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Persian Literature, Volume 2, Comprising The Shah Nameh, The by Anonymous

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language, and beat and ill-used him. In his helplessness he carried his
complaint before his ghostly father, and said, "Thus it has befallen
me." He replied: "O my son! the patched cloak of dervishes is the
garment of resignation; whosoever wears this garb, and cannot bear with
disappointment, is a hypocrite, and to him our cloth is forbidden.--A
vast and deep river is not rendered turbid by throwing into it a stone.
That religious man who can be vexed at an injury is as yet a shallow
brook.--If thou art subjected to trouble, bear with it; for by
forgiveness thou art purified from sin. Seeing, O brother! that we are
ultimately to become dust, be humble as the dust, before thou moulderest
into dust."

XLI

Hear what occurred once at Bagdad in a dispute that took place between a
roll-up curtain and standard. Covered with the road-dust, and jaded with
a march, the standard, in reproach, observed to the curtain: "Thou and I
are gentlemen in livery; we are fellow-servants at the court of his
majesty. I never enjoy a moment's relief from duty; early and late I am
equally marching. Thou hast never experienced any peril or a siege, the
heavy sand of the desert or dust of a whirlwind; my foot is most forward
in any enterprise. Then why art thou my superior in dignity? Thou art
cared for by youths with faces splendid as the moon, and handled by
damsels scenting like jasmine; while I am fallen into the hands of raw
recruits, am rolled up on our march, and turned upside down." The
curtain answered: "I lay my head humble at the threshold, and hold it
not up like thine, flaring in the face of heaven! Whoever is thus vainly
rearing his crest exalts himself only to be humbled."

XLII

A good and holy man saw a huge and strong fellow, who, having got much
enraged, was storming with passion and foaming at the mouth. He asked,
"What has happened to this man?" Somebody answered, "Such a one has
given him bad names!" He said, "This paltry wretch is able to carry a
thousand-weight of stone, and cannot bear with one light word! Cease to
boast of thy strong arm and pretended manhood, infirm as thou art in
mind, and mean in spirit. What difference is there between such a man
and a woman? Though thou art strong of arm, let thy mouth utter sweet
words; it is no proof of courage to thrust thy fist into another man's
face:--Though thou art able to tear the scalp off an elephant, if
deficient in humanity, thou art no hero. The sons of Adam are formed
from dust; if not humble as the dust, they fall short of being men."

* * * * *

XLIV

A facetious old gentleman of Bagdad gave his daughter in marriage to a
shoemaker. The flint-hearted fellow bit so deeply into the damsel's lip
that the blood trickled from the wound. Next morning the father found
her in this plight; he went up to his son-in-law, and asked him, saying:
"Lowborn wretch! what sort of teeth are these that thou shouldst chew
her lips as if they were a piece of leather? I speak not in play what I
have to say. Lay jesting aside, and take with her thy legal
enjoyment.--When once a vicious disposition has taken root in the habit,
the hand of death can only eradicate it."

XLV

A doctor of laws had a daughter preciously ugly, and she had reached the
age of womanhood; but, notwithstanding her dowry and fortune, nobody
seemed inclined to ask her in marriage:--Damask or brocade but add to
her deformity when put upon a bride void of symmetry.

In short, they were under the necessity of uniting her in the bonds of
wedlock to a blind man. They add, that soon after there arrived from
Sirandip, or Ceylon, a physician that could restore sight to the blind.
They spoke to the law doctor, saying, "Why do you not get him to
prescribe for your son-in-law?" He answered: "Because I am afraid he may
recover his sight, and repudiate my daughter; for--'the husband of an
ugly woman should be blind.'"

* * * * *

XLVIII

They asked a wise man which was preferable, munificence or courage? He
answered, "Whoever has munificence has no need of courage." On the
tombstone of Bahram-gor was inscribed: "The hand of liberality is
stronger than the arm of power.--Hatim Tayi remains not, yet will his
exalted name live renowned for generosity to all eternity. Distribute
the tithe of thy wealth in alms, for the more the gardener prunes his
vine the more he adds to his crop of grapes."

CHAPTER III

On the Preciousness of Contentment

I

A mendicant from the west of Africa had taken his station amidst a group
of shopkeepers at Aleppo, and was saying: "O lords of plenty! had ye a
just sense of equity, and we of contentment, all manner of importunity
would cease in this world!" O contentment! do thou make me rich, for
without thee there is no wealth. The treasure of patience was the choice
of Lucman. Whoever has no patience has no wisdom.

II

There dwelt in Egypt two youths of noble birth, one of whom applied
himself to study knowledge, and the other to accumulate wealth. In
process of time that became the wisest man of his age, and this king of
Egypt. Then was the rich man casting an eye of scorn upon his
philosophic brother, and saying, "I have reached a sovereignty, and you
remain thus in a state of poverty." He replied: "O brother! I am all the
more grateful for the bounty of a Most High God, whose name was
glorified, that I have found the heritage of the prophets--namely,
wisdom; and you have got the estate of Pharaoh and Haman--that is, the
kingdom of Egypt. I am an emmet, that mankind shall tread under foot;
not a hornet, that they shall complain of my sting. How can I
sufficiently express my grateful sense of this blessing, that I possess
not the means of injuring my fellow-creatures?"

III

I heard of a dervish who was consuming in the flame of want, tacking
patch after patch upon his ragged garment, and solacing his mind with
this couplet:--"I can rest content with a dry crust of bread and a
coarse woollen frock, for the burden of my own exertion bears lighter
than laying myself under obligation to another."--Somebody observed to
him, "Why do you sit quiet, while a certain gentleman of this city is so
nobly disposed and universally benevolent, that he has girt up his loins
in the service of the religious independents, and seated himself by the
door of their hearts? Were he apprised of your condition, he would
esteem himself obliged, and be happy in the opportunity of relieving
it." He said: "Be silent; for it is better to die of want than to expose
our necessities before another, as they have remarked:--'Patching a
tattered cloak, and the consequent treasure of content, are more
commendable than petitioning the great for every new garment.'" By my
troth, I swear it were equal to the torments of hell to enter into
paradise through the interest of a neighbor.

IV

One of the Persian kings sent a skilful physician to attend Mohammed
Mustafa, on whom be salutation. He remained some years in the territory
of the Arabs; but nobody went to try his skill, or asked him for any
medicine. One day he presented himself before the blessed prince of
prophets, and complained, saying, "The king had sent me to dispense
medicine to your companions; but, till this moment, nobody has been so
good as to enable me to practise any skill that this your servant may
possess." The blessed messenger of God was pleased to answer, saying,
"It is a rule with this tribe never to eat till hard pressed by hunger,
and to discontinue their repast while they have yet an appetite." The
physician said, "This accounts for their health." Then he kissed the
earth of respect and took his leave. The physician will then begin to
inculcate temperance, or to extend the finger of indulgence, when from
silence his patient might suffer by excess, or his life be endangered by
abstinence:--of course, the skill of the physician is advice, and the
patient's regimen and diet yield the fruits of health!

V

A certain person would be making vows of abstinence and breaking them.
At last a reverend gentleman observed to him, "So I understand that you
make a practice of eating to excess; and that any restraint on your
appetite, namely, this vow, is weaker than a hair, and this
voraciousness, as you indulge it, would break an iron chain; but the day
must come when it will destroy you." A man was rearing the whelp of a
wolf; when full grown it tore its patron and master.

VI

In the annals of Ardishir Babagan it is recorded that he asked an
Arabian physician, saying, "What quantity of food ought to be eaten
daily?" He replied, "A hundred dirams' weight were sufficient." The king
said, "What strength can a man derive from so small a quantity?" The
physician replied: "_So much can support you; but in whatever you exceed
that you must support it_.--Eating is for the purpose of living, and
speaking in praise of God; but thou believest that we live only to eat."

VII

Two dervishes of Khorasan were fellow-companions on a journey. One was
so spare and moderate that he would break his fast only every other
night, and the other so robust and intemperate that he ate three meals a
day. It happened that they were taken up at the gate of a city on
suspicion of being spies, and both together put into a place, the
entrance of which was built up with mud. After a fortnight it was
discovered that they were innocent, when, on breaking open the door,
they found the strong man dead, and the weak one alive and well. They
were astonished at this circumstance. A wise man said, "The contrary of
this had been strange, for this one was a voracious eater, and not
having strength to support a want of food, perished; and that other was
abstemious, and being patient, according to his habitual practice,
survived it.--When a person is habitually temperate, and a hardship
shall cross him, he will get over it with ease; but if he has pampered
his body and lived in luxury, and shall get into straitened
circumstances, he must perish."

VIII

A certain philosopher admonished his son against eating to an excess,
because repletion made a man sick. The boy answered, "O father, hunger
will kill. Have you not heard what the wits have remarked, To die of a
surfeit were better than to bear with a craving appetite?" The father
said, "Study moderation, for the Most High God has told us in the
Koran:--'_Eat ye and drink ye, but not to an excess_:'--eat not so
voraciously that the food shall be regorged from thy mouth, nor so
abstemiously that from depletion life shall desert thee:--though food be
the means of preserving breath in the body. Yet, if taken to excess, it
will prove noxious. If conserve of roses be frequently indulged in it
will cause a surfeit, whereas a crust of bread, eaten after a long
interval, will relish like conserve of roses."

XI

In a battle with the Tartars, a gallant young man was grievously
wounded. Somebody said to him, "A certain merchant has a stock of the
mummy antidote; if you would ask him, he might perhaps accommodate you
with a portion of it." They say that merchant was so notorious for his
stinginess, that--"If, in the place of his loaf of bread, the orb of the
sun had been in his wallet, nobody would have seen daylight in the world
till the day of judgment."

The spirited youth replied: "Were I to ask him for this antidote, he
might give it, or he might not; and if he did it might cure me, or it
might not; at any rate, to ask such a man were itself a deadly poison!"
Whatever thou wouldst ask of the mean, in obligation, might add to the
body, but would take from the soul.--And philosophers have observed,
that were the water of immortality, for example, to be sold at the
price of the reputation, a wise man would not buy it, for an honorable
death is preferable to a life of infamy.--Wert thou to eat colocynth
from the hand of the kind-hearted, it would relish better than a
sweetmeat from that of the crabbed.

XII

One of the learned had a large family and small means. He stated his
case to a great man, who entertained a favorable opinion of his
character. This one turned away from his solicitation, and viewed this
prostitution of begging as discreditable with a gentleman of education.
If soured by misfortune, present not thyself before a dear friend, for
thou may'st also imbitter his pleasure. When thou bringest forward a
distress, do it with a cheerful and smiling face, for an openness of
countenance can never retard business.--They have related that he rose a
little in the pension, but sunk much in the estimation of the great man.
After some days, when he perceived this falling off in his affection, he
said:--"_Miserable is that supply of food which thou obtainest in the
hour of need; the pot is put to boil, but my reputation is bubbled into
vapor_.--He added to my means of subsistence, but took from my
reputation; absolute starving were better than the disgrace of begging."

XIII

A dervish had a pressing call for money. Somebody told him a certain
person is inconceivably rich; were he made aware of your want, he would
somehow manage to accommodate it. He said, "I do not know him." The
other answered, "I will introduce you;" and having taken his hand, he
brought him to that person's dwelling. The dervish beheld a man with a
hanging lip, and sitting in sullen discontent. He said nothing, and
returned home. His friend asked, "What have you done?" He replied, "His
gift I gave in exchange for his look:--Lay not thy words before a man
with a sour face, otherwise thou may'st be ruffled by his ill-nature. If
thou tellest the sorrows of thy heart let it be to him in whose
countenance thou may'st be assured of prompt consolation."

* * * * *

XV

They asked Hatim Tayi: "Have you ever met, or heard of, a person of a
more independent spirit than yourself?" He answered: "Yes, one day I had
made a sacrifice of forty camels, and invited the chief of every Arab
tribe to a feast. Then I repaired to the border of the desert, where I
met a wood-cutter, who had tied up his fagot to carry it into the city.
I said, Why do you not go to the feast of Hatim, where a crowd have
assembled round his carpet? He replied:--'Whoever can eat the bread of
his own industry will not lay himself under obligation to Hatim
Tayi.'--And in him I met my superior in spirit and independence."

XVI

The Prophet Moses, on whom be peace, saw a dervish who had buried his
body, in his want of clothes to cover it, in the sand. He said: "O
Moses, put up a prayer, that the Most High God would bestow a
subsistence upon me, for I am perishing in distress." The blessed Moses
prayed accordingly, that God on high would succor him.

Some days afterwards, as he was returning from a conference with God on
Mount Sinai, he met that dervish in the hands of justice, and a mob
following him. He asked: "What has befallen this man?" They answered:
"He had drunk wine and got into a quarrel, and having killed somebody,
they are now going to exact retaliation."--The God who set forth the
seven climates of this world assigned to every creature its appropriate
lot. Had that wretched cat been gifted with wings, she would not have
left one sparrow's egg on the earth. It might happen that were a weak
man to get the ability, he would rise and domineer over his weak
brethren.

The blessed Moses acknowledged the wisdom of the Creator of the
universe, and, confessing his own presumption, repeated this verse of
the Koran:--"_Were God to spread abroad his stores of subsistence to
servants, verily they would rebel all over the earth._" What happened, O
vain man! that thou didst precipitate thyself into destruction? Would
that the ant might not have the means of flying!--A mean person, when
he has got rank and wealth, will bring a storm of blows upon his head.
Was not this at last the adage of a philosopher, 'That ant is best
disposed of that has no wings.'--The father is a man of much sweetness
of disposition, but the son is full of heat and passions:--That Being,
God, who would not make thee rich, must have known thy good better than
thou couldst thyself know it.

XVII

I saw an Arab, who was standing amidst a circle of jewellers at Busrah,
and saying: "On one occasion I had missed my way in the desert, and
having no road-provision left, I had given myself up for lost, when all
at once I found a bag of pearls. Never shall I forget that relish and
delight, so long as I mistook them for parched wheat; nor that
bitterness and disappointment, when I discovered that they were real
pearls." In the mouth of the thirsty traveller, amidst parched deserts
and moving sands, pearl, or mother-of-pearl, were equally distasteful.
To a man without provision, and knocked up in the desert, a piece of
stone or of gold, in his scrip, is all one.

XVIII

An Arab, suffering under all the extremity of thirst in the desert, was
saying:--"_Would to God that yet, before I perish, I could but for one
day gratify my wish: that a stream of water might dash against my knees,
and I could fill my leathern flask or stomach with it_."

In like manner a traveller had got bewildered in the great desert, and
had neither provisions nor strength left, yet a few dirams remained with
him in his scrip. He kept wandering about, but could not find the path,
and sunk under his fatigue. A party of travellers arrived where his body
lay; they saw the dirams spread before him, and these verses written in
the sand:--"Were he possessed of all the gold of Jafier (a famous gold
refiner), a man without food could not satisfy his appetite. To a
wretched mendicant, parched in the desert, a boiled turnip would relish
better than an ingot of virgin silver."

XIX

I had never complained of the vicissitudes of fortune, nor murmured at
the ordinances of heaven, excepting on one occasion, that my feet were
bare, and I had not wherewithal to shoe them. In this desponding state I
entered the metropolitan mosque at Cufah, and there I beheld a man that
had no feet. I offered up praise and thanksgiving for God's goodness to
myself, and submitted with patience to my want of shoes.--In the eye of
one satiated with meat a roast fowl is less esteemed at his table than a
salad; but to him who is stinted of food a boiled turnip will relish
like a roast fowl.

XX

A king, attended by a select retinue, had, on a sporting excursion
during the winter, got at a distance from any of his hunting seats, and
the evening was closing fast, when they espied from afar a peasant's
cottage. The king said: "Let us repair thither for the night, that we
may shelter ourselves from the inclemency of the weather." One of the
courtiers replied: "It would not become the dignity of the sovereign to
take refuge in the cottage of a low peasant; we can pitch a tent here
and kindle a fire." The peasant saw what was passing; he came forward
with what refreshments he had at hand, and, laying them before the king,
kissed the earth of subserviency, and said: "The lofty dignity of the
king would not be lowered by this condescension; but these gentlemen did
not choose that the condition of a peasant should be exalted." The king
was pleased with this speech; and they passed the night at his cottage.
In the morning he bestowed an honorary dress and handsome largess upon
him. I have heard that the peasant was resting his hand for some paces
upon the king's stirrup, and saying: "The state and pomp of the
sovereign suffered no degradation by his condescension in becoming a
guest at the cottage of a peasant; but the corner of the peasant's cap
rose to a level with the sun when the shadow of such a monarch as thou
art fell upon his head."

XXI

They tell a story of an importunate mendicant who had amassed much
riches. A certain king said: "It seems that you possess immense wealth,
and I have a business of some consequence in hand. If you will assist me
with a little of it, by way of a loan, when the public revenue is
realized I will repay it and thank you to the bargain." He replied: "O
sire, it would ill become the sublime majesty of the sovereign of the
universe to soil the hand of lofty enterprise with the property of such
a mendicant as I am, which I have scraped together grain by grain." He
said: "There is no occasion to vex yourself, for I mean it for the
Tartars, as impurities are suiting for the impure:--_They said, 'The
compost of a dunghill is unclean.' We replied, 'That with it we will
fill up the chinks of a necessary_.'--If the water of a Christian's well
is defiled, and we wash a Jew's corpse in it, there is no sin." I have
heard that he disobeyed the royal command, questioned its justice, and
resisted it with insolence. The king ordered that the exchequer
stipulations should be put in force with rigidness and violence. When a
business cannot be settled with fair words, we must of necessity make
use of foul. When a man will not contribute of his own free will, if
another enforces him he meets his desert.

XXII

I knew a merchant who had a hundred and fifty camels of burden and forty
bondsmen and servants in his train. One night he entertained me at his
lodgings in the island of Keish, in the Persian Gulf, and continued for
the whole night talking idly, and saying: "Such a store of goods I have
in Turkestan, and such an assortment of merchandise in Hindustan; this
is the mortgage-deed of a certain estate, and this the security-bond of
a certain individual's concern." Then he would say: "I have a mind to
visit Alexandria, the air of which is salubrious; but that cannot be,
for the Mediterranean Sea is boisterous. O Sa'di! I have one more
journey in view, and, that once accomplished, I will pass my remaining
life in retirement and leave off trade." I asked: "What journey is
that?" He replied: "I will carry the sulphur of Persia to Chin, where,
I have heard, it will fetch a high price; thence I will take China
porcelain to Greece; the brocade of Greece or Venice I will carry to
India; and Indian steel I will bring to Aleppo; the glassware of Aleppo
I will take to Yamin; and with the bardimani, or striped stuffs, of
Yamin I will return to Persia. After that I will give up foreign
commerce and settle myself in a warehouse." He went on in this
melancholy strain till he was quite exhausted with speaking. He said: "O
Sa'di! do you too relate what you have seen and heard." I
replied:--"Hast thou not heard that in the desert of Ghor as the body of
a chief merchant fell exhausted from his camel, he said, 'Either
contentment or the dust of the grave will fill the stingy eye of the
worldly-minded.'"

* * * * *

XXIV

A weak fisherman got a strong fish into his net, but not having the
power of mastering it, the fish got the better of him, and, dragging the
net from his hand, escaped:--A bondsman went that he might take water
from the brook; the brook came to rise and carried off the bondsman. On
most occasions the net would bring out the fish; on this occasion the
fish escaped, and took away the net. The other fishermen expressed their
vexation, and reproached him, saying, "Such a fish came into your net,
and you were not able to master it." He replied: "Alas! my brethren,
what could be done? It was not my day of fortune, and the fish had in
this way another day left it. And they have said: 'Unless it be his lot,
the fisherman cannot catch a fish in the Tigris; and, except it be its
fate, the fish will not die on the dry shore.'"

XXV

A person without hands or feet killed a milleped. A good and holy man
passed by him at the time, and said: "Glory be to God! notwithstanding
the thousand feet he had when his destiny overtook him, he was unable to
escape from one destitute of hand or foot."--When the life-plundering
foe comes up behind, fate arrests the speed of the swift-going warrior.
At the moment when the enemy might approach step by step it were useless
to bend the kayani, or Parthian bow.

XXVI

I met a fat blockhead decked in rich apparel, and mounted on an Arab
horse, with a turban of fine Egyptian linen on his head. A person said:
"O Sa'di, how comes it that you see these garments of the learned on
this ignorant beast?" I replied: "It is a vile epistle which has been
written in golden letters:--'_Verily this ass, with the resemblance of a
man, has the carcase of a calf, and the voice or bleating of a
calf_.'--Thou canst not say that this brute appears like a man, unless
in his garments, turban, and outward form. Examine into all the ways and
means of his existence, and thou shalt find nothing lawful but the
shedding of his blood:--though a man of noble birth be reduced to
poverty, imagine not that his lofty dignity can be lowered; and though
he may secure his silver threshold with a hasp of gold, conclude not
that a Jew can be thereby ennobled."

XXVII

A thief said to a mendicant: "Are you not ashamed when you hold forth
your hand to every mean fellow for a barleycorn of silver?" He replied:
"It is better to hold forth the hand for one grain of silver than to
have it cut off for one and a half dang."

* * * * *

XXIX

I saw a dervish who had withdrawn into a cave, shut the door of
communication between the world and himself, and with his lofty and
independent eye viewed emperors and kings without awe or
reverence:--Whoever opens to himself the door of mendicity, must
continue a beggar till the day of his death. Put covetousness aside, and
be independent as a prince; the neck of contentment can raise its head
erect.

One of the sovereigns of those parts sent a message to him, stating: "So
far I can rely on the generous disposition of his reverence, that he
will one day favor me by partaking of my bread and salt, by becoming my
guest." The shaikh, or holy man, consented; for the acceptance of such
an invitation accorded with the sunnat, or law and tradition of the
prophet. Next day the king went to apologize for the trouble he had
caused him. The abid rose from his place, took the king in his arms,
showed him much kindness, and was full of his compliments. After he was
gone, one of the shaikh's companions asked him, saying: "Was not such
condescending kindness as you this day showed the king contrary to what
is usual; what does this mean?" He answered: "Have you not heard what
they have said:--'It is proper to stand up and administer to him whom
thou hast seated on thy carpet, or made thy guest.'"

He could so manage that, during his whole life, his ear should not
indulge in the music of the tabor, cymbal, and pipe. He could restrain
his eyes from enjoying the garden, and gratify his sense of smell
without the rose or narcissus. Though he had not a pillow stuffed with
down, he could compose himself to rest with a stone under his head;
though he had no heart-solacer as the partner of his bed, he could hug
himself to sleep with his arms across his breast. If he could not ride
an ambling nag, he was content to take his walk on foot; only this
grumbling and vile belly he could not keep under, without stuffing it
with food.

CHAPTER IV

On the Benefit of Being Silent

I

I spoke to one of my friends, saying: "A prudent restraint on my words
is on that account advisable, because in conversation there on most
occasions occur good and bad; and the eyes of rivals only note what is
bad." He replied: "O brother! that is our best rival who does not, or
will not, see our good!--_The malignant brotherhood pass not by the
virtuous man without imputing to him what is infamous_:--To the eye of
enmity, virtue appears the ugliest blemish; it is a rose, O Sa'di! which
to the eyes of our rivals seems a thorn. The world-illuminating
brilliancy of the fountain of the sun, in like manner, appears dim to
the eye of the purblind mole."

II

A merchant happened to lose a thousand dinars. He said to his son: "It
will be prudent not to mention this loss to anybody." The son answered:
"O father, it is your orders, and I shall not mention it; but
communicate the benefit so far, as what the policy may be in keeping it
a secret." He said: "That I may not suffer two evils: one, the loss of
my money; another, the reproach of my neighbor;--Impart not thy
grievances to rivals, for they are glad at heart, while praying, _God
preserve us_; or _there is neither strength nor power, unless it be from
God!_"

III

A sensible youth made vast progress in the arts and sciences, and was of
a docile disposition; but however much he frequented the societies of
the learned, they never could get him to utter a word. On one occasion
his father said: "O my son, why do not you also say what you know on
this subject?" He replied: "I am afraid lest they question me upon what
I know not, and put me to shame:--Hast thou not heard of a Sufi who was
hammering some nails into the sole of his sandal. An officer of cavalry
took him by the sleeve, saying, 'Come along, and shoe my horse.'--So
long as thou art silent and quiet, nobody will meddle with thy business;
but once thou divulgest it, be ready with thy proofs."

IV

A man, respectable for his learning, got into a discussion with an
atheist; but, failing to convince him, he threw down his shield and
fled. A person asked him, "With all your wisdom and address, learning
and science, how came you not to controvert an infidel?" He replied: "My
learning is the Koran, and the traditions and sayings of our holy
fathers; but he puts no faith in the articles of our belief, and what
good could it do to listen to his blasphemy?" To him whom thou canst not
convince by revelation or tradition, the best answer is that thou shalt
not answer him.

* * * * *

VI

They have esteemed Sahban Wabil as unrivalled in eloquence, insomuch
that he could speak for a year before an assembly, and would not use the
same word twice; or should he chance to repeat it, he would give it a
different signification; and this is one of the special accomplishments
of a courtier:--Though a speech be captivating and sweet, worthy of
belief, and meriting applause, yet what thou hast once delivered thou
must not repeat, for if they eat a sweetmeat once they find that enough.

VII

I overheard a sage, who was remarking: "Never has anybody acknowledged
his own ignorance, excepting that person who, while another may be
talking, and has not finished what he has to say, will begin
speaking:--A speech, O wiseacre! has a beginning and an end; bring not
one speech into the middle of another. A man of judgment, discretion,
and prudence, delivers not his speech till he find an interval of
silence."

VIII

Some of the courtiers of Sultan Mahmud asked Husan Maimandi, saying:
"What did the king whisper to you to-day on a certain state affair?" He
said: "You are also acquainted with it." They replied: "You are the
prime minister; what the king tells you, he does not think proper to
communicate to such as we are." He replied: "He communicates with me in
the confidence that I will not divulge to anybody; then why do you ask
me?" A man of sense blabs not, whatever he may come to know; he should
not make his own head the forfeit of the king's secret.

IX

I was hesitating about the purchase of a dwelling-house. A Jew said: "I
am an old housekeeper in this street: ask the character of this house
from me and buy it, for it has no fault." I replied: "True! only that
you are its neighbor:--Any such house as has thee for its neighbor could
scarce be worth ten dirams of silver; yet it should behoove us to hope
that after thy death it may fetch a thousand."

X

A certain poet presented himself before the chief of a gang of robbers,
and recited a casidah, or elegy, in his praise. He ordered that they
should strip off his clothes, and thrust him from the village. The naked
wretch was going away shivering in the cold, and the village dogs were
barking at his heels. He stooped to pick up a stone, in order to shy at
the dogs, but found the earth frost-bound, and was disappointed. He
exclaimed: "What rogues these villagers are, for they let loose their
dogs, and tie up their stones!" The chief robber saw and overheard him
from a window. He smiled at his wit, and, calling him near said: "O
learned sir! ask me for a boon." He replied, "I ask for my own garments,
if you will vouchsafe to give them:--_I shall have enough of boons in
your suffering me to depart_.--Mankind expects charity from others; I
expect no charity from thee, only do me no injury." The chief robber
felt compassion for him. He ordered his clothes to be restored, and
added to them a robe of fur and sum of money.

* * * * *

XII

A preacher of a harsh tone of voice fancied himself a fine-spoken man,
and would hold forth at the mosque to a very idle purpose. You might say
that the croaking of the raven of the desert was the burden of his
chant, and this text of the Koran expressive of his manner:--_The most
abominable of noises is the braying of an ass:--"Whenever this ass of a
preacher sets up a braying, his voice will make the city of Istakhar, or
Persepolis, shake to its base_."

In reverence of his rank his townsmen indulged this defect, and would
not distress him by remarking on it, till another preacher of those
parts, actuated by a private pique, came on one occasion to tantalize
him, and said, "I have seen you in a dream; may it prove fortunate!" He
asked: "What have you seen?" He replied: "So it seemed in my vision that
your voice had become harmonious, and mankind were charmed with your
melodious cadences." For a while the preacher bowed his head in thought,
then raised it, and said: "What a fortunate vision is it that you had,
that has made me sensible of my weakness! I am now aware that I have an
unpleasant voice, and that the people are distressed at my delivery. I
have vowed that I will henceforth preach only in a soft tone of voice."
I am distressed with the society of friends who extol my vices into
virtues, my blemishes they view as excellences and perfections, my
thorns they regard as roses and jasmines. Where is that rude and bold
rival who will expose all my deformities?

XIII

At a mosque in the city of Sanjar, the capital of Khorasan, a person was
volunteering to chant forth the call to prayers with so discordant a
note as to drive all that heard him away in disgust. The intendant of
that mosque was a just and well-disposed gentleman, who was averse to
giving offence to anybody. He said: "O generous youth, there belong to
this mosque some mowuzzins, or criers, of long standing, to each of
whom I allow a monthly stipend of five dinars; now I will give you ten
to go elsewhere." To this he agreed, and took himself off. After a while
he came to the nobleman, and said: "O my lord! you did me an injury when
for ten dinars you prevailed upon me to quit this station, for where I
went they offered me twenty to remove to another place, but I would not
consent." The nobleman smiled and replied: "Take heed, and do not accept
them, for they may be content to give you fifty!--No person can with a
mattock scrape off the clay from the face of a hard rock in so grating a
manner as thy harsh voice is harrowing up my soul."

XIV

A person with a harsh voice was reciting the Koran in a loud tone. A
good and holy man went up to him, and asked: "What is your monthly
stipend?" He answered, "Nothing." "Then," added he, "why give yourself
so much trouble?" He said: "I am reading for the sake of God." The good
and holy man replied: "For God's sake do not read:--for if thou chantest
the Koran after this manner, thou must cast a shade over the glory of
Islamism or Mussulman orthodoxy."

CHAPTER V

On Love and Youth

I

They asked Husan Maimandi: "How comes it that Sultan Mahmud, who has so
many handsome bondswomen, each of whom is the wonder of the world and
most select of the age, entertains not such fondness and affection for
any of them as he does for Ayaz, who can boast of no superiority of
charms?" He replied: "Whatever makes an impression on the heart seems
lovely in the eye. That person of whom the sultan makes choice must be
altogether good, though a compendium of vice; but where he is estranged
from the favor of the king none of the household will think of courting
him." Were a person to view it with a fastidious eye, the form of a
Joseph might seem a deformity; but let him look with desire on a demon,
and he will appear like an angel and cherub.

* * * * *

III

I saw a parsa, or holy man, so enamoured of a lovely person that he had
neither fortitude to bear with, nor resolution to declare, his passion:
and, however much he was the object of remark and censure, he would not
forego this infatuation, and was saying:--"I quit not my hold on the
skirt of thy garment, though thou may'st verily smite me with a sharp
sword. Besides thee I have neither asylum nor defence; if I am to flee,
I must take refuge with thee."

On one occasion I reproached him, and said: "What is become of your
precious reason, that a vile passion should thus master you?" He made a
short pause, and replied:--"Wherever the king of love came, he left no
room for the strong arm of chastity. How can that wretch live undefiled
who has fallen in a quagmire up to the neck?"

IV

A certain person had lost his heart and abandoned himself to despair.
The object of his desire was not such a dainty that he could gratify his
palate with it, or a bird that he could lure it into his net, but a
frightful precipice and overwhelming whirlpool:--When thy gold attracts
not the charmer's eye, dust or gold is of equal value with thee.

His friends admonished him, saying: "Put aside this vain fancy, for
multitudes are in the durance and chains of this same passion which you
are cherishing." He sighed aloud, and replied: "Say to my friends, Do
not admonish me, for my eye is fixed on the wish of her. With strength
of wrist and power of shoulders warriors overwhelm their antagonists and
charmers their lovers." Nor can it be consistent with the condition of
love that any thought of life should divert the heart from affection for
its mistress:--Thou, who art the slave of thine own precious self,
playest false in the affairs of love. If thou canst not make good a
passage to thy mistress, it is the duty of a lover to perish in the
attempt.--I persist when policy is no longer left me, though the enemy
may cover me all over with the wounds of swords and arrows. If I can
reach her I will seize her sleeve, or at all events proceed and die at
her threshold.

His kindred, whose business it was to watch over his concerns, and to
pity his misfortunes, gave him advice, and put upon him restraints, but
all to no good purpose:--The physician is, alas! prescribing
bitter-aloes, and his depraved appetite is craving sweetmeats!--Heardest
thou what a charmer was saying in a whisper to one who had lost his
heart to her: "So long as thou maintainest thine own dignity, of what
value can my dignity appear in thine eye?"

They informed the princess who was the object of his infatuation,
saying: "A youth of an amiable disposition and sweet flow of tongue is
frequent in his attendance at the top of this plain; and we hear him
delivering brilliant speeches and wonderful sallies of wit; it would
seem that he has a mystery in his head and a flame in his heart, for he
appears to be distractedly in love." The princess was aware that she had
become the object of his attachment, and that this whirlwind of calamity
was raised by himself, and spurred her horse toward him. Now that the
youth saw that it was the princess' intention to approach him, he wept,
and said:--"That personage who inflicted upon me a mortal wound again
presented herself before me; perhaps she took compassion upon her own
victim." However, kindly she spoke, and asked, saying: "Who are you, and
whence come you? what is your name, and what your calling?" the youth
was so entirely overwhelmed in the ocean of love and passion that he
absolutely could not utter a word:--"Couldst thou in fact repeat the
seven Saba, or whole Koran by heart, if distracted with love, thou
wouldst forget the alphabet":--the princess continued: "Why do you not
answer me? for I too am one of the sect of dervishes, nay, I am their
most devoted slave." On the strength of this sympathizing encouragement
of his beloved, the youth raised his head amidst the buffeting waves of
tempestuous passion, and answered:--"It is strange that with thee
present I should remain in existence; that after thou camest to talk, I
should have speech left me."--This he said, and, uttering a loud groan,
surrendered his soul up to God:--No wonder if he died by the door of his
beloved's tent; the wonder was, if alive, how he could have brought his
life back in safety.

V

A boy at school possessed much loveliness of person and sweetness of
conversation; and the master, from the frailty of human nature, was
enamoured of his blooming skin. Like his other scholars, he would not
admonish and correct him, but when he found him in a corner he would
whisper in his ear:--"I am not, O celestial creature! so occupied with
thee, that I am harboring in my mind a thought of myself. Were I to
perceive an arrow coming right into it, I could not shut my eye from
contemplating thee."

On one occasion the boy said: "In like manner, as you inspect my duties,
also animadvert on my tendency to vice, in order that if you discern any
immorality in my behavior, which has met my own approbation, you can
warn me against it, that I may correct it." He replied: "O my child!
propose this task to somebody else; for the light in which I view you
reflects nothing but virtue." That malignant eye, let it be plucked out
in whose sight his virtue can seem vice. Hadst thou but one perfection
and seventy faults, the lover could discern only that one perfection.

* * * * *

VII

A person who had not seen his friend for a length of time, said to him:
"Where were you? for I have been very solicitous about you." He replied,
"It is better to be sought after than loathed." Thou hast come late, O
intoxicating idol! I shall not in a hurry quit my hold on thy
skirt:--that mistress whom they see but seldom is at last more desired
than she is whom they are cloyed with seeing.

The charmer that can bring companions along with her has come to
quarrel; for she cannot be void of jealousy and discontent:--_Whenever
thou contest to visit me attended with comrades or rivals, though thou
comest in peace yet thy object is hostile_:--for one single moment that
my mistress associated with a rival, it went well-nigh to slay me with
jealousy. Smiling, she replied: "O Sa'di! I am the torch of the
assembly; what is it to me if the moth consume itself?"

VIII

In former times, I recollect, a friend and I were associating together
like two kernels within one almond shell. I happened unexpectedly to go
on a journey. After some time, when I was returned, he began to chide
me, saying: "During this long interval you never sent me a messenger." I
replied: "It vexed me to think that the eyes of a courier should be
enlightened by your countenance, whilst I was debarred that
happiness:--Tell my old charmer not to impose a vow upon me with her
tongue; for I would not repent, were she to attempt it with a sword.
Envy stings me to the quick, lest another should be satiated with
beholding thee, till I recollect myself, and say: Nobody can have a
satiety of that!"

IX

I saw a learned gentleman the captive of attachment for a certain
person, and the victim of his reproach; and he would suffer much
violence, and bear it with great patience. On one occasion I said, by
way of admonition: "I know that in your attachment for this person you
have no bad object, and that this friendship rests not on any criminal
design; yet, under this interpretation, it accords not with the dignity
of the learned to expose yourself to calumny, and put up with the
rudeness of the rabble." He replied: "O my friend, withdraw the hand of
reproach from the skirt of my fatality, for I have frequently reflected
on this advice which you offer me, and find it easier to suffer
contumely on his account than to forego his company; and philosophers
have said: 'It is less arduous to persist in the labor of courting than
to restrain the eye from contemplating a beloved object':--Whoever
devotes his heart to a soul deluder puts his beard or reputation into
the hands of another. That person, without whom thou canst not exist, if
he do thee a violence, thou must bear with it. The antelope, that is led
by a string, cannot bound from this side to that. One day I asked a
compact of my mistress; how often have I since that day craved her
forgiveness! A lover exacts not terms of his charmer; I relinquished my
heart to whatever she desired me, whether to call me up to her with
kindness, or drive me from her with harshness she knows best, or it is
her pleasure."

X

In my early youth such an event (as you know) will come to pass. I held
a mystery and intercourse with a young person, because he had a pipe of
exquisite melody, and a form silver bright as the full moon:--"He is
sipping the fountain of immortality, who may taste the down of his
cheek; and he is eating a sweetmeat, who can fancy the sugar of his
lips."

It happened that something in his behavior having displeased me, I
withdrew the skirt of communication, and removed the seal of my
affection from him, and said: "Go, and take what course best suits thee;
thou regardest not my counsel, follow thine own." I overheard him as he
was going, and saying:--"If the bat does not relish the company of the
sun, the all-current brilliancy of that luminary can suffer no
diminution." He so expressed himself and departed, and his vagabond
condition much distressed me:--_the opportunity of enjoyment was lost,
and a man is insensible to the relish of prosperity till he_ _has
tasted adversity_:--return and slay me, for to die before thy face were
far more pleasant than to survive in thy absence.

But, thanksgiving and praise to the Almighty, he did not return till
after some interval, when that melodious pipe of David was cracked, and
that handsome form of Joseph in its wane; when that apple his chin was
overgrown with hair, like a quince, and the all-current lustre of his
charms tarnished. He expected me to fold him in my arms; but I took
myself aside and said: "When the down of loveliness flourished on thy
cheek, thou drovest the lord of thy attractions from thy sight; now thou
hast come to court his peace when thy face is thick set with fathahs and
zammahs, or the bristles of a beard:--The verdant foliage of thy spring
is turned yellow; place not thy kettle on my grate, for its fire is
cooled. How long wilt thou display this pomp and vanity; hopest thou to
regain thy former dominion? Make thy court to such as desire thee, sport
thy airs on such as will hire thee:--The verdure of the garden, they
have told us, is charming; that person (Sa'di) knows it who is relating
that story; or, in other words, that the fresh-shooting down on their
charmers' cheeks is what the hearts of their admirers chiefly
covet:--Thy garden is like a bed of chives: the more thou croppest it,
the more it will shoot:--Last year thou didst depart smooth as an
antelope, to-day thou art returned bearded like a pard. Sa'di admires
the fresh-shooting down, not when each hair is stiff as a
packing-needle:--Whether thou hast patience with thy beard, or weed it
from thy face, this happy season of youth must come to a conclusion. Had
I the same command of life as thou hast of beard, it should not escape
me till doomsday." I asked him and said: "What has become of the beauty
of thy countenance, that a beard has sprung up round the orb of the
moon?" He answered: "I know not what has befallen my face, unless it has
put on black to mourn its departed charms."

* * * * *

XII

They shut up a parrot in the same cage with a crow. The parrot was
affronted at his ugly look, and said: "What an odious visage is this, a
hideous figure; what an accursed appearance, and ungracious
demeanor!--_Would to God, O raven of the desert! we were wide apart
as the east is from the west_:--The serenity of his peaceful day would
change into the gloom of night, who on issuing forth in the morning
might cross thy aspect. An ill-conditioned wretch like thyself should be
thy companion; but where could we find such another in the world?"

But what is more strange, the crow was also out of all patience, and
vexed to the soul at the society of the parrot. Bewailing his
misfortune, he was railing at the revolutions of the skies; and,
wringing the hands of chagrin, was lamenting his condition, and saying:
"What an unpropitious fate is this; what ill-luck, and untoward fortune!
Could they any way suit the dignity of me, who would in my day strut
with my fellow-crows along the wall of a garden:--It were durance
sufficient for a good and holy man that he should be made the companion
of the wicked:--What sin have I committed that my stars in retribution
of it have linked me in the chain of companionship, and immured me in
the dungeon of calamity, with a conceited blockhead, and
good-for-nothing babbler:--Nobody will approach the foot of a wall on
which they have painted thy portrait; wert thou to get a residence in
paradise, others would go in preference to hell."

I have introduced this parable to show that however much learned men
despise the ignorant, these are a hundredfold more scornful of the
learned:--A zahid, or holy man, fell in company with some wandering
minstrels. One of them, a charmer of Balkh, said to him: "If thou art
displeased with us, do not look sour, for thou art already sufficiently
offensive.--An assemblage is formed of roses and tulips, and thou art
stuck up amidst them like a withered stalk; like an opposing storm, and
a chilling winter blast; like a ball of snow, or lump of ice."

XIII

I had an associate, who was for years the companion of my travels,
partook of the same bread and salt, and enjoyed the many rights of a
confirmed friendship. At last, on some trifling advantage, he gave me
cause of umbrage, and our intimacy ceased. And notwithstanding all this,
there was a hankering of good-will on both sides; in consequence of
which I heard that he was one day reciting in a certain assembly these
two couplets of my writings:--"When my idol, or mistress, is
approaching me with her tantalizing smiles, she is sprinkling more salt
upon my smarting sores. How fortunate were the tips of her ringlets to
come into my hand, like the sleeve of the generous in the hands of
dervishes." This society of his friends bore testimony, and gave
applause, not to the beauty of this sentiment, but to the liberality of
his own disposition in quoting it; while he had himself been extravagant
in his encomiums, regretted the demise of our former attachment, and
confessed how much he was to blame. I was made aware that he too was
desirous of a reconciliation; and, having sent him these couplets, made
my peace:--"Was there not a treaty of good faith between us, and didst
not thou commence hostilities, and violate the compact? I relinquished
all manner of society, and plighted my heart to thee; for I did not
suspect that thou wouldst have so readily changed. If it still be thy
wish to renew our peace, return, and be more dear to me than ever."

XIV

A man had a beautiful wife, who died; but the mother, a decrepit old
dotard, remained a fixture in his house, because of the dowry. He was
teased to death by her company; but, from the circumstance of the dower,
he had no remedy. In the meantime some of his friends having come to
comfort him, one of them asked: "How is it with you, since the loss of
that dear friend?" He answered: "The absence of my wife is not so
intolerable as the presence of her mother:--They plucked the rose, and
left me the thorn; they plundered the treasure, and let the snake
remain. To have our eye pierced with a spear were more tolerable than to
see the face of an enemy. It were better to break with a thousand
friends than to put up with one rival."

XV

In my youth I recollect I was passing through a street, and caught a
glimpse of a moon-like charmer during the dog-days, when their heat was
drying up the moisture of the mouth, and the samurn, or desert hot-wind,
melting the marrow of the bones. From the weakness of human nature I was
unable to withstand the darting rays of a noon-tide sun, and took
refuge under the shadow of a wall, hopeful that somebody would relieve
me from the oppressive heat of summer, and quench the fire of my thirst
with a draught of water. All at once I beheld a luminary in the shadowed
portico of a mansion, so splendid an object that the tongue of eloquence
falls short in summing up its loveliness; such as the day dawning upon a
dark night, or the fountain of immortality issuing from chaos. She held
in her hand a goblet of snow-cooled water, into which she dropped some
sugar, and tempered it with spirit of wine; but I know not whether she
scented it with attar, or sprinkled it with a few blossoms from her own
rosy cheek. In short, I received the beverage from her idol-fair hand;
and, having drunk it off, found myself restored to a new life. "_Such is
not my parching thirst that it is to be quenched with the limpid element
of water, were I to swallow it in oceans_:--Joy to that happy aspect
whose eye can every morning contemplate such a countenance as thine. A
person intoxicated with wine lies giddy and awake half the night; but if
intoxicated with the cup-bearer (God), the day of judgment must be his
dawn or morning."

XVI

In the year that Sultan Mohammed Khowarazm-Shah had for some political
reason chosen to make peace with the king of Khota, I entered the
metropolitan mosque at Kashghar, and met a youth incomparably lovely,
and exquisitely handsome; such as they have mentioned in resemblance of
him:--"Thy master instructed thee in every bold and captivating grace;
he taught thee coquetry and confidence, tyranny and violence." I have
seen no mortal with such a form and temper, stateliness and manner;
perhaps he learned these fascinating ways from an angel.

He held the introduction of the Zamakhshari Arabic grammar in his hand,
and was repeating:--"Zaraba Zaidun Amranwa--Zaid beat Amru and is the
assailant of Amru." I said: "O my son! the Khowarazm and Khatayi
sovereigns have made peace, and does war thus subsist between Zaid and
Amru?" He smiled, and asked me the place of my nativity. I answered:
"The territory of Shiraz." He said: "Do you recollect any of Sa'di's
compositions?" I replied: "_I am enamoured with the reader of the
syntax, who, taking offence, assails me in like manner as Zaid does
Amru. And Zaid, when read Zaidin, cannot raise his head; and how canst
thou give a zammah to a word accented with a kasrah_?"

He reflected a little within himself, and said: "In these parts we have
much of Sa'di's compositions in the Persian language; if you will speak
in that dialect we shall more readily comprehend you, for _you should
address mankind according to their capacities_."

I replied: "Whilst thy passion was that of studying grammar, all trace
of reason was erased from our hearts. Yes! the lover's heart is fallen a
prey to thy snare: we are occupied about thee, and thou art taken up
with Amru and Zaid."

On the morrow, which had been fixed on as the period of our stay, some
of my fellow-travellers had perhaps told him such a one is Sa'di; for I
saw that he came running up, and expressed his affection and regret,
saying: "Why did you not during all this time tell us that a certain
person is Sa'di, that I might have shown my gratitude by offering my
service to your reverence." I answered: "In thy presence I cannot even
say that I am I!"--He said: "How good it were if you would tarry here
for a few days, that we might devote ourselves to your service." I
replied: "That cannot be, as this adventure will explain to you:--In the
hilly region I saw a great and holy man, who was content in living
retired from the world in a cavern. I said: 'Why dost thou not come into
the city, that thy heart might be relieved from a load of servitude?' He
replied: 'In it there dwell some wonderful and angel-faced charmers, and
where the path is miry, elephants may find it slippery.'--Having
delivered this speech, we kissed each other's head and face, and took
our leaves:--What profits it to kiss our mistress's cheek, and with the
same breath to bid her adieu. Thou mightest say that the apple had taken
leave of its friends by having this cheek red and that cheek
yellow:--_Were I not to die of grief on that day I say farewell, thou
wouldst charge me with being insincere in my attachments_."

XVII

A ragged dervish accompanied us along with the caravan for Hijaz, and a
certain Arab prince presented him with a hundred dinars for the support
of his family. Suddenly a gang of Khafachah robbers attacked the
caravan, and completely stripped it. The merchants set up a weeping and
wailing, and made much useless lamentation and complaint:--"Whether thou
supplicatest them, or whether thou complainest, the robbers will not
return thee their plunder":--all but that ragged wretch, who stood
collected within himself, and unmoved by this adventure. I said:
"Perhaps they did not plunder you of that money?" He replied: "Yes, they
took it; but I was not so fond of my pet as to break my heart at parting
with it. We should not fix our heart so on any thing or being as to find
any difficulty in removing it."

I said: "What you have remarked corresponds precisely with what once
befell myself; for in my juvenile days I took a liking to a young man,
and so sincere was my attachment that the Cabah, or fane, of my eye was
his perfect beauty, and the profit of this life's traffic his
much-coveted society:--Perhaps the angels might in paradise, otherwise
no living form can on this earth display such a loveliness of person. By
friendship I swear that after his demise all loving intercourse is
forbidden; for no human emanation can stand a comparison with him.

"All at once the foot of his existence stumbled at the grave of
annihilation; and the sigh of separation burst from the dwelling of his
family. For many days I sat a fixture at his tomb, and, of the many
dirges I composed upon his demise, this is one:--'On that day, when thy
foot was pierced with the thorn of death, would to God the hand of fate
had cloven my head with the sword of destruction, that my eyes might not
this day have witnessed the world without thee. Such am I, seated at the
head of thy dust, as the ashes are seated on my own:--whoever could not
take his rest and sleep till they first had spread a bed of roses and
narcissuses for him: the whirlwind of the sky has scattered the roses of
his cheek, and brambles and thorns are shooting from his grave.'

"After my separation from him I came to a steady and firm
determination, that during my remaining life I would fold up the carpet
of enjoyment, and never re-enter the gay circle of society:--Were it not
for the dread of its waves, much would be the profits of a voyage at
sea; were it not for the vexation of the thorn, charming might be the
society of the rose. Yesterday I was walking stately as a peacock in the
garden of enjoyment; to-day I am writhing like a snake from the absence
of my mistress."

XVIII.

To a certain king of Arabia they were relating the story of Laila and
Mujnun, and his insane state, saying: "Notwithstanding his knowledge and
wisdom, he has turned his face towards the desert, and abandoned himself
to distraction." The king ordered that they bring him into his presence;
and he reproved him, and spoke, saying: "What have you seen unworthy in
the noble nature of man that you should assume the manners of a brute,
and forsake the enjoyment of human society?"

Mujnun wept and answered:--"_Many of my friends reproach me for my love
of her, namely Laila. Alas! that they could one day see her, that my
excuse might be manifest for me!_--Would to God that such as blame me
could behold thy face, O thou ravisher of hearts! that at the sight of
thee they might, from inadvertency, cut their own fingers instead of the
orange in their hands:--Then might the truth of the reality bear
testimony against the semblance of fiction, _what manner of person that
was for whose sake you were upbraiding me_."

The king resolved within himself, on viewing in person the charms of
Laila, that he might be able to judge what her form could be which had
caused all this misery, and ordered her to be produced in his presence.
Having searched through the Arab tribes, they discovered and presented
her before the king in the courtyard of his seraglio. He viewed her
figure, and beheld a person of a tawny complexion and feeble frame of
body. She appeared to him in a contemptible light, inasmuch as the
lowest menial in his harem, or seraglio, surpassed her in beauty and
excelled her in elegance. Mujnun, in his sagacity, penetrated what was
passing in the royal mind, and said: "It would behoove you, O king, to
contemplate the charms of Laila through the wicket of a Mujnun's eye,
in order that the miracle of such a spectacle might be illustrated to
you. Thou canst have no fellow-feeling for my disorder; a companion to
suit me must have the self-same malady, that I may sit by him the
livelong day repeating my tale; for by rubbing two pieces of dry
fire-wood one upon another they will burn all the brighter:--_had that
grove of verdant reeds heard the murmurings of love which in detail of
my mistress's story have passed through my ear, it would somehow have
sympathised in my pain. Tell it, O my friends, to such as are ignorant
of love; would ye could be aware of what wrings me to the soul_:--the
anguish of a wound is not known to the hale and sound; we must detail
our aches only to a fellow-sufferer. It were idle to talk of a hornet to
him who has never during his life smarted from its sting. Till thy
condition may in some sort resemble mine, my state will seem to thee an
idle fable. Compare not my pain with that of another man; he holds salt
in his hand, but I hold it on a wounded limb."

* * * * *

XX

There was a handsome and well-disposed young man, who was embarked in a
vessel with a lovely damsel. I have read that, sailing on the mighty
deep, they fell together into a whirlpool. When the pilot came to offer
him assistance, saying: "God forbid that he should perish in that
distress," he was answering from the midst of that overwhelming vortex:
"Leave me, and take the hand of my beloved!" The whole world admired him
for this speech which, as he was expiring, he was heard to make. Learn
not the tale of love from that faithless wretch who can neglect his
beloved when exposed to danger. In this manner ended the lives of those
lovers. Listen to what has happened, that you may understand; for Sa'di
knows the ways and forms of courtship as well as the Tazi, or modern
Arabic, is understood at Bagdad. Devote your whole heart to the
heart-consoler you have chosen (namely, God), and let your eyes be shut
to the whole world beside. Were Laila and Mujnun to return into life,
they might read the history of love in this chapter.

CHAPTER VI

Of Imbecility and Old Age

I

In the metropolitan mosque at Damascus I was engaged in a disputation
with some learned men, when a youth suddenly entered the door, and said:
"Does any of you understand the Persian language?" They directed him to
me, and I answered: "It is true." He continued: "An old man of a hundred
and fifty years of age is in the agonies of death, and is uttering
something in the Persian language, which we do not understand. If you
will have the goodness to go to him you may get rewarded; for he
possibly may be dictating his will." When I sat down by his bedside I
heard him reciting:--"I said, I will enjoy myself for a few moments.
Alas! that my soul took the path of departure. Alas! at the variegated
table of life I partook a few mouthfuls, and the fates said, enough!"

I explained the signification of these lines in Arabic to the Syrians.
They were astonished that, at his advanced time of life, he should
express himself so solicitous about a worldly existence. I asked him:
"How do you now find yourself?" He replied: "What shall I say?--Hast
thou never witnessed what torture that man suffers from whose jaw they
are extracting a tooth? Fancy to thyself how excruciating is his pain
from whose precious body they are tearing an existence!"

I said: "Banish all thoughts of death from your mind, and let not doubt
undermine your constitution; for the Greek philosophers have remarked
that although our temperaments are vigorous, that is no proof of a long
life; and that although our sickness is dangerous, that is no positive
sign of immediate dissolution. If you will give me leave, I will call in
a physician to prescribe some medicine that may cure you." He replied:
"Alas! alas! The landlord thinks of refreshing the paintings of his
hall, and the house is tottering to its foundation. The physician smites
the hands of despair when he sees the aged fallen in pieces like a
potsherd; the old man bemoans himself in the agony of death while the
old attendant nurse is anointing him with sandal-wood. When the
equipoise of the temperament is overset, neither amulets nor medicaments
can do any good."

* * * * *

III

In the territory of Diarbekr, or Mesopotamia, I was the guest of an old
man, who was very rich, and had a handsome son. One night he told a
story, saying: "During my whole life I never had any child but this boy.
And in this valley a certain tree is a place of pilgrimage, where people
go to supplicate their wants; and many was the night that I have
besought God at the foot of that tree before he would bestow upon me
this boy." I have heard that the son was also whispering his companions,
and saying: "How happy I should be if I could discover the site of that
tree, in order that I might pray for the death of my father." The
gentleman was rejoicing and saying: "What a sensible youth is my son!"
and the boy was complaining and crying: "What a tedious old dotard is my
father!" Many years are passing over thy head, during which thou didst
not visit thy father's tomb. What pious oblation didst thou make to the
manes of a parent that thou shouldst expect so much from thy son?

IV

Urged one day by the pride of youthful vanity, I had made a forced
march, and in the evening found myself exhausted at the bottom of an
acclivity. A feeble old man, who had deliberately followed the pace of
the caravan, came up to me and said: "How come you to lie down here? Get
up, this is no fit place for rest." I replied: "How can I proceed, who
have not a foot to stand on?" He said: "Have you not heard what the
prudent have remarked? 'Going on, and halting, is better than running
ahead and breaking down!' Ye who wish to reach the end of your journey,
hurry not on; practise my advice, and learn deliberation. The Arab horse
makes a few stretches at full speed, and is broken down; while the
camel, at its deliberate pace, travels on night and day, and gets to the
end of his journey."

V

An active, merry, cheerful, and sweet-spoken youth was for a length of
time in the circle of my society, whose heart had never known sorrow,
nor his lip ceased from being on a smile. An age had passed, during
which we had not chanced to meet. When I next saw him he had taken to
himself a wife, and got a family; and the root of his enjoyment was torn
up, and the rose of his mirth blasted. I asked him: "How is this?" He
replied: "Since I became a father of children, I ceased to play the
child:--Now thou art old, relinquish childishness, and leave it to the
young to indulge in play and merriment. Expect not the sprightliness of
youth from the aged; for the stream that ran by can never return. Now
that the corn is ripe for the sickle, it rears not its head as when
green and shooting. The season of youth has slipt through my hands;
alas! when I think on those heart-exhilarating days! The lion has lost
the sturdy grasp of his paw: I must now put up, like a lynx, with a bit
of cheese. An old woman had stained her gray locks black. I said to her:
O, my antiquated dame! thy hair I admit thou canst turn dark by art, but
thou never canst make thy crooked back straight."

VI

One day, in the perverseness of youth, I spoke with asperity to my
mother. Vexed at heart, she sat down in a corner, and with tears in her
eyes was saying: "You have perhaps forgot the days of infancy, that you
are speaking to me thus harshly.--How well did an old woman observe to
her own son, when she saw him powerful as a tiger, and formidable as an
elephant: 'Couldst thou call to mind those days of thy infancy when
helpless thou wouldst cling to this my bosom, thou wouldst not thus
assail me with savage fury, now thou art a lion-like hero, and I am a
poor old woman.'"

VII

A rich miser had a son who was grievously sick. His well-wishers and
friends spoke to him, saying: "It were proper that you either read the
Koran throughout or offer an animal in sacrifice, in order that the Most
High God may restore him to health." After a short reflection within
himself he answered, "It is better to read the Koran, which is ready at
hand; and my herds are at a distance." A good and holy man heard this
and remarked: "He makes choice of the reading part because the Koran
slips glibly over the tongue, but his money is to be wrung from the soul
of him. Fie upon that readiness to bow the head in prayer; would that
the hand of charity could accompany it! In bestowing a dinar he will
stickle like an ass in the mire; but ask him to read the Al-hamdi, or
first chapter of the Koran, and he will recite it a hundred times."

CHAPTER VII

Of the Impressions of Education

I

A certain nobleman had a dunce of a son. He sent him to a learned man,
saying: "Verily you will give instruction to this youth, peradventure he
may become a rational being." He continued to give him lessons for some
time, but they made no impression upon him, when he sent a message to
the father, saying: "This son is not getting wise, and he has well-nigh
made me a fool!" Where the innate capacity is good, education may make
an impression upon it; but no furbisher knows how to give a polish to
iron which is of a bad temper. Wash a dog seven times in the ocean, and
so long as he is wet he is all the filthier. Were they to take the ass
of Jesus to Mecca, on his return from that pilgrimage he would still be
an ass.

II

A philosopher was exhorting his children and saying: "O emanations of my
soul, acquire knowledge, as no reliance can be placed on worldly riches
and possessions, for once you leave home rank is of no use, and gold and
silver on a journey are exposed to the risk either of thieves plundering
them at once, or of the owner wasting them by degrees; but knowledge is
a perennial spring and ever-during fortune. Were a professional man to
lose his fortune, he need not feel regret, for his knowledge is of
itself a mine of wealth. Wherever he may sojourn the learned man will
meet respect, and be ushered into the upper seat, whilst the ignorant
man must put up with offal and suffer want:--If thou covet the paternal
heritage, acquire thy father's knowledge, for this thy father's wealth
thou may'st squander in ten days. After having been in authority, it is
hard to obey; after having been fondled with caresses, to put up with
men's violence:--There once occurred an insurrection in Syria, and
everybody forsook his former peaceful abode. The sons of peasants, who
were men of learning, came to be employed as the ministers of kings; and
the children of noblemen, of bankrupt understandings, went a begging
from village to village."

III

A certain learned man was superintending the education of a king's son;
and he was chastising him without mercy, and reproving him with
asperity. The boy, out of all patience, complained to the king his
father, and laid bare before him his much-bruised body. The king was
much offended, and sending for the master, said: "You do not treat the
children of my meanest subject with the harshness and cruelty you do my
boy; what do you mean by this?" He replied: "To think before they speak,
and to deliberate before they act, are duties incumbent upon all
mankind, and more immediately upon kings; because whatever may drop from
their hands and tongue, the special deed or word will somehow become the
subject of public animadversion; whereas any act or remark of the
commonalty attracts not such notice:--Let a dervish, or poor man, commit
a hundred indiscretions, and his companions will not notice one out of
the hundred; and let a king but utter one foolish word, and it will be
echoed from kingdom to kingdom:--therefore in forming the morals of
young princes, more pains are to be taken than with the sons of the
vulgar. Whoever was not taught good manners in his boyhood, fortune will
forsake him when he becomes a man. Thou may'st bend the green bough as
thou likest; but let it once get dry, and it will require heat to
straighten it:--'_Verily thou may'st bend the tender branch, but it were
labor lost to attempt making straight a crooked billet_.'"

The king greatly approved of this ingenious detail, and the wholesome
course of discipline of the learned doctor; and, bestowing upon him a
dress and largess, raised him one step in his rank as a nobleman!

IV

In the west of Africa I saw a schoolmaster of a sour aspect and bitter
speech, crabbed, misanthropic, beggarly, and intemperate, insomuch that
the sight of him would derange the ecstasies of the orthodox; and his
manner of reading the Koran cast a gloom over the minds of the pious. A
number of handsome boys and lovely virgins were subject to his despotic
sway, who had neither the permission of a smile nor the option of a
word, for this moment he would smite the silver cheek of one of them
with his hand, and the next put the crystalline legs of another in the
stocks. In short their parents, I heard, were made aware of a part of
his disloyal violence, and beat and drove him from his charge. And they
made over his school to a peaceable creature, so pious, meek, simple,
and good-natured that he never spoke till forced to do so, nor would he
utter a word that could offend anybody. The children forgot that awe in
which they had held their first master, and remarking the angelic
disposition of their second master, they became one after another as
wicked as devils; and relying on his clemency, they would so neglect
their studies as to pass most part of their time at play, and break the
tablets of their unfinished tasks over each other's heads:--"When the
schoolmaster relaxes in his discipline, the children will stop to play
at marbles in the market-place."

A fortnight after I passed by the gate of that mosque and saw the first
schoolmaster, with whom they had been obliged to make friends, and to
restore him to his place. I was in truth offended, and calling on God to
witness, asked, saying: "Why have they again made a devil the preceptor
of angels?" A facetious old gentleman, who had seen much of life,
listened to me and replied: "Have you not heard what they have said:--A
king sent his son to school, and hung a tablet of silver round his neck.
On the face of that tablet he had written in golden letters: 'The
severity of the master is more useful than the indulgence of the
father.'"

* * * * *

VI

A king gave his son into the charge of a preceptor, and said: "This is
your child, educate him as you would one of your own." For some years he
labored in teaching him, but to no good purpose; whilst the sons of the
preceptor excelled in eloquence and knowledge. The king blamed the
learned man, and remonstrated with him, saying: "You have violated your
trust, and infringed the terms of your engagement." He replied: "O king,
the education is the same, but their capacities are different!" Though
silver and gold are extracted from stones, yet it is not in every stone
that gold and silver are found. The Sohail, or star Canopus, is shedding
his rays all over the globe. In one place he produces common leather, in
another, or in Yamin, that called Adim, or perfumed.

VII

I heard a certain learned senior observing to a disciple:--"If the sons
of Adam were as solicitous after Providence, or God, as they are after
their means of sustenance, their places in Paradise would surpass those
of the angels." God did not overlook thee in that state when thou wert a
senseless embryo in thy mother's womb. He bestowed upon thee a soul,
reason, temper, intellect, symmetry, speech, judgment, understanding,
and reflection. He accommodated thy hands with ten fingers, and
suspended two arms from thy shoulders. Canst thou now suppose, O
good-for-nothing wretch, that he will forget to provide thy daily bread?

VIII

I observed an Arab who was informing his son:--"_O my child, God will
ask thee on the day of judgment: What hast thou done in this life? but
he will not inquire of thee: Whence didst thou derive thy origin?_" That
is, they (or God) will ask, saying: "What are your works?" But he will
not question you, saying: "Who is your father?" The covering of the
Caabah at Mecca, which the pilgrims kiss from devotion, is not prized
from its being the fabric of a silk-worm; for a while it associated with
a venerable friend, and became, in consequence, venerable like him.

IX

They have related in the books of philosophers that scorpions are not
brought forth according to the common course of nature, as other animals
are, but that they eat their way through their mother's wombs, tear open
their bellies, and thus make themselves a passage into the world; and
that the fragments of skin which we find in scorpions' holes corroborate
this fact. On one occasion I was stating this strange event to a good
and great man, when he answered: "My heart is bearing testimony to the
truth of this remark; nor can it be otherwise, for as they have thus
behaved towards their parents in their youth, so they are approved and
beloved in their riper years." On his death-bed a father exhorted his
son, saying: "O generous youth, keep in mind this maxim: 'Whoever is
ungrateful to his own kindred cannot hope that fortune shall befriend
him.'"

X

They asked a scorpion: "Why do you not make your appearance during the
winter?" It answered: "What is my character in the summer that I should
come abroad also in the winter?"

* * * * *

XIII

One year a dissension arose among the foot-travellers on a pilgrimage to
Mecca, and the author (Sa'di) was also a pedestrian among them. In
truth, we fell head and ears together, and accusation and recrimination
were bandied from all sides. I overheard a kajawah, or gentleman, riding
on one side of a camel-litter, observing to his adil, or opposite
companion: "How strange that the ivory piyadah, or pawns, on reaching
the top of the shatranj, or chess-board, become fazzin, or queens; that
is, they get rank, or become better than they were; and the piyadah, or
pawns, of the pilgrimage--that is, our foot-pilgrims--have crossed the
desert and become worse." Say from me to that haji, or pilgrim, the pest
of his fellow-pilgrims, that he lacerates the skin of mankind by his
contention. Thou art not a real pilgrim, but that meek camel is one who
is feeding on thorns and patient under its burden.

XIV

A Hindu, or Indian, was teaching the art of playing off fireworks. A
philosopher observed to him: "This is an unfit sport for you, whose
dwelling is made of straw." Utter not a word till thou knowest that it
is the mirror of what is correct; and do not put a question where thou
knowest that the answer must be unfavorable.

XV

A fellow had a complaint in his eyes, and went to a horse-doctor,
saying: "Prescribe something for me." The doctor of horses applied to
his eyes what he was in the habit of applying to the eyes of quadrupeds,
and the man got blind. They carried their complaint before the hakim, or
judge. He decreed: "This man has no redress, for had he not been an ass
he would not have applied to a horse or ass doctor!" The moral of this
apologue is, that whoever doth employ an inexperienced person on an
affair of importance, besides being brought to shame, he will incur from
the wise the imputation of a weak mind. A prudent man, with an
enlightened understanding, entrusts not affairs of consequence to one of
mean capacity. The plaiter of mats, notwithstanding he be a weaver, they
would not employ in a silk manufactory.

XVI

A certain great Imaam had a worthy son, and he died. They asked him,
saying: "What shall we inscribe upon the urn at his tomb." He replied:
"Verses of the holy Koran are of such superior reverence and dignity
that they should not be written in places where time might efface,
mankind tread upon, or dogs defile them; yet, if an epitaph be
necessary, let these two couplets suffice:--I said: 'Alas! how grateful
it was proving to my heart, so long as the verdure of thy existence
might flourish in the garden.' He replied: 'O my friend, have patience
till the return of the spring, and thou may'st again see roses
blossoming on my bosom, or shooting from my dust.'"

XVII

A holy man was passing by a wealthy personage's mansion, and saw him
with a slave tied up by the hands and feet, and giving him chastisement.
He said: "O my son! God Almighty has made a creature like yourself
subject to your command, and has given you a superiority over him.
Render thanksgiving to the Most High Judge, and deal not with him so
savagely; lest hereafter, on the day of judgment, he may prove the more
worthy of the two, and you be put to shame:--Be not so enraged with thy
bondsman; torture not his body, nor harrow up his heart. Thou mightest
buy him for ten dinars, but hadst not after all the power of creating
him:--To what length will this authority, pride, and insolence hurry
thee; there is a Master mightier than thou art. Yes, thou art a lord of
slaves and vassals, but do not forget thine own Lord Paramount--namely,
God!" There is a tradition of the prophet Mohammed, on whom be blessing,
announcing:--On the day of resurrection, that will be the most
mortifying event when the good slave will be taken up to heaven, and the
wicked master sent down to hell:--"Upon the bondsman, who is subservient
to thy command, wreak not thy rage and boundless displeasure. For it
must be disgraceful on the day of reckoning to find the slave at liberty
and the master in bondage."

XVIII

One year I was on a journey with some Syrians from Balkh, and the road
was infested with robbers. One of our escort was a youth expert at
wielding his shield and brandishing his spear, mighty as an elephant,
and cased in armor, so strong that ten of the most powerful of us could
not string his bow, or the ablest wrestler on the face of the earth
throw him on his back. Yet, as you must know, he had been brought up in
luxury and reared in a shade, was inexperienced of the world, and had
never travelled. The thunder of the great war-drum had never rattled in
his ears, nor had the lightning of the trooper's scimitar ever flashed
across his eyes:--He had never fallen a captive into the hands of an
enemy, nor been overwhelmed amidst a shower of their arrows.

It happened that this young man and I kept running on together; and any
venerable ruin that might come in our way he would overthrow with the
strength of his shoulder; and any huge tree that we might see he would
wrench from its root with his lion-seizing wrist, and boastfully
cry:--"Where is the elephant, that he may behold the shoulder and arm of
warriors? Where the lion, that he may feel the wrist and grip of
heroes?"

Such was our situation when two Hindus darted from behind a rock and
prepared to cut us off, one of them holding a bludgeon in his hand, and
the other having a mallet under his arm. I called to the young man, "Why
do you stop?--Display whatever strength and courage thou hast, for the
foe came on his own feet up to his grave":--I perceived that the youth's
bow and arrows had dropped from his hands, and that a tremor had fallen
upon his limbs:--It is not he that can split a hair with a coat-of-mail
cleaving arrow that is able to withstand an assault from the
formidable:--No alternative was left us but that of surrendering our
arms, accoutrements, and clothes, and escaping with our lives. On an
affair of importance employ a man experienced in business who can bring
the fierce lion within the noose of his halter; though the youth be
strong of arm and has the body of an elephant, in his encounter with a
foe every limb will quake with fear. A man of experience is best
qualified to explore a field of battle, as one of the learned is to
expound a point of law.

XIX

I saw a rich man's son seated by his father's tomb, and in a disputation
with that of a dervish holding forth and saying: "My father's mausoleum
is built of granite, the epitaph inscribed with letters of gold, the
pavement and lining marble, and tessellated with slabs of turquoise; and
what is there left of your father's tomb but two or three bricks
cemented together with a few handfuls of mortar?" The poor man's son
heard this, and answered: "I pray you peace! for before your father can
stir himself under this heavy load of stone mine shall have risen up to
heaven!" And there is a tradition of the prophet, that _death to the
poor is a state of rest_. That ass proceeds all the lighter on his
journey on whom they load the lightest burden:--the poor dervish, who
suffers under a load of indigence, will in like sort enter the gates of
death with an easy burden; but with him who luxuriates in peace, plenty,
and affluence, it must be a real hardship to die amidst all these
comforts. At all events consider the prisoner, who is released from his
thraldom, as better off than the prince who is just fallen a captive.

* * * * *

XXI

I saw a certain person in the garb of dervishes, but not with their
meekness, seated in a company, and full of his abuse. Having opened the
volume of reproach, and begun to calumniate the rich, his discourse had
reached this place, stating: "The hand of the poor man's ability is tied
up, and the foot of the rich man's inclination crippled:--Men of
liberality have no command of money, nor have the opulent and
worldly-minded a spirit of liberality."

Owing, as I am, my support to the bounty of the great, I considered this
animadversion as unmerited, and replied: "O my friend! the rich are the
treasury of the indigent, the granary of the hermit, the fane of the
pilgrim, resting-place of the traveller, and the carriers of heavy
burdens for the relief of their fellow-creatures. They put forth their
hand to eat when their servants and dependants are ready to partake with
them; and the bounteous fragments of their tables they distribute among
widows and the aged, their neighbors and kindred:--The rich have their
consecrated foundations, charitable endowments and rites of hospitality;
their alms, oblations, manumissions, peace-offerings, and sacrifices.
How shalt thou rise to this pomp of fortune who canst perform only these
two genuflexions, and them after manifold difficulties?--Whether it
respect their moral dignity or religious duty, the rich are at ease
within themselves; for their property is sanctified by giving tithes,
and their apparel hallowed by cleanliness, their reputations
unblemished, and minds content. The intelligent are aware that the zeal
of devotion is warmed by good fare, and the sincerity of piety rendered
more serene in a nicety of vesture; for it is evident what ardor there
can be in a hungry stomach; what generosity in squalid penury; what
ability of travelling with a bare foot; and what alacrity at bestowing
from an empty hand:--Uneasy must be the night-slumbers of him whose
provision for to-morrow is not forthcoming: the ant is laying by a store
in summer that she may enjoy an abundance in winter. It is clear that
indigence and tranquillity can never go together, nor have fruition and
want the same aspect: the one had composed himself for prayer, and the
other sat anxious, and thinking on his supper; how then could this ever
come in competition with that? The lord of plenty has his mind fixed on
God; when a man's fortune is bankrupt, so is his heart:--accordingly,
the devotion of the rich is more acceptable at the temple of God,
because their thoughts are present and collected, and their minds not
absent and distracted; for they have laid up the conveniences of good
living, and digested at their leisure their scriptural quotations (for
prayer). The Arabs say: '_God preserve us from overwhelming poverty; and
from the company of him whom he loves not, namely, the infidel_':--And
there is a tradition of the prophet--that '_poverty has a gloomy aspect
in this world and in the next_!'"

My antagonist said: "Have you not heard what the blessed prophet has
declared?--'_poverty is my glory!_'" I replied: "Be silent, for the
allusion of the Lord of both worlds applies to such as are heroes in the
field of resignation, and the devoted victims of their fate, and not to
those who put on the garb of piety, that they may entitle themselves to
the bread of charity. O noisy drum! thou art nothing but an empty sound;
unprovided with the means, what canst thou effect on the last day of
account? If thou art a man of spirit, turn thy face away from begging
charity from thy fellow-creature; and keep not repeating thy rosary of a
thousand beads. Being without divine knowledge, a dervish, or poor man,
rests not till his poverty settles into infidelity; for _he that is poor
is well-nigh being an infidel_:--nor is it practicable, unless through
the agency of wealth, to clothe the naked, and to liberate the prisoner
from jail: how then can such mendicants as we are aspire to their
dignity; or what comparison is there between the arm of the lofty and
the hand of the abject? Do you not perceive that the glorious and great
God announces, in the holy book of the Koran, xxviii, the enjoyments of
the blessed in Paradise?--that '_to this community, namely, the orthodox
Mussulmans, a provision is allotted_';--in order that you may
understand that such as are solely occupied in looking after their daily
subsistence are excluded from this portion of the blessed; and that the
property of present enjoyment is sanctioned under the seal of
Providence:--to the thirsty it will seem in their dreams as if the face
of the earth were wholly a fountain. You may everywhere observe that,
instigated by his appetites, a person who has suffered hardship and
tasted bitterness will engage in dangerous enterprises; and, indifferent
to the consequences, and unawed by future punishments, he will not
discriminate between what is lawful and what is forbid:--Should a clod
of earth be thrown at the head of a dog, he would jump up in joy, and
take it for a bone; or were two people carrying a corpse on a bier, a
greedy man would fancy it a tray of victuals. Whereas the worldly
opulent are regarded with the benevolent eye of Providence, and in their
enjoyments of what is lawful are preserved from things illegal. Having
thus detailed my arguments and adduced my proofs, I rely on your justice
for an equitable decree; whether you ever saw a felon with his arms
pinioned; a bankrupt immured in a jail; the veil of innocency rent, or
the arm mutilated for theft, unless in consequence of poverty: for
lion-like heroes, instigated by want, have been caught undermining
walls, and breaking into houses, and have got themselves suspended by
the heels. It is, moreover, possible that a poor man, urged to it by an
inordinate appetite, may feel desirous of gratifying his lust; and he
may fall the victim of some accursed sin. And of the manifold means of
mental tranquillity and corporeal enjoyment which are the special lots
of the opulent, one is that every night they can command a fresh
mistress, and every day possess a new charmer, such as must excite the
envy of the glorious dawn, and stick the foot of the stately cypress in
the mire of shame:--'She had dipped her hands in the blood of her
lovers, and tinged the tips of her fingers with jujubes':--so that it
were impossible, with such lovely objects before their eyes, for them to
desire what is forbidden or to wish to commit sin:--Why should such a
heart as the houris, or nymphs of Paradise, have captivated and
plundered, show any way partial to the idols of Yaghma (a city in
Turkestan famous for its beauties)?--_He who has in both his hands such
dates as he can relish, will not think of throwing stones at the bunches
of dates on their trees_. In common, such as are in indigent
circumstances will contaminate the skirt of innocency with sin; and such
as are suffering from hunger will steal bread:--When a ravenous dog has
found a piece of meat, he asks not, saying: Is this the flesh of the
prophet Salah's camel or Antichrist's ass? Many are the chaste who,
because of their poverty, have fallen into the sink of wickedness, and
given their fair reputations to the blast of infamy:--The virtue of
temperance remains not with a state of being famished; and bankrupt
circumstances will snatch the rein from the hand of abstemiousness."

The moment I had finished this speech, the dervish, my antagonist, let
the rein of forbearance drop from the hand of moderation; unsheathed the
sabre of his tongue; set the steed of eloquence at full speed over the
plain of arrogance; and, galloping up to me, said: "You have so
exaggerated in their praise, and amplified with such extravagance, that
we might fancy them an antidote to the poison of poverty and a key to
the store-house of Providence; yet they are a proud, self-conceited,
fastidious, and overbearing set, insatiate after wealth and property,
and ambitious of rank and dignity; who exchange not a word but to
express insolence, or deign a look but to show contempt. Men of science
they call beggars, and the indigent they reproach for their wretched
raggedness. Proud of the property they possess, and vain of the rank
they claim, they take the upper hand of all, and deem themselves
everybody's superior. Nor do they ever condescend to return any person's
salutation, unmindful of the maxim of the wise: That whoever is inferior
to others in humility, and is their superior in opulence, though in
appearance he be rich, yet in reality he is a beggar:--If a worthless
fellow, because of his wealth, treats a learned man with insolence,
reckon him an ass, although he be the ambergris ox."

I replied: "Do not calumniate the rich, for they are the lords of
munificence." He said: "You mistake them, for they are the slaves of
dinars and dirams, or their gold and silver coins. For example, what
profits it though they be the clouds of the spring, if they may not send
us rain; or the fountain of the sun, and shine upon no one; or though
they be mounted on the steed of capability, and advance not towards
anybody? They will not move a step for the sake of God, nor bestow their
charity without laying you under obligation and thanks. They hoard
their money with solicitude, watch it while they live with sordid
meanness, and leave it behind them with deadening regret, verifying the
saying of the wise: 'That the money of the miser is coming out of the
earth when he is himself going into it:'--One man hoards a treasure with
pain and tribulation, another comes and spends it without tribulation or
pain."

I replied: "You could have ascertained the parsimony of the wealthy only
through the medium of your own beggary; otherwise to him who lays
covetousness aside the generous man and miser seem all one. The
touchstone can prove which is pure gold, and the beggar can say which is
the niggard." He said: "I speak of them from experience; for they
station dependants by their doors, and plant surly porters at their
gates, to deny admittance to the worthy, and to lay violent hands upon
the collars of the elect, and say: 'There is nobody at home'; and verily
they tell what is true:--When the master has not reason or judgment,
understanding or discernment, the porter reported right of him, saying:
'There is nobody in the house.'"

I replied: "They are excusable, inasmuch as they are worried out of
their lives by importunate memorialists, and jaded to their hearts by
indigent solicitors; and it might be reasonably doubted whether it would
satisfy the eye of the covetous if the sands of the desert could be
turned into pearls:--The eye of the greedy is not to be filled with
worldly riches, any more than a well can be replenished from the dew of
night. And had Hatim Tayi, who dwelt in the desert, come to live in a
city, he would have been overwhelmed with the importunities of
mendicants, and they would have torn the clothes from his back:--Look
not towards me, lest thou should draw the eyes of others, for at the
mendicant's hand no good can be expected."

He said: "I pity their condition." I replied: "Not so; but you envy them
their property." We were thus warm in argument, and both of us close
engaged. Whatever chess pawn he might advance I would set one in
opposition to it; and whenever he put my king in check, I would relieve
him with my queen; till he had exhausted all the coin in the purse of
his resolution, and expended all the arrows of the quiver of his
argument. "Take heed and retreat not from the orator's attack, for
nothing is left him but metaphor and hyperbole. Wield thy polemics and
law citations, for the wordy rhetorician made a show of arms over his
gate, but has not a soldier within his fort":--At length, having no
syllogism left, I made him crouch in mental submission. He stretched
forth the arm of violence, and began with vain abuse. As is the case
with the ignorant, when beaten by their antagonist in fair argument,
they shake the chain of rancor; like Azor, the idol-maker, when he could
no longer contend with his son Abraham in words he fell upon him with
blows, as God has said in the Koran--"_If thou wilt not yield this
point, I will overwhelm thee with stones_:"--He gave me abuse, and I
retorted upon him with asperity; he tore my collar, and I plucked his
beard:--He had fallen upon me and I upon him, and a crowd had gathered
round us enjoying the sport. A whole world gnawed the finger of
astonishment when it heard and understood what had taken place between
us.

In short, we referred our dispute to the cazi, and agreed to abide by
his equitable decree: That the judge of the Mussulmans, or faithful,
might bring about a peace, and discriminate for us between the poor and
rich. After having noted our physiognomies, and listened to our
statements, the cazi rested his chin on the breast of deliberation; and,
after due consideration, raised it, and said: "Be it known to you, who
were lavish in your praise of the rich, and spoke disparagingly of the
poor, that there is no rose without its thorn; intoxication from wine is
followed by a qualm; hidden treasure has its guardian dragon; where the
imperial pearl is found, there swims the man-devouring shark; the honey
of worldly enjoyment has the sting of death in its rear; and between us
and the felicity of Paradise stands a frightful demon, namely, Satan. So
long as the charmer slew not her admirer, what could the rival's malice
avail him? The rose and thorn, the treasure and dragon, joy and sorrow,
all mingle into one.--Do you not observe that in the garden there are
the sweet-scented willows and the withered trunks; so among the classes
of the rich some are grateful and some thankless; and among the orders
of the poor some are resigned and some impatient:--Were every drop of
dew to turn into a pearl, in the market pearls would be as common as
shells. Near by the throne of a great and glorious Judge are the rich
meek in spirit, and the poor rich in resolution. And the chief of the
opulent is he who sympathizes with the sorrows of the indigent; and the
most virtuous of the indigent is he who covets not the society of the
opulent:--_God is all-sufficient for him who trusts in God_."

Then the cazi turned the face of animadversion from me towards the
dervish, and said: "O you who have charged the rich with being active in
sin, and intoxicated with things forbidden, verily there is such a tribe
as you have described them, illiberal in their bigotry, and stingy of
God's bounty; who are collecting and hoarding money, but will neither
use nor bestow it. If, for example, there was a drought, or if the whole
earth was deluged with a flood, confident of their own abundance, they
would not inquire after the poor man's distress, and, fearless of the
divine wrath, exclaim:--If, in his want of everything, another person be
annihilated, I have plenty; and what does a goose care for a deluge?
_Such as are lolling in their litters, and indulging in the easy pace of
a female camel, feel not for the foot-traveller perishing amidst
overwhelming sands:_--The mean-spirited, when they could escape with
their own rugs, would cry: 'What care we should the whole world die.'

"Such as you have stated them, there is a tribe of rich men; but there
is another class, who, having spread the table of abundance, and made a
public declaration of their munificence, and smoothed the brow of their
humility, are solicitous of a reputation and forgiveness, and desirous
of enjoying this world and the next; like unto the servants of his
Majesty the sovereign of the universe, just, confirmed, victorious, lord
paramount and conqueror of nations, defender of the stronghold of
Islamism, successor of Solomon, most equitable of contemporary kings.
Mozuffar-ud-din Atabak-Abubakr-Saad, may God give him a long life, and
grant victory to his standards!--A father could never show such
benevolence to his son as thy liberal hand has bestowed upon the race of
Adam. The Deity was desirous of conferring a kindness upon man, and in
his special mercy made thee sovereign of the world."

Now that the cazi had carried his harangue to this extreme, and had
galloped the steed of metaphor beyond our expectation, we of necessity
acquiesced in the absolute decree of being satisfied, and apologized for
what had passed between us; and after altercation we returned into the
path of reconciliation, laid the heads of reparation at each other's
feet, mutually kissed and embraced, and, letting mischief fall asleep,
and war lull itself into peace, concluded the whole in these two
verses:--"O poor man! complain not of the revolutions of fortune, for
gloomy might be thy lot wert thou to die in such sentiments. And now, O
rich man! that thy hand and heart administer to thy pleasures, spend and
give away, that thou may'st enjoy this world and the next."

CHAPTER VIII

Of the Duties of Society

I

Riches are intended for the comfort of life, and not life for the
purpose of hoarding riches. I asked a wise man, saying: "Who is the
fortunate man, and who is the unfortunate?" He said: "That man was
fortunate who spent and gave away, and that man unfortunate who died and
left behind:--Pray not for that good-for-nothing man who did nothing,
for he passed his life in hoarding riches, and did not spend them."

II

The prophet Moses, on whom be peace, _admonished Carum, saying: "Be
bounteous in like manner as God has been bounteous to thee_":--but he
listened not, and you have heard the end of him. Whoever did not an act
of charity with his silver and gold, sacrificed his future prospects on
his hoard of gold and silver. If desirous that thou shouldst benefit by
the wealth of this world, be generous with thy fellow-creature, as God
has been generous with thee.

The Arabs say:--"_Show thy generosity, but make it not obligatory, that
the benefit of it may redound to thee_":--that is, bestow and make
presents, but do not exact an obligation that the profit of that act may
be returned to you. Wherever the tree of generosity strikes root it
sends forth its boughs, and they shoot above the skies. If thou
cherishest a hope of enjoying its fruit, by gratitude I entreat of thee
not to lay a saw upon its trunk. Render thanks to God, that thou wert
found worthy of his divine grace, that he has not excluded thee from the
riches of his bounty. Esteem it no obligation that thou art serving the
king, but show thy gratitude to him, namely God, who has placed thee in
this service.

III

Two persons labored to a vain, and studied to an unprofitable end: he
who hoarded wealth and did not spend it, and he who acquired science and
did not practise it:--However much thou art read in theory, if thou hast
no practice thou art ignorant. He is neither a sage philosopher nor an
acute divine, but a beast of burden with a load of books. How can that
brainless head know or comprehend whether he carries on his back a
library or bundle of fagots?

IV

Learning is intended to fortify religious practice, and not to gratify
worldly traffic:--Whoever prostituted his temperance, piety, and
science, gathered his harvest into a heap and set fire to it.

V

An intemperate man of learning is like a blind link-boy:--_He shows the
road to others, but sees it not himself_:--whoever ventured his life on
an unproductive hazard gained nothing by the risk, and lost his own
stake.

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