Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 10 by Richard F. Burton

Part 2 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

for, an thou kill me, they will become motherless and will find
none among women to rear them as they should be reared." When the
King heard this, he wept and straining the boys to his bosom,
said, "By Allah, O Shahrazad, I pardoned thee before the coming
of these children, for that I found thee chaste, pure, ingenuous
and pious! Allah bless thee and thy father and thy mother and thy
root and thy branch! I take the Almighty to witness against me
that I exempt thee from aught that can harm thee." So she kissed
his hands and feet and rejoiced with exceeding joy, saying, The
Lord make thy life long and increase thee in dignity and
majesty[FN#111]!"; presently adding, "Thou marvelledst at that
which befel thee on the part of women; yet there betided the
Kings of the Chosroes before thee greater mishaps and more
grievous than that which hath befallen thee, and indeed I have
set forth unto thee that which happened to Caliphs and Kings and
others with their women, but the relation is longsome and
hearkening groweth tedious, and in this is all sufficient warning
for the man of wits and admonishment for the wise." Then she
ceased to speak, and when King Shahriyar heard her speech and
profited by that which she said, he summoned up his reasoning
powers and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding revert
and turned to Allah Almighty and said to himself, "Since there
befel the Kings of the Chosroes more than that which hath
befallen me, never, whilst I live, shall I cease to blame myself
for the past. As for this Shahrazad, her like is not found in the
lands; so praise be to Him who appointed her a means for
delivering His creatures from oppression and slaughter!" Then he
arose from his seance and kissed her head, whereat she rejoiced,
she and her sister Dunyazad, with exceeding joy. When the morning
morrowed, the King went forth and sitting down on the throne of
the Kingship, summoned the Lords of his land; whereupon the
Chamberlains and Nabobs and Captains of the host went in to him
and kissed ground before him. He distinguished the Wazir,
Shahrazad's sire, with special favour and bestowed on him a
costly and splendid robe of honour and entreated him with the
utmost kindness, and said to him, "Allah protect thee for that
thou gavest me to wife thy noble daughter, who hath been the
means of my repentance from slaying the daughters of folk. Indeed
I have found her pure and pious, chaste and ingenuous, and Allah
hath vouchsafed me by her three boy children; wherefore praised
be He for his passing favour." Then he bestowed robes of honour
upon his Wazirs, and Emirs and Chief Officers and he set forth to
them briefly that which had betided him with Shahrazad and how he
had turned from his former ways and repented him of what he had
done and purposed to take the Wazir's daughter, Shahrazad, to
wife and let draw up the marriage-contract with her. When those
who were present heard this, they kissed the ground before him
and blessed him and his betrothed[FN#112] Shahrazad, and the
Wazir thanked her. Then Shahriyar made an end of his sitting in
all weal, whereupon the folk dispersed to their dwelling-places
and the news was bruited abroad that the King purposed to marry
the Wazir's daughter, Shahrazad. Then he proceeded to make ready
the wedding gear, and presently he sent after his brother, King
Shah Zaman, who came, and King Shahriyar went forth to meet him
with the troops. Furthermore, they decorated the city after the
goodliest fashion and diffused scents from censers and burnt
aloes-wood and other perfumes in all the markets and
thoroughfares and rubbed themselves with saffron,[FN#113] what
while the drums beat and the flutes and pipes sounded and mimes
and mountebanks played and plied their arts and the King lavished
on them gifts and largesse; and in very deed it was a notable
day. When they came to the palace, King Shahriyar commanded to
spread the tables with beasts roasted whole and sweetmeats and
all manner of viands and bade the crier cry to the folk that they
should come up to the Divan and eat and drink and that this
should be a means of reconciliation between him and them. So,
high and low, great and small came up unto him and they abode on
that wise, eating and drinking, seven days with their nights.
Then the King shut himself up with his brother and related to him
that which had betided him with the Wazir's daughter, Shahrazad,
during the past three years and told him what he had heard from
her of proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips
and jests, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and
elegies and other verses; whereat King Shah Zaman marvelled with
the uttermost marvel and said, "Fain would I take her younger
sister to wife, so we may be two brothers-german to two
sisters-german, and they on like wise be sisters to us; for that
the calamity which befel me was the cause of our discovering that
which befel thee and all this time of three years past I have
taken no delight in woman, save that I lie each night with a
damsel of my kingdom, and every morning I do her to death; but
now I desire to marry thy wife's sister Dunyazad." When King
Shahriyar heard his brother's words, he rejoiced with joy
exceeding and arising forthright, went in to his wife Shahrazad
and acquainted her with that which his brother purposed, namely
that he sought her sister Dunyazad in wedlock; whereupon she
answered, "O King of the age, we seek of him one condition, to
wit, that he take up his abode with us, for that I cannot brook
to be parted from my sister an hour, because we were brought up
together and may not endure separation each from other.[FN#114]
If he accept this pact, she is his handmaid." King Shahriyar
returned to his brother and acquainted him with that which
Shahrazad had said; and he replied, "Indeed, this is what was in
my mind, for that I desire nevermore to be parted from thee one
hour. As for the kingdom, Allah the Most High shall send to it
whomso He chooseth, for that I have no longer a desire for the
kingship." When King Shahriyar heard his brother's words, he
rejoiced exceedingly and said, "Verily, this is what I wished, O
my brother. So Alhamdolillah--Praised be Allah--who hath brought
about union between us." Then he sent after the Kazis and Olema,
Captains and Notables, and they married the two brothers to the
two sisters. The contracts were written out and the two Kings
bestowed robes of honour of silk and satin on those who were
present, whilst the city was decorated and the rejoicings were
renewed. The King commanded each Emir and Wazir and Chamberlain
and Nabob to decorate his palace and the folk of the city were
gladdened by the presage of happiness and contentment. King
Shahriyar also bade slaughter sheep and set up kitchens and made
bride-feasts and fed all comers, high and low; and he gave alms
to the poor and needy and extended his bounty to great and small.
Then the eunuchs went forth, that they might perfume the Hammam
for the brides; so they scented it with rosewater and
willow-flower-water and pods of musk and fumigated it with
Kakili[FN#115] eagle-wood and ambergris. Then Shahrazad entered,
she and her sister Dunyazad, and they cleansed their heads and
clipped their hair. When they came forth of the Hammam-bath, they
donned raiment and ornaments; such as men were wont prepare for
the Kings of the Chosroes; and among Shahrazad's apparel was a
dress purfled with red gold and wrought with counterfeit
presentments of birds and beasts. And the two sisters encircled
their necks with necklaces of jewels of price, in the like
whereof Iskander[FN#116] rejoiced not, for therein were great
jewels such as amazed the wit and dazzled the eye; and the
imagination was bewildered at their charms, for indeed each of
them was brighter than the sun and the moon. Before them they
lighted brilliant flambeaux of wax in candelabra of gold, but
their faces outshone the flambeaux, for that they had eyes
sharper than unsheathed swords and the lashes of their eyelids
bewitched all hearts. Their cheeks were rosy red and their necks
and shapes gracefully swayed and their eyes wantoned like the
gazelle's; and the slave-girls came to meet them with instruments
of music. Then the two Kings entered the Hammam-bath, and when
they came forth, they sat down on a couch set with pearls and
gems, whereupon the two sisters came up to them and stood between
their hands, as they were moons, bending and leaning from side to
side in their beauty and loveliness. Presently they brought
forward Shahrazad and displayed her, for the first dress, in a
red suit; whereupon King Shahriyar rose to look upon her and the
wits of all present, men and women, were bewitched for that she
was even as saith of her one of her describers[FN#117]:--

A sun on wand in knoll of sand she showed, * Clad in her
cramoisy-hued chemisette:
Of her lips' honey-dew she gave me drink * And with her rosy
cheeks quencht fire she set.

Then they attired Dunyazad in a dress of blue brocade and she
became as she were the full moon when it shineth forth. So they
displayed her in this, for the first dress, before King Shah
Zaman, who rejoiced in her and well-nigh swooned away for
love-longing and amorous desire; yea, he was distraught with
passion for her, whenas he saw her, because she was as saith of
her one of her describers in these couplets[FN#118]:--

She comes apparelled in an azure vest * Ultramarine as skies are
deckt and dight:
I view'd th' unparallel'd sight, which showed my eyes * A
Summer-moon upon a Winter-night.

Then they returned to Shahrazad and displayed her in the second
dress, a suit of surpassing goodliness, and veiled her face with
her hair like a chin-veil.[FN#119] Moreover, they let down her
side-locks and she was even as saith of her one of her describers
in these couplets:--

O hail to him whose locks his cheeks o'ershade, * Who slew my
life by cruel hard despight:
Said I, "Hast veiled the Morn in Night?" He said, * "Nay I but
veil Moon in hue of Night."

Then they displayed Dunyazad in a second and a third and a fourth
dress and she paced forward like the rising sun, and swayed to
and fro in the insolence of beauty; and she was even as saith the
poet of her in these couplets[FN#120]:--

The sun of beauty she to all appears * And, lovely coy she mocks
all loveliness:
And when he fronts her favour and her smile * A-morn, the sun of
day in clouds must dress.

Then they displayed Shahrazad in the third dress and the fourth
and the fifth and she became as she were a Ban-branch snell or a
thirsting gazelle, lovely of face and perfect in attributes of
grace, even as saith of her one in these couplets[FN#121]:--

She comes like fullest moon on happy night. * Taper of waist with
shape of magic might:
She hath an eye whose glances quell mankind, * And ruby on her
cheeks reflects his light:
Enveils her hips the blackness of her hair; * Beware of curls
that bite with viper-bite!
Her sides are silken-soft, that while the heart * Mere rock
behind that surface 'scapes our sight:
From the fringed curtains of her eyne she shoots * Shafts that at
furthest range on mark alight.

Then they returned to Dunyazad and displayed her in the fifth
dress and in the sixth, which was green, when she surpassed with
her loveliness the fair of the four quarters of the world and
outvied, with the brightness of her countenance, the full moon at
rising tide; for she was even as saith of her the poet in these

A damsel 'twas the tirer's art had decked with snare and sleight,
* And robed with rays as though the sun from her had
borrowed light:
She came before us wondrous clad in chemisette of green, * As
veiled by his leafy screen Pomegranate hides from sight:
And when he said, "How callest thou the fashion of thy dress?" *
She answered us in pleasant way with double meaning dight,
We call this garment creve-coeur; and rightly is it hight, * For
many a heart wi' this we brake and harried many a sprite."

Then they displayed Shahrazad in the sixth and seventh dresses
and clad her in youth's clothing, whereupon she came forward
swaying from side to side and coquettishly moving and indeed she
ravished wits and hearts and ensorcelled all eyes with her
glances. She shook her sides and swayed her haunches, then put
her hair on sword-hilt and went up to King Shahriyar, who
embraced her as hospitable host embraceth guest, and threatened
her in her ear with the taking of the sword; and she was even as
saith of her the poet in these words:--

Were not the Murk[FN#123] of gender male, * Than feminines
surpassing fair,
Tirewomen they had grudged the bride, * Who made her beard and
whiskers wear!

Thus also they did with her sister Dunyazad, and when they had
made an end of the display the King bestowed robes of honour on
all who were present and sent the brides to their own apartments.
Then Shahrazad went in to King Shahriyar and Dunyazad to King
Shah Zaman and each of them solaced himself with the company of
his beloved consort and the hearts of the folk were comforted.
When morning morrowed, the Wazir came in to the two Kings and
kissed ground before them; wherefore they thanked him and were
large of bounty to him. Presently they went forth and sat down
upon couches of Kingship, whilst all the Wazirs and Emirs and
Grandees and Lords of the land presented themselves and kissed
ground. King Shahriyar ordered them dresses of honour and
largesse and they prayed for the permanence and prosperity of the
King and his brother. Then the two Sovrans appointed their
sire-in-law the Wazir to be Viceroy in Samarcand and assigned him
five of the Chief Emirs to accompany him, charging them attend
him and do him service. The Minister kissed the ground and prayed
that they might be vouchsafed length of life: then he went in to
his daughters, whilst the Eunuchs and Ushers walked before him,
and saluted them and farewelled them. They kissed his hands and
gave him joy of the Kingship and bestowed on him immense
treasures; after which he took leave of them and setting out,
fared days and nights, till he came near Samarcand, where the
townspeople met him at a distance of three marches and rejoiced
in him with exceeding joy. So he entered the city and they
decorated the houses and it was a notable day. He sat down on the
throne of his kingship and the Wazirs did him homage and the
Grandees and Emirs of Samarcand and all prayed that he might be
vouchsafed justice and victory and length of continuance. So he
bestowed on them robes of honour and entreated them with
distinction and they made him Sultan over them. As soon as his
father-in-law had departed for Samarcand, King Shahriyar summoned
the Grandees of his realm and made them a stupendous banquet of
all manner of delicious meats and exquisite sweetmeats. He also
bestowed on them robes of honour and guerdoned them and divided
the kingdoms between himself and his brother in their presence,
whereat the folk rejoiced. Then the two Kings abode, each ruling
a day in turn, and they were ever in harmony each with other
while on similar wise their wives continued in the love of Allah
Almighty and in thanksgiving to Him; and the peoples and the
provinces were at peace and the preachers prayed for them from
the pulpits, and their report was bruited abroad and the
travellers bore tidings of them to all lands. In due time King
Shahriyar summoned chroniclers and copyists and bade them write
all that had betided him with his wife, first and last; so they
wrote this and named it "The Stories of the Thousand Nights and A
Night." The book came to thirty volumes and these the King laid
up in his treasury. And the two brothers abode with their wives
in all pleasance and solace of life and its delights, for that
indeed Allah the Most High had changed their annoy into joy; and
on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of
delights and the Severer of societies, the Desolator of
dwelling-places and Garnerer of grave-yards, and they were
translated to the ruth of Almighty Allah; their houses fell waste
and their palaces lay in ruins[FN#124] and the Kings inherited
their riches. Then there reigned after them a wise ruler, who was
just, keen-witted and accomplished and loved tales and legends,
especially those which chronicle the doings of Sovrans and
Sultans, and he found in the treasury these marvellous stories
and wondrous histories, contained in the thirty volumes
aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a
third and so on to the last of them, and each book astounded and
delighted him more than that which preceded it, till he came to
the end of them. Then he admired whatso he had read therein of
description and discourse and rare traits and anecdotes and moral
instances and reminiscences and bade the folk copy them and
dispread them over all lands and climes; wherefore their report
was bruited abroad and the people named them "The marvels and
wonders of the Thousand Nights and A Night." This is all that
hath come down to us of the origin of this book, and Allah is
All-knowing.[FN#125] So Glory be to Him whom the shifts of Time
waste not away, nor doth aught of chance or change affect His
sway: whom one case diverteth not from other case and Who is sole
in the attributes of perfect grace. And prayer and peace be upon
the Lord's Pontiff and Chosen One among His creatures, our lord
MOHAMMED the Prince of mankind through whom we supplicate Him for
a goodly and a godly


Terminal Essay


The reader who has reached this terminal stage will hardly require
my assurance that he has seen the mediaeval Arab at his best and,
perhaps, at his worst. In glancing over the myriad pictures of this
panorama, those who can discern the soul of goodness in things evil
will note the true nobility of the Moslem's mind in the Moyen Age,
and the cleanliness of his life from cradle to grave. As a child he
is devoted to his parents, fond of his comrades and respectful to
his "pastors and masters," even schoolmasters. As a lad he prepares
for manhood with a will and this training occupies him throughout
youthtide: he is a gentleman in manners without awkwardness, vulgar
astonishment or mauvaise-honte. As a man he is high-spirited and
energetic, always ready to fight for his Sultan, his country and,
especially, his Faith: courteous and affable, rarely failing in
temperance of mind and self-respect, self-control and self-command:
hospitable to the stranger, attached to his fellow citizens,
submissive to superiors and kindly to inferiors--if such classes
exist: Eastern despotisms have arrived nearer the idea of equality
and fraternity than any republic yet invented. As a friend he
proves a model to the Damons and Pythiases: as a lover an exemplar
to Don Quijote without the noble old Caballero's touch of
eccentricity. As a knight he is the mirror of chivalry, doing
battle for the weak and debelling the strong, while ever "defending
the honour of women." As a husband his patriarchal position causes
him to be loved and fondly loved by more than one wife: as a father
affection for his children rules his life: he is domestic in the
highest degree and he finds few pleasures beyond the bosom of his
family. Lastly, his death is simple, pathetic end edifying as the
life which led to it.

Considered in a higher phase, the mediaeval Moslem mind displays,
like the ancient Egyptian, a most exalted moral idea, the deepest
reverence for all things connected with his religion and a sublime
conception of the Unity and Omnipotence of the Deity. Noteworthy
too is a proud resignation to the decrees of Fate and Fortune (Kaza
wa Kadar), of Destiny and Predestination--a feature which ennobles
the low aspect of Al-Islam even in these her days of comparative
degeneration and local decay. Hence his moderation in prosperity,
his fortitude in adversity, his dignity, his perfect self-dominance
and, lastly, his lofty quietism which sounds the true heroic ring.
This again is softened and tempered by a simple faith in the
supremacy of Love over Fear, an unbounded humanity and charity for
the poor and helpless: an unconditional forgiveness of the direst
injuries ("which is the note of the noble"); a generosity and
liberality which at times seem impossible and an enthusiasm for
universal benevolence and beneficence which, exalting kindly deeds
done to man above every form of holiness, constitute the root and
base of Oriental, nay, of all, courtesy. And the whole is crowned
by pure trust and natural confidence in the progress and
perfectability of human nature, which he exalts instead of
degrading; this he holds to be the foundation stone of society and
indeed the very purpose of its existence. His Pessimism resembles
far more the optimism which the so-called Books of Moses borrowed
from the Ancient Copt than the mournful and melancholy creed of the
true Pessimist, as Solomon the Hebrew, the Indian Buddhist and the
esoteric European imitators of Buddhism. He cannot but sigh when
contemplating the sin and sorrow, the pathos and bathos of the
world; and feel the pity of it, with its shifts and changes ending
in nothingness, its scanty happiness and its copious misery. But
his melancholy is expressed in--

"A voice divinely sweet, a voice no less
Divinely sad."

Nor does he mourn as they mourn who have no hope: he has an
absolute conviction in future compensation; and, meanwhile, his
lively poetic impulse, the poetry of ideas, not of formal verse,
and his radiant innate idealism breathe a soul into the merest
matter of squalid work-a-day life and awaken the sweetest harmonies
of Nature epitomised in Humanity.

Such was the Moslem at a time when "the dark clouds of ignorance
and superstition hung so thick on the intellectual horizon of
Europe as to exclude every ray of learning that darted from the
East and when all that was polite or elegant in literature was
classed among the Studia Arabum"[FN#126]
Nor is the shady side of the picture less notable. Our Arab at his
worst is a mere barbarian who has not forgotten the savage. He is
a model mixture of childishness and astuteness, of simplicity and
cunning, concealing levity of mind under solemnity of aspect. His
stolid instinctive conservatism grovels before the tyrant rule of
routine, despite that turbulent and licentious independence which
ever suggests revolt against the ruler: his mental torpidity,
founded upon physical indolence, renders immediate action and all
manner of exertion distasteful: his conscious weakness shows itself
in overweening arrogance and intolerance. His crass and self-
satisfied ignorance makes him glorify the most ignoble
superstitions, while acts of revolting savagery are the natural
results of a malignant fanaticism and a furious hatred of every
creed beyond the pale of Al-Islam.

It must be confessed that these contrasts make a curious and
interesting tout ensemble.

Section I

A.--The Birth place.

Here occur the questions, Where and When was written and to Whom do
we owe a prose-poem which, like the dramatic epos of Herodotus, has
no equal?

I proceed to lay before the reader a proces-verbal of the sundry
pleadings already in court as concisely as is compatible with
intelligibility, furnishing him with references to original
authorities and warning him that a fully-detailed account would
fill a volume. Even my own reasons for decidedly taking one side
and rejecting the other must be stated briefly. And before entering
upon this subject I would distribute the prose-matter of our
Recueil of Folk-lore under three heads

1. The Apologue or Beast-fable proper, a theme which may be of any
age, as it is found in the hieroglyphs and in the cuneiforms.

2. The Fairy-tale, as for brevity we may term the stories based
upon supernatural agency: this was a favourite with olden Persia;
and Mohammed, most austere and puritanical of the "Prophets,"
strongly objected to it because preferred by the more sensible of
his converts to the dry legends of the Talmud and the Koran, quite
as fabulous without the halo and glamour of fancy.

3. The Histories and historical anecdotes, analects, and acroamata,
in which the names, when not used achronistically by the editor or
copier, give unerring data for the earliest date a quo and which,
by the mode of treatment, suggest the latest.

Each of these constituents will require further notice when the
subject-matter of the book is discussed. The metrical portion of
The Nights may also be divided into three categories, viz.:--

1. The oldest and classical poetry of the Arabs, e.g. the various
quotations from the "Suspended Poems."

2. The mediaeval, beginning with the laureates of Al-Rashid's
court, such as Al-Asma'i and Abu Nowas, and ending with Al-Hariri
A.H. 446-516 = 1030-1100.

3. The modern quotations and the pieces de circonstance by the
editors or copyists of the Compilation.[FN#127]

Upon the metrical portion also further notices must be offered at
the end of this Essay.

In considering the uncle derivatur of The Nights we must carefully
separate subject-matter from language-manner. The neglect of such
essential difference has caused the remark, "It is not a little
curious that the origin of a work which has been known to Europe
and has been studied by many during nearly two centuries, should
still be so mysterious, and that students have failed in all
attempts to detect the secret." Hence also the chief authorities at
once branched off into two directions. One held the work to be
practically Persian: the other as persistently declared it to be
purely Arab.

Professor Galland, in his Epistle Dedicatory to the Marquise d'O,
daughter of his patron M. de Guillerague, showed his literary
acumen and unfailing sagacity by deriving The Nights from India via
Persia; and held that they had been reduced to their present shape
by an Auteur Arabe inconnu. This reference to India, also learnedly
advocated by M. Langles, was inevitable in those days: it had not
then been proved that India owed all her literature to far older
civilisations and even that her alphabet the Nagari, erroneously
called Devanagari, was derived through Phoenicia and Himyar-land
from Ancient Egypt. So Europe was contented to compare The Nights
with the Fables of Pilpay for upwards of a century. At last the
Pehlevi or old Iranian origin of the work found an able and
strenuous advocate in Baron von Hammer-Purgstall [FN#128] who
worthily continued what Galland had begun: although a most inexact
writer, he was extensively read in Oriental history and poetry. His
contention was that the book is an Arabisation of the Persian Hazar
Afsanah or Thousand Tales and he proved his point.

Von Hammer began by summoning into Court the "Herodotus of the
Arabs, (Ali Abu al-Hasan) Al-Mas'udi who, in A.H. 333 (=944) about
one generation before the founding of Cairo, published at Bassorah
the first edition of his far-famed Muruj al-Dahab wa Ma'adin al-
Jauhar, Meads of Gold and Mines of Gems. The Styrian
Orientalist[FN#129] quotes with sundry misprints[FN#130] an ampler
version of a passage in Chapter lxviii., which is abbreviated in
the French translation of M. C. Barbier de Meynard.[FN#131]

"And, indeed, many men well acquainted with their (Arab)
histories[FN#132] opine that the stories above mentioned and other
trifles were strung together by men who commended themselves to the
Kings by relating them, and who found favour with their
contemporaries by committing them to memory and by reciting them.
Of such fashion[FN#133] is the fashion of the books which have come
down to us translated from the Persian (Farasiyah), the Indian
(Hindiyah),[FN#134] and the Graeco-Roman (Rumiyah)[FN#135]: we have
noted the judgment which should be passed upon compositions of this
nature. Such is the book entituled Hazar Afsanah or The Thousand
Tales, which word in Arabic signifies Khurafah (Facetioe): it is
known to the public under the name of '[he Boot of a Thousand
Nights and a Night, (Kitab Alf Laylah wa Laylah).[FN#136] This is
an history of a King and his Wazir, the minister's daughter and a
slave-girl (jariyah) who are named Shirzad (lion-born) and Dinar-
zad (ducat-born).[FN#137] Such also is the Tale of Farzah,[FN#138]
(alii Firza), and Simas, containing details concerning the Kings
and Wazirs of Hind: the Book of Al-Sindibad[FN#139] and others of
a similar stamp."

Von Hammer adds, quoting chaps. cxvi. of Al-Mas'udi that Al-Mansur
(second Abbaside A.H. 136-158 = 754-775, and grandfather of Al-
Rashid) caused many translations of Greek and Latin, Syriac and
Persian (Pehlevi) works to be made into Arabic, specifying the
"Kalilah wa Damnah,"[FN#140] the Fables of Bidpai (Pilpay), the
Logic of Aristotle, the Geography of Ptolemy and the Elements of
Euclid. Hence he concludes "L'original des Mille et une Nuits * *
* selon toute vraisemblance, a ete traduit au temps du Khalife
Mansur, c'est-a-dire trente ans avant le regne du Khalife Haroun
al-Raschid, qui, par la suite, devait lui-meme jouer un si grand
role dans ces histoires." He also notes that, about a century after
Al-Mas'udi had mentioned the Hazar Afsanah, it was versified and
probably remodelled by one "Rasti," the Takhallus or nom de plume
of a bard at the Court of Mahmud, the Ghaznevite Sultan who, after
a reign of thirty-three years, ob. A.D. 1030.[FN#141]

Von Hammer some twelve years afterwards (Journ. Asiat August, 1839)
brought forward, in his "Note sur l'origine Persane des Mille et
une Nuits," a second and an even more important witness: this was
the famous Kitab al-Fihrist,[FN#142] or Index List of (Arabic)
works, written (in A.H. 387 = 987) by Mohammed bin Is'hak al-Nadim
(cup-companion or equerry), "popularly known as Ebou Yacoub el-
Werrek."[FN#143] The following is an extract (p. 304) from the
Eighth Discourse which consists of three arts (funun).[FN#144] "The
first section on the history of the confabulatores nocturni
(tellers of night tales) and the relaters of fanciful adventures,
together with the names of books treating upon such subjects.
Mohammed ibn Is'hak saith: The first who indited themes of
imagination and made books of them, consigning these works to the
libraries, and who ordered some of them as though related by the
tongues of brute beasts, were the palaeo-Persians (and the Kings of
the First Dynasty). The Ashkanian Kings of the Third Dynasty
appended others to them and they were augmented and amplified in
the days of the Sassanides (the fourth and last royal house). The
Arabs also translated them into Arabic, and the loquent and
eloquent polished and embellished them and wrote others resembling
them. The first work of such kind was entituled 'The Book of Hazar
Afsan,' signifying Alf Khurafah, the argument whereof was as
follows. A King of their Kings was wont, when he wedded a woman and
had lain one night with her, to slay her on the next morning.
Presently he espoused a damsel of the daughters of the Kings,
Shahrazad[FN#145] hight, one endowed with intellect and erudition
and, whenas she lay with him, she fell to telling him tales of
fancy; moreover she used to connect the story at the end of the
night with that which might induce the King to preserve her alive
and to ask her of its ending on the next night until a thousand
nights had passed over her. Meanwhile he cohabited with her till
she was blest by boon of child of him, when she acquainted him with
the device she had wrought upon him; wherefore he admired her
intelligence and inclined to her and preserved her life. That King
had also a Kahramanah (nurse and duenna, not entremetteuse), hight
Dinarzad (Dunyazad?), who aided the wife in this (artifice). It is
also said that this book was composed for (or, by) Humai daughter
of Bahman[FN#146] and in it were included other matters. Mohammed
bin Is'hak adds: --And the truth is, Inshallah,[FN#147] that the
first who solaced himself with hearing night-tales was Al-Iskandar
(he of Macedon) and he had a number of men who used to relate to
him imaginary stories and provoke him to laughter: he, however,
designed not therein merely to please himself, but that he might
thereby become the more cautious and alert. After him the Kings in
like fashion made use of the book entitled 'Hazar Afsan.' It
containeth a thousand nights, but less than two hundred night-
stories, for a single history often occupied several nights. I have
seen it complete sundry times; and it is, in truth, a corrupted
book of cold tales."[FN#148]

A writer in The Athenoeum,[FN#149] objecting to Lane's modern date
for The Nights, adduces evidence to prove the greater antiquity of
the work. (Abu al-Hasan) Ibn Sa'id (bin Musa al-Gharnati = of
Granada) born in A.H. 615 = 1218 and ob. Tunis A.H. 685 = 1286,
left his native city and arrived at Cairo in A.H. 639 = 1241. This
Spanish poet and historian wrote Al-Muhalla bi al-Ash'ar (The
Adorned with Verses), a Topography of Egypt and Africa, which is
apparently now lost. In this he quotes from Al-Kurtubi, the
Cordovan;[FN#150] and he in his turn is quoted by the Arab
historian of Spain, Abu al-Abbas Ahmad bin Mohammed al Makkari, in
the "Windwafts of Perfume from the Branches of Andalusia the
Blooming"[FN#151] (A.D. 1628-29). Mr. Payne (x. 301) thus
translates from Dr. Dozy's published text.

"Ibn Said (may God have mercy upon him!) sets forth in his book, El
Muhella bi-s-Shaar, quoting from El Curtubi the story of the
building of the Houdej in the Garden of Cairo, the which was of the
magnificent pleasaunces of the Fatimite Khalifs, the rare of
ordinance and surpassing, to wit that the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam-
illah[FN#152] let build it for a Bedouin woman, the love of whom
had gotten the mastery of him, in the neighbourhood of the 'Chosen
Garden'[FN#153] and used to resort often thereto and was slain as
he went thither; and it ceased not to be a pleasuring-place for the
Khalifs after him. The folk abound in stories of the Bedouin girl
and Ibn Meyyah[FN#154] of the sons of her uncle (cousin?) and what
hangs thereby of the mention of El-Aamir, so that the tales told of
them on this account became like unto the story of El
Bettal[FN#155] and the Thousand Nights and a Night and what
resembleth them."

The same passage from Ibn Sa'id, corresponding in three MSS.,
occurs in the famous Khitat[FN#156] attributed to Al-Makrizi (ob.
A.D. 1444) and was thus translated from a MS. in the British Museum
by Mr. John Payne (ix. 303)

"The Khalif El-Aamir bi-ahkam-illah set apart, in the neighbourhood
of the Chosen Garden, a place for his beloved the Bedouin maid
(Aaliyah)[FN#157] which he named El Houdej. Quoth Ibn Said, in the
book El-Muhella bi-l-ashar, from the History of El Curtubi,
concerning the traditions of the folk of the story of the Bedouin
maid and Ibn Menah (Meyyah) of the sons of her uncle and what hangs
thereby of the mention of the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam-illah, so
that their traditions (or tales) upon the garden became like unto
El Bettal[FN#158] and the Thousand Nights and what resembleth

This evidently means either that The Nights existed in the days of
Al-'Amir (xiith cent.) or that the author compared them with a work
popular in his own age. Mr. Payne attaches much importance to the
discrepancy of titles, which appears to me a minor detail. The
change of names is easily explained. Amongst the Arabs, as amongst
the wild Irish, there is divinity (the proverb says luck) in odd
numbers and consequently the others are inauspicious. Hence as Sir
Wm. Ouseley says (Travels ii. 21), the number Thousand and One is
a favourite in the East (Olivier, Voyages vi. 385, Paris 1807), and
quotes the Cistern of the "Thousand and One Columns" at
Constantinople. Kaempfer (Amoen, Exot. p. 38) notes of the Takiyahs
or Dervishes' convents and the Mazars or Santons' tombs near Koniah
(Iconium), "Multa seges sepulchralium quae virorum ex omni aevo
doctissimorum exuvias condunt, mille et unum recenset auctor Libri
qui inscribitur Hassaaer we jek mesaar (Hazar ve yek Mezar), i.e.,
mille et unum mausolea." A book, The Hazar o yek Ruz ( = 1001
Days), was composed in the mid-xviith century by the famous
Dervaysh Mukhlis, Chief Sofi of Isfahan: it was translated into
French by Petis de la Croix, with a preface by Cazotte, and was
englished by Ambrose Phillips. Lastly, in India and throughout Asia
where Indian influence extends, the number of cyphers not followed
by a significant number is indefinite: for instance, to determine
hundreds the Hindus affix the required figure to the end and for
100 write 101; for 1000, 1001. But the grand fact of the Hazar
Afsanah is its being the archetype of The Nights, unquestionably
proving that the Arab work borrows from the Persian bodily its
cadre or frame-work, the principal characteristic; its exordium and
its denouement, whilst the two heroines still bear the old Persic

Baron Silvestre de Sacy[FN#159]--clarum et venerabile nomen--is the
chief authority for the Arab provenance of The Nights. Apparently
founding his observations upon Galland,[FN#160] he is of opinion
that the work, as now known, was originally composed in
Syria[FN#161] and written in the vulgar dialect; that it was never
completed by the author, whether he was prevented by death or by
other cause; and that imitators endeavoured to finish the work by
inserting romances which were already known but which formed no
part of the original recueil, such as the Travels of Sindbad the
Seaman, the Book of the Seven Wazirs and others. He accepts the
Persian scheme and cadre of the work, but no more. He contends that
no considerable body of prae-Mohammedan or non-Arabic fiction
appears in the actual texts[FN#162]; and that all the tales, even
those dealing with events localised in Persia, India, China and
other infidel lands and dated from ante-islamitic ages mostly with
the naivest anachronism, confine themselves to depicting the
people, manners and customs of Baghdad and Mosul, Damascus and
Cairo, during the Abbaside epoch, and he makes a point of the whole
being impregnated with the strongest and most zealous spirit of
Mohammedanism. He points out that the language is the popular or
vulgar dialect, differing widely from the classical and literary;
that it contains many words in common modern use and that generally
it suggests the decadence of Arabian literature. Of one tale he
remarks:--The History of the loves of Camaralzaman and Budour,
Princess of China, is no more Indian or Persian than the others.
The prince's father has Moslems for subjects, his mother is named
Fatimah and when imprisoned he solaces himself with reading the
Koran. The Genii who interpose in these adventures are, again,
those who had dealings with Solomon. In fine, all that we here find
of the City of the Magians, as well as of the fire-worshippers,
suffices to show that one should not expect to discover in it
anything save the production of a Moslem writer.

All this, with due deference to so high an authority, is very
superficial. Granted, which nobody denies, that the archetypal
Hazar Afsanah was translated from Persic into Arabic nearly a
thousand years ago, it had ample time and verge enough to assume
another and a foreign dress, the corpus however remaining
untouched. Under the hands of a host of editors, scribes and
copyists, who have no scruples anent changing words, names and
dates, abridging descriptions and attaching their own decorations,
the florid and rhetorical Persian would readily be converted into
the straight-forward, business-like, matter of fact Arabic. And
what easier than to islamise the old Zoroasterism, to transform
Ahriman into Iblis the Shaytan, Jan bin Jan into Father Adam, and
the Divs and Peris of Kayomars and the olden Guebre Kings into the
Jinns and Jinniyahs of Sulayman? Volumes are spoken by the fact
that the Arab adapter did not venture to change the Persic names of
the two heroines and of the royal brothers or to transfer the mise-
en-scene any whither from Khorasan or outer Persia. Where the story
has not been too much worked by the literato's pen, for instance
the "Ten Wazirs" (in the Bresl. Edit. vi. I9I-343) which is the
Guebre Bakhtiyar-namah, the names and incidents are old Iranian and
with few exceptions distinctly Persian. And at times we can detect
the process of transition, e.g. when the Mazin of Khorasan[FN#163]
of the Wortley Montagu MS. becomes the Hasan of Bassorah of the
Turner Macan MS. (Mac. Edit.).

Evidently the learned Baron had not studied such works as the Tota-
kahani or Parrot-chat which, notably translated by Nakhshabi from
the Sanskrit Suka-Saptati,[FN#164] has now become as orthodoxically
Moslem as The Nights. The old Hindu Rajah becomes Ahmad Sultan of
Balkh, the Prince is Maymun and his wife Khujisteh. Another
instance of such radical change is the later Syriac version of
Kaliliah wa Dimnah,[FN#165] old "Pilpay" converted to Christianity.
We find precisely the same process in European folk-lore; for
instance the Gesta Romanorum in which, after five hundred years,
the life, manners and customs of the Romans lapse into the knightly
and chivalrous, the Christian and ecclesiastical developments of
mediaeval Europe. Here, therefore, I hold that the Austrian Arabist
has proved his point whilst the Frenchman has failed.

Mr. Lane, during his three years' labour of translation, first
accepted Von Hammer's view and then came round to that of De Sacy;
differing, however, in minor details, especially in the native
country of The Nights. Syria had been chosen because then the most
familiar to Europeans: the "Wife of Bath" had made three
pilgrimages to Jerusalem; but few cared to visit the barbarous and
dangerous Nile-Valley. Mr. Lane, however, was an enthusiast for
Egypt or rather for Cairo, the only part of it he knew; and, when
he pronounces The Nights to be of purely "Arab," that is, of
Nilotic origin, his opinion is entitled to no more deference than
his deriving the sub-African and negroid Fellah from Arabia, the
land per excellentiam of pure and noble blood. Other authors have
wandered still further afield. Some finding Mosul idioms in the
Recueil, propose "Middlegates" for its birth-place and Mr. W. G. P.
Palgrave boldly says "The original of this entertaining work
appears to have been composed in Baghdad about the eleventh
century; another less popular but very spirited version is probably
of Tunisian authorship and somewhat later."[FN#166]

B.--The Date.

The next point to consider is the date of The Nights in its present
form; and here opinions range between the tenth and the sixteenth
centuries. Professor Galland began by placing it arbitrarily in the
middle of the thirteenth. De Sacy, who abstained from detailing
reasons and who, forgetting the number of editors and scribes
through whose hands it must have passed, argued only from the
nature of the language and the peculiarities of style, proposed le
milieu du neuvieme siecle de l'hegire ( = A.D. 1445-6) as its
latest date. Mr. Hole, who knew The Nights only through Galland's
version, had already advocated in his "Remarks" the close of the
fifteenth century; and M. Caussin (de Perceval), upon the authority
of a supposed note in Galland's MS.[FN#167] (vol. iii. fol. 20,
verso), declares the compiler to have been living in A.D. 1548 and
1565. Mr. Lane says "Not begun earlier than the last fourth of the
fifteenth century nor ended before the first fourth of the
sixteenth," i.e. soon after Egypt was conquered by Selim, Sultan of
the Osmanli Turks in A.D. 1517. Lastly the learned Dr. Weil says in
his far too scanty Vorwort (p. ix. 2nd Edit.):-"Das
wahrscheinlichste duerfte also sein, das im 15. Jahrhundert ein
Egyptier nach altern Vorbilde Erzaehlungen fuer 1001 Naechte theils
erdichtete, theils nach muendlichen Sagen, oder fruehern
schriftlichen Aufzeichnungen, bearbeitete, dass er aber entweder
sein Werk nicht vollendete, oder dass ein Theil desselben verloren
ging, so dass das Fehlende von Andern bis ins 16. Jahrhundert
hinein durch neue Erzaehlungen ergaenzt wurde."

But, as justly observed by Mr. Payne, the first step when enquiring
into the original date of The Nights is to determine the nucleus of
the Repertory by a comparison of the four printed texts and the
dozen MSS. which have been collated by scholars.[FN#168] This
process makes it evident that the tales common to all are the
following thirteen:--

1. The Introduction (with a single incidental story "The Bull and
the Ass").
2. The Trader and the Jinni (with three incidentals).
3. The Fisherman and the Jinni (with four).
4. The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad (with six).
5. The Tale of the Three Apples.
6. The Tale of Nur-al-Din Ali and his son Badr al-Din Hasan.
7. The Hunchback's Tale (with eleven incidentals).
8. Nur al-Din and Anis al-Jalis.
9. Tale of Ghanim bin 'Ayyub (with two incidentals).
10. Ali bin Bakkar and Shams al-Nahar (with two).
11. Tale of Kamar al-Zaman.
12. The Ebony Horse; and
13. Julnar the Seaborn.

These forty-two tales, occupying one hundred and twenty Nights,
form less than a fifth part of the whole collection which in the
Mac. Edit.[FN#169] contains a total of two hundred and sixty-four
Hence Dr. Patrick Russell,[FN#170] the Natural Historian of
Aleppo,[FN#171] whose valuable monograph amply deserves study even
in this our day, believed that the original Nights did not
outnumber two hundred, to which subsequent writers added till the
total of a thousand and one was made up. Dr. Jonathan
Scott,[FN#172] who quotes Russell, "held it highly probable that
the tales of the original Arabian Nights did not run through more
than two hundred and eighty Nights, if so many." So this suggestion
I may subjoin, "habent sue fate libelli." Galland, who preserves in
his Mille et une Nuits only about one fourth of The Nights, ends
them in No. cclxiv[FN#173] with the seventh voyage of Sindbad:
after that he intentionally omits the dialogue between the sisters
and the reckoning of time, to proceed uninterruptedly with the
tales. And so his imitator, Petis de la Croix,[FN#174] in his Mille
et un Jours, reduces the thousand to two hundred and thirty-two.

The internal chronological evidence offered by the Collection is
useful only in enabling us to determine that the tales were not
written after a certain epoch: the actual dates and, consequently,
all deductions from them, are vitiated by the habits of the
scribes. For instance we find the Tale of the Fisherman and the
Jinni (vol. i. 41) placed in A.H. I69 = A.D. 785,[FN#175] which is
hardly possible. The immortal Barber in the "Tailor's Tale" (vol.
i. 304) places his adventure with the unfortunate lover on Safar
10, A.H. 653 ( = March 25th, 1255) and 7,320 years of the era of
Alexander.[FN#176] This is supported in his Tale of Himself (vol.
i. pp. 317-348), where he dates his banishment from Baghdad during
the reign of the penultimate Abbaside, Al-Mustansir bi
'llah[FN#177] (A.H. 623-640 = 1225-1242), and his return to Baghdad
after the accession of another Caliph who can be no other but Al-
Muntasim bi 'llah (A.H. 640-656 = A.D. 1242-1258). Again at the end
of the tale (vol. i. 350) he is described as "an ancient man, past
his ninetieth year" and "a very old man" in the days of Al-
Mustansir (vol. i. 318); SO that the Hunchback's adventure can
hardly be placed earlier than A.D. 1265 or seven years after the
storming of Baghdad by Hulaku Khan, successor of Janghiz Khan, a
terrible catastrophe which resounded throughout the civilised
world. Yet there is no allusion to this crucial epoch and the total
silence suffices to invalidate the date.[FN#178] Could we assume it
as true, by adding to A.D. 1265 half a century for the composition
of the Hunchback's story and its incidentals, we should place the
earliest date in A.D. 1315.

As little can we learn from inferences which have been drawn from
the body of the book: at most they point to its several editions or
redactions. In the Tale of the "Ensorcelled Prince" (vol. i. 77)
Mr. Lane (i. 135) conjectured that the four colours of the fishes
were suggested by the sumptuary laws of the Mameluke Soldan,
Mohammed ibn Kala'un, "subsequently to the commencement of the
eighth century of the Flight, or fourteenth of our era." But he
forgets that the same distinction of dress was enforced by the
Caliph Omar after the capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 636; that it was
revived by Harun al-Rashid, a contemporary of Carolus Magnus and
that it was noticed as a long standing grievance by the so-called
Mandeville in A.D. 1322. In the Tale of the Porter and the Ladies
of Baghdad the "Sultani oranges" (vol. i. 83) have been connected
with Sultaniyah city in Persian Irak, which was founded about the
middle of the thirteenth century: but "Sultani" may simply mean
"royal," a superior growth. The same story makes mention (vol. i.
94) of Kalandars or religious mendicants, a term popularly
corrupted, even in writing, to Karandal.[FN#179] Here again
"Kalandar" may be due only to the scribes as the Bresl. Edit. reads
Sa'aluk = asker, beggar. The Khan al-Masrur in the Nazarene
Broker's story (i. 265) was a ruin during the early ninth century
A.H. = A.D. 1420; but the Bab Zuwaylah (i. 269) dates from A.D.
1087. In the same tale occurs the Darb al-Munkari (or Munakkari)
which is probably the Darb al-Munkadi of Al-Makrizi's careful
topography, the Khitat (ii. 40). Here we learn that in his time
(about A.D. 1430) the name had become obsolete, and the highway was
known as Darb al-Amir Baktamir al-Ustaddar from one of two high
officials who both died in the fourteenth century (circ. A.D.
1350). And lastly we have the Khan al-Jawali built about A.D. 1320.
In Badr al-Din Hasan (vol. i. 237) "Sahib" is given as a Wazirial
title and it dates only from the end of the fourteenth
century.[FN#180] In Sindbad the Seaman, there is an allusion (vol.
vi. 67) to the great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar of the
Narasimha,[FN#181] the great power of the Deccan; but this may be
due to editors or scribes as the despotism was founded only in the
fourteenth century(A.D. 1320). The Ebony Horse (vol. v. 1)
apparently dates before Chaucer; and "The Sleeper and The Waker"
(Bresl. Edit. iv. 134-189) may precede Shakespeare's "Taming of the
Shrew": no stress, however, can be laid upon such resemblances, the
nouvelles being world-wide. But when we come to the last stories,
especially to Kamar al-Zaman II. and the tale of Ma'aruf, we are
apparently in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The first
contains (Night cmlxxvii.) the word Lawandiyah = Levantine, the
mention of a watch = Sa'ah in the next Night[FN#182]; and, further
on (cmlxxvi.), the "Shaykh Al-Islam," an officer invented by
Mohammed II. after the capture of Stambul in A.D. 1453. In Ma'aruf
the 'Adiliyah is named; the mosque founded outside the Bab al-Nasr
by Al-Malik al-'Adil, Tuman Bey in A.H. 906 = A.D. 1501. But, I
repeat, all these names may be mere interpolations.

On the other hand, a study of the vie intime in Al-Islam and of the
manners and customs of the people proves that the body of the work,
as it now stands, must have been written before A.D. 1400. The
Arabs use wines, ciders and barley-beer, not distilled spirits;
they have no coffee or tobacco and, while familiar with small-pox
(judri), they ignore syphilis. The battles in The Nights are fought
with bows and javelins, swords, spears (for infantry) and lances
(for cavalry); and, whenever fire-arms are mentioned, we must
suspect the scribe. Such is the case with the Madfa' or cannon by
means of which Badr Al-Din Hasan breaches the bulwarks of the Lady
of Beauty's virginity (i. 223). This consideration would determine
the work to have been written before the fourteenth century. We
ignore the invention-date and the inventor of gunpowder, as of all
old discoveries which have affected mankind at large: all we know
is that the popular ideas betray great ignorance and we are led to
suspect that an explosive compound, having been discovered in the
earliest ages of human society, was utilised by steps so gradual
that history has neglected to trace the series. According to
Demmin[FN#183], bullets for stuffing with some incendiary
composition, in fact bombs, were discovered by Dr. Keller in the
Palafites or Crannogs of Switzerland; and the Hindu's Agni-Astar
("fire-weapon"), Agni-ban ("fire-arrow") and Shatagni ("hundred-
killer"), like the Roman Phalarica, and the Greek fire of
Byzantium, suggest explosives. Indeed, Dr. Oppert[FN#184] accepts
the statement of Flavius Philostratus that when Appolonius of
Tyana, that grand semi-mythical figure, was travelling in India, he
learned the reason why Alexander of Macedon desisted from attacking
the Oxydracae who live between the Ganges and the Hyphasis (Satadru
or Sutledge):- "These holy men, beloved by the gods, overthrow
their enemies with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their
walls." Passing over the Arab sieges of Constantinople (A.D. 668)
and Meccah (A.D. 690) and the disputed passage in Firishtah
touching the Tufang or musket during the reign of Mahmud the
Ghaznevite[FN#185] (ob. A.D. 1030), we come to the days of Alphonso
the Valiant, whose long and short guns, used at the Siege of Madrid
in A.D. 1084, are preserved in the Armeria Real. Viardot has noted
that the African Arabs first employed cannon in A.D. 1200, and that
the Maghribis defended Algeciras near Gibraltar with great guns in
A. D. 1247, and utilised them to besiege Seville in A.D. 1342. This
last feat of arms introduced the cannon into barbarous Northern
Europe, and it must have been known to civilised Asia for many a
decade before that date.

The mention of wine in The Nights, especially the Nabiz or
fermented infusion of raisins well known to the prae-Mohammeden
Badawis, perpetually recurs. As a rule, except only in the case of
holy personages and mostly of the Caliph Al-Rashid, the "service of
wine" appears immediately after the hands are washed; and women, as
well as men, drink, like true Orientals, for the honest purpose of
getting drunk-la recherche de l'ideal, as the process has been
called. Yet distillation became well known in the fourteenth
century. Amongst the Greeks and Romans it was confined to
manufacturing aromatic waters, and Nicander the poet (B.C. 140)
used for a still the term , like the Irish "pot" and its
produce "poteen." The simple art of converting salt water into
fresh, by boiling the former and passing the steam through a cooled
pipe into a recipient, would not have escaped the students of the
Philosopher's "stone;" and thus we find throughout Europe the
Arabic modifications of Greek terms Alchemy, Alembic (Al- ),
Chemistry and Elixir; while "Alcohol" (Al-Kohl), originally meaning
"extreme tenuity or impalpable state of pulverulent substances,"
clearly shows the origin of the article. Avicenna, who died in A.H.
428 = 1036, nearly two hundred years before we read of distillation
in Europe, compared the human body with an alembic, the belly being
the cucurbit and the head the capital:-he forgot one important
difference but n'importe. Spirits of wine were first noticed in the
xiiith century, when the Arabs had overrun the Western
Mediterranean, by Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who dubs the new
invention a universal panacea; and his pupil, Raymond Lully (nat.
Majorca A.D. 1236), declared this essence of wine to be a boon from
the Deity. Now The Nights, even in the latest adjuncts, never
allude to the "white coffee" of the "respectable" Moslem, the Raki
(raisin-brandy) or Ma-hayat (aqua-vitae) of the modern Mohametan:
the drinkers confine themselves to wine like our contemporary
Dalmatians, one of the healthiest and the most vigorous of
seafaring races in Europe.

Syphilis also, which at the end of the xvth century began to infect
Europe, is ignored by The Nights. I do not say it actually began:
diseases do not begin except with the dawn of humanity; and their
history, as far as we know, is simple enough. They are at first
sporadic and comparatively non-lethal: at certain epochs which we
can determine, and for reasons which as yet we cannot, they break
out into epidemics raging with frightful violence: they then
subside into the endemic state and lastly they return to the milder
sporadic form. For instance, "English cholera" was known of old: in
1831 (Oct. 26) the Asiatic type took its place and now, after
sundry violent epidemics, the disease is becoming endemic on the
Northern seaboard of the Mediterranean, notably in Spain and Italy.
So small-pox (Al-judri, vol. i. 256) passed over from Central
Africa to Arabia in the year of Mohammed's birth (A.D. 570) and
thence overspread the civilised world, as an epidemic, an endemic
and a sporadic successively. The "Greater Pox" has appeared in
human bones of pre historic graves and Moses seems to mention
gonorrhoea (Levit. xv. 12). Passing over allusions in Juvenal and
Martial,[FN#186] we find Eusebius relating that Galerius died (A.D.
302) of ulcers on the genitals and other parts of his body; and,
about a century afterwards, Bishop Palladius records that one Hero,
after conversation with a prostitute, fell a victim to an abscess
on the penis (phagedaenic shanker?). In 1347 the famous Joanna of
Naples founded (aet. 23), in her town of Avignon, a bordel whose in-
mates were to be medically inspected a measure to which England
(proh pudor!) still objects. In her Statuts du Lieu-
publiqued'Avignon, No. iv. she expressly mentions the Malvengut de
paillardise. Such houses, says Ricord who studied the subject since
1832, were common in France after A.D. 1200; and sporadic venereals
were known there. But in A.D. 1493-94 an epidemic broke out with
alarming intensity at Barcelona, as we learn from the "Tractado
llamado fructo de todos los Sanctos contra el mal serpentino,
venido de la Isla espanola," of Rodrigo Ruiz Dias, the specialist.
In Santo Domingo the disease was common under the names Hipas,
Guaynaras and Taynastizas: hence the opinion in Europe that it
arose from the mixture of European and "Indian" blood.[FN#187] Some
attributed it to the Gypsies who migrated to Western Europe in the
xvth century:[FN#188] others to the Moriscos expelled from Spain.
But the pest got its popular name after the violent outbreak at
Naples in A.D. 1493-4, when Charles VIII. of Anjou with a large
army of mercenaries, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Germans, attacked
Ferdinand II. Thence it became known as the Mal de Naples and
Morbus Gallicus-una gallica being still the popular term in neo
Latin lands-and the "French disease" in England. As early as July
1496 Marin Sanuto (Journal i. 171) describes with details the "Mal
Franzoso." The scientific "syphilis" dates from Fracastori's poem
(A.D. 1521) in which Syphilus the Shepherd is struck like Job, for
abusing the sun. After crippling a Pope (Sixtus IV.[FN#189]) and
killing a King (Francis I.) the Grosse Verole began to abate its
violence, under the effects of mercury it is said; and became
endemic, a stage still shown at Scherlievo near Fiume, where legend
says it was implanted by the Napoleonic soldiery. The Aleppo and
other "buttons" also belong apparently to the same grade. Elsewhere
it settled as a sporadic and now it appears to be dying out while
gonorrhoea is on the increase.[FN#190]

The Nights, I have said, belongs to the days before coffee (A.D.
1550) and tobacco (A.D. 1650) had overspread the East. The former,
which derives its name from the Kafa or Kaffa province, lying south
of Abyssinia proper and peopled by the Sidama Gallas, was
introduced to Mokha of Al-Yaman in A.D. 1429-30 by the Shaykh al-
Shazili who lies buried there, and found a congenial name in the
Arabic Kahwah=old wine.[FN#191] In The Nights (Mac. Edit.) it is
mentioned twelve times[FN#192]; but never in the earlier tales:
except in the case of Kamar al-Zaman II. it evidently does not
belong to the epoch and we may fairly suspect the scribe. In the
xvith century coffee began to take the place of wine in the nearer
East; and it gradually ousted the classical drink from daily life
and from folk-tales.

It is the same with tobacco, which is mentioned only once by The
Nights (cmxxxi.), in conjunction with meat, vegetables and fruit
and where it is called "Tabah." Lane (iii. 615) holds it to be the
work of a copyist; but in the same tale of Abu Kir and Abu Sir,
sherbet and coffee appear to have become en vogue, in fact to have
gained the ground they now hold. The result of Lord Macartney's
Mission to China was a suggestion that smoking might have
originated spontaneously in the Old World.[FN#193] This is un-
doubtedly true. The Bushmen and other wild tribes of Southern
Africa threw their Dakha (cannabis indica) on the fire and sat
round it inhaling the intoxicating fumes. Smoking without tobacco
was easy enough. The North American Indians of the Great Red Pipe
Stone Quarry and those who lived above the line where nicotiana
grew, used the kinni-kinik or bark of the red willow and some seven
other succedanea.[FN#194] But tobacco proper, which soon superseded
all materials except hemp and opium, was first adopted by the
Spaniards of Santo Domingo in A.D. 1496 and reached England in
1565. Hence the word, which, amongst the so-called Red Men, denoted
the pipe, the container, not the contained, spread over the Old
World as a generic term with additions, like ''Tutun,''[FN#195] for
special varieties. The change in English manners brought about by
the cigar after dinner has already been noticed; and much of the
modified sobriety of the present day may be attributed to the
influence of the Holy Herb en cigarette. Such, we know from history
was its effect amongst Moslems; and the normal wine-parties of The
Nights suggest that the pipe was unknown even when the latest tales
were written.


We know absolutely nothing of the author or authors who produced
our marvellous Recueil. Galland justly observes (Epist. Dedic.),
"probably this great work is not by a single hand; for how can we
suppose that one man alone could own a fancy fertile enough to
invent so many ingenious fictions?" Mr. Lane, and Mr. Lane alone,
opined that the work was written in Egypt by one person or at most
by two, one ending what the other had begun, and that he or they
had re-written the tales and completed the collection by new matter
composed or arranged for the purpose. It is hard to see how the
distinguished Arabist came to such a conclusion: at most it can be
true only of the editors and scribes of MSS. evidently copied from
each other, such as the Mac. and the Bul. texts. As the Reviewer
(Forbes Falconer?) in the "Asiatic Journal" (vol. xxx., 1839) says,
"Every step we have taken in the collation of these agreeable
fictions has confirmed us in the belief that the work called the
Arabian Nights is rather a vehicle for stories, partly fixed and
partly arbitrary, than a collection fairly deserving, from its
constant identity with itself, the name of a distinct work, and the
reputation of having wholly emanated from the same inventive mind.
To say nothing of the improbability of supposing that one
individual, with every license to build upon the foundation of
popular stories, a work which had once received a definite form
from a single writer, would have been multiplied by the copyist
with some regard at least to his arrangement of words as well as
matter. But the various copies we have seen bear about as much
mutual resemblance as if they had passed through the famous process
recommended for disguising a plagiarism: 'Translate your English
author into French and again into English'."

Moreover, the style of the several Tales, which will be considered
in a future page (Section iii.), so far from being homogeneous is
heterogeneous in the extreme. Different nationalities show them
selves; West Africa, Egypt and Syria are all represented and, while
some authors are intimately familiar with Baghdad, Damascus and
Cairo, others are equally ignorant. All copies, written and
printed, absolutely differ in the last tales and a measure of the
divergence can be obtained by comparing the Bresl. Edit. with the
Mac. text: indeed it is my conviction that the MSS. preserved in
Europe would add sundry volumes full of tales to those hitherto
translated; and here the Wortley Montagu copy can be taken as a
test. We may, I believe, safely compare the history of The Nights
with the so-called Homeric poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, a
collection of immortal ballads and old Epic formulae and verses
traditionally handed down from rhapsode to rhapsode, incorporated
in a slowly-increasing body of poetry and finally welded together
about the age of Pericles.

To conclude. From the data above given I hold myself justified in
drawing the following deductions:--

1. The framework of the book is purely Persian perfunctorily
arabised; the archetype being the Hazar Afsanah.[FN#196]

2. The oldest tales, such as Sindibad (the Seven Wazirs) and
King Jili'ad, may date from the reign of Al-Mansur, eighth century

3. The thirteen tales mentioned above (p. 78) as the nucleus
of the Repertory, together with "Dalilah the Crafty,"[FN#197] may
be placed in our tenth century.

4. The latest tales, notably Kamar al-Zaman the Second and
Ma'aruf the Cobbler, are as late as the sixteenth century.

5. The work assumed its present form in the thirteenth

6. The author is unknown for the best reason; there never was
one: for information touching the editors and copyists we must
await the fortunate discovery of some MSS.

Section II.

The history of The Nights in Europe is one of slow and gradual
development. The process was begun (1704-17) by Galland, a
Frenchman, continued (1823) by Von Hammer an Austro-German, and
finished by Mr. John Payne (1882-84) an Englishman. But we must
not forget that it is wholly and solely to the genius of the Gaul
that Europe owes "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments" over which
Western childhood and youth have spent so many spelling hours.
Antoine Galland was the first to discover the marvellous fund of
material for the story-teller buried in the Oriental mine; and he
had in a high degree that art of telling a tale which is far more
captivating than culture or scholarship. Hence his delightful
version (or perversion) became one of the world's classics and at
once made Sheherazade and Dinarzarde, Haroun Alraschid, the
Calendars and a host of other personages as familiar to the home
reader as Prospero, Robinson Crusoe, Lemuel Gulliver and Dr.
Primrose. Without the name and fame won for the work by the
brilliant paraphrase of the learned and single-minded Frenchman,
Lane's curious hash and latinized English, at once turgid and
emasculated, would have found few readers. Mr. Payne's admirable
version appeals to the Orientalist and the "stylist," not to the
many-headed; and mine to the anthropologist and student of
Eastern manners and customs. Galland did it and alone he did it:
his fine literary flaire, his pleasing style, his polished taste
and perfect tact at once made his work take high rank in the
republic of letters nor will the immortal fragment ever be
superseded in the infallible judgment of childhood. As the
Encyclopaedia Britannica has been pleased to ignore this excellent
man and admirable Orientalist, numismatologist and litterateur,
the reader may not be unwilling to see a short sketch of his

Antoine Galland was born in A.D. 1646 of peasant parents "poor
and honest" at Rollot, a little bourg in Picardy some two leagues
from Montdidier. He was a seventh child and his mother, left a
widow in early life and compelled to earn her livelihood, saw
scant chance of educating him when the kindly assistance of a
Canon of the Cathedral and President of the College de Noyon
relieved her difficulties. In this establishment Galland studied
Greek and Hebrew for ten years, after which the "strait thing at
home" apprenticed him to a trade. But he was made for letters;
he hated manual labour and he presently removed en cachette to
Paris, where he knew only an ancient kinswoman. She introduced
him to a priestly relative of the Canon of Noyon, who in turn
recommended him to the "Sous-principal" of the College Du
Plessis. Here he made such notable progress in Oriental studies,
that M. Petitpied, a Doctor of the Sorbonne, struck by his
abilities, enabled him to study at the College Royal and
eventually to catalogue the Eastern MSS. in the great
ecclesiastical Society. Thence he passed to the College Mazarin,
where a Professor, M. Godouin, was making an experiment which
might be revived to advantage in our present schools. He
collected a class of boys, aged about four, and proposed to teach
them Latin speedily and easily by making them converse in the
classical language as well as read and write it.[FN#199] Galland,
his assistant, had not time to register success or failure before
he was appointed attache-secretary to M. de Nointel named in 1660
Ambassadeur de France for Constantinople. His special province
was to study the dogmas and doctrines and to obtain official
attestations concerning the articles of the Orthodox (or Greek)
Christianity which had then been a subject of lively discussion
amongst certain Catholics, especially Arnauld (Antoine) and
Claude the Minister, and which even in our day occasionally crops
up amongst "Protestants."[FN#200] Galland, by frequenting the
cafes and listening to the tale-teller, soon mastered Romaic and
grappled with the religious question, under the tuition of a
deposed Patriarch and of sundry Matrans or Metropolitans, whom
the persecutions of the Pashas had driven for refuge to the
Palais de France. M. de Nointel, after settling certain knotty
points in the Capitulations, visited the harbour-towns of the
Levant and the "Holy Places," including Jerusalem, where Galland
copied epigraphs, sketched monuments and collected antiques, such
as the marbles in the Baudelot Gallery of which Pere Dom Bernard
de Montfaucon presently published specimens in his ''Palaeographia
Graeca," etc. (Parisiis, 1708).

In Syria Galland was unable to buy a copy of The Nights: as he
expressly states in his Epistle Dedicatory, il a fallu le faire
venir de Syrie. But he prepared himself for translating it by
studying the manners and customs, the religion and superstitions
of the people; and in 1675, leaving his chief, who was ordered
back to Stambul, he returned to France. In Paris his numismatic
fame recommended him to MM. Vaillant, Carcary and Giraud who
strongly urged a second visit to the Levant, for the purpose of
collecting, and he set out without delay. In 1691 he made a
third journey, travelling at the expense of the Compagnie des
Indes-Orientales, with the main object of making purchases for
the Library and Museum of Colbert the magnificent. The
commission ended eighteen months afterwards with the changes of
the Company, when Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois caused him
to be created "Antiquary to the King," Louis le Grand, and
charged him with collecting coins and medals for the royal
cabinet. As he was about to leave Smyrna, he had a narrow escape
from the earthquake and subsequent fire which destroyed some
fifteen thousand of the inhabitants: he was buried in the ruins;
but, his kitchen being cold as becomes a philosopher's, he was
dug out unburnt.[FN#201]

Galland again returned to Paris where his familiarity with Arabic
and Hebrew, Persian and Turkish recommended him to MM. Thevenot
and Bignon: this first President of the Grand Council
acknowledged his services by a pension. He also became a
favourite with D'Herbelot whose Bibliotheque Orientale, left
unfinished at his death, he had the honour of completing and
prefacing.[FN#202] President Bignon died within the twelvemonth,
which made Galland attach himself in 1697 to M. Foucault,
Councillor of State and Intendant (governor) of Caen in Lower
Normandy, then famous for its academy: in his new patron's fine
library and numismatic collection he found materials for a long
succession of works, including a translation of the
Koran.[FN#203] They recommended him strongly to the literary
world and in 1701 he was made a member of the Academie des
Inscriptions et Belles Lettres.

At Caen Galland issued in 1704,[FN#204] the first part of his
Mille et une Nuits, Contes Arabes traduits en Francois which at
once became famous as "The Arabian Nights' Entertainments."
Mutilated, fragmentary and paraphrastic though the tales were,
the glamour of imagination, the marvel of the miracles and the
gorgeousness and magnificence of the scenery at once secured an
exceptional success; it was a revelation in romance, and the
public recognised that it stood in presence of a monumental
literary work. France was a-fire with delight at a something so
new, so unconventional, so entirely without purpose, religious,
moral or philosophical: the Oriental wanderer in his stately
robes was a startling surprise to the easy-going and utterly
corrupt Europe of the ancien regime with its indecently tight
garments and perfectly loose morals. "Ils produisirent," said
Charles Nodier, a genius in his way, "des le moment de leur
publication, cet effet qui assure aux productions de l'esprit une
vogue populaire, quoiqu'ils appartinssent a une litterature peu
connue en France; et que ce genre de composition admit ou plutot
exigeat des details de moeurs, de caractere, de costume et de
localites absolument etrangers a toutes les idees etablies dans
nos contes et nos romans. On fut etonne du charme que resultait
du leur lecture. C'est que la verite des sentimens, la nouveaute
des tableaux, une imagination feconde en prodiges, un coloris
plein de chaleur, l'attrait d'une sensibilite sans pretention, et
le sel d'un comique sans caricature, c'est que l'esprit et le
naturel enfin plaisent partout, et plaisent a tout le

The Contes Arabes at once made Galland's name and a popular tale
is told of them and him known to all reviewers who, however,
mostly mangle it. In the Biographie Universelle of
Michaud[FN#206] we find:--Dans les deux premiers volumes de ces
contes l'exorde etait toujours, "Ma chere soeur, si vous ne dormez
pas, faites-nous un de ces contes que vous savez." Quelques
jeunes gens, ennuyes de cette plate uniformite, allerent une nuit
qu'il faisait tres-grand froid, frapper a la porte de l'auteur,
qui courut en chemise a sa fenetre. Apres l'avoir fait morfondre
quelque temps par diverses questions insignificantes, ils
terminerent en lui disant, "Ah, Monsieur Galland, si vous ne
dormez pas, faites-nous un de ces beaux contes que vous savez si
bien." Galland profita de la lecon, et supprima dans les volumes
suivants le preambule qui lui avait attire la plaisanterie. This
legend has the merit of explaining why the Professor so soon gave
up the Arab framework which he had deliberately adopted.

The Nights was at once translated from the French[FN#207] though
when, where and by whom no authority seems to know. In Lowndes'
"Bibliographer's Manual" the English Editio Princeps is thus
noticed, "Arabian Nights' Entertainments translated from the
French, London, 1724, 12mo, 6 vols." and a footnote states that
this translation, very inaccurate and vulgar in its diction, was
often reprinted. In 1712 Addison introduced into the Spectator
(No. 535, Nov. 13) the Story of Alnaschar ( = Al-Nashshar, the
Sawyer) and says that his remarks on Hope "may serve as a moral
to an Arabian tale which I find translated into French by
Monsieur Galland." His version appears, from the tone and style,
to have been made by himself, and yet in that year a second
English edition had appeared. The nearest approach to the Edit.
Princeps in the British Museum[FN#208] is a set of six volumes
bound in three and corresponding with Galland's first half dozen.
Tomes i. and ii. are from the fourth edition of 1713, Nos. iii.
and iv. are from the second of 1712 and v. and vi. are from the
third of 1715. It is conjectured that the two first volumes were
reprinted several times apart from their subsequents, as was the
fashion of the day; but all is mystery. We (my friends and I)
have turned over scores of books in the British Museum, the
University Library and the Advocates' Libraries of Edinburgh and
Glasgow: I have been permitted to put the question in "Notes and
Queries" and in the "Antiquary"; but all our researches hitherto
have been in vain.

The popularity of The Nights in England must have rivalled their
vogue in France, judging from the fact that in 1713, or nine
years after Galland's Edit. Prin. appeared, they had already
reached a fourth issue. Even the ignoble national jealousy which
prompted Sir William Jones grossly to abuse that valiant scholar,
Auquetil du Perron, could not mar their popularity. But as there
are men who cannot read Pickwick, so they were not wanting who
spoke of "Dreams of the distempered fancy of the East."[FN#209]
"When the work was first published in England," says Henry
Webber,[FN#210] "it seems to have made a considerable impression
upon the public." Pope in 1720 sent two volumes (French? or
English?) to Bishop Atterbury, without making any remark on the
work; but, from his very silence, it may be presumed that he was
not displeased with the perusal. The bishop, who does not appear
to have joined a relish for the flights of imagination to his
other estimable qualities, expressed his dislike of these tales
pretty strongly and stated it to be his opinion, formed on the
frequent descriptions of female dress, that they were the work of
some Frenchman (Petis de la Croix, a mistake afterwards corrected
by Warburton). The Arabian Nights, however, quickly made their
way to public favour. "We have been informed of a singular
instance of the effect they produced soon after their first
appearance. Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate for Scotland,
having one Saturday evening found his daughters employed in
reading these volumes, seized them with a rebuke for spending the
evening before the 'Sawbbath' in such worldly amusement; but the
grave advocate himself became a prey to the fascination of the
tales, being found on the morning of the Sabbath itself employed
in their perusal, from which he had not risen the whole night."
As late as 1780 Dr. Beattie professed himself uncertain whether
they were translated or fabricated by M. Galland; and, while Dr.
Pusey wrote of them "Noctes Mille et Una dictae, quae in omnium
firme populorum cultiorum linguas conversae, in deliciis omnium
habentur, manibusque omnium terentur,"[FN#211] the amiable
Carlyle, in the gospel according to Saint Froude,
characteristically termed them "downright lies" and forbade the
house to such "unwholesome literature." What a sketch of
character in two words!

The only fault found in France with the Contes Arabes was that
their style is peu correcte; in fact they want classicism. Yet
all Gallic imitators, Trebutien included, have carefully copied
their leader and Charles Nodier remarks:--"Il me semble que l'on
n'a pas rendu assez de justice au style de Galland. Abondant sans
etre prolixe, naturel et familier sans etre lache ni trivial, il
ne manque jamais de cette elegance qui resulte de la facilite, et
qui presente je ne sais quel melange de la naivete de Perrault et
de la bonhomie de La Fontaine."

Our Professor, with a name now thoroughly established, returned
in 1706 to Paris, where he was an assiduous and efficient member
of the Societe Numismatique and corresponded largely with foreign
Orientalists. Three years afterwards he was made Professor of
Arabic at the College de France, succeeding Pierre Dippy; and,
during the next half decade, he devoted himself to publishing his
valuable studies. Then the end came. In his last illness, an
attack of asthma complicated with pectoral mischief, he sent to
Noyon for his nephew Julien Galland[FN#212] to assist him in
ordering his MSS. and in making his will after the simplest
military fashion: he bequeathed his writings to the Bibliotheque
du Roi, his Numismatic Dictionary to the Academy and his Alcoran
to the Abbe Bignon. He died, aged sixty-nine on February 17,
1715, leaving his second part of The Nights unpublished.[FN#213]

Professor Galland was a French litterateur of the good old school
which is rapidly becoming extinct. Homme vrai dans les moindres
choses (as his Eloge stated); simple in life and manners and
single-hearted in his devotion to letters, he was almost childish
in worldly matters, while notable for penetration and acumen in
his studies. He would have been as happy, one of his biographers
remarks, in teaching children the elements of education as he was
in acquiring his immense erudition. Briefly, truth and honesty,
exactitude and indefatigable industry characterised his most
honourable career.

Galland informs us (Epist. Ded.) that his MS. consisted of four
volumes, only three of which are extant,[FN#214] bringing the
work down to Night cclxxxii., or about the beginning of
"Camaralzaman." The missing portion, if it contained like the
other volumes 140 pages, would end that tale together with the
Stories of Ghanim and the Enchanted (Ebony) Horse; and such is
the disposition in the Bresl. Edit. which mostly favours in its
ordinance the text used by the first translator. But this would
hardly have filled more than two-thirds of his volumes; for the
other third he interpolated, or is supposed to have interpolated,
the ten[FN#215] following tales.

1. Histoire du prince Zeyn Al-asnam et du Roi des
2. Histoire de Codadad et de ses freres.
3. Histoire de la Lampe merveilleuse (Aladdin).
4. Histoire de l'aveugle Baba Abdalla.
5. Histoire de Sidi Nouman.
6. Histoire de Cogia Hassan Alhabbal.
7. Histoire d'Ali Baba, et de Quarante Voleurs extermines par
une Esclave.
8. Histoire d'Ali Cogia, marchand de Bagdad.
9. Histoire du prince Ahmed et de la fee Peri-Banou.
10. Histoire de deux Soeurs jalouses de leur Cadette.[FN#217]

Concerning these interpolations which contain two of the best and
most widely known stories in the work, Aladdin and the Forty
Thieves, conjectures have been manifold but they mostly run upon
three lines. De Sacy held that they were found by Galland in the
public libraries of Paris. Mr. Chenery, whose acquaintance with
Arabic grammar was ample, suggested that the Professor had
borrowed them from the recitations of the Rawis, rhapsodists or
professional story-tellers in the bazars of Smyrna and other
ports of the Levant. The late Mr. Henry Charles Coote (in the
"Folk-Lore Record," vol. iii. Part ii. p. 178 et seq.), "On the
source of some of M. Galland's Tales," quotes from popular
Italian, Sicilian and Romaic stories incidents identical with
those in Prince Ahmad, Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Envious Sisters,
suggesting that the Frenchman had heard these paramythia in
Levantine coffee-houses and had inserted them into his unequalled
corpus fabularum. Mr. Payne (ix. 268) conjectures the
probability "of their having been composed at a comparatively
recent period by an inhabitant of Baghdad, in imitation of the
legends of Haroun er Rashid and other well-known tales of the
original work;" and adds, "It is possible that an exhaustive
examination of the various MS. copies of the Thousand and One
Nights known to exist in the public libraries of Europe might yet
cast some light upon the question of the origin of the
interpolated Tales." I quite agree with him, taking "The Sleeper
and the Waker'' and "Zeyn Al-asnam" as cases in point; but I
should expect, for reasons before given, to find the stories in a
Persic rather than an Arabic MS. And I feel convinced that all
will be recovered: Galland was not the man to commit a literary

As regards Aladdin, the most popular tale of the whole work, I am
convinced that it is genuine, although my unfortunate friend, the
late Professor Palmer, doubted its being an Eastern story. It is
laid down upon all the lines of Oriental fiction. The
mise-en-scene is China, "where they drink a certain warm liquor"
(tea); the hero's father is a poor tailor; and, as in "Judar and
his Brethren," the Maghribi Magician presently makes his
appearance, introducing the Wonderful Lamp and the Magical Ring.
Even the Sorcerer's cry, "New lamps for old lamps !"--a prime
point--is paralleled in the Tale of the Fisherman's Son,[FN#218]
where the Jew asks in exchange only old rings and the Princess,
recollecting that her husband kept a shabby, well-worn ring in
his writing-stand, and he being asleep, took it out and sent it
to the man. In either tale the palace is transported to a
distance and both end with the death of the wicked magician and
the hero and heroine living happily together ever after.

All Arabists have remarked the sins of omission and commission,
of abridgment, amplification and substitution, and the audacious
distortion of fact and phrase in which Galland freely indulged,
whilst his knowledge of Eastern languages proves that he knew
better. But literary license was the order of his day and at
that time French, always the most begueule of European languages,
was bound by a rigorisme of the narrowest and the straightest of
lines from which the least ecart condemned a man as a barbarian
and a tudesque. If we consider Galland fairly we shall find that
he errs mostly for a purpose, that of popularising his work; and
his success indeed justified his means. He has been derided (by
scholars) for "He Monsieur!" and "Ah Madame!"; but he could not
write "O mon sieur" and "O ma dame;" although we can borrow from
biblical and Shakespearean English, "O my lord!" and "O my lady!"
"Bon Dieu! ma soeur" (which our translators English by "O
heavens," Night xx.) is good French for Wa'llahi--by Allah; and
"cinquante cavaliers bien faits" ("fifty handsome gentlemen on
horseback") is a more familiar picture than fifty knights.
"L'officieuse Dinarzade" (Night lxi.), and "Cette plaisante
querelle des deux freres" (Night 1xxii.) become ridiculous only
in translation--"the officious Dinarzade" and "this pleasant
quarrel;" while "ce qu'il y de remarquable" (Night 1xxiii.) would
relieve the Gallic mind from the mortification of "Destiny
decreed." "Plusieurs sortes de fruits et de bouteilles de vin"
(Night ccxxxi. etc.) Europeanises flasks and flaggons; and the
violent convulsions in which the girl dies (Night cliv., her head
having been cut off by her sister) is mere Gallic squeamishness:
France laughs at "le shoking" in England but she has only to look
at home especially during the reign of Galland's contemporary--
Roi Soleil. The terrible "Old man" (Shaykh) "of the Sea" (-
board) is badly described by "l'incommode vieillard" ("the ill-
natured old fellow"): "Brave Maimune" and "Agreable Maimune" are
hardly what a Jinni would say to a Jinniyah (ccxiii.); but they
are good Gallic. The same may be noted of "Plier les voiles pour
marque qu'il se rendait" (Night ccxxxv.), a European practice;
and of the false note struck in two passages. "Je m'estimais
heureuse d'avoir fait une si belle conquete" (Night 1xvii.) gives
a Parisian turn; and, "Je ne puis voir sans horreur cet
abominable barbier que voila: quoiqu'il soit ne dans un pays ou
tout le monde est blanc, il ne laisse pas a resembler a un
Ethiopien; mais il a l'ame encore plus noire et horrible que le
visage" (Night clvii.), is a mere affectation of Orientalism.
Lastly, "Une vieille dame de leur connaissance" (Night clviii.)
puts French polish upon the matter of fact Arab's "an old woman."

The list of absolute mistakes, not including violent liberties,
can hardly be held excessive. Professor Weil and Mr. Payne (ix.
271) justly charge Galland with making the Trader (Night i.)
throw away the shells (ecorces) of the date which has only a
pellicle, as Galland certainly knew; but dates were not seen
every day in France, while almonds and walnuts were of the quatre
mendiants. He preserves the ecorces, which later issues have
changed to noyaux, probably in allusion to the jerking practice
called Inwa. Again in the "First Shaykh's Story" (vol. i. 27)
the "maillet" is mentioned as the means of slaughtering cattle,
because familiar to European readers: at the end of the tale it
becomes "le couteaufuneste." In Badral Din a "tarte a la creme,"
so well known to the West, displaces, naturally enough, the
outlandish "mess of pomegranate-seeds." Though the text
especially tells us the hero removed his bag-trousers (not only
"son habit") and placed them under the pillow, a crucial fact in
the history, our Professor sends him to bed fully dressed,
apparently for the purpose of informing his readers in a foot-
note that Easterns "se couchent en calecon" (Night lxxx.). It
was mere ignorance to confound the arbalete or cross-bow with the
stone-bow (Night xxxviii.), but this has universally been done,
even by Lane who ought to have known better; and it was an
unpardonable carelessness or something worse to turn Nar (fire)
and Dun (in lieu of) into "le faux dieu Nardoun" (Night lxv.): as
this has been untouched by De Sacy, I cannot but conclude that he
never read the text with the translation. Nearly as bad also to
make the Jewish physician remark, when the youth gave him the
left wrist (Night cl.), "voila une grande ignorance de ne savoir
pas que l'on presente la main droite a un medecin et non pas la
gauche"--whose exclusive use all travellers in the East must
know. I have noticed the incuriousness which translates "along
the Nile-shore" by "up towards Ethiopia" (Night cli.), and the
"Islands of the Children of Khaledan" (Night ccxi.) instead of
the Khalidatani or Khalidat, the Fortunate Islands. It was by no
means "des petite soufflets" ("some taps from time to time with
her fingers") which the sprightly dame administered to the
Barber's second brother (Night clxxi.), but sound and heavy
"cuffs" on the nape; and the sixth brother (Night clxxx.) was not
"aux levres fendues" ("he of the hair-lips"), for they had been
cut off by the Badawi jealous of his fair wife. Abu al-Hasan
would not greet his beloved by saluting "le tapis a ses pieds:"
he would kiss her hands and feet. Haiatalnefous (Hayat al-Nufus,
Night ccxxvi.) would not "throw cold water in the Princess's
face:" she would sprinkle it with eau-de-rose. "Camaralzaman" I.
addresses his two abominable wives in language purely European
(ccxxx.), "et de la vie il ne s'approcha d'elles," missing one of
the fine touches of the tale which shows its hero a weak and
violent man, hasty and lacking the pundonor. "La belle
Persienne," in the Tale of Nur al-Din, was no Persian; nor would
her master address her, "Venez ca, impertinente!" ("come hither,
impertinence"). In the story of Badr, one of the Comoro Islands
becomes "L'ile de la Lune." "Dog" and "dog-son" are not "injures
atroces et indignes d'un grand roi:" the greatest Eastern kings
allow themselves far more energetic and significant language.

Fitnah[FN#219] is by no means "Force de coeurs." Lastly the
denouement of The Nights is widely different in French and in
Arabic; but that is probably not Galland's fault, as he never saw
the original, and indeed he deserves high praise for having
invented so pleasant and sympathetic a close, inferior only to
the Oriental device.[FN#220]

Galland's fragment has a strange effect upon the Orientalist and
those who take the scholastic view, be it wide or narrow. De
Sacy does not hesitate to say that the work owes much to his
fellow-countryman's hand; but I judge otherwise: it is necessary
to dissociate the two works and to regard Galland's paraphrase,
which contains only a quarter of The Thousand Nights and a Night,
as a wholly different book. Its attempts to amplify beauties and
to correct or conceal the defects and the grotesqueness of the
original, absolutely suppress much of the local colour, clothing
the bare body in the best of Parisian suits. It ignores the
rhymed prose and excludes the verse, rarely and very rarely
rendering a few lines in a balanced style. It generally rejects
the proverbs, epigrams and moral reflections which form the pith
and marrow of the book; and, worse still, it disdains those finer
touches of character which are often Shakespearean in their depth
and delicacy, and which, applied to a race of familiar ways and
thoughts, manners and customs, would have been the wonder and
delight of Europe. It shows only a single side of the gem that
has so many facets. By deference to public taste it was
compelled to expunge the often repulsive simplicity, the childish
indecencies and the wild orgies of the original, contrasting with
the gorgeous tints, the elevated morality and the religious tone
of passages which crowd upon them. We miss the odeur du sang
which taints the parfums du harem; also the humouristic tale and
the Rabelaisian outbreak which relieve and throw out into strong
relief the splendour of Empire and the havoc of Time. Considered
in this light it is a caput mortuum, a magnificent texture seen
on the wrong side; and it speaks volumes for the genius of the
man who could recommend it in such blurred and caricatured
condition to readers throughout the civilised world. But those
who look only at Galland's picture, his effort to "transplant
into European gardens the magic flowers of Eastern fancy," still
compare his tales with the sudden prospect of magnificent
mountains seen after a long desert-march: they arouse strange
longings and indescribable desires; their marvellous
imaginativeness produces an insensible brightening of mind and an
increase of fancy-power, making one dream that behind them lies
the new and unseen, the strange and unexpected--in fact, all the
glamour of the unknown.

The Nights has been translated into every far-extending Eastern
tongue, Persian, Turkish and Hindostani. The latter entitles
them Hikayat al-Jalilah or Noble Tales, and the translation was
made by Munshi Shams al-Din Ahmad for the use of the College of
Fort George in A.H. 1252 = 1836.[FN#221] All these versions are
direct from the Arabic: my search for a translation of Galland
into any Eastern tongue has hitherto been fruitless.

I was assured by the late Bertholdy Seemann that the "language of
Hoffmann and Heine" contained a literal and complete translation
of The Nights; but personal enquiries at Leipzig and elsewhere
convinced me that the work still remains to be done. The first
attempt to improve upon Galland and to show the world what the
work really is was made by Dr. Max Habicht and was printed at
Breslau (1824-25), in fifteen small square volumes.[FN#222] Thus
it appeared before the "Tunis Manuscript"[FN#223] of which it
purports to be a translation. The German version is, if
possible, more condemnable than the Arabic original. It lacks
every charm of style; it conscientiously shirks every difficulty;
it abounds in the most extraordinary blunders and it is utterly
useless as a picture of manners or a book of reference. We can
explain its laches only by the theory that the eminent Professor
left the labour to his collaborateurs and did not take the
trouble to revise their careless work.

The next German translation was by Aulic Councillor J. von
Hammer-Purgstallt who, during his short stay at Cairo and
Constantinople, turned into French the tales neglected by
Galland. After some difference with M. Caussin (de Perceval) in
1810, the Styrian Orientalist entrusted his MS. to Herr Cotta the
publisher of Tubingen. Thus a German version appeared, the
translation of a translation, at the hand of Professor
Zinserling,[FN#224] while the French version was unaccountably
lost en route to London. Finally the "Contes inedits," etc.,
appeared in a French translation by G. S. Trebutien (Paris,
mdcccxxviii.). Von Hammer took liberties with the text which can
compare only with those of Lane: he abridged and retrenched till
the likeness in places entirely disappeared; he shirked some
difficult passages and he misexplained others. In fact the work
did no honour to the amiable and laborious historian of the

The only good German translation of The Nights is due to Dr.
Gustav Weil who, born on April 24, 1808, is still (1886)
professing at Heidelburg.[FN#225] His originals (he tells us)
were the Breslau Edition, the Bulak text of Abd al-Rahman al-
Safati and a MS. in the library of Saxe Gotha. The venerable
savant, who has rendered such service to Arabism, informs me that
Aug. Lewald's "Vorhalle" (pp. i.-xv.)[FN#226] was written without
his knowledge. Dr. Weil neglects the division of days which
enables him to introduce any number of tales: for instance,
Galland's eleven occupy a large part of vol. iii. The Vorwort
wants development, the notes, confined to a few words, are
inadequate and verse is everywhere rendered by prose, the Saj'a
or assonance being wholly ignored. On the other hand the scholar
shows himself by a correct translation, contrasting strongly with
those which preceded him, and by a strictly literal version, save
where the treatment required to be modified in a book intended
for the public. Under such circumstances it cannot well be other
than longsome and monotonous reading.

Although Spain and Italy have produced many and remarkable
Orientalists, I cannot find that they have taken the trouble to
translate The Nights for themselves: cheap and gaudy versions of
Galland seem to have satisfied the public.[FN#227] Notes on the
Romaic, Icelandic, Russian (?) and other versions, will be found
in a future page.

Professor Galland has never been forgotten in France where,
amongst a host of editions, four have claims to
distinction;[FN#228] and his success did not fail to create a
host of imitators and to attract what De Sacy justly terms "une
prodigieuse importation de marchandise de contrabande." As early
as 1823 Von Hammer numbered seven in France (Trebutien, Preface
xviii.) and during later years they have grown prodigiously. Mr.
William F. Kirby, who has made a special study of the subject,
has favoured me with detailed bibliographical notes on Galland's
imitators which are printed in Appendix No. II.

Section III.

A.--The Matter.

Returning to my threefold distribution of this Prose Poem
(Section Section I) into Fable, Fairy Tale and historical
Anecdote[FN#229], let me proceed to consider these sections more

The Apologue or Beast-fable, which apparently antedates all other
subjects in The Nights, has been called "One of the earliest
creations of the awakening consciousness of mankind." I should
regard it, despite a monumental antiquity, as the offspring of a
comparatively civilised age, when a jealous despotism or a
powerful oligarchy threw difficulties and dangers in the way of
speaking "plain truths." A hint can be given and a friend or foe
can be lauded or abused as Belins the sheep or Isengrim the wolf
when the Author is debarred the higher enjoyment of praising them
or dispraising them by name. And, as the purposes of fables are

Duplex libelli dos est: quod risum movet,
Et quod prudenti vitam consilio monet--

The speaking of brute beasts would give a piquancy and a
pleasantry to moral design as well as to social and political

The literary origin of the fable is not Buddhistic: we must
especially shun that "Indo-Germanic" school which goes to India
for its origins, when Pythagoras, Solon, Herodotus, Plato,
Aristotle and possibly Homer sat for instruction at the feet of
the Hir-seshtha, the learned grammarians of the pharaohnic court.
Nor was it AEsopic, evidently AEsop inherited the hoarded wealth of
ages. As Professor Lepsius taught us, "In the olden times within
the memory of man, we know only of one advanced culture; of only
one mode of writing, and of only one literary development, viz.
those of Egypt." The invention of an alphabet, as opposed to a
syllabary, unknown to Babylonia, to Assyria and to that extreme
bourne of their civilising influence, China, would for ever fix
their literature--poetry, history and criticism,[FN#230] the
apologue and the anecdote. To mention no others The Lion and the
Mouse appears in a Leyden papyrus dating from B.C 1200-1166 the
days of Rameses III. (Rhampsinitus) or Hak On, not as a rude and
early attempt, but in a finished form, postulating an ancient
origin and illustrious ancestry. The dialogue also is brought to
perfection in the discourse between the Jackal Koufi and the
Ethiopian Cat (Revue Egyptologique ivme. annee Part i.). Africa
therefore was the home of the Beast-fable not as Professor
Mahaffy thinks, because it was the chosen land of animal worship,

Oppida tote canem venerantur nemo Dianam;[FN#231]

but simply because the Nile-land originated every form of
literature between Fabliau and Epos.

From Kemi the Black-land it was but a step to Phoenicia,
Judaea,[FN#232] Phrygia and Asia Minor, whence a ferry led over to
Greece. Here the Apologue found its populariser in {Greek},
AEsop, whose name, involved in myth, possibly connects with
:-- "AEsopus et Aithiops idem sonant" says the sage. This
would show that the Hellenes preserved a legend of the land
whence the Beast-fable arose, and we may accept the fabulist's
aera as contemporary with Croesus and Solon (B.C. 570,) about a
century after Psammeticus (Psamethik 1st) threw Egypt open to the
restless Greek.[FN#233] From Africa too the Fable would in early
ages migrate eastwards and make for itself a new home in the
second great focus of civilisation formed by the Tigris-Euphrates
Valley. The late Mr. George Smith found amongst the cuneiforms
fragmentary Beast-fables, such as dialogues between the Ox and
the Horse, the Eagle and the Sun. In after centuries, when the
conquests of Macedonian Alexander completed what Sesostris and
Semiramis had begun, and mingled the manifold families of mankind
by joining the eastern to the western world, the Orient became
formally hellenised. Under the Seleucidae and during the life of
the independent Bactrian Kingdom (B.C. 255-125), Grecian art and
science, literature and even language overran the old Iranic
reign and extended eastwards throughout northern India. Porus
sent two embassies to Augustus in B.C. 19 and in one of them the
herald Zarmanochagas (Shramanacharya) of Bargosa, the modern
Baroch in Guzerat, bore an epistle upon vellum written in Greek
(Strabo xv. I section 78). "Videtis gentes populosque mutasse
sedes" says Seneca (De Cons. ad Helv. c. vi.). Quid sibi volunt
in mediis barbarorum regionibus Graecae artes? Quid inter Indos
Persasque Macedonicus sermo? Atheniensis in Asia turba est."
Upper India, in the Macedonian days would have been mainly
Buddhistic, possessing a rude alphabet borrowed from Egypt
through Arabia and Phoenicia, but still in a low and barbarous
condition: her buildings were wooden and she lacked, as far as we
know, stone-architecture--the main test of social development.
But the Bactrian Kingdom gave an impulse to her civilisation and
the result was classical opposed to vedic Sanskrit. From Persia
Greek letters, extending southwards to Arabia, would find
indigenous imitators and there AEsop would be represented by the
sundry sages who share the name Lokman.[FN#234] One of these was
of servile condition, tailor, carpenter or shepherd; and a
"Habashi" (AEthiopian) meaning a negro slave with blubber lips and
splay feet, so far showing a superficial likeness to the AEsop of

The AEsopic fable, carried by the Hellenes to India, might have
fallen in with some rude and fantastic barbarian of Buddhistic
"persuasion" and indigenous origin: so Reynard the Fox has its
analogue amongst the Kafirs and the Vai tribe of Mandengan
negroes in Liberia[FN#235] amongst whom one Doalu invented or
rather borrowed a syllabarium. The modern Gypsies are said also
to have beast-fables which have never been traced to a foreign
source (Leland). But I cannot accept the refinement of
difference which Professor Benfey, followed by Mr. Keith-
Falconer, discovers between the AEsopic and the Hindu apologue:--
"In the former animals are allowed to act as animals: the latter
makes them act as men in the form of animals." The essence of
the beast-fable is a reminiscence of Homo primigenius with
erected ears and hairy hide, and its expression is to make the
brother brute behave, think and talk like him with the superadded
experience of ages. To early man the "lower animals," which are
born, live and die like himself, showing all the same affects and
disaffects, loves and hates, passions, prepossessions and
prejudices, must have seemed quite human enough and on an equal
level to become his substitutes. The savage, when he began to
reflect, would regard the carnivor and the serpent with awe,
wonder and dread; and would soon suspect the same mysterious
potency in the brute as in himself: so the Malays still look upon
the Uran-utan, or Wood-man, as the possessor of superhuman
wisdom. The hunter and the herdsman, who had few other
companions, would presently explain the peculiar relations of
animals to themselves by material metamorphosis, the bodily
transformation of man to brute giving increased powers of working
him weal and woe. A more advanced stage would find the step easy
to metempsychosis, the beast containing the Ego (alias soul) of
the human: such instinctive belief explains much in Hindu
literature, but it was not wanted at first by the Apologue.

This blending of blood, this racial baptism would produce a fine
robust progeny; and, after our second century,
AEgypto-Graeco-Indian stories overran the civilised globe between
Rome and China. Tales have wings and fly farther than the jade
hatchets of proto-historic days. And the result was a book which
has had more readers than any other except the Bible. Its
original is unknown.[FN#236] The volume, which in Pehlevi became
the Javidan Khirad ("Wisdom of Ages") or the Testament of
Hoshang, that ancient guebre King, and in Sanskrit the
Panchatantra ("Five Chapters"), is a recueil of apologues and
anecdotes related by the learned Brahman, Vishnu Sharma for the
benefit of his pupils the sons of an Indian Rajah. The Hindu
original has been adapted and translated into a number of
languages; Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac, Greek and Latin, Persian
and Turkish, under a host of names.[FN#237] Voltaire[FN#238]
wisely remarks of this venerable production:--Quand on fait
reflexion que presque toute la terre a ete enfatuee de pareils
contes, et qu'ils ont fait l'education du genre humain, on trouve
les fables de Pilpay, de Lokman,[FN#239] d'Esope, bien
raisonables. But methinks the sage of Ferney might have said far
more. These fables speak with the large utterance of early man;
they have also their own especial beauty--the charms of well-
preserved and time-honoured old age. There is in their wisdom a
perfume of the past, homely and ancient-fashioned like a whiff of
pot pourri, wondrous soothing withal to olfactories agitated by
the patchoulis and jockey clubs of modern pretenders and petit-
maitres, with their grey young heads and pert intelligence, the
motto of whose ignorance is "Connu!" Were a dose of its antique,
mature experience adhibited to the Western before he visits the
East, those few who could digest it might escape the normal lot
of being twisted round the fingers of every rogue they meet from
Dragoman to Rajah. And a quotation from them tells at once: it
shows the quoter to be man of education, not a "Jangali," a
sylvan or savage, as the Anglo-Indian official is habitually
termed by his more civilised "fellow-subject."

The main difference between the classical apologue and the fable
in The Nights is that while AEsop and Gabrias write laconic tales
with a single event and a simple moral, the Arabian fables are
often "long-continued novelle involving a variety of events, each
characterised by some social or political aspect, forming a
narrative highly interesting in itself, often exhibiting the most
exquisite moral, and yet preserving, with rare ingenuity, the
peculiar characteristics of the actors."[FN#240] And the
distinction between the ancient and the mediaeval apologue,
including the modern which, since "Reineke Fuchs," is mainly
German, appears equally pronounced. The latter is humorous
enough and rich in the wit which results from superficial
incongruity: but it ignores the deep underlying bond which
connects man with beast. Again, the main secret of its success
is the strain of pungent satire, especially in the Renardine
Cycle, which the people could apply to all unpopular "lordes and
prelates, gostly and worldly."

Our Recueil contains two distinct sets of apologues. [FN#241] The
first (vol. iii.) consists of eleven, alternating with five
anecdotes (Nights cxlvi.--cliii.), following the lengthy and
knightly romance of King Omar bin al Nu'man and followed by the
melancholy love tale of Ali bin Bakkar. The second series in
vol. ix., consisting of eight fables, not including ten anecdotes
(Nights cmi.--cmxxiv.), is injected into the romance of King
Jali'ad and Shimas mentioned by Al-Mas'udi as independent of The
Nights. In both places the Beast-fables are introduced with some
art and add variety to the subject-matter, obviating monotony--
the deadly sin of such works--and giving repose to the hearer or
reader after a climax of excitement such as the murder of the
Wazirs. And even these are not allowed to pall upon the mental
palate, being mingled with anecdotes and short tales, such as the
Hermits (iii. 125), with biographical or literary episodes,
acroamata, table-talk and analects where humorous Rabelaisian
anecdote finds a place; in fact the fabliau or novella. This
style of composition may be as ancient as the apologues. We know
that it dates as far back as Rameses III., from the history of
the Two Brothers in the Orbigny papyrus,[FN#242] the prototype of
Yusuf and Zulaykha, the Koranic Joseph and Potiphar's wife. It
is told with a charming naivete and such sharp touches of local
colour as, "Come, let us make merry an hour and lie together! Let
down thy hair!"

Some of the apologues in The Nights are pointless enough, rien
moins qu'amusants; but in the best specimens, such as the Wolf
and the Fox[FN#243] (the wicked man and the wily man), both
characters are carefully kept distinct and neither action nor
dialogue ever flags. Again The Flea and the Mouse (iii. 151), of
a type familiar to students of the Pilpay cycle, must strike the
home-reader as peculiarly quaint.

Next in date to the Apologue comes the Fairy Tale proper, where
the natural universe is supplemented by one of purely imaginative
existence. "As the active world is inferior to the rational
soul," says Bacon with his normal sound sense, "so Fiction gives
to Mankind what History denies and in some measure satisfies the
Mind with Shadows when it cannot enjoy the Substance. And as
real History gives us not the success of things according to the
deserts of vice and virtue, Fiction corrects it and presents us
with the fates and fortunes of persons rewarded and punished
according to merit." But I would say still more. History paints
or attempts to paint life as it is, a mighty maze with or without
a plan: Fiction shows or would show us life as it should be,
wisely ordered and laid down on fixed lines. Thus Fiction is not
the mere handmaid of History: she has a household of her own and
she claims to be the triumph of Art which, as Goeethe remarked, is
"Art because it is not Nature." Fancy, la folle du logis, is
"that kind and gentle portress who holds the gate of Hope wide
open, in opposition to Reason, the surly and scrupulous
guard."[FN#244] As Palmerin of England says and says well, "For
that the report of noble deeds doth urge the courageous mind to
equal those who bear most commendation of their approved
valiancy; this is the fair fruit of Imagination and of ancient
histories." And, last but not least, the faculty of Fancy takes
count of the cravings of man's nature for the marvellous, the
impossible, and of his higher aspirations for the Ideal, the
Perfect: she realises the wild dreams and visions of his generous
youth and portrays for him a portion of that "other and better
world," with whose expectation he would console his age.

The imaginative varnish of The Nights serves admirably as a foil
to the absolute realism of the picture in general. We enjoy
being carried away from trivial and commonplace characters,

Book of the day: