Richard Francis Burton.

The book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) online

. (page 8 of 38)
Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) → online text (page 8 of 38)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

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 con-
trive 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
offence ? " 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 simili-
tude 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

of Hind and his Wazir Shimas. 69

and forbiddeth from evil. Thus the body and the soul are partners
in reward and retribution." (<;) " 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."
(<;) "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 know-
ledge of Allah." (<) "And which is the most experienced of
them?" "Whoso in doing according to his knowledge is most
constant." (<) " 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." (<;) " What are the good-
liest of treasures?" "The treasures of heaven." (<) "Which is
the goodliest of the treasures of Heaven ? " " The praise of Allah
and His magnification." (<) " Which is the most excellent of the
treasures of earth ? " " The practice of kindness." - And Shah-
razad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted

Koto fo&en tt toas tfje Nine f^untartJ anfc lEIebcntf)

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 under-
standing and judgment and wit, and he is like the Ossifrage '

i - - - - - - - - i - '

1 Arab " Ukab al-kasir," lit. = the breaker eagle.

7O Alf Laylah u>a Laylah.

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 con-
cupiscence ; for, when these passions urge him to aught, it behoveth
him to make his reason like unto a horseman skilled in horseman-
ship who mounting a skittish horse, curbeth him with a sharp bit, 1
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." (,;) " 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." (<) "What is most worthy
that a man should apply himself thereto and occupy his heart
withal ? " " Good works and pious." (<) " 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 ? " u A man's day

1 Arab. " Lijam shadid : " 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.

King Jali* ad of Hind and his Wazir Shimas. 7 1

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 j 1 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 tilth 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
planted in him : then doth he bear fruit." (i) "What sayst thou of
knowledge without understanding?" " It is as the knowledge
of a brute 2 beast, which hath learnt the hours of its foddering
and waking, but hath no reason." (<) " 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." (<;) "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." (,;) "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

1 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 ! "

Rather :

"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.
* Arab. "Bahimah," mostly = black cattle : see vol. iv. 54.

72 Alf Laylah wa Laylah.

anger." (<) 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. 1 But when the hunter saw his
lameness 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.

tofjm ft foas tfje ISTtne f^tm&rcfc antr

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
youth, the son of King Jali'ad, said to Shimas the Wazir, " It
behoveth the Minister to bear himself towards the Monarch
according to that which he seeth of his condition, and not to
presume upon the superiority of his own judgment lest the King
wax jealous of him." Quoth Shimas, " How shall the Wazir
grace himself in the King's sight." " By the performance of the

1 As a rule when the felidae wag their tails, it is a sign of coming anger, the reverse
with the canidae.

, King Jolt' ad of Hind and his Wazir Skintas. 73

trust committed to him and of loyal counsel and sound judgment
and the execution of his commands." (<) " As for what thou
sayest of the Wazir's duty to avoid the King's anger and perform
his wishes and apply himself diligently to the doing of that where-
with he chargeth him, such duty is always incumbent on him : but
how, an the King's whole pleasure be tyranny and the practice
of oppression and exorbitant extortion ; and what shall the Wazir
do, if he be afflicted by intercourse with this unjust lord ? An he,
strive to turn him from his lust and his desire, he cannot do this,
and if he follow him in his lusts and flatter him with false counsel,
he assumeth the weight of responsibility herein and becometh an
enemy to the people. What sayst thou of this ? " "What thou
speakest, O Wazir, of his responsibility and sinfulness ariseth only
in the case of his abetting the King in his wrong-doing ; but it
behoveth the Wazir, when the King taketh counsel with him of
the like of this, to show forth to him the way of justice and equity
and warn him against tyranny and oppression and expound to
him the principles of righteously governing the lieges ; alluring
him with the future reward that pertaineth to this and restraining
him with warning of the punishment he otherwise will incur.
If the King incline to him and hearken unto his words, his end is
gained, and if not, there is nothing for it but that he depart from
him after courteous fashion, because in parting for each of them is
ease." (j) " What are the duties of the King to his subjects and

what are the obligations of the lieges to their lord ? " " They

shall do whatso he ordereth them with pure intent and obey him
in that which pleaseth him and pleaseth Allah and the Apostle
of Allah. And the lieges can claim of the lord that he protect
their possessions and guard their women, 1 even as it is their duty to
hearken unto him and obey him and expend their lives freely in
his defence and give him his lawful due and praise him fairly for
that which he bestoweth upon them of his justice and bounty."
Q) " Have his subjects any claim upon the King other than that

which thou hast said ? " "Yes : the rights of the subjects from

their Sovran are more binding than the liege lord's claim upon his
lieges ; for that the breach of his duty towards them is more
harmful than that of their duty towards him ; because the
ruin of the King and the loss of his kingdom and fortune

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

74 A If Laylah wa Laylak*.

befal not save by the breach of his devoir to his subjects :
wherefore it behoveth him who is invested with the kingship
to be assiduous in furthering three things, to wit, the fostering
of the faith, the fostering of his subjects and the fostering of
government ; for by the ensuing of these three things, his king-
dom shall endure." (<;) " How doth it behove him to do for his

subjects' weal ? " " By giving them their due and maintaining

their laws and customs 1 and employing Olema and learned men
to teach them and justifying them, one of other, and sparing their
blood and defending their goods and lightening their loads and
strengthening their hosts." (<;) "What is the Minister's claim

upon the Monarch ? " " None hath a more imperative claim on

the King than hath the Wazir, for three reasons : firstly, because
of that which shall befal him from his liege lord in case of error
in judgment, and because of the general advantage to King and
commons in case of sound judgment : secondly, that folk may
know the goodliness of the degree which the Wazir holdeth
in the King's esteem and therefore look on him with eyes of
veneration and respect and submission 2 ; and thirdly, that the
Wazir, seeing this from King and subjects, may ward off from
them that which they hate and fulfil to them that which they
love." Q) " I have heard all thou hast said of the attributes of
King and Wazir and liege and approve thereof: but now tell me
what is incumbent in keeping the tongue from lying and folly and

slandering good names and excess in speech." " It behoveth a

man to speak naught but good and kindness and to talk not of
that which toucheth him not ; to leave detraction nor carry talk
he hath heard from one man to his enemy, neither seek to harm
his friend nor his foe with his Sultan and reck not of any
(neither of him from whom he hopeth for good nor of him whom
he feareth for mischief) save of Allah Almighty ; for He indeed is
the only one who harmeth or profiteth. Let him not impute
default unto any nor talk ignorantly, lest he incur the weight and
the sin thereof before Allah and earn hate among men ; for know

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

2 Lit. " lowering the wings," see supra p. 33.

King Jalf ad of Hind and his Wazir Shimas. 75

thou that speech is like an arrow which once shot none can avail
to recall. Let him also beware of disclosing his secret to one who
shall discover it, lest he fall into mischief by reason of its disclosure,
after confidence on its concealment ; and let him be more careful
to keep his secret from his friend than from his foe ; for the keeping
a secret with all folk is of the performance of faithful trust." (,;)
"Tell me how a man should bear himself with his family and
friends." - " There is no rest for a son of Adam save in righteous
conduct: he should render to his family that which they deserve
and to his brethren whatso is their due." (<) "What should one
render to one's kinsfolk ? " - " To parents, submission and soft
speech and affability and honour and reverence. To brethren
good counsel and readiness to expend money for them and
assistance in their undertakings and joyance in their joy and
grieving for their grief and closing of the eyes toward the errors
that they may commit ; for, when they experience this from a man,
they requite him with the best of counsel they can command and
expend their lives in his defence ; wherefore, an thou know thy
brother to be trusty, lavish upon him thy love and help him in all
his affairs." - And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and
ceased saying her permitted say.

jfioto fofjen it foas tije Jime f^untJtctr an&

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the
youth, the son and heir of King Jali'ad, when questioned by the
Wazir upon the subjects aforesaid, returned him satisfactory replies ;
when Shimas resumed, " I see that brethren are of two kinds,
brethren of trust and brethren of society. 1 As for the first who be
friends, there is due to them that which thou hast set forth ; but
now tell me of the others who be acquaintances." - "As for
brethren of society thou gettest of them pleasance and goodly
usance and fair speech and enjoyable company ; so be thou not
sparing to them of thy delights, but be lavish to them thereof, like
as they are lavish to thee, and render to them that which they
render to thee of affable countenance and an open favour and
sweet speech ; so shall thy life be pleasant and thy words be
accepted of them." (<[) u Tell me now of the provision decreed by

1 i.e. friends and acquaintances.

76 A If Laylah wa Laylak.

the Creator to all creatures. Hath He allotted to men and beasts
each his several provision to the completion of his appointed life-
term ; and if this allotment be thus, what maketh him who seeketh
his livelihood to incur hardships and travail in the quest of that
which he knoweth must come to him, if it be decreed to him,
albeit he incur not the misery of endeavour ; and which, if it be
not decreed to him, he shall not win, though he strive after it with
his uttermost striving ? Shall he therefore stint endeavour and in

his Lord put trust and to his body and his soul give rest ? "

" Indeed, we see clearly that to each and every there is a provision
distributed and a term prescribed ; but to all livelihood are a way
and means, and he who seeketh would get ease of his seeking by
ceasing to seek ; withal there is no help but that he seek his
fortune. The seeker is, however, in two cases ; either he gaineth
his fortune or he faileth thereof. In the first case, his pleasure
consisteth in two conditions ; first, in the having gained his fortune,
and secondly, in the laudable 1 issue of his quest; and in the other
case, his pleasure consisteth, first, in his readiness to seek his daily
bread, secondly, in his abstaining from being a burthen to the folk,
and thirdly, in his freedom from liability to blame." (d) " What

sayst thou of the means of seeking one's fortune ? " " A man

shall hold lawful that which Allah (to whom belong Might
and Majesty) alloweth, and unlawful whatso He forbiddeth."
Reaching this pass the discourse between them came to an
end, and Shimas and all the Olema present rose and prostrat-
ing themselves before the young Prince, magnified and extolled
him, whilst his father pressed him to his bosom and seating
him on the throne of kingship, said, " Praised be Allah who
hath blessed me with a son to be the coolth of mine eyes in
my lifetime ! " Then said the King's son to Shimas in presence
of all the Olema, " O sage that art versed in spiritual questions,
albeit Allah have vouchsafed to me but scanty knowledge, yet do I
comprehend thine intent in accepting from me what I proffered in
answer concerning that whereof thou hast asked me, whether I hit
or missed the mark therein, and belike thou forgavest my errors ;
but now I am minded to question thee anent a thing, whereof my
judgment faileth and whereto my capacity is insufficient and which
my tongue availeth not to set forth, for that it is obscure to me,

with the obscurity of clear water in a black vessel. Wherefore I


1 Arab. " Hamidah " = praiseworthy or satisfactory.

King J alt' ad of Hind and his Wazir Shimas, 77

would have thee expound it to me so no iota thereof may remain
doubtful to the like of me, to whom its obscurity may present
itself in the future, even as it hath presented itself to me in the
past ; since Allah, even as He hath made life to be in lymph 1 and
strength in food and the cure of the sick in the skill of the leach,
so hath He appointed the healing of the fool to be in the learning
of the wise. Give ear, therefore, to my speech." Replied the
Wazir, " O luminous of intelligence and master of casuistical ques-
tions, thou whose excellence all the Olema attest, by reason of the
goodliness of thy discretion of things and thy distribution 2 thereof
and the justness of thine answers to the questions I have asked
thee, thou knowest that thou canst enquire of me naught but
thou art better able than I to form a just judgment thereon and
expound it truly : for that Allah hath vouchsafed unto thee such
wisdom as He hath bestowed on none other of men. But inform
me of what thou wouldst question me," Quoth the Prince, " Tell
me from what did the Creator (magnified be His all-might !) create
the world, albeit there was before it naught and there is naught
seen in this world but it is created from something; and the
Divine Creator (extolled and exalted be He !) is able to create
things from nothing, 3 yet hath His will decreed, for all the per-
fection of His power and grandeur, that He shall create naught
but from something." The Wazir replied, "As for those, who
fashion vessels of potter's clay, 4 and other handicraftsmen, who
cannot originate one thing save from another thing, they are them-
selves only created entities : but, as for the Creator, who hath
wrought the world after this wondrous fashion, an thou wouldst
know His power (extolled and exalted be He !) of calling things
into existence, extend thy thought and consider the various kinds
of created things, and thou wilt find signs and instances, proving
the perfection of His puissance and that He is able to create the
ens from the non-ens : nay, He called things into being, after
absolute non-existence, for the elements which be the matter of

Online LibraryRichard Francis BurtonThe book of the thousand nights and a night; a plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights' entertainments, with introd., explanatory notes on the manners and customs of Moslem men and a terminal essay upon the history of the nights (Volume 9) → online text (page 8 of 38)