Richard Francis Burton.

A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) online

. (page 34 of 40)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 34 of 40)
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Rejoined the King, " O Minister, Allah (extolled and exalted
be He !) hath, of His grace and bounty and goodness, and
beneficence, made gift to us of the True Faith and brought us
out of night into light, and hath been bountiful to us, of His

1 Von Hammer quotes the case of the Grand Vizier Yusuf throwing his own pelisse
over the shoulders of the Aleppine Merchant who brought him the news of the death
of his enemy, Jazzar Pasha.

2 This peculiar style of generosity was also the custom in contemporary Europe.

3 Khatun, which follows the name (e.g. Hurmat Khatun), in India corresponds with
the male title Khan, taken by the Pathan Moslems (e.g. Pfr Khan). Khanum is the
affix to the Moghul or Tartar nobility, the men assuming a double designation e.g. Mirra
Abdallah Beg. See Oriental collections (Ouselcy's) vol. i. 97.

324 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

favour and benevolence ; wherefore I am minded to solace the
folk and cause them to rejoice." Quoth Paris, "Do what thou
xvilt, ' " and quoth the King, " O Wazir, go down without stay
or delay and set free all who are in the prisons, both criminals
and debtors, and whoso transgresseth after this, we will requite
as he deserveth even to the striking off of his head. Moreover,
we forgive the people three years' taxes, and do thou set up
kitchens all around about the city walls 2 and bid the kitcheners hang
over the fire all kinds of cooking pots and cook all manner of meats,
continuing their cooking night and day, and let all comers, both
of our citizens and of the neighbouring countries, far and near, eat
and drink and carry to their houses. And do thou command the
people to make holiday and decorate the city seven days and shut
not the taverns night nor day 3 ; and if thou delay I will behead
thee 4 ! " So he did as the King bade him and the folk decorated
the city and citadel and bulwarks after the goodliest fashion and,
donning their richest attire, passed their time in feasting and sport-
ing and making merry, till the days of the Queen's pregnancy were
accomplished and she was taken, one night, with labour pains
hard before dawn. Then the King bade summon all the Olema
and astronomers, mathematicians and men of learning, astrologers,
scientists and scribes in the city, and they assembled and sat
awaiting the throwing of a bead into the cup 5 which was to be the
signal to the Astrophils, as well as to the nurses and attendants,
that the child was born. Presently, as they sat in expectation,
the Queen gave birth to a boy like a slice of the moon when
fullest and the astrologers fell to calculating and noted his star
and nativity and drew his horoscope. Then, on being summoned
they rose and, kissing the earth before the King, gave him the
glad tidings, saying, " In very sooth the new-born child is of
happy augury and born under an auspicious aspect, but " they

1 Lit. " Whatso thou wouldest do that do ! " a contrast with our European laconism.

2 These are booths built against and outside the walls, made of palm-fronds and ligl

8 Von Hammer inTrebutien (ii. 135) says, "Such rejoicings are still customary at Con-
stantinople, under the name of Donanmd, not only when the Sultanas are enceintes, but
also when they are brought to bed. In 1803 the rumour of the pregnancy of a Sultana,
being falsely spread, involved all the Ministers in useless expenses to prepare for a
Donanmi which never took place." Lane justly remarks upon this passage that the
title Sultdn precedes while the feminine Sultanah follows the name.

* These words (Bresl. Edit.) would be spoken in jest, a grim joke enough, but
showing the elation of the King's spirits.

A signal like a gong : the Mac. Edit, reads " Talcah,"= in at the window.

Sayf al-Muluk and Badfa al-Jamal. 325

added, " in the first of his life there will befall him a thing which
we fear to name before the King." Quoth Asim, " Speak and
fear not ; " so quoth they, " O King, this boy will fare forth from
this land and journey in strangerhood and suffer shipwreck and
hardship and prisonment and distress, and indeed he hath before
him the sorest of sufferings ; but he shall free him of them in
the end, and win to his wish and live the happiest of lives the
rest of his days, ruling over subjects with a strong hand and
having dominion in the land, despite enemies and enviers." Now
when the King heard the astrologers' words, he said, " The
matter is a mystery ; but all that Allah Almighty hath written
for the creature of good and bad cometh to pass and needs must
betide him from this day to that a thousand solaces." So he
paid no heed to their words or attention to their speeches but
bestowed on them robes of honour, as well upon all who were
present, and dismissed them ; when, behold, in came Paris the
Wazir and kissed the earth before the King in huge joy, saying,
" Good tidings, O King ! My wife hath but now given birth to a
son, as he were a slice of the moon." Replied Asim, " O Wazir,
go, bring thy wife and child hither, that she may abide with my
wife in my palace, and they shall bring up the two boys together."
So Faris fetched his wife and son and they committed the two
children to the nurses wet and dry. And after seven days had
passed over them, they brought them before the King and said
to him, " What wilt thou name the twain ? " Quoth he, " Do ye
name them ; " but quoth they, " None nameth the son save his
sire." So he said, " Name my son Sayf al-Muluk, after my
grandfather, and the Minister's son Sai'd l " Then he bestowed
robes of honour on the nurses wet and dry and said to them, " Be
ye ruthful over them and rear them after the goodliest fashion.'*
So they brought up the two boys diligently till they reached the
age of five, when the King committed them to a doctor of
Sciences 2 who taught them to read the Koran and write. When
they were ten years old, King Asim gave them in charge to masters,

1 Sayf al-Muluk = " Sword (Egyptian Sif, Arab. Sayf, Gr. &po?) of the Kings ";
and he must not be called tout bonnement Sayf. Sai'd = the forearm.

2 Arab. Fakih = a divine, from Fikh = theology, a man versed in law and divinity
i.e. (i) the Koran and its interpretation comprehending the sacred ancient history of the
creation and prophets (Chapters iii, iv, v and vi) ^ (2) the traditions and legends connected
with early Moslem History and (3) some auxiliary sciences as grammar, syntax and
prosody ; logic, rhetoric and philosophy. See p. 18 of " El-Mas' lidl/s Historical

326 A If Laylah wa Laylah.

who instructed them in cavalarice and shooting with shafts and
lunging with lance and play of Polo and the like till, by the time
they were fifteen years old, they were clever in all manner of
martial exercises, nor was there one to vie with them in horseman-
ship, for each of them would do battle with a thousand men and
make head against them single handed. So when they came to
years of discretion, whenever King Asim looked on them he
joyed in them with exceeding joy ; and when they attained their
twenty-fifth year, he took Paris his Minister apart one day and
said to him, " O Wazir, I am minded to consult with thec
concerning a thing I desire to do." Replied he, " Whatever thou
hast a mind to do, do it ; for thy judgment is blessed." Quoth the
King, " O Wazir, I am become a very old and decrepit man, sore
stricken in years, and I desire to take up my abode in an oratory,
that I may worship Allah Almighty and give my kingdom and
Sultanate to my son Sayf al-Muluk for that he is grown a goodly
youth, perfect in knightly exercises and intellectual attainments,
polite letters and gravity, dignity and the art of government.
What sayst thou, O Minister, of this project ? " And quoth
the counsellor, " Right indeed is thy rede : the idea is a blessed
and a fortunate, and if thou do this, I will do the like and
my son Sa'id shall be the Prince's Wazir, for he is a comely
young man and complete in knowledge and judgment. Thus
will the two youths be together, and we will order their affair and
neglect not their case, but guide them to goodness and in the way
that is straight." Quoth the King, " Write letters and send them
by couriers to all the countries and cities and sconces and fort-
resses that be under our hands, bidding their chiefs be present on
such a day at the Horse-course of the Elephant." 1 So the Wazir

Encyclopaedia etc.," by my friend Prof. Aloys Springer, London 1841. This fine frag-
ment printed by the Oriental Translation Fund has been left unfinished when the
Asiatic Society of Paris has printed in Eight Vols. 8vo the text and translation of
MM. Barbier de Meynard and Pavet de Courteille. What a national disgrace ! And
Ihe same with the mere abridgment of Ibn Batutah by Prof. Lee (Orient. Tr. Fund 1820)
when the French have the fine Edition and translation by Defremery and Sanguinetti
with index etc. in 4 vols. 8vo 1858-59. But England is now content to rank in such
matters as encouragement of learning, endowment of research etc., into the basest of
kingdoms, and the contrast of status between the learned Societies of London and of
Paris, Berlin, Vienna or Rome is mortifying to an Englishman a national opprobrium.
1 Arab. Maydan al-Fil prob. for Birkat al-Fil, the Tank of the Elephant before-
mentioned. Lane quotes Al-Makrizi who in his Khitat informs us that the lakelet was
made about the end of the seventh century (A. H.), and in the seventeenth year of the
eighth century became the site of stables. The Bresl. Edit. (iv. 214) reads "Maydan
aJ-'Adl," prob. for Al-'Adil the name of the King who laid out the Maydan.

Sayf al-Muluk and Badi'a al-Jamal. 327

went out without stay or delay and despatched letters of this
purport to all the deputies and governors of fortresses and others
under King Asim ; and he commanded also that all in the city
should be present far and near, high and low. When the
appointed time drew nigh, King Asim bade the tent-pitchers
plant pavilions in the midst of the Champ-de-Mars and decorate
them after the most sumptuous fashion and set up the great
throne whereon he sat not but on festivals. And they at once did
his bidding. Then he and all his Nabobs and Chamberlains and
Emirs sallied forth, and he commanded proclamation be made
to the people, saying, " In the name of Allah, come forth to
the Maydan ! " So all the Emirs and Wazirs and Governors
of provinces and Feudatories * came forth to the place of
assembly and, entering the royal pavilion, addressed them-
selves to the service of the King as was their wont, and abode
in their several stations some sitting and others standing,
till all the people were gathered together, when the King
bade spread the tables and they ate and drank and prayed
for him. Then he commanded the Chamberlains 2 to proclaim
to the people that they should not depart : so they made
proclamation to them, saying, " Let none of you fare hence till
he have heard the King's words ! " So they withdrew the curtains
of the royal pavilion and the King said, " Whoso loveth me, let
him remain till he have heard my speech ! " Whereupon all the
folk sat down in mind tranquil after they had been fearful, saying,
" Wherefore have we been summoned by the King ? " Then the
Sovran rose to his feet, and making them swear that none would
stir from his stead, said to them, " O ye Emirs and Wazirs and
Lords of the land ; the great and the small of you, and all ye who
are present of the people ; say me, wot ye not that this kingdom
was an inheritance to me from my fathers and forefathers ? "
Answered they, " Yes, O King we all know that." And he
continued, " I and you, we all worshipped the sun and moon, till
Allah (extolled and exalted be He !) vouchsafed us the knowledge
of the True Faith and brought us out of darkness unto light, and
directed us to the religion of Al-Islam. Know that I am become

1 Arab. Ashdb al-Ziya', the latter word mostly signifies estates consisting, strictly
speaking, of land under artificial irrigation.

2 The Bresl. Edit. iv. 215 has " Chawashiyah "=' Chiaush, the Turkish word, written
with the Pers. " ch," a letter which in Arabic is supplanted by " sh," everywhere except
in Morocco.

328 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

a very old man, feeble and decrepit, and I desire to take up my
abode in a hermitage 1 there to worship Allah Almighty and crave
His pardon for past offences and make this my son Sayf al-Muluk
ruler. Ye know full well that he is a comely youth, eloquent,
liberal, learned, versed in affairs, intelligent, equitable ; wherefore
I am minded presently to resign to him my realm and to make
him ruler over you and seat him as Sultan in my stead, whilst I
give myself to solitude and to the worship of Allah in an oratory
and my son and heir shall judge between you. What say ye
then, all of you ? " Thereupon they all rose and kissing ground
before him, made answer with " Hearing and obedience," saying,
u O our King and our defender an thou should set over us one of
thy blackamoor slaves we would obey him and hearken to thy
word and accept thy command : how much more then with thy
sen Sayf al-Muluk ? Indeed, we accept of him and approve him
on our eyes and heads ! " So King Asim bin Safwan arose and
came down from his seat and seating his son on the great throne, 2
took the crown from his own head and set it on the head of Sayf
al-Muluk and girt his middle with the royal girdle. 3 Then he sat
down beside his son on the throne of his kingship, whilst the
Emirs and Wazirs and Lords of the land and all the rest of the
folk rose and kissed ground before him, saying, " Indeed, he is
worthy of the kingship and hath better right to it than any
other/' Then the Chamberlains made proclamation crying,
" Aman ! Aman ! Safety ! Safety ! " and offered up prayers for his
victory and prosperity. And Sayf al-Muluk scattered gold and

silver on the heads of the lieges one and all. And Shahrazad

perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

ft foas tjje

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when King
Asim seated his son, Sayf al-Muluk, upon the throne and all the

1 Arab. "Zawiyah" lit. a corner, a cell. Lane (M. E. chapt. xxiv.) renders it "a
small kiosque," and translates the famous Zawiyat al-Umyin (Blind Men's Angle) near
the south-eastern corner of the Azhar or great Collegiate Mosque of Cairo, " Chapel of
the Blind " (chapt. ix.). In popular parlance it suggests a hermitage.

2 Arab. " Takht," a Pers. word used as more emphatic than the Arab. Sarir.

* This girding the sovereign is found in the hieroglyphs as a peculiarity of the ancient
Kings of Egypt, says Von Hammer referring readers to Denon.

Sayf al-Muluk and Bad? a al-Jamal. 329

people prayed for his victory and prosperity, the youth scattered
gold and silver on the heads of the lieges, one and all, and con-
ferred robes of honour and gave gifts and largesse. Then, after a
moment, the Wazir Faris arose and kissing ground said, " O Emirs,
O Grandees, ye ken that I am Wazir and that my Wazirate dateth
from old, before the accession of King Asim bin Safwan, who hath
now divested himself of the Kingship and made his son King in
his stead ? " Answered they, " Yes, we know that thy Wazirate
is from sire after grandsire." He continued, "And now in my
turn I divest myself of office and invest this my son Sa'id, for he
is intelligent, quick-witted, sagacious. What say ye all ? " And
they replied, " None is worthy to be Wazir to King Sayf al-Muluk
but thy son Sa'id, and they befit each other." With this Faris
arose and taking off his Wazirial turband, set it on his son's head
and eke laid his ink-case of office before him, whilst the Chamber-
lains and the Emirs said, " Indeed, he is deserving of the Wazir-
ship " and the Heralds cried aloud, " Mubarak ! Mubarak ! Felix
sit et faustus ! " After this, King Asim and Faris the Minister
arose and, opening the royal treasuries, conferred magnificent
robes of honour on all the Viceroys and Emirs and Wazirs and
Lords of the land and other folk and gave salaries and benefac-
tions and wrote them new mandates and diplomas with the signa-
tures of King Sayf al-Muluk and his Wazir Sa'id. Moreover, he
made distribution of money to the men-at-arms and gave guerdons,
and the provincials abode in the city a full week ere they departed
each to his own country and place. Then King Asim carried his
son and his Wazir Sa'id back to the palace which was in the city
and bade the treasurer bring the seal-ring and signet, 1 sword and
wrapper ; which being done, he said to the two young men, " O
my sons, come hither and let each of you choose two of these
things and take them." The first to make choice was Sayf al-
Muluk, who put out his hand and took the ring and the wrapper,
whilst Sa'id took the sword and the signet ; after which they both
kissed the King's hands and went away to their lodging. Now
Sayf al-Muluk opened not the wrapper to see what was therein,
but threw it on the couch where he and Sa'id slept by night, for
it was their habit to lie together. Presently they spread them the
bed and the two lay down with a pair of wax candles burning over

1 Arab. " Molir," which was not amongst the gifts of Solomon in Night dcclx. The
Bresl. Edit. (p. 220) adds " and the bow," which is also de trop.

33 Alf Laylah wa Laylak.

them, and slept till midnight, when Sayf al-Muluk awoke and, seeing
the bundle at his head, said in his mind, " I wonder what thing of
price is in this wrapper my father gave me ! " So he took it together
with a candle and descended from the couch leaving Sa'id sleeping
and carried the bundle into a closet, where he opened it and found
within a tunic of the fabric of the Jann. He spread it out and saw
on the lining 1 of the back, the portraiture wroughten in gold of a girl
and marvellous was her loveliness ; and no sooner had he set eyes
on the figure than his reason fled his head and he became Jinn-
mad for love thereof, so that he fell down in a swoon and pre-
sently recovering, began to weep and lament, beating his face
and breast and kissing her. And he recited these verses :

Love, at the first, is a spurt of spray z * Which Doom disposes and Fates

display ;
Till, when deep diveth youth in passion-sea * Unbearable sorrows his soul


And also these two couplets :

Had I known of love in what fashion he * Robbeth heart and soul I had

guarded me :
But of malice prepense I threw self away, * Unwitting of Love what his nature


And Sayf al-Muluk ceased not to weep and wail and beat face
and breast, till Sa'id awoke and missing him from the bed and
seeing but a single candle, said to himself, " Whither is Sayf al-
Muluk gone ? " Then he took the other candle and went round
about the palace, till he came upon the closet where he saw the
Prince lying at full length, weeping with sore weeping and lament-
ing aloud. So he said to him, " O my brother, for what cause
are these tears and what hath befallen thee ? Speak to me and
tell me the reason thereof." But Sayf al-Muluk spoke not neither
raised his head and continued to weep and wail and beat hand on
breast. Seeing him in this case quoth Sa'id, " I am thy Wazir and
thy brother, and we were reared together, I and thou ; so an thou
do not unburden thy breast and discover thy secret to me, to whom
shalt thou reveal it and disclose its cause ? " And he went on to

1 Arab. " Batanah," the ordinary lining opp. to Tazrib, or quilting with a layer of
cotton between two folds of cloth. The idea in the text is that the unhappy wearer
would have to carry his cross (the girl) on his back.

* This line has occurred in Night dccxliv. supra p. 280.

Sayf at- Muluk and Bad? a al-Jamal. 331

humble himself and kiss the ground before him a full hour, whilst
Sayf al-Muluk paid no heed to him nor answered him a word, but
gave not over weeping. At last, being affrighted at his case and
weary of striving with him, he went out and fetched a sword, with
which he returned to the closet, and setting the point to his own
breast, said to the Prince, " Rouse thee, O my brother ! An thou
tell me not what aileth thee, I will slay myself and see thee no
longer in this case." Whereupon Sayf al-Muluk raised his head
towards the Wazir and answered him, " O my brother, I am
ashamed to tell thee what hath betided me ; " but Sa'id said, " I
conjure thee by Allah, Lord of Lords, Liberator of Necks, 1 Causer
of causes, the One, the Ruthful, the Gift-full, the Bountiful, that
thou tell me what aileth thee and be not abashed at me, for I am
thy slave and thy Minister and counsellor in all thine affairs ! "
Quoth Sayf al-Muluk, " Come and look at this likeness." So
Sa'id looked at it awhile and considering it straitly, behold, he
saw written, as a crown over its head, in letters of pearl, these
words, "This is the counterfeit presentment of Badi'a al-Jamal,
daughter of Shahyal bin Sharukh, a King of the Kings of the
true-believing Jann who have taken up their abode in the city of
Babel and sojourn in the garden of Iram, Son of 'Ad the Greater 3

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying

her permitted say.

Nofo fo&en it foas tfje Sbeten ^un&rett an& &txts=t!nrtr Ni'g&t,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when
Sa'id, son of the Wazir Paris, had read to Sayf al-Muluk son of
King Asim the writ on the tunic, which showed the portraiture of
Badi'a al-Jamal, daughter of Shahyal bin Sharukh, a King of
the Kings of the Moslem Jinns dwelling in Babel-city and in the
Garden of Iram, son of 'Ad the Greater, he cried, " O my brother,
knowest thou of what woman this is the presentment, that we may
seek for her ? " Sayf al-Muluk replied, " No, by Allah, O my
brother, I know her not ! " and Sa'id rejoined, " Come, read this

1 Arab. " Mu'attik al-Rikab" i.e. who frees those in bondage from the yoke.

* In the Mac. Edit- and in Tre"butien (ii. 143) the King is here called Schimakhson of
Scharoukh, but elsewhere, Schohiali = Shahyal, in the Bresl. Edit. Shahal. What the
author means by " Son of 'Ad the Greater," I cannot divine.

332 A If Laylak wa Laylah.

writing on the crown." So Sayf al-Muluk read it and cried out
from his heart's core and very vitals, saying, " Alas ! Alas !
Alas ! " Quoth Sa'id, 4< O my brother, an the original of the
portrait exist and her name be Badi'a al-Jamal, and she abide in
the world, I will hasten to seek her, that thou mayst win thy will
without delay. But, Allah upon thee, O my brother, leave this
weeping and ascend thy throne, that the Officers of the State may
come in to do their service to thee, and in the undurn, do thou
summon the merchants and fakirs and travellers and pilgrims and
paupers and ask of them concerning this city and the garden of
Iram ; haply by the help and blessing of Allah (extolled and
exalted be He !), some one of them shall direct us thither." So,
when it was day, Sayf al-Muluk went forth and mounted the
throne, clasping the tunic in his arms, for he could neither stand
nor sit without it, nor would sleep visit him save it were with him ;
and the Emirs and Wazirs and Lords and Officers came in to him.
When the Divan was complete all being assembled in their places
he said to his Minister, " Go forth to them and tell them that the
King hath been suddenly struck by sickness and he, by Allah,
hath passed the night in ill case." So Sa'id fared forth and told
the folk what he said ; which when old King Asim heard, he was
concerned for his son and, summoning the physicians and astro-
logers, carried them in to Sayf al-Muluk. They looked at him
and prescribed him ptisanes and diet-drinks, simples and medicinal
waters and wrote him characts and incensed him with Nadd and
aloes-wood and ambergris three days' space ; but his malady per-
sisted three months, till King Asim was wroth with the leaches
and said to them, " Woe to you, O dogs ! What ? Are all of you
impotent to cure my son ? Except ye heal him forthright, I will
put the whole of you to death." The Archiater replied, " O King
of the Age, in very sooth we know that this is thy son and thou
wottest that we fail not of diligence in tending a stranger ; so how
much more with medicining thy son ? But thy son is afflicted
with a malady hard to heal, which, if thou desire to know, we will
discover it to thee." Quoth Asim, " What then find ye to be
the malady of my son ? "; and quoth the leach, " O King of the
Age, thy son is in love and he loveth one to whose enjoyment he
hath no way of access." At this the King was wroth and asked,
" How know ye that my son is in love and how came love to

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonA plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, now entituled The book of the thousand nights and a night : with introduction, explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men, and a terminal essay upon the history of The nights (Volume 7) → online text (page 34 of 40)