abiding one of the two existences?”— “Because it is the house of requital for deeds done in this world prepared by the Eternal sans surcease.” Q “Who are the people of this world most to be praised for their practice?”—“Those who prefer their weal in the world to come before their weal in this world.” Q “And who is he that preferreth his future to his present welfare?”—“He who knoweth that he dwelleth in a perishing house, that he was created but to vade away and that, after vading away, he will be called to account and indeed, were there in this world one living and abiding for ever, he would not prefer it to the next world.” Q “Can the future life subsist permanently without the present?”—“He who hath no present life hath no future life; and indeed I liken this world and its folk and the goal to which they fare with certain workmen, for whom an Emir buildeth a narrow house and lodgeth them therein, commanding each of them to do a certain task and assigning to him a set term and appointing one to act as steward over them. Whoso doeth the work appointed unto him, the steward bringeth him forth of that straitness; but whoso doeth it not within the stablished term is punished. After awhile, behold, they find honey exuding from the chinks of the house,5 and when they have eaten thereof and tasted its sweetness of savour, they slacken in their ordered task and cast it behind their backs. So they patiently suffer the straitness and distress wherein they are, with what they know of the future punishment whereto they are fast wending, and are content with this worthless and easily won sweetness; and the Steward leaveth not to fetch every one of them forth of the house, for ill or good, when his appointed period shall have come. Now we know the world to be a dwelling wherein all eyes are dazed, and that each of its folk hath his set term; and he who findeth the little sweetness that is in the world and busieth himself therewith is of the number of the lost, since he preferreth the things of this world to the things of the next world; but whoso payeth no heed to this poor sweetness and preferreth the things of the coming world to those of this world, is of those who are saved.” Q “I have heard what thou sayest of this world and the next and I accept thine answer; but I see they are as two placed in authority over man; needs must he content them both, and they are contrary one to other. So, if the creature set himself to seek his livelihood, it is harmful to his soul in the future, and if he devote himself to the next world, it is hurtful to his body, and there is no way for him of pleasing these two contraries at once.”—“Indeed, the quest of one’s worldly livelihood with pious intent and on lawful wise is a viaticum for the quest of the goods of the world to come; if a man spend a part of his days in seeking his livelihood in this world, for the sustenance of his body, and devote the rest of his day to seeking the goods of the next world, for the repose of his soul and the warding off of hurt therefrom; and indeed I see this world and the other world as they were two Kings, a just and an unjust.” Asked Shimas, “How so?” and the youth began the tale of
1 Arab. “Jahábizah” plur. of “Jahbiz”=acute, intelligent (from the Pers. Kahbad?)
2 Arab. “Nimr” in the Bresl. Edit. viii. 58. The Mac. Edit. suggests that the leopard is the lion’s Wazir.
3 Arab “Kaun” lit. =Being, existence. Trébutien (iii. 20) has it “Qu’est-ce que l’être (God), I’existence (Creation), l’être dans[‘existence (the world), et la duree de l’être dans l’existence (the other world).
4 i.e for the purpose of requital. All the above is orthodox Moslem doctrine, which utterly ignores the dictum “ex nihilo nihil fit;” and which would look upon Creation by Law (Darwinism) as opposed to Creation by miracle (e.g. the Mosaic cosmogony) as rank blasphemy. On the other hand the Eternity of Matter and its transcendental essence are tenets held by a host of Gnostics, philosophers and Eastern Agnostics.
5 This is a Moslem lieu commun; usually man is likened to one suspended in a bottomless well by a thin rope at which a rodent is continually gnawing and who amuses himself in licking a few drops of honey left by bees on the revetement.
There were once two Kings, a just and an unjust; and this one had a land abounding in trees and fruits and herbs, but he let no merchant pass without robbing him of his monies and his merchandise; and the traders endured this with patience, by reason of their profit from the fatness of the earth in the means of life and its pleasantness, more by token that it was renowned for its richness in precious stones and gems. Now the just King, who loved jewels, heard of this land and sent one of his subjects thither, giving him much specie and bidding him pass with it into the other’s realm and buy jewels therefrom. So he went thither; and, it being told to the unjust King that a merchant was come to his kingdom with much money to buy jewels withal, he sent for him to the presence and said to him, “Who art thou and whence comest thou and who brought thee thither and what is thy errand?” Quoth the merchant, “I am of such and such a region, and the King of that land gave me money and bade me buy therewith jewels from this country; so I obeyed his bidding and came.” Cried the unjust King, “Out on thee! Knowest thou not my fashion of dealing with the people of my realm and how each day I take their monies? How then comest thou to my country? And behold, thou hast been a sojourner here since such a time!” Answered the trader, “The money is not mine, not a mite of it; nay, ’tis a trust in my hands till I bring its equivalent to its owner.” But the King said, “I will not let thee take thy livelihood of my land or go out therefrom, except thou ransom thyself with this money all of it.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
She resumed: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the unjust Ruler said to the trader who came to buy jewels from his country, “’Tis not possible for thee to take thy livelihood of my land except thou ransom thy life with this money, all of it else shalt thou die.” So the man said in himself, “I am fallen between two Kings, and I know that the oppression of this ruler embraceth all who abide in his dominions, and if I satisfy him not, I shall lose both life and money (whereof is no doubt) and shall fail of my errand; whilst, on the other hand, if I give him all the gold, it will most assuredly prove my ruin with its owner, the other King; wherefore no device will serve me but that I give this one a trifling part thereof and content him therewith and avert from myself and from the money perdition. Thus shall I get my livelihood of the fatness of this land, till I buy that which I desire of jewels; and, after satisfying the tyrant with gifts, I will take my portion of the profit and return to the owner of the money with his need, trusting in his justice and indulgence, and unfearing that he will punish me for that which this unjust King taketh of the treasure, especially if it be but a little.” Then the trader called down blessings on the tyrant and said to him, “O King, I will ransom myself and this specie with a small portion thereof, from the time of my entering thy country to that of my going forth therefrom.” The King agreed to this and left him at peace for a year, till he bought all manner jewels with the rest of the money and returned therewith to his master, to whom he made his excuses, confessing to having saved himself from the unjust King as before related. The just King accepted his excuse and praised him for his wise device and set him on his right hand in his divan and appointed him in his kingdom an abiding inheritance and a happy life-tide.1 “Now the just King is the similitude of the future world and the unjust King that of the present world; the jewels that be in the tyrant’s dominions are good deeds and pious works. The merchant is man and the money he hath with him is the provision appointed him of Allah. When I consider this, I know that it behoveth him who seeketh his livelihood in this world to leave not a day without seeking the goods of the world to come, so shall he content this world with that which he gaineth of the fatness of the earth and satisfy the other world with that which he spendeth of his life in seeking after it.” Q “Are the spirit2 and the body alike in reward and retribution, or is the body, as the luster of lusts and doer of sinful deeds, and especially affected with punishment?”—“The inclination to lusts and sins may be the cause of earning reward by the withholding of the soul therefrom and the repenting thereof; but the command3 is in the hand of Him who cloth what He will, and things by their contraries are distinguished. Thus subsistence is necessary to the body, but there is no body without soul, and the purification of the spirit is in making clean the intention in this world and taking thought to that which shall profit in the world to come. Indeed, soul and body are like two horses racing for a wager or two foster brothers or two partners in business. By the intent are good deeds distinguished, and thus the body and soul are partners in actions and in reward and retribution, and in this they are like the Blind man and the Cripple with the Overseer of the garden.” Asked Shimas, “How so?” and the Prince said. “Hear, O Wazir, the tale of
1 A curious pendent to the Scriptural parable of the Uniust Steward.
2 Arab. “Rúh” Heb. Ruach: lit. breath (spiritus) which in the animal kingdom is the surest sign of life. See vol. v. 29. Nothing can be more rigidly materialistic than the called Mosaic law.
3 Arab. “Al–Amr” which may also mean the business, the matter, the affair.
A blind man and a Cripple were travelling companions and used to beg alms in company. One day they sought admission into the garden of someone of the benevolent, and a kind-hearted wight, hearing their talk, took compassion on them and carried them into his garden, where he left them after plucking for them some of its produce and went away, bidding them do no waste nor damage therein. When the fruits became ripe, the Cripple said to the Blind man, “Harkye, I see ripe fruits and long for them, but I cannot rise to eat thereof; so go thou arise, for thou art sound of either leg, and fetch us somewhat that we may eat.” Replied the Blind, “Fie upon thee! I had no thought of them, but now that thou callest them to my mind, I long to eat of them and I am impotent unto this, being unable to see them; so how shall we do to get at them?” At this moment, behold, up came the Overseer of the garden, who was a man of understanding, and the Cripple said to him, “Harkye, O Overseer! I long for somewhat of those fruits, but we are as thou seest: I am a cripple and my mate here is stone-blind; so what shall we do?” Replied the Overseer “Woe to you! Have ye forgotten that the master of the garden stipulated with you that ye should do nothing whereby waste or damage befal it; so take warning and abstain from this.” But they answered, “Needs must we get our portion of these fruits that we may eat thereof; so tell us some device whereby we shall contrive this.” When the Overseer saw that they were not to be turned from their purpose, he said, “This, then, is my device, O Cripple, let the Blind bear thee on his back and take thee under the tree whose fruit pleaseth thee, so thou mayst pluck what thou canst reach thereof.” Accordingly the Blind man took on his back the Cripple who guided him till he brought him under a tree, and he fell to plucking from it what he would and tearing at its boughs till he had despoiled it, after which they went roundabout and throughout the garden and wasted it with their hands and feet; nor did they cease from this fashion, till they had stripped all the trees of the garth. Then they returned to their place and presently up came the master of the garden, who, seeing it in this plight, was wroth with sore wrath and coming up to them said, “Woe to you! What fashion is this? Did I not stipulate with you that ye should do no damage in the garden?” Quoth they, “Thou knowest that we are powerless to come at any of the fruit, for that one of us is a cripple and cannot rise and the other is blind and cannot see that which is before him; so what is our offense?” But the master answered, “Think ye I know not how ye wrought and how ye have gone about to do waste in my garden? I know, as if I had been with thee, O Blind, that thou tookest the Cripple pick-a-back, and he showed thee the way till thou borest him to the trees.” Then he punished them with grievous punishment and thrust them out of the garden. “Now the Blind is the similitude of the body which seeth not save by the spirit, and the Cripple that of the soul, for that it hath no power of motion but by the body; the garden is the works, for which the creature is rewarded or punished, and the Overseer is the reason which biddeth to good and forbiddeth from evil. Thus the body and the soul are partners in reward and retribution.” Q “Which of the learned men is most worthy of praise, according to thee?”—“He who is learned in the knowledge of Allah and whose knowledge profiteth him.” Q “And who is this?”—“Whoso is intent upon seeking to please his Lord and avoid His wrath.” Q “And which of them is the most excellent?”— “He who is most learned in the knowledge of Allah.” Q “And which is the most experienced of them?”—“Whoso in doing according to his knowledge is most constant.” Q “ And which is the purest hearted of them?”— “He who is most assiduous in preparing for death and praising the Lord and least of them in hope, and indeed he who penetrateth his soul with the awful ways of death is as one who looketh into a clear mirror, for that he knoweth the truth, and the mirror still increaseth in clearness and brilliance.” Q “What are the goodliest of treasures?”—“The treasures of heaven.” Q “Which is the goodliest of the treasures of Heaven?”—“The praise of Allah and His magnification.” Q “Which is the most excellent of the treasures of earth?”—“The practice of kindness.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.
She said: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir Shimas asked the King’s son, saying, “Which is the most excellent of the treasures of earth?” he answered, “The practice of kindness.” So the Minister pursued, “Tell me of three several and different things, knowledge and judgment and wit, and of that which uniteth them.”—“Knowledge cometh of learning, judgment of experience and wit of reflection, and they are all stablished and united in reason. Whoso combineth these three qualities attaineth perfection, and he who addeth thereto the piety and fear of the Lord is in the right course.” Q “Take the case of a man of learning and wisdom, endowed with right judgment, luminous intelligence and a keen wit and excelling, and tell me can desire and lust change these his qualities?”—“Yes; for these two passions, when they enter into a man, alter his wisdom and understanding and judgment and wit, and he is like the Ossifrage1 which, for precaution against the hunters, abode in the upper air, of the excess of his subtlety; but, as he was thus, he saw a fowler set up his nets and when the toils were firmly staked down bait them with a bit of meat; which when he beheld, desire and lust thereof overcame him and he forgot that which he had seen of springes and of the sorry plight of all birds that fell into them. So he swooped down from the welkin and pouncing upon the piece of meat, was meshed in the same snare and could not win free. When the fowler came up and saw the Ossifrage taken in his toils he marvelled with exceeding marvel and said, ‘I set up my nets, thinking to take therein pigeons and the like of small fowl; how came this Ossifrage to fall into it?’ It is said that when desire and lust incite a man of understanding to aught, he considereth the end thereof and refraineth from that which they make fair and represseth with his reason his lust and his concupiscence; for, when these passions urge him to aught, it behoveth him to make his reason like unto a horseman skilled in horsemanship who, mounting a skittish horse, curbeth him with a sharp bit,2 so that he go aright with him and bear him whither he will. As for the ignorant man, who hath neither knowledge nor judgment, while all things are obscure to him and desire and lust lord it over him, verily he doeth according to his desire and his lust and is of the number of those that perish; nor is there among men one in worse case than he.” Q “When is knowledge profitable and when availeth reason to ward off the ill effects of desire and lust?”—“When their possessor useth them in quest of the goods of the next world, for reason and knowledge are altogether profitable; but it befitteth not their owner to expend them in the quest of the goods of this world, save in such measure as may be needful for gaining his livelihood and defending himself from its mischief, but to lay them out with a view to futurity.” Q “What is most worthy that a man should apply himself thereto and occupy his heart withal?”— “Good works and pious.” Q “If a man do this it diverteth him from gaining his living; how then shall he do for his daily bread wherewith he may not dispense?”—“A man’s day is four-and-twenty hours, and it behoveth him to employ one third thereof in seeking his living, another in prayer and repose and the other in the pursuits of knowledge;3 for a reasonable man without knowledge is a barren land, which hath no place for tillage, tree-planting or grass-growing. Except it be prepared for filth and plantation, no fruit will profit therein; but, if it be tilled and planted, it bringeth forth goodly fruits. So with the man lacking education; there is no profit in him till knowledge be ranted in him; then cloth he bear fruit.” Q “What sayst thou of knowledge without understanding?”—“It is as the knowledge of a brute4 beast, which hath learnt the hours of its foddering and waking, but hath no reason.” Q “Thou hast been brief in thine answer here anent; but I accept thy reply. Tell me, how shall I guard myself against the Sultan?”—“By giving him no way to thee.” Q “And how can I but give him way to me, seeing that he is set in dominion over me and that the reins of my affair be in his hand?”—“His dominion over thee lieth in the duties thou owest him; wherefore, an thou give him his due, he hath no farther dominion over thee.” Q “What are a Wazir’s duties to his King?”—“Good counsel and zealous service both in public and private, right judgment, the keeping of his secrets, and that he conceal from his lord naught of that whereof he hath a right to be informed, lack of neglect of aught of his need with the gratifying of which he chargeth him, the seeking his approval in every guise, and the avoidance of his anger.” Q “How should the Wazir do with the King?”—“An thou be Wazir to the King and wouldst fain become safe from him, let thy hearing and thy speaking to him surpass his expectation of thee, and be thy seeking of thy want from him after the measure of thy rank in his esteem, and beware lest thou advance thyself to a dignity whereof he deemeth thee unworthy for this would be like presuming against him. So, if thou take advantage of his mildness and raise thee to a rank beyond that which he deemeth thy due, thou wilt be like the hunter, whose wont it was to trap wild beasts for their pelts and cast away the flesh. Now a lion used to come to that place and eat of the carrion, and in course of time, he made friendship with the hunter who would throw meat to him and wipe his hands on his back whilst the lion wagged his tail.5 But when the hunter saw his tameness and gentleness and submissiveness to him, he said to himself, ‘Verily this lion humbleth himself to me and I am master of him, and I see not why I should not mount him and strip off his hide, as with the other wild beasts.’ So he took courage and sprang on the lion’s back, presuming on his mildness and deeming himself sure of him; which when the lion saw, he raged with exceeding rage and raising his fore-paw, smote the hunter, that he drove his claws into his vitals, after which he cast him under foot and tare him in pieces and devoured him. By this we may know that it behoveth the Wazir to bear himself towards the King according to that which he seeth of his condition and not presume upon the superiority of his own judgment, lest the King become jealous of him.”— And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.
1 Arab. “Ukáb al-kásir.” lit. =the breaker eagle.
2 Arab “Lijám shadíd:” the ring-bit of the Arabs is perhaps the severest form known: it is required by the Eastern practice of pulling up the horse when going at full speed and it is too well known to require description. As a rule the Arab rides with a “lady’s hand” and the barbarous habit of “hanging on by the curb” is unknown to him. I never pass by Rotten Row or see a regiment of English Cavalry without wishing to leave riders nothing but their snaffles.
3 We find this orderly distribution of time (which no one adopts) in many tongues and many forms. In the Life of Sir W. Jones (vol. i. p. 193, Poetical Works etc.) the following occurs, “written in India on a small piece of paper”; —
Sir Edward Coke
“Six hours to sleep, in law’s grave study six!
Four spend in prayer — the rest on Heaven fix!”
“Seven hours to law, to soothing slumber seven;
Ten to the world allot, and all to Heaven!”
But this is not practical. I must prefer the Chartist distribution:
Six hours sleep and six hours play:
Six hours work and six shillings a day.
Mr Froude (Oceana) speaks of New Zealanders having attained that ideal of operative felicity:—
Eight to work, eight to play;
Eight to sleep and eight shillings a day.
4 Arab. “Bahímah,” mostly=black cattle: see vol. iv. 54.
5 As a rule when the felidæ wag their tails, it is a sign of coming anger, the reverse with the canidæ.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52