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 7 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 7 of 40)
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ordinance in the utmost that could be of beauty and ornament
and five black slaves and as many Eunuchs were standing in the
saloon to offer their services. Seeing this the Caliph marvelled
with extreme marvel at the house and the house-master who
greeted them in friendly guise ; after which he to whom the
palace belonged sat down upon a divan and bade Al-Rashid sit
over against him and signed to Ja'afar and Masrur to take their
places in due degree, 1 whilst the negroes and the eunuchs stood
expecting their commands for suit and service. Presently was
brought to them a huge waxen taper which lighted up the whole
of the hall and the young house-master accosted the King and
said to him, " Well come and welcome and /air welcome to our
guests who to us are the most esteemed of folk and may Allah
honour their places ! " Hereupon he began to repeat the follow
ing couplets : 2

" If the house knew who visits it, it would indeed rejoice And stoop to kiss

the happy place whereon her feet have stood ;
And in the voice with which the case, though mute, yet speaks, Exclaim,

' Wellcome and many a welcome to the generous, and the good.' "

Presently Manjab the master of the house bade bring for his guests

meats and viands meet for the great, of all kinds and of every

i

colour, so they obeyed his orders and when they had eaten their
sufficiency they were served with confections perfumed with rose-
water wondrous fine. Hereupon quoth the youth to Al-Rashid
and those with him, " Almighty Allah make it pleasant to you 3
and blame us not and accept our excuses for what Allah hath
made easy to us at such time of night, and there is no doubt but
that this be a fortunate day when ye made act of presence before
us." They thanked him and Al-Rashid's breast was broadened
and his heart was heartened and there fell from him all that whilom



1 In text " Bi-iza-huma ; " lit. vis-a-vis to the twain.

2 These have occurred vol. i. 176 : I quote Mr. Payne (i. 156).

3 In text " Hanna-kumu 'llah : " see " Hanian," vol. ii. 5,



7O Supplemental Nights.

irked him. Then the youth shifted them from that place to
another room which was the women's apartment ; and here he
seated them upon the highest Divan and bade serve to them a
platter containing fruits of all descriptions and ordered his servants
to bring roast meats and fried meats and when this was done they
set before them the service of wine. Anon appeared four troops
of singers with their instruments of music and each was composed
of five handmaids, so the whole numbered a score and these when
they appeared before the master kissed ground between his hands
and sat down each one in her own degree. Then amongst them
the cups went about and all sorrow was put to rout and the birds
of joyance flapped their wings. This continued for an hour ot
time whilst the guests sat listening to the performers on the lute
and other instruments and after there came forward five damsels
other than the first twenty and formed a second and separate set
and they showed their art of singing in wondrous mode even as
was done by the first troop. Presently on like guise came set after
set till the whole twenty had performed and as Al-Rashid heard
their strains he shook with pleasure And Shahrazad was sur-
prised 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

2TJ)e >ix ^unnreti auto ^ijirtg-fiftf) Jits&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



Night Adventure of Harun al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab. 71

of deeds fair-seeming and worthy celebrating that when Al-Rashid
heard their strains, he shook with pleasure and wonder and joy-
ance and enjoyment until he rent his robes 1 and the house-master
beholding this said to him, " O our lord, be the heart of thine
enemies thus rended asunder ! " Now there was amongst the
handmaids a songstress who began to sing and to improvise these
couplets :

" My world goes strait when thou art a-gone a And when fled from my ken

in my heart dost wone ~
And I love my love with a love as fond o As Jacob him who in pit was

thrown."

Hereupon Ja'afar was delighted with exceeding delight and rent
his raiment even as the Caliph had done, but when the house-
master saw this from him he ordered for the twain a suit of
clothes that befitted them and bade strip them of the rended
garments and clothed them in the new. Presently the young
man said, " O my lords, your time is gleesome and Allah make it
to you gladsome and broaden your hearts and from you fend
everything loathsome and lasting to you be honour and all that
is blithesome." Hereupon he ordered another damsel to chaunt
that was with her and when Masrur the Eunuch heard it he tare
his garment as had been done by Al-Rashid and the Wazir, when
the house-master bade bring for him a suit that besitted him and
"they donned it after doffing the torn clothes. Then the youth
ordered a handmaid of the fourth set who sang a tune and spake
these couplets :



1 This is usually a sign of grief, a symbolic act which dates from the days of the Heb.
patriarchs (Gen. xxxvii. 29-34) ; but here it is the mark of strong excitement. The
hand is placed within the collar and a strong pull tears the light stuff all down the breast.
Economical men do this in a way which makes darning easy.

2 [The MS. is very indistinct in this place, but by supplying '"an" after "ghibta"
and reading " 'ayni " for " 'annl." I have no doubt the words are : Wa in ghibta 'an
'ayni fa-ma ghibta 'an kalbi = and if thou art absent from my eyes, yet thou art not
absent from my heart. The metre is Tawfl and the line has occurred elsewhere in the
Nights. ST.]



7 2 Supplemental Nights.

Thou hast a lover of looks lune-bright o And lighter than crescent ' he shows

to sight ;
For the sheen of the crescent shall ever wane o But he shall grow to a perfect

light." -

Hearing this Manjab the master of the house shrieked out a
mighty loud shriek and tare his upper dress and fell aswoon to the
ground, and as Al-Rashid looked upon him (and he bestrewn in
his fainting fit) he beheld upon his sides the stripes of scourging
with rods and palm-sticks. At this sight he was surprised and
said, " O Ja'afar, verily I marvel at this youth and his generosity
and munificence and fine manners, especially when I look upon
that which hath befallen him of beating and bastinadoing, and in
good sooth this is a wondrous matter." Quoth the other, " O our
lord, haply someone hath harmed him in much money and his enemy-
took flight and the owner of the property administered to him this
beating 3 or peradventure someone lied concerning him, and he



1 I have already noted that " Hilal" is the crescent (waxing or waning) for the first
and last two or three nights : during the rest of the lunar month the lesser light is called
" Kamar."

2 The sense is that of Coleridge :

To be beloved is all I need ;
And whom I love I love indeed.

5 There is here something wrong in the text. I cannot help again drawing the
reader's attention to the skilful portraiture of the model Moslem Minister, the unfor-
tunate Ja'afar. He is never described in the third person ; but the simple dialogue
always sets him off as a wise, conciliatory, benevolent, loveable and man-loving
character, whose constant object is to temper the harshness and headstrong errors of a
despotic master as the Caliph is represented to be by way of showing his kingliness.
See vol. i, 102. [The MS. is certainly wrong here, but perhaps it can be righted a little.
It has : " Kad yakun Z R H ahad fi Mai jazil wa harab al-Maz'un," etc., where
Sir Richard reads "zarra-hu" = he harmed, and Mazghun = the hated one, i.e. enemy. I
have a strong suspicion that in the original from which our scribe copied, the two words
were "zamin" and "al-Mazmun.' 1 Zamin in the Arabic character would be &~>.
The loop for the " m," if made small, is easily overlooked ; the curve of the "n," if
badly traced, can as easily be mistaken for "r" and a big dot inside the "n" might
appear like a blotted " h " (). Mazmun would become " Maz'un " by simply turning the
" m " loop upwards instead of downwards, an error the converse of which is so frequently
committed in printed texts. Curiously enough the same error occurs p. 192 of the MS.,
where we shall find " na"al" with two 'Ayns instead of "na'mal" with 'Ayn and Mim.
If this con ; ecture is correct the sense would be : Haply he may have stood security for



Night Adventure of Harun al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab. 75

fell into the hands of the rulers and the Sultan bade bastinado
him, or again perchance his tongue tripped and his fate was ful-
filled to him." Quoth Al-Rashid, " O Ja'afar, this youth be not
in the conditions thou hast mentioned to me," and, replied the
other, " Sooth thou hast said, O our lord ; by cause that indeed
this young man, when we asked him fora gugglet of water invited
us into his place and honoured us with all this honour and
heartened our hearts and this was of the stress of his generosity
and his abundant goodness." Al-Rashid continued to converse
with his Wazir while the young man did not recover from his
swoon for a while of time, when another maiden of the maidens
spoke out reciting these couplets :

" He adorns the branch of his tribal-tree, o Loves the fawn his song as his

sight she see ;
And beauty shines in his every limb o While in every heart he must

stablished be."

Hereat the young man came to himself and shrieked a mighty
loud shriek more violent than the first and put forth his hand to
his garment and rent it in rags and fell swooning a second time,
when his sides were bared more fully than before until the whole
of his back appeared and Al-Rashid was straitened thereby as to
his breast and his patience made protest, and he cried, " O Ja'afar,
there is no help but that I ask concerning the wheals of this
bastinadoing." And as they talked over the matter of the youth
behold, he came to his senses and his slaves brought him a fresh
suit and caused him don it, whereupon Al-Rashid came forward
and said, " O young man, thou hast honoured us and favoured us
and entreated us with such kindness as other than thyself could
never do nor can any requite us with the like ; withal there



someone for much money, and the person for whom security was given, took to flight,
etc. For " zamin " with the ace. see Ibn Jubair ed. by Wright, 77, 2. I may say on
this occasion, that my impression of the Montague MS. is, that it is a blundering copy
of a valuable though perhaps indistinctly written original ST.]



74 Supplemental Nights.

remaineth a somewhat in my heart " And Shahrazad was sur-
prised 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



an&



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 Al-Rashid
said to the youth, the master of the house, " Withal there remaineth
a somewhat in my heart which if I manifest not to thee will abide
there to my displeasure in my thought ; and, albeit there is nothing
to equal that thou hast done with us, still I desire of thee and of
the excellence of thy kindness a fulfilling of thy favour." Said
the youth, " What dost thou wish of me, ho thou the lord ? "
and said the Caliph, '' I would have thee inform me concerning
the scars upon thy sides and let me know for what cause they be
there." Now when the young man heard these words he bowed
his brow groundwards and wept awhile, then he wiped his face and
raised his head and asked, " What hath urged you to this ? But
the fault is from me and I merit a penalty even greater. O sons
of impurity, say me have you not read the lines written over the
doors of my house that here you are speaking of what concerneth
you not and so right soon shall ye hear what pleaseth you not ?
However, had ye never entered my house you would not have



Night Adventure of Harun al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab. 75

known of my case and my shame, 1 and withal sooth spoke he who
said amongst his many sayings :

" We sowed kindness-seed but they wrought us wrong e> Which is caitiff-work
and a traitor-deed."

Resumed the young man, " O vilest of folk, you asked ol me a
gugglet of water, and I brought you into my house and honoured
and welcomed you and you ate of my victual and my salt, after
which I led you into my Harem with the fancy that ye were honest
men and behold you are no men. Woe to you, what may ye be ? "
On this wise he continued to chide and revile them unknowing
that the Caliph Harun al-Rashid stood before him, and presently
the Prince of True Believers made reply, " We be folk of
Bassorah." " Truth you have spoken," cried the other, " nothing
cometh from Bassorah save the meanest of men and the weakest
of wits but now rise up, O ye dung 2 of mankind, O ye foulest of
folk, and go forth from us and may Allah curse him who speaketh
of whatso concerneth him not." All this and Ja'afar and Masrur
rose to their feet for shame of the youth and of what they had
heard from him of ill language and they went from beside him.
But Al-Rashid's temper was ruffled and his jugulars swelled and
the Hashimi vein stood out between his eyes and he cried, " Woe
to thee, O Ja'afar ! go this moment to Such-an-one the Wali and
bid him muster his men of whom each one must have in hand an
implement of iron, and let him repair to the mansion of this youth
and raze it till it return to be level with the ground, nor let
the morning dawn and show a trace thereof upon the face of
earth." Quoth Ja'afar to Al-Rashid, " O Prince of True Believers,
from the very first we feared for all this, and did we not make
condition on the subject ? However, O our lord, the good man is
not ruined by the good man and this work is not righteous ; nay,

1 In text "'Aurat " = nakedness : see vol. vi. 30.

2 In Arab. " 'Uriah " : see Fatimah the Dung in vol. x. I.



76 Supplemental Nights.

'tis wholly unright and one of the sages hath said : The mild in
mind is not known save in the hour of wrath. But, O Prince of
faithful men and O Caliph of the Lord who the worlds dost vice-
reign, thou swarest an oath that although the vilest of men should
ill-speak thee yet wouldest thou not requite him with evil, nor
return him aught of reply nor keep aught of rancour in thy heart
for his unmannerly address. Moreover, O our lord, the youth hath
no default at all and the offence is from us, for that he forbade
and forefended us and wrote up in many a place the warning
words, Whoso speaketh of what concerneth him not, shall hear
what pleaseth him not. Therefore he unmeriteth the pain of
death. Now what we had better do in this case is as follows :
Send thou for the Wali and bid him bring the youth and when he
is present between thy hands, encounter him with kindness that his
fear may find rest and his affright be arrested after which he shall
inform thee of whatso befel him." Cried Al-Rashid, " This is the
right rede and Allah requite thee with weal, O Ja'afar. 'Tis the
like of thee should be Wazir of the Councillors and Counseller of
the Kings." Hereupon Harun al-Rashid returned to his palace in
company with Masrur the eunuch, and they entered the aforesaid
private door whereby they had gone forth, nor was any aware of
them. But when Ja'afar reached his abode he took thought in his
mind as to how he should act and how he should send the Wali
to the young man and bring him into the presence ; and presently
he retraced his way afoot and going to the Chief of Police
acquainted him with the matter of the youth and carefully
described his house and said to him, " Needs must thou bring him
to us in the front of morning, but do thou be courteous in thy
dealing and show him comradeship and startle him not nor cause
him aught of fear." After this Ja'afar dismissed the Wali and
returned to his own quarters. And when the morning morrowed
the Chief of Police having chosen him as escort a single Mame-
luke, made for the house of the youth, and when he had reached it



Night Adventure of Harun al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab. 77

knocked at the door, upon which the owner came out to him and
the Wali knew him by the description wherewith Ja'afar had
described him, so he bade him accompany him. Hereat the heart
of the young man fluttered. - 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 m to survive."
Now when it was the next night and that was



Sbtx

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 youth's
heart fluttered when the Chief of Police summoned him to go in
his company and he was smitten by sore fear ; but the Wali said
to him, " No harm shall befal thee : obey the summons of the
Commander of the Faithful." Now when he heard these words
Manjab was terrified with sorer alarm and affright, so by leave of
the Wali he entered his house and farewelled his family and
familiars after which he fared forth with the Chief of Police saying,
" Hearkening and obedience to Allah and to the Prince of True
Believers." Then he mounted his beast and the two rode together
until they reached the Palace of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid where
they craved admission to the presence; and, when leave was
granted, the youth went in and standing between the hands of
Harun he encouraged his intent and made his tongue eloquent
and kissed ground between the royal hands and sat _ respectfully



78 Supplemental Nights.

before him. Then he began with a tongue that was free of fear
and showed naught of apprehension and spake the following
lines :

" Hail to this place for such be honoured stead o Of God's viceregent known to

all and some :
Palace of Al-Rashid, our lord, which aye o Excelleth Heaven higher still

become :
I haste that may I write what should be writ o And eloquent the writ albe 'tis

dumb."

After which he said, " The peace be upon thee, O Commander
of the Faithful, and Allah prolong thy life and gladden unto thee
what He hath given." Hereat Al-Rashid raised his head, and
returning his greeting signed to the Wazir Ja'afar who, as was his
wont, stood by his side, and the Minister taking the youth's hand,
led him up to Al-Rashid and seated him beside him. " Draw
near me," said Harun al-Rashid, and the young man did accordingly
until he was close to the King who thus addressed him, " O young
man, what is thy name ? " The other replied, " I am Manjab hight
wherefrom hath been cut off all cause of delight and who for a year
hath suffered parlous plight/*' " O Manjab," quoth the Caliph,
" favour for favour and the beginner is the better, and ill for ill
and the first is the worst, and whoso seed of good soweth shall reap
it, and whoso planteth evil shall harvest it, and know thou,
O Manjab, that yesterday we were thy guests, and that in thee was
no default, but we transgressed against thee when thou honouredst
us with most high honour, and favouredst us with the highmost
favours. I desire, however, that thou relate to me the cause of
the blows upon thy body and no harm shall befal thee." The
youth replied, " O Prince of True Believers, an thou desire to hear
my tale order me a cushion to be placed on my right hand, and
deign lend unto me three things, to wit, thine ears and thine eyes
and thy heart, for verily my adventure is wondrous, and were it
graven with needle-gravers on the eye-corners it would be a warn-
ing to whoso would be warned and a matter of thought to whoso



Night Adventure of Harun al-Rashid and the Youth Manjab. 79

would think. Learn, O Commander of the Faithful, that my father
was a jeweller man, a connoisseur in gems, who owned no son save
myself; but when I had increased in age and had grown in stature
and Allah had given me comeliness and perfection and beauty and
brilliancy and plenty and good fortune, and my sire had brought
me up with the best of education, Allah vouchsafed to him a
daughter. Now as I had reached the age of twenty years my
parent departed to the ruth of Allah Almighty, bequeathing to me
a thousand thousand dinars and fiefs and tenements and landed
estates, so I let perform for him a sufficiency of mortuary-cere-
monies after committing him to mother earth, and caused read
twenty perlections of the Koran, and bestowed for him in alms a
mighty matter. I abode a-mourning for him a month full told, and
when the term was ended my heart turned to diversion and disport
and eating and drinking, and I made presents and gave away and
doled charities of that my property, and I bought other tenements
at the highest price. After this I purchased me singing damsels
of the greatest value, and whosoever of my friends and companions
was pleased with a musician girl I would hand her over to him
without price ; nay, I would present her in free gift, and if any saw
aught of my belongings which pleased him and said to me, " This
is nice," I would bestow it upon him without money-claim.
Furthermore I robed all my familiars in honourable robes, and
honoured them with the highest honour, lavishing all that was by
me, and whatever my hand possessed, ever quoting these lines :

Rise, O comrade of cup, and to joy incline ; c I've no patience, O brother, from

pressing of wine :
See'st not how night with her hosts be fled Routed, and morn doth her troops

align ?
How with Nadd and ambergris, rarest scents, c Rose laughs and smiles on us

Eglantine?
This, my lord, is joy, this is pure delight, o Not standing at doors which the

books confine."

But when my mother, O Commander of the Faithful, espied these



8o Supplemental Nights.

doings she reproached me, yet would I not be reproved. Then she
saw that my wealth would be wasted, so she divided it between me
and her, to each one half, a moiety for herself and her daughter,
and the rest for myself. And presently she left me carrying away
her good and separated herself from me, abiding afar and leaving
me to enjoy my frivolity and intoxication. I ceased not eating
and drinking and diversion and disport, and enjoying the all-con-
quering faces of the beautiful, 1 until the days smote me with their
shafts, and all my wealth fell away from me and naught remained
to me either above me or below me, and I ceased to be master of
aught. Then my condition waxed strait, and as nothing was left
to me at home I sold the pots and pans until I lacked even a
sleeping-mat, and I used to patch my skirt with my sleeve. And
naught profited me, neither friend nor familiar nor lover, nor
remained there any one of them to feed me with a loaf of bread ;
so my case became hard and the folk entreated me evilly, nor was
there one of my comrades or compeers who would take thought
for me ; nay more, when I met any of them on the road or at
the receptions they would turn away their faces from me. So at
last I took to pulling up the slabs 2 of the house floor and selling
them by way of a livelihood, and one day as I did on this wise, lo and
behold ! there opened in the floor a large vault whereinto I descended.



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 7 of 40)