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 16) online

. (page 18 of 40)
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 16) → online text (page 18 of 40)
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and forgather with him and company with him before his death ;
and verily by Allah he is the master of the Age and the one Wonder
of the World. Moreover, by the Almighty, O my lord, wert thou
to see this lute fall into his hands, thou wouldst hear it converse in
every language with the tongues of birds and beasts and of the
sons of Adam : and well nigh would the place dance ere he had
improvised a word. And he the horizons can make to joy and
lover with overlove can destroy, nor shall any after his decease
such excellence of speech employ." All this, and Muhjat al-Kulub
knew not who was sitting beside them as she went on to praise
Ibrahim. Hereupon he took the lute from her hand and smote it
till thou hadst deemed that within the instrument lurked babes of
the Jinns 2 which were crying and wailing while spake the strings,



1 Presently explained.

2 In text " Afrakh al-Jinn," lit. = Chicks of the Jinns, a mere vulgarism : see
" Farkh 'Akrab," vol. iv. 46.



The Loves of A I- Hay fa and Yusuf. 203

and in fine King Yusuf imagined that the palace had upflown
with them between heaven and earth. And the handmaidens sang
to his tunes in sore astonishment; when Ibrahim designed to talk
but King Yusuf cut him short and fell to saying poetry in these
couplets :

" By the rights of our lord who shows ruth in extreme, * And Giver and Guide

and boon Prophet we deem,
And by Ka'abah resplendent and all its site * And by Zemzem, Safd and

the wall Hatim,
Lo ! thou 'rt hight Ibrahim, and suppose I say Thee sooth, my wits thou

must surely esteem :
And thy face shows signalled with clearest eyne o Delivrance followed by Ya.

and Mfm." l

Now Ibrahim kept his secret and did not manifest himself to
any, but presently he also improvised and spake in these words
preserving the measure and rhyme:

"By Him who chose Musk, the Speaker, 2 by Him o Who made 3 Hashimite

orphan select and supreme !
Ibrahim am I not, but I deem this one The Caliph who sits by Baghdadian

stream ;
Of his grace the heir of all eloquent arts e And no partner hath he in all gifts

that beseem."

And when Ibrahim had finished his verses, Yusuf said to him,
" By the virtue of Almighty Allah, an I guess aright and my shot 4
go not amiss, thou art Ibrahim the musician ;" but the courtier
retained his incognito and replied, " O my lord, Ibrahim is my
familiar friend and I am a man of Al-Basrah who hath stolen



1 " Ibraa" = deliverance from captivity, etc. Ya = f, and Mim = m, composing the
word " Ibrahim." The guttural is concealed in the Hamzah of Ibraa, a good illustration
of Dr. Steingass's valuable remarks in Terminal Essay, pp. 273, 275.

2 " Kalim " = one who speaks with another, a familiar. Moses' title is Kalimu'llah
on account of the Oral Law and certain conversations at Mount Sinai.

3 In text " Istif " = choice, selection: hence Mustafa = the Chosen Prophet,
Mohammed ; ols. i. 7 ; ii. 40.

* In text "Jazr" = cutting, strengthening, flow (of tide).



204 Supplemental Nights.

from him sundry of his modes and airs for the lute and other
instruments and I have the practice of improvisation." Now when
Ibrahim was speaking behold, there came one of the Caliph's
pages and he walked up to the head of the assembly bearing with
him a letter, which he handed to his lord. But Yusuf put forth
his hand and took it, and after reading the superscription he learnt
that his companion was Ibrahim without doubt or mistake, so he
said to him, " By Allah, O my lord, verily thou hast slighted me,
for that thou hast not informed me of thyself." Quoth the other,
" By Allah, I feared from thee lest I give thee excess of trouble ;
and quoth Yusuf, " Do thou take to thee all these handmaids
whom the Commander of the Faithful hath bid thee receive."
Ibrahim replied, "Nay, I will not accept from thee the hand-
maidens but rather will I fend from thee the Prince of True
Believers ;" however, King Yusuf rejoined, " I have gifted them
to the Viceregent of Allah : an thou take them not I will send
them by other than thyself." Presently King Yusuf set apart for
the Caliph great store of gifts, and when the handmaidens heard
of that they wept with sore weeping. Ibrahim, hearing their
wailing, found it hard to bear, and he also shed tears for the
sobbing and crying of them ; and presently he exclaimed, " Allah
upon thee, O Yusuf, leave these ten handmaidens by thee and I
will be thy ward with the Prince of True Believers." But Yusuf
answered, " Now by the might of Him who stablished the moun-
tains stable, unless thou bear them away with thee I will despatch
them escorted by another." Hereupon Ibrahim took them and
farewelled King Yusuf and fared forth and hastened his faring
till the party arrived at Baghdad, the House of Peace, where he

went up into the Palace of the Commander of the Faithful

And Shahrazad was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent
and ceased saying her permitted say. Then quoth her sister
Dunyazad, " How sweet and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine,
and how enjoyable and delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 205

this compared with that I would relate to you on the coming
night an the Sovran suffer me to survive ? " Now when it was the



next night and that was



Sffaen p^un&reU antf

DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short

the watching of this our latter night ! " She replied : With

love and good will ! " It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the

director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and

of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that when Ibrahim

reached Baghdad and went up to the Palace of the Commander of

the Faithful and stood in the presence he was asked, " What hast

thou brought for us from thy journey, O Ibrahim ?" whereto he

answered, " O our lord, I have come to thee with all thou wiliest

and wishest that of rede be right and of word apposite." Quoth he,

" And what may that be ? " and quoth the other, " The ten

handmaids : " and so saying he set them before the Caliph,

whereupon they kissed ground and did him suit and service and

deprecated for him and greeted him with blessings, and each and

every of them addressed him in tongue most eloquent and with

theme most prevalent. The Prince of True Believers hugely

admired them, marvelling at their deftness of address and their

sweetness of speech which he had never witnessed in any other ;

and he was delighted with their beauty and loveliness and their

stature and symmetrical grace, and he wondered with extreme

wonderment how their lord had consented they should be brought

before him. Then cried he, " O Ibrahim, what hath been thy

case with the owner of these damsels, and did he commit them to

thee despite himself in anger and care or with resignation of mind

and broadening of bosom and joy and satisfaction ? " " O my

lord," said Ibrahim. " verily he made them over to me in, none



206 Supplemental Nights.

except the best of dispositions, and Allah give him length of life
for a youth ! How benign was his countenance and how beautiful,
and how perfect and how liberal were his hands and prompt to
act, and how excellent were his wits and how goodly and gracious
was his society and how yielding was his nature and how great
was his dignity and how just were his dealings with his lieges !
By Allah, O Commander of the Faithful, when I went to him
from thee I found him outside his city intending for the hunt and
chase and about to enjoy himself in pleasurable case, but seeing
our coming he met me and salam'd to me and greeted me and
rejoiced in me with extreme joy. All this, and he knew me not
nor did I on my part know him ; but he took me with him and
returned to town, and as we entered he was met by the Lords of
the land and the lieges who prayed for him ; so I knew that man
to be their King and Captain of commandment, also that he was
equitable to his subjects. Then he made me alight in his House
of Hospitality, and went up into his Palace, after which he sent
to call me and I obeyed his summons, when he set apart for me
an apartment under his own roof and taking me by the hand led
me thereto, where I found everything the best that could be.
Anon he despatched for us wine and wax candles and perfumes
and fruits fresh and dry and whatnot of that which becometh such
assembly ; and, when this was done, he bade summon the ten
handmaidens, and they also took their seats in the session, and
they smote their instruments and they sang verse wherein each
one excelled her companion. But one of them insisted in her
song upon the name of me, saying : None availeth to compose
such lines save Ibrahim the Cup-companion, the son of Ishak. Now
I had denied myself to their lord and acquainted him not with my
name ; but when the damsel had finished her verse, I largessed to
her a thousand gold pieces and asked her, Who may be this
Ibrahim whereat thou hast hinted in thy song ? Said she, He is
the boon-companion of the Caliph and he is unique among the



The Loves of Al- Hay fa and Yusuf. 207

pleasant ; then she fell to praising me with praise galore than
which naught could be more, unknowing me the while, until I
took the lute from her hand and smote it with a touch unlike
their play. Hereby their lord discovered me and said in his
verse : Thou art Ibrahim without doubt or mistake ; but still I
denied myself replying, I am a man from Al-Basrah and a familiar
of Ibrahim the Master-Musician : And on this wise I answered
him, when behold, there came up to us a page bearing a rescript
from thee. So King Yusuf took it from his hand and read the
address when he made certain that I was Ibrahim, the Cup-com-
panion, and having learnt my name he blamed me saying : O
Ibrahim, thou hast denied thyself to me. O my lord, I replied,
'Twas that I feared for thee excess of trouble ; after which quoth
he, Verily these ten damsels are a free gift from me to the
Commander of the Faithful. Hearing these words I refused to
receive them and promised on my return to the Caliph that I
would defend their lord from all detraction, but he cried, O
Ibrahim, unless thou take them I will forward them with other
than thyself. And lastly, O Prince of True Believers, he pre-
sented to me fifty slave-girls and as many Mamelukes and an
hundred and fifty negro-serviles and twenty steeds of purest blood,
with their housings and furniture, and four hundred she-camels
and twenty pods of musk. * " Then having told his tale, the
Cup-companion fell to commending Yusuf, and the Caliph
inclined ear to him admiring at this man and his generosity
and his openness of hand and the eloquence of his tongue and
the excellence of his manners, until Al-Maamun desired to for-
gather with him and work him weal and gift him with liberal
gifts. Presently the Caliph bade summon the ten handmaidens
and the hour was past supper-tide, at which time Ibrahim the

1 In the text " Nafishah " = Pers. " NaTah," derived, I presume, from the |/
" Naf " belly or testicle, the part which in the musk-deer was supposed to store up
the perfume.



208 Supplemental Nights.

Cup-companion, was seated beside him without other being
present. And as soon as the girls came before him the Caliph
bade them take their seats, and when they obeyed his order the
wine cups went merrily round, and the ten were directed to let
him hear somewhat of their chaunting and playing. So they fell to
smiting their instruments of mirth and merriment and singing
their songs, one after other, and each as she ended her poetry
touched the Caliph with delight until it came to the last of

them, who was hight Muhjat al-Kulub ; And Shahrazad was

surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased to say
her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How
sweet is thy story, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and
delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is this compared with that
I would relate to you on the coming night an the King suffer me
to survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was



Scbcn ^unfcvrtJ nntj TCmtf) tX T iflf)t,



DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou
be other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short
the watching of this our latter night ! " She replied : - With love
and good will ! It hath reached me, O auspicious King, the
director, the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting
and of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the last
poetical piece recited by the ten damsels to the Commander of
the Faithful was by Muhjat al-Kulub; and he upon hearing it
rose at once to his feet and shrieked and fell aswoon for an hour
of time. And when he recovered he cried, " By Allah, O Muhjat
al-Kulub and Oh of eyne the coolth, .do thou repeat to me what
thou hast said." Hereupon she touched her instrument with
another touch accompanying the repetition of her poetry in a
style wholly unlike the first, and she repeated her song in the



The Loves of Al-Hayfa and Yusuf. 209

mode and form Nahawand. 1 But when the Caliph heard her, his
wits were wildered, and he rent that was upon him of raiment,
and he fell fainting to the floor until Ibrahim the Cup-companion
and the ten handmaidens deemed him dead. But as he revived
after an hour of time he said to the handmaiden, " O Muhjat al-
Kulub, ask and it shall be granted to thee." " I pray," quoth
she, " first of Allah and then of the Commander of the Faithful
that he restore us, all the ten, unto our lord ; " and he granted
her request after he had gifted them all and largessed them. 2 He
also wrote to their owner, King Yusuf, a royal Rescript appoint-
ing him Sultan over all the kingdoms that were in and about the
land of Al-Sind ; and moreover that whenas the Caliph might
be absent from his good city of Baghdad, Yusuf should take his
place in bidding and forbidding and ordering and governing.
This ended, he despatched the ten slave-girls with a body of his
Chamberlains after giving them wealth galore and of presents and
rarities great store ; and they fared forth from him and ceased not
faring till they reached the city of Al-Sind. Now when the ten
handmaidens drew nigh thereto they sent to inform King Yusuf of
their coming, and he commissioned his Wazir Mohammed bin Ibrahim
to meet and receive them, and he caused them enter the Palace,
wondering the while that his ten bondswomen had not found favour
with the Prince of True Believers. So he summoned them to
his presence and asked them thereanent, and they answered by
relating all that had befallen them ; and presently Muhjat al-Kulub
presented to him the royal Rescript, and when he read it he



1 For " Nahavand," the celebrated site in Al-Irak where the Persians sustained
their final defeat at the hands of the Arabs A.H. 21. It is also one of the many
mitsical measures, like the Ispahani, the Rasti, the Rayhani, the Busalik, the Nava,
etc., borrowed from the conquered 'Ajami.

This second half of the story is laid upon the lines of " The M-m of Al-Yaman and
his six Slave-girls" : vol. iv. 245.

VOL. V. O



2 TO Supplemental Nights.

increased in joy and delight. 1 Now 2 when supper was over the
Prince of True Believers said to Ibn Ahyam, " Needs must thou
relate unto us a story which shall solace us ; and said the other,
" O Commander of the Faithful, I have heard a tale touching one
of the Kings." " What is that ? " asked the Caliph, whereupon
Ibn Ahyam fell to relating the adventures of



1 This history again belongs to the class termed "Abtar" = tailless. In the text we
find for all termination, " After this he (Yusuf) invited Mohammed ibn Ibrahim to lie
that night in the palace." Scott (vi. 364) ends after his own fashion: "They (the
ten girls) recited extempore verses before the caliph, but the subject of each was so
expressive of their wish to return to their beloved sovereign, and delivered in so affecting
a manner, that Mamcon, though delighted with their wit and beauty, sacrificed his own
pleasure to their feelings, and sent them back to Eusuff by the officer who carried the
edict, confirming him in his dominions, where the prince of Sind and the fair Aleefa
continued long, amid a numerous progeny, to live the protectors of their happy
subjects."

2 This tale is headless as the last is tailless. We must suppose that soon after
Mohammed ibn Ibrahim had quitted the Caliph, taking away the ten charmers, Al-
Maamun felt his "breast straitened" and called for a story upon one of his Rav.-is
named Ibn Ahyam. This name is repeated in the text and cannot be a clerical error for
Ibn Ibrahim.



THE THREE PRINCES OF CHINA,



2I 3



THE THREE PRINCES OF CHINA. 1

WHILOME there was a King in the land of Al-Sfn and he had
three male children to whose mother befel a mysterious malady.
So they summoned for her Sages and leaches of whom none could
understand her ailment and she abode for a while of time strown
upon her couch. At last came a learned physician to whom they
described her disorder and he declared, " Indeed this sickness
cannot be healed save and except by the Water of Life, a treasure
that can be trove only in the land Al-'Irak." When her sons
heard these words they said to their sire, " There is no help but
that we make our best endeavour and fare thither and thence
bring for our mother the water in question." Hereupon the King
gat ready for them a sufficiency of provaunt for the way and they
farewelled him and set forth intending for Barbarian-land. 2 The
three Princes ceased not travelling together for seven days, at the
end of which time one said to other, " Let us separate and let each
make search in a different stead, so haply shall we hit upon our
need." So speaking they parted after dividing their viaticum and,
bidding adieu to one another, each went his own way. Now the
eldest Prince ceased not wending over the wastes and none directed
him to a town save after a while when his victual was exhausted
and he had naught remaining to eat. At that time he drew near
to one of th cities where he was met at the entrance by a Jewish
man who asked him saying, " Wilt thou serve, O Moslem ? "



1 Scott (vi. 366) "Adventures of the Three Princes, sons of the Sultan of China."
8 In the text " 'Ajam," for which see vol. i. 2, 120. Al-Irak, I may observe, was the

head-quarters of the extensive and dangerous Kharijite heresy ; and like Syria has ever

a bad name amongst orthodox Moslems.



214 Supplemental Nights

Quoth the youth to himself, " I will take service and haply Allah
shall discover to me my need." Then said he aloud, " I will
engage myself to thee ; " and said the Jew, "Every day thou shalt
serve me in yonder Synagogue, whose floor thou shalt sweep and
dean its mattings and rugs and thou shalt scour the candlesticks."
<{ 'Tis well," replied the Prince, after which he fell to serving in the
Jew's house, until one day of the days when his employer said to
him, " O Youth, I will bargain with thee a bargain." . " And what
may that be ? " asked the young Prince, and the man answered, " I
will condition with thee for thy daily food a scone and -a half but
the broken loaf thou shalt not devour nor shalt thou break the
whole bread ; yet do thou eat thy sufficiency and whoso doth
contrary to our agreement we will flay 1 his face. So, an it be
thy desire to serve, thou art welcome." Now of his inexperience
the Prince said to him, " We will serve thee ; " whereupon his
employer rationed him with a scone and a half and went forth
leaving him in the Synagogue. When it was noon the youth
waxed anhungered so he ate the loaf and a half; and about mid-
afternoon the Jew came to him and rinding that he had devoured
the bread asked him thereanent and the other answered, " I was
hungry and I ate up all." Cried the Jew, " I made compact with
thee from the beginning that thou shouldst eat neither the whole
nor the broken," and so saying he fared forth from him and
presently brought a party of Jews, who in that town numbered
some fifty head, and they seized the youth and slew him and
bundling up the body in a mat 2 set it in a corner of the Syna-



1 Tn the Arab. " Salkh," meaning also a peculiar form of circumcision, for which see
Pilgrimage iii. 80-81. The Jew's condition was of course a trick, presenting an
impossibility and intended as a mere pretext for murdering an enemy to his faith.
Throughout the Eastern world this idea prevails, and both Sir Moses Montefiore and
M. Cremieux were utterly at fault and certainly knew it when they declared that Europe
was teaching it to Asia. Every Israelite community is bound in self-defence, when the
murder of a Christian child or adult is charged upon any of its members, to court the
most -searching enquiry and to abate the scandal with all its might.

2 The text has " Fi Kib," which Scott (vol. vi. 367) renders "a mat." [According



The Three Princes of China. 2 1 5

gogue. Such was his case ; but as regards the Cadet Prince, he
ceased not wayfaring and wending from town to town until Fate
at last threw him into the same place where his brother had been
slain and perchance as he entered it he found the same Jew
standing at the Synagogue-door. The man asked him, "Wilt
thou serve, O Moslem ? " and as the youth answered " Yea verily,"
he led the new comer to his quarters. After this the Jew had
patience for the first day and the second day - And Shahrazad
was surprised by the dawn of day and fell silent and ceased saying
her permitted say. Then quoth her sister Dunyazad, " How sweet
and tasteful is thy tale, O sister mine, and how enjoyable and
delectable ! " Quoth she, " And where is this compared with that
I would relate to you on the coming night an the Sovran suffer
me to survive ? " Now when it was the next night and that was



Sebcn ^unfcrrti ana (SUbtnt!)

DUNYAZAD said to her, " Allah upon thee, O my sister, an thou be
other than sleepy, finish for us thy tale that we may cut short the
watching of this our latter night ! ' She replied : - With love and
good will ! " It hath reached me, O auspicious King', the director,
the right-guiding, lord of the rede which is benefiting and of deeds
fair-seeming and worthy celebrating, that the King's son tarried
with the Jewish man the first day and the second day, after which
his employer did with him even as he had done by his brother
before him ; to wit, he slew him and wrapping him in a mat placed
his corpse beside that of the eldest Prince. On this wise it happed
to these twain ; but as regards the youngest of the three, he ceased

to the Muhit " Kib" is a small thick mat used to produce shade, pi. "Kiyab" and
"Akyab." The same authority says the word is of Persian origin, but this seems an
error, unless it be related to " Keb " with the Ya majhul, which in the Appendix to the
Burhani Kati' is given as synonymous with " Pech," twist, fold. Under " Bardi" =
papyrus the Muhit mentions that this is the material from which the m'ats known by the
name of " Akyab " are made. ST.]



2 1 6 Suppletnen tal Nights-

not travelling from town to town and enduring excessive fatigue
and hunger and nakedness until by decree of Destiny and by
determination of the Predestinator he was thrown into the hands
of the same Jew whom he found standing at the Synagogue-door.
Here the man accosted him, saying, " Wilt thou serve, O Moslem ? "
and the Youth agreeing he imposed upon him the same pact which
he had made with his two brothers, and the Prince said " 'Tis well,
O Master." Then quoth the Jew, " Do thou sweep the Synagogue
and cleanse it and shake out the mats and rugs ; " and quoth the
other, " Good ! ' But when the Prince left him and went into the
building, his glance fell upon the two bundles of matting wherein
were wrapped the corpses of his brothers, so he drew near to them
and, raising a corner of the covering, found the bodies stinking
and rotten. Hereat he arose and fared forth the Synagogue and
opening a pit in the ground took up his brothers (and he
sorrowing over them and weeping) and buried them. Then he
returned to the building and, rolling up the mats, heaped them
together and so with the rugs, after which he built a fire under
them until the whole were burnt and after he took down the
candlesticks one and all and brake them to bits. Now when it
was mid-afternoon behold, the Jew came to the Synagogue and
found a bonfire and all the furniture thereof lying in ashes and
when he saw this he buffeted his face and cried, " Wherefore, O
Moslem, hast thou done on such wise ? " Replied the youth.



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 16) → online text (page 18 of 40)