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Title: Flowers from a Persian Garden and Other Papers
Author: Clouston, William Alexander, 1843-1896
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Flowers from a Persian Garden and Other Papers" ***

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    "The smiling Garden of Persian Literature": a Garden which I
    would describe, in the Eastern style, as a happy spot, where
    lavish Nature with profusion strews the most fragrant and
    blooming flowers, where the most delicious fruits abound, which
    is ever vocal with the plaintive melancholy of the nightingale,
    who, during day and night, "tunes her love-laboured song": ...
    where the voice of Wisdom is often heard uttering her moral
    sentence, or delivering the dictates of experience.--SIR W. OUSELEY.










Though you are burdened with the duties of a profession far outside of
which lie those studies that have largely occupied my attention for many
years past, yet your own able contributions to the same, or cognate,
subjects of investigation evince the truth of the seemingly paradoxical
saying, that "the busiest man finds the greatest amount of leisure." And
in dedicating this little book to you--would that it were more
worthy!--as a token of gratitude for the valuable help you have often
rendered me in the course of my studies, I am glad of the opportunity it
affords me for placing on record (so to say) the fact that I enjoy the
friendship of a man possessed of so many excellent qualities of heart as
well as of intellect.

The following collection of essays, or papers, is designed to suit the
tastes of a more numerous class of readers than were some of my former
books, which are not likely to be of special interest to many besides
students of comparative folk-lore--amongst whom your own degree is high.
The book, in fact, is intended mainly for those who are rather vaguely
termed "general readers"; albeit I venture to think that even the
folk-lore student may find in it somewhat to "make a note of," as the
great Captain Cuttle was wont to say--in season and out of season.

Leaving the contents to speak for themselves, I shall only say farther
that my object has been to bring together, in a handy volume, a series
of essays which might prove acceptable to many readers, whether of grave
or lively temperament. What are called "instructive" books--meaning
thereby "morally" instructive--are generally as dull reading as is
proverbially a book containing nothing but jests--good, bad, and
indifferent. We can't (and we shouldn't) be always in the "serious"
mood, nor can we be for ever on the grin; and it seems to me that a
mental dietary, by turns, of what is wise and of what is witty should be
most wholesome. But, of the two, I confess I prefer to take the former,
even as one ought to take solid food, in great moderation; and, after
all, it is surely better to laugh than to mope or weep, in spite of what
has been said of "the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind." Most of
us, in this work-a-day world, find no small benefit from allowing our
minds to lie fallow at certain times, as farmers do with their fields.
In the following pages, however, I believe wisdom and wit, the didactic
and the diverting, will be found in tolerably fair proportions.

But I had forgot--I am not writing a Preface, and this is already too
long for a Dedication; so believe me, with all good wishes,

Yours ever faithfully,
GLASGOW, February, 1890.



    I  Sketch of the Life of the Persian Poet Saádí--Character of his
       Writings--the _Gulistán_, or Rose-Garden--Prefaces to
       Books--Preface to the _Gulistán_--Eastern Poets in praise of

   II  Boy's Archery Feat--Advantages of Abstinence--Núshirván on
       Oppression--Boy in terror at Sea--Pride of Ancestry--Misfortunes
       of Friends--Fortitude and Liberality--Prodigality--Stupid
       Youth--Advantages of Education--The Fair Cup-bearer--'January and
       May'--Why an Old Man did not Marry--The Dervish who became
       King--Muezzin and Preacher who had bad voices--Witty Slave--Witty
       Kází--Astrologer and his Faithless Wife--Objectionable Neighbour

  III  On Taciturnity: Parallels from Caxton's _Dictes_ and preface to
       _Kalíla wa Dimna_--Difference between Devotee and Learned Man--To
       get rid of Troublesome Visitors--Fable of the Nightingale and the
       Ant--Aphorisms of Saádí--Conclusion


    I  Man a Laughing Animal--Antiquity of Popular Jests--'Night and
       Day'--The Plain-featured Bride--The House of Condolence--The
       Blind Man's Wife--Two Witty Persian Ladies--Woman's Counsel--The
       Turkish Jester: in the Pulpit; the Cauldron; the Beggar; the
       Drunken Governor; the Robber; the Hot Broth--Muslim Preachers and

   II  The Two Deaf Men and the Traveller--The Deaf Persian and the
       Horseman--Lazy Servants--Chinese Humour: The Rich Man and the
       Smiths; How to keep Plants alive; Criticising a Portrait--The
       Persian Courtier and his old Friend--The Scribe--The Schoolmaster
       and the Wit--The Persian and his Cat--A List of Blockheads--The
       Arab and his Camel--A Witty Baghdádí--The Unlucky Slippers

  III  The Young Merchant of Baghdád; or, the Wiles of Woman

   IV  Ashaab the Covetous--The Stingy Merchant and the Hungry
       Bedouin--The Sect of Samradians--The Story-teller and the
       King--Royal Gifts to Poets--The Persian Poet and the
       Impostor--'Stealing Poetry'--The Rich Man and the Poor Poet

    V  Unlucky Omens--The Old Man's Prayer--The Old Woman in the
       Mosque--The Weeping Turkmans--The Ten Foolish Peasants--The
       Wakeful Servant--The Three Dervishes--The Oilman's Parrot--The
       Moghul and his Parrot--The Persian Shopkeeper and the Prime
       Minister--Hebrew Facetiæ


    I  General Plan of Eastern Story-books--The _Tútí Náma_, or
       Parrot-Book--The Frame-story--The Stolen Images--The Woman carved
       out of Wood--The Man whose Mare was kicked by a Merchant's Horse

   II  The Emperor's Dream--The Golden Apparition--The Four

  III  The Singing Ass: the Foolish Thieves: the Faggot-maker and the
       Magic Bowl

   IV  The Goldsmith who lost his Life through Covetousness--The King
       who died of Love for a Merchant's Daughter--The Discovery of
       Music--The Seven Requisites of a Perfect Woman

    V  The Princess of Rome and her Son--The Seven Vazírs

   VI  The Tree of Life--Legend of Rájá Rasálú--Conclusion

       The Magic Bowl, etc.


    I  INTRODUCTORY: Authors, Traducers, and Moral Teachings of Talmud

       Abel--The Planting of the Vine--Luminous Jewels--Abraham's
       Arrival in Egypt--The Infamous Citizens of Sodom--Abraham and
       Ishmael's Wives--Joseph and Potiphar's Wife--Joseph and his
       Brethren--Jacob's Sorrow--Moses and Pharaoh


   IV  MORAL AND ENTERTAINING TALES: Rabbi Jochonan and the Poor
       Woman--A Safe Investment--The Jewels--The Capon-carver

    V  MORAL TALES, TABLES, AND PARABLES: The Dutiful Son--An Ingenious
       Will--Origin of Beast-Fables--The Fox and the Bear--The Fox in
       the Garden--The Desolate Island--The Man and his Three
       Friends--The Garments--Solomon's Choice--Bride and
       Bridegroom--Abraham and the Idols--The Vanity of Ambition--The
       Seven Stages of Human Life


       Adam and the Oil of Mercy
       Muslim Legend of Adam's Punishment, Pardon, Death, and Burial
       Moses and the Poor Woodcutter
       Precocious Sagacity of Solomon
       Solomon and the Serpent's Prey
       The Capon-carver
       The Fox and the Bear
       The Desolate Island
       Other Rabbinical Legends and Tales


       'Wamik and Asra'
       Another Famous Arabian Lover


       Drinking the Sea Dry







It is remarkable how very little the average general reader knows
regarding the great Persian poet Saádí and his writings. His name is
perhaps more or less familiar to casual readers from its being appended
to one or two of his aphorisms which are sometimes reproduced in odd
corners of popular periodicals; but who he was, when he lived, and what
he wrote, are questions which would probably puzzle not a few, even of
those who consider themselves as "well read," to answer without first
recurring to some encyclopædia. Yet Saádí was assuredly one of the most
gifted men of genius the world has ever known: a man of large and
comprehensive intellect; an original and profound thinker; an acute
observer of men and manners; and his works remain the imperishable
monument of his genius, learning, and industry.

Maslahu 'd-Dín Shaykh Saádí was born, towards the close of the twelfth
century, at Shíráz, the famous capital of Fars, concerning which city
the Persians have the saying that "if Muhammed had tasted the pleasures
of Shíráz, he would have begged Allah to make him immortal there." In
accordance with the usual practice in Persia, he assumed as his
_takhallus_, or poetical name,[1] Saádí, from his patron Atabag Saád bin
Zingí, sovereign of Fars, who encouraged men of learning in his
principality. Saádí is said to have lived upwards of a hundred years,
thirty of which were passed in the acquisition of knowledge, thirty more
in travelling through different countries, and the rest of his life he
spent in retirement and acts of devotion. He died, in his native city,
about the year 1291.

    [1] One reason, doubtless, for Persian and Turkish poets
        adopting a _takhallus_ is the custom of the poet
        introducing his name into every ghazal he composes,
        generally towards the end; and as his proper name would
        seldom or never accommodate itself to purposes of verse
        he selects a more suitable one.

At one period of his life Saádí took part in the wars of the Saracens
against the Crusaders in Palestine, and also in the wars for the faith
in India. In the course of his wanderings he had the misfortune to be
taken prisoner by the Franks, in Syria, and was ransomed by a friend,
but only to fall into worse thraldom by marrying a shrewish wife. He has
thus related the circumstances:

"Weary of the society of my friends at Damascus, I fled to the barren
wastes of Jerusalem, and associated with brutes, until I was made
captive by the Franks, and forced to dig clay along with Jews in the
fortress of Tripoli. One of the nobles of Aleppo, mine ancient friend,
happened to pass that way and recollected me. He said: 'What a state is
this to be in! How farest thou?' I answered: 'Seeing that I could place
confidence in God alone, I retired to the mountains and wilds, to avoid
the society of man; but judge what must be my situation, to be confined
in a stall, in company with wretches who deserve not the name of men.
"To be confined by the feet with friends is better than to walk in a
garden with strangers."' He took compassion on my forlorn condition,
ransomed me from the Franks for ten dínars,[2] and took me with him to

    [2] A dínar is a gold coin, worth about ten shillings of our

"My friend had a daughter, to whom he married me, and he presented me
with a hundred dínars as her dower. After some time my wife unveiled her
disposition, which was ill-tempered, quarrelsome, obstinate, and
abusive; so that the happiness of my life vanished. It has been well
said: 'A bad woman in the house of a virtuous man is hell even in this
world.' Take care how you connect yourself with a bad woman. Save us, O
Lord, from the fiery trial! Once she reproached me, saying: 'Art thou
not the creature whom my father ransomed from captivity amongst the
Franks for ten dínars?' 'Yes,' I answered; 'he redeemed me for ten
dínars, and enslaved me to thee for a hundred.'

"I heard that a man once rescued a sheep from the mouth of a wolf, but
at night drew his knife across its throat. The expiring sheep thus
complained: 'You delivered me from the jaws of a wolf, but in the end I
perceive you have yourself become a wolf to me.'"

Sir Gore Ouseley, in his _Biographical Notices of Persian Poets_, states
that Saádí in the latter part of his life retired to a cell near Shíráz,
where he remained buried in contemplation of the Deity, except when
visited, as was often the case, by princes, nobles, and learned men. It
was the custom of his illustrious visitors to take with them all kinds
of meats, of which, when Saádí and his company had partaken, the shaykh
always put what remained in a basket suspended from his window, that the
poor wood-cutters of Shíráz, who daily passed by his cell, might
occasionally satisfy their hunger.

       *       *       *       *       *

The writings of Saádí, in prose as well as verse, are numerous; his best
known works being the _Gulistán_, or Rose-Garden, and the _Bustán_, or
Garden of Odours. Among his other compositions are: an essay on Reason
and Love; Advice to Kings; Arabian and Persian idylls, and a book of
elegies, besides a large collection of odes and sonnets. Saádí was an
accomplished linguist, and composed several poems in the languages of
many of the countries through which he travelled. "I have wandered to
various regions of the world," he tells us, "and everywhere have I mixed
freely with the inhabitants. I have gathered something in each corner; I
have gleaned an ear from every harvest." A deep insight into the secret
springs of human actions; an extensive knowledge of mankind; fervent
piety, without a taint of bigotry; a poet's keen appreciation of the
beauties of nature; together with a ready wit and a lively sense of
humour, are among the characteristics of Saádí's masterly compositions.
No writer, ancient or modern, European or Asiatic, has excelled, and few
have equalled, Saádí in that rare faculty for condensing profound moral
truths into short, pithy sentences. For example:

"The remedy against want is to moderate your desires."

"There is a difference between him who claspeth his mistress in his
arms, and him whose eyes are fixed on the door expecting her."

"Whoever recounts to you the faults of your neighbour will doubtless
expose your defects to others."

His humorous comparisons flash upon the reader's mind with curious
effect, occurring, as they often do, in the midst of a grave discourse.
Thus he says of a poor minstrel: "You would say that the sound of his
bow would burst the arteries, and that his voice was more discordant
than the lamentations of a man for the death of his father;" and of
another bad singer: "No one with a mattock can so effectually scrape
clay from the face of a hard stone as his discordant voice harrows up
the soul."

Talking of music reminds me of a remark of the learned Gentius, in one
of his notes on the _Gulistán_ of Saádí, that music was formerly in such
consideration in Persia that it was a maxim of their sages that when a
king was about to die, if he left for his successor a very young son,
his aptitude for reigning should be proved by some agreeable songs; and
if the child was pleasurably affected, then it was a sign of his
capacity and genius, but if the contrary, he should be declared
unfit.--It would appear that the old Persian musicians, like Timotheus,
knew the secret art of swaying the passions. The celebrated philosopher
Al-Farabí (who died about the middle of the tenth century), among his
accomplishments, excelled in music, in proof of which a curious anecdote
is told. Returning from the pilgrimage to Mecca, he introduced himself,
though a stranger, at the court of Sayfú 'd-Dawla, sultan of Syria, when
a party of musicians chanced to be performing, and he joined them. The
prince admired his skill, and, desiring to hear something of his own,
Al-Farabí unfolded a composition, and distributed the parts amongst the
band. The first movement threw the prince and his courtiers into violent
laughter, the next melted all into tears, and the last lulled even the
performers to sleep. At the retaking of Baghdád by the Turks in 1638,
when the springing of a mine, whereby eight hundred jannisaries
perished, was the signal for a general massacre, and thirty thousand
Persians were put to the sword, a Persian musician named Sháh-Kúlí, who
was brought before the sultan Murád, played and sang so sweetly, first a
song of triumph, and then a dirge, that the sultan, moved to pity by the
music, gave order to stop the slaughter.

To resume, after this anecdotical digression. Saádí gives this whimsical
piece of advice to a pugnacious fellow: "Be sure, either that thou art
stronger than thine enemy, or that thou hast a swifter pair of heels."
And he relates a droll story in illustration of the use and abuse of the
phrase, "For the sake of God," which is so frequently in the mouths of
Muslims: A harsh-voiced man was reading the Kurán in a loud tone. A
pious man passed by him and said: "What is thy monthly salary?" The
other replied: "Nothing." "Why, then, dost thou give thyself this
trouble?" "I read for the sake of God," he rejoined. "Then," said the
pious man, "_for God's sake don't read_."

The most esteemed of Saádí's numerous and diversified works is the
_Gulistán_, or Rose-Garden. The first English translation of this work
was made by Francis Gladwin, and published in 1808, and it is a very
scarce book. Other translations have since been issued, but they are
rather costly and the editions limited. It is strange that in these days
of cheap reprints of rare and excellent works of genius no enterprising
publisher should have thought it worth reproduction in a popular form.
It is not one of those ponderous tomes of useless learning which not
even an Act of Parliament could cause to be generally read, and which no
publisher would be so blind to his own interests as to reprint. As
regards its size, the _Gulistán_ is but a small book, but intrinsically
it is indeed a very great book, such as could only be produced by a
great mind, and it comprises more wisdom and wit than a score of old
English folios could together yield to the most devoted reader. Some
querulous persons there are who affect to consider the present as a
shallow age, because, forsooth, huge volumes of learning--each the
labour of a lifetime--are not now produced. But the flood-gates of
knowledge are now wide open, and, no longer confined within the old,
narrow, if deep, channels, learning has spread abroad, like the Nile
during the season of its over-flow. Shallow, it may be, but more widely
beneficial, since its life-giving waters are within the reach of all.

Unlike most of our learned old English authors, Saádí did not cast upon
the world all that came from the rich mine of his genius, dross as well
as fine gold, clay as well as gems. It is because they have done so that
many ponderous tomes of learning and industry stand neglected on the
shelves of great libraries. Time is too precious now-a-days, whatever
may have been the case of our forefathers, for it to be dissipated by
diving into the muddy waters of voluminous authors in hopes of finding
an occasional pearl of wisdom. And unless some intelligent and
painstaking compiler set himself to the task of separating the gold from
the rubbish in which it is imbedded in those graves of learning, and
present the results of his labour in an attractive form, such works are
virtually lost to the world. For in these high-pressure days, most of
us, "like the dogs in Egypt for fear of the crocodiles, must drink of
the waters of knowledge as we run, in dread of the old enemy Time."

Saádí, however, in his _Gulistán_ sets forth only his well-pondered
thoughts in the most felicitous and expressive language. There is no
need to form an abstract or epitome of a work in which nothing is
superfluous, nothing valueless. But, as in a cabinet of gems some are
more beautiful than others, or as in a garden some flowers are more
attractive from their brilliant hues and fragrant odours, so a selection
may be made of the more striking tales and aphorisms of the illustrious
Persian philosopher.

The preface to the _Gulistán_ is one of the most pleasing portions of
the whole book. Now prefaces are among those parts of books which are
too frequently "skipped" by readers--they are "taken as read." Why this
should be so, I confess I cannot understand. For my part, I make a point
of reading a preface at least twice: first, because I would know what
reasons my author had for writing his book, and again, having read his
book, because the preface, if well written, may serve also as a sort of
appendix. Authors are said to bestow particular pains on their prefaces.
Cervantes, for instance, tells us that the preface to the first part of
_Don Quixote_ cost him more thought than the writing of the entire work.
"It argues a deficiency of taste," says Isaac D'Israeli, "to turn over
an elaborate preface unread; for it is the essence of the author's
roses--every drop distilled at an immense cost." And, no doubt, it is a
great slight to an author to skip his preface, though it cannot be
denied that some prefaces are very tedious, because the writer "spins
out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument,"
and none but the most _hardy_ readers can persevere to the distant end.
The Italians call a preface _salsa del libro_, the _salt_ of the book. A
preface may also be likened to the porch of a mansion, where it is not
courteous to keep a visitor waiting long before you open the door and
make him free of your house. But the reader who passes over the preface
to the _Gulistán_ unread loses not a little of the spice of that
fascinating and instructive book. He who reads it, however, is rewarded
by the charming account which the author gives of how he came to form
his literary Rose-Garden:

"It was the season of spring; the air was temperate and the rose in full
bloom. The vestments of the trees resembled the festive garments of the
fortunate. It was mid-spring, when the nightingales were chanting from
their pulpits in the branches. The rose, decked with pearly dew, like
blushes on the cheek of a chiding mistress. It happened once that I was
benighted in a garden, in company with a friend. The spot was
delightful: the trees intertwined; you would have said that the earth
was bedecked with glass spangles, and that the knot of the Pleiades was
suspended from the branch of the vine. A garden with a running stream,
and trees whence birds were warbling melodious strains: that filled with
tulips of various hues; these loaded with fruits of several kinds. Under
the shade of its trees the zephyr had spread the variegated carpet.

"In the morning, when the desire to return home overcame our inclination
to remain, I saw in my friend's lap a collection of roses, odoriferous
herbs, and hyacinths, which he intended to carry to town. I said: 'You
are not ignorant that the flower of the garden soon fadeth, and that the
enjoyment of the rose-bush is of short continuance; and the sages have
declared that the heart ought not to be set upon anything that is
transitory.' He asked: 'What course is then to be pursued?' I replied:
'I am able to form a book of roses, which will delight the beholders and
gratify those who are present; whose leaves the tyrannic arm of autumnal
blasts can never affect, or injure the blossoms of its spring. What
benefit will you derive from a basket of flowers? Carry a leaf from my
garden: a rose may continue in bloom five or six days, but this
Rose-Garden will flourish for ever.' As soon as I had uttered these
words, he flung the flowers from his lap, and, laying hold of the skirt
of my garment, exclaimed: 'When the beneficent promise, they faithfully
discharge their engagements.' In the course of a few days two chapters
were written in my note-book, in a style that may be useful to orators
and improve the skill of letter-writers. In short, while the rose was
still in bloom, the book called the Rose-Garden was finished."

Dr. Johnson has remarked that "there is scarcely any poet of eminence
who has not left some testimony of his fondness for the flowers, the
zephyrs, and the warblers of the spring." This is pre-eminently the case
of Oriental poets, from Solomon downwards: "Rise up, my love, my fair
one, and come away," exclaims the Hebrew poet in his Book of Canticles:
"for lo! the winter is past, the rain is over and gone: the flowers
appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds has come, and the
voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig-tree putteth forth her
green fruits, and the vines with the tender grapes give forth a good
smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away."

In a Persian poem written in the 14th century the delights of the vernal
season are thus described: "On every bush roses were blowing; on every
branch the nightingale was plaintively warbling. The tall cypress was
dancing in the garden; and the poplar never ceased clapping its hands
with joy. With a loud voice from the top of every bough the turtle-dove
was proclaiming the glad advent of spring. The diadem of the narcissus
shone with such splendour that you would have said it was the crown of
the Emperor of China. On this side the north wind, on that, the west
wind, were, in token of affection, scattering dirhams at the feet of the
rose.[3] The earth was musk-scented, the air musk-laden."

    [3] Referring to the custom of throwing small coins among
        crowds in the street on the occasion of a wedding. A
        dirham is a coin nearly equal in value to sixpence of
        our money.

But it would be difficult to adduce from the writings of any poet,
European or Asiatic, anything to excel the charming ode on spring, by
the Turkish poet Mesíhí, who flourished in the 15th century, which has
been rendered into graceful English verse, and in the measure of the
original, by my friend Mr. E. J. W. Gibb, in his dainty volume of
_Ottoman Poems_, published in London a few years ago. These are some of
the verses from that fine ode:

  Hark! the bulbul's[4] lay so joyous: "Now have come the days of spring!"
  Merry shows and crowds on every mead they spread, a maze of spring;
  There the almond-tree its silvery blossoms scatters, sprays of spring:
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, biding not, the days of spring!_[5]

  Once again, with flow'rets decked themselves have mead and plain;
  Tents for pleasure have the blossoms raised in every rosy lane;
  Who can tell, when spring hath ended, who and what may whole remain?
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, biding not, the days of spring!_

       *       *       *       *       *

  Sparkling dew-drops stud the lily's leaf like sabre broad and keen;
  Bent on merry gipsy party, crowd they all the flow'ry green!
  List to me, if thou desirest, these beholding, joy to glean:
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, biding not, the days of spring!_

  Rose and tulip, like to maidens' cheeks, all beauteous show,
  Whilst the dew-drops, like the jewels in their ears, resplendent glow;
  Do not think, thyself beguiling, things will aye continue so:
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, biding not, the days of spring!_

       *       *       *       *       *

  Whilst each dawn the clouds are shedding jewels o'er the rosy land,
  And the breath of morning zephyr, fraught with Tátár musk, is bland;
  Whilst the world's fair time is present, do not thou unheeding stand:
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, biding not, the days of spring!_

  With the fragrance of the garden, so imbued the musky air,
  Every dew-drop, ere it reaches earth, is turned to attar rare;
  O'er the parterre spread the incense-clouds a canopy right fair:
  _Gaily live! for soon will vanish, Biding not, the days of spring!_

    [4] The nightingale.

    [5] In the original Turkish:

          _Dinleh bulbul kissa sen kim gildi eiyami behár!
          Kurdi her bir baghda hengamei hengami behár;
          Oldi sim afshan ana ezhari badami behár:
          Ysh u nush it kim gicher kalmaz bu eiyami behár._

        Here we have an example of the _redíf_, which is common
        in Turkish and Persian poetry, and "consists of one or
        more words, always the same, added to the end of every
        rhyming line in a poem, which word or words, though
        counting in the scansion, are not regarded as the true
        rhyme, which must in every case be sought for
        immediately before them. The lines--

          There shone such truth about thee,
          I did not dare to doubt thee--

        furnish an example of this in English poetry." In the
        opening verse of Mesíhí's ode, as above transliterated
        in European characters, the _redíf_ is "behár," or
        spring, and the word which precedes it is the true
        rhyme-ending. Sir William Jones has made an elegant
        paraphrase of this charming ode, in which, however, he
        diverges considerably from the original, as will be seen
        from his rendering of the first stanza:

          Hear how the nightingale, on every spray,
          Hails in wild notes the sweet return of May!
          The gale, that o'er yon waving almond blows,
          The verdant bank with silver blossoms strows;
          The smiling season decks each flowery glade--
          Be gay; too soon the flowers of spring will fade.

This Turkish poet's maxim, it will be observed, was "enjoy the present
day"--the _carpe diem_ of Horace, the genial old pagan. On the same
suggestive theme of Springtide a celebrated Turkish poetess, Fitnet
Khánim (for the Ottoman Turks have poetesses of considerable genius as
well as poets), has composed a pleasing ode, addressed to her lord, of
which the following stanzas are also from Mr. Gibb's collection:

  The fresh spring-clouds across all earth their glistening pearls
      profuse now sow;
  The flowers, too, all appearing, forth the radiance of their beauty
  Of mirth and joy 'tis now the time, the hour, to wander to and fro;
  The palm-tree o'er the fair ones' pic-nic gay its grateful shade
      doth throw.

  _O Liege, come forth! From end to end with verdure doth the whole
      earth glow;
  'Tis springtide once again, once more the tulips and the roses blow!_

  Behold the roses, how they shine, e'en like the cheeks of maids
      most fair;
  The fresh-sprung hyacinth shows like to beauties' dark, sweet, musky
  The loved one's form behold, like cypress which the streamlet's bank
      doth bear;
  In sooth, each side for soul and heart doth some delightful joy

  _O Liege, come forth! From end to end with verdure doth the whole
      earth glow;
  'Tis springtide once again, once more the tulips and the roses blow!_

  The parterre's flowers have all bloomed forth, the roses, sweetly
      smiling, shine;
  On every side lorn nightingales, in plaintive notes discerning, pine.
  How fair carnation and wallflower the borders of the garden line!
  The long-haired hyacinth and jasmine both around the cypress twine.

  _O Liege, come forth! From end to end with verdure doth the whole
      earth glow;
  'Tis springtide once again, once more the tulips and the roses blow!_

I cannot resist the temptation to cite, in concluding this introductory
paper, another fine eulogy of the delights of spring, by Amír Khusrú, of
Delhi (14th century), from his _Mihra-i-Iskandar_, which has been thus
rendered into rhythmical prose:

"A day in spring, when all the world a pleasing picture seemed; the sun
at early dawn with happy auspices arose. The earth was bathed in balmy
dew; the beauties of the garden their charms displayed, the face of each
with brilliancy adorned. The flowers in freshness bloomed; the lamp of
the rose acquired lustre from the breeze; the tulip brought a cup from
paradise; the rose-bower shed the sweets of Eden; beneath its folds the
musky buds remained, like a musky amulet on the neck of Beauty. The
violet bent its head; the fold of the bud was closer pressed; the opened
rose in splendour glowed, and attracted every eye; the lovely flowers
oppressed with dew in tremulous motion waved. The air o'er all the
garden a silvery radiance threw, and o'er the flowers the breezes
played; on every branch the birds attuned their notes, and every bower
with warblings sweet was filled, so sweet, they stole the senses. The
early nightingale poured forth its song, that gives a zest to those who
quaff the morning goblet. From the turtle's soft cooings love seized
each bird that skimmed the air."



The _Gulistán_ consists of short tales and anecdotes, to which are
appended comments in prose and verse, and is divided into eight
chapters, or sections: (1) the Morals of Kings; (2) the Morals of
Dervishes; (3) the Excellence of Contentment; (4) the Advantages of
Taciturnity; (5) Love and Youth; (6) Imbecility and Old Age; (7) the
Effects of Education; (8) Rules for the Conduct of Life. In culling some
of the choicest flowers of this perennial Garden, the particular order
observed by Saádí need not be regarded here; it is preferable to pick
here a flower and there a flower, as fancy may direct.

       *       *       *       *       *

It may happen, says our author, that the prudent counsel of an
enlightened sage does not succeed; and it may chance that an unskilful
boy inadvertently hits the mark with his arrow: A Persian king, while on
a pleasure excursion with a number of his courtiers at Nassála Shíráz,
appointed an archery competition for the amusement of himself and his
friends. He caused a gold ring, set with a valuable gem, to be fixed on
the dome of Asád, and it was announced that whosoever should send an
arrow through the ring should obtain it as a reward of his skill. The
four hundred skilled archers forming the royal body-guard each shot at
the ring without success. It chanced that a boy on a neighbouring
house-top was at the same time diverting himself with a little bow, when
one of his arrows, shot at random, went through the ring. The boy,
having obtained the prize, immediately burned his bow, shrewdly
observing that he did so in order that the reputation of this feat
should never be impaired.

The advantage of abstinence, or rather, great moderation in eating and
drinking, is thus curiously illustrated: Two dervishes travelled
together; one was a robust man, who regularly ate three meals every day,
the other was infirm of body, and accustomed to fast frequently for two
days in succession. On their reaching the gate of a certain town, they
were arrested on suspicion of being spies, and both lodged, without
food, in the same prison, the door of which was then securely locked.
Several days after, the unlucky dervishes were found to be quite
innocent of the crime imputed to them, and on opening the door of the
prison the strong man was discovered to be dead, and the infirm man
still alive. At this circumstance the officers of justice marvelled; but
a philosopher observed, that had the contrary happened it would have
been more wonderful, since the one who died had been a great eater, and
consequently was unable to endure the want of food, while the other,
being accustomed to abstinence, had survived.

Of Núshírván the Just (whom the Greeks called Chosroe), of the Sassanian
dynasty of Persian kings--sixth century--Saádí relates that on one
occasion, while at his hunting-seat, he was having some game dressed,
and ordered a servant to procure some salt from a neighbouring village,
at the same time charging him strictly to pay the full price for it,
otherwise the exaction might become a custom. His courtiers were
surprised at this order, and asked the king what possible harm could
ensue from such a trifle. The good king replied: "Oppression was brought
into the world from small beginnings, which every new comer increased,
until it has reached the present degree of enormity." Upon this Saádí
remarks: "If the monarch were to eat a single apple from the garden of a
peasant, the servant would pull up the tree by the roots; and if the
king order five eggs to be taken by force, his soldiers will spit a
thousand fowls. The iniquitous tyrant remaineth not, but the curses of
mankind rest on him for ever."

Only those who have experienced danger can rightly appreciate the
advantages of safety, and according as a man has become acquainted with
adversity does he recognise the value of prosperity--a sentiment which
Saádí illustrates by the story of a boy who was in a vessel at sea for
the first time, in which were also the king and his officers of state.
The lad was in great fear of being drowned, and made a loud outcry, in
spite of every effort of those around him to soothe him into
tranquility. As his lamentations annoyed the king, a sage who was of the
company offered to quiet the terrified youth, with his majesty's
permission, which being granted, he caused the boy to be plunged several
times in the sea and then drawn up into the ship, after which the youth
retired to a corner and remained perfectly quiet. The king inquired why
the lad had been subjected to such roughness, to which the sage replied:
"At first he had never experienced the danger of being drowned, neither
had he known the safety of a ship."

One of our English moralists has remarked that the man who chiefly
prides himself on his ancestry is like a potato-plant, whose best
qualities are under ground. Saádí tells us of an old Arab who said to
his son: "O my child, in the day of resurrection they will ask you what
you have done in the world, and not from whom you are descended."--In
the _Akhlák-i-Jalaly_, a work comprising the practical philosophy of the
Muhammedans, written, in the 15th century, in the Persian language, by
Fakír Jání Muhammed Asaád, and translated into English by W. F. Thompson,
Alí, the Prophet's cousin, is reported to have said:

  My soul is my father, my title my worth;
  A Persian or Arab, there's little between:
  Give me him for a comrade, whatever his birth,
  Who shows what _he is_--not what _others have been_.

An Arabian poet says:

  Be the son of whom thou wilt, try to acquire literature,
  The acquisition of which may make pedigree unnecessary to thee;
  Since a man of worth is he who can say, "I am so and so,"
  Not he who can only say, "My father was so and so."

And again:

  Ask not a man who his father was, but make trial
  Of his qualities, and then conciliate or reject him accordingly
  For it is no disgrace to new wine, if it only be sweet,
  As to its taste, that it was the juice [or daughter] of sour grapes.

The often-quoted maxim of La Rochefoucauld, that there is something in
the misfortunes of our friends which affords us a degree of secret
pleasure, is well known to the Persians. Saádí tells us of a merchant
who, having lost a thousand dínars, cautioned his son not to mention the
matter to anyone, "in order," said he, "that we may not suffer two
misfortunes--the loss of our money and the secret satisfaction of our

A generous disposition is thus eloquently recommended: They asked a wise
man, which was preferable, fortitude or liberality, to which he replied:
"He who possesses liberality has no need of fortitude. It is inscribed
on the tomb of Bahram-i-Gúr that a liberal hand is preferable to a
strong arm." "Hátim Taï," remarks Saádí, "no longer exists, but his
exalted name will remain famous for virtue to eternity.[6] Distribute
the tithe of your wealth in alms, for when the husbandman lops off the
exuberant branches from the vine, it produces an increase of grapes."

    [6] Hátim was chief of the Arabian tribe of Taï, shortly
        before Muhammed began to promulgate Islám, renowned for
        his extraordinary liberality.

Prodigality, however, is as much to be condemned as judicious liberality
is to be lauded. Saádí gives the following account of a Persian prodigal
son, who was not so fortunate in the end as his biblical prototype: The
son of a religious man, who succeeded to an immense fortune by the will
of his uncle, became a dissipated and debauched profligate, in so much
that he left no heinous crime unpractised, nor was there any
intoxicating drug which he had not tasted. Once I admonished him,
saying: "O my son, wealth is a running stream, and pleasure revolves
like a millstone; or, in other words, profuse expense suits him only who
has a certain income. When you have no certain income, be frugal in your
expenses, because the sailors have a song, that if the rain does not
fall in the mountains, the Tigris will become a dry bed of sand in the
course of a year. Practise wisdom and virtue, and relinquish sensuality,
for when your money is spent you will suffer distress and expose
yourself to shame."[7] The young man, seduced by music and wine, would
not take my advice, but, in opposition to my arguments, said: "It is
contrary to the wisdom of the sages to disturb our present enjoyments by
the dread of futurity. Why should they who possess fortune suffer
distress by anticipating sorrow? Go and be merry, O my enchanting
friend! We ought not to be uneasy to-day for what may happen to-morrow.
How would it become me, who am placed in the uppermost seat of
liberality, so that the fame of my bounty is wide spread? When a man has
acquired reputation by liberality and munificence, it does not become
him to tie up his money-bags. When your good name has been spread
through the street, you cannot shut your door against it." I perceived
(continues Saádí) that he did not approve of my admonition, and that my
warm breath did not affect his cold iron. I ceased advising, and,
quitting his society, returned into the corner of safety, in conformity
with the saying of the philosophers: "Admonish and exhort as your
charity requires; if they mind not, it does not concern you. Although
thou knowest that they will not listen, nevertheless speak whatever you
know is advisable. It will soon come to pass that you will see the silly
fellow with his feet in the stocks, smiting his hands and exclaiming,
'Alas, that I did not listen to the wise man's advice!'" After some
time, that which I had predicted from his dissolute conduct I saw
verified. He was clothed in rags, and begging a morsel of food. I was
distressed at his wretched condition, and did not think it consistent
with humanity to scratch his wound with reproach. But I said in my
heart: Profligate men, when intoxicated with pleasure, reflect not on
the day of poverty. The tree which in the summer has a profusion of
fruit is consequently without leaves in winter.

    [7] Auvaiyár, the celebrated poetess of the Tamils (in
        Southern India), who is said to have flourished in the
        ninth century, says, in her poem entitled _Nalvali_:

          Mark this: who lives beyond his means
          Forfeits respect, loses his sense;
          Where'er he goes through the seven births,
          All count him knave; him women scorn.

The incapacity of some youths to receive instruction is always a source
of vexation to the pedagogue. Saádí tells us of a vazír who sent his
stupid son to a learned man, requesting him to impart some of his
knowledge to the lad, hoping that his mind would be improved. After
attempting to instruct him for some time without effect, he sent this
message to his father: "Your son has no capacity, and has almost
distracted me. When nature has given capacity instruction will make
impressions; but if iron is not of the proper temper, no polishing will
make it good. Wash not a dog in the seven seas, for when he is wetted he
will only be the dirtier. If the ass that carried Jesus Christ were to
be taken to Mecca, at his return he would still be an ass."

One of the greatest sages of antiquity is reported to have said that all
the knowledge he had acquired merely taught him how little he did know;
and indeed it is only smatterers who are vain of their supposed
knowledge. A sensible young man, says Saádí, who had made considerable
progress in learning and virtue, was at the same time so discreet that
he would sit in the company of learned men without uttering a word. Once
his father said to him: "My son, why do you not also say something you
know?" He replied: "I fear lest they should question me about something
of which I am ignorant, whereby I should suffer shame."

The advantages of education are thus set forth by a philosopher who was
exhorting his children: "Acquire knowledge, for in worldly riches and
possessions no reliance can be placed.[8] Rank will be of no use out of
your own country; and on a journey money is in danger of being lost, for
either the thief may carry it off all at once, or the possessor may
consume it by degrees. But knowledge is a perennial spring of wealth,
and if a man of education cease to be opulent, yet he need not be
sorrowful, for knowledge of itself is riches.[9] A man of learning,
wheresoever he goes, is treated with respect, and sits in the uppermost
seat, whilst the ignorant man gets only scanty fare and encounters
distress." There once happened (adds Saádí) an insurrection in Damascus,
where every one deserted his habitation. The wise sons of a peasant
became the king's ministers, and the stupid sons of the vazír were
reduced to ask charity in the villages. If you want a paternal
inheritance, acquire from your father knowledge, for wealth may be spent
in ten days.

    [8] "All perishes except learning."--_Auvaiyár_.

    [9] "Learning is really the most valuable treasure.--A wise
        man will never cease to learn.--He who has attained
        learning by free self-application excels other
        philosophers.--Let thy learning be thy best
        friend.--What we have learned in youth is like writing
        cut in stone.--If all else should be lost, what we have
        learned will never be lost.--Learn one thing after
        another, but not hastily.--Though one is of low birth,
        learning will make him respected."--_Auvaiyár_.

In the following charming little tale Saádí recounts an interesting
incident in his own life: I remember that in my youth, as I was passing
through a street, I cast my eyes on a beautiful girl. It was in the
autumn, when the heat dried up all moisture from the mouth, and the
sultry wind made the marrow boil in the bones, so that, being unable to
support the sun's powerful rays, I was obliged to take shelter under the
shade of a wall, in hopes that some one would relieve me from the
distressing heat, and quench my thirst with a draught of water. Suddenly
from the portico of a house I beheld a female form whose beauty it is
impossible for the tongue of eloquence to describe, insomuch that it
seemed as if the dawn was rising in the obscurity of night, or as if the
Water of Immortality was issuing from the Land of Darkness. She held in
her hand a cup of snow-water, into which she had sprinkled sugar and
mixed with it the juice of the grape. I know not whether what I
perceived was the fragrance of rose-water, or that she had infused into
it a few drops from the blossom of her cheek. In short, I received the
cup from her beauteous hand, and, drinking the contents, found myself
restored to new life. The thirst of my soul is not such that it can be
allayed with a drop of pure water--the streams of whole rivers would not
satisfy it. How happy is that fortunate one whose eyes every morning may
behold such a countenance! He who is intoxicated with wine will be sober
again in the course of the night; but he who is intoxicated by the
cup-bearer will never recover his senses till the day of judgment.

Alas, poor Saádí! The lovely cup-bearer, who made such a lasting
impression on the heart of the young poet, was not destined for his
bride. His was indeed a sad matrimonial fate; and who can doubt but that
the beauteous form of the stranger maiden would often rise before his
mental view after he was married to the Xantippe who rendered some
portion of his life unhappy!

Among the tales under the heading of "Imbecility and Old Age" we have
one of "oldé January that wedded was to freshé May," which points its
moral now as it did six hundred years ago: When I married a young
virgin, said an old man, I bedecked a chamber with flowers, sat with her
alone, and had fixed my eyes and heart solely upon her. Many long nights
I passed without sleep, repeating jests and pleasantries, to remove
shyness, and make her familiar. On one of these nights I said: "Fortune
has been propitious to you, in that you have fallen into the society of
an old man, of mature judgment, who has seen the world, and experienced
various situations of good and bad fortune, who knows the rights of
society, and has performed the duties of friendship;--one who is
affectionate, affable, cheerful, and conversable. I will exert my utmost
endeavours to gain your affection, and if you should treat me unkindly I
will not be offended; or if, like the parrot, your food should be sugar,
I will devote my sweet life to your support. You have not met with a
youth of a rude disposition, with a weak understanding, headstrong, a
gadder, who would be constantly changing his situations and
inclinations, sleeping every night in a new place, and every day forming
some new intimacy. Young men may be lively and handsome, but they are
inconstant in their attachments. Look not thou for fidelity from those
who, with the eyes of the nightingale, are every instant singing upon a
different rose-bush. But old men pass their time in wisdom and good
manners, not in the ignorance and frivolity of youth. Seek one better
than yourself, and having found him, consider yourself fortunate. With
one like yourself you would pass your life without improvement." I spoke
a great deal after this manner (continued the old man), and thought that
I had made a conquest of her heart, when suddenly she heaved a cold sigh
from the bottom of her heart, and replied: "All the fine speeches that
you have been uttering have not so much weight in the scale of my reason
as one single sentence I have heard from my nurse, that if you plant an
arrow in the side of a young woman it is not so painful as the society
of an old man." In short (continued he), it was impossible to agree, and
our differences ended in a separation. After the time prescribed by law,
she married a young man of an impetuous temper, ill-natured, and in
indigent circumstances, so that she suffered the injuries of violence,
with the evils of penury. Nevertheless she returned thanks for her lot,
and said: "God be praised that I escaped from infernal torment, and have
obtained this permanent blessing. Amidst all your violence and
impetuosity of temper, I will put up with your airs, because you are
handsome. It is better to burn with you in hell than to be in paradise
with the other. The scent of onions from a beautiful mouth is more
fragrant than the odour of the rose from the hand of one who is ugly."

It must be allowed that this old man put his own case to his young wife
with very considerable address: yet, such is woman-nature, she chose to
be "a young man's slave rather than an old man's darling." And,
_apropos_, Saádí has another story which may be added to the foregoing:
An old man was asked why he did not marry. He answered: "I should not
like an old woman." "Then marry a young one, since you have property."
Quoth he: "Since I, who am an old man, should not be pleased with an old
woman, how can I expect that a young one would be attached to me?"

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown," says our great dramatist, in
proof of which take this story: A certain king, when arrived at the end
of his days, having no heir, directed in his will that the morning after
his death the first person who entered the gate of the city they should
place on his head the crown of royalty, and commit to his charge the
government of the kingdom. It happened that the first to enter the city
was a dervish, who all his life had collected victuals from the
charitable and sewed patch on patch. The ministers of state and the
nobles of the court carried out the king's will, bestowing on him the
kingdom and the treasure. For some time the dervish governed the
kingdom, until part of the nobility swerved their necks from obedience
to him, and all the neighbouring monarchs, engaging in hostile
confederacies, attacked him with their armies. In short, the troops and
peasantry were thrown into confusion, and he lost the possession of some
territories. The dervish was distressed at these events, when an old
friend, who had been his companion in the days of poverty, returned from
a journey, and, finding him in such an exalted state, said: "Praised be
the God of excellence and glory, that your high fortune has aided you
and prosperity been your guide, so that a rose has issued from the
brier, and the thorn has been extracted from your foot, and you have
arrived at this dignity. Of a truth, joy succeeds sorrow; the bud does
sometimes blossom and sometimes wither; the tree is sometimes naked and
sometimes clothed." He replied: "O brother, condole with me, for this is
not a time for congratulation. When you saw me last, I was only anxious
how to obtain bread; but now I have all the cares of the world to
encounter. If the times are adverse, I am in pain; and if they are
prosperous, I am captivated with worldly enjoyments. There is no
calamity greater than worldly affairs, because they distress the heart
in prosperity as well as in adversity. If you want riches, seek only for
contentment, which is inestimable wealth. If the rich man would throw
money into your lap, consider not yourself obliged to him, for I have
often heard that the patience of the poor is preferable to the
liberality of the rich."

Muezzins, who call the faithful to prayer at the prescribed hours from
the minarets of the mosques, are generally blind men, as a man with his
eyesight might spy into the domestic privacy of the citizens, who sleep
on the flat roofs of their houses in the hot season, and are selected
for their sweetness of voice. Saádí, however, tells us of a man who
performed gratuitously the office of muezzin, and had such a voice as
disgusted all who heard it. The intendant of the mosque, a good, humane
man, being unwilling to offend him, said one day: "My friend, this
mosque has muezzins of long standing, each of whom has a monthly stipend
of ten dínars. Now I will give you ten dínars to go to another place."
The man agreed to this and went away. Some time after he came to the
intendant and said: "O, my lord, you injured me in sending me away from
this station for ten dínars; for where I went they will give me twenty
dínars to remove to another place, to which I have not consented." The
intendant laughed, and said: "Take care--don't accept of the offer, for
they may be willing to give you fifty."

To those who have "music in their souls," and are "moved by concord of
sweet sounds," the tones of a harsh voice are excruciating; and if among
our statesmen and other public speakers "silver tongues" are rare, they
are much more so among our preachers. The Church of Rome does not admit
into the priesthood men who have any bodily shortcoming or defect; it
would also be well if all candidates for holy orders in the English and
Scottish Churches whose voices are not at least tolerable were rejected,
as unfit to preach! Saádí seems to have had a great horror of braying
orators, and relates a number of anecdotes about them, such as this: A
preacher who had a detestable voice, but thought he had a very sweet
one, bawled out to no purpose. You would say the croaking of the crow in
the desert was the burden of his song, and that this verse of the Kurán
was intended for him, "Verily the most detestable of sounds is the
braying of an ass." When this ass of a preacher brayed, it made
Persepolis tremble. The people of the town, on account of the
respectability of his office, submitted to the calamity, and did not
think it advisable to molest him, until one of the neighbouring
preachers, who was secretly ill-disposed towards him, came once to see
him, and said: "I have had a dream--may it prove good!" "What did you
dream?" "I thought you had a sweet voice, and that the people were
enjoying tranquility from your discourse." The preacher, after
reflecting a little, replied: "What a happy dream is this that you have
had, which has discovered to me my defect, in that I have an unpleasant
voice, and that the people are distressed at my preaching. I am resolved
that in future I will read only in a low tone. The company of friends
was disadvantageous to me, because they look on my bad manners as
excellent: my defects appear to them skill and perfection, and my thorn
as the rose and the jasmin."

Our author, as we have seen, enlivens his moral discourses occasionally
with humorous stories, and one or two more of these may fittingly close
the present section: One of the slaves of Amrúlais having run away, a
person was sent in pursuit of him and brought him back. The vazír, being
inimical to him, commanded him to be put to death in order to deter
other slaves from committing the like offence. The slave prostrated
himself before Amrúlais and said: "Whatever may happen to me with your
approbation is lawful--what plea can the slave offer against the
sentence of his lord? But, seeing that I have been brought up under the
bounties of your house, I do not wish that at the resurrection you shall
be charged with my blood. If you are resolved to kill your slave, do so
comformably to the interpretation of the law, in order that at the
resurrection you may not suffer reproach." The king asked: "After what
manner shall I expound it?" The slave replied: "Give me leave to kill
the vazír, and then, in retaliation for him, order me to be put to
death, that you may kill me justly." The king laughed, and asked the
vazír what was his advice in this matter. Quoth the vazír: "O my lord,
as an offering to the tomb of your father, liberate this rogue, in order
that I may not also fall into this calamity. The crime is on my side,
for not having observed the words of the sages, who say, 'When you
combat with one who flings clods of earth, you break your own head by
your folly: when you shoot at the face of your enemy, be careful that
you sit out of his aim.'"--And not a little wit, too, did the kází
exhibit when detected by the king in an intrigue with a farrier's
daughter, and his Majesty gave order that he should be flung from the
top of the castle, "as an example for others"; to which the kází
replied: "O monarch of the universe, I have been fostered in your
family, and am not singular in the commission of such crimes; therefore,
I ask you to precipitate some one else, in order that I may benefit by
the example." The king laughed at his wit, and spared his life.--Nor is
this tale without a spice of humour: An astrologer entered his house and
finding a stranger in company with his wife abused him, and called him
such opprobrious names that a quarrel and strife ensued. A shrewd man,
being informed of this, said to the astrologer: "What do you know of the
heavenly bodies, when you cannot tell what goes on in your own
house?"[10]--Last, and perhaps best of all, is this one: I was
hesitating about concluding a bargain for a house, when a Jew said: "I
am an old householder in that quarter; inquire of me the description of
the house, and buy it, for it has no fault." I replied: "Excepting that
you are one of the neighbours!"

   [10] There is a similar story to this in one of our old
        English jest-books, _Tales and Quicke Answeres_, 1535,
        as follows (I have modernised the spelling): As an
        astronomer [i.e. an astrologer] sat upon a time in the
        market place, and took upon him to divine and to show
        what their fortunes and chances should be that came to
        him, there came a fellow and told him (as it was indeed)
        that thieves had broken into his house, and had borne
        away all that he had. These tidings grieved him so sore
        that, all heavy and sorrowfully, he rose up and went his
        way. When the fellow saw him do so, he said: "O thou
        foolish and mad man! goest thou about to divine other
        men's matters, and art ignorant of thine own?"



Besides the maxims comprised in the concluding chapter of the
_Gulistán_, under the heading of "Rules for the Conduct of Life," many
others, of great pith and moment, are interspersed with the tales and
anecdotes which Saádí recounts in the preceding chapters, a selection of
which can hardly fail to prove both instructive and interesting.

It is related that at the court of Núshírván, king of Persia, a number
of wise men were discussing a difficult question; and Buzurjmihr (his
famous prime minister), being silent, was asked why he did not take part
in the debate. He answered: "Ministers are like physicians, and the
physician gives medicine to the sick only. Therefore, when I see your
opinions are judicious, it would not be consistent with wisdom for me to
obtrude my sentiments. When a matter can be managed without my
interference it is not proper for me to speak on the subject. But if I
see a blind man in the way of a well, should I keep silence it were a
crime." On another occasion, when some Indian sages were discoursing on
his virtue, they could discover in him only this fault, that he
hesitated in his speech, so that his hearers were kept a long time in
suspense before he delivered his sentiments. Buzurjmihr overheard their
conversation and observed: "It is better to deliberate before I speak
than to repent of what I have said."[11]

   [11] The sayings of Buzurjmihr, the sagacious prime minister
        of King Núshírván, are often cited by Persian writers,
        and a curious story of his precocity when a mere youth
        is told in the _Latá'yif at-Taw'áyif_, a Persian
        collection, made by Al-Káshifí, of which a translation
        will be found in my "Analogues and Variants" of the
        Tales in vol. iii of Sir R. F. Burton's _Supplemental
        Arabian Nights_, pp. 567-9--too long for reproduction

A parallel to this last saying of the Persian vazír is found in a
"notable sentence" of a wise Greek, in this passage from the _Dictes, or
Sayings of Philosophers_, printed by Caxton (I have modernised the

"There came before a certain king three wise men, a Greek, a Jew, and a
Saracen, of whom the said king desired that each of them would utter
some good and notable sentence. Then the Greek said: 'I may well correct
and amend my thoughts, but not my words.' The Jew said: 'I marvel of
them that say things prejudicial, when silence were more profitable.'
The Saracen said: 'I am master of my words ere they are pronounced; but
when they are spoken I am servant thereto.' And it was asked one of
them: 'Who might be called a king?' And he answered: 'He that is not
subject to his own will.'"

The _Dictes, or Sayings of Philosophers_, of which, I believe, but one
perfect copy is extant, was translated from the French by Earl Rivers,
and printed by Caxton, at Westminister, in the year 1477, as we learn
from the colophon. I am not aware that any one has taken the trouble to
trace to their sources all the sayings comprised in this collection, but
I think the original of the above is to be found in the following, from
the preface to the Arabian version (from the Pahlaví, the ancient
language of Persia) of the celebrated Fables of Bidpaï, entitled _Kalíla
wa Dimna_, made in the year 754:

"The four kings of China, India, Persia, and Greece, being together,
agreed each of them to deliver a saying which might be recorded to their
honour in after ages. The king of China said: 'I have more power over
that which I have not spoken than I have to recall what has once passed
my lips.' The king of India: 'I have been often struck with the risk of
speaking; for if a man be heard in his own praise it is unprofitable
boasting, and what he says to his own discredit is injurious in its
consequences.' The king of Persia: 'I am the slave of what I have
spoken, but the master of what I conceal.' The king of Greece: 'I have
never regretted the silence which I had imposed upon myself; though I
have often repented of the words I have uttered;[12] for silence is
attended with advantage, whereas loquacity is often followed by
incurable evils.'"

   [12] Simonides used to say that he never regretted having
        held his tongue, but very often had he felt sorry for
        having spoken.--_Stobæus_: Flor. xxxiii, 12.

The Persian poet Jámí--the last of the brilliant galaxy of genius who
enriched the literature of their country, and who flourished two
centuries after Saádí had passed to his rest--reproduces these sayings
of the four kings in his work entitled _Baháristán_, or Abode of Spring,
which is similar in design to the _Gulistán_.

Among the sayings of other wise men (whose names, however, Saádí does
not mention) are the following: A devotee, who had quitted his monastery
and become a member of a college, being asked what difference there is
between a learned man and a religious man to induce him thus to change
his associates, answered: "The devotee saves his own blanket out of the
waves, and the learned man endeavours to save others from drowning."--A
young man complained to his spiritual guide of his studies being
frequently interrupted by idle and impudent visitors, and desired to
know by what means he might rid himself of the annoyance. The sage
replied: "To such as are poor lend money, and of such as are rich ask
money, and, depend upon it, you will never see one of them again."

Saádí's own aphorisms are not less striking and instructive. They are
indeed calculated to stimulate the faltering to manly exertion, and to
counsel the inexperienced. It is to youthful minds, however, that the
"words of the wise" are more especially addressed; for it is during the
spring-time of life that the seeds of good and evil take root; and so we
find the sage Hebrew king frequently addressing his maxims to the young:
"My son," is his formula, "my son, attend to my words, and bow thine ear
to my understanding; that thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy
lips may keep knowledge." And the "good and notable sentences" of Saádí
are well worthy of being treasured by the young man on the threshold of
life. For example:

"Life is snow, and the summer advanceth; only a small portion remaineth:
art thou still slothful?"

This warning has been reiterated by moralists in all ages and
countries;--the Great Teacher says: "Work while it is day, for the night
cometh when no man can work." And Saádí, in one of his sermons (which is
found in another of his books), recounts this beautiful fable, in
illustration of the fortunes of the slothful and the industrious:

It is related that in a certain garden a Nightingale had built his nest
on the bough of a rose-bush. It so happened that a poor little Ant had
fixed her dwelling at the root of this same bush, and managed as best
she could to store her wretched hut of care with winter provision. Day
and night was the Nightingale fluttering round the rose-bower, and
tuning the barbut[13] of his soul-deluding melody; indeed, whilst the
Ant was night and day industriously occupied, the thousand-songed bird
seemed fascinated with his own sweet voice, echoing amidst the trees.
The Nightingale was whispering his secret to the Rose,[14] and that,
full-blown by the zephyr of the dawn, would ogle him in return. The poor
Ant could not help admiring the coquettish airs of the Rose, and the gay
blandishments of the Nightingale, and incontinently remarking: "Time
alone can disclose what may be the end of this frivolity and talk!"
After the flowery season of summer was gone, and the black time of
winter was come, thorns took the station of the Rose, and the raven the
perch of the Nightingale. The storms of autumn raged in fury, and the
foliage of the grove was shed upon the ground. The cheek of the leaf was
turned yellow, and the breath of the wind was chill and blasting. The
gathering cloud poured down hailstones, like pearls, and flakes of snow
floated like camphor on the bosom of the air. Suddenly the Nightingale
returned into the garden, but he met neither the bloom of the Rose nor
fragrance of the spikenard; notwithstanding his thousand-songed tongue,
he stood stupified and mute, for he could discover no flower whose form
he might admire, nor any verdure whose freshness he might enjoy. The
Thorn turned round to him and said: "How long, silly bird, wouldst thou
be courting the society of the Rose? Now is the season that in the
absence of thy charmer thou must put up with the heart-rending bramble
of separation." The Nightingale cast his eye upon the scene around him,
but saw nothing fit to eat. Destitute of food, his strength and
fortitude failed him, and in his abject helplessness he was unable to
earn himself a little livelihood. He called to his mind and said:
"Surely the Ant had in former days his dwelling underneath this tree,
and was busy in hoarding a store of provision: now I will lay my wants
before her, and, in the name of good neighbourship, and with an appeal
to her generosity, beg some small relief. Peradventure she may pity my
distress and bestow her charity upon me." Like a poor suppliant, the
half-famished Nightingale presented himself at the Ant's door, and said:
"Generosity is the harbinger of prosperity, and the capital stock of
good luck. I was wasting my precious life in idleness whilst thou wast
toiling hard and laying up a hoard. How considerate and good it were of
thee wouldst thou spare me a portion of it." The Ant replied:

"Thou wast day and night occupied in idle talk, and I in attending to
the needful: one moment thou wast taken up with the fresh blandishment
of the Rose, and the next busy in admiring the blossoming spring. Wast
thou not aware that every summer has its fall and every road an

   [13] The name of a musical instrument.

   [14] The fancied love of the nightingale for the rose is a
        favourite theme of Persian poets.

   [15] Cf. the fable of Anianus: After laughing all summer at
        her toil, the Grasshopper came in winter to borrow part
        of the Ant's store of food. "Tell me," said the Ant,
        "what you did in the summer?" "I sang," replied the
        Grasshopper. "Indeed," rejoined the Ant. "Then you may
        dance and keep yourself warm during the winter."

These are a few more of Saádí's aphorisms:

Riches are for the comfort of life, and not life for the accumulation of

   [16] Auvaiyár, the celebrated Indian poetess, in her
        _Nalvali_, says:

          Hark! ye who vainly toil and wealth
          Amass--O sinful men, the soul
          Will leave its nest; where then will be
          The buried treasure that you lose?

The eye of the avaricious man cannot be satisfied with wealth, any more
than a well can be filled with dew.

A wicked rich man is a clod of earth gilded.

The liberal man who eats and bestows is better than the religious man
who fasts and hoards.

Publish not men's secret faults, for by disgracing them you make
yourself of no repute.

He who gives advice to a self-conceited man stands himself in need of
counsel from another.

The vicious cannot endure the sight of the virtuous, in the same manner
as the curs of the market howl at a hunting-dog, but dare not approach

When a mean wretch cannot vie with any man in virtue, out of his
wickedness he begins to slander him. The abject, envious wretch will
slander the virtuous man when absent, but when brought face to face his
loquacious tongue becomes dumb.

O thou, who hast satisfied thy hunger, to thee a barley loaf is beneath
notice;--that seems loveliness to me which in thy sight appears

The ringlets of fair maids are chains for the feet of reason, and snares
for the bird of wisdom.

When you have anything to communicate that will distress the heart of
the person whom it concerns, be silent, in order that he may hear it
from some one else. O nightingale, bring thou the glad tidings of the
spring, and leave bad news to the owl!

It often happens that the imprudent is honoured and the wise despised.
The alchemist died of poverty and distress, while the blockhead found a
treasure under a ruin.

Covetousness sews up the eyes of cunning, and brings both bird and fish
into the net.

Although, in the estimation of the wise, silence is commendable, yet at
a proper season speech is preferable.[17]

   [17] "Comprehensive talkers are apt to be tiresome when we
        are not athirst for information; but, to be quite fair,
        we must admit that superior reticence is a good deal due
        to the lack of matter. Speech is often barren, but
        silence does not necessarily brood over a full nest.
        Your still fowl, blinking at you without remark, may all
        the while be sitting on one addled nest-egg; and when it
        takes to cackling will have nothing to announce but that
        addled delusion."--George Eliot's _Felix Holt_.

Two things indicate an obscure understanding: to be silent when we
should converse, and to speak when we should be silent.

Put not yourself so much in the power of your friend that, if he should
become your enemy, he may be able to injure you.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our English poet Young has this observation in his _Night Thoughts_:

  Thought, in the mine, may come forth gold or dross;
  When coined in word, we know its real worth.

He had been thus anticipated by Saádí: "To what shall be likened the
tongue in a man's mouth? It is the key of the treasury of wisdom. When
the door is shut, who can discover whether he deals in jewels or

The poet Thomson, in his _Seasons_, has these lines, which have long
been hackneyed:

  Needs not the aid of foreign ornament,
  But is when unadorned adorned the most.

Saádí had anticipated him also: "The face of the beloved," he says,
"requireth not the art of the tire-woman. The finger of a beautiful
woman and the tip of her ear are handsome without an ear-jewel or a
turquoise ring." But Saádí, in his turn, was forestalled by the Arabian
poet-hero Antar, in his famous _Mu'allaka_, or prize-poem, which is at
least thirteen hundred years old, where he says: "Many a consort of a
fair one, whose beauty required no ornaments, have I laid prostrate on
the field."

Yet one Persian poet, at least, namely, Nakhshabí, held a different
opinion: "Beauty," he says, "adorned with ornaments, portends disastrous
events to our hearts. An amiable form, ornamented with diamonds and
gold, is like a melodious voice accompanied by the rabáb." Again, he
says: "Ornaments are the universal ravishers of hearts, and an upper
garment for the shoulder is like a cluster of gems. If dress, however,"
he concedes, "may have been at any time the assistant of beauty, beauty
is always the animator of dress." It is remarkable that homely-featured
women dress more gaudily than their handsome sisters generally, thus
unconsciously bringing their lack of beauty (not to put too fine a point
on it) into greater prominence.

In common with other moralists, Saádí reiterates the maxim that learning
and virtue, precept and practice, should ever go hand in hand. "Two
persons," says he, "took trouble in vain: he who acquired wealth without
using it, and he who taught wisdom without practising it." Again: "He
who has acquired knowledge and does not practise it, is like unto him
that ploughed but did not sow." And again: "How much soever you may
study science, when you do not act wisely, you are ignorant. The beast
that they load with books is not profoundly wise and learned: what
knoweth his empty skull whether he carrieth fire-wood or books?" And yet
again: "A learned man without temperance is like a blind man carrying a
lamp: he showeth the way to others, but does not guide himself."

Ingratitude is denounced by all moralists as the lowest of vices. Thus
Saádí says: "Man is beyond dispute the most excellent of created beings,
and the vilest animal is the dog; but the sages agree that a grateful
dog is better than an ungrateful man. A dog never forgets a morsel,
though you pelt him a hundred times with stones. But if you cherish a
mean wretch for an age, he will fight with you for a mere trifle." In
language still more forcible does a Hindú poet denounce this basest of
vices: "To cut off the teats of a cow;[18] to occasion a pregnant woman
to miscarry; to injure a Bráhman--are sins of the most aggravated
nature; but more atrocious than these is ingratitude."

   [18] The cow is sacred among the Hindús.

The sentiment so tersely expressed in the Chinese proverb, "He who never
reveals a secret keeps it best," is thus finely amplified by Saádí: "The
matter which you wish to preserve as a secret impart not to every one,
although he may be worthy of confidence; for no one will be so true to
your secret as yourself. It is safer to be silent than to reveal a
secret to any one, and tell him not to mention it. O wise man! stop the
water at the spring-head, for when it is in full stream you cannot
arrest it."[19]

   [19] Thus also Jámí, in his _Baháristán_ (Second "Garden"):
        "With regard to a secret divulged and one kept
        concealed, there is in use an excellent proverb, that
        the one is an arrow still in our possession, and the
        other is an arrow sent from the bow." And another
        Persian poet, whose name I have not ascertained,
        eloquently exclaims: "O my heart! if thou desirest ease
        in this life, keep thy secrets undisclosed, like the
        modest rose-bud. Take warning from that lovely flower,
        which, by expanding its hitherto hidden beauties when in
        full bloom, gives its leaves and its happiness to the

The imperative duty of active benevolence is thus inculcated: "Bestow
thy gold and thy wealth while they are thine; for when thou art gone
they will be no longer in thy power. Distribute thy treasure readily
to-day, for to-morrow the key may be no longer in thy hand. Exert
thyself to cast a covering over the poor, that God's own veil may be a
covering to thee."

In the following passage the man of learning and virtue is contrasted
with the stupid and ignorant blockhead:

"If a wise man, falling into company with mean people, does not get
credit for his discourse, be not surprised, for the sound of the harp
cannot overpower the noise of the drum, and the fragrance of ambergris
is overcome by fetid garlic. The ignorant fellow was proud of his loud
voice, because he had impudently confounded the man of understanding. If
a jewel falls in the mud it is still the same precious stone,[20] and if
dust flies up to the sky it retains its original baseness. A capacity
without education is deplorable, and education without capacity is
thrown away. Sugar obtains not its value from the cane, but from its
innate quality. Musk has fragrance of itself, and not from being called
a perfume by the druggist. The wise man is like the druggist's chest,
silent, but full of virtues; while the blockhead resembles the warrior's
drum, noisy, but an empty prattler. A wise man in the company of those
who are ignorant has been compared by the sages to a beautiful girl in
the company of blind men, and to the Kurán in the house of an
infidel."--The old proverb that "an evil bird has an evil egg" finds
expression by Saádí thus: "No one whose origin is bad ever catches the
reflection of the good." Again, he says: "How can we make a good sword
out of bad iron? A worthless person cannot by education become a person
of any worth." And yet again: "Evil habits which have taken root in
one's nature will only be got rid of at the hour of death."

   [20] Is such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was if
        it is not praised?--_Marcus Aurelius_.

          If glass be used to decorate a crown,
          While gems are taken to bedeck a foot,
          'Tis not that any fault lies in the gem,
          But in the want of knowledge of the setter.

        --_Panchatantra_, a famous Indian book of Fables.

Firdausí, the Homer of Persia (eleventh century), has the following
remarks in his scathing satire on the sultan Mahmúd, of Ghazní
(Atkinson's rendering):

  Alas! from vice can goodness ever spring?
  Is mercy hoped for in a tyrant king?
  Can water wash the Ethiopian white?
  Can we remove the darkness from the night?
  The tree to which a bitter fruit is given
  Would still be bitter in the bowers of heaven;
  And a bad heart keeps on its vicious course,
  Or, if it changes, changes for the worse;
  Whilst streams of milk where Eden's flow'rets blow
  Acquire more honied sweetness as they flow.

The striking words of the Great Teacher, "How hardly shall they that
have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" find an interesting analogue
in this passage by Saádí: "There is a saying of the Prophet, 'To the
poor death is a state of rest.' The ass that carries the lightest burden
travels easiest. In like manner, the good man who bears the burden of
poverty will enter the gate of death lightly loaded, while he who lives
in affluence, with ease and comfort, will, doubtless, on that very
account find death very terrible. And in any view, the captive who is
released from confinement is happier than the noble who is taken

A singular anecdote is told of another celebrated Persian poet, which
may serve as a kind of commentary on this last-cited passage: Faridú
'd-Dín 'Attár, who died in the year 1229, when over a hundred years old,
was considered the most perfect Súfí[21] philosopher of the time in
which he lived. His father was an eminent druggist in Nishapúr, and for
a time Faridú 'd-Dín followed the same profession, and his shop was the
delight of all who passed by it, from the neatness of its arrangements
and the fragrant odours of drugs and essences. 'Attár, which means
druggist, or perfumer, Faridú 'd-Dín adopted for his poetical title. One
day, while sitting at his door with a friend, an aged dervish drew near,
and, after looking anxiously and closely into the well-furnished shop,
he sighed heavily and shed tears, as he reflected on the transitory
nature of all earthly things. 'Attár, mistaking the sentiment uppermost
in the mind of the venerable devotee, ordered him to be gone, to which
he meekly rejoined: "Yes, I have nothing to prevent me from leaving thy
door, or, indeed, from quitting this world at once, as my sole
possession is this threadbare garment. But O 'Attár, I grieve for thee:
for how canst thou ever bring thyself to think of death--to leave all
these goods behind thee?" 'Attár replied that he hoped and believed that
he should die as contentedly as any dervish; upon which the aged
devotee, saying, "We shall see," placed his wooden bowl upon the ground,
laid his head upon it, and, calling on the name of God, immediately
resigned his soul. Deeply impressed with this incident, 'Attár at once
gave up his shop, and devoted himself to the study of Súfí

   [21] The Súfís are the mystics of Islám, and their poetry,
        while often externally anacreontic--bacchanalian and
        erotic--possesses an esoteric, spiritual signification:
        the sensual world is employed to symbolise that which is
        to be apprehended only by the _inward_ sense. Most of
        the great poets of Persia, Afghanistán, and Turkey are
        generally understood to have been Súfís.

   [22] Sir Gore Ouseley's _Biographical Notices of Persian Poets_.

The death of Cardinal Mazarin furnishes another remarkable illustration
of Saádí's sentiment. A day or two before he died, the cardinal caused
his servant to carry him into his magnificent art gallery, where, gazing
upon his collection of pictures and sculpture, he cried in anguish, "And
must I leave all these?" Dr. Johnson may have had Mazarin's words in
mind when he said to Garrick, while being shown over the famous actor's
splendid mansion: "Ah, Davie, Davie, these are the things that make a
death-bed terrible!"

Few passages of Shakspeare are more admired than these lines:

  And this our life, exempt from public haunts,
  Finds _tongues in trees_, books in the running brooks,
  Sermons in stones, and good in everything.[23]

   [23] Cf. these lines, from Herrick's "Hesperides":

          But you are _lovely leaves_, where we
            May read, how soon things have
            Their end, tho' ne'er so brave;
          And after they have shown their pride,
            Like you, a while, they glide
                  Into the grave.

Saádí had thus expressed the same sentiment before him: "The foliage of
a newly-clothed tree, to the eye of a discerning man, displays a whole
volume of the wondrous works of the Creator." Another Persian poet,
Jámí, in his beautiful mystical poem of _Yúsuf wa Zulaykhá_, says:
"Every leaf is a tongue uttering praises, like one who keepeth crying,
'In the name of God.'"[24] And the Afghan poet Abdu 'r-Rahman says:
"Every tree, every shrub, stands ready to bend before him; every herb
and blade of grass is a tongue to mutter his praises." And Horace Smith,
that most pleasing but unpretentious writer, both of verse and prose,
has thus finely amplified the idea of "tongues in trees":

  Your voiceless lips, O Flowers, are living preachers,
  Each cup a pulpit, every leaf a book,
  Supplying to my fancy numerous teachers,
                  From loneliest nook.

  'Neath cloistered boughs, each floral bell that swingeth,
  And tolls its perfume on the passing air,
  Makes Sabbath in the fields, and ever ringeth
                  A call to prayer;--

  Not to the domes where crumbling arch and column
  Attest the feebleness of mortal hand,
  But to that fane, most catholic and solemn,
                  Which God hath planned:

  To that cathedral, boundless as our wonder,
  Whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply;
  Its choir, the winds and waves, its organ, thunder,
                  Its dome, the sky.

  There, amid solitude and shade, I wander
  Through the green aisles, and, stretched upon the sod,
  Awed by the silence, reverently ponder
                  The ways of God.

   [24] "In the name of God" is part of the formula employed by
        pious Muslims in their acts of worship, and on entering
        upon any enterprise of danger or
        uncertainty--_bi'smi'llahi ar-rahman ar-rahimi_, "In the
        name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate!" These
        words are usually placed at the beginning of Muhammedan
        books, secular as well as religions; and they form part
        of the Muslim Confession of Faith, used in the last
        extremity: "In the name of God, the Merciful, the
        Compassionate! There is no strength nor any power save
        in God, the High, the Mighty. To God we belong, and
        verily to him we return!"

       *       *       *       *       *

When Saádí composed his _Gulistán_, in 1278, he was between eighty and
ninety years of age, with his great mind still vigorous as ever; and he
lived many years after, beloved and revered by the poor, whose
necessities he relieved, and honoured and esteemed by the noble and the
learned, who frequently visited the venerable solitary, to gather and
treasure up the pearls of wisdom which dropped from his eloquent tongue.
Like other poets of lofty genius, he possessed a firm assurance of the
immortality of his fame. "A rose," says he, "may continue to bloom for
five or six days, but this Rose-Garden will flourish for ever"; and
again: "These verses and recitals of mine will endure after every
particle of my dust has been dispersed." Six centuries have passed away
since the gifted sage penned his _Gulistán_, and his fame has not only
continued in his own land and throughout the East generally, but has
spread into all European countries, and across the Atlantic, where long
after the days of Saádí "still stood the forests primeval."


  Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
  And Laughter shaking both his sides.--_L' Allegro_.



Certain philosophers have described man as a cooking animal, others as a
tool-making animal, others, again, as a laughing animal. No creature
save man, say the advocates of the last definition, seems to have any
"sense of humour." However this may be, there can be little doubt that
man in all ages of which we have any knowledge has possessed that
faculty which perceives ridiculous incongruities in the relative
positions of certain objects, and in the actions and sayings of
individuals, which we term the "sense of the ludicrous." It is not to be
supposed that a dog or a cat--albeit intelligent creatures, in their own
ways--would see anything funny or laughable in a man whose sole attire
consisted in a general's hat and sash and a pair of spurs! Yet _that_
should be enough to "make even a cat laugh"! Certainly laughter is
peculiar to our species; and gravity is as certainly not always a token
of profound wisdom; for

  The gravest beast's an ass;
    The gravest bird's an owl;
  The gravest fish's an oyster;
    And the gravest man's a _fool_.

Many of the great sages of antiquity were also great humorists, and
laughed long and heartily at a good jest. And, indeed, as the Sage of
Chelsea affirms, "no man who has once heartily and wholly laughed can be
altogether, irreclaimably bad. How much lies in laughter!--the cipher
key wherewith we decipher the whole man!... The man who cannot laugh is
not only fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils, but his whole life is
already a treason and a stratagem." Let us, then, laugh at what is
laughable while we are yet clothed in "this muddy vesture of decay,"
for, as delightful Elia asks, "Can a ghost laugh? Can he shake his gaunt
sides if we be merry with him?"

It is a remarkable fact that a considerable proportion of the familiar
jests of almost any country, which are by its natives fondly believed to
be "racy of the soil," are in reality common to other peoples widely
differing in language and customs. Not a few of these jests had their
origin ages upon ages since--in Greece, in Persia, in India. Yet they
must have set out upon their travels westward at a comparatively early
period, for they have been long domiciled in almost every country of
Europe. Nevertheless, as we ourselves possess a goodly number of droll
witticisms, repartees, and jests, which are most undoubtedly and beyond
cavil our own--such as many of those which are ascribed to Sam Foote,
Harry Erskine, Douglas Jerrold, and Sydney Smith; though they have been
credited with some that are as old as the jests of Hierokles--so there
exist in what may be termed the lower strata of Oriental fiction,
humorous and witty stories, characteristic of the different peoples
amongst whom they originated, which, for the most part, have not yet
been appropriated by the European compilers of books of facetiæ, and a
selection of such jests--choice specimens of Oriental Wit and
Humour--gleaned from a great variety of sources, will, I trust, amuse
readers in general, and lovers of funny anecdotes in particular.

       *       *       *       *       *

To begin, then--_place aux dames_! In most Asiatic countries the ladies
are at a sad discount in the estimation of their lords and masters,
however much the latter may expatiate on their personal charms, and in
Eastern jests this is abundantly shown. For instance, a Persian poet,
through the importunity of his friends, had married an old and very ugly
woman, who turned out also of a very bad temper, and they had constant
quarrels. Once, in a dispute, the poet made some comparisons between his
aged wife and himself and between Night and Day. "Cease your nonsense,"
said she; "night and day were created long before us." "Hold a little,"
said the husband. "I know they were created long before me, but whether
before _you_, admits of great doubt!" Again, a Persian married, and, as
is customary with Muslims, on the marriage night saw his bride's face
for the first time, when she proved to be very ugly--perhaps
"plain-looking" were the more respectful expression. A few days after
the nuptials, she said to him: "My life! as you have many relatives, I
wish you would inform me before which of them I may unveil." (Women of
rank in Muslim countries appear unveiled only before very near
relations.) "My soul!" responded the husband, "if thou wilt but conceal
thy face from _me_, I care not to whom thou showest it." And there is a
grim sort of humour in the story of the poor Arab whose wife was going
on a visit of condolence, when he said to her: "My dear, if you go, who
is to take care of the children, and what have you left for them to
eat?" She replied: "As I have neither flour, nor milk, nor butter, nor
oil, nor anything else, what can I leave?" "You had better stay at home,
then," said the poor man; "for assuredly _this_ is the true house of
condolence." And also in the following: A citizen of Tawris, in
comfortable circumstances, had a daughter so very ugly that nothing
could induce any one to marry her. At length he resolved to bestow her
on a blind man, hoping that, not seeing her personal defects, he would
be kind to her. His plan succeeded, and the blind man lived very happily
with his wife. By-and-by, there arrived in the city a doctor who was
celebrated for restoring sight to many people, and the girl's father was
urged by his friends to engage this skilled man to operate upon his
son-in-law, but he replied: "I will take care to do nothing of the kind;
for if this doctor should restore my son-in-law's eyesight, _he_ would
very soon restore my daughter to me!"

But occasionally ladies are represented as giving witty retorts, as in
the story of the Persian lady who, walking in the street, observed a man
following her, and turning round enquired of him: "Why do you follow me,
sir?" He answered: "Because I am in love with you." "Why are you in love
with me?" said the lady. "My sister is much handsomer than I; she is
coming after me--go and make love to her." The fellow went back and saw
a woman with an exceedingly ugly face, upon which he at once went after
the lady, and said to her: "Why did you tell me what was not true?"
"Neither did you speak the truth," answered she; "for if you were really
in love with me, you would not have turned to see another woman." And
the Persian poet Jámí, in his _Baháristán_, relates that a man with a
very long nose asked a woman in marriage, saying: "I am no way given to
sloth, or long sleeping, and I am very patient in bearing vexations." To
which she replied: "Yes, truly: hadst thou not been patient in bearing
vexations thou hadst not carried that nose of thine these forty years."

The low estimation in which women are so unjustly held among Muhammedans
is perhaps to be ascribed partly to the teachings of the Kurán in one or
two passages, and to the traditional sayings of the Apostle Muhammad,
who has been credited (or rather _discredited_) with many things which
he probably never said. But this is not peculiar to the followers of the
Prophet of Mecca: a very considerable proportion of the Indian fictions
represent women in an unfavourable light--fictions, too, which were
composed long before the Hindús came in contact with the Muhammedans.
Even in Europe, during mediæval times, _maugre_ the "lady fair" of
chivalric romance, it was quite as much the custom to decry women, and
to relate stories of their profligacy, levity, and perversity, as ever
it has been in the East. But we have changed all that in modern times:
it is only to be hoped that we have not gone to the other
extreme!--According to an Arabian writer, cited by Lane, "it is
desirable, before a man enters upon any important undertaking, to
consult ten intelligent persons among his particular friends; or if he
have not more than five such friends let him consult each twice; or if
he have not more than one friend he should consult him ten times, at ten
different visits [he would be 'a friend indeed,' to submit to so many
consultations on the same subject]; if he have not one to consult let
him return to his wife and consult her, and whatever she advises him to
do let him do the contrary, so shall he proceed rightly in his affair
and attain his object."[25] We may suppose this Turkish story, from the
_History of the Forty Vezírs_, to be illustrative of the wisdom of such
teaching: A man went on the roof of his house to repair it, and when he
was about to come down he called to his wife, "How should I come down?"
The woman answered, "The roof is free; what would happen? You are a
young man--jump down." The man jumped down, and his ankle was
dislocated, and for a whole year he was bedridden, and his ankle came
not back to its place. Next year the man again went on the roof of his
house and repaired it. Then he called to his wife, "Ho! wife, how shall
I come down?" The woman said, "Jump not; thine ankle has not yet come to
its place--come down gently." The man replied, "The other time, for that
I followed thy words, and not those of the Apostle [i.e., Muhammed], was
my ankle dislocated, and it is not yet come to its place; now shall I
follow the words of the Apostle, and do the contrary of what thou sayest
[Kurán, iii, 29.]" And he jumped down, and straightway his ankle came to
its place.

   [25] "Bear in mind," says Thorkel to Bork, in the Icelandic
        saga of Gisli the Outlaw, "bear in mind that a woman's
        counsel is always unlucky."--On the other hand, quoth
        Panurge, "Truly I have found a great deal of good in the
        counsel of women, chiefly in that of the old wives among

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Turkish collection of jests ascribed to Khoja Nasrú 'd-Dín
Efendi[26] is the following, which has been reproduced amongst ourselves
within comparatively recent years, and credited to an Irish priest:

One day the Khoja went into the pulpit of a mosque to preach to the
people. "O men!" said he, "do you know what I should say unto you?" They
answered: "We know not, Efendi." "When you do know," said the Khoja, "I
shall take the trouble of addressing you." The next day he again
ascended into the pulpit, and said, as before: "O men! do you know what
I should say unto you?" "We do know," exclaimed they all with one voice.
"Then," said he, "what is the use of my addressing you, since you
already know?" The third day he once more went into the pulpit, and
asked the same question. The people, having consulted together as to the
answer they should make, said: "O Khoja, some of us know, and some of us
do not know." "If that be the case, let those who know tell those who do
not know," said the Khoja, coming down. A poor Arab preacher was once,
however, not quite so successful. Having "given out," as we say, for his
text, these words, from the Kurán, "I have called Noah," and being
unable to collect his thoughts, he repeated, over and over again, "I
have called Noah," and finally came to a dead stop; when one of those
present shouted, "If Noah will not come, call some one else." Akin to
this is our English jest of the deacon of a dissenting chapel in
Yorkshire, who undertook, in the vanity of his heart, to preach on the
Sunday, in place of the pastor, who was ill, or from home. He conducted
the devotional exercises fairly well, but when he came to deliver his
sermon, on the text, "I am the Light of the world," he had forgot what
he intended to say, and continued to repeat these words, until an old
man called out, "If thou be the light o' the world, I think thou needs
snuffin' badly."

   [26] The Khoja was contemporary with the renowned conqueror
        of nations, Tímúr, or Tímúrleng, or, as the name is
        usually written in this country, Tamarlane, though there
        does not appear to be any authority that he was the
        official jester at the court of that monarch, as some
        writers have asserted. The pleasantries ascribed to the
        Khoja--the title now generally signifies Teacher, or
        School-master, but formerly it was somewhat equivalent
        to our "Mr," or, more familiarly, "Goodman"--have been
        completely translated into French. Of course, a large
        proportion of the jests have been taken from Arabian and
        Persian collections, though some are doubtless genuine;
        and they represent the Khoja as a curious compound of
        shrewdness and simplicity. A number of the foolish
        sayings and doings fathered on him are given in my _Book
        of Noodles_, 1888.

To return to the Turkish jest-book. One day the Khoja borrowed a
cauldron from a brazier, and returned it with a little saucepan inside.
The owner, seeing the saucepan, asked: "What is this?" Quoth the Khoja:
"Why, the cauldron has had a young one"; whereupon the brazier, well
pleased, took possession of the saucepan. Some time after this the Khoja
again borrowed the cauldron and took it home. At the end of a week the
brazier called at the Khoja's house and asked for his cauldron. "O set
your mind at rest," said the Khoja; "the cauldron is dead." "O Khoja,"
quoth the brazier, "can a cauldron die?" Responded the Khoja: "Since you
believed it could have a young one, why should you not also believe that
it could die?"

The Khoja had a pleasant way of treating beggars. One day a man knocked
at his door. "What do you want?" cried the Khoja from above. "Come
down," said the man. The Khoja accordingly came down, and again said:
"What do you want?" "I want charity," said the man. "Come up stairs,"
said the Khoja. When the beggar had come up, the Khoja said: "God help
you"--the customary reply to a beggar when one will not or cannot give
him anything. "O master," cried the man, "why did you not say so below?"
Quoth the Khoja: "When I was above stairs, why did you bring me down?"

Drunkenness is punished (or punishable) by the infliction of eighty
strokes of the bastinado in Muslim countries, but it is only flagrant
cases that are thus treated, and there is said to be not a little
private drinking of spirits as well as of wine among the higher classes,
especially Turks and Persians. It happened that the governor of
Súricastle lay in a state of profound intoxication in a garden one day,
and was thus discovered by the Khoja, who was taking a walk in the same
garden with his friend Ahmed. The Khoja instantly stripped him of his
_ferage_, or upper garment, and, putting it on his own back, walked
away. When the governor awoke and saw that his ferage had been stolen,
he told his officers to bring before him whomsoever they found wearing
it. The officers, seeing the ferage on the Khoja, seized and brought him
before the governor, who said to him: "Ho! Khoja, where did you obtain
that ferage?" The Khoja responded "As I was taking a walk with my friend
Ahmed we saw a fellow lying drunk, whereupon I took off his ferage and
went away with it. If it be yours, pray take it." "O no," said the
governor, "it does not belong to me."

Even being robbed could not disturb the Khoja's good humour. When he was
lying in bed one night a loud noise was heard in the street before his
house. Said he to his wife: "Get up and light a candle, and I will go
and see what is the matter." "You had much better stay where you are,"
advised his wife. But the Khoja, without heeding her words, put the
counterpane on his shoulders and went out. A fellow, on perceiving him,
immediately snatched the counterpane from off the Khoja's shoulders and
ran away. Shivering with cold, the Khoja returned into the house, and
when his wife asked him the cause of the noise, he said: "It was on
account of our counterpane; when they got that, the noise ceased at

But in the following story we have a very old acquaintance in a new
dress: One day the Khoja's wife, in order to plague him, served up some
exceedingly hot broth, and, forgetting what she had done, put a spoonful
of it in her mouth, which so scalded her that the tears came into her
eyes. "O wife," said the Khoja, "what is the matter with you--is the
broth hot?" "Dear Efendi," said she, "my mother, who is now dead, loved
broth very much; I thought of that, and wept on her account." The Khoja,
thinking that what she said was truth, took a spoonful of the broth,
and, it burning his mouth, he began to bellow. "What is the matter with
you?" said his wife. "Why do you cry?" Quoth the Khoja: "You cry because
your mother is gone, but I cry because her daughter is here."[27]

   [27] This is how the same story is told in our oldest English
        jest-book, entitled _A Hundred Mery Talys_ (1525): A
        certain merchant and a courtier being upon a time at
        dinner, having a hot custard, the courtier, being
        somewhat homely of manner, took part of it and put it in
        his mouth, which was so hot that it made him shed tears.
        The merchant, looking on him, thought that he had been
        weeping, and asked him why he wept. This courtier, not
        willing it to be known that he had brent his mouth with
        the hot custard, answered and said, "Sir," quod he, "I
        had a brother which did a certain offence, wherefore he
        was hanged." The merchant thought the courtier had said
        true, and anon, after the merchant was disposed to eat
        of the custard, and put a spoonful of it into his mouth,
        and brent his mouth also, that his eyes watered. This
        courtier, that perceiving, spake to the merchant; and
        said, "Sir," quod he, "why do ye weep now?" The merchant
        perceived how he had been deceived, and said, "Marry,"
        quod he, "I weep because thou wast not hanged when that
        thy brother was hanged."

       *       *       *       *       *

Many of the Muslim jests, like some our of own, are at the expense of
poor preachers. Thus: there was in Baghdád a preacher whom no one
attended after hearing him but once. One Friday when he came down from
the pulpit he discovered that the only one who remained in the mosque
was the muezzin--all his hearers had left him to finish his discourse
as, and when, he pleased--and, still worse, his slippers had also
disappeared. Accusing the muezzin of having stolen them, "I am rightly
served by your suspicion," retorted he, "for being the only one that
remained to hear you."--In Gladwin's _Persian Moonshee_ we read that
whenever a certain learned man preached in the mosque, one of the
congregation wept constantly, and the preacher, observing this,
concluded that his words made a great impression on the man's heart. One
day some of the people said to the man: "That learned man makes no
impression on our minds;--what kind of a heart have you, to be thus
always in tears?" He answered: "I do not weep at his discourse, O
Muslims. But I had a goat of which I was very fond, and when he grew old
he died. Now, whenever the learned man speaks and wags his beard I am
reminded of my goat, for he had just such a voice and beard."[28] But
they are not always represented as mere dullards; for example: A miserly
old fellow once sent a Muslim preacher a gold ring without a stone,
requesting him to put up a prayer for him from the pulpit. The holy man
prayed that he should have in Paradise a golden palace without a roof.
When he descended from the pulpit, the man went to him, and, taking him
by the hand, said: "O preacher, what manner of prayer is that thou hast
made for me?" "If thy ring had had a stone," replied the preacher, "thy
palace should also have had a roof."

   [28] What may be an older form of this jest is found in the
        _Kathá Manjarí_, a Canarese collection, where a wretched
        singer dwelling next door to a poor woman causes her to
        weep and wail bitterly whenever he begins to sing, and
        on his asking her why she wept, she explains that his
        "golden voice" recalled to her mind her donkey that died
        a month ago.--The story had found its way to our own
        country more than three centuries since. In _Mery Tales
        and Quicke Answeres_ (1535), under the title "Of the
        Friar that brayde in his Sermon," the preacher reminds a
        "poure wydowe" of her ass--all that her husband had left
        her--which had been devoured by wolves, for so the ass
        was wont to bray day and night.

_Apropos_ of misers, our English facetiæ books furnish many examples of
their ingenuity in excusing themselves from granting favours asked of
them by their acquaintances; and, human nature being much the same
everywhere, the misers in the East are represented as being equally
adroit, as well as witty, in parrying such objectionable requests. A
Persian who had a very miserly friend went to him one day, and said: "I
am going on a journey; give me your ring, which I will constantly wear,
and whenever I look on it, I shall remember you." The other answered:
"If you wish to remember me, whenever you see your finger _without_ my
ring upon it, always think of me, that I did not give you my ring." And
quite as good is the story of the dervish who said to the miser that he
wanted something of him; to which he replied: "If you will consent to a
request of mine, I will consent to whatever else you may require"; and
when the dervish desired to know what it was, he said: "Never ask me for
anything and whatever else you say I will perform."



It is well known that deaf men generally dislike having their infirmity
alluded to, and even endeavour to conceal it as much as possible.
Charles Lamb, or some other noted wit, seeing a deaf acquaintance on the
other side of the street one day while walking with a friend, stopped
and motioned to him; then opened his mouth as if speaking in a loud
tone, but saying not a word. "What are you bawling for?" demanded the
deaf one. "D'ye think I can't hear?"--Two Eastern stories I have met
with are most diverting examples of this peculiarity of deaf folks. One
is related by my friend Pandit Natésa Sastrí in his _Folk-Lore of
Southern India_, of which a few copies were recently issued at
Bombay.[29] A deaf man was sitting one day where three roads crossed,
when a neatherd happened to pass that way. He had lately lost a good cow
and a calf, and had been seeking them some days. When he saw the deaf
man sitting by the way he took him for a soothsayer, and asked him to
find out by his knowledge of magic where the cow would likely be found.
The herdsman was also very deaf, and the other, without hearing what he
had said, abused him, and said he wished to be left undisturbed, at the
same time stretching out his hand and pointing at his face. This
pointing the herd supposed to indicate the direction where the lost cow
and calf should be sought; thus thinking (for he, too, had not heard a
word of what the other man had said to him), the herd went off in
search, resolving to present the soothsayer with the calf if he found it
with the cow. To his joy, and by mere chance, of course, he found them
both, and, returning with them to the deaf man (still sitting by the
wayside), he pointed to the calf and asked him to accept of it. Now, it
so happened that the calf's tail was broken and crooked, and the deaf
man supposed that the herdsman was blaming him for having broken it, and
by a wave of his hand he denied the charge. This the poor deaf neatherd
mistook for a refusal of the calf and a demand for the cow, so he said:
"How very greedy you are, to be sure! I promised you the calf, and not
the cow." "Never!" exclaimed the deaf man in a rage. "I know nothing of
you or your cow and calf. I never broke the calf's tail." While they
were thus quarrelling, without understanding each other, a third man
happened to pass, and seeing his opportunity to profit by their
deafness, he said to the neatherd in a loud voice, yet so as not to be
heard by the other deaf man: "Friend, you had better go away with your
cow. Those soothsayers are always greedy. Leave the calf with me, and I
shall make him accept it." The poor neatherd, highly pleased to have
secured his cow, went off, leaving the calf with the traveller. Then
said the traveller to the deaf man: "It is, indeed, very unlawful,
friend, for that neatherd to charge you with an offence which you did
not commit; but never mind, since you have a friend in me. I shall
contrive to make clear to him your innocence; leave this matter to me."
So saying, he walked away with the calf, and the deaf man went home,
well pleased that he had escaped from such a serious accusation.

   [29] Messrs. W. H. Allen & Co., London, have in the press a
        new edition of this work, to be entitled "_Tales of the
        Sun; or, Popular Tales of Southern India_." I am
        confident that the collection will be highly appreciated
        by many English readers, while its value to
        story-comparers can hardly be over-rated.

The other story is of a deaf Persian who was taking home a quantity of
wheat, and, coming to a river which he must cross, he saw a horseman
approach; so he said to himself: "When that horseman comes up, he will
first salute me, 'Peace be with thee'; next he will ask, 'What is the
depth of this river?' and after that he will ask, how many _máns_ of
wheat I have with me." (A _mán_ is a Persian weight, which seems to vary
in different places.) But the deaf man's surmises were all in vain; for
when the horseman came up to him, he cried: "Ho! my man, what is the
depth of this river?" The deaf one replied: "Peace be with thee, and the
mercy of Allah and his blessing." At this the horseman laughed, and
said: "May they cut off thy beard!" The deaf one rejoined: "To my neck
and bosom." The horseman said: "Dust be on thy mouth!" The deaf man
answered: "Eighty _máns_ of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

The laziness of domestics is a common complaint in this country at the
present day, but surely never was there a more lazy servant than the
fellow whose exploits are thus recorded: A Persian husbandman one night
desired his servant to shut the door, and the man said it was already
shut. In the morning his master bade him open the door, and he coolly
replied that, foreseeing this request, he had left it open the preceding
night. Another night his master bade him rise and see whether it rained.
But he called for the dog that lay at the door, and finding his paws
dry, answered that the night was fair; then being desired to see whether
the fire was extinguished, he called the cat, and finding her paws cold,
replied in the affirmative.--This story had gained currency in Europe in
the 13th century, and it forms one of the mediæval _Latin Stories_
edited, for the Percy Society, by Thos. Wright, where it is entitled,
"De Maimundo Armigero." There is another Persian story of a lazy fellow
whose master, being sick, said to him: "Go and get me some medicine."
"But," rejoined he, "it may happen that the doctor is not at home." "You
will find him at home." "But if I do find him at home he may not give me
the medicine," quoth the servant. "Then take this note to him and he
will give it to you." "Well," persisted the fellow, "he may give me the
medicine, but suppose it does you no good?" "Villain!" exclaimed his
master, out of all patience, "will you do as I bid you, instead of
sitting there so coolly, raising difficulties?" "Good sir," reasoned
this lazy philosopher, "admitting that the medicine should produce some
effect, what will be the ultimate result? We must all die some time, and
what does it matter whether it be to-day or to-morrow?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The Chinese seem not a whit behind other peoples in appreciating a good
jest, as has been shown by the tales and _bon mots_ rendered into French
by Stanislas Julien and other eminent _savans_. Here are three specimens
of Chinese humour:

A wealthy man lived between the houses of two blacksmiths, and was
constantly annoyed by the noise of their hammers, so that he could not
get rest, night or day. First he asked them to strike more gently; then
he made them great promises if they would remove at once. The two
blacksmiths consented, and he, overjoyed to get rid of them, prepared a
grand banquet for their entertainment. When the banquet was over, he
asked them where they were going to take up their new abodes, and they
replied--to the intense dismay of their worthy host, no doubt: "He who
lives on the left of your house is going to that on the right; and he
who lives on your right is going to the house on your left."

There is a keen satirical hit at the venality of Chinese judges in our
next story. A husbandman, who wished to rear a particular kind of
vegetable, found that the plants always died. He consulted an
experienced gardener as to the best means of preventing the death of
plants. The old man replied: "The affair is very simple; with every
plant put down a piece of money." His friend asked what effect money
could possibly have in a matter of this kind. "It is the case
now-a-days," said the old man, "that where there is money _life_ is
safe, but where there is none death is the consequence."

The tale of Apelles and the shoemaker is familiar to every schoolboy,
but the following story of the Chinese painter and his critics will be
new to most readers: A gentleman having got his portrait painted, the
artist suggested that he should consult the passers-by as to whether it
was a good likeness. Accordingly he asked the first that was going past:
"Is this portrait like me?" The man said: "The _cap_ is very like." When
the next was asked, he said: "The _dress_ is very like." He was about to
ask a third, when the painter stopped him, saying: "The cap and the
dress do not matter much; ask the person what he thinks of the face."
The third man hesitated a long time, and then said: "The _beard_ is very

       *       *       *       *       *

And now we shall revert once more to Persian jests, many of which are,
however, also current in India, through the medium of the Persian
language. When a man becomes suddenly rich it not unfrequently follows
that he becomes as suddenly oblivious of his old friends. Thus, a
Persian having obtained a lucrative appointment at court, a friend of
his came shortly afterwards to congratulate him thereon. The new
courtier asked him: "Who are you? And why do you come here?" The other
coolly replied: "Do you not know me, then? I am your old friend, and am
come to condole with you, having heard that you had lately lost your
sight."--This recalls the clever epigram:

  When Jack was poor, the lad was frank and free;
    Of late he's grown brimful of pride and pelf;
  You wonder that he don't remember me?
    Why, don't you see, Jack has forgot himself!

The humour of the following is--to me, at least--simply exquisite: A man
went to a professional scribe and asked him to write a letter for him.
The scribe said that he had a pain in his foot. "A pain in your foot!"
echoed the man. "I don't want to send you to any place that you should
make such an excuse." "Very true," said the scribe; "but, whenever I
write a letter for any one, I am always sent for to read it, because no
one else can make it out."--And this is a very fair specimen of ready
wit: During a season of great drought in Persia, a schoolmaster at the
head of his pupils marched out of Shíráz to pray (at the tomb of some
saint in the suburbs) for rain, when they were met by a waggish fellow,
who inquired where they were going. The preceptor informed him, and
added that, no doubt, Allah would listen to the prayers of innocent
children. "Friend," quoth the wit, "if that were the case, I fear there
would not be a schoolmaster left alive."

The "harmless, necessary cat" has often to bear the blame of
depredations in which she had no share--especially the "lodging-house
cat"; and, that such is the fact in Persia as well as nearer our own
doors, let a story related by the celebrated poet Jámí serve as
evidence: A husband gave a _mán_ of meat to his wife, bidding her cook
it for his dinner. The woman roasted it and ate it all herself, and when
her husband asked for the meat she said the cat had stolen it. The
husband weighed the cat forthwith, and found that she had not increased
in weight by eating so much meat; so, with a hundred perplexing
thoughts, he struck his hand on his knee, and, upbraiding his wife,
said: "O lady, doubtless the cat, like the meat, weighed one _mán_; the
meat would add another _mán_ thereto. This point is not clear to
me--that two _máns_ should become one _mán_. If this is the cat, where
is the meat? And if this is the meat, why has it the form of the cat?"

Readers of our early English jest-books will perhaps remember the story
of a court-jester being facetiously ordered by the king to make out a
list of all the fools in his dominions, who replied that it would be a
much easier task to write down a list of all the wise men. I fancy there
is some trace of this incident in the following Persian story, though
the details are wholly different: Once upon a time a party of merchants
exhibited to a king some fine horses, which pleased him so well that he
bought them, and gave the merchants besides a large sum of money to pay
for more horses which they were to bring from their own country. Some
time after this the king, being merry with wine, said to his chief
vazír: "Make me out a list of all the blockheads in my kingdom." The
vazír replied that he had already made out such a list, and had put his
Majesty's name at the top. "Why so?" demanded the king. "Because," said
the vazír, "you gave a great sum of money for horses to be brought by
merchants for whom no person is surety, nor does any one know to what
country they belong; and this is surely a sign of stupidity." "But what
if they should bring the horses?" The vazír readily replied: "If they
should bring the horses, I should then erase your Majesty's name and put
the names of the merchants in its place."[30]

   [30] A similar incident is found in the 8th chapter of the
        Spanish work, _El Conde Lucanor_, written, in the 14th
        century, by Prince Don Juan Manuel, where a pretended
        alchemist obtains from a king a large sum of money in
        order that he should procure in his own distant country
        a certain thing necessary for the transmutation of the
        baser metals into gold. The impostor, of course, did not
        return, and so on, much the same as in the above.--Many
        others of Don Manuel's tales are traceable to Eastern
        sources; he was evidently familiar with the Arabic
        language, and from his long intercourse with the Moors
        doubtless became acquainted with Asiatic story-books.
        His manner of telling the stories is, however, wholly
        his own, and some of them appear to be of his own
        invention.--There is a variant of the same story in
        _Pasquils Jests and Mother Bunches Merriments_, in which
        a servant enters his master's name in a list of all the
        fools of his acquaintance, because he had lately lent
        his cousin twenty pounds.

Everybody knows the story of the silly old woman who went to market with
a cow and a hen for sale, and asked only five shillings for the cow, but
ten pounds for the hen. But no such fool was the Arab who lost his
camel, and, after a long and fruitless search, anathematised the errant
quadruped and her father and her mother, and swore by the Prophet that,
should he find her, he would sell her for a dirham (sixpence). At length
his search was successful, and he at once regretted his oath; but such
an oath must not be violated, so he tied a cat round the camel's neck,
and went about proclaiming: "I will sell this camel for a dirham, and
this cat for a hundred dínars (fifty pounds); but I will not sell one
without the other." A man who passed by and heard this exclaimed: "What
a very desirable bargain that camel would be if she had not such a
_collar_ round her neck!"[31]

   [31] A variant of this occurs in the _Heptameron_, an
        uncompleted work in imitation of the _Decameron_,
        ascribed to Marguerite, queen of Navarre (16th century),
        but her _valet de chambre_ Bonaventure des Periers is
        supposed to have had a hand in its composition. In Novel
        55 it is related that a merchant in Saragossa on his
        death-bed desired his wife to sell a fine Spanish horse
        for as much as it would fetch and give the money to the
        mendicant friars. After his death his widow did not
        approve of such a legacy, but, in order to obey her late
        husband's will, she instructed a servant to go to the
        market and offer the horse for a ducat and her cat for
        ninety-nine ducats, both, however, to be sold together.
        A gentleman purchased the horse and the cat, well
        knowing that the former was fully worth a hundred
        ducats, and the widow handed over one ducat--for which
        the horse was nominally sold--to the mendicant friars.

For readiness of wit the Arabs would seem to compare very favourably
with any race, European or Asiatic, and many examples of their
felicitous repartees are furnished by native historians and grammarians.
One of the best is: When a khalíf was addressing the people in a mosque
on his accession to the khalífate, and told them, among other things in
his own praise, that the plague which had so long raged in Baghdád had
ceased immediately he became khalíf; an old fellow present shouted: "Of
a truth, Allah was too merciful to give us both _thee_ and the plague at
the same time."

       *       *       *       *       *

The story of the Unlucky Slippers in Cardonne's _Mélanges de Littérature
Orientale_ is a very good specimen of Arabian humour:[32]

   [32] Cardonne took this story from a Turkish work entitled
        "_Ajá'ib el-ma'ásir wa ghará'ib en-nawádir_ (the Wonders
        of Remarkable Incidents and Rarities of Anecdotes)," by
        Ahmed ibn Hemdem Khetkhody, which was composed for
        Sultan Murád IV, who reigned from A.D. 1623 to 1640.

In former times there lived in the famous city of Baghdád a miserly old
merchant named Abú Kasim. Although very rich, his clothes were mere
rags; his turban was of coarse cloth, and exceedingly dirty; but his
slippers were perfect curiosities--the soles were studded with great
nails, while the upper leathers consisted of as many different pieces as
the celebrated ship Argos. He had worn them during ten years, and the
art of the ablest cobblers in Baghdád had been exhausted in preventing a
total separation of the parts; in short, by frequent accessions of nails
and patches they had become so heavy that they passed into a proverb,
and anything ponderous was compared to Abú Kasim's slippers. Walking one
day in the great bazaar, the purchase of a large quantity of crystal was
offered to this merchant, and, thinking it a bargain, he bought it. Not
long after this, hearing that a bankrupt perfumer had nothing left to
sell but some rose-water, he took advantage of the poor man's
misfortune, and purchased it for half the value. These lucky
speculations had put him into good humour, but instead of giving an
entertainment, according to the custom of merchants when they have made
a profitable bargain, Abú Kasim deemed it more expedient to go to the
bath, which he had not frequented for some time. As he was undressing,
one of his acquaintances told him that his slippers made him the
laughing-stock of the whole city, and that he ought to provide himself
with a new pair. "I have been thinking about it," he answered; "however,
they are not so very much worn but they will serve some time longer."
While he was washing himself, the kází of Baghdád came also to bathe.
Abú Kasim, coming out before the judge, took up his clothes but could
not find his slippers--a new pair being placed in their room. Our miser,
persuaded, because he wished it, that the friend who had spoken to him
about his old slippers had made him a present, without hesitation put on
these fine ones, and left the bath highly delighted. But when the kází
had finished bathing, his servants searched in vain for his slippers;
none could be found but a wretched pair, which were at once identified
as those of Abú Kasim. The officers hastened after the supposed thief,
and, bringing him back with the theft on his feet, the kází, after
exchanging slippers, committed him to prison. There was no escaping from
the claws of justice without money, and, as Abú Kasim was known to be
very rich, he was fined in a considerable sum.

On returning home, our merchant, in a fit of indignation, flung his
slippers into the Tigris, that ran beneath his window. Some days after
they were dragged out in a fisherman's net that came up more heavy than
usual. The nails with which the soles were thickly studded had torn the
meshes of the net, and the fisherman, exasperated against the miserly
Abú Kasim and his slippers--for they were known to everyone--determined
to throw them into his house through the window he had left open. The
slippers, thrown with great force, reached the jars of rose-water, and
smashed them in pieces, to the intense consternation of the owner.
"Cursed slippers!" cried he, tearing his beard, "you shall cause me no
farther mischief!" So saying, he took a spade and began to dig a hole in
his garden to bury them. One of his neighbours, who had long borne him
ill-will, perceiving him busied in digging the ground, ran at once to
inform the governor that Abú Kasim had discovered some hidden treasure
in his garden. Nothing more was needful to rouse the cupidity of the
commandant. In vain did our miser protest that he had found no treasure;
and that he only meant to bury his old slippers. The governor had
counted on the money, so the afflicted man could only preserve his
liberty at the expense of a large sum of money. Again heartily cursing
the slippers, in order to effectually rid himself of them, he threw them
into an aqueduct at some distance from the city, persuaded that he
should now hear no more of them. But his evil genius had not yet
sufficiently plagued him: the slippers got into the mouth of the pipe
and stopped the flow of the water. The keepers of the aqueduct made
haste to repair the damage, and, finding the obstruction was caused by
Abú Kasim's slippers, complained of this to the governor, and once more
was Abú Kasim heavily fined, but the governor considerately returned him
the slippers. He now resolved to burn them, but, finding them thoroughly
soaked with water, he exposed them to the sun upon the terrace of his
house. A neighbour's dog, perceiving the slippers, leaped from the
terrace of his master's house upon that of Abú Kasim, and, seizing one
of them in his mouth, he let it drop into the street: the fatal slipper
fell directly on the head of a woman who was passing at the time, and
the fright as well as the violence of the blow caused her to miscarry.
Her husband brought his complaint before the kází, and Abú Kasim was
again sentenced to pay a fine proportioned to the calamity he was
supposed to have occasioned. He then took the slippers in his hand, and,
with a vehemence that made the judge laugh, said: "Behold, my lord, the
fatal instruments of my misfortune! These cursed slippers have at length
reduced me to poverty. Vouchsafe, therefore, to publish an order that no
one may any more impute to me the disasters they may yet occasion." The
kází could not refuse his request, and thus Abú Kasim learned, to his
bitter cost, the danger of wearing his slippers too long.



Too many Eastern stories turn upon the artful devices of women to screen
their own profligacy, but there is one, told by Arab Sháh, the
celebrated historian, who died A.D. 1450, in a collection entitled
_Fakihat al-Khalífa_, or Pastimes of the Khalífs, in which a lady
exhibits great ingenuity, without any very objectionable motive. It is
to the following effect:

A young merchant in Baghdád had placed over the front of his shop,
instead of a sentence from the Kurán, as is customary, these arrogant
SURPASSES THE CUNNING OF WOMEN." It happened one day that a very
beautiful young lady, who had been sent by her aunt to purchase some
rich stuffs for dresses, noticed this inscription, and at once resolved
to compel the despiser of her sex to alter it. Entering the shop, she
said to him, after the usual salutations: "You see my person; can anyone
presume to say that I am humpbacked?" He had hardly recovered from the
astonishment caused by such a question, when the lady drew her veil a
little to one side and continued: "Surely my neck is not as that of a
raven, or as the ebony idols of Ethiopia?" The young merchant, between
surprise and delight, signified his assent. "Nor is my chin double,"
said she, still farther unveiling her face; "nor my lips thick, like
those of a Tartar?" Here the young merchant smiled. "Nor are they to be
believed who say that my nose is flat and my cheeks are sunken?" The
merchant was about to express his horror at the bare idea of such
blasphemy, when the lady wholly removed her veil and allowed her beauty
to flash upon the bewildered youth, who instantly became madly in love
with her. "Fairest of creatures!" he cried, "to what accident do I owe
the view of those charms, which are hidden from the eyes of the less
fortunate of my sex?" She replied: "You see in me an unfortunate damsel,
and I shall explain the cause of my present conduct. My mother, who was
sister to a rich amír of Mecca, died some years ago, leaving my father
in possession of an immense fortune and myself as sole heiress. I am now
seventeen, my personal endowments are such as you behold, and a very
small portion of my mother's fortune would quite suffice to obtain for
me a good establishment in marriage. Yet such is the unfeeling avarice
of my father, that he absolutely refuses me the least trifle to settle
me in life. The only counsellor to whom I could apply for help in this
extremity was my kind nurse, and it is by her advice, as well as from
the high opinion I have ever heard expressed of your merits, that I have
been induced to throw myself upon your goodness in this extraordinary
manner." The emotions of the young merchant on hearing this story, may
be readily imagined. "Cruel parent!" he exclaimed. "He must be a rock of
the desert, not a man, who can condemn so charming a person to perpetual
solitude, when the slightest possible sacrifice on his part might
prevent it. May I inquire his name?" "He is the chief kází," replied the
lady, and disappeared like a vision.

The young merchant lost no time in waiting on the kází at his court of
justice, whom he thus addressed: "My lord, I am come to ask your
daughter in marriage, of whom I am deeply enamoured." Quoth the judge:
"Sir, my daughter is unworthy of the honour you design for her. But be
pleased to accompany me to my dwelling, where we can talk over this
matter more at leisure." They proceeded thither accordingly, and after
partaking of refreshments, the young man repeated his request, giving a
true account of his position and prospects, and offering to settle
fifteen purses on the young lady. The kází expressed his gratification,
but doubted whether the offer was made in all seriousness, but when
assured that such was the case, he said: "I no longer doubt your
earnestness and sincerity in this affair; it is, however, just possible
that your feelings may change after the marriage, and it is but natural
that I should now take proper precautions for my daughter's welfare. You
will not blame me, therefore, if, in addition to the fifteen purses you
have offered, I require that five more be paid down previous to the
marriage, to be forfeited in case of a divorce." "Say ten," cried the
merchant, and the kází looked more and more astonished, and even
ventured to remonstrate with him on his precipitancy, but without
effect. To be brief, the kází consented, the ten purses were paid down,
the legal witnesses summoned, and the nuptial contract signed that very
evening; the consummation of the marriage being, much against the will
of our lover, deferred till the following day.

When the wedding guests had dispersed, the young merchant was admitted
to the chamber of his bride, whom he discovered to be humpbacked and
hideous beyond conception! As soon as it was day, he arose from his
sleepless couch and repaired to the public baths, where, after his
ablutions, he gave himself up to melancholy reflections. Mingled with
grief for his disappointment was mortification at having been the dupe
of what now appeared to him a very shallow artifice, which nothing but
his own passionate and unthinking precipitation could have rendered
plausible. Nor was he without some twinges of conscience for the
sarcasms which he had often uttered against women, and for which his
present sufferings were no more than a just retribution. Then came
meditations of revenge upon the beautiful author of all this mischief;
and then his thoughts reverted to the possible means of escape from his
difficulties: the forfeiture of the ten purses, to say nothing of the
implacable resentment of the kází and his relatives; and he bethought
himself how he should become the talk of his neighbourhood--how Malik
bin Omar, the jeweller, would sneer at him, and Salih, the barber, talk
sententiously of his folly. At length, finding reflection of no avail,
he arose and with slow and pensive steps proceeded to his shop.

His marriage with the kází's deformed daughter had already become known
to his neighbours, who presently came to rally him upon his choice of
such a bride, and scarcely had they left when the young lady who had so
artfully tricked him entered with a playful smile on her lips, and a
glancing in her dark eye, which speedily put to flight the young
merchant's thoughts of revenge. He arose and greeted her courteously.
"May this day be propitious to thee!" said she. "May Allah protect and
bless thee!" Replied he: "Fairest of earthly creatures, how have I
offended thee that thou shouldst make me the subject of thy sport?"
"From thee," she said, "I have received no personal injury." "What,
then, can have been thy motive for practising so cruel a deception on
one who has never harmed thee?" The young lady simply pointed to the
inscription over the shop front. The merchant was abashed, but felt
somewhat relieved on seeing good humour beaming from her beautiful eyes,
and he immediately took down the inscription, and substituted another,
the young lady communicated to him a plan by which he might get rid of
his objectionable bride without incurring her father's resentment, which
he forthwith put into practice.

Next morning, as the kází and his son-in-law were taking their coffee
together, in the house of the former, they heard a strange noise in the
street, and, descending to ascertain the cause of the disturbance, found
that it proceeded from a crowd of low fellows--mountebanks, and such
like gentry, who had assembled with all sorts of musical instruments,
with which they kept up a deafening din, at the same time dancing and
capering about, and loudly felicitating themselves on the marriage of
their pretended kinsman with the kází's daughter. The young merchant
acknowledged their compliments by throwing handfuls of money among the
crowd, which caused a renewal of the dreadful clamour. When the noise
had somewhat subsided, the kází, hitherto dumb from astonishment, turned
to his son-in-law, and demanded to know the meaning of such a scene
before his mansion. The merchant replied that the leaders of the crowd
were his kinsfolk, although his father had abandoned the fraternity and
adopted commercial pursuits. He could not, however, disown his kindred,
even for the sake of the kází's daughter. On hearing this the judge was
beside himself with rage and mortification, exclaiming: "Dog, and son of
a dog! what dirt is this you have made me eat?" The merchant reminded
him that he was now his son-in-law; that his daughter was his lawful
wife; declaring that he would not part with her for untold wealth. But
the kází insisted upon a divorce and returned the merchant his ten
purses. In the sequel, the young merchant, having ascertained the
parentage of the clever damsel, obtained her in marriage, and lived with
her for many years in happiness and prosperity.[33]

   [33] This story has been taken from Arab Sháh into the
        Breslau printed Arabic text of the _Thousand and One
        Nights_, where it is related at great length. The
        original was rendered into French under the title of
        "Ruses des Femmes" (in the Arabic _Ked-an-Nisa_,
        Stratagems of Women) by Lescallier, and appended to his
        version of the Voyages of Sindbád, published at Paris in
        1814, long before the Breslau text of _The Nights_ was
        known to exist. It also forms part of one of the Persian
        Tales (_Hazár ú Yek Rúz_, 1001 Days) translated by Petis
        de la Croix, where, however, the trick is played on the
        kází, not on a young merchant.



Avaricious and covetous men are always the just objects of derision as
well as contempt, and surely covetousness was quite concentrated in the
person of Ashaab, a servant of Othman (seventh century), and a native of
Medina, whose character has been very amusingly drawn by the scholiast:
He never saw a man put his hand into his pocket without hoping and
expecting that he would give him something. He never saw a funeral go
by, but he was pleased, hoping that the deceased had left him something.
He never saw a bride about to be conducted through the streets to the
house of the bridegroom but he prepared his own house for her reception,
hoping that her friends would bring her to his house by mistake. If he
saw a workman making a box, he took care to tell him that he was putting
in one or two boards too many, hoping that he would give him what was
over, or, at least, something for the suggestion. He is said to have
followed a man who was chewing mastic (a sort of gum, chewed, like
betel, by Orientals as a pastime) for a whole mile, thinking he was
perhaps eating food, intending, if so, to ask him for some. When the
youths of the town jeered and taunted him, he told them there was a
wedding at such a house, in order to get rid of them (because they would
go to get a share of the bonbons distributed there); but, as soon as
they were gone, it struck him that possibly what he had told them was
true, and that they would not have quitted him had they not been aware
of its truth; and he actually followed them himself to see what he could
do, though exposing himself thereby to fresh taunts from them. When
asked whether he knew anyone more covetous than himself, he said: "Yes;
a sheep I once had, that climbed to an upper stage of my house, and,
seeing a rainbow, mistook it for a rope of hay, and jumping at it, broke
her neck"--whence "Ashaab's sheep" became proverbial among the Arabs for
covetousness as well as Ashaab himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hospitality has ever been the characteristic virtue of the Arabs, and a
mean, stingy disposition is rarely to be found among them. A droll story
of an Arab of the latter description has been rendered into verse by the
Persian poet Liwá'í, the substance of which is as follows: An Arab
merchant who had been trading between Mecca and Damascus, at length
turned his face homeward, and had reached within one stage of his house
when he sat down to rest and to refresh himself with the contents of his
wallet. While he was eating, a Bedouin, weary and hungry, came up, and,
hoping to be invited to share his repast, saluted him, "Peace be with
thee!" which the merchant returned, and asked the nomad who he was and
whence he came. "I have come from thy house," was the answer. "Then,"
said the merchant, "how fares my son Ahmed, absence from whom has
grieved me sore?" "Thy son grows apace in health and innocence." "Good!
and how is his mother?" "She, too, is free from the shadow of sorrow."
"And how is my beauteous camel, so strong to bear his load?" "Thy camel
is sleek and fat." "My house-dog, too, that guards my gate, pray how is
he?" "He is on the mat before thy door, by day, by night, on constant
guard." The merchant, having thus his doubts and fears removed, resumed
his meal with freshened appetite, but gave nought to the poor nomad,
and, having finished, closed his wallet. The Bedouin, seeing his
stinginess, writhed with the pangs of hunger. Presently a gazelle passed
rapidly by them, at which he sighed heavily, and the merchant inquiring
the cause of his sorrow, he said: "The cause is this--had not thy dog
died he would not have allowed that gazelle to escape!" "My dog!"
exclaimed the merchant. "Is my doggie, then, dead?" "He died from
gorging himself with thy camel's blood." "Who hath cast this dust on
me?" cried the merchant. "What of my camel?" "Thy camel was slaughtered
to furnish the funeral feast of thy wife." "Is my wife, too, dead?" "Her
grief for Ahmed's death was such that she dashed her head against a
rock." "But, Ahmed," asked the father--"how came he to die?" "The house
fell in and crushed him." The merchant heard this tale with full belief,
rent his robe, cast sand upon his head, then started swiftly homeward to
bewail his wife and son, leaving behind his well-filled wallet, a prey
to the starving desert-wanderer.[34]

   [34] A variant of this story is found in Le Grand's _Fabliaux
        et Contes_, ed. 1781, tome iv, p. 119, and it was
        probably brought from the East during the Crusades:
        Maimon was a valet to a count. His master, returning
        home from a tourney, met him on the way, and asked him
        where he was going. He replied, with great coolness,
        that he was going to seek a lodging somewhere. "A
        lodging!" said the count. "What then has happened at
        home?" "Nothing, my lord. Only your dog, whom you love
        so much, is dead." "How so?" "Your fine palfrey, while
        being exercised in the court, became frightened, and in
        running fell into the well." "Ah, who startled the
        horse?" "It was your son, Damaiseau, who fell at its
        feet from the window." "My son!--O Heaven! Where, then,
        were his servant and his mother? Is he injured?" "Yes,
        sire, he has been killed by falling. And when they went
        to tell it to madame, she was so affected that she fell
        dead also without speaking." "Rascal! in place of flying
        away, why hast thou not gone to seek assistance, or why
        didst thou not remain at the chateau?" "There is no more
        need, sire; for Marotte, in watching madame, fell
        asleep. A light caused the fire, and there remains
        nothing now."--Truly a delicate way of "breaking ill

The Samradian sect of fire-worshippers, who believe only in the "ideal,"
anticipated Bishop Berkeley's theory, thus referred to by Lord Byron
(_Don Juan_, xi, 1):

  When Bishop Berkeley said, "there was no matter,"
    And proved it--'twas no matter what he said;
  They say, his system 'tis in vain to batter,
    Too subtle for the airiest human head.

Some amusing anecdotes regarding this singular sect are given in the
Dabistán, a work written in Persian, which furnishes a very impartial
account of the principal religions of the world: A Samradian said to his
servant: "The world and its inhabitants have no actual existence--they
have merely an ideal being." The servant, on hearing this, took the
first opportunity to steal his master's horse, and when he was about to
ride, brought him an ass with the horse's saddle. When the Samradian
asked: "Where is the horse?" he replied: "Thou hast been thinking of an
idea; there was no horse in being." The master said: "It is true," and
then mounted the ass. Having proceeded some distance, followed by his
servant on foot, he suddenly dismounted, and taking the saddle off the
back of the ass placed it on the servant's back, drawing the girths
tightly, and, having forced the bridle into his mouth, he mounted him,
and flogged him along vigorously. The servant having exclaimed in
piteous accents: "What is the meaning of this, O master?" the Samradian
replied: "There is no such thing as a whip; it is merely ideal. Thou art
thinking only of a delusion." It is needless to add that the servant
immediately repented and restored the horse.--Another of this sect
having obtained in marriage the daughter of a wealthy lawyer, she, on
finding out her husband's peculiar creed, purposed to have some
amusement at his expense. One day the Samradian brought home a bottle of
excellent wine, which during his absence she emptied of its contents and
filled again with water. When the time came for taking wine, she poured
out the water into a gold cup, which Was her own property. The Samradian
remarked: "Thou hast given me water instead of wine." "It is only
ideal," she answered; "there was no wine in existence." The husband then
said: "Thou hast spoken well; give me the cup that I may go to a
neighbour's house and bring it back full of wine." He thereupon took the
gold cup and went out and sold it, concealing the money, and, instead of
the gold vase, he brought back an earthen vessel filled with wine. The
wife, on seeing this, said: "What hast thou done with the golden cup?"
He quietly replied: "Thou art surely thinking of an ideal gold cup," on
which the lady sorely repented her witticism.[35]

   [35] _The Dabistán, or School of Manners_. Translated from
        the original Persian, by David Shea and Anthony Troyer.
        3 vols. Published by the Oriental Translation Fund,
        1843. Vol. i, 198-200. The author of this work is said
        to be Moshan Fáni, who flourished at Hyderábád about the
        end of the 18th century.

I do not know whether there are any English parallels to these stories,
but I have read of a Greek sage who instructed his slave that all that
occurred in this world was the decree of Fate. The slave shortly after
deliberately committed some offence, upon which his master commenced to
soften his ribs with a stout cudgel, and when the slave pleaded that it
was no fault of his, it was the decree of Fate, his master grimly
replied that it was also decreed that he should have a sound beating.

       *       *       *       *       *

In _Don Quixote_, it will be remembered by all readers of that
delightful work, Sancho begins to tell the knight a long story about a
man who had to ferry across a river a large flock of sheep, but he could
only take one at a time, as the boat could hold no more. This story
Cervantes, in all likelihood, borrowed from the _Disciplina Clericalis_
of Petrus Alfonsus, a converted Spanish Jew, who flourished in the 12th
century, and who avowedly derived the materials of his work from the
Arabian fabulists--probably part of them also from the Talmud.[36] His
eleventh tale is of a king who desired his minstrel to tell him a long
story that should lull him to sleep. The story-teller accordingly begins
to relate how a man had to cross a ferry with 600 sheep, two at a time,
and falls asleep in the midst of his narration. The king awakes him, but
the story-teller begs that the man be allowed to ferry over the sheep
before he resumes the story.[37]--Possibly the original form of the
story is that found in the _Kathá Manjarí_, an ancient Indian
story-book: There was a king who used to inquire of all the learned men
who came to his court whether they knew any stories, and when they had
related all they knew, in order to avoid rewarding them, he abused them
for knowing so few, and sent them away. A shrewd and clever man, hearing
of this, presented himself before the king, who asked his name. He
replied that his name was Ocean of Stories. The king then inquired how
many stories he knew, to which he answered that the name of Ocean had
been conferred on him because he knew an endless number. On being
desired to relate one, he thus began: "O King, there was a tank 36,000
miles in breadth, and 54,000 in length. This was densely filled with
lotus plants, and millions upon millions of birds with golden wings
[called Hamsa] perched on those flowers. One day a hurricane arose,
accompanied with rain, which the birds were not able to endure, and they
entered a cave under a rock, which was in the vicinity of the tank." The
king asked what happened next, and he replied that one of the birds flew
away. The king again inquired what else occurred, and he answered:
"Another flew away"; and to every question of the king he continued to
give the same answer. At this the king felt ashamed, and, seeing it was
impossible to outwit the man, he dismissed him with a handsome present.

   [36] Pedro Alfonso (the Spanish form of his adopted name) was
        originally a Jewish Rabbi, and was born in 1062, at
        Huesca, in the kingdom of Arragon. He was reputed a man
        of very great learning, and on his being baptised (at
        the age of 44) was appointed by Alfonso XV, king of
        Castile and Leon, physician to the royal household. His
        work, above referred to, is written in Latin, and has
        been translated into French, but not as yet into
        English. An outline of the tales, by Douce, will be
        found prefixed to Ellis' _Early English Metrical

   [37] This is also the subject of one of the _Fabliaux_.--In
        a form similar to the story in Alfonsus it is current
        among the Milanese, and a Sicilian version is as
        follows: Once upon a time there was a prince who studied
        and racked his brains so much that he learned magic and
        the art of finding hidden treasures. One day he
        discovered a treasure in Daisisa. "O," he says, "now I
        am going to get it out." But to get it out it was
        necessary that ten million million of ants should cross
        the river one by one in a bark made of the half-shell of
        a nut. The prince puts the bark in the river, and makes
        the ants pass over--one, two, three; and they are still
        doing it. Here the story-teller pauses and says: "We
        will finish the story when the ants have finished
        crossing the river."--Crane's _Italian Popular Tales_,
        p. 156.

A story bearing some resemblance to this is related of a khalíf who was
wont to cheat poets of their expected reward when they recited their
compositions to him, until he was at length outwitted by the famous
Arabian poet Al-Asma'í: It is said that a khalíf, who was very
penurious, contrived by a trick to send from his presence without any
reward those poets who came and recited their compositions to him. He
had himself the faculty of retaining in his memory a poem after hearing
it only once; he had a mamlúk (white slave) who could repeat one that he
had heard twice; and a slave-girl who could repeat one that she had
heard thrice. Whenever a poet came to compliment him with a panegyrical
poem, the king used to promise him that if he found his verses to be of
his own composition he would give him a sum of money equal in weight to
what they were written on. The poet, consenting, would recite his ode,
and the king would say: "It is not new, for I have known it some years";
and he would repeat it as he had heard it; after which he would add:
"And this mamlúk also retains it in his memory," and order the mamlúk to
repeat it, which, having heard it twice, from the poet and the king, he
would do. Then the king would say to the poet: "I have also a slave-girl
who can repeat it," and, ordering her to do so, stationed behind the
curtains, she would repeat what she had thus thrice heard; so the poet
would go away empty-handed. The celebrated poet Al-Asma'í, having heard
of this device, determined upon outwitting the king, and accordingly
composed an ode made up of very difficult words. But this was not the
poet's only preparative measure--another will be presently explained;
and a third was to assume the dress of a Bedouin, that he might not be
known, covering his face, the eyes only excepted, with a _litham_ (piece
of drapery), as is usual with the Arabs of the desert. Thus disguised,
he went to the palace, and having obtained permission, entered and
saluted the king, who said to him: "Who art thou, O brother of the
Arabs? and what dost thou desire?" The poet answered: "May Allah
increase the power of the king! I am a poet of such a tribe, and have
composed an ode in praise of our lord the khalíf." "O brother of the
Arabs," said the king, "hast thou heard of our condition?" "No,"
answered the poet; "and what is it, O khalíf of the age?" "It is,"
replied the king, "that if the ode be not thine, we give thee no reward;
and if it be thine, we give thee the weight in money equal to what it is
written upon." "How," said the poet, "should I assume to myself that
which belongeth to another, and knowing, too, that lying before kings is
one of the basest of actions? But I agree to the condition, O our lord
the khalíf." So he repeated his ode. The king, perplexed, and unable to
remember any of it, made a sign to the mamlúk, but he had retained
nothing; then called to the female slave, but she was unable to repeat a
word. "O brother of the Arabs," said the king, "thou hast spoken truth;
and the ode is thine without doubt. I have never heard it before.
Produce, therefore, what it is written upon, and I will give thee its
weight in money, as I have promised." "Wilt thou," said the poet, "send
one of the attendants to carry it?" "To carry what?" demanded the king.
"Is it not upon a paper in thy possession?" "No, O our lord the khalíf.
At the time I composed it I could not procure a piece of paper on which
to write it, and could find nothing but a fragment of a marble column
left me by my father; so I engraved it upon that, and it lies in the
courtyard of the palace." He had brought it, wrapped up, on the back of
a camel. The king, to fulfil his promise, was obliged to exhaust his
treasury; and, to prevent a repetition of this trick, in future rewarded
poets according to the custom of kings.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Apropos_ of royal gifts to poets, it is related that, when the Afghans
had possession of Persia, a rude chief of that nation was governor of
Shíráz. A poet composed a panegyric on his wisdom, his valour, and his
virtues. As he was taking it to the palace he was met by a friend at the
outer gate, who inquired where he was going, and he informed him of his
purpose. His friend asked him if he was insane, to offer an ode to a
barbarian who hardly understood a word of the Persian language. "All
that you say may be very true," said the poor poet, "but I am starving,
and have no means of livelihood but by making verses. I must, therefore,
proceed." He went and stood before the governor with his ode in his
hand. "Who is that fellow?" said the Afghan lord. "And what is that
paper which he holds?" "I am a poet," answered the man, "and this paper
contains some poetry." "What is the use of poetry?" demanded the
governor. "To render great men like you immortal," he replied, making at
the same time a profound bow. "Let us hear some of it." The poet, on
this mandate, began reading his composition aloud, but he had not
finished the second stanza when he was interrupted. "Enough!" exclaimed
the governor; "I understand it all. Give the poor man some money--_that_
is what he wants." As the poet retired he met his friend, who again
commented on the folly of carrying odes to a man who did not understand
one of them. "Not understand!" he replied. "You are quite mistaken. He
has beyond all men the quickest apprehension of a _poet's meaning_!"

The khalífs were frequently lavish of their gifts to poets, but they
were fond of having their little jokes with them when in merry mood. One
day the Arabian poet Thálebí read before the khalíf Al-Mansúr a poem
which he had just composed, and it found acceptance. The khalíf said: "O
Thálebí, which wouldst thou rather have--that I give thee 300 gold
dínars [about £150], or three wise sayings, each worth 100 dínars?" The
poet replied: "Learning, O Commander of the Faithful, is better than
transitory treasure." "Well, then," said the khalíf, "the first saying
is: When thy garment grows old, sew not a new patch on it, for it hath
an ill look." "O woe!" cried the poet, "one hundred dínars are lost!"
Mansúr smiled, and proceeded: "The second saying is: When thou anointest
thy beard, anoint not the lower part, for that would soil the collar of
thy vest." "Alas!" exclaimed Thálebí, "a thousand times, alas! two
hundred dínars are lost!" Again the khalíf smiled, and continued: "The
third saying"--but before he had spoken it, the poet said: "O khalíf of
our prosperity, keep the third maxim in thy treasury, and give me the
remaining hundred dínars, for they will be worth a thousand times more
to me than the hearing of maxims." At this the khalíf laughed heartily,
and commanded his treasurer to give Thálebí five hundred dínars of gold.

A droll story is told of the Persian poet Anwarí: Passing the
market-place of Balkh one day, he saw a crowd of people standing in a
ring, and going up, he put his head within the circle and found a fellow
reciting the poems of Anwarí himself as his own. Anwarí went up to the
man, and said: "Sir, whose poems are these you are reciting?" He
replied: "They are Anwarí's." "Do you know him, then?" said Anwarí. The
man, with cool effrontery, answered: "What do you say? I am Anwarí." On
hearing this Anwarí laughed, and remarked: "I have heard of one who
stole poetry, but never of one who stole the poet himself!"--Talking of
"stealing poetry," Jámí tells us that a man once brought a composition
to a critic, every line of which he had plagiarised from different
collections of poems, and each rhetorical figure from various authors.
Quoth the critic: "For a wonder, thou hast brought a line of camels; but
if the string were untied, every one of the herd would run away in
different directions."

There is no little humour in the story of the Persian poet who wrote a
eulogium on a rich man, but got nothing for his trouble; he then abused
the rich man, but he said nothing; he next seated himself at the rich
man's gate, who said to him: "You praised me, and I said nothing; you
abused me, and I said nothing; and now, why are you sitting here?" The
poet answered: "I only wish that when you die I may perform the funeral



Muslims and other Asiatic peoples, like Europeans not so many centuries
since, are always on the watch for lucky or unlucky omens. On first
going out of a morning, the looks and countenances of those who cross
their path are scrutinised, and a smile or a frown is deemed favourable
or the reverse. To encounter a person blind of the left eye, or even
with one eye, forebodes sorrow and calamity. While Sir John Malcolm was
in Persia, as British Ambassador, he was told the following story: When
Abbas the Great was hunting, he met one morning as day dawned an
uncommonly ugly man, at the sight of whom his horse started. Being
nearly dismounted, and deeming it a bad omen, the king called out in a
rage to have his head cut off. The poor peasant, whom the attendants had
seized and were on the point of executing, prayed that he might be
informed of his crime. "Your crime," said the king, "is your unlucky
countenance, which is the first object I saw this morning, and which has
nearly caused me to fall from my horse." "Alas!" said the man, "by this
reckoning what term must I apply to your Majesty's countenance, which
was the first object my eyes met this morning, and which is to cause my
death?" The king smiled at the wit of the reply, ordered the man to be
released, and gave him a present instead of cutting off his
head.--Another Persian story is to the same purpose: A man said to his
servant: "If you see two crows together early in the morning, apprise me
of it, that I may also behold them, as it will be a good omen, whereby I
shall pass the day pleasantly." The servant did happen to see two crows
sitting in one place, and informed his master, who, however, when he
came saw but one, the other having in the meantime flown away. He was
very angry, and began to beat the servant, when a friend sent him a
present of game. Upon this the servant exclaimed: "O my lord! you saw
only one crow, and have received a fine present; had you seen _two_, you
would have met with _my_ fare."[38]

   [38] This last jest reappears in the apocryphal Life of Esop,
        by Planudes, the only difference being that Esop's
        master is invited to a feast, instead of receiving a
        present of game, upon which Esop exclaims: "Alas! I see
        two crows, and I am beaten; you see one, and are asked
        to a feast. What a delusion is augury!"

It would seem, from the following story, that an old man's prayers are
sometimes reversed in response, as dreams are said to "go by
contraries": An old Arab left his house one morning, intending to go to
a village at some distance, and coming to the foot of a hill which he
had to cross he exclaimed: "O Allah! send some one to help me over this
hill." Scarcely had he uttered these words when up came a fierce
soldier, leading a mare with a very young colt by her side, who
compelled the old man, with oaths and threats, to carry the colt. As
they trudged along, they met a poor woman with a sick child in her arms.
The old man, as he laboured under the weight of the colt, kept groaning,
"O Allah! O Allah!" and, supposing him to be a dervish, the woman asked
him to pray for the recovery of her child. In compliance, the old man
said: "O Allah! I beseech thee to shorten the days of this poor child."
"Alas!" cried the mother, "why hast thou made such a cruel prayer?"
"Fear nothing," said the old man; "thy child will assuredly enjoy long
life. It is my fate to have the reverse of whatever I pray for. I
implored Allah for assistance to carry me over this hill, and, by way of
help, I suppose, I have had this colt imposed on my shoulders."

       *       *       *       *       *

Jámí tells this humorous story in the Sixth "Garden" of his
_Baháristán_, or Abode of Spring: A man said the prescribed prayers in a
mosque and then began his personal supplications. An old woman, who
happened to be near him, exclaimed: "O Allah! cause me to share in
whatsoever he supplicates for." The man, overhearing her, then prayed:
"O Allah! hang me on a gibbet, and cause me to die of scourging." The
old trot continued: "O Allah! pardon me, and preserve me from what he
has asked for." Upon this the man turned to her and said: "What a very
unreasonable partner this is! She desires to share in all that gives
rest and pleasure, but she refuses to be my partner in distress and

       *       *       *       *       *

We have already seen that even the grave and otiose Turk is not devoid
of a sense of the ludicrous, and here is another example, from Mr.
E. J. W. Gibb's translation of the _History of the Forty Vezírs_: A party
of Turkmans left their encampment one day and went into a neighbouring
city. Returning home, as they drew near their tents, they felt hungry,
and sat down and ate some bread and onions at a spring-head. The juice
of the onions went into their eyes and caused them to water. Now the
children of those Turkmans had gone out to meet them, and, seeing the
tears flow from their eyes, they concluded that one of their number had
died in the city, so, without making any inquiry, they ran back, and
said to their mothers: "One of ours is dead in the city, and our fathers
are coming weeping." Upon this all the women and children of the
encampment went forth to meet them, weeping together. The Turkmans who
were coming from the city thought that one of theirs had died in the
encampment; and thus they were without knowledge one of the other, and
they raised a weeping and wailing together such that it cannot be
described. At length the elders of the camp stood up in their midst and
said: "May ye all remain whole; there is none other help than patience";
and they questioned them. The Turkmans coming from the city asked: "Who
is dead in the camp?" The others replied: "No one is dead in the camp;
who has died in the city?" Those who were coming from the city, said:
"No one has died in the city." The others said: "For whom then are ye
wailing and lamenting?" At length they perceived that all this tumult
arose from their trusting the words of children.

This last belongs rather to the class of simpleton-stories; and in the
following, from the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles' _Folk Tales of Kashmír_
(Trübner: 1888), we have a variant of the well-known tale of the twelve
men of Gotham who went one day to fish, and, before returning home,
miscounted their number, of which several analogues are given in my
_Book of Noodles_, pp. 28 ff. (Elliot Stock: 1888): Ten peasants were
standing on the side of the road weeping. They thought that one of their
number had been lost on the way, as each man had counted the company,
and found them nine only. "Ho! you--what's the matter?" shouted a
townsman passing by. "O sir," said the peasants, "we were ten men when
we left the village, but now we are only nine." The townsman saw at a
glance what fools they were: each of them had omitted to count himself
in the number. He therefore told them to take off their _topís_
(skull-caps) and place them on the ground. This they did, and counted
ten of them, whereupon they concluded they were all there, and were
comforted. But they could not tell how it was.

       *       *       *       *       *

That wakefulness is not necessarily watchfulness may seem paradoxical,
yet here is a Persian story which goes far to show that they are not
always synonymous terms: Once upon a time (to commence in the good old
way) there came into a city a merchant on horseback, attended by his
servant on foot. Hearing that the city was infested by many bold and
expert thieves, in consequence of which property was very insecure, he
said to his servant at night: "I will keep watch, and do you sleep; for
I cannot trust you to keep awake, and I much fear that my horse may be
stolen." But to this arrangement his faithful servant would not consent,
and he insisted upon watching all night. So the master went to sleep,
and three hours after awoke, when he called to his servant: "What are
you doing?" He answered: "I am meditating how Allah has spread the earth
upon the water." The master said: "I am afraid lest thieves come, and
you know nothing of it." "O my lord, be satisfied; I am on the watch."
The merchant again went to sleep, and awaking about midnight cried: "Ho!
what are you doing?" The servant replied: "I am considering how Allah
has supported the sky without pillars." Quoth the master: "But I am
afraid that while you are busy meditating thieves will carry off my
horse." "Be not afraid, master, I am fully awake; how, then, can thieves
come?" The master replied: "If you wish to sleep, I will keep watch."
But the servant would not hear of this; he was not at all sleepy; so his
master addressed himself once more to slumber; and when one hour of the
night yet remained he awoke, and as usual asked him what he was doing,
to which he coolly answered: "I am considering, since the thieves have
stolen the horse, whether I shall carry the saddle on my head, or you,

       *       *       *       *       *

Somewhat akin to the familiar "story" of the man whose eyesight was so
extraordinary that he could, standing in the street, perceive a fly on
the dome of St. Paul's is the tale of the Three Dervishes who,
travelling in company, came to the sea-shore of Syria, and desired the
captain of a vessel about to sail for Cyprus to give them a passage. The
captain was willing to take them "for a consideration"; but they told
him they were dervishes, and therefore without money, but they possessed
certain wonderful gifts, which might be of use to him on the voyage. The
first dervish said that he could descry any object at the distance of a
year's journey; the second could hear at as great a distance as his
brother could see. "Well!" exclaimed the captain, "these are truly
miraculous gifts; and pray, sir," said he, turning to the third dervish,
"what may _your_ particular gift be?" "I, sir," replied he, "am an
unbeliever." When the captain heard this, he said he could not take such
a person on board of his ship; but on the others declaring they must all
three go together or remain behind, he at length consented to allow the
third dervish a passage with the two highly-gifted ones. In the course
of the voyage, it happened one fine day that the captain and the three
dervishes were on deck conversing, when suddenly the first dervish
exclaimed: "Look, look!--see, there--the daughter of the sultan of India
sitting at the window of her palace, working embroidery." "A mischief on
your eyes!" cried the second dervish, "for her needle has this moment
dropped from her hand, and I hear it sound upon the pavement below her
window." "Sir," said the third dervish, addressing the captain, "shall
I, or shall I not, be an unbeliever?" Quoth the captain: "Come, friend,
come with me into my cabin, and let us cultivate unbelief together!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A very droll parrot story occurs--where, indeed, we should least expect
to meet with such a thing--in the _Masnaví_ of Jelálu-'d-Dín er-Rúmí
(13th century), a grand mystical poem, or rather series of poems, in six
books, written in Persian rhymed couplets, as the title indicates. In
the second poem of the First Book we read that an oilman possessed a
fine parrot, who amused him with her prattle and watched his shop during
his absence. It chanced one day, when the oilman had gone out, that a
cat ran into the shop in chase of a mouse, which so frightened the
parrot that she flew about from shelf to shelf, upsetting several jars
and spilling their contents. When her master returned and saw the havoc
made among his goods he fetched the parrot a blow that knocked out all
her head feathers, and from that day she sulked on her perch. The
oilman, missing the prattle of his favourite, began to shower his alms
on every passing beggar, in hopes that some one would induce the parrot
to speak again. At length a bald-headed mendicant came to the shop one
day, upon seeing whom, the parrot, breaking her long silence, cried out:
"Poor fellow! poor fellow! hast thou, too, upset some oil-jar?"[39]

   [39] This tale is found in the early Italian novelists,
        slightly varied, and it was doubtless introduced by
        Venetian merchants from the Levant: A parrot belonging
        to Count Fiesco was discovered one day stealing some
        roast meat from the kitchen. The enraged cook,
        overtaking him, threw a kettle of boiling water at him,
        which completely scalded all the feathers from his head,
        and left the poor bird with a bare poll. Some time
        afterwards, as Count Fiesco was engaged in conversation
        with an abbot, the parrot, observing the shaven crown of
        his reverence, hopped up to him and said: "What! do
        _you_ like roast meat too?"

        In another form the story is orally current in the North
        of England. Dr. Fryer tells it to this effect, in his
        charming _English Fairy Tales from the North Country_: A
        grocer kept a parrot that used to cry out to the
        customers that the sugar was sanded and the butter mixed
        with lard. For this the bird had her neck wrung and was
        thrown upon an ash-heap; but reviving and seeing a dead
        cat beside her she cried: "Poor Puss! have you, too,
        suffered for telling the truth?"

        There is yet another variant of this droll tale, which
        has been popular for generations throughout England, and
        was quite recently reproduced in an American journal as
        a genuine "nigger" story: In olden times there was a
        roguish baker who made many of his loaves less than the
        regulation weight, and one day, on observing the
        government inspector coming along the street, he
        concealed the light loaves in a closet. The inspector
        having found the bread on the counter of the proper
        weight, was about to leave, when a parrot, which the
        baker kept in his shop, cried out: "Light bread in the
        closet!" This caused a search to be made, and the baker
        was heavily fined. Full of fury, the baker seized the
        parrot, wrung its neck, and threw it in his back yard,
        near the carcase of a pig that had died of the measles.
        The parrot, coming to itself again, observed the dead
        porker and inquired in a tone of sympathy: "O poor
        piggy, didst thou, too, tell about light bread in the

Somewhat more credible is the tale of the man who taught a parrot to
say, "What doubt is there of this?" (_dur ín cheh shuk_) and took it to
market for sale, fixing the price at a hundred rupís. A Moghul asked the
bird: "Are you really worth a hundred rupís?" to which the bird answered
very readily: "What doubt is there of this?" Delighted with the apt
reply, he bought the parrot and took it home; but he soon found that,
whatever he might say, the bird always made the same answer, so he
repented his purchase and exclaimed: "I was certainly a great fool to
buy this bird!" The parrot said: "What doubt is there of this?" The
Moghul smiled, and gave the bird her liberty.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sir John Malcolm cites a good example of the ready wit of the citizens
of Isfahán, in his entertaining _Sketches of Persia_, as follows: When
the celebrated Haji Ibrahím was prime minister of Persia [some sixty
years since], his brother was governor of Isfahán, while other members
of his family held several of the first offices of the kingdom. A
shop-keeper one day went to the governor to represent that he was unable
to pay certain taxes. "You must pay them," replied the governor, "or
leave the city." "Where can I go to?" asked the Isfahání. "To Shíráz or
Kashan." "Your nephew rules in one city and your brother in the other."
"Go to the Sháh, and complain if you like." "Your brother the Haji is
prime minister." "Then go to Satan," said the enraged governor. "Haji
Merhúm, your father, the pious pilgrim, is dead," rejoined the undaunted
Isfahání. "My friend," said the governor, bursting into laughter, "I
will pay your taxes, even myself, since you declare that my family keep
you from all redress, both in this world and the next."

       *       *       *       *       *

The Hebrew Rabbis who compiled the Talmud were, some of them, witty as
well as wise--indeed I have always held that wisdom and wit are cousins
german, if not full brothers--and our specimens of Oriental Wit and
Humour may be fittingly concluded with a few Jewish jests from a scarce
little book, entitled, _Hebrew Tales_, by Hyman Hurwitz: An Athenian,
walking about in the streets of Jerusalem one day, called to a little
Hebrew boy, and, giving him a _pruta_ (a small coin of less value than a
farthing), said: "Here is a pruta, my lad, bring me something for it, of
which I may eat enough, leave some for my host, and carry some home to
my family." The boy went, and presently returned with a quantity of
salt, which he handed to the jester. "Salt!" he exclaimed, "I did not
ask thee to buy me salt." "True," said the urchin; "but didst thou not
tell me to bring thee something of which thou mightest eat, leave, and
take home? Of this salt there is surely enough for all three

   [40] In the Rev. J. Hinton Knowles' _Folk-Tales of Kashmír_ a
        merchant gives his stupid son a small coin with which he
        is to purchase something to eat, something to drink,
        something to gnaw, something to sow in the garden, and
        some food for the cow. A clever young girl advises him
        to buy a water-melon, which would answer all the
        purposes required.--P. 145.

Another Athenian desired a boy to buy him some cheese and eggs. Having
done so, "Now, my lad," said the stranger, "tell me which of these
cheese were made of the milk of white goats and which of black goats?"
The little Hebrew answered: "Since thou art older than I, and more
experienced, first do thou tell me which of these eggs came from white
and which from black hens."

Once more did a Hebrew urchin prove his superiority in wit over an
Athenian: "Here, boy," said he, "here is some money; bring us some figs
and grapes." The lad went and bought the fruit, kept half of it for
himself, and gave the other half to the Athenian. "How!" cried the man,
"is it the custom of this city for a messenger to take half of what he
is sent to purchase?" "No," replied the boy; "but it is our custom to
speak what we mean, and to do what we are desired." "Well, then, I did
not desire thee to take half of the fruit." "Why, what else could you
mean," rejoined the little casuist, "by saying, 'Bring _us_?' Does not
that word include the hearer as well as the speaker?" The stranger, not
knowing how to answer such reasoning, smiled and went his way, leaving
the shrewd lad to eat his share of the fruit in peace.

"There is no rule without some exception," as the following tale
demonstrates: Rabbi Eliezar, who was as much distinguished by his
greatness of mind as by the extraordinary size of his body, once paid a
friendly visit to Rabbi Simon. The learned Simon received him most
cordially, and filling a cup with wine handed it to him. Eliezar took it
and drank it off at a draught. Another was poured out--it shared the
same fate. "Brother Eliezar," said Simon, jestingly, "rememberest thou
not what the wise men have said on this subject?" "I well remember,"
replied his corpulent friend, "the saying of our instructors, that
people ought not to take a cup at one draught. But the wise men have not
so defined their rule as to admit of no exception; and in this instance
there are not less than three--the _cup_ is small, the _receiver_ is
large, and your WINE, brother Simon, is DELICIOUS!"




Oriental romances are usually constructed on the plan of a number of
tales connected by a general or leading story running throughout, like
the slender thread that holds a necklace of pearls together--a familiar
example of which is the _Book of the Thousand and One Nights_, commonly
known amongst us under the title of _Arabian Nights Entertainments_. In
some the subordinate tales are represented as being told by one or more
individuals to serve a particular object, by the moral, or warning,
which they are supposed to convey; as in the case of the _Book of
Sindibád_, in which a prince is falsely accused by one of his father's
ladies, and defended by the king's seven vazírs, or counsellors, who
each in turn relate to the king two stories, the purport of which being
to warn him to put no faith in the accusations of women, to which the
lady replies by stories representing the wickedness and perfidy of men;
and that of the _Bakhtyár Náma_, in which a youth, falsely accused of
having violated the royal harem, obtains for himself a respite from
death during ten days by relating to the king each day a story designed
to caution him against precipitation in matters of importance. In others
supernatural beings are the narrators of the subordinate tales, as in
the Indian romances, _Vetála Panchavinsati_, or Twenty-five Tales of a
Demon, and the _Sinhásana Dwatrinsati_, or Tales of the Thirty-two
Speaking Statues--literally, Thirty-two (Tales) of a Throne. In others,
again, the relators are birds, as in the Indian work entitled _Hamsa
Vinsati_, or Twenty Tales of a Goose.

Of this last class is the popular Persian work, _Tútí Náma_, (Tales of a
Parrot, or Parrot-Book), of which I purpose furnishing some account, as
it has not yet been completely translated into English. This work was
composed, according to Pertsch, in A.D. 1329, by a Persian named
Nakhshabí, after an older Persian version, now lost, which was made from
a Sanskrit work, also no longer extant, but of which the modern
representative is the _Suka Saptati_, or Seventy Tales of a Parrot.[41]
The frame, or leading story, of the Persian Parrot-Book is to the
following effect:

   [41] Ziyáu-'d-Dín Nakhshabí, so called from Nakhshab, or
        Nasaf, the modern Kashí, a town situated between
        Samarkand and the Oxus, led a secluded life in Badá'um,
        and died, as stated by 'Abdal-Hakk, A.H. 751 (A.D.
        1350-1).--Dr. Rieu's _Catalogue of Persian MSS. in the
        British Museum_.--In 1792 the Rev. B. Gerrans published
        an English translation of twelve of the fifty-two tales
        comprised in the _Tútí Náma_, but the work is now best
        known in Persia and India from an abridgment made by
        Kádirí in the last century, which was printed, with a
        translation, at London in 1801.

A merchant who had a very beautiful wife informs her one day that he has
resolved to travel into foreign countries in order to increase his
wealth by trade. His wife endeavours to persuade him to remain at home
in peace and security instead of imperiling his life among strangers.
But he expatiates on the evils of poverty and the advantages of wealth:
"A man without riches is fatherless, and a home without money is
deserted. He that is in want of cash is a nonentity, and wanders in the
land unknown. It is, therefore, everybody's duty to procure as much
money as possible; for gold is the delight of our lives--it is the
bright live-coal of our hearts--the yellow links which fasten the coat
of mail--the gentle stimulative of the world--the complete coining die
of the globe--the traveller who speaks all languages, and is welcome in
every city--the splendid bride unveiled--the defender, register, and
mirror of jehandars. The man who has dirhams [_Scottice_,
'siller'--_Fr._ 'l'argent'] is handsome; the sun never shines on the
inauspicious man without money."[42] Before leaving home the merchant
purchased at great cost in the bazaar a wonderful parrot, that could
discourse eloquently and intelligently, and also a sharak, a species of
nightingale, which, according to Gerrans, "imitates the human voice in
so surprising a manner that, if you do not see the bird, you cannot help
being deceived"; and, having put them into the same cage, he charged his
spouse that whenever she had any matter of importance to transact she
should first obtain the sanction of both birds.

   [42] "He that has money in the scales," says Saádí, "has
        strength in his arms, and he who has not the command of
        money is destitute of friends in the world."--Hundreds
        of similar sarcastic observations on the power of wealth
        might be cited from the Hindú writers, such as: "He who
        has riches has friends; he who has riches has relations;
        he who has riches _is even a sage_!" The following
        verses in praise of money are, I think, worth
        reproducing, if only for their whimsical arrangement:

                           Our Money
                        We find in the end
                     Both relation and friend;
               'Tis a helpmate for better, for worse.
                   Neither father nor mother,
                     Nor sister nor brother,
                       Nor uncles nor aunts,
                           Nor dozens
                           Of cousins,
                 Are like a friend in the purse.
                 Still regard the main chance;
                          'Tis the clink
                          Of the chink
               Is the music to make the heart dance.

The merchant having protracted his absence many months (Vatsyayana, in
his _Káma Sutra_, says that the man who is given to much travelling does
not deserve to be married), and, his wife chancing to be on the roof of
her house one day when a young foreign prince of handsome appearance
passed by with his attendants, she immediately fell in love with
him--"the battle-axe of prudence dropped from her hand; the vessel of
continence became a sport to the waves of confusion; while the avenues
leading to the fortress of reason remained unguarded, the sugar-cane of
incontinence triumphantly raised its head above the rose-tree of
patience." The prince had also observed the lady, as she stood on the
terrace of her house, and was instantly enamoured of her. He sends an
old woman (always the obliging--"for a consideration"--go-between of
Eastern lovers) to solicit an interview with the lady at his own palace
in the evening, and, after much persuasion, she consents. Arraying her
beauteous person in the finest apparel, she proceeds to the cage, and
first consults the sharak as to the propriety of her purpose. The sharak
forbids her to go, and is at once rewarded by having her head wrung off.
She then represents her case to the parrot, who, having witnessed the
fate of his companion, prudently resolves to temporise with the amorous
dame; so he "quenched the fire of her indignation with the water of
flattery, and began a tale conformable to her temperament, which he took
care to protract till the morning." In this manner does the prudent
parrot prevent the lady's intended intrigue by relating, night after
night, till the merchant returns home from his travels, one or more
fascinating tales, which he does not bring to an end till it is too late
for the assignation.[43]

   [43] In a Telúgú MS., entitled _Patti Vrútti Mahima_ (the
        Value of Chaste Wives), the minister of Chandra Pratápa
        assumes the form of a bird owing to a curse pronounced
        against him by Siva, and is sold to a merchant named
        Dhanadatta, whose son, Kuvéradatta, is vicious. The bird
        by moral lessons reformed him for a time. They went to a
        town called Pushpamayuri, where the king's son saw the
        wife of Kuveradatta when he was absent from home. An
        illicit amour was about to begin, when the bird
        interposed by relating tales of chaste wives, and
        detained the wanton lady at home till her husband

The order of the parrot's tales is not the same in all texts; in
Kádirí's abridgment there are few of the Nights which correspond with
those of the India Office MS. No. 2573, which may, perhaps, be partly
accounted for by the circumstance that Kádirí has given only 35 of the
52 tales that are in the original text. For the general reader, however,
the sequence of the tales is a minor consideration; and I shall content
myself with giving abstracts of some of the best stories, irrespective
of their order in any text, and complete translations of two or three
others. It so happens that the Third Night is the same in Kádirí and the
India Office MS. No. 2573, which comprises the complete text; and the
story the eloquent bird relates on that night may be entitled

_The Stolen Images._

A goldsmith and a carpenter, travelling in company, steal from a Hindú
temple some golden images, which, when they arrive in the neighbourhood
of their own city, they bury beneath a tree. The goldsmith goes secretly
one night and carries away the images, and next morning, when both go
together to share the spoil, the goldsmith accuses the carpenter of
having played him false. But the carpenter was a shrewd fellow, and so
he makes a figure resembling the goldsmith, dresses it in clothes
similar to what he usually wore, and procures a couple of bear's cubs,
which he teaches to take their food from the skirts and sleeves of the
effigy. Thus the cubs conceived a great affection for the figure of the
goldsmith. He then contrives to steal the goldsmith's two sons, and,
when the father comes to seek them at his house, he pretends they have
been changed into young bears. The goldsmith brings his case before the
kází; the cubs are brought into court, and no sooner do they discover
the goldsmith than they run up and fondle him. Upon this the judge
decides in favour of the carpenter, to whom the goldsmith confesses his
guilt, and offers to give up all the gold if he restore his children,
which he does accordingly.[44]

   [44] Many Asiatic stories relate to the concealing of
        treasure--generally at the foot of a tree, to mark the
        spot--by two or more companions, and its being secretly
        stolen by one of them. The device of the carpenter in
        the foregoing tale of abducting the rascally goldsmith's
        two sons, and so on, finds an analogue in the
        _Panchatantra_, the celebrated Sanskrit collection of
        fables (Book I, Fab. 21, of Benfey's German
        translation), where we read that a young man, who had
        spent the wealth left to him by his father, had only a
        heavy iron balance remaining of all his possessions, and
        depositing it with a merchant went to another country.
        When he returned, after some time, he went to the
        merchant and demanded back his balance. The merchant
        told him it had been eaten by rats; adding: "The iron of
        which it was composed was particularly sweet, and so the
        rats ate it." The young man, knowing that the merchant
        spoke falsely, formed a plan for the recovery of his
        balance. One day he took the merchant's young son,
        unknown to his father, to bathe, and left him in the
        care of a friend. When the merchant missed his son he
        accused the young man of having stolen him, and summoned
        him to appear in the king's judgment-hall. In answer to
        the merchant's accusation, the young man asserted that a
        kite had carried away the boy; and when the officers of
        the court declared this to be impossible, he said: "In a
        country where an iron balance was eaten by rats, a kite
        might well carry off an elephant, much more a boy." The
        merchant, having lost his cause, returned the balance to
        the young man and received back his boy.

The Sixth Tale of the Parrot, according to the India Office MS., relates

_The Woman Carved out of Wood._

Four men--a goldsmith, a carpenter, a tailor, and a dervish--travelling
together, one night halted in a desert place, and it was agreed they
should watch turn about until daybreak. The carpenter takes the first
watch, and to amuse himself he carves the figure of a woman out of a log
of wood. When it came to the goldsmith's turn to watch, finding the
beautiful female figure, he resolved also to exhibit his art, and
accordingly made a set of ornaments of gold and silver, which he placed
on the neck, arms, and ankles. During the third watch the tailor made a
suit of clothes becoming a bride, and put them on the figure. Lastly,
the dervish, when it came to his turn to watch, beholding the
captivating female form, prayed that it might be endowed with life, and
immediately the effigy became animated. In the morning all four fell in
love with the charming damsel, each claiming her for himself; the
carpenter, because he had carved her with his own hands; the goldsmith,
because he had adorned her with gems; the tailor, because he had
suitably clothed her; and the dervish, because he had, by his
intercession, endowed her with life. While they were thus disputing, a
man came to the spot, to whom they referred the case. On seeing the
woman, he exclaimed: "This is my own wife, whom you have stolen from
me," and compelled them to come before the kutwal, who, on viewing her
beauty, in his turn claimed her as the wife of his brother, who had been
waylaid and murdered in the desert. The kutwal took them all, with the
woman, before the kází, who declared that she was his slave, who had
absconded from his house with a large sum of money. An old man who was
present suggested that they should all seven appeal to the Tree of
Decision, and thither they went accordingly; but no sooner had they
stated their several claims than the trunk of the tree split open, the
woman ran into the cleft, and on its reuniting she was no more to be
seen. A voice proceeded from the tree, saying: "Everything returns to
its first principles"; and the seven suitors of the woman were
overwhelmed with shame.[45]

   [45] So, too, Boethius, in his _De Consolatione Philosophiæ_,
        says, according to Chaucer's translation: "All thynges
        seken ayen to hir [i.e. their] propre course, and all
        thynges rejoysen on hir retournynge agayne to hir
        nature."--A tale current in Oude, and given in _Indian
        Notes and Queries_ for Sept. 1887, is an illustration of
        the maxim that "everything returns to its first
        principles": A certain prince chose his friends out of
        the lowest class, and naturally imbibed their principles
        and habits. When the death of his father placed him on
        the throne, he soon made his former associates his
        courtiers, and exacted the most servile homage from the
        nobles. The old vazír, however, despised the young king
        and would render none. This so exasperated him that he
        called his counsellors together to advise the most
        excruciating of tortures for the old man. Said one: "Let
        him be flayed alive and let shoes be made of his skin."
        The vazír ejaculated on this but one word, "Origin."
        Said the next: "Let him be hacked into pieces and his
        limbs cast to the dogs." The vazír said, "Origin."
        Another advised: "Let him be forthwith executed, and his
        house be levelled to the ground." Once more the vazír
        simply said, "Origin." Then the king turned to the rest,
        who declared each according to his opinion, the vazír
        noticing each with the same word. At last a young man,
        who had not spoken hitherto, was asked. "May it please
        your Majesty," said he, "if you ask my opinion, it is
        this: Here is an aged man, and honourable from his
        years, family, and position; moreover, he served in the
        king your father's court, and nursed you as a boy. It
        were well, considering all these matters, to pay him
        respect, and render his old age comfortable." Again the
        vazír uttered the word "Origin." The king now demanded
        what he meant by it. "Simply this, your Majesty,"
        responded the vazír: "You have here the sons of
        shoemakers, butchers, executioners, and so forth, and
        each has expressed himself according to his father's
        trade. There is but one noble-born among them, and he
        has made himself conspicuous by speaking according to
        the manner of his race." The king was ashamed, and
        released the vazír.--A parallel to this is found in the
        Turkish _Qirq Vezír Taríkhí_, or History of the Forty
        Vezírs (Lady's 4th Story): according to Mr. Gibb's
        translation, "All things return to their origin."

I am strongly of opinion that the foregoing story is of Buddhistic
extraction; but however this may be, it is not a bad specimen of Eastern
humour, nor is the following, which the eloquent bird tells the lady
another night:

_Of the Man whose Mare was kicked by a Merchant's Horse._

A merchant had a vicious horse that kicked a mare, which he had warned
the owner not to tie near his animal. The man carried the merchant
before the kází, and stated his complaint. The kází inquired of the
merchant what he had to say in his own defence; but he pretended to be
dumb, answering not a word to the judge's interrogatives. Upon this the
kází remarked to the plaintiff that since the merchant was dumb he could
not be to blame for the accident. "How do you know he is dumb?" said the
owner of the mare. "At the time I wished to fasten my mare near his
horse he said, 'Don't!' yet now he feigns himself dumb." The kází
observed that if he was duly warned against the accident he had himself
to blame, and so dismissed the case.



We are not without instances in European popular fictions of two young
persons dreaming of each other and falling in love, although they had
never met or known of each other's existence. A notable example is the
story of the Two Dreams in the famous _History of the Seven Wise
Masters_. Incidents of this kind are very common in Oriental stories:
the romance of _Kámarupa_ (of Indian origin, but now chiefly known
through the Persian version) is based upon a dream which the hero has of
a certain beautiful princess, with whom he falls in love, and he sets
forth with his companions to find her, should it be at the uttermost
ends of the earth. It so happens that the damsel also dreams of him,
and, when they do meet, they need no introduction to each other. The
Indian romance of _Vasayadatta_ has a similar plot. But the royal
dreamer and lover in the following story, told by the Parrot on the 39th
Night, according to the India Office MS. No. 2573, adopted a plan for
the discovery of the beauteous object of his vision more conformable to
his own ease:

_The Emperor's Dream._

An emperor of China dreamt of a very beautiful damsel whom he had never
seen or heard of, and, being sorely pierced with the darts of love for
the creature of his dreaming fancy, he could find no peace of mind. One
of his vazírs, who was an excellent portrait painter, receiving from the
emperor a minute description of the lady's features, drew the face, and
the imperial lover acknowledged the likeness to be very exact. The vazír
then went abroad with the portrait, to see whether any one could
identify it with the fair original. After many disappointments he met
with an old hermit, who at once recognised it as the portrait of the
princess of Rúm,[46] who, he informed the vazír, had an unconquerable
aversion against men ever since she beheld, in her garden, a peacock
basely desert his mate and their young ones, when the tree on which
their nest was built had been struck by lightning. She believed that all
men were quite as selfish as that peacock, and was resolved never to
marry. Returning to his imperial master with these most interesting
particulars regarding the object of his affection, he next undertakes to
conquer the strange and unnatural aversion of the princess. Taking with
him the emperor's portrait and other pictures, he procures access to the
princess of Rúm; shows her, first, the portrait of the emperor of China,
and then pictures of animals in the royal menagerie, among others that
of a deer, concerning which he relates a story to the effect that the
emperor, sitting one day in his summer-house, saw a deer, his doe, and
their fawn on the bank of the river, when suddenly the waters overflowed
the banks, and the doe, in terror for her life, fled away, while the
deer bravely remained with the fawn and was drowned. This story, so
closely resembling her own, struck the fair princess with wonder and
admiration, and she at once gave her consent to be united to the emperor
of China; and we may suppose that "they continued together in joy and
happiness until they were overtaken by the terminater of delights and
the separator of companions."

   [46] Originally, Rúmelia (Rúm Eyli) was only implied by the
        word _Rúm_, but in course of time it was employed to
        designate the whole Turkish empire.

       *       *       *       *       *

There can be little or no doubt, I think, that in this tale we find the
original of the frame, or leading story, of the Persian Tales, ascribed
to a dervish named Mukhlis, of Isfahán, and written after the _Arabian
Nights_, as it is believed, in which the nurse of the Princess has to
relate almost as many stories to overcome her aversion against men (the
result of an incident similar to that witnessed by the Lady of Rúm) as
the renowned Sheherazade had to tell her lord, who entertained--for a
very different reason--a bitter dislike of women.

       *       *       *       *       *

I now present a story unabridged, translated by Gerrans in the latter
part of the last century. It is assuredly of Buddhistic origin:

_The Golden Apparition._

In the extreme boundaries of Khurasán there once lived, according to
general report, a merchant named Abdal-Malik, whose warehouses were
crowded with rich merchandise, and whose coffers overflowed with money.
The scions of genius ripened into maturity under the sunshine of his
liberality; the sons of indigence fattened on the bread of his
hospitality; and the parched traveller amply slaked his thirst in the
river of his generosity. One day, as he meditated on the favours which
his Creator had so luxuriantly showered upon him, he testified his
gratitude by the following resolution: "Long have I traded in the
theatre of the world, much have I received, and little have I bestowed.
This wealth was entrusted to my care, with no other design or intention
but to enable me to assist the unfortunate and indigent. Before,
therefore, the Angel of Death shall come to demand the spoil of my
mortality, it is my last wish and sole intention to expiate my sins and
follies by voluntary oblations of this she-camel [alluding to the Muslim
Feast of the Camel] in the last month of her pregnancy, and to proclaim
to all men, by this late breakfasting [alluding to the Feast of Ramadan,
when food is only permitted after sunset], my past mortification."

In the tranquil hour of midnight an apparition stood before him, in the
habit of a fakír. The merchant cried: "What art thou?" It answered: "I
am the apparition of thy good fortune and the genius of thy future
happiness. When thou, with such unbounded generosity, didst bequeath all
thy wealth to the poor, I determined not to pass by thy door unnoticed,
but to endow thee with an inexhaustible treasure, conformable to the
greatness of thy capacious soul. To accomplish which I will, every
morning, in this shape, appear to thee; thou shalt strike me a few blows
on the head, when I shall instantly fall low at thy feet, transformed
into an image of gold. From this freely take as much as thou shalt have
occasion for; and every member or joint that shall be separated from the
image shall be instantly replaced by another of the same precious

   [47] If the members severed from the golden image were to be
        instantly replaced by others, what need was there for
        the daily appearance of the "fakír," as promised?--But

At daybreak the demon of avarice had conducted Hajm, the covetous, to
the durbar of Abdal-Malik, the generous. Soon after his arrival the
apparition presented itself. Abdal-Malik immediately arose, and after
striking it several blows on the head it fell down before him, and was
changed into an image of gold. As much as sufficed for the necessities
of the day he took for himself, and gave a much larger portion to his
visitor. Hajm was overjoyed at the present, and concluded from what he
had seen that he or any other person who should treat a fakír in the
same manner could convert him into gold, and consequently that by
beating a number he might multiply his golden images. Heated with this
fond imagination, he quickly returned to his house and gave the
necessary orders for a most sumptuous entertainment, to which he invited
all the fakírs in the province.

When the keen appetite was assuaged, and the exhilarating sherbet began
to enliven the convivial meeting, Hajm seized a ponderous club, and with
it regaled his guests till he broke their heads, and the crimson torrent
stained the carpet of hospitality. The fakírs elevating the shriek of
sore distress, the kutwal's guard came to their assistance, and soon a
multitude of people assembled, who, after binding the offender with the
strong cord of captivity, carried him, together with the fakírs, before
the governor of the city. He demanded to know the reason why he had so
inhospitably and cruelly behaved to these harmless people. The
confounded Hajm replied: "As I was yesterday in the house of
Abdal-Malik, a fakír suddenly appeared. The merchant struck him some
blows on the head, and he fell prostrate before him, transformed into a
golden image. Imagining that any other person could, by a similar
behaviour, force any fakír to undergo the like metamorphosis, I invited
these men to a banquet, and regaled them with some blows of my cudgel to
compel them to a similar transformation; but the demon of avarice has
deceived me, and the fascinating temptation of gold has involved me in a
labyrinth of ills."

The governor at once sent for Abdal-Malik, and, demanding a solution of
Hajm's mysterious tale, was thus answered by the charitable merchant:
"The unfortunate Hajm is my neighbour. Some days ago he began to exhibit
symptoms of a disordered imagination and distracted brain, and during
these violent paroxysms of insanity he related some ridiculous fable of
me and the rest of my neighbours. No better specimen can be adduced than
the extravagant action of which he now stands accused, and the absurd
tale by which he attempts to apologise for the commission of it. That
madness may no longer usurp the palace of reason, to revel upon the
ruins of his mind, deliver him to the sons of ingenuity, the preservers
and restorers of health; let them purify his blood by sparing diet,
abridge him of his daily potations, and by the force of medicinal
beverage recall him from the precipice of ruin." This advice was warmly
applauded by the governor, who, after Hajm had been compelled to ask
pardon of the fakírs for the ill-treatment they had received, was
soundly bastinadoed before the tribunal, and carried to the hospital for

That each man has his "genius" of good or evil fortune is an essentially
Buddhistic idea. The same story occurs, in a different form, in the
_Hitopadesa_, or Friendly Counsel, an ancient Sanskrit collection of
apologues, and an abridgment of the _Panchatantra_, or Five Chapters,
where it forms Fable 10 of Book III: In the city of Ayodhya (Oude) there
was a soldier named Churamani, who, being anxious for money, for a long
time with pain of body worshipped the deity, the jewel of whose diadem
is the lunar crescent. Being at length purified from his sins, in his
sleep he had a vision in which, through the favour of the deity, he was
directed by the lord of the Yakshas [Kuvera, the god of wealth] to do as
follows: "Early in the morning, having been shaved, thou must stand,
club in hand, concealed behind the door of the house; and the beggar
whom thou seest come into the court thou wilt put to death without mercy
by blows of thy staff. Instantly the beggar will become a pot full of
gold, by which thou wilt be comfortable for the rest of thy life." These
instructions being followed, it came to pass accordingly; but the barber
who had been brought to shave him, having witnessed it all, said to
himself, "O is this the mode of gaining a treasure? Why, then, may not I
also do the same?" From that day forward the barber in like manner, with
club in hand, day after day awaited the coming of the beggar. One day a
beggar being so caught was attacked by him and killed with the stick,
for which offence the barber himself was beaten by the king's officers,
and died.--In the _Panchatantra_, in place of a soldier, a banker who
had lost all his wealth determines to put an end to his life, when he
dreams that the personification of Kuvera, the god of riches, appears
before him in the form of a Jaina mendicant--a conclusive proof of the
Buddhistic origin of the story.--A trunkless head performs the same part
in the Russian folk-tale of the Stepmother's Daughter, on which Mr.
Ralston remarks that, "according to Buddhist belief the treasure which
has belonged to anyone in a former existence may come to him in the form
of a man, who, when killed, is turned to gold."[48]

   [48] Ralston's _Russian Folk-Tales_, p. 224, _note_.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is an analogous story to this of the Golden Apparition in an
entertaining little book entitled, _The Orientalist; or, Letters of a
Rabbi_, by James Noble, published at Edinburgh in 1831, of which the
following is the outline:

An old Dervish falls ill in the house of a poor widow, who tends him
with great care, and when he recovers his health he offers to take
charge of her only son, Abdallah. The good woman gladly consents, and
the Dervish sets out accompanied by his young ward, having intimated to
his mother that they must perform a journey which would last about two
years. One day they arrived at a solitary place, and the Dervish said to
Abdallah: "My son, we are now at the end of our journey. I shall employ
my prayers to obtain from Allah that the earth shall open and make an
entrance wide enough to permit thee to descend into a place where thou
shalt find one of the greatest treasures that the earth contains. Hast
thou courage to descend into the vault?" Abdallah assured him that he
might depend on his fidelity; and then the Dervish lighted a small fire,
into which he cast a perfume: he read and prayed for some minutes, after
which the earth opened, and he said to the young man: "Thou mayest now
enter. Remember that it is in thy power to do me a great service; and
that this is perhaps the only opportunity thou shalt ever have of
testifying to me that thou art not ungrateful. Do not let thyself be
dazzled by the riches that thou shalt find there: think only of seizing
upon an iron candlestick with twelve branches, which thou shalt find
close to the door. That is absolutely necessary to me: come up with it
at once." Abdallah descended, and, neglecting the advice of the Dervish,
filled his vest and sleeves with the gold and jewels which he found
heaped up in the vault, whereupon the opening by which he had entered
closed of itself. He had, however, sufficient presence of mind to seize
the iron candlestick, and endeavoured to find some other means of escape
from the vault. At length he discovers a narrow passage, which he
follows until he reaches the surface of the earth, and looking for the
Dervish saw him not, but to his surprise found that he was close to his
mother's house. On showing his wealth to his mother, it all suddenly
vanished. But the candlestick remained. He lighted one of the branches,
upon which a dervish appeared, and after turning round an hour he threw
down an asper (about three farthings in value) and vanished. Next night
he put a lighted candle in each of the branches, when twelve dervishes
appeared, and having continued their gyrations for an hour each threw
down an asper and vanished. In this way did Abdallah and his mother
contrive to live for a time, till at length he resolved to carry the
candlestick to the good Dervish, hoping to obtain from him the treasure
which he had seen in the vault. He remembered his name and city, and on
reaching his dwelling found the Dervish living in a magnificent palace,
with fifty porters at the gate. The Dervish thus addressed Abdallah:
"Thou art an ungrateful wretch! Hadst thou known the value of the
candlestick thou wouldst never have brought it to me. I will show thee
its true use." Then the Dervish placed a light in each branch, whereupon
twelve dervishes appeared and began to whirl, but on his giving each a
blow with a stick, in an instant they were changed into twelve heaps of
sequins, diamonds, and other precious stones. Ungrateful as Abdallah had
shown himself, yet the Dervish gave him two camels laden with gold, and
a slave, telling him that he must depart the next morning. During the
night Abdallah stole the candlestick and placed it at the bottom of his
sacks. At daybreak he took leave of the generous Dervish and set off.
When about half a day's journey from his own city he sold the slave,
that there should be no witness to his former poverty, and bought
another in his stead. Arriving home, he carefully placed his loads of
treasure in a private chamber, and then put a light in each branch of
the candlestick; and when the twelve dervishes appeared, he dealt each
of them a blow with a stick. But he had not observed that the good
Dervish employed his left hand, and he had naturally used his right, in
consequence of which the twelve dervishes drew each from under their
robes a heavy club and beat him till he was nearly dead, and then
vanished, as did also the treasure, the camels, the slave, and the
wonder-working candlestick![49]

   [49] The same story is given by the Comte de Caylus--but,
        like Noble, without stating where the original is to be
        found--in his _Contes Orientaux_, first published in
        1745, under the title of "Histoire de Dervich
        Abounadar." These entertaining tales are reproduced in
        _Le Cabinet des Fées_, ed. 1786, tome xxv.--It will be
        observed that the first part of the story bears a close
        resemblance to that of our childhood's favourite, the
        Arabian tale of "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," of
        which many analogues and variants, both European and
        Asiatic, are cited in the first volume of my _Popular
        Tales and Fictions_, 1887;--see also a supplementary
        note by me on Aladdin's Lamp in _Notes and Queries_,
        Jan. 5, 1889, p. 1.

       *       *       *       *       *

A warning against avarice is intended to be conveyed in the tale, or
rather apologue, or perhaps we should consider it as a sort of allegory,
related by the sagacious bird on the 47th Night, according to the India
Office MS., but the 16th Night of Kádirí's abridgment. It is to the
following effect, and may be entitled

_The Four Treasure-Seekers._

Once on a time four intimate friends, who made a common fund of all
their possessions, and had long enjoyed the wealth of their industrious
ancestors, at length lost all their goods and money, and, barely saving
their lives, quitted together the place of their nativity. In the course
of their travels they meet a wise Bráhman, to whom they relate the
history of their misfortunes. He gives each of them a pearl, which he
places on their heads, telling them, whenever the pearl drops from the
head of any of them, to examine the spot, and share equally what they
find there. After walking some distance the pearl drops from the head of
one of the companions, and on examining the place he discovers a copper
mine, the produce of which he offers to share with the others, but they
refuse, and, leaving him, continue their journey. By-and-by the pearl
drops from the head of another of the friends, and a silver mine is
found; but the two others, believing that better things were in store
farther on, left him to his treasure, and proceeded on their way till
the pearl of the third companion dropped, and they found in the place a
rich gold mine. In vain does he endeavour to persuade his companion to
be content with the wealth here obtainable: he disdainfully refuses,
saying that, since copper, silver, and gold had been found, fortune had
evidently reserved something infinitely better for him; and so he
quitted his friend and went on, till he reached a narrow valley
destitute of water; the air like that of Jehennan;[50] the surface of
the earth like infernal fire; no animal or bird was to be seen; and
chilling blasts alternated with sulphurous exhalations. Here the fourth
pearl dropped and the owner discovered a mine of diamonds and other
gems, but the ground was covered with snakes, cockatrices, and the most
venomous serpents. On seeing this he determines to return and share the
produce of the third companion's gold mine; but when he comes to the
spot he can find no trace of the mine or of the owner. Proceeding next
to the silver mine, he finds it is exhausted, and his friend who owned
it has gone; so he will now content himself with copper; but, alas! his
first friend had died the day before his arrival, and strangers were now
in possession of the mine, who laughed at his pretensions, and even beat
him for his impertinence. Sad at heart, he journeys on to where he and
his companions had met the Bráhman, but he had long since departed to a
far distant country; and thus, through his obstinacy and avarice, he was
overwhelmed with poverty and disgrace--without money and without

   [50] That is, hell. Properly, it is Je-Hinnon, near
        Jerusalem, which seems to have been in ancient times the
        cremation ground for human corpses.

       *       *       *       *       *

This story of the Four Treasure-seekers forms the third of Book V of the
_Panchatantra_, where the fourth companion, instead of finding a diamond
mine guarded by serpents, etc., discovers a man with a wheel upon his
head, and on his asking this man where he could procure water, who he
was, and why he stood with the wheel on his head, straightway the wheel
is transferred to his own head, as had been the case of the former
victim who had asked the same questions of his predecessor. The third
man, who had found the gold mine, wondering that his companion tarried
so long, sets off in search of him, and, finding him with the wheel on
his head, asks why he stood thus. The fourth acquaints him of the
property of the wheel, and then relates a number of stories to show that
those who want common sense will surely come to grief.

It is more than probable that several of the tales and apologues in the
_Panchatantra_ were derived from Buddhist sources; and the incident of a
man with a wheel on his head is found in the Chinese-Sanskrit work
entitled _Fu-pen-hing-tsi-king_, which Wassiljew translates 'Biography
of Sákyamuni and his Companions,' and of which Dr. Beal has published an
abridged English translation under the title of the _Romantic History of
Buddha_. In this work (p. 342 ff.) a merchant, who had struck his mother
because she would not sanction his going on a trading voyage, in the
course of his wanderings discovers a man "on whose head there was placed
an iron wheel, this wheel was red with heat, and glowing as from a
furnace, terrible to behold. Seeing this terrible sight, Máitri
exclaimed: 'Who are you? Why do you carry that terrible wheel on your
head?' On this the wretched man replied: 'Dear sir, is it possible you
know me not? I am a merchant chief called Gorinda.' Then Máitri asked
him and said: 'Pray, then, tell me, what dreadful crime have you
committed in former days that you are constrained to wear that fiery
wheel on your head.' Then Gorinda answered: 'In former days I was angry
with and struck my mother as she lay on the ground, and for this reason
I am condemned to wear this fiery iron wheel around my head.' At this
time Máitri, self-accused, began to cry out and lament; he was filled
with remorse on recollection of his own conduct, and exclaimed in agony:
'Now am I caught like a deer in the snare.' Then a certain Yaksha, who
kept guard over that city, whose name was Viruka, suddenly came to the
spot, and removing the fiery wheel from off the head of Gorinda, he
placed it on the head of Máitri. Then the wretched man cried out in his
agony and said: 'O what have I done to merit this torment?' to which the
Yaksha replied: 'You, wretched man, dared to strike your mother on the
head as she lay on the ground; now, therefore, on your head you shall
wear this fiery wheel; through 60,000 years your punishment shall last:
be assured of this, through all these years you shall wear this wheel.'"



Some of the Parrot's recitals have other tales sphered within them, so
to say--a plan which must be familiar to all readers of the _Arabian
Nights_. In the following amusing tale, which is perhaps the best of the
whole series (it is the 41st of the India Office MS. No. 2573, and the
31st in Kadiri's version), there are two subordinate stories:

_The Singing Ass._

At a certain period of time, as ancient historians inform us, an ass and
an elk were so fond of each other's company that they were never seen
separate. If the plains were deficient in pasture, they repaired to the
meadows; or, if famine pervaded the valleys, they overleaped the
garden-fence, and, like friends, divided the spoil.

One night, during the season of verdure, about the gay termination of
spring, after they had rioted in the cup of plenty, and lay rolling on a
green carpet of spinach, the cup of the silly ass began to overflow with
the froth of conceit, and he thus expressed his unseasonable intentions:

"O comrade of the branching antlers, what a mirth-inspiring night is
this! How joyous are the heart-attracting moments of spring! Fragrance
distils from every tree; the garden breathes otto of roses, and the
whole atmosphere is pregnant with musk. In the umbrageous gloom of the
waving cypress the turtles are exchanging their vows, and the bird of a
thousand songs [i.e., the nightingale] sips nectar from the lips of the
rose: nothing is wanting to complete the joys of spring but one of my
melodious songs. When the warm blood of youth shall cease to give
animation to these elegant limbs of mine, what relish shall I have for
pleasure? And when the lamp of my life is extinguished, the spring will
return in vain."

_Nakhshabí, music at every season is delightful, and a song sweetly
murmured captivates the senses._

_The musician who charms our ears will most assuredly find the road of
success to our hearts._[51]

   [51] The italicised passages which occur in this tale are
        verses in the original Persian text.

The elk answered: "Sagacious, long-eared associate, what an unseasonable
proposal is this? Rather let us converse together about pack-saddles and
sacks; tell me a story about straw, beans, or hay-lofts, unmerciful
drivers, and heavy burdens."

_What business has the Ass to meddle with music?_

_What occasion has Long-ears to attempt to sing?_

"You ought also to recollect," continued the elk, "that we are thieves,
and that we came into this garden to plunder. Consider what an enormous
quantity of beets, lettuces, parsley, and radishes we have eaten, and
what a fine bed of spinach we are spoiling! 'Nothing can be more
disgusting than a bird that sings out of season' is a proverb which is
as current among the sons of wisdom as a bill of exchange among
merchants, and as valuable as an unpierced pearl. If you are so
infatuated as to permit the enchanting melody of your voice to draw you
into this inextricable labyrinth, the gardener will instantly awake,
rouse his whole caravan of workmen, hasten to this garden and convert
our music into mourning;  so that our history will be like that of the

The Prince of Folly, expressing a wish to know how that was, received
the following information:

_The Foolish Thieves._

In one of the cities of Hindústán some thieves broke into a house, and
after collecting the most valuable movables sat down in a corner to bind
them up. In this corner was a large two-eared earthen vessel, brimful of
the wine of seduction, which sublime to their mouths they advanced and
long-breathed potations exhausted, crying: "Everything is good in its
turn; the hours of business are past--come on with the gift which
fortune bestows; let us mitigate the toils of the night and smooth the
forehead of care." As they approached the bottom of the flagon, the
vanguard of intoxication began to storm the castle of reason; wild
uproar, tumult, and their auxiliaries commanded by a sirdar of nonsense,
soon after scaled the walls, and the songs of folly vociferously
proclaimed that the sultan of discretion was driven from his post, and
confusion had taken possession of the garrison. The noise awakened the
master of the mansion, who was first overwhelmed with surprise, but soon
recollecting himself, he seized his trusty scimitar, and expeditiously
roused his servants, who forthwith attacked the sons of disorder, and
with very little pains or risk extended them on the pavement of death.

_Nakhshabí, everything is good in its season._

_Let each perform his part in the world, that the world may go round._

_He who drinks at an unseasonable hour ought not to complain of the

       *       *       *       *       *

Here Long-ears superciliously answered: "Pusillanimous companion, I am
the blossom of the city and the luminary of the people; my presence
gives life to the plains, and my harmony cultivates the desert. If, when
in vulgar prose I express the unpremeditated idea, every ear is filled
with delight, and the fleeting soul, through ecstacy, flutters on the
trembling lips--what must be the effect of my songs?"

The elk rejoined: "The ear must be deprived of sensation, the heart void
of blood, and formed of the coarsest clay must be he who can attend your
lays with indifference. But condescend, for once, to listen to advice,
and postpone this music, in which you are so great a proficient, and
suppress not only the song, but the sweet murmuring in your throat,
prelusive to your singing, and shrink not up your graceful nostrils, nor
extent the extremities of your jaws, lest you should have as much reason
to repent of your singing as the faggot-maker had of his dancing." The
ass demanding how that came to pass, the elk made answer as follows:

_The Faggot-maker and the Magic Bowl._

As a faggot-maker was one day at work in a wood, he saw four perís [or
fairies] sitting near him, with a magnificent bowl before them, which
supplied them with all they wanted. If they had occasion for food of the
choicest taste, wines of the most delicious flavour, garments the most
valuable and convenient, or perfumes of the most odoriferous
exhalation--in short, whatever necessity could require, luxury demand,
or avarice wish for--they had nothing more to do but put their hands
into the bowl and pull out whatever they desired. The day following, the
poor faggot-maker being at work in the same place, the perís again
appeared, and invited him to be one of their party. The proposal was
cheerfully accepted, and impressing his wife and children with the seal
of forgetfulness, he remained some days in their company. Recollecting
himself, however, at last, he thus addressed his white-robed

"I am a poor faggot-maker, father of a numerous family; to drive famine
from my cot, I every evening return with my faggots; but my cares for my
wife and fireside have been for some time past obliterated by the cup of
your generosity. If my petition gain admission to the durbar of your
enlightened auditory, I will return to give them the salaam of health,
and inquire into the situation of their affairs."

The perís graciously nodded acquiescence, adding: "The favours you have
received from us are trifling, and we cannot dismiss you empty-handed.
Make choice, therefore, of whatever you please, and the fervour of your
most unbounded desire shall be slaked in the stream of our munificence."

The wood-cutter replied: "I have but one wish to gratify, and that is so
unjust and so unreasonable that I dread the very thought of naming it,
since nothing but the bowl before us will satisfy my ambitious heart."

The perís, bursting into laughter, answered: "We shall suffer not the
least inconvenience by the loss of it, for, by virtue of a talisman
which we possess, we could make a thousand in a twinkling. But, in order
to make it as great a treasure to you as it has been to us, guard it
with the utmost care, for it will break by the most trifling blow, and
be sure never to make use of it but when you really want it."

The faggot-maker, overcome with joy, said: "I will pay the most profound
attention to this inexhaustible treasure; and to preserve it from
breaking I will exert every faculty of my soul." Upon saying this he
received the bowl, with which he returned on the wings of rapture, and
for some days enjoyed his good fortune better than might be expected.
The necessaries and comforts of life were provided for his family, his
creditors were paid, alms distributed to the poor, the brittle bowl of
plenty was guarded with discretion, and everything around him was
arranged for the reception of his friends, who assembled in such crowds
that his cottage overflowed. The faggot-maker, who was one of those
choice elevated spirits whose money never rusts in their possession,
finding his habitation inadequate for the entertainment of his guests,
built another, more spacious and magnificent, to which he invited the
whole city, and placed the magic bowl in the middle of the grand saloon,
and every time he made a dip pulled out whatever was wished for. Though
the views of his visitors were various, contentment was visibly
inscribed on every forehead: the hungry were filled with the bread of
plenty; the aqueducts overflowed with the wine of Shíráz; the effeminate
were satiated with musky odours, and the thirst of avarice was quenched
by the bowl of abundance. The wondering spectators exclaimed: "This is
no bowl, but a boundless ocean of mystery! It is not what it appears to
be, a piece of furniture, but an inexhaustible magazine of treasure!"

After the faggot-maker had thus paraded his good fortune and circulated
the wine-cup with very great rapidity, he stood up and began to dance,
and, to show his dexterity in the art, placed the brittle bowl on his
left shoulder, which every time he turned round he struck with his hand,
crying: "O soul-exhilarating goblet, thou art the origin of my ease and
affluence--the spring of my pomp and equipage--the engineer who has
lifted me from the dust of indigence to the towering battlements of
glory! Thou art the nimble berid [running foot-man] of my winged wishes,
and the regulator of all my actions! To thee am I indebted for all the
splendour that surrounds me! Thou art the source of my currency, and art
the author of our present festival!"

With these and similar foolish tales he entertained his company, as the
genius of nonsense dictated, making the most ridiculous grimaces,
rolling his eyes like a fakír in a fit of devotion, and capering like
one distracted, till the bowl, by a sudden slip of his foot, fell from
his shoulder on the pavement of ruin, and was broken into a hundred
pieces. At the same instant, all that he had in the house, and whatever
he had circulated in the city, suddenly vanished;--the banquet of
exultation was quickly converted into mourning, and he who a little
before danced for joy now beat his breast for sorrow, blamed to no
purpose the rigour of his inauspicious fortune, and execrated the hour
of his birth. Thus a jewel fell into the hands of an unworthy person,
who was unacquainted with its value; and an inestimable gem was
entrusted to an indigent wretch, who, by his ignorance and ostentation,
converted it to his own destruction.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Melodious bulbul of the long-eared race," continued the elk, "as the
wood-cutter's dancing was an unpardonable folly which met with the
chastisement it deserved, so I fearfully anticipate that your
unseasonable singing will become your exemplary punishment."

His ass-ship listened thus far with reluctance to the admonition of his
friend, without intending to profit by it; but arose from the carpet of
spinach, eyed his companion with a mortifying glance of contempt,
pricked up his long snaky ears, and began to put himself into a musical
posture. The nimble, small-hoofed elk, perceiving this, said to himself:
"Since he has stretched out his neck and prepared his pitch-pipe, he
will not remain long without singing." So he left the vegetable banquet,
leaped over the garden wall, and fled to a place of security. The ass
was no sooner alone than he commenced a most loud and horrible braying,
which instantly awoke the gardeners, who, with the noose of an insidious
halter, to the trunk of a tree fast bound the affrighted musician, where
they belaboured him with their cudgels till they broke every bone in his
body, and converted his skin to a book, in which, in letters of gold, a
múnshí [learned man] of luminous pen, with the choicest flowers of the
garden of rhetoric, and for the benefit of the numerous fraternity of
asses, inscribed this instructive history.

       *       *       *       *       *

Magical articles such as the wonderful wishing-bowl of our unlucky
friend the Faggot-maker figure very frequently in the folk-tales of
almost every country, assuming many different forms: a table-cloth, a
pair of saddle-bags, a purse, a flask, etc.; but since a comprehensive
account of those highly-gifted objects--alas, that they should no longer
exist!--is furnished in the early chapters of my _Popular Tales and
Fictions_, I presume I need not go over the same wide field again.--In
the _Kathá Sarit Ságara_ (Ocean of the Streams of Story), a very large
collection of tales and apologues, composed, in Sanskrit, by Somadeva,
in the 12th century, after a much older work, the _Vrihat Kathá_ (or
Great Story), the tale of the Faggot-maker occurs as a separate recital.
It is there an inexhaustible pitcher which he receives from four
yakshas--supernatural beings, who correspond to some extent with the
perís of Muslim mythology--and he is duly warned that should it be
broken it departs at once. For a time he concealed the secret from his
relations until one day, when he was intoxicated, they asked him how it
came about that he had given up carrying burdens, and had abundance of
all kinds of dainties, eatable and drinkable. "He was too much puffed up
with pride to tell them plainly, but, taking the wish-granting pitcher
on his shoulder, he began to dance; and, as he was dancing, the
inexhaustible pitcher slipped from his shoulder, as his feet tripped
with over-abundance of intoxication, and, falling on the ground, was
broken in pieces. And immediately it was mended again, and reverted to
its original possessor; but Subadatta was reduced to his former
condition, and filled with despondency." In a note to this story, Mr.
Tawney remarks that in Bartsch's Meklenburg Tales a man possesses
himself of an inexhaustible beer-can, but as soon as he tells how he got
it the beer disappears.--The story of the Foolish Thieves noisily
carousing in the house they had just plundered occurs also in Saádí's
_Gulistán_ and several other Eastern story-books.

In Kádíri's abridgment of the Parrot-Book, the Elk is taken prisoner as
well as his companion the Ass, and the two subordinate stories, of the
Foolish Thieves and of the Faggot-maker, are omitted. They are also
omitted in the version of the Singing Ass found in the _Panchatantra_
(B. v, F. 7), where a jackal, not an elk, is the companion of the ass,
and when he perceives the latter about to "sing" he says: "Let me get to
the door of the garden, where I may see the gardener as he approaches,
and then sing away as long as you please." The gardener beats the ass
till he is weary, and then fastens a clog to the animal's leg and ties
him to a post. After great exertion, the ass contrives to get free from
the post and hobbles away with the clog still on his leg. The jackal
meets his old comrade and exclaims: "Bravo, uncle! You would sing your
song, though I did all I could to dissuade you, and now see what a fine
ornament you have received as recompense for your performance." This
form of the story reappears in the _Tantrákhyána_, a collection of
tales, in Sanskrit, discovered by Prof. Cecil Bendall in 1884, of which
he has given an interesting account in the _Journal of the Royal Asiatic
Society_, vol. xx, pp. 465-501, including the original text of a number
of the stories.--In Ralston's _Tibetan Tales_, translated from
Schiefner's German rendering of stories from the _Kah-gyur_ (No. xxxii),
the story is also found, with a bull in place of a jackal. An ass meets
the bull one evening and proposes they should go together and feast
themselves to their hearts' content in the king's bean-field, to which
the bull replies: "O nephew, as you are wont to let your voice resound,
we should run great risk." Said the ass: "O uncle, let us go; I will not
raise my voice." Having entered the bean-field together, the ass uttered
no sound until he had eaten his fill. Then quoth he: "Uncle, shall I not
sing a little?" The bull responded: "Wait an instant until I have gone
away, and then do just as you please." So the bull runs away, and the
ass lifts up his melodious voice, upon which the king's servants came
and seized him, cut off his long ears, fastened a pestle on his neck,
and drove him out of the field.--There can be no question, I think, as
to the superiority, in point of humour, of Nakhshabí's version in _Tútí
Náma_, as given above.



To quit, for the present at least, the regions of fable and magic, and
return to tales of common life: the 30th recital in Kádíri's abridged
text is of

_The Goldsmith who lost his Life through his Covetousness._

A soldier finds a purse of gold on the highway, and entrusts it to the
keeping of a goldsmith (how frequently do goldsmiths figure in these
stories--and never to the credit of the craft!), but when he comes to
demand it back the other denies all knowledge of it. The soldier cites
him before the kází, but he still persists in denying that he had ever
received any money from the complainant. The kází was, however,
convinced of the truth of the soldier's story, so he goes to the house
of the goldsmith, and privately causes two of his own attendants to be
locked up in a large chest that was in one of the rooms. He then
confines the goldsmith and his wife in the same room. During the night
the concealed men hear the goldsmith inform his wife where he had hidden
the soldier's money; and next morning, when the kází comes again and is
told by his men what they had heard the goldsmith say to his wife about
the money, he causes search to be made, and, finding it, hangs the
goldsmith on the spot.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kázís are often represented in Persian stories as being very shrewd and
ingenious in convicting the most expert rogues, but this device for
discovering the goldsmith's criminality is certainly one of the
cleverest examples.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 36th Night of MS. (26th of Kádiri) the loquacious bird relates
the story of

_The King who died of Love for a Merchant's beautiful Daughter._

A merchant had a daughter, the fame of whose beauty drew many suitors
for her hand, but he rejected them all; and when she was of proper age
he wrote a letter to the king, describing her charms and
accomplishments, and respectfully offering her to him in marriage. The
king, already in love with the damsel from this account of her beauty,
sends his four vazírs to the merchant's house to ascertain whether she
was really as charming as her father had represented her to be. They
find that she far surpassed the power of words to describe; but,
considering amongst themselves that should the king take this bewitching
girl to wife, he would become so entangled in the meshes of love as
totally to neglect the affairs of the state, they underrate her beauty
to the king, who then gives up all thought of her. But it chanced one
day that the king himself beheld the damsel on the terrace of her house,
and, perceiving that his vazírs had deceived him, he sternly reprimanded
them, at the same time expressing his fixed resolution of marrying the
girl. The vazírs frankly confessed that their reason for misrepresenting
the merchant's daughter to him was their fear lest, possessing such a
charming bride, he should forget his duty to the state; upon which the
king, struck with their anxiety for his true interests, resolved to deny
himself the happiness of marrying the girl. But he could not suppress
his affection for her: he fell sick, and soon after died, the victim of

       *       *       *       *       *

This story forms the 17th of the Twenty-five Tales of a Demon (_Vetála
Panchavinsati_), according to the Sanskrit version found in the _Kathá
Sarit Ságara_; but its great antiquity is proved by the circumstance
that it is found in a Buddhistic work dating probably 200 years before
our era--namely, Buddhaghosha's Parables. "Dying for love," says
Richardson, "is considered amongst us as a mere poetical figure, and we
can certainly support the reality by few examples; but in Eastern
countries it seems to be something more, many words in the Arabic and
Persian languages which express love implying also melancholy; madness,
and death." Shakspeare affirms that "men have died, and worms have eaten
them, but not for love." There is, however, one notable instance of this
on record, in the story (as related by Warton, in his _History of
English Poetry_) of the gallant troubadour Geoffrey Rudel, who died for
love--and love, too, from hearsay description of the beauty of the
Countess of Tripoli.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the 14th Night the Parrot entertains the Lady with a very curious
account of

_The Discovery of Music._

Some attribute, says the learned and eloquent feathered sage (according
to Gerrans), the discovery to the sounds made by a large stone against
the frame of an oil-press; and others to the noise of meat when
roasting; but the sages of Hind [India] are of opinion that it
originated from the following accident: As a learned Bráhman was
travelling to the court of an illustrious rájá he rested about the
middle of the day under the shade of a mulberry tree, on the top of
which he beheld a mischievous monkey climbing from bough to bough, till,
by a sudden slip, he fell upon a sharp-pointed shoot, which instantly
ripped up his belly and left his entrails suspended in the tree, while
the unlucky animal fell, breathless, on the dust of death. Some time
after this, as the Bráhman was returning, he accidentally sat down in
the same place, and, recollecting the circumstance, looked up, and saw
that the entrails were dried, and yielded a harmonious sound every time
the wind gently impelled them against the branches. Charmed at the
singularity of the adventure, he took them down, and after binding them
to the two ends of his walking-stick, touched them with a small twig, by
which he discovered that the sound was much improved. When he got home
he fastened the staff to another piece of wood, which was hollow, and by
the addition of a bow, strung with part of his own beard, converted it
to a complete instrument. In succeeding ages the science received
considerable improvements. After the addition of a bridge, purer notes
were extracted; and the different students, pursuing the bent of their
inclinations, constructed instruments of various forms, according to
their individual fancies; and to this whimsical accident we are indebted
for the tuneful ney and the heart-exhilarating rabáb, and, in short, all
the other instruments of wind and strings.

Having thus discoursed upon the discovery of music, the Parrot proceeds
to detail

_The Seven Requisites of a Perfect Woman._

    1  She ought not to be always merry.

    2  She ought not to be always sad.

    3  She ought not to be always talking.

    4  She ought not to be always thinking.

    5  She ought not to be constantly dressing.

    6  She ought not to be always unadorned.

    7  She is a perfect woman who, at all times, possesses
       herself; can be cheerful without levity, grave
       without austerity; knows when to elevate the tongue
       of persuasion, and when to impress her lips with the
       signet of silence; never converts trifling ceremonies
       into intolerable burdens; always dresses becoming to
       her rank and age; is modest without prudery, religious
       without an alloy of superstition; can hear the one sex
       praised without envy, and converse with the other
       without permitting the torch of inconstancy to kindle
       the unhallowed fire in her breast; considers her husband
       as the most accomplished of mortals, and thinks
       all the sons of Adam besides unworthy of a transient
       glance from the corner of her half-shut eyes.

Such are the requisites of a perfect woman, and how thankful we should
be that we have so many in this highly-favoured land who possess them
all! These maxims are assuredly of Indian origin--no Persian could ever
have conceived such virtues as being attainable by women.



The story told by the Parrot on the 50th Night is very singular, and
presents, no doubt, a faithful picture of Oriental manners and customs.
In the original text it is entitled

_Story of the Daughter of the Kaysar of Rome, and her trouble by reason
of her Son._

In former times there was a great king, whose army was numerous and
whose treasury was full to overflowing; but, having no enemy to contend
with, he neglected to pay his soldiers, in consequence of which they
were in a state of destitution and discontent. At length one day the
soldiers went to the prime vazír and made their condition known to him.
The vazír promised that he would speedily devise a plan by which they
should have employment and money. Next morning he presented himself
before the king, and said that it was widely reported that the kaysar of
Rome had a daughter unsurpassed for beauty--one who was fit only for
such a great monarch as his Majesty--and suggested that it would be
advantageous if an alliance were formed between two such potentates. The
notion pleased the king well, and he forthwith despatched to Rome an
ambassador with rich gifts, and requested the kaysar to grant him his
daughter in marriage. But the kaysar waxed wroth at this, and refused to
give his daughter to the king. When the ambassador returned thus
unsuccessful, the king, enraged at being made of no account, resolved to
make war upon the kaysar, and, opening the doors of his treasury, he
distributed much money among his troops, and then, "with a woe-bringing
lust, and a blood-drinking army, he trampled Rome and the Romans in the
dust." And when the kaysar was become powerless, he sent his daughter to
the king, who married her according to the law of Islám.

Now that princess had a son by a former husband, and the kaysar had said
to her before she departed: "Beware that thou mention not thy son, for
my love for his society is great, and I cannot part with him." But the
princess was sick at heart for the absence of her son, and she was ever
pondering how she should speak to the king about him, and in what manner
she might contrive to bring him to her. It happened one day the king
gave her a string of pearls and a casket of jewels. She said: "With my
father is a slave well skilled in the science of jewels." The king
replied: "If I should ask that slave of thy father, would he give him to
me?" "Nay," said she; "for he holds him in the place of a son. But, if
the king desire him, I will send a merchant to Rome, and I myself will
give him a token, and with pleasant wiles and fair speeches will bring
him hither." Then the king sent for a clever merchant who knew Arabic
eloquently and the language of Rome, and gave him goods for trading, and
sent him to Rome with the object of procuring that slave. But the
daughter of the kaysar said privately to the merchant: "That slave is my
son; I have, for a good reason, said to the king that he is a slave; so
thou must bring him as a slave, and let it be thy duty to take care of
him." In due course the merchant brought the youth to the king's
service; and when the king saw his fair face, and discovered in him many
pleasing and varied accomplishments, he treated him with distinction and
favour, and conferred on the merchant a robe of honour and gifts. His
mother saw him from afar, and was pleased with receiving a salutation
from him.

One day (the text proceeds) the king had gone to the chase, and the
palace remained void of rivals; so the mother called in her son, kissed
his fair face, and told him the tale of her great sorrow. A chamberlain
became aware of the secret, and another suspicion fell upon him, and he
said to himself: "The harem of the king is the sanctuary of security and
the palace of protection. If I speak not of this, I shall be guilty of
treachery, and shall have wrought unfaithfulness." When the king
returned from the chase, the chamberlain related to him what he had
seen, and the king was angry and said: "This woman has deceived me with
words and deeds, and has brought hither her desire by craft and cunning.
This conjecture must be true, else why did she play such a trick, and
why did she hatch such a plot, and why did she send the merchant?" The
king, enraged, went into the harem. The queen saw from his countenance
that the occurrence of the night before had become known to him, and she
said: "Be it not that I see the king angry." He said: "How should I not
be angry? Thou, by craft, and trickery, and intrigue, and plotting, hast
brought thy desire from Rome--what wantonness is this that thou hast
done?" Then he thought to slay her, but he forbore, because of his great
love for her. But he ordered the chamberlain to carry the youth to some
obscure place, and straightway sever his head from his body. When the
poor mother saw this she well-nigh fell on her face, and her soul was
near leaving her body. But she knew that sorrow would not avail, and she
restrained herself.

And when the chamberlain took the youth into his own house, he said to
him: "O youth, know you not that the harem of the king is the sanctuary
of security? What great treachery is this that thou hast perpetrated?"
The youth replied: "That queen is my mother, and I am her true son.
Because of her natural delicacy, she said not to the king that she had a
son by another husband. And when yearning came over her, she contrived
to bring me here from Rome; and while the king was engaged in the chase
maternal love stirred, and she called me to her and embraced me." On
hearing this, the chamberlain said to himself: "What is passing in his
mother's breast? What I have not done I can yet do, and it were better
that I preserve this youth some days, for such a rose may not be wounded
through idle words, and such a bough may not be broken by a single
breath. For some day the truth of this matter will be disclosed, and it
will become known to the king, when repentance may be of no avail."
Another day he went before the king, and said: "That which was commanded
have I fulfilled." On hearing this the king's wrath was to some extent
removed, but his trust in the kaysar's daughter was departed; while she,
poor creature, was grieved and dazed at the loss of her son.

Now in the palace harem there was an old woman, who said to the queen:
"How is it that I find thee sorrowful?" And the queen told the whole
story, concealing nothing. The old woman was a heroine in the field of
craft, and she answered: "Keep thy mind at ease: I will devise a
stratagem by which the heart of the king will be pleased with thee, and
every grief he has will vanish from his heart." The queen said, that if
she did so she should be amply rewarded. One day the old woman, seeing
the king alone, said to him: "Why is thy former aspect altered, and why
are traces of care and anxiety visible on thy countenance?" The king
then told her all. The old woman said: "I have an amulet of the charms
of Solomon, in the Syriac language, in the the writing of the jinn
[genii]. When the queen is asleep do thou place it on her breast, and,
whatever it may be, she will tell all the truth of it. But take care,
fall thou not asleep, but listen well to what she says." The king
wondered at this, and said: "Give me that amulet, that the truth of this
matter may be learned." So the old woman gave him the amulet, and then
went to the queen and explained what she had done, and said: "Do thou
feign to be asleep, and relate the whole of the story faithfully."

When a watch of the night was past, the king laid the amulet upon his
wife's breast, and she thus began: "By a former husband I had a son, and
when my father gave me to this king, I was ashamed to say I had a tall
son. When my yearning passed all bounds, I brought him here by an
artifice. One day that the king was gone to the chase, I called him into
the house, when, after the way of mothers, I took him in my arms and
kissed him. This reached the king's ears, and he unwittingly gave it
another construction, and cut off the head of that innocent boy, and
withdrew from me his own heart. Alike is my son lost to me and the king
angry." When the king heard these words he kissed her and exclaimed: "O
my life, what an error is this thou hast committed? Thou hast brought
calumny upon thyself, and hast given such a son to the winds, and hast
made me ashamed!" Straightway he called the chamberlain and said: "That
boy whom thou hast killed is the son of my beloved and the darling of my
beauty! Where is his grave, that we may make there a guest-house?" The
chamberlain said: "That youth is yet alive. When the king commanded his
death I was about to kill him, but he said: 'That queen is my mother;
through modesty before the king she revealed not the secret that she had
a tall son. Kill me not; it may be that some day the truth will become
known, and repentance profits not, and regret is useless.'" The king
commanded them to bring the youth, so they brought him straightway. And
when the mother saw the face of her son, she thanked God and praised the
Most High, and became one of the Muslims, and from the sect of
unbelievers came into the faith of Islám. And the king favoured the
chamberlain in the highest degree, and they passed the rest of their
lives in comfort and ease.

       *       *       *       *       *

This tale is also found in the Persian _Bakhtyár Náma_ (or the Ten
Vazírs), the precise date of which has not been ascertained, but a MS.
Túrkí (Uygúr) version of it, preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford,
bears to have been written in 1434; the Persian text must therefore have
been composed before that date. In the text translated by Sir William
Ouseley, in place of the daughter of the kaysar of Rome it is the
daughter of the king of Irák whom the king of Abyssinia marries, after
subduing the power of her father; and, so far from a present of jewels
to her being the occasion of her mentioning her son, in the condition of
a slave, it is said that one day the king behaved harshly to her, and
spoke disrespectfully of her father, upon which she boasted that her
father had in his service a youth of great beauty and possessed of every
accomplishment, which excited the king's desire to have him brought to
his court; and the merchant smuggled the youth out of the country of
Irák concealed in a chest, placed on the back of a camel. In
Lescallier's French translation it is said that the youth was the fruit
of a _liaison_ of the princess, unknown to her father; that his
education was secretly entrusted to certain servants; and that the
princess afterwards contrived to introduce the boy to her father, who
was so charmed with his beauty, grace of manner, and accomplishments,
that he at once took him into his service. Thus widely do manuscripts of
the same Eastern work vary!

_The King and his Seven Vazírs._

On the Eighth Night the Parrot relates, in a very abridged form, the
story of the prince who was falsely accused by one of his father's women
of having made love to her, and who was saved by the tales which the
royal counsellors related to the king in turn during seven consecutive
days. The original of this romance is the _Book of Sindibád_, so named
after the prince's tutor, Sindibád the sage: the Arabic version is known
under the title of the _Seven Vazírs_; the Hebrew, _Mishlé Sandabar_;
the Greek, _Syntipas_; and the Syriac, _Sindbán_; and its European
modifications, the _Seven Wise Masters_. In the Parrot-Book the first to
the sixth vazírs each relate one story only, and the damsel has no
stories (all other Eastern versions give two to each of the seven, and
six to the queen); the seventh vazír simply appears on the seventh day
and makes clear the innocence of the prince. This version, however,
though imperfect, is yet of some value in making a comparative study of
the several texts.



Many others of the Parrot's stories might be cited, but we shall merely
glance at one more, as it calls up a very ancient and wide-spread

_The Tree of Life._

A prince, who is very ill, sends a parrot of great sagacity to procure
him some of the fruit of the Tree of Life. When at length the parrot
returns with the life-giving fruit, the prince scruples to eat it, upon
which the wise bird relates the legend of Solomon and the Water of
Immortality: how that monarch declined to purchase immunity from death
on consideration that he should survive all his friends and female
favourites. The prince, however, having suspicions regarding the
genuineness of the fruit, sends some trusty messengers to "bring the
first apple that fell from the Tree of Existence." But it happened that
a black serpent had poisoned it by seizing it in his mouth and then
letting it drop again. When the messengers return with the fruit, the
prince tries its effect on an old _pír_ (holy man), who at once falls
down dead. Upon seeing this the prince doomed the parrot to death, but
the sagacious bird suggested that, before the prince should execute him
for treason, he should himself go to the Tree of Life, and make another
experiment with its fruit. He does so, and on returning home gives part
of the fruit to an old woman, "who, from age and infirmity had not
stirred abroad for many years," and she had no sooner tasted it than she
was changed into a blooming beauty of eighteen!--Happy, happy old woman!

       *       *       *       *       *

A different version of the legend occurs in a Canarese collection,
entitled _Kathá Manjarí_, which is worthy of reproduction, since it may
possibly be an earlier form than that in the Persian Parrot-Book: A
certain king had a magpie that flew one day to heaven with another
magpie. When it was there it took away some mango-seed, and, having
returned, gave it into the hands of the king, saying: "If you cause this
to be planted and grow, whoever eats of its fruit old age will forsake
him and youth return." The king was much pleased, and caused it to be
sown in his favourite garden, and carefully watched it. After some time,
buds having shown themselves in it became flowers, then young fruit,
then it was grown; and when it was full of ripe fruit, the king ordered
it to be cut and brought, and that he might test it gave it to an old
man. But on that fruit there had fallen poison from a serpent, as it was
carried through the air by a kite, therefore he immediately withered and
died. The king, having seen this, was much afraid, and exclaimed: "Is
not this bird attempting to kill me?" Having said this, with anger he
seized the magpie, and swung it round and killed it. Afterwards in that
village the tree had the name of the Poisonous Mango. While things were
thus, a washerman, taking the part of his wife in a quarrel with his
aged mother, struck the latter, who was so angry at her son that she
resolved to die [in order that the blame of her death should fall on
him]; and having gone to the poisonous mango-tree in the garden, she cut
off a fruit and ate it; and immediately she was more blooming than a
girl of sixteen. This wonder she published everywhere. The king became
acquainted with it, and having called her and seen her, caused the fruit
to be given to other old people. Having seen what was thus done by the
wonderful virtue of the mango, the king exclaimed: "Alas! is the
affectionate magpie killed which gave me this divine tree? How guilty am
I!" and he pierced himself with his sword and died. Therefore (moralises
the story-teller) those who do anything without thought are easily

   [52] There is a very similar story in the Tamil _Alakésa
        Kathá_, a tale of a King and his Four Ministers, but the
        conclusion is different: the rájá permits all his
        subjects to partake of the youth-bestowing fruit;--I
        wonder whether they are yet alive! A translation of the
        romance of the King and his Four Ministers--the first
        that has been made into English--will be found in my
        _Group of Eastern Romances and Stories_, 1889.

The incident of fruit or food being poisoned by a serpent is of frequent
occurrence in Eastern stories; thus, in the _Book of Sindibád_ a man
sends his slave-girl to fetch milk, with which to feast some guests. As
she was returning with it in an open vessel a stork flew over her,
carrying a snake in its beak; the snake dropped some of its poison into
the milk, and all the guests who partook of it immediately fell down and
died.--The Water of Life and the Tree of Life are the subjects of many
European as well as Asiatic folk-tales. Muslims have a tradition that
Alexander the Great despatched the prophet Al-Khizar (who is often
confounded with Moses and Elias in legends) to procure him some of the
Water of Life. The prophet, after a long and perilous journey, at length
reached this Spring of Everlasting Youth, and, having taken a hearty
draught of its waters, the stream suddenly disappeared--and has, we may
suppose, never been rediscovered. Al-Khizar, they say, still lives, and
occasionally appears to persons whom he desires especially to favour,
and always clothed in a green robe, the emblem of perennial youth. In
Arabic, Khizar signifies _green_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The faithful and sagacious Parrot having entertained the lady during
fifty-two successive nights, and thereby prevented her from prosecuting
her intended intrigue, on the following day the merchant returned, and,
missing the sharak from the cage, inquired its fate of the Parrot, who
straight-way acquainted him of all that had taken place in his absence,
and, according to Kádiri's abridged text, he put his wife to death,
which was certainly very unjust, since the lady's offence was only in
_design_, not in _fact_.[53]

   [53] In one Telúgú version, entitled _Totí Náma Cat'halú_,
        the lady kills the bird after hearing all its tales; and
        in another the husband, on returning home and learning
        of his wife's intended intrigue, cuts off her head and
        becomes a devotee.

       *       *       *       *       *

It will be observed that the frame of the _Tútí Náma_ somewhat resembles
the story, in the _Arabian Nights_, of the Merchant, his Wife, and the
Parrot, which properly belongs to, and occurs in, all the versions of
the _Book of Sindibád_, and also in the _Seven Wise Masters_; in the
latter a magpie takes the place of the parrot. In my _Popular Tales and
Fictions_ I have pointed out the close analogy which the frame of the
Parrot-Book bears to a Panjábí legend of the renowned hero Rájá Rasálú.
In the _Tútí Náma_ the merchant leaves a parrot and a sharak to watch
over his wife's conduct in his absence, charging her to obtain their
consent before she enters upon any undertaking of moment; and on her
consulting the sharak as to the propriety of her assignation with the
young prince, the bird refuses consent, whereupon the enraged dame kills
it on the spot; but the parrot, by pursuing a middle course, saves his
life and his master's honour. In the Panjábí legend Rájá Rasálú, who was
very frequently from home on hunting excursions, left behind him a
parrot and a maina (hill starling), to act as spies upon his young wife,
the Rání Kokla. One day while Rasálú was from home she was visited by
the handsome Rájá Hodí, who climbed to her balcony by a rope (this
incident is the subject of many paintings in fresco on the panels of
palaces and temples in India), when the maina exclaimed, "What
wickedness is this?" upon which the rájá went to the cage, took out the
maina, and dashed it to the ground, so that it died. But the parrot,
taking warning, said, "The steed of Rasálú is swift, what if he should
surprise you? Let me out of my cage, and I will fly over the palace, and
will inform you the instant he appears in sight"; and so she released
the parrot. In the sequel, the parrot betrays the rání, and Rasálú kills
Rájá Hodí and causes his heart to be served to the rání for supper.[54]

   [54] Captain R. C. Temple's _Legends of the Panjáb_, vol. i,
        p. 52 ff.; and "Four Legends of Rájá Rasálú," by the
        Rev. C. Swynnerton, in the _Folk-Lore Journal_, 1883, p.
        141 ff.

       *       *       *       *       *

The parrot is a very favourite character in Indian fictions, a
circumstance originating, very possibly, in the Hindú belief in
metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls after death into other animal
forms, and also from the remarkable facility with which that bird
imitates the human voice. In the _Kathá Sarit Ságara_ stories of wise
parrots are of frequent occurrence; sometimes they figure as mere birds,
but at other times as men who had been re-born in that form. In the
third of the Twenty-Five Tales of a Demon (Sanskrit version), a king has
a parrot, "possessed of god-like intellect, knowing all the _shastras_,
having been born in that condition owing to a curse"; and his queen has
a hen-maina "remarkable for knowledge." They are placed in the same
cage; and "one day the parrot became enamoured of the maina, and said to
her: 'Marry me, fair one, as we sleep, perch, and feed in the same
cage.' But the maina answered him: 'I do not desire intimate union with
a male, for all males are wicked and ungrateful.' The parrot answered:
'It is not true that males are wicked, but females are wicked and
cruel-hearted.' And so a dispute arose between them. The two birds then
made a bargain that, if the parrot won, he should have the maina for
wife, and if the maina won, the parrot should be her slave, and they
came before the prince to get a true judgment." Each relates a
story--the one to show that men are all wicked and ungrateful, the
other, that women are wicked and cruel-hearted.

It must be confessed that the frame of the _Tútí Náma_ is of a very
flimsy description: nothing could be more absurd, surely, than to
represent the lady as decorating herself fifty-two nights in succession
in order to have an interview with a young prince, and being detained
each night by the Parrot's tales, which, moreover, have none of them the
least bearing upon the condition and purpose of the lady; unlike the
Telúgú story-book, having a somewhat similar frame (see _ante_, p. 127,
_note_), in which the tales related by the bird are about chaste wives.
But the frames of all Eastern story-books are more or less slight and of
small account. The value of the _Tútí Náma_ consists in the aid which
the subordinate tales furnish in tracing the genealogy of popular
fictions, and in this respect the importance of the work can hardly be


THE MAGIC BOWL, pp. 152-156; 157, 158.

In our tale of the Faggot-maker, the fairies warn him to guard the Magic
Bowl with the utmost care, "for it will break by the most trifling
blow," and he is to use it only when absolutely necessary; and in the
notes of variants appended, reference is made (p. 158) to a Meklenburg
story where the beer in an inexhaustible can disappears the moment its
possessor reveals the secret. The gifts made by fairies and other
superhuman beings have indeed generally some condition attached (most
commonly, perhaps, that they are not to be examined until the recipients
have reached home), as is shown pretty conclusively by my friend Mr. E.
Sidney Hartland in a most interesting paper on "Fairy Births and Human
Midwives," which enriches the pages of the _Archæological Review_ for
December, 1889, and at the close of which he cites, from Poestion's
_Lappländische Märchen_, p. 119, a curious example, which may be fairly
regarded as an analogue of the tale of the Poor Faggot-maker--"far cry"
though it be from India to Swedish Lappmark:

"A peasant who had one day been unlucky at the chase was returning
disgusted, when he met a fine gentleman, who begged him to come and cure
his wife. The peasant protested in vain that he was no doctor. The other
would take no denial, insisting that it was no matter, for if he would
only put his hands on the lady she would be healed. Accordingly, the
stranger led him to the very top of a mountain where was perched a
castle he had never seen before. On entering, he found the walls were
mirrors, the roof overhead of silver, the carpets of gold-embroidered
silk, and the furniture of the purest gold and jewels. The stranger took
him into a room where lay the loveliest of princesses on a golden bed,
screaming with pain. As soon as she saw the peasant, she begged him to
come and put his hands upon her. Almost stupified with astonishment, he
hesitated to lay his coarse hands upon so fair a dame. But at length he
yielded, and in a moment her pain ceased, and she was made whole. She
stood up and thanked him, begging him to tarry awhile and eat with them.
This, however, he declined to do, for he feared that if he tasted the
food which was offered him he must remain there.

"The stranger whom he had followed then took a leathern purse, filled it
with small round pieces of wood, and gave it to the peasant with these
words: 'So long as thou art in possession of this purse, money will
never fail thee. But if thou shouldst ever see me again, beware of
speaking to me; for if thou speak thy luck will depart.' When the man
got home he found the purse filled with dollars; and by virtue of its
magical property he became the richest man in the parish. As soon as he
found the purse always full, whatever he took out of it, he began to
live in a spendthrift manner, and frequented the alehouse. One evening
as he sat there he beheld the stranger, with a bottle in his hand, going
round and gathering the drops which the guests shook from time to time
out of their glasses. The rich peasant was surprised that one who had
given him so much did not seem able to buy himself a single dram, but
was reduced to this means of getting a drink. Thereupon he went up to
him and said: 'Thou hast shown me more kindness than any other man ever
did, and willingly I will treat thee to a little.' The words were scarce
out of his mouth when he received such a blow on his head that he fell
stunned to the ground; and when again he came to himself the stranger
and his purse were both gone. From that day forward he became poorer and
poorer, until he was reduced to absolute beggary."

Among other examples adduced by Mr. Hartland is a Bohemian legend in
which "the Frau von Hahnen receives for her services to a water-nix
three pieces of gold, with the injunction to take care of them, and
never to let them go out of the hands of her own lineage, else the whole
family would fall into poverty. She bequeathed the treasures to her
three sons; but the youngest son took a wife who with a light heart gave
the fairy gold away. Misery, of course, resulted from her folly, and the
race of Hahnen speedily came to an end."--But those who are interested
in the study of comparative folk-lore would do well to read for
themselves the whole paper, which is assuredly by far the most (if not
indeed the only) comprehensive attempt that has yet been made in our
language to treat scientifically the subject of fairy gifts to human




In the Talmud are embodied those rules and institutions--interpretations
of the civil and canonical laws contained in the Old Testament--which
were transmitted orally to succeeding generations of the Jewish
priesthood until the general dispersion of the Hebrew race. According to
the Rabbis, Moses received the oral as well as the written law at Mount
Sinai, and it was by him communicated to Joshua, from whom it was
transmitted through forty successive Receivers. So long as the Temple
stood, it was deemed not only unnecessary, but absolutely unlawful, to
commit these ancient and carefully-preserved traditions to writing; but
after the second destruction of Jerusalem, under Hadrian, when the
Jewish people were scattered over the world, the system of oral
transmission of these traditions from generation to generation became
impracticable, and, to prevent their being lost, they were formed into a
permanent record about A.D. 190, by Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, who called
his work _Mishna_, or the Secondary Laws. About a hundred years later a
commentary on it was written by Rabbi Jochonan, called _Gemara_, or the
Completion, and these two works joined together are known as the
(Jerusalem) _Talmud_, or Directory. But this commentary being written in
an obscure style, and omitting many traditions known farther east,
another was begun by Rabbi Asche, who died A.D. 427, and completed by
his disciples and followers about the year 500, which together with the
Mishna formed the Babylonian Talmud. Both versions were first printed at
Venice in the 16th century--the Jerusalem Talmud, in one folio volume,
about the year 1523; and the Babylonian Talmud, in twelve folio volumes,
1520-30. In the 12th century Moses Maimonides, a Spanish Rabbi, made an
epitome, or digest, of all the laws and institutions of the Talmud.
Such, in brief, is the origin and history of this famed compilation,
which has been aptly described as an extraordinary monument of human
industry, human wisdom, and human folly.

By far the greater portion of the Talmud is devoted to the ceremonial
law, as preserved by oral tradition in the manner above explained; but
it also comprises innumerable sayings or aphorisms of celebrated Rabbis,
together with narratives of the most varied character--legends regarding
Biblical personages, moral tales, fables, parables, and facetious
stories. Of the rabbinical legends, many are extremely puerile and
absurd, and may rank with the extravagant and incredible monkish legends
of mediæval times; some, however, are characterised by a richness of
humour which one would hardly expect to meet with in such a work; while
not a few of the parables, fables, and tales are strikingly beautiful,
and will favourably compare with the same class of fictions composed by
the ancient sages of Hindústán.

It is a singular circumstance, and significant as well as singular, that
while the Hebrew Talmud was, as Dr. Barclay remarks, "periodically
banned and often publicly burned, from the age of the Emperor Justinian
till the time of Pope Clement VIII," several of the best stories in the
_Gesta Romanorum_, a collection of moral tales (or tales "moralised")
which were read in Christian churches throughout Europe during the
Middle Ages, are derived mediately or immediately from this great
storehouse of rabbinical learning.[55]

   [55] In midsummer, 1244, twenty waggon loads of copies of the
        Talmud were burnt in France. This was in consequence of,
        and four years after, a public dispute between a certain
        Donin (afterwards called Nicolaus), a converted Jew,
        with Rabbi Yehiel, of Paris, on the contents of the
        Talmud.--See _Journal of Philology_, vol. xvi, p.
        133.--In the year 1569, the famous Jewish library in
        Cremona was plundered, and 12,000 copies of the Talmud
        and other Jewish works were committed to the
        flames.--_The Talmud_, by Joseph Barclay, LL.D., London,
        1875, p. 14.

The traducers of the Talmud, among other false assertions, have
represented the Rabbis as holding their own work as more important than
even the Old Testament itself, and as fostering among the Jewish people a
spirit of intolerance towards all persons outside the pale of the Hebrew
religion. In proof of the first assertion they cite the following passage
from the Talmud: "The Bible is like water, the Mishna, like wine, the
Gemara, spiced wine; the Law, like salt, the Mishna, pepper, the Gemara,
balmy spice." But surely only a very shallow mind could conceive from
these similitudes that the Rabbis rated the importance of the Bible as
less than that of the Talmud; yet an English Church clergyman, in an
article published in a popular periodical a few years since, reproduced
this passage in proof of rabbinical presumption--evidently in ignorance
of the peculiar style of Oriental metaphor. What is actually taught by
the Rabbis in the passage in question, regarding the comparative merits
of the Bible and the Talmud, is this: The Bible is like water, the Law is
like salt; now, water and salt are indispensable to mankind. The Mishna
is like wine and pepper--luxuries, not necessaries of life; while the
Gemara is like spiced wine and balmy spices--still more refined luxuries,
but not necessaries, like water and salt.

With regard to the accusation of intolerance brought against the Rabbis,
it is worse than a misconception of words or phrases; it is a gross
calumny, the more reprehensible if preferred by those who are acquainted
with the teachings of the Talmud, since they are thus guilty of wilfully
suppressing the truth. In the following passages a broad, humane spirit
of toleration is clearly inculcated:

"It is our duty to maintain the heathen poor along with those of our own

"We must visit their sick, and administer to their relief, bury their
dead," and so forth.

"The heathens that dwell out of the land of Israel ought not to be
considered as idolators, since they only follow the customs of their

"The pious men of the heathen will have their portion in the next

"It is unlawful to deceive or over-reach any one, not even a heathen."

"Be circumspect in the fear of the Lord, soft in speech, slow in wrath,
kind and friendly to all, even to the heathen."

Alluding to the laws inimical to the heathen, Rabbi Mosha says: "What
wise men have said in this respect was directed against the ancient
idolators, who believed neither in a creation nor in a deliverance from
Egypt; but the nations among whom we live, whose protection we enjoy,
must not be considered in this light, since they believe in a creation,
the divine origin of the law, and many other fundamental doctrines of
our religion. It is, therefore, not only our duty to shelter them
against actual danger, but to pray for their welfare and the prosperity
of their respective governments."[56]

   [56] Introductory Essay to _Hebrew Tales_, by Hyman Hurwitz;
        published at London in 1826.

Let the impartial reader compare these teachings of the Rabbis with the
intolerant doctrines and practices of Christian pastors, even in modern
times as well as during the Middle Ages: when they taught that out of
the pale of the Church there could be no salvation; that no faith should
be kept with heretics, or infidels: when Catholics persecuted
Protestants, and Protestants retaliated upon Catholics:

  Christians have burned each other, quite persuaded
  That all the Apostles would have done as they did!

It will probably occur to most readers, in connection with the
rabbinical doctrine, that it is unlawful to over-reach any one, that the
Jews appear to have long ignored such maxims of morality. But it should
be remembered that if they have earned for themselves, by their
chicanery in mercantile transactions, an evil reputation, their
ancestors in the bad old times were goaded into the practice of
over-reaching by cunning those Christian sovereigns and nobles who
robbed them of their property by force and cruel tortures. Moreover,
where are the people to be found whose daily actions are in accordance
with the religion they profess? At least, the Rabbis, unlike the
spiritual teachers of mediæval Europe, did not openly inculcate immoral



There is, no doubt, very much in the Talmud that possesses a recondite,
spiritual meaning; but it would likely puzzle the most ingenious and
learned modern Rabbis to construe into mystical allegories such absurd
legends regarding Biblical personages as the following:

_Adam and Eve._

Adam's body, according to the Jewish Fathers, was formed of the earth of
Babylon, his head of the land of Israel, and his other members of other
parts of the world. Originally his stature reached the firmament, but
after his fall the Creator, laying his hand upon him, lessened him very
considerably.[57] Mr Hershon, in his _Talmudic Miscellany_, says there
is a notion among the Rabbis that Adam was at first possessed of a
bi-sexual organisation, and this conclusion they draw from Genesis i,
27, where it is said: "God created man in his own image, male-female
created he him."[58] These two natures it was thought lay side by side;
according to some, the male on the right and the female on the left;
according to others, back to back; while there were those who maintained
that Adam was created with a _tail_, and that it was from this appendage
that Eve was fashioned![59] Other Jewish traditions (continues Mr.
Hershon) inform us that Eve was made from the thirteenth rib of the
right side, and that she was not drawn out by the head, lest she should
be vain; nor by the eyes, lest she should be wanton; nor by the mouth,
lest she should be given to garrulity; nor by the ears, lest she should
be an eavesdropper; nor by the hands, lest she should be intermeddling;
nor by the feet, lest she should be a gadder; nor by the heart, lest she
should be jealous;--but she was taken out from the side: yet, in spite
of all these precautions, she had every one of the faults so carefully
guarded against!

   [57] Commentators on the Kurán say that Adam's beard did not
        grow till after his fall, and it was the result of his
        excessive sorrow and penitence. Strange to say, he was
        ashamed of his beard, till he heard a voice from heaven
        calling to him and saying: "The beard is man's ornament
        on earth; it distinguishes him from the feeble woman."
        Thus we ought to--should we not?--regard our beards as
        the offshoots of what divines term "original sin"; and
        cherish them as mementoes of the Fall of Man. Think of
        this, ye effeminate ones who use the razor!

   [58] The notion of man being at first androgynous, or
        man-woman, was prevalent in most of the countries of
        antiquity. Mr. Baring-Gould says that "the idea, that
        man without woman and woman without man are imperfect
        beings, was the cause of the great repugnance with which
        the Jews and other nations of the East regarded
        celibacy." (_Legends of the Old Testament_, vol. i, p.
        22.) But this, I think, is not very probable. The
        aversion of Asiatics from celibacy is rather to be
        ascribed to their surroundings in primitive times, when
        neighbouring clans were almost constantly at war with
        each other, and those chiefs and notables who had the
        greatest number of sturdy and valiant sons and grandsons
        would naturally be best able to hold their own against
        an enemy. The system of concubinage, which seems to have
        existed in the East from very remote times, is not
        matrimony, and undoubtedly had its origin in the
        passionate desire which, even at the present day, every
        Asiatic has for male offspring. By far the most common
        opening of an Eastern tale is the statement that there
        was a certain king, wise, wealthy, and powerful, but
        though he had many beautiful wives and handmaidens,
        Heaven had not yet blest him with a son, and in
        consequence of this all his life was embittered, and he
        knew no peace day or night.

   [59] Professor Charles Marelle, of Berlin, in an interesting
        little collection, _Affenschwanz, &c.; Variants orales
        de Contes Populaires, Français et Etrangers_
        (Braunschweig, 1888), gives an amusing story, based
        evidently on this rabbinical legend: The woman formed
        from Adam's tail proved to be as mischievous as a
        monkey, and gave her spouse no peace; whereupon another
        was formed from a part of his breast, and she was a
        decided improvement on her sister. All the giddy girls
        in the world are descended from the woman who was made
        from Adam's tail.

Adam's excuse for eating of the forbidden fruit, "She gave me of the
tree and I did eat," is said to be thus ingeniously explained by the
learned Rabbis: By giving him of the _tree_ is meant that Eve took a
stout crab-tree cudgel, and gave her husband (in plain English) a sound
rib-roasting, until he complied with her will!--The lifetime of Adam,
according to the Book of Genesis, ch. v, 5, was nine hundred and thirty
years, for which the following legend (reproduced by the Muslim
traditionists) satisfactorily accounts: The Lord showed to Adam every
future generation, with their heads, sages, and scribes.[60] He saw that
David was destined to live only three hours, and said: "Lord and Creator
of the world, is this unalterably fixed?" The Lord answered: "It was my
original design." "How many years shall I live?" "One thousand." "Are
grants known in heaven?" "Certainly." "I grant then seventy years of my
life to David." What did Adam therefore do? He gave a written grant, set
his seal to it, and the same was done by the Lord and Metatron.

   [60] You and I, good reader, must therefore have been seen by
        the Father of Mankind.

The body of Adam was taken into the ark by Noah, and when at last it
grounded on the summit of Mount Ararat [which it certainly never did!],
Noah and his three sons removed the body, "and they followed an angel,
who led them to a place where the First Father was to lie. Shem (or
Melchizidek, for they are one), being consecrated by God to the
priesthood, performed the religious rites, and buried Adam at the centre
of the earth, which is Jerusalem. But some say he was buried by Shem,
along with Eve in the cave of Machpelah in Hebron; others relate that
Noah on leaving the ark distributed the bones of Adam among his sons,
and that he gave the head to Shem, who buried it in Jerusalem."[61]

   [61] _Legends of Old Testament Characters_, by S.
        Baring-Gould, vol. i, pp. 78, 79.

_Cain and Abel._

The Hebrew commentators are not agreed regarding the cause of Cain's
enmity towards his brother Abel. According to one tradition, Cain and
Abel divided the whole world between them, one taking the moveable and
the other the immoveable possessions. One day Cain said to his brother:
"The earth on which thou standest is mine; therefore betake thyself to
the air." Abel rejoined: "The garment which thou dost wear is mine;
therefore take it off." From this there arose a conflict between them,
which resulted in Abel's death. Rabbi Huna teaches, however, that they
contended for a twin sister of Abel; the latter claimed her because she
was born along with him, while Cain pleaded his right of primogeniture.
After Adam's first-born had taken his brother's life, the sheep-dog of
Abel faithfully guarded his master's corpse from the attacks of beasts
and birds of prey. Adam and Eve also sat near the body of their pious
son, weeping bitterly, and not knowing how to dispose of his lifeless
clay. At length a raven, whose mate had lately died, said to itself: "I
will go and show to Adam what he must do with his son's body," and
accordingly scooped a hole in the ground and laid the dead raven
therein, and covered it with earth. This having been observed by Adam,
he likewise buried the body of Abel. For this service rendered to our
great progenitor, we are told, the Deity rewarded the raven, and no one
is allowed to injure its young: "they have food in abundance, and their
cry for rain is always heard."[62]

   [62] The Muhammedan legend informs us that Cain was
        afterwards slain by the blood-avenging angel. But the
        Jewish traditionists say that God was at length moved by
        Cain's contrition and placed on his brow a seal, which
        indicated that the fratricide was fully pardoned. Adam
        happened to meet him, and observing the seal on his
        forehead, asked him how he had turned aside the wrath of
        God. He replied: "By confession of my sin and sincere
        repentance." On hearing this Adam exclaimed, beating his
        breast: "Woe is me! Is the virtue of repentance so great
        and I knew it not?"

_The Planting of the Vine._

When Noah planted the vine, say the Rabbis, Satan slew a sheep, a lion,
an ape, and a sow, and buried the carcases under it; and hence the four
stages from sobriety to absolute drunkenness: Before a man begins to
drink, he is meek and innocent as a lamb, and as a sheep in the hand of
the shearer is dumb; when he has drank enough, he is fearless as a lion,
and says there is no one like him in the world; in the next stage, he is
like an ape, and dances, jests, and talks nonsense, knowing not what he
is doing and saying; when thoroughly drunken, he wallows in the mire
like a sow.[63] To this legend Chaucer evidently alludes in the Prologue
to the Maniciple's Tale:

  I trow that ye have dronken _wine of ape_,
  And that is when men plaien at a strawe.

   [63] A garbled version of this legend is found in the Latin
        _Gesta Romanorum_ (it does not occur in the Anglican
        versions edited by Sir F. Madden for the Roxburghe Club,
        and by Mr. S. J. Herrtage for the Early English Text
        Society), Tale 179, as follows: "Josephus, in his work
        on 'The Causes of Things,' says that Noah discovered the
        vine in a wood, and because it was bitter he took the
        blood of four animals, viz., of a lion, a lamb, a pig,
        and a monkey. This mixture he united with earth and made
        a kind of manure, which he deposited at the roots of the
        trees. Thus the blood sweetened the fruit, with the
        juice of which he afterwards intoxicated himself, and
        lying naked was derided by his youngest son."

_Luminous Jewels._

Readers of that most fascinating collection of Eastern tales, commonly
but improperly called the _Arabian Nights' Entertainments_, must be
familiar with the remarkable property there ascribed to certain gems, of
furnishing light in the absence of the sun. Possibly the Arabians
adopted this notion from the Rabbis, in whose legends jewels are
frequently represented as possessing the light-giving property. For
example, we learn that Noah and his family, while in the ark, had no
light besides what was obtained from diamonds and other precious stones.
And Abraham, who, it appears, was extremely jealous of his wives, built
for them an enchanted city, of which the walls were so high as to shut
out the light of the sun; an inconvenience which he easily remedied by
means of a large basin full of rubies and other jewels, which shed forth
a flood of light equal in brilliancy to that of the sun itself.[64]

   [64] Luminous jewels figure frequently in Eastern tales, and
        within recent years, from experiments and observations,
        the phosphorescence of the diamond, sapphire, ruby, and
        topaz has been fully established.

_Abraham's Arrival in Egypt._

When Abraham journeyed to Egypt he had among his _impedimenta_ a large
chest. On reaching the gates of the capital the customs officials
demanded the usual duties. Abraham begged them to name the sum without
troubling themselves to open the chest. They demanded to be paid the
duty on clothes. "I will pay for clothes," said the patriarch, with an
alacrity which aroused the suspicions of the officials, who then
insisted upon being paid the duty on silk. "I will pay for silk," said
Abraham. Hereupon the officials demanded the duty on gold, and Abraham
readily offered to pay the amount. Then they surmised that the chest
contained jewels, but Abraham was quite as willing to pay the higher
duty on gems, and now the curiosity of the officials could be no longer
restrained. They broke open the chest, when, lo, their eyes were dazzled
with the lustrous beauty of Sarah! Abraham, it seems, had adopted this
plan for smuggling his lovely wife into the Egyptian dominions.

_The Infamous Citizens of Sodom._

Some of the rabbinical legends descriptive of the singular customs of
the infamous citizens of Sodom are exceedingly amusing--or amazing. The
judges of that city are represented as notorious liars and mockers of
justice. When a man had cut off the ear of his neighbour's ass, the
judge said to the owner: "Let him have the ass till the ear is grown
again, that it may be returned to thee as thou wishest." The hospitality
shown by the citizens to strangers within their gates was of a very
peculiar kind. They had a particular bed for the weary traveller who
entered their city and desired shelter for the night. If he was found to
be too long for the bed, they reduced him to the proper size by chopping
off so much of his legs; and if he was shorter than the bed, he was
stretched to the requisite length.[65] To preserve their reputation for
hospitality, when a stranger arrived each citizen was required to give
him a coin with his name written on it, after which the unfortunate
traveller was refused food, and as soon as he had died of hunger every
man took back his own money. It was a capital offence for any one to
supply the stranger with food, in proof of which it is recorded that a
poor man, having arrived in Sodom, was presented with money and refused
food by all to whom he made his wants known. It chanced that, as he lay
by the roadside almost starved to death, he was observed by one of Lot's
daughters, who had compassion on him, and supplied him with food for
many days, as she went to draw water for her father's household. The
citizens, marvelling at the man's tenacity of life, set a person to
watch him, and Lot's daughter being discovered bringing him bread, she
was condemned to death by burning. Another kind-hearted maiden who had
in like manner relieved the wants of a stranger, was punished in a still
more dreadful manner, being smeared over with honey, and stung to death
by bees.

   [65] Did the Talmudist borrow this story from the Greek
        legend of the famous robber of Attica, Procrustes, who
        is said to have treated unlucky travellers after the
        same barbarous fashion?

It may be naturally supposed that travellers who were acquainted with
the peculiar ways of the citizens of Sodom would either pass by that
city without entering its inhospitable gates, or, if compelled by
business to go into the town, would previously provide themselves with
food; but even this last precaution did not avail them against the wiles
of those wicked people: A man from Elam, journeying to a place beyond
Sodom, reached the infamous city about sunset. The stranger had with him
an ass, bearing a valuable saddle to which was strapped a large bale of
merchandise. Being refused a lodging by each citizen of whom he asked
the favour, our traveller made a virtue of necessity, and determined to
pass the night, along with his animal and his goods, as best he might,
in the streets. His preparations with this view were observed by a
cunning and treacherous citizen, named Hidud, who came up, and,
accosting him courteously, desired to know whence he had come and
whither he was bound. The stranger answered that he had come from
Hebron, and was journeying to such a place; that, being refused shelter
by everybody, he was preparing to pass the night in the streets; and
that he was provided with bread for his own use and with fodder for his
beast. Upon this Hidud invited the stranger to his house, assuring him
that his lodging should cost him nothing, while the wants of his beast
should not be forgotten. The stranger accepted of Hidud's proffered
hospitality, and when they came to his house the citizen relieved the
ass of the saddle and merchandise, and carefully placed them for
security in his private closet. He then led the ass into his stable and
amply supplied him with provender; and returning to the house, he set
food before his guest, who, having supped, retired to rest. Early in the
morning the stranger arose, intending to resume his journey, but his
host first pressed him to partake of breakfast, and afterwards persuaded
him to remain at his house for two days. On the morning of the third day
our traveller would no longer delay his departure, and Hidud therefore
brought out his beast, saying kindly to his guest: "Fare thee well."
"Hold!" said the traveller. "Where is my beautiful saddle of many
colours and the strings attached thereto, together with my bale of rich
merchandise?" "What sayest thou?" exclaimed Hidud, in a tone of
surprise. The stranger repeated his demand for his saddle and goods.
"Ah," said Hidud, affably, "I will interpret thy dream: the strings that
thou hast dreamt of indicate length of days to thee; and the
many-coloured saddle of thy dream signifies that thou shalt become the
owner of a beauteous garden of odorous flowers and rich fruit trees."
"Nay," returned the stranger, "I certainly entrusted to thy care a
saddle and merchandise, and thou hast concealed them in thy house."
"Well," said Hidud, "I have told thee the meaning of thy dream. My usual
fee for interpreting a dream is four pieces of silver, but, as thou hast
been my guest, I will only ask three pieces of thee." On hearing this
very unjust demand the stranger was naturally enraged, and he accused
Hidud in the court of Sodom of stealing his property. After each had
stated his case, the judge decreed that the stranger must pay Hidud's
fee, since he was well known as a professional interpreter of dreams.
Hidud then said to the stranger: "As thou hast proved thyself such a
liar, I must not only be paid my usual fee of four pieces of silver, but
also the value of the two days' food with which I provided thee in my
house." "I will cheerfully pay thee for the food," rejoined the
traveller, "on condition that thou restore my saddle and merchandise."
Upon this the litigants began to abuse each other and were thrust into
the street, where the citizens, siding with Hidud, soundly beat the
unlucky stranger, and then expelled him from the city.

Abraham once sent his servant Eliezer to Sodom with his compliments to
Lot and his family, and to inquire concerning their welfare. As Eliezer
entered Sodom he saw a citizen beating a stranger, whom he had robbed of
his property. "Shame upon thee!" exclaimed Eliezer to the citizen. "Is
this the way you act towards strangers?" To this remonstrance the man
replied by picking up a stone and striking Eliezer with it on the
forehead with such force as to cause the blood to flow down his face. On
seeing the blood the citizen caught hold of Eliezer and demanded to be
paid his fee for having freed him of impure blood. "What!" said Eliezer,
"am I to pay thee for wounding me?" "Such is our law," returned the
citizen. Eliezer refused to pay, and the man brought him before the
judge, to whom he made his complaint. The judge then decreed: "Thou must
pay this man his fee, since he has let thy blood; such is our law."
"There, then," said Eliezer, striking the judge with a stone, and
causing him to bleed, "pay my fee to this man, I want it not," and then
departed from the court.[66]

   [66] There are two Italian stories which bear some
        resemblance to this queer legend: In the fourth novel of
        Arienti an advocate is fined for striking his opponent
        in court, and "takes his change" by repeating the
        offence; and in the second novel of Sozzini, Scacazzone,
        after dining sumptuously at an inn, and learning from
        the waiter that the law of that town imposed a fine of
        ten livres for a blow on the face, provokes the landlord
        so that he gets a slap from him on the cheek, upon which
        he tells Boniface to pay himself out of the fine he
        should have had to pay for the blow if charged before
        the magistrate, and give the rest of the money to the
        waiter.--A similar story is told in an Arabian
        collection, of a half-witted fellow and the kází.

_Abraham and Ishmael's Wife._

Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, was given as a slave to Abraham, by her
father, Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who said: "My daughter had better be a
slave in the house of Abraham than mistress in any other house." Her son
Ishmael, it is said, took unto himself a wife of the daughters of Moab.
Three years afterwards Abraham set out to visit his son, having solemnly
promised Sarah (who, it thus appears, was still jealous of her former
handmaid) that he would not alight from his camel. He reached Ishmael's
house about noontide, and found his wife alone. "Where is Ishmael?"
inquired the patriarch. "He is gone into the wilderness with his mother
to gather dates and other fruits." "Give me, I pray thee, a little bread
and water, for I am fatigued with travelling." "I have neither bread nor
water," rejoined the inhospitable matron. "Well," said the patriarch,
"tell Ishmael when he comes home that an old man came to see him, and
recommends him to change the door-post of his house, for it is not
worthy of him." On Ishmael's return she gave him the message, from which
he at once understood that the stranger was his father, and that he did
not approve of his wife. Accordingly he sent her back to her own people,
and Hagar procured him a wife from her father's house. Her name was

Another period of three years having elapsed, Abraham again resolved to
visit his son; and having, as before, pledged his word to Sarah that he
would not alight at Ishmael's house, he began his journey. When he
arrived at his son's domicile he found Fatima alone, Ishmael being
abroad, as on the occasion of his previous visit. But from Fatima he
received every attention, albeit she knew not that he was her husband's
father. Highly gratified with Fatima's hospitality, the patriarch called
down blessings upon Ishmael, and returned home. Fatima duly informed
Ishmael of what had happened in his absence, and then he knew that
Abraham still loved him as his son.

This is one of the few rabbinical legends regarding Biblical characters
which do not exceed the limits of probability; and I confess I can see
no reason why these interesting incidents should be considered as purely
imaginary. As a rule, however, the Talmudic legends of this kind must be
taken not only _cum grano salis_, but with a whole bushel of that most
necessary commodity, particularly such marvellous relations as that of
Rabbi Jehoshua, when he informs us that the "ram caught in a thicket,"
which served as a substitute for sacrifice when Abraham was prepared to
offer up his son Isaac, was brought by an angel out of Paradise, where
it pastured under the Tree of Life and drank from the brook which flows
beneath it. This creature, the Rabbi adds, diffused its perfume
throughout the world.[67]

   [67] The commentators on the Kurán have adopted this legend.
        But according to the Kurán it was not Isaac, but
        Ishmael, the great progenitor of the Arabs, who was to
        be sacrificed by Abraham.

_Joseph and Potiphar's Wife._

The story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife, as related in the Book of
Genesis, finds parallels in the popular tales and legends of many
countries: the vengeance of "woman whose love is scorned," says a Hindú
writer, "is worse than poison"! But the rabbinical version is quite
unique in representing the wife of Potiphar as having aiders and
abettors in carrying out her scheme of revenge: For some days after the
pious young Israelite had declined her amorous overtures, she looked so
ill that her female friends inquired of her the cause, and having told
them of her adventure with Joseph, they said: "Accuse him before thy
husband, that he may be cast into prison." She desired them to accuse
him likewise to their husbands, which they did accordingly; and their
husbands went before Pharaoh and complained of Joseph's misconduct
towards their wives.[68]

   [68] Commentators on the Kurán inform us that when Joseph was
        released from prison, after so satisfactorily
        interpreting Pharaoh's two dreams, Potiphar was degraded
        from his high office. One day, while Joseph was riding
        out to inspect a granary beyond the city, he observed a
        beggar-woman in the street, whose whole appearance,
        though most distressing, bore distinct traces of former
        greatness. Joseph approached her compassionately, and
        held out to her a handful of gold. But she refused it,
        and said aloud: "Great prophet of Allah, I am unworthy
        of this gift, although my transgression has been the
        stepping-stone to thy present fortune." At these words
        Joseph regarded her more closely, and, behold, it was
        Zulaykhá, the wife of his lord. He inquired after her
        husband, and was told that he had died of sorrow and
        poverty soon after his deposition. On hearing this,
        Joseph led Zulaykhá to a relative of the king, by whom
        she was treated like a sister, and she soon appeared to
        him as blooming as at the time of his entrance into her
        house. He asked her hand of the king, and married her,
        with his permission.

        Zulaykhá was the name of Potiphar's wife, if we may
        believe Muhammedan legends, and the daughter of the king
        of Maghrab (or Marocco), who gave her in marriage to the
        grand vazír of the king of Egypt, and the beauteous
        princess was disgusted to find him, not only very old,
        but, as a modest English writer puts it, very mildly,
        "belonged to that unhappy class which a practice of
        immemorial antiquity in the East excluded from the
        pleasures of love and the hope of posterity." This
        device of representing Potiphar as being what Byron
        styles "a neutral personage" was, of course, adopted by
        Muslim traditionists and poets in order to "white-wash"
        the frail Zulaykhá.--There are extant many Persian and
        Turkish poems on the "loves" of _Yúsuf wa Zulaykhá_,
        most of them having a mystical signification, and that
        by the celebrated Persian poet Jámí is universally
        considered as by far the best.

_Joseph and his Brethren._

Wonderful stories are related of Joseph and his brethren. Simeon, if we
may credit the Talmudists, must have been quite a Hercules in strength.
The Biblical narrative of Simeon's detention by his brother Joseph is
brief but most expressive: "And he turned himself about from them and
wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from
them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes."[69] The Talmudists
condescend more minutely regarding this interesting incident: When
Joseph ordered seventy valiant men to put Simeon in chains, they had no
sooner approached him than he roared so loud that all the seventy fell
down at his feet and broke their teeth! Joseph then said to his son
Manasseh: "Chain thou him"; whereupon Manasseh dealt Simeon a single
blow and immediately overpowered him; upon which Simeon exclaimed:
"Surely this was the blow of a kinsman!"--When Joseph sent Benjamin to
prison, Judah cried so loud that Chushim, the son of Dan, heard him in
Canaan and responded. Joseph feared for his life, for Judah was so
enraged that he wept blood. Some say that Judah wore five garments, one
over the other; but when he was angry his heart swelled so much that his
five garments burst open. Joseph cried so terribly that one of the
pillars of his house fell in and was changed into sand. Then Judah said:
"He is valiant, like one of us."

   [69] Gen. xlii, 24.--It does not appear from the sacred
        narrative why Joseph selected his brother Simeon as
        hostage. Possibly Simeon was most eager for his death,
        before he was cast into the dry well and then sold to
        the Ishmaelites; and indeed both he and his brother Levi
        seem to have been "a bad lot," judging from the dying
        Jacob's description of them, Gen. xlix, 5-7.

_Jacob's Sorrow._

But like a gem, among a heap of rubbish is the touching little story of
how the news of Joseph's being alive and the viceroy of Egypt was
conveyed to the aged and sorrow-stricken Jacob. When the brethren had
returned to the land of Canaan, after their second expedition, they were
perplexed how to communicate to their father the joyful intelligence
that his long-lamented son still lived, fearing it might have a fatal
effect on the old man if suddenly told to him. At length Serach, the
daughter of Asher, proposed that she should convey the tidings to her
grandfather in a song. Accordingly she took her harp, and sang to Jacob
the whole story of Joseph's life and his present greatness, and her
music soothed his spirit; and when he fully realised that his son was
yet alive, he fervently blessed her, and she was taken into Paradise,
without tasting of death.[70]

   [70] "Jacob's grief" is proverbial in Muslim countries. In
        the Kurán, _sura_ xii, it is stated that the patriarch
        became totally blind through constant weeping for the
        loss of Joseph, and that his sight was restored by means
        of Joseph's garment, which the governor of Egypt sent by
        his brethren.--In the _Makamat_ of Al-Harírí, the
        celebrated Arabian poet (A.D. 1054-1122), Harith bin
        Hamman is represented as saying that he passed a night
        of "Jacobean sorrow," and another imaginary character is
        said to have "wept more than Jacob when he lost his

_Moses and Pharaoh._

The slaughter of the Hebrew male children by the cruel command of the
"Pharoah who knew not Joseph" was a precaution adopted, we are informed
by the Rabbis, in consequence of a dream which that monarch had, of an
aged man who held a balance in his right hand; in one scale he placed
all the sages and nobles of Egypt, and in the other a little lamb, which
weighed down them all. In the morning Pharaoh told his strange dream to
his counsellors, who were greatly terrified, and Bi'lam, the son of
Beor, the magician, said: "This dream, O King, forebodes great
affliction, which one of the children of Israel will bring upon Egypt."
The king asked the soothsayer whether this threatened evil might not be
avoided. "There is but one way of averting the calamity--cause every
male child of Hebrew parents to be slain at birth." Pharaoh approved of
this advice, and issued an edict accordingly. The Egyptian monarch's
kind-hearted daughter (whose name, by the way, was Bathia), who rescued
the infant Moses from the common fate of the Hebrew male children, was a
leper, and consequently was not permitted to use the warm baths. But no
sooner had she stretched forth her hand to the crying infant than she
was healed of her leprosy, and, moreover, afterwards admitted bodily
into Paradise.[71]

   [71] Muslims say that Pharaoh's seven daughters were all
        lepers, and that Bathia's sisters, as well as herself,
        were cured through her saving the infant Moses.

        According to the Hebrew traditionists, nine human beings
        entered Paradise without having tasted of death, viz.:
        Enoch; Messiah; Elias; Eliezer, the servant of Abraham;
        the servant of the king of Kush; Hiram, king of Tyre;
        Jaabez, the son of the Prince, and the Rabbi, Juda;
        Serach, the daughter of Asher; and Bathia, the daughter
        of Pharaoh.

        The last of the race of genuine Dublin ballad-singers,
        who rejoiced in the _nom de guerre_ of "Zozimus" (ob.
        1846), used to edify his street patrons with a slightly
        different reading of the romantic story of the finding
        of Moses in the bulrushes, which has the merit of
        striking originality, to say the least:

          In Egypt's land, upon the banks of Nile,
          King Pharaoh's daughter went to bathe in style;
          She tuk her dip, then went unto the land,
          And, to dry her royal pelt, she ran along the strand.
          A bulrush tripped her, whereupon she saw
          A smiling babby in a wad of straw;
          She tuk it up, and said, in accents mild,
          "_Tare an' agers, gyurls, which av yez owns this child?_"

        The story of the finding of Moses has its parallels in
        almost every country--in the Greek and Roman legends of
        Perseus, Cyrus, and Romulus--in Indian, Persian, and
        Arabian tales--and a Babylonian analogue is given, as
        follows, by the Rev. A. H. Sayce, in the _Folk-Lore
        Journal_ for 1883: "Sargon, the mighty monarch, the king
        of Agané, am I. My mother was a princess; my father I
        knew not. My father's brother loved the mountain land.
        In the city of Azipiranu, which on the bank of the
        Euphrates lies, my mother, the princess, conceived me;
        in an inacessible spot she brought me forth. She placed
        me in a basket of rushes; with bitumen the door of my
        ark she closed. She launched me on the river, which
        drowned me not. The river bore me along; to Akki, the
        irrigator, it brought me. Akki, the irrigator, in the
        tenderness of his heart, lifted me up. Then Akki, the
        irrigator, as his gardener appointed me, and in my
        gardenership the goddess Istar loved me. For forty-five
        years the kingdom I have ruled, and the black-headed
        (Akkadian) race have governed."

Of the childhood of Moses a curious story is told to account for his
being in after life "slow of speech and slow of tongue": Pharaoh was one
day seated in his banqueting hall, with his queen at his right hand and
Bathia at his left, and around him were his two sons, Bi'lam, the chief
soothsayer, and other dignitaries of his court, when he took little
Moses (then three years old) upon his knee, and began to fondle him. The
Hebrew urchin stretched forth his hand and took the kingly crown from
Pharaoh's brow and deliberately placed it upon his own head. To the
monarch and his courtiers this action of the child was ominous, and
Pharaoh inquired of his counsellors how, in their judgment, the
audacious little Hebrew should be punished. Bi'lam, the sooth-sayer,
answered: "Do not suppose, O King, that this is necessarily the
thoughtless action of a child; recollect thy dream which I did interpret
for thee. But let us prove whether this child is possessed of
understanding beyond his years, in this manner: let two plates, one
containing fire, the other gold, be placed before the child; and if he
grasp the gold, then is he of superior understanding, and should
therefore be put to death." The plates, as proposed by the soothsayer,
were placed before the child Moses, who immediately seized upon the
fire, and put it into his mouth, which caused him henceforward to
stammer in his speech.

It was no easy matter for Moses and his brother to gain access to
Pharaoh, for his palace had 400 gates, 100 on each side; and before each
gate stood no fewer than 60,000 tried warriors. Therefore the angel
Gabriel introduced them by another way, and when Pharaoh beheld Moses
and Aaron he demanded to know who had admitted them. He summoned the
guards, and ordered some of them to be beaten and others to be put to
death. But next day Moses and Aaron returned, and the guards, when
called in, exclaimed: "These men are sorcerers, for they cannot have
come in through any of the gates." There were, however, much more
formidable guardians of the royal palace: the 400 gates were guarded by
bears, lions, and other ferocious beasts, who suffered no one to pass
unless they were fed with flesh. But when Moses and Aaron came, they
gathered about them, and licked the feet of the prophets, accompanying
them to Pharaoh.--Readers who are familiar with the _Thousand and One
Nights_ and other Asiatic story-books will recollect many tales in which
palaces are similarly guarded. In the spurious "Canterbury" _Tale of
Beryn_ (taken from the first part of the old French romance of the
Chevalier Berinus), which has been re-edited for the Chaucer Society,
the palace-garden of Duke Isope is guarded by eight necromancers who
look like "abominabill wormys, enough to frighte the hertiest man on
erth," also by a white lion that had eaten five hundred men.



Muhammed, the great Arabian lawgiver, drew very largely from the
rabbinical legends in his composition of the Kurán, every verse of which
is considered by pious Muslims as a miracle, or wonder (_ayet_). The
well-known story of the spider weaving its web over the mouth of the
cave in which Muhammed and Abú Bekr had concealed themselves in their
flight from Mecca to Medina was evidently borrowed from the Talmudic
legend of David's flight from the malevolence of Saul: Immediately after
David had entered the cave of Adullam, a spider spun its web across the
opening. His pursuers presently passing that way were about to search
the cave; but perceiving the spider's web, they naturally concluded that
no one could have recently entered there, and thus was the future king
of Israel preserved from Saul's vengeance.

King David once had a narrow escape from death at the hands of Goliath's
brother Ishbi. The king was hunting one morning when Satan appeared
before him in the form of a deer.[72] David drew his bow, but missed
him, and the feigned deer ran off at the top of his speed. The king,
with true sportsman's instinct, pursued the deer, even into the land of
the Philistines--which, doubtless, was Satan's object in assuming that
form. It unluckily happened that Ishbi, the brother of Goliath,
recognised in the person of the royal hunter the slayer of the champion
of Gath, and he immediately seized David, bound him neck and heels
together, and laid him beneath his wine-press, designing to crush him to
death. But, lo, the earth became soft, and the Philistine was baffled.
Meanwhile, in the land of Israel a dove with silver wings was seen by
the courtiers of King David fluttering about, apparently in great
distress, which signified to the wise men that their royal master was in
danger of his life. Abishai, one of David's counsellors, at once
determined to go and succour his sovereign, and accordingly mounted the
king's horse, and in a few minutes was in the land of the Philistines.
On arriving at Ishbi's house, he discovered that gentleman's venerable
mother spinning at the door. The old lady threw her distaff at the
Israelite, and, missing him, desired him to bring it back to her.
Abishai returned it in such a manner that she never afterwards required
a distaff. This little incident was witnessed by Ishbi, who, resolving
to rid himself of one of his enemies forthwith, took David from beneath
the wine-press, and threw him high into the air, expecting that he would
fall upon his spear, which he had previously fixed into the ground. But
Abishai pronounced the Great Name (often referred to in the Talmud), and
David, in consequence, remained suspended between earth and sky. In the
sequel they both unite against Ishbi, and put him to death.[73]

   [72] That the arch-fiend could, and often did, assume various
        forms to lure men to their destruction was universally
        believed throughout Europe during mediæval times and
        even much later; generally he appeared in the form of a
        most beautiful young woman; and there are still current
        in obscure parts of Scotland wild legends of his having
        thus tempted even godly men to sin.--In Asiatic tales
        rákshasas, ghúls (ghouls), and such-like demons
        frequently assume the appearance of heart-ravishing
        damsels in order to delude and devour the unwary
        traveller. In many of our old European romances fairies
        are represented as transforming themselves into the
        semblance of deer, to decoy into sequestered places
        noble hunters of whom they had become enamoured.

   [73] The "Great Name" (in Arabic, _El-Ism el-Aazam_, "the
        Most Great Name"), by means of which King David was
        saved from a cruel death, as above, is often employed in
        Eastern romances for the rescue of the hero from deadly
        peril, as well as to enable him to perform supernatural
        exploits. It was generally engraved on a signet-ring,
        but sometimes it was communicated orally to the
        fortunate hero by a holy man, or by a king of the
        genii--who was, of course, a good Muslim.

Of Solomon the Wise there are, of course, many curious rabbinical
legends. His reputation for superior sagacity extended over all the
world, and the wisest men of other nations came humbly to him as pupils.
It would appear that this great monarch was not less willing to afford
the poorest of his subjects the benefit of his advice when they applied
to him than able to solve the knottiest problem which the most
keen-witted casuist could propound. One morning a man, whose life was
embittered by a froward, shrewish wife, left his house to seek the
advice of Solomon. On the road he overtook another man, with whom he
entered into conversation, and presently learned that he was also going
to the king's palace. "Pray, friend," said he, "what might be your
business with the king? I am going to ask him how I should manage a wife
who has long been froward." "Why," said the other, "I employ a great
many people, and have a great deal of capital invested in my business;
yet I find I am losing more and more every year, instead of gaining; and
I want to know the cause, and how it may be remedied." By-and-by they
overtook a third man, who informed them that he was a physician whose
practice had fallen off considerably, and he was proceeding to ask King
Solomon's advice as to how it might be increased. At length they reached
the palace, and it was arranged among them that the man who had the
shrewish wife should first present himself before the king. In a short
time he rejoined his companions with a rather puzzled expression of
countenance, and the others inquiring how he had sped, he answered: "I
can see no wisdom in the king's advice; he simply advised me to _go to a
mill_." The second man then went in, and returned quite as much
perplexed as the first, saying: "Of a truth, Solomon is not so wise as
he is reported to be; would you believe it?--all he said to me when I
had told him my grievance was, _get up early in the morning_." The third
man, somewhat discouraged by these apparently idle answers, entered the
presence-chamber, and on coming out told his companions that the king
had simply advised him to _be proud_. Equally disappointed, the trio
returned homeward together. They had not gone far when one of them said
to the first man: "Here is a mill; did not the king advise you to go
into one?" The man entered, and presently ran out, exclaiming: "I've got
it! I've got it! I am to beat my wife!" He went home and gave his spouse
a sound thrashing, and she was ever afterwards a very obedient wife.[74]
The second man got up very early the next morning, and discovered a
number of his servants idling about, and others loading a cart with
goods from his warehouse, which they were stealing. He now understood
the meaning of Solomon's advice, and henceforward always rose early
every morning, looked after his servants, and ultimately became very
wealthy. The third man, on reaching home, told his wife to get him a
splendid robe, and to instruct all the servants to admit no one into his
presence without first obtaining his permission. Next day, as he sat in
his private chamber, arrayed in his magnificent gown, a lady sent her
servant to demand his attendance, and he was about to enter the
physician's chamber, as usual, without ceremony, when he was stopped,
and told that the doctor's permission must be first obtained. After some
delay the lady's servant was admitted, and found the great doctor seated
among his books. On being desired to visit the lady, the doctor told the
servant that he could not do so without first receiving his fee. In
short, by this professional pride, the physician's practice rapidly
increased, and in a few years he acquired a large fortune. And thus in
each case Solomon's advice proved successful.[75]

   [74] At the "mill" the man who was plagued with a bad wife
        doubtless saw some labourers threshing corn, since
        _grinding_ corn would hardly suggest the idea of
        _beating_ his provoking spouse.--By the way, this man
        had evidently never heard the barbarous sentiment,
        expressed in the equally barbarous English popular
        rhyme--composed, probably, by some beer-sodden
        bacon-chewer, and therefore, in those ancient times,
        _non inventus_--

          A woman, a dog, and a walnut tree,
          The more you beat 'em, the better they be--

        else, what need for him to consult King Solomon about
        his paltry domestic troubles?

   [75] A variant of this occurs in the _Decameron_ of
        Boccaccio, Day ix, Nov. 9, of which Dunlop gives the
        following outline: Two young men repair to Jerusalem to
        consult Solomon. One asks how he may be well liked, the
        other how he may best manage a froward wife. Solomon
        advised the first to "love others," and the second to
        "repair to the mill." From this last counsel neither can
        extract any meaning; but it is explained on their road
        home, for when they came to the bridge of that name they
        meet a number of mules, and one of these animals being
        restive its master forced it on with a stick. The advice
        of Solomon, being now understood, is followed, with
        complete success.

        Among the innumerable tales current in Muhammedan
        countries regarding the extraordinary sagacity of
        Solomon is the following, which occurs in M. René
        Basset's _Contes Populaires Berbèrs_ (Paris, 1887):
        Complaint was made to Solomon that some one had stolen a
        quantity of eggs. "I shall discover him," said Solomon.
        And when the people were assembled in the mosque
        (_sic_), he said: "An egg-thief has come in with you,
        and he has got feathers on his head." The thief in great
        fright raised his hand to his head, which Solomon
        perceiving, he cried out: "There is the culprit--seize
        him!" There are many variants of this story in Persian
        and Indian collections, where a kází, or judge, takes
        the place of Solomon, and it had found its way into our
        own jest-books early in the 16th century. Thus in _Tales
        and Quicke Answeres_, a man has a goose stolen from him
        and complains to the priest, who promises to find out
        the thief. On Sunday the priest tells the congregation
        to sit down, which they do accordingly. Then says he,
        "Why are ye not all seated?" Say they, "We _are_ all
        seated." "Nay," quoth Mass John, "but he that stole the
        goose sitteth not down." "But I _am_ seated," says the
        witless goose-thief.

We learn from the Old Testament that the Queen of Sheba (or Sába, whom
the Arabians identify with Bilkís, queen of El-Yemen) "came to prove the
wisdom of Solomon with hard questions," and that he answered them all.
What were the questions--or riddles--the solution of which so much
astonished the Queen of Sheba we are not told; but the Rabbis inform us
that, after she had exhausted her budget of riddles, she one day
presented herself at the foot of Solomon's throne, holding in one hand a
bouquet of natural flowers and in the other a bouquet of artificial
flowers, desiring the king to say which was the product of nature. Now,
the artificial flowers were so exactly modelled in imitation of the
others that it was thought impossible for him to answer the question,
from the distance at which she held the bouquets. But Solomon was not to
be baffled by a woman with scraps of painted paper: he caused a window
in the audience-chamber to be opened, when a cluster of bees immediately
flew in and alighted upon one of the bouquets, while not one of the
insects fixed upon the other. By this device Solomon was enabled to
distinguish between the natural and the artificial flowers.

Again the Queen of Sheba endeavoured to outwit the sagacious monarch.
She brought before him a number of boys and girls, apparelled all alike,
and desired him to distinguish those of one sex from those of the other,
as they stood before him. Solomon caused a large basin full of water to
be fetched in, and ordered them all to wash their hands. By this
expedient he discovered the males from the females; since the boys
merely washed their hands, while the girls washed also their arms.[76]

   [76] Among the Muhammedan legends concerning Solomon and the
        Queen of Sheba, it is related that, after he had
        satisfactorily answered all her questions and solved her
        riddles, "before he would enter into more intimate
        relations with her, he desired to clear up a certain
        point respecting her, and to see whether she actually
        had cloven feet, as several of his demons would have him
        to believe; or whether they had only invented the defect
        from fear lest he should marry her, and beget children,
        who, as descendants of the genii [the mother of Bilkís
        is said to have been of that race of beings], would be
        even more mighty than himself. He therefore caused her
        to be conducted through a hall, whose floor was of
        crystal, and under which water tenanted by every variety
        of fish was flowing. Bilkís, who had never seen a
        crystal floor, supposed that there was water to be
        passed through, and therefore raised her robe slightly,
        when the king discovered to his great joy a beautifully
        shaped female foot. When his eye was satisfied, he
        called to her: 'Come hither; there is no water here, but
        only a crystal floor; and confess thyself to the faith
        in the one only God.' Bilkís approached the throne,
        which stood at the end of the hall, and in Solomon's
        presence abjured the worship of the sun. Solomon then
        married Bilkís, but reinstated her as Queen of Sába, and
        spent three days in every month with her."

The Arabians and Persians, who have many traditions regarding Solomon,
invariably represent him as adept in necromancy, and as being intimately
acquainted with the language of beasts and birds. Josephus, the great
Jewish historian, distinctly states that Solomon possessed the art of
expelling demons, that he composed such incantations also by which
distempers are alleviated, and that he left behind him the manner of
using exorcisms, by which they drive out demons, never to return. Of
course, Josephus merely reproduces rabbinical traditions, and there can
be no doubt but the Arabian stories regarding Solomon's magical powers
are derived from the same source. It appears that Solomon's signet-ring
was the chief instrument with which he performed his numerous magical
exploits.[77] By its wondrous power he imprisoned Ashmedai, the prince
of devils; and on one occasion the king's curiosity to increase his
store of magical knowledge cost him very dear--no less than the loss of
his kingdom for a time. Solomon was in the habit of daily plying
Ashmedai with questions, to all of which the fiend returned answers,
furnishing the desired information, until one day the king asked him a
particular question which the captive evil spirit flatly refused to
answer, except on condition that Solomon should lend him his
signet-ring. The king's passion for magical knowledge overcame his
prudence, and he handed his ring to the fiend, thereby depriving himself
of all power over his captive, who immediately swallowed the monarch,
and stretching out his wings, flew up into the air, and shot out his
"inside passenger" four hundred leagues distant from Jerusalem! Ashmedai
then assumed the form of Solomon, and sat on his throne. Meanwhile
Solomon was become a wanderer on the face of the earth, and it was then
that he said (as it is written in the book of Ecclesiasticus i, 3):
"This is the reward of all my labour"; which word _this_, one learned
Rabbi affirms to have reference to Solomon's walking-staff, and another
commentator, to his ragged coat; for the poor monarch went begging from
door to door, and in every town he entered he always cried aloud: "I,
the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem!" But the people all
thought him insane. At length, in the course of his wanderings, he
reached Jerusalem, where he cried, as usual: "I, the Preacher, was king
over Israel in Jerusalem!" and as he never varied in his recital,
certain wise counsellors, reflecting that a fool is not constant in his
tale, resolved to ascertain, if possible, whether the poor beggar was
really King Solomon. With this object they assembled, and taking the
mendicant with them, they gave him the magical ring and led him into the
throne-room.[78] Ashmedai no sooner caught sight of his old master than
he shrieked wildly and flew away; and Solomon resumed his mild and
beneficent rule over the people of Israel. The Rabbis add, that ever
afterwards, even to his dying day, Solomon was afraid of the prince of
devils, and could not go to sleep without having his bed surrounded by
an armed guard, as it is written in the Book of Canticles, iii, 7, 8.

   [77] According to the Muslim legend, eight angels appeared
        before Solomon in a vision, saying that Allah had sent
        them to surrender to him power over them and the eight
        winds which were at their command. The chief of the
        angels then presented him with a jewel bearing the
        inscription: "To Allah belong greatness and might."
        Solomon had merely to raise this stone towards the
        heavens and these angels would appear, to serve him.
        Four other angels next appeared, lords of all creatures
        living on the earth and in the waters. The angel
        representing the kingdom of birds gave him a jewel on
        which were inscribed the words: "All created things
        praise the Lord." Then came an angel who gave him a
        jewel conferring on the possessor power over earth and
        sea, having inscribed on it: "Heaven and earth are
        servants of Allah." Lastly, another angel appeared and
        presented him with a jewel bearing these words (the
        formula of the Muslim Confession of Faith): "There is no
        God but _the_ God, and Muhammed is his messenger." This
        jewel gave Solomon power over the spirit-world. Solomon
        caused these four jewels to be set in a ring, and the
        first use to which he applied its magical power was to
        subdue the demons and genii.--It is perhaps hardly
        necessary to remark here, with reference to the
        fundamental doctrine of Islám, said to have been
        engraved on the fourth jewel of Solomon's ring, that
        according to the Kurán, David, Solomon, and all the
        Biblical patriarchs and prophets were good Muslims, for
        Muhammed did not profess to introduce a new religion,
        but simply to restore the original and only true faith,
        which had become corrupt.

   [78] We are not told here how the demon came to part with
        this safeguard of his power. The Muslim form of the
        legend, as will be seen presently, is much more
        consistent, and corresponds generally with another
        rabbinical version, which follows the present one.

Another account informs us that the demon, having cajoled Solomon out of
possession of his magic ring, at once flung it into the sea and cast the
king 400 miles away. Solomon came to a place called Mash Kerim, where he
was made chief cook in the palace of the king of Ammon, whose daughter,
called Naama, became enamoured of him, and they eloped to a far distant
country. As Naama was one day preparing a fish for broiling, she found
Solomon's ring in its stomach, which, of course, enabled him to recover
his kingdom and to imprison the demon in a copper vessel, which he cast
into the Lake of Tiberias.[79]

   [79] According to the Muslim version, Solomon's temporary
        degradation was in punishment for his taking as a
        concubine the daughter of an idolatrous king whom he had
        vanquished in battle, and, through her influence, bowing
        himself to "strange gods." Before going to the bath, one
        day, he gave this heathen beauty his signet to take care
        of, and in his absence the rebellious genie Sakhr,
        assuming the form of Solomon, obtained the ring. The
        king was driven forth and Sakhr ruled (or rather,
        misruled) in his stead; till the wise men of the palace,
        suspecting him to be a demon, began to read the Book of
        the Law in his presence, whereupon he flew away and cast
        the signet into the sea. In the meantime Solomon hired
        himself to some fishermen in a distant country, his
        wages being two fishes each day. He finds his signet in
        the maw of one of the fish, and so forth.

It may appear strange to some readers that the Rabbis should represent
the sagacious Solomon in the character of a practitioner of the Black
Art. But the circumstance simply indicates that Solomon's acquirements
in scientific knowledge were considerably beyond those of most men of
his age; and, as in the case of our own Friar Bacon, his superior
attainments were popularly attributed to magical arts. Nature, it need
hardly be remarked, is the only school of magic, and men of science are
the true magicians.

_Unheard-of Monsters._

The marvellous creatures which are described by Pliny, and by our own
old English writers, Sir John Mandeville and Geoffrey of Monmouth, are
common-place in comparison with some of those mentioned in the Talmud.
Even the monstrous _roc_ of the _Arabian Nights_ must have been a mere
tom-tit compared with the bird which Rabbi bar Chama says he once saw.
It was so tall that its head reached the sky, while its feet rested on
the bottom of the ocean; and he affords us some slight notion of the
depth of the sea by informing us that a carpenter's axe, which had
accidentally fallen in, had not reached the bottom in seven years. The
same Rabbi saw "a frog as large as a village containing sixty houses."
Huge as this frog was, the snake that swallowed it must have been the
very identical serpent of Scandinavian mythology, which encircled the
earth; yet a crow gobbled up this serpent, and then flew to the top of a
cedar, which was as broad as sixteen waggons placed side by
side.--Sailors' "yarns," as they are spun to marvel-loving old ladies in
our jest-books, are as nothing to the rabbinical accounts of "strange
fish," some with eyes like the moon, others horned, and 300 miles in
length. Not less wonderful are some four-footed creatures. The effigy of
the unicorn, familiar to every schoolboy, on the royal arms of Great
Britain, affords no adequate idea of the actual dimensions of that
remarkable animal. Since a unicorn one day old is as large as Mount
Tabor, it may readily be supposed that Noah could not possibly have got
a full-grown one into the ark; he therefore secured it by its horn to
the side, and thus the creature was saved alive. (The Talmudist had
forgot that the animals saved from the Flood were in pairs.)[80] The
celebrated Og, king of Bashan, it seems, was one of the antediluvians,
and was saved by riding on the back of the unicorn. The dwellers in
Brobdignag were pigmies compared with the renowned King Og, since his
footsteps were forty miles apart, and Abraham's ivory bed was made of
one of his teeth. Moses, the Rabbis tell us, was ten cubits high[81] and
his walking-stick ten cubits more, with the top of which, after jumping
ten cubits from the ground, he contrived to touch the heel of King Og;
from which it has been concluded that that monarch was from two to three
thousand cubits in height. But (remarks an English writer) a certain
Jewish traveller has shown the fallacy of this mensuration, by meeting
with the end of one of the leg-bones of the said King Og, and travelling
four hours before he came to the other end. Supposing this Rabbi to have
been a fair walker, the bone was sixteen miles long!

   [80] Is it possible that this "story" of the unicorn was
        borrowed and garbled from the ancient Hindú legend of
        the Deluge? "When the flood rose Manu embarked in the
        ship, and the fish swam towards him, and he fastened the
        ship's cable to its horn." But in the Hindú legend the
        fish (that is, Brahma in the form of a great fish) tows
        the vessel, while in the Talmudic legend the ark of Noah
        takes the unicorn in tow.

   [81] In a manuscript preserved in the Lambeth Palace Library,
        of the time of Edward IV, the height of Moses is said to
        have been "xiij. fote and viij. ynches and half"; and
        the reader may possibly find some amusement in the
        "longitude of men folowyng," from the same veracious
        work: "Cryste, vj. fote and iij. ynches. Our Lady, vj.
        fote and viij. ynches. Crystoferus, xvij. fote and viij.
        ynches. King Alysaunder, iiij. fote and v. ynches.
        Colbronde, xvij. fote and ij. ynches and half. Syr Ey.,
        x. fote iij. ynches and half. Seynt Thomas of
        Caunterbery, vij. fote, save a ynche. Long Mores, a man
        of Yrelonde borne, and servaunt to Kyng Edward the
        iiijth., vj. fote and x. ynches and half."--_Reliquæ
        Antiquæ_, vol i, p. 200.



If most of the rabbinical legends cited in the preceding sections have
served simply to amuse the general reader--though to those of a
philosophical turn they must have been suggestive of the depths of
imbecility to which the human mind may descend--the stories, apologues,
and parables contained in the Talmud, of which specimens are now to be
presented, are calculated to furnish wholesome moral instruction as well
as entertainment to readers of all ranks and ages. In the art of
conveying impressive moral lessons, by means of ingenious fictions, the
Hebrew sages have never been excelled, and perhaps they are rivalled
only by the ancient philosophers of India. The significant circumstance
has already been noticed (in the introductory section) that several of
the most striking tales in European mediæval collections--particularly
the _Disciplina Clericalis_ of Petrus Alfonsus and the famous _Gesta
Romanorum_--are traceable to Talmudic sources. Little did the
priest-ridden, ignorant, marvel-loving laity of European countries
imagine that the moral fictions which their spiritual directors recited
every Sunday for their edification were derived from the wise men of the
despised Hebrew race! But, indeed, there is reason to believe that few
mere casual readers even at the present day have any notion of the
extent to which the popular fictions of Europe are indebted to the old
Jewish Rabbis.

Like the sages of India, the Hebrew Fathers in their teachings strongly
inculcate the duty of active benevolence--the liberal giving of alms to
the poor and needy; and, indeed, the wealthy Jews are distinguished at
the present day by their open-handed liberality in support of the public
charitable institutions of the several countries of which they are
subjects. "What you increase bestow on good works," says the Hindú sage.
"Charity is to money what salt is to meat," says the Hebrew philosopher:
if the wealthy are not charitable their riches will perish. In
illustration of this maxim is the story of

_Rabbi Jochonan and the Poor Woman._

One day Rabbi Jochonan was riding outside the city of Jerusalem,
followed by his disciples, when he observed a poor woman laboriously
gathering the grain that dropped from the mouths of the horses of the
Arabs as they were feeding. Looking up and recognising Jochonan, she
cried: "O Rabbi, assist me!" "Who art thou?" demanded Jochonan. "I am
the daughter of Nakdimon, the son of Guryon." "Why, what has become of
thy father's money--the dowry thou receivedst on thy wedding day?" "Ah,
Rabbi, is there not a saying in Jerusalem, 'the salt was wanting to the
money?'" "But thy husband's money?" "That followed the other: I have
lost them both." The good Rabbi wept for the poor woman and helped her.
Then said he to his disciples, as they continued on their way: "I
remember that when I signed that woman's marriage contract her father
gave her as a dowry one million of gold dínars, and her husband was a
man of considerable wealth besides."

       *       *       *       *       *

The ill-fated riches of Nakdimon are referred to in another tale, as a
lesson to those who are not charitable according to their means:

_A Safe Investment._

Rabbi Taraphon, though a very wealthy man, was exceedingly avaricious,
and seldom gave help to the poor. Once, however, he involuntarily
bestowed a considerable sum in relieving the distressed. Rabbi Akiba
came to him one day, and told him that he knew of certain real estate,
which would be a very profitable investment. Rabbi Taraphon handed him
4000 dínars in gold to be so invested, and Rabbi Akiba forthwith
distributed the whole among the poor. By-and-by, Rabbi Taraphon,
happening to meet his friend, desired to know where the real estate was
in which his money had been invested. Rabbi Akiba took him to the
college, where he caused one of the boys to read aloud the 112th Psalm,
and on his reaching the 9th verse, "He distributeth, he giveth to the
needy, his righteousness endureth for ever"--"There," said he, "thou
seest where thy money is invested." "And why hast thou done this?"
demanded Rabbi Taraphon. "Hast thou forgotten," answered his friend,
"how Nakdimon, the son of Guryon, was punished because he gave not
according to his means?" "But why didst thou not tell me of thy purpose?
I could myself have bestowed my money on the poor." "Nay," rejoined
Rabbi Akiba, "it is a greater virtue to cause another to give than to
give one's self."

       *       *       *       *       *

Resignation to the divine will under sore family bereavements has,
perhaps, never been more beautifully illustrated than by the incident
related of the Rabbi Meir. This little tale, as follows, is one of three
Talmudic narratives which the poet Coleridge has translated:[82]

_The Jewels._

The celebrated teacher Rabbi Meir sat during the whole of the Sabbath
day in the public school instructing the people. During his absence from
the house his two sons died, both of them of uncommon beauty, and
enlightened in the law. His wife bore them to her bed-chamber, laid them
upon the marriage-bed, and spread a white covering over their bodies. In
the evening the Rabbi Meir came home. "Where are my two sons," he asked,
"that I may give them my blessing? I repeatedly looked round the school,
and I did not see them there." She reached him a goblet. He praised the
Lord at the going out of the Sabbath, drank, and again asked: "Where are
my sons, that they too may drink of the cup of blessing?" "They will not
be afar off," she said, and placed food before him that he might eat. He
was in a gladsome and genial mood, and when he had said grace after the
meal, she thus addressed him: "Rabbi, with thy permission, I would fain
propose to thee one question." "Ask it then, my love," he replied. "A
few days ago a person entrusted some jewels into my custody, and now he
demands them of me; should I give them back again?" "This is a
question," said the Rabbi, "which my wife should not have thought it
necessary to ask. What! wouldst thou hesitate or be reluctant to restore
to every one his own?" "No," she replied; "but yet I thought it best not
to restore them without acquainting you therewith." She then led him to
the chamber, and, stepping to the bed, took the white covering from the
dead bodies. "Ah, my sons--my sons!" thus loudly lamented the father.
"My sons! the light of my eyes, and the light of my understanding! I was
your father, but ye were my teachers in the law." The mother turned away
and wept bitterly. At length she took her husband by the hand, and said:
"Rabbi, didst thou not teach me that we must not be reluctant to restore
that which was entrusted to our keeping? See--'the Lord gave, the Lord
hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!'"[83] "Blessed be the
name of the Lord!" echoed Rabbi Meir. "And blessed be his name for thy
sake too, for well is it written: 'Whoso hath found a virtuous wife,
hath a greater prize than rubies; she openeth her mouth with wisdom, and
in her tongue is the law of kindness.'"[84]

   [82] _The Friend_, ed. 1850, vol. ii, p. 247.

   [83] Book of Job, i, 21.

   [84] Prov. xxxi, 10, 26.

       *       *       *       *       *

The originals of not a few of the early Italian tales are found in the
Talmud--the author of the _Cento Novelle Antiche_, Boccaccio, Sacchetti,
and other novelists having derived the groundwork of many of their
fictions from the _Gesta Romanorum_ and the _Disciplina Clericalis_ of
Peter Alfonsus, which are largely composed of tales drawn from Eastern
sources. The 123rd novel of Sacchetti, in which a young man carves a
capon in a whimsical fashion, finds its original in the following
Talmudic story:

_The Capon-Carver._

It happened that a citizen of Jerusalem, while on a distant provincial
journey on business, was suddenly taken ill, and, feeling himself to be
at the point of death, he sent for the master of the house, and desired
him to take charge of his property until his son should arrive to claim
it; but, in order to make sure that the claimant was really the son, he
was not to deliver up the property until the applicant had proved his
wisdom by performing three ingenious actions. Shortly after having given
his friend these injunctions the merchant died, and the melancholy
intelligence was duly transmitted to his son, who in the course of a few
weeks left Jerusalem to claim his property. On reaching the town where
his father's friend resided, he began to inquire of the people where his
house was situated, and, finding no one who could, or would, give him
this necessary information, the youth was in sore perplexity how to
proceed in his quest, when he observed a man carrying a heavy load of
firewood. "How much for that wood?" he cried. The man readily named his
price. "Thou shalt have it," said the stranger. "Carry it to the house
of ---- [naming his father's friend], and I will follow thee." Well
satisfied to have found a purchaser on his own terms, the man at once
proceeded as he was desired, and on arriving at the house he threw down
his load before the door. "What is all this?" demanded the master. "I
have not ordered any wood." "Perhaps not," said the man; "but the person
behind me has bought it, and desired me to bring it hither." The
stranger had now come up, and, saluting the master of the house, told
him who he was, and explained that, since he could not ascertain where
his house was situated by inquiries of people in the streets, he had
adopted this expedient, which had succeeded. The master praised the
young man's ingenuity, and led him into the house.

When the several members of the family, together with the stranger, were
assembled round the dinner-table, the master of the house, in order to
test the stranger's ingenuity, desired his guest to carve a dish
containing five chickens, and to distribute a portion to each of the
persons who were present--namely, the master and mistress, their two
daughters and two sons, and himself. The young stranger acquitted
himself of the duty in this manner: One of the chickens he divided
between the master and the mistress; another between the two daughters;
the third between the two sons; and the remaining two he took for his
own share. "This visitor of mine," thought the master, "is a curious
carver; but I will try him once more at supper."

Various amusements made the afternoon pass very agreeably to the
stranger, until supper-time, when a fine capon was placed upon the
table, which the master desired his guest to carve for the company. The
young man took the capon, and began to carve and distribute it thus: To
the master of the house he gave the head; to the mistress, the inward
part; to the two daughters, each a wing; to the two sons, each a leg;
and the remainder he took for himself. After supper the master of the
house thus addressed his visitor: "Friend, I thought thy carving at
dinner somewhat peculiar, but thy distribution of the capon this evening
seems to me extremely whimsical. Give me leave to ask, do the citizens
of Jerusalem usually carve their capons in this fashion?"

"Master," said the youth, "I will gladly explain my system of carving,
which does appear to you so strange. At dinner I was requested to divide
five chickens among seven persons. This I could not do otherwise than
arithmetically; therefore, I adopted the perfect number _three_ as my
guide--thou, thy wife, and one chicken made _three_; thy two daughters
and one chicken made _three_; thy two sons and one chicken made _three_;
and I had to take the remaining chickens for my own share, as two
chickens and myself made _three_." "Very ingenious, I must confess,"
said the master. "But how dost thou explain thy carving of the capon?"
"That, master, I performed according to what appeared to me the fitness
of things. I gave the head of the capon to thee, because thou art the
head of this house; I gave the inward part to the mistress, as typical
of her fruitfulness; thy daughters are both of marriageable years, and,
as it is natural to wish them well settled in life, I gave each of them
a wing, to indicate that they should soon fly abroad; thy two sons are
the pillars of thy house, and to them I gave the legs, which are the
supporters of the animal; while to myself I took that part of the capon
which most resembles a boat, in which I came hither, and in which I
intend to return." From these proofs of his ingenuity the master was now
fully convinced that the stranger was the true son of his late friend
the merchant, and next morning he delivered to him his father's

   [85] The droll incident of dividing the capon, besides being
        found in Sacchetti, forms part of a popular story
        current in Sicily, and is thus related in Professor
        Crane's _Italian Popular Tales_, p. 311 ff., taken from
        Prof. Comparetti's _Fiabe, Novelle, e Racconti_
        (Palermo, 1875), No. 43, "La Ragazza astuta": Once upon
        a time there was a huntsman who had a wife and two
        children, a son and a daughter; and all lived together
        in a wood where no one ever came, and so they knew
        nothing about the world. The father alone sometimes went
        to the city, and brought back the news. The king's son
        once went hunting, and lost himself in that wood, and
        while he was seeking his way it became night. He was
        weary and hungry. Imagine how he felt. But all at once
        he saw a light shining in the distance. He followed it
        and reached the huntsman's house, and asked for lodging
        and something to eat. The huntsman recognised him at
        once and said: "Highness, we have already supped on our
        best; but if we can find anything for you, you must be
        satisfied with it. What can we do? We are so far from
        the towns that we cannot procure what we need every
        day." Meanwhile he had a capon cooked for him. The
        prince did not wish to eat it alone, so he called all
        the huntsman's family, and gave the head of the capon to
        the father, the back to the mother, the legs to the son,
        and the wings to the daughter, and ate the rest himself.
        In the house there were only two beds, in the same room.
        In one the husband and wife slept, in the other the
        brother and sister. The old people went and slept in the
        stable, giving up their bed to the prince. When the girl
        saw that the prince was asleep, she said to her brother:
        "I will wager that you do not know why the prince
        divided the capon among us in the manner he did." "Do
        you know? Tell me why." "He gave the head to our father,
        because he is the head of the family; the back to our
        mother, because she has on her shoulders all the affairs
        of the house; the legs to you, because you must be quick
        in performing the errands which are given you; and the
        wings to me, to fly away and catch a husband." The
        prince pretended to be asleep, but he was awake and
        heard these words, and perceived that the girl had much
        judgment, and as she was also pretty, he fell in love
        with her [and ultimately married this clever girl].



Reverence for parents, which is still a marked characteristic of Eastern
races, has ever been strongly inculcated by the Jewish Fathers; and the
noble conduct of Damah, the son of Nethuna, towards both his father and
mother, is adduced in the Talmud as an example for all times and every
condition of life:

_A Dutiful Son._

The mother of Damah was unfortunately insane, and would frequently not
only abuse him but strike him in the presence of his companions; yet
would not this dutiful son suffer an ill word to escape his lips, and
all he used to say on such occasions was: "Enough, dear mother, enough."
One of the precious stones attached to the high priest's sacerdotal
garments was once, by some means or other, lost. Informed that the son
of Nethuna had one like it, the priests went to him and offered him a
very large price for it. He consented to take the sum offered, and went
into an adjoining room to fetch the jewel. On entering he found his
father asleep, his foot resting on the chest wherein the gem was
deposited. Without disturbing his father, he went back to the priests
and told them that he must for the present forego the large profit he
could make, as his father was asleep. The case being urgent, and the
priests thinking that he only said so to obtain a larger price, offered
him more money. "No," said he; "I would not even for a moment disturb my
father's rest for all the treasures in the world." The priests waited
till the father awoke, when Damah brought them the jewel. They gave him
the sum they had offered him the second time, but the good man refused
to take it. "I will not," said he, "barter for gold the satisfaction of
having done my duty. Give me what you offered at first, and I shall be
satisfied." This they did, and left him with a blessing.

_An Ingenious Will._

One of the best rabbinical stories of common life is of a wise man who,
residing at some distance from Jerusalem, had sent his son to the Holy
City in order to complete his education, and, dying during his son's
absence, bequeathed the whole of his estate to one of his own slaves, on
the condition that he should allow his son to select any one article
which pleased him for an inheritance. Surprised, and naturally angry, at
such gross injustice on the part of his father in preferring a slave for
his heir in place of himself, the young man sought counsel of his
teacher, who, after considering the terms of the will, thus explained
its meaning and effect: "By this action thy father has simply secured
thy inheritance to thee: to prevent his slaves from plundering the
estate before thou couldst formally claim it, he left it to one of them,
who, believing himself to be the owner, would take care of the property.
Now, what a slave possesses belongs to his master. Choose, therefore,
the slave for thy portion, and then possess all that was thy father's."
The young man followed his teacher's advice, took possession of the
slave, and thus of his father's wealth, and then gave the slave his
freedom, together with a considerable sum of money.[86]

   [86] This story seems to be the original of a French popular
        tale, in which a gentleman secures his estate for his
        son by a similar device. The gentleman, dying at Paris
        while his son was on his travels, bequeathed all his
        wealth to a convent, on condition that they should give
        his son "whatever they chose." On the son's return he
        received from the holy fathers a very trifling portion
        of the paternal estate. He complained to his friends of
        this injustice, but they all agreed that there was no
        help for it, according to the terms of his father's
        will. In his distress he laid his case before an eminent
        lawyer, who told him that his father had adopted this
        plan of leaving his estate in the hands of the churchmen
        in order to prevent its misappropriation during his
        absence. "For," said the man of law, "your father, by
        will, has left you the share of his estate which the
        convent should choose (_le partie qui leur plairoit_),
        and it is plain that what they chose was that which they
        kept for themselves. All you have to do, therefore, is
        to enter an action at law against the convent for
        recovery of that portion of your father's property which
        they have retained, and, take my word for it, you will
        be successful." The young man accordingly sued the
        churchmen and gained his cause.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now we proceed to cite one or two of the rabbinical fables, in the
proper signification of the term--namely, moral narratives in which
beasts or birds are the characters. Although it is generally allowed
that Fable was the earliest form adopted for conveying moral truths, yet
it is by no means agreed among the learned in what country of remote
antiquity it originated. Dr. Landsberger, in his erudite introduction to
_Die Fabeln des Sophos_ (1859), contends that the Jews were the first to
employ fables for purposes of moral instruction, and that the oldest
fable extant is Jotham's apologue of the trees desiring a king (Book of
Judges, ix. 8-15).[87] According to Dr. Landsberger, the sages of India
were indebted to the Hebrews for the idea of teaching by means of
fables, probably during the reign of Solomon, who is believed to have
had commerce with the western shores of India.[88] We are told by
Josephus that Solomon "composed of parables and similitudes three
thousand; for he spoke a parable upon every sort of tree, from the
hyssop to the cedar; and, in like manner, also about beasts, about all
sorts of living creatures, whether upon earth, or in the seas, or in the
air; for he was not unacquainted with any of their natures, nor omitted
inquiring about them, but described them all like a philosopher, and
demonstrated his exquisite knowledge of their several properties." These
fables of Solomon, if they were ever committed to writing, had perished
long before the time of the great Jewish historian; but there seems no
reason to doubt the fact that the wise king of Israel composed many
works besides those ascribed to him in the Old Testament. The general
opinion among European orientalists is that Fable had its origin in
India; and the Hindús themselves claim the honour of inventing our
present system of numerals (which came into Europe through the Arabians,
who derived it from the Hindús), the game of chess, and the Fables of
Vishnusarman (the _Panchatantra_ and its abridgment, the _Hitopadesa_).

   [87] But the Book of Judges was probably edited after the
        time of Hesiod, whose fable of the Hawk and the
        Nightingale (_Works and Days_, B. i, v. 260) must be
        considered as the oldest extant fable.

   [88] This theory, though perhaps somewhat ingenious, is
        generally considered as utterly untenable.

It is said that Rabbi Meir knew upwards of three hundred fables relating
to the fox alone; but of these only three fragments have been preserved,
and this is one of them, according to Mr. Polano's translation:

_The Fox and the Bear._

A Fox said to a Bear: "Come, let us go into this kitchen; they are
making preparations for the Sabbath, and we shall be able to find food."
The Bear followed the Fox, but, being bulky, he was captured and
punished. Angry thereat, he designed to tear the Fox to pieces, under
the pretence that the forefathers of the Fox had once stolen his food,
wherein occurs the saying, "the fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the
children's teeth are set on edge."[89] "Nay," said the Fox, "come with
me, my good friend; let us not quarrel. I will lead thee to another
place where we shall surely find food." The Fox then led the Bear to a
deep well, where two buckets were fastened together by a rope, like a
balance. It was night, and the Fox pointed to the moon reflected in the
water, saying: "Here is a fine cheese; let us descend and partake of
it." The Fox entered his bucket first, but being too light to balance
the weight of the Bear, he took with him a stone. As soon as the Bear
had got into the other bucket, however, the Fox threw the stone away,
and consequently the bear descended to the bottom and was drowned.

   [89] Ezekiel, xviii, 2.

       *       *       *       *       *

The reader will doubtless recognise in this fable the original of many
modern popular tales having a similar catastrophe. It will also be
observed that the vulgar saying of the moon being "a fine cheese" is of
very considerable antiquity.[90]

   [90] This wide-spread fable is found in the _Disciplina
        Clericalis_ (No. 21) and in the collection of Marie de
        France, of the 13th century; and it is one of the many
        spurious Esopic fables.

And here is another rabbinical fable of a Fox--a very common character
in the apologues of most countries; although the "moral" appended to
this one by the pious fabulist is much more striking than is sometimes
the case of those deduced from beast-fables:

_The Fox in the Garden._

A Fox once came near a very fine garden, where he beheld lofty trees
laden with fruit that charmed the eye. Such a beautiful sight, added to
his natural greediness, excited in him the desire of possession. He fain
would taste the forbidden fruit; but a high wall stood between him and
the object of his wishes. He went about in search of an entrance, and at
last found an opening in the wall, but it was too small to admit his
body. Unable to penetrate, he had recourse to his usual cunning. He
fasted three days, and became sufficiently reduced in bulk to crawl
through the small aperture. Having effected an entrance, he carelessly
roved about in this delightful region, making free with its exquisite
produce and feasting on its more rare and delicious fruits. He remained
for some time, and glutted his appetite, when a thought occurred to him
that it was possible he might be observed, and in that case he should
pay dearly for his feast. He therefore retired to the place where he had
entered, and attempted to get out, but to his great consternation he
found his endeavours vain. He had by indulgence grown so fat and plump
that the same space would no more admit him. "I am in a fine
predicament," said he to himself. "Suppose the master of the garden were
now to come and call me to account, what would become of me? I see my
only chance of escape is to fast and half starve myself." He did so with
great reluctance, and after suffering hunger for three days, he with
difficulty made his escape. As soon as he was out of danger, he took a
farewell view of the scene of his late pleasure, and said: "O garden!
thou art indeed charming, and delightful are thy fruits--delicious and
exquisite; but of what benefit art thou to me? What have I now for all
my labour and cunning? Am I not as lean as I was before?"--It is even so
with man, remarks the Talmudist. Naked he comes into the world--naked
must he go out of it, and of all his toils and labour he can carry
nothing with him save the fruits of his righteousness.

       *       *       *       *       *

From fables to parables the transition is easy; and many of those found
in the Talmud are exceedingly beautiful, and are calculated to cause
even the most thoughtless to reflect upon his way of life. Let us first
take the parable of the Desolate Island, one of those adapted by the
monkish compilers of European mediæval tales, to which reference has
been made in the preceding sections:

_The Desolate Island._

A very wealthy man, who was of a kind, benevolent disposition, desired
to make his slave happy. He therefore gave him his freedom, and
presented him with a shipload of merchandise. "Go," said he, "sail to
different countries; dispose of these goods, and that which thou mayest
receive for them shall be thy own." The slave sailed away upon the broad
ocean, but before he had been long on his voyage a storm overtook him,
his ship was driven on a rock and went to pieces; all on board were
lost--all save this slave, who swam to an island near by. Sad,
despondent, with nothing in this world, he traversed this island until
he approached a large and beautiful city, and many people approached
him, joyously shouting: "Welcome! welcome! Long live the king!" They
brought a rich carriage, and, placing him therein, escorted him to a
magnificent palace, where many servants gathered about him--clothing him
in royal garments, and addressing him as their sovereign, and expressing
their obedience to his will. The slave was amazed and dazzled, believing
that he was dreaming, and that all he saw, heard, and experienced was
mere passing fantasy. Becoming convinced of the reality of his
condition, he said to some men about him, for whom he entertained a
friendly feeling: "How is this? I cannot understand it. That you should
thus elevate and honour a man whom you know not--a poor, naked wanderer,
whom you have never seen before--making him your ruler--causes me more
wonder than I can readily express." "Sire," they replied, "this island
is inhabited by spirits. Long since they prayed to God to send them
yearly a son of man to reign over them, and he has answered their
prayers. Yearly he sends them a son of man, whom they receive with
honour and elevate to the throne; but his dignity and power end with the
year. With its close the royal garments are taken from him, he is placed
on board a ship, and carried to a vast and desolate island, where,
unless he has previously been wise and prepared for the day, he will
find neither friend nor subject, and be obliged to pass a weary, lonely,
miserable life. Then a new king is selected here, and so year follows
year. The kings who preceded thee were careless and indifferent,
enjoying their power to the full, and thinking not of the day when it
should end. Be wise, then. Let our words find rest within thy heart."
The newly-made king listened attentively to all this, and felt grieved
that he should have lost even the time he had already spent for making
preparations for his loss of power. He addressed the wise man who had
spoken, saying: "Advise me, O spirit of wisdom, how I may prepare for
the days which will come upon me in the future." "Naked thou camest to
us," replied the other, "and naked thou wilt be sent to the desolate
island, of which I have told thee. At present thou art king, and mayest
do as pleaseth thee; therefore, send workmen to this island, let them
build houses, till the ground, and beautify the surroundings. The barren
soil will be changed into fruitful fields, people will journey thither
to live, and thou wilt have established a new kingdom for thyself, with
subjects to welcome thee in gladness when thou shalt have lost thy power
here. The year is short, the work is long; therefore be earnest and
energetic." The king followed this advice. He sent workmen and materials
to the desolate island, and before the close of his temporary power it
had become a blooming, pleasant, and attractive spot. The rulers who had
preceded him had anticipated the close of their power with dread, or
smothered all thought of it in revelry; but he looked forward to it as a
day of joy, when he should enter upon a career of permanent peace and
happiness. The day came; the freed slave who had been made a king was
deprived of his authority; with his power he lost his royal garments;
naked he was placed upon a ship, and its sails were set for the desolate
island. When he approached its shores, however, the people whom he had
sent there came to meet him with music, song, and great joy. They made
him a prince among them, and he lived ever after in pleasantness and

The Talmudist thus explains this beautiful parable of the Desolate
Island: The wealthy man of kindly disposition is God, and the slave to
whom he gave freedom is the soul which he gives to man. The island at
which the slave arrives is the world: naked and weeping he appears to
his parents, who are the inhabitants that greet him warmly and make him
their king. The friends who tell him of the ways of the country are his
good inclinations. The year of his reign is his span of life, and the
desolate island is the future world, which he must beautify by good
deeds--the workmen and materials--or else live lonely and desolate for

   [91] This is similar to the 10th parable in the spiritual
        romance of Barlaam and Joasaph, written in Greek,
        probably in the first half of the 7th century, and
        ascribed to a monk called John of Damascus. Most of the
        matter comprised in this interesting work (which has not
        been translated into English) was taken from well-known
        Buddhist sources, and M. Zotenberg and other eminent
        scholars are of the opinion that it was first composed,
        probably in Egypt, before the promulgation of Islám. The
        10th parable is to this effect: The citizens of a
        certain great city had an ancient custom, to take a
        stranger and obscure man, who knew nothing of the city's
        laws and traditions, and to make him king with absolute
        power for a year's space; then to rise against him all
        unawares, while he, all thoughtless, was revelling and
        squandering and deeming the kingdom his for ever; and
        stripping off his royal robes, lead him naked in
        procession through the city, and banish him to a
        long-uninhabited and great island, where, worn down for
        want of food and raiment, he bewailed this unexpected
        change. Now, according to this custom, a man was chosen
        whose mind was furnished with much understanding, who
        was not led away by sudden prosperity, and was
        thoughtful and earnest in soul as to how he should best
        order his affairs. By close questioning, he learned from
        a wise counsellor the citizens' custom, and the place of
        exile, and was instructed how he might secure himself.
        When he knew this, and that he must soon go to the
        island and leave his acquired and alien kingdom to
        others, he opened the treasures of which he had for the
        time free and unrestricted use, and took an abundant
        quantity of gold and silver and precious stones, and
        giving them to some trusty servants sent them before him
        to the island. At the appointed year's end the citizens
        rose and sent him naked into exile, like those before
        him. But the other foolish and flitting kings had
        perished miserably of hunger, while he who had laid up
        that treasure beforehand lived in lusty abundance and
        delight, fearless of the turbulent citizens, and
        felicitating himself on his wise forethought. Think,
        then, the city this vain and deceitful world, the
        citizens the principalities and powers of the demons,
        who lure us with the bait of pleasure, and make us
        believe enjoyment will last for ever, till the sudden
        peril of death is upon us.--This parable (which seems to
        be of purely Hebrew origin) is also found in the old
        Spanish story-book _El Conde Lucanor_.

Closely allied to the foregoing is the characteristic Jewish parable of

_The Man and his Three Friends._

A certain man had three friends, two of whom he loved dearly, but the
other he lightly esteemed. It happened one day that the king commanded
his presence at court, at which he was greatly alarmed, and wished to
procure an advocate. Accordingly he went to the two friends whom he
loved: one flatly refused to accompany him, the other offered to go with
him as far as the king's gate, but no farther. In his extremity he
called upon the third friend, whom he least esteemed, and he not only
went willingly with him, but so ably defended him before the king that
he was acquitted. In like manner, says the Talmudist, every man has
three friends when Death summons him to appear before his Creator. His
first friend, whom he loves most, namely, his _money_, cannot go with
him a single step; his second, _relations_ and _neighbours_, can only
accompany him to the grave, but cannot defend him before the Judge;
while his third friend, whom he does not highly esteem, the _law_ and
his _good works_, goes with him before the king, and obtains his

   [92] This is the 9th parable in the romance of Barlaam and
        Joasaph, where it is told without any variation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Another striking and impressive parable akin to the two immediately
preceding is this of

_The Garments._

A king distributed amongst his servants various costly garments. Now
some of these servants were wise and some were foolish. And those that
were wise said to themselves: "The king may call again for the garments;
let us therefore take care they do not get soiled." But the fools took
no manner of care of theirs, and did all sorts of work in them, so that
they became full of spots and grease. Some time afterwards the king
called for the garments. The wise servants brought theirs clean and
neat, but the foolish servants brought theirs in a sad state, ragged and
unclean. The king was pleased with the first, and said: "Let the clean
garments be placed in the treasury, and let their keepers depart in
peace. As for the unclean garments, they must be washed and purified,
and their foolish keepers must be cast into prison."--This parable is
designed to illustrate the passage in Eccles., xii, 7, "Then shall the
dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto
God, who gave it"; which words "teach us to remember that God gave us
the soul in a state of innocence and purity, and that it is therefore
our duty to return it unto him in the same state as he gave it unto
us--pure and undefiled."

_Solomon's Choice_

of Wisdom, in preference to all other precious things, is thus finely
illustrated: A certain king had an officer whom he fondly loved. One day
he desired his favourite to choose anything that he could give, and it
would at once be granted him. The officer considered that if he asked
the king for gold and silver and precious stones, these would be given
him in abundance; then he thought that if he had a more exalted station
it would be granted; at last he resolved to ask the king for his
daughter, since with such a bride both riches and honours would also be
his. In like manner did Solomon pray, "Give thy servant an understanding
heart," when the Lord said to him, "What shall I give thee?" (1st Kings,
iii, 5, 9.)

But perhaps the most beautiful and touching of all the Talmudic parables
is the following (Polano's version), in which Israel is likened to a
bride, waiting sadly, yet hopefully, for the coming of her spouse:

_Bride and Bridegroom._

There was once a man who pledged his dearest faith to a maiden beautiful
and true. For a time all passed pleasantly, and the maiden lived in
happiness. But then the man was called from her side, and he left her.
Long she waited, but still he did not return. Friends pitied her, and
rivals mocked her; tauntingly they pointed to her and said: "He has left
thee, and will never come back." The maiden sought her chamber, and read
in secret the letters which her lover had written to her--the letters in
which he promised to be ever faithful, ever true. Weeping, she read
them, but they brought comfort to her heart; she dried her eyes and
doubted not. A joyous day dawned for her: the man she loved returned,
and when he learned that others had doubted, while she had not, he asked
her how she had preserved her faith; and she showed his letters to him,
declaring her eternal trust. [In like manner] Israel, in misery and
captivity, was mocked by the nations; her hopes of redemption were made
a laughing-stock; her sages scoffed at; her holy men derided. Into her
synagogues, into her schools, went Israel. She read the letters which
her God had written, and believed in the holy promises which they
contained. God will in time redeem her; and when he says: "How could you
alone be faithful of all the mocking nations?" she will point to the law
and answer: "Had not thy law been my delight, I should long since have
perished in my affliction."[93]

   [93] Psalm cxix, 92.--By the way, it is probably known to
        most readers that the twenty-two sections into which
        this grand poem is divided are named after the letters
        of the Hebrew alphabet; but from the translation given
        in our English Bible no one could infer that in the
        original every one of the eight verses in each section
        begins with the letter after which it is named, thus
        forming a very long acrostic.

       *       *       *       *       *

In the account of the Call of Abraham given in the Book of Genesis, xii,
1-3, we are not told that his people were all idolaters; but in the Book
of Joshua, xxiv, 1-2, it is said that the great successor of Moses, when
he had "waxed old and was stricken with age," assembled the tribes of
Israel, at Shechem, and said to the people: "Your fathers dwelt on the
other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham
and the father of Nachor; and they served other gods." The sacred
narrative does not state the circumstances which induced Abraham to turn
away from the worship of false deities, but the information is furnished
by the Talmudists--possibly from ancient oral tradition--in this
interesting tale of

_Abraham and the Idols._

Abraham's father Terah, who dwelt in Ur of the Chaldees, was not only an
idolater, but a maker of idols. Having occasion to go a journey of some
distance, he instructed Abraham how to conduct the business of
idol-selling during his absence. The future founder of the Hebrew
nation, however, had already obtained a knowledge of the true and living
God, and consequently held the practice of idolatry in the utmost
abhorrence. Accordingly, whenever any one came to buy an idol Abraham
inquired his age, and upon his answering, "I am fifty (or sixty) years
old," he would exclaim, "Woe to the man of fifty who would worship the
work of man's hands!" and his father's customers went away shamefaced at
the rebuke. But, not content with this mode of showing his contempt for
idolatry, Abraham resolved to bring matters to a crisis before his
father returned home; and an opportunity was presented for his purpose
one day when a woman came to Terah's house with a bowl of fine flour,
which she desired Abraham to place as a votive offering before the
idols. Instead of doing this, however, Abraham took a hammer and broke
all the idols into fragments excepting the largest, into whose hands he
then placed the hammer. On Terah's return he discovered the destruction
of his idols, and angrily demanded of Abraham, who had done the
mischief. "There came hither a woman," replied Abraham, "with a bowl of
fine flour, which, as she desired, I set before the gods, whereupon they
disputed among themselves who should eat first, and the tallest god
broke all the rest into pieces with the hammer." "What fable is this
thou art telling me?" exclaimed Terah. "As for the god thou speakest of,
is he not the work of my own hands?' Did I not carve him out of the
timber of the tree which I cut down in the wilderness? How, then, could
he have done this evil? Verily _thou_ hast broken my idols!" "Consider,
my father," said Abraham, "what it is thou sayest--that I am capable of
destroying the gods which thou dost worship!" Then Terah took and
delivered him to Nimrod, who said to Abraham: "Let us worship the fire."
To which Abraham replied: "Rather the water that quenches the fire."
"Well, the water." "Rather the cloud which carries the water." "Well,
the cloud." "Rather the wind that scatters the cloud." "Well, the wind."
"Rather man, for he endures the wind." "Thou art a babbler!" exclaimed
Nimrod. "I worship the fire, and will cast thee into it. Perchance the
God whom thou dost adore will deliver thee from thence." Abraham was
accordingly thrown into a heated furnace, but God saved him.[94]

   [94] After Abraham had walked to and fro unscathed amidst the
        fierce flames for three days, the faggots were suddenly
        transformed into a blooming garden of roses and
        fruit-trees and odoriferous plants.--This legend is
        introduced into the Kurán, and Muslim writers, when they
        expatiate on the almighty power of Allah, seldom omit to
        make reference to Nimrod's flaming furnace being turned
        into a bed of roses.

       *       *       *       *       *

Alexander the Great is said to have wept because there were no more
worlds for him to conquer; and truly says the sage Hebrew King, "The
grave and destruction can never have enough, nor are the eyes of man
ever satisfied" (Prov. xxvii, 20), a sentiment which the following tale,
or parable, is designed to exemplify:

_The Vanity of Ambition._

Pursuing his journey through dreary deserts and uncultivated ground,
Alexander came at last to a small rivulet, whose waters glided
peacefully along their shelving banks. Its smooth, unruffled surface was
the image of contentment, and seemed in its silence to say, "This is the
abode of tranquility." All was still: not a sound was heard save soft
murmuring tones which seemed to whisper in the ear of the weary
traveller, "Come, and partake of nature's bounty," and to complain that
such an offer should be made in vain. To a contemplative mind, such a
scene might have suggested a thousand delightful reflections. But what
charms could it have for the soul of Alexander, whose breast was filled
with schemes of ambition and conquest; whose eye was familiarised with
rapine and slaughter; and whose ears were accustomed to the clash of
arms--to the groans of the wounded and the dying? Onward, therefore, he
marched. Yet, overcome by fatigue and hunger, he was soon obliged to
halt. He seated himself on the bank of the river, took a draught of the
water, which he found of a very fine flavour and most refreshing. He
then ordered some salt fish, with which he was well provided, to be
brought to him. These he caused to be dipped in the stream, in order to
take off the briny taste, and was greatly surprised to find them emit a
fine fragrance. "Surely," said he, "this river, which possesses such
uncommon qualities, must flow from some very rich and happy country."

Following the course of the river, he at length arrived at the gates of
Paradise. The gates were shut. He knocked, and, with his usual
impetuosity, demanded admittance. "Thou canst not be admitted here,"
exclaimed a voice from within; "this gate is the Lord's." "I am the
Lord--the Lord of the earth," rejoined the impatient chief. "I am
Alexander the Conqueror. Will you not admit _me_?" "No," was the answer;
"here we know of no conquerors, save such as conquer their passions:
_None but the just can enter here_." Alexander endeavoured in vain to
enter the abode of the blessed--neither entreaties nor menaces availed.
Seeing all his attempts fruitless, he addressed himself to the guardian
of Paradise, and said: "You know I am a great king, who has received the
homage of nations. Since you will not admit me, give me at least some
token that I may show an astonished world that I have been where no
mortal has ever been before me." "Here, madman," said the guardian of
Paradise--"here is something for thee. It may cure the maladies of thy
distempered soul. One glance at it may teach thee more wisdom than thou
hast hitherto derived from all thy former instructors. Now go thy ways."

Alexander took the present with avidity, and repaired to his tent. But
what was his confusion and surprise to find, on examining his present,
that it was nothing but a fragment of a human skull. "And is this,"
exclaimed he, "the mighty gift that they bestow on kings and heroes? Is
this the fruit of so much toil and danger and care?" Enraged and
disappointed, he threw it on the ground. "Great king," said one of the
learned men who were present, "do not despise this gift. Contemptible as
it may appear in thine eyes, it yet possesses some extraordinary
qualities, of which thou mayest soon be convinced, if thou wilt but
cause it to be weighed against gold or silver." Alexander ordered this
to be done. A pair of scales were brought. The skull was placed in one,
a quantity of gold in the other; when, to the astonishment of the
beholders, the skull over-balanced the gold. More gold was added, yet
still the skull preponderated. In short, the more gold there was put in
the one scale the lower sank that which contained the skull. "Strange,"
exclaimed Alexander, "that so small a portion of matter should outweigh
so large a mass of gold! Is there nothing that will counterpoise it?"
"Yes," answered the philosophers, "a very little matter will do it."
They then took some earth and covered the skull with it, when
immediately down went the gold, and the opposite scale ascended. "This
is very extraordinary," said Alexander, astonished. "Can you explain
this phenomenon?" "Great king," said the sages, "this fragment is the
socket of a human eye, which, though small in compass, is yet unbounded
in its desires. The more it has, the more it craves. Neither gold nor
silver nor any other earthly possession can ever satisfy it. But when it
is once laid in the grave and covered with a little earth, there is an
end to its lust and ambition."

       *       *       *       *       *

Shakspeare's well-known masterly description of the Seven Ages of Man,
which he puts into the mouth of the melancholy Jaques (_As You Like It_,
ii, 7), was anticipated by Rabbi Simon, the son of Eliezer, in this
Talmudic description of

_The Seven Stages of Human Life._

Seven times in one verse did the author of Ecclesiastes make use of the
word _vanity_, in allusion to the seven stages of human life.[95]

   [95] Eccles., i, 2. The word Vanity (remarks Hurwitz, the
        translator) occurs twice in the plural, which the Rabbi
        considered as equivalent to four, and three times in the
        singular, making altogether _seven_.

The first commences in the first year of human existence, when the
_infant_ lies like a king on a soft couch, with numerous attendants
about him, all ready to serve him, and eager to testify their love and
attachment by kisses and embraces.

The second commences about the age of two or three years, when the
darling _child_ is permitted to crawl on the ground, and, like an
unclean animal, delights in dirt and filth.

Then at the age of ten, the thoughtless _boy_, without reflecting on the
past or caring for the future, jumps and skips about like a young kid on
the enamelled green, contented to enjoy the present moment.

The fourth stage begins about the age of twenty, when the _young man_,
full of vanity and pride, begins to set off his person by dress; and,
like a young unbroken horse, prances and gallops about in search of a

Then comes the _matrimonial state_, when the poor _man_, like a patient
ass, is obliged, however reluctantly, to toil and labour for a living.

Behold him now in the _parental state_, when surrounded by helpless
children craving his support and looking to him for bread. He is as
bold, as vigilant, and as fawning, too, as the faithful dog; guarding
his little flock, and snatching at everything that comes in his way, in
order to provide for his offspring.

At last comes the final stage, when the decrepit _old man_, like the
unwieldy though most sagacious elephant, becomes grave, sedate, and
distrustful. He then also begins to hang down his head towards the
ground, as if surveying the place where all his vast schemes must
terminate, and where ambition and vanity are finally humbled to the

       *       *       *       *       *

But the Talmudist, in his turn, was forestalled by Bhartrihari, an
ancient Hindú sage, one of whose three hundred apothegms has been thus
rendered into English by Sir Monier Williams:

  Now for a little while a child; and now
  An amorous youth; then for a season turned
  Into a wealthy householder; then, stripped
  Of all his riches, with decrepit limbs
  And wrinkled frame, man creeps towards the end
  Of life's erratic course; and, like an actor,
  Passes behind Death's curtain out of view.

Here, however, the Indian philosopher describes human life as consisting
of only four scenes; but, like our own Shakspeare, he compares the world
to a stage and man to a player. An epigram preserved in the _Anthologia_
also likens the world to a theatre and human life to a drama:

  This life a theatre we well may call,
    Where every actor must perform with art;
  Or laugh it through, and make a farce of all,
    Or learn to bear with grace a tragic part.

It is surely both instructive and interesting thus to discover
resemblances in thought and expression in the writings of men of
comprehensive intellect, who lived in countries and in times far apart.



"Concise sentences," says Bacon, "like darts, fly abroad and make
impressions, while long discourses are flat things, and not regarded."
And Seneca has remarked that "even rude and uncultivated minds are
struck, as it were, with those short but weighty sentences which
anticipate all reasoning by flashing truths upon them at once." Wise men
in all ages seem to have been fully aware of the advantage of condensing
into pithy sentences the results of their observations of the course of
human life; and the following selection of sayings of the Jewish
Fathers, taken from the _Pirke Aboth_ (the 41st treatise of the Talmud,
compiled by Nathan of Babylon, A.D. 200), and other sources, will be
found to be quite as sagacious as the aphorisms of the most celebrated
philosophers of India and Greece:

This world is like an ante-chamber in comparison with the world to come;
prepare thyself in the ante-chamber, therefore, that thou mayest enter
into the dining-room.

Be humble to a superior, and affable to an inferior, and receive all men
with cheerfulness.

Be not scornful to any, nor be opposed to all things; for there is no
man that hath not his hour, nor is there anything which hath not its

Attempt not to appease thy neighbour in the time of his anger, nor
comfort him in the time when his dead is lying before him, nor ask of
him in the time of his vowing, nor desire to see him in the time of his

   [96] "Do not," says Nakhshabí, "try to move by persuasion the
        soul that is afflicted with grief. The heart that is
        overwhelmed with the billows of sorrow will, by slow
        degrees, return to itself."

Hold no man responsible for his utterances in times of grief.

Who gains wisdom? He who is willing to receive instruction from all
sources. Who is rich? He who is content with his lot. Who is deserving
of honour? He who honoureth mankind. Who is the mighty man? He who
subdueth his temper.[97]

   [97] "He who subdueth his temper is a mighty man," says the
        Talmudist; and Solomon had said so before him: "He that
        is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that
        ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city" (Prov.
        xvi, 32). A curious parallel to these words is found in
        an ancient Buddhistic work, entitled _Buddha's
        Dhammapada_, or Path of Virtue, as follows: "If one man
        conquer in battle a thousand times a thousand men, and
        if another conquer himself, he is the greatest of
        conquerors." (Professor Max Müller's translation,
        prefixed to _Buddhagosha's Parables_, translated by
        Captain Rogers.)

When a liar speaks the truth, he finds his punishment in being generally

The physician who prescribes gratuitously gives a worthless

He who hardens his heart with pride softens his brains with the same.

The day is short, the labour vast; but the labourers are still slothful,
though the reward is great, and the Master presseth for despatch.[98]

   [98] Cf. Saádí, _ante_, page 41, "Life is snow," etc.

He who teacheth a child is like one who writeth on new paper; and he who
teacheth old people is like one who writeth on blotted paper.[99]

   [99] Locke was anticipated not only by the Talmudist, as
        above, but long before him by Aristotle, who termed the
        infant soul _tabula rasa_, which was in all likelihood
        borrowed by the author of the Persian work on the
        practical philosophy of the Muhammedans, entitled
        _Akhlák-i-Jalaly_, who says: "The minds of children are
        like a clear tablet, equally open to all inscriptions."

First learn and then teach.

Teach thy tongue to say, "I do not know."

The birds of the air despise a miser.

If thy goods sell not in one city, take them to another.

Victuals prepared by many cooks will be neither cold nor hot.[100]

  [100] Too many cooks spoil the broth.--_English Proverb_.

Two pieces of money in a large jar make more noise than a hundred.[101]

  [101] Two farthings and a thimble
        In a tailor's pocket make a jingle.--_English Saying_.

Into the well which supplies thee with water cast no stones.[102]

  [102] "Don't speak ill of the bridge that bore you safe over
        the stream" seems to be the European equivalent.

When love is intense, both find room enough upon one bench; afterwards,
they may find themselves cramped in a space of sixty cubits.[103]

  [103] Python, of Byzantium, was a very corpulent man. He once
        said to the citizens, in addressing them to make friends
        after a political dispute: "Gentlemen, you see how stout
        I am. Well, I have a wife at home who is still stouter.
        Now, when we are good friends, we can sit together on a
        very small couch; but when we quarrel, I do assure you,
        the whole house cannot contain us."--_Athenæus_, xii.

The place honours not the man; it is the man who gives honour to the

Few are they who see their own faults.[104]

  [104] Compare Burns:

          O wad some power the giftie gie us
          To see oursels as ithers see us!

Thy friend has a friend, and thy friend's friend has a friend: be

  [105] See the Persian aphorisms on revealing secrets, _ante_,
        p. 48.--Burns, in his "Epistle to a Young Friend," says:

          Aye free aff hand your story tell
            When wi' a bosom crony,
          But still keep something to yoursel'
            Ye scarcely tell to ony.

Poverty sits as gracefully upon some people as a red saddle upon a white

Rather be thou the tail among lions than the head among foxes.[106]

  [106] The very reverse of our English proverb, "Better to be
        the head of the commonalty than the tail of the gentry."

The thief who finds no opportunity to steal considers himself an honest

Use thy noble vase to-day, for to-morrow it may perchance be broken.

Descend a step in choosing thy wife; ascend a step in choosing thy

A myrtle even in the dust remains a myrtle.[107]

  [107] Saádí has the same sentiment in his _Gulislán_--see
        _ante_, p. 49.

Every one whose wisdom exceedeth his deeds, to what is he like? To a
tree whose branches are many and its roots few; and the wind cometh and
plucketh it up, and overturneth it on its face.[108]

  [108] See also Saádí's aphorisms on precept and practice,
        _ante_, p. 47.

If a word spoken in time be worth one piece of money, silence in its
place is worth two.[109]

  [109] Here we have a variant of Thomas Carlyle's favourite
        maxim, "Speech is silvern; silence is golden."

Silence is the fence round wisdom.[110]

  [110] "Nothing is so good for an ignorant man as silence; and
        if he were sensible of this he would not be

A saying ascribed to Esop has been frequently cited with admiration. The
sage Chilo asked Esop what God was doing, and he answered that he was
"depressing the proud and exalting the humble." A parallel to this is
presented in the answer of Rabbi Jose to a woman who asked him what God
had been doing since the creation: "He makes ladders on which he causes
the poor to ascend and the rich to descend," in other words, exalts the
lowly and humbles the haughty.

       *       *       *       *       *

The lucid explanation of the expression, "I, God, am a jealous God,"
given by a Rabbi, has been thus elegantly translated by Coleridge:[111]

  [111] _The Friend_, ed. 1850, vol. ii, p. 249.

"Your God," said a heathen philosopher to a Hebrew Rabbi, "in his Book
calls himself a jealous God, who can endure no other god besides
himself, and on all occasions makes manifest his abhorrence of idolatry.
How comes it, then, that he threatens and seems to hate the worshippers
of false gods more than the false gods themselves?"

"A certain king," said the Rabbi, "had a disobedient son. Among other
worthless tricks of various kinds, he had the baseness to give his dogs
his father's names and titles. Should the king show anger with the
prince or his dogs?"

"Well-turned," replied the philosopher; but if God destroyed the objects
of idolatry, he would take away the temptation to it."

"Yea," retorted the Rabbi; "if the fools worshipped such things only as
were of no farther use than that to which their folly applied them--if
the idol were always as worthless as the idolatry is contemptible. But
they worship the sun, the moon, the host of heaven, the rivers, the sea,
fire, air, and what not. Would you that the Creator, for the sake of
those fools, should ruin his own works, and disturb the laws applied to
nature by his own wisdom? If a man steal grain and sow it, should the
seed not shoot up out of the earth because it was stolen? O no! The wise
Creator lets nature run its own course, for its course is his own
appointment. And what if the children of folly abuse it to evil? The day
of reckoning is not far off, and men will then learn that human actions
likewise reappear in their consequences by as certain a law as that
which causes the green blade to rise up out of the buried cornfield."

       *       *       *       *       *

Not less conclusive was the form of illustration employed by Rabbi
Joshuah in answer to the emperor Trajan. "You teach," said Trajan, "that
your God is everywhere. I should like to see him." "God's presence,"
replied the Rabbi, "is indeed everywhere, but he cannot be seen. No
mortal can behold his glory." Trajan repeated his demand. "Well," said
the Rabbi, "suppose we try, in the first place, to look at one of his
ambassadors." The emperor consented, and Joshuah took him into the open
air, and desired him to look at the sun in its meridian splendour. "I
cannot," said Trajan; "the light dazzles me." "Thou canst not endure the
light of one of his creatures," said the Rabbi, "yet dost thou expect to
behold the effulgent glory of the Creator!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Our selections from the sayings of the Hebrew Fathers might be largely
extended, but we shall conclude them with the following: A Rabbi, being
asked why God dealt out manna to the Israelites day by day, instead of
giving them a supply sufficient for a year, or more, answered by a
parable to this effect: There was once a king who gave a certain yearly
allowance to his son, whom he saw, in consequence, but once a year, when
he came to receive it; so the king changed his plan, and paid him his
allowance daily, and thus had the pleasure of seeing his son each day.
And so with the manna: had God given the people a supply for a year they
would have forgotten their divine benefactor, but by sending them each
day the requisite quantity, they had God constantly in their minds.

       *       *       *       *       *

There can be no doubt that the Rabbis derived the materials of many of
their legends and tales of Biblical characters from foreign sources; but
their beautiful moral stories and parables, which "hide a rich truth in
a tale's pretence," are probably for the most part of their own
invention; and the fact that the Talmud was partially, if not wholly,
translated into Arabic shortly after the settlement of the Moors in
Spain sufficiently accounts for the early introduction of rabbinical
legends into Muhammedan works, apart from those found in the Kurán.



In the apocryphal Revelation of Moses, which appears to be of Rabbinical
extraction, Adam, when near his end, informs his sons; that, because of
his transgression, God had laid upon his body seventy strokes, or
plagues. The trouble of the first stroke was injury to the eyes; the
trouble of the second stroke, of the hearing; and so on, in succession,
all the strokes should overtake him. And Adam, thus speaking to his
sons, groaned out loud, and said, "What shall I do? I am in great
grief." And Eve also wept, saying: "My lord Adam, arise; give me the
half of thy disease, and let me bear it, because through me this has
happened to thee; through me thou art in distresses and troubles." And
Adam said to Eve: "Arise, and go with our son Seth near Paradise, and
put earth upon your heads, and weep, beseeching the Lord that he may
have compassion upon me, and send his angel to Paradise, and give me of
the tree out of which flows the oil, that thou mayest bring it unto me;
and I shall anoint myself and have rest, and show thee the manner in
which we were deceived at first."... And Seth went with his mother Eve
near Paradise, and they wept there, beseeching God to send his angel to
give them the Oil of Compassion. And God sent to them the archangel
Michael, who said to them these words: "Seth, man of God, do not weary
thyself praying in this supplication about the tree from which flows the
oil to anoint thy father Adam; for it will not happen to thee now, but
at the last times.... Do thou again go to thy father, since the measure
of his life is fulfilled, saving three days."

The Revelation, or Apocalypse, of Moses, remarks Mr. Alex. Walker (from
whose translation the foregoing is extracted: _Apocryphal Gospels, Acts,
and Revelations_, 1870), "belongs rather to the Old Testament than to
the New. We have been unable to find in it any reference to any
Christian writing. In its form, too, it appears to be a portion of some
larger work. Parts of it at least are of an ancient date, as it is very
likely from this source that the celebrated legend of the Tree of Life
and the Oil of Mercy was derived"--an account of which, from the German
of Dr. Piper, is given in the _Journal of Sacred Literature_, October,
1864, vol. vi (N.S.), p. 30 ff.


When "our first parents" were expelled from Paradise, Adam fell upon the
mountain in Ceylon which still retains his name ("Adam's Peak"), while
Eve descended at Júddah, which is the port of Mecca, in Arabia. Seated
on the pinnacle of the highest mountain in Ceylon, with the orisons of
the angelic choirs still vibrating in his ears, the fallen progenitor of
the human race had sufficient leisure to bewail his guilt, forbearing
all food and sustenance for the space of forty days.[112] But Allah,
whose mercy ever surpasses his indignation, and who sought not the death
of the wretched penitent, then despatched to his relief the angel
Gabriel, who presented him with a quantity of wheat, taken from that
fatal tree[113] for which he had defied the wrath of his Creator, with
the information that it was to be for food to him and to his children.
At the same time he was directed to set it in the earth, and afterwards
to grind it into flour. Adam obeyed, for it was part of his penalty that
he should toil for sustenance; and the same day the corn sprang up and
arrived at maturity, thus affording him an immediate resource against
the evils of hunger and famine. For the benevolent archangel did not
quit him until he had farther taught him how to construct a mill on the
side of the mountain, to grind his corn, and also how to convert the
flour into dough and bake it into bread.

  [112] The number Forty occurs very frequently in the Bible
        (especially the Old Testament) in connection with
        important events, and also in Asiatic tales. It is, in
        fact, regarded with peculiar veneration alike by Jews
        and Muhammedans. See notes to my _Group of Eastern
        Romances and Stories_ (1889), pp. 140 and 456.

  [113] The "fruit of the forbidden tree" was not an apple, as
        we Westerns fondly believe, but _wheat_, say the Muslim

With regard to the forlorn associate of his guilt, from whom a long and
painful separation constituted another article in the punishment of his
disobedience, it is briefly related that, experiencing also for the
first time the craving of hunger, she instinctively dipped her hand into
the sea and brought out a fish, and laying it on a rock in the sun, thus
prepared her first meal in this her state of despair and destitution.

Adam continued to deplore his guilt on the mountain for a period of one
hundred years, and it is said that from his tears, with which he
moistened the earth during this interval of remorse, there grew up that
useful variety of plants and herbs which in after times by their
medicinal qualities served to alleviate the afflictions of the human
race; and to this circumstance is to be ascribed the fact that the most
useful drugs in the _materia medica_ continue to this day to be supplied
from the peninsula of India and the adjoining islands. The angel Gabriel
had now tamed the wild ox of the field, and Allah himself had discovered
to Adam in the caverns of the same mountain that most important of
minerals, iron, which he soon learned to fashion into a variety of
articles necessary to the successful prosecution of his increasing
labours. At the termination of one hundred years, consumed in toil and
sorrow, Adam having been instructed by the angel Gabriel in a
penitential formula by which he might hope yet to conciliate Allah, the
justice of Heaven was satisfied, and his repentance was finally accepted
by the Most High. The joy of Adam was now as intense as his previous
sorrow had been extreme, and another century passed, during which the
tears with which Adam--from very different emotions--now bedewed the
earth were not less effectual in producing every species of fragrant and
aromatic flower and shrub, to delight the eye and gratify the sense of
smell by their odours, than they were formerly in the generation of
medicinal plants to assuage the sufferings of humanity.

Tradition has ascribed to Adam a stature so stupendous that when he
stood or walked his forehead brushed the skies; and it is stated that he
thus partook in the converse of the angels, even after his fall. But
this, by perpetually holding to his view the happiness which he had
lost, instead of alleviating, contributed in a great degree to aggravate
his misery, and to deprive him of all repose upon earth. Allah,
therefore, in pity of his sufferings, shortened his stature to one
hundred cubits, so that the harmony of the celestial hosts should no
longer reach his ear.

Then Allah caused to be raised up for Adam a magnificent pavilion, or
temple, constructed entirely of rubies, on the spot which is now
occupied by the sacred Kaába at Mecca, and which is in the centre of the
earth and immediately beneath the throne of Allah. The forlorn Eve--whom
Adam had almost forgotten amidst his own sorrows--in the course of her
weary wanderings came to the palace of her spouse, and, once more
united, they returned to Ceylon. But Adam revisited the sacred pavilion
at Mecca every year until his death. And wherever he set his foot there
arose, and exists to this day, some city, town, or village, or other
place to indicate the presence of man and of human cultivation. The
spaces between his footsteps--three days' journey--long remained barren

On the twentieth day of that disorder which terminated the earthly
existence of Adam, the divine will was revealed to him through the angel
Gabriel, that he was to make an immediate bequest of his power as
Allah's vicegerent on earth to Shayth, or Seth, the discreetest and most
virtuous of all his sons, which having done, he resigned his soul to the
Angel of Death on the following day. Seth buried his venerable parent on
the summit of the mountain in Ceylon ("Adam's Peak"); but some writers
assert that he was buried under Mount Abú Kebyss, about three miles from
Mecca. Eve died a twelvemonth after her husband, and was buried in his
grave. Noah conveyed their remains in the ark, and afterwards interred
them in Jerusalem, at the spot afterwards known as Mount Calvary.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing is considerably abridged from _An Essay towards the
History of Arabia, antecedent to the Birth of Mahommed, arranged from
the 'Tarikh Tebry' and other authentic sources_, by Major David Price,
London, 1824, pp. 4, 11.--We miss in this curious legend the brief but
pathetic account of the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of
Eden, as found in the last two verses of the 3rd chapter of Genesis,
which suggested to Milton the fine conclusion of his _Paradise Lost_:
how "some natural tears they dropped," as the unhappy pair went
arm-in-arm out of Paradise--and "the world was all before them, where to
choose." Adam's prolonged residence at the top of a high mountain in
Ceylon seems to be of purely Muhammedan invention; and assuredly the
Arabian Prophet did not obtain from the renegade Jew who is said to have
assisted him in the composition of the Kurán the "information" that
Allah taught Adam the mystery of working in iron, since in the Book of
Genesis (iv, 22) it is stated that Tubal-cain was "an instructor of
every artificer in brass and iron," as his brother Jubal was "the father
of all such as handle the harp and the organ" (21).--The disinterment of
the bones of Adam and Eve by Noah before the Flood began and their
subsequent burial at the spot on which Jerusalem was afterwards built,
as also the stature of Adam, are, of course, derived from Jewish


The following interesting legend is taken from Mrs. Meer Hassan Ali's
_Observations on the Mussulmans of India_ (1832), vol. i, pp. 170-175.
It was translated by her husband (an Indian Muslim) from a commentary on
the history of Músa, or Moses, the great Hebrew lawgiver, and in all
probability is of rabbinical origin:

When the prophet Músa--to whose spirit be peace!--was on earth, there
lived near him a poor but remarkably religious man, who had for many
years supported himself and his wife by the daily occupation of cutting
wood for his richer neighbours, four small copper coins being the reward
of his toil, which at best afforded the poor couple but a scanty meal
after his day's exertions. One morning the Prophet Músa, passing the
woodcutter, was thus addressed: "O Músa! Prophet of the Most High!
behold I labour each day for my coarse and scanty meal. May it please
thee, O Prophet! to make petition for me to our gracious God, that he
may, in his mercy, grant me at once the whole supply for my remaining
years, so that I shall enjoy one day of earthly happiness, and then,
with my wife, be transferred to the place of eternal rest." Músa
promised, and made the required petition. His prayer was thus answered
from Mount Tor: "This man's life is long, O Músa! Nevertheless, if he be
willing to surrender life when his supply is exhausted, tell him thy
prayer is heard, the petition accepted, and the whole amount shall be
found beneath his prayer-carpet after his morning prayers."

The woodcutter was satisfied when Músa told him the result of his
petition, and, the first duties of the morning being performed, he
failed not in looking for the promised gift, and to his surprise found a
heap of silver coins in the place indicated. Calling his wife, he told
her what he had acquired of the Lord through his holy prophet Músa, and
they both agreed that it was very good to enjoy a short life of
happiness on earth and depart in peace; although they could not help
again and again recurring to the number of years on earth they had thus
sacrificed. "We will make as many hearts rejoice as this the Lord's gift
will permit," they both agreed; "and thus we shall secure in our future
state the blessed abode promised to those who fulfil the commands of God
in this life, since to-morrow it must close for us."

The day was spent in procuring and preparing provisions for the feast.
The whole sum was expended on the best sorts of food, and the poor were
made acquainted with the rich treat the woodcutter and his wife were
cooking for their benefit. The food being cooked, allotments were made
to each hungry applicant, and the couple reserved to themselves one good
substantial meal, which was to be eaten only after the poor were all
served and satisfied. It happened at the very moment they were seated to
enjoy this their last meal, as they believed, a voice was heard, saying:
"O friend! I have heard of your feast; I am late, yet it may be that you
have still a little to spare, for I am hungry to my very heart. The
blessing of God be on him who relieves my present sufferings from
hunger!" The woodcutter and his wife agreed that it would be much better
for them to go to Paradise with half a meal than to leave one fellow
creature famishing on earth. So they shared their own portion with him
who had none, and he went away from them rejoicing. "Now," said the
happy pair, "we shall eat of our half-share with unmixed delight, and
with thankful hearts. By to-morrow evening we shall be transferred to

They had scarcely raised the savoury food to their mouths when a
bewailing voice arrested their attention, and stayed the hands already
charged with food. A poor creature who had not tasted food for two days
moaned his piteous tale, in accents which drew tears from the woodcutter
and his wife; their eyes met and the sympathy was mutual: they were more
willing to depart for Paradise without the promised benefit of one
earthly enjoyment, than suffer the hungry man to die from want of that
meal they had before them. The dish was promptly tendered to the
unfortunate one, and the woodcutter and his wife consoled each other
with reflecting that, as the time of their departure was now so near at
hand, the temporary enjoyment of a meal was not worth one moment's
consideration: "To-morrow we die; then of what consequence is it to us
whether we depart with full or empty stomachs?"

And now their thoughts were set on the place of eternal rest. They
slept, and arose to their morning orisons with hearts reposing humbly on
their God, in the fullest expectation that this was their last day on
earth. The prayer was concluded, and the woodcutter was in the act of
rolling up his carpet, on which he had prostrated himself with
gratitude, reverence, and love to his Creator, when he perceived a fresh
heap of silver on the floor. He could scarcely believe but it was a
dream. "How wonderful art thou, O God!" cried he. "This is thy bounteous
gift, that I may indeed enjoy one day before I quit this earth." And
Músa, when he came to him, was satisfied with the goodness and the power
of God. But he retired again to the Mount, to inquire of God the cause
of the woodcutter's respite. The reply which Músa received was as
follows: "That man has faithfully applied the wealth given in answer to
his petition. He is worthy to live out his numbered years on earth who,
receiving my bounty, thought not of his own enjoyments whilst his fellow
men had wants which he could supply." And to the end of the
wood-cutter's long life God's bounty lessened not in substance; neither
did the pious man relax in his charitable duties of sharing with the
indigent all that he had, and with the same disregard of his own


Commentators on the Kurán state that while Solomon was still a mere
youth he frequently upset the decisions of the judges in open court, and
they became displeased with his interference, though they could not but
confess to themselves that his judgment was always superior to theirs.
Having prevailed upon King David to permit the sagacity of his son to be
publicly tested, they plied him with what they deemed very difficult
questions, which, however, were hardly uttered before he answered them
correctly, and at length they became silent and shame-faced. Then
Solomon rose and said (I take the paragraph which follows from the
English translation of Dr. Weil's interesting work, _The Bible, the
Korán, and the Talmud_, 1846, p. 165 f.):

"You have exhausted yourselves in subtleties, in the hope of manifesting
your superiority over me before this great assembly. Permit me now also
to put to you a very few simple questions, the solution of which needs
no manner of study, but only a little intellect and understanding. Tell
me: What is Everything, and what is Nothing? Who is Something, and who
is less than Nothing?" Solomon waited long, and when the judge whom he
had addressed was not able to answer, he said: "Allah, the Creator, is
Everything, and the world, the creature, is Nothing. The believer is
Something, but the hypocrite is less than Nothing." Turning to another,
Solomon inquired: "Which are the most in number, and which are the
fewest? What is the sweetest, and what is the most bitter?" But as the
second judge also was unable to find proper answers to these questions,
Solomon said: "The most numerous are the doubters, and they who possess
a perfect assurance of faith are fewest in number. The sweetest is the
possession of a virtuous wife, excellent children, and a respectable
competency; but a wicked wife, undutiful children, and poverty are the
most bitter." Finally Solomon put this question to a third judge: "Which
is the vilest, and which is the most beautiful? What is the most
certain, and what is the least so?" But these questions also remained
unanswered until Solomon said: "The vilest thing is when a believer
apostasises, and the most beautiful is when a sinner repents. The most
certain thing is death and the last judgment, and the most uncertain,
life and the fate of the soul after the resurrection. You perceive," he
continued, "it is not the oldest and most learned that are always the
wisest. True wisdom is neither of years nor of learned books, but only
of Allah, the All-wise."

The judges were full of admiration, and unanimously lauded the
unparalleled sagacity of the future ruler of Israel.--The Queen of
Sheba's "hard questions" (already referred to, p. 218) were probably of
a somewhat similar nature. Such "wit combats" seem to have been formerly
common at the courts and palaces of Asiatic monarchs and nobles; and a
curious, but rather tedious, example is furnished in the _Thousand and
One Nights_, in the story of Abú al-Husn and his slave Tawaddad, which
will be found in vol. iv of Mr. John Payne's and vol. v of Sir R. F.
Burton's complete translations.


A curious popular tradition of Solomon, in French verse, is given by M.
Emile Blémont in _La Tradition_ (an excellent journal of folklore, etc.,
published at Paris) for March 1889, p. 73: Solomon, we are informed, in
very ancient times ruled over all beings [on the earth], and, if we may
believe our ancestors, was the King of magicians. One day Man appeared
before him, praying to be delivered from the Serpent, who ever lay in
wait to devour him. "That I cannot do," said Solomon; "for he is my
preceptor, and I have given him the privilege to eat whatsoever he likes
best." Man responded: "Is that so? Well, let him gorge himself without
stint; but he has no right to devour me." "So you say," quoth Solomon;
"but are you sure of it?" Said Man: "I call the light to witness it; for
I have the high honour of being in this world superior to all other
creatures." At these words the whole of the assembly [of animals]
protested. "And I!" said the Eagle, with a loud voice, as he alighted on
a rock. "Corcorico!" chanted the Cock. The Monkey was scratching himself
and admiring his grinning phiz in the water, which served him for a
looking-glass. Then the Buzzard was beside himself [with rage]. And the
Cuckoo was wailing. The Ass rolled over and over, crying: "Heehaw! how
ugly Man is!" The Elephant stamped about with his heavy feet, his
trumpet raised towards the heavens. The Bear assumed dignified airs,
while the Peacock was showing off his wheel-like tail. And in the
distance the Lion was majestically exhaling his disdain in a long sigh.

Then said Solomon: "Silence! Man is right: is he not the only beast who
gets drunk at all seasons? But, to accede to his request, as an honest
prince, I ought to be able to give the Serpent something preferable, or
at least equal, to his favourite prey. Therefore hear my decision: Let
the Gnat--the smallest of animals--find out in what creature circulates
the most exquisite blood in the world; and that creature shall belong to
you, O Serpent. And I summon you all to appear here, without fail, on
this day twelvemonths hence, that the Gnat may tell us the result of his

The year past, the Gnat--subtle taster--was slowly winging his way back
when he met the Swallow. "Good day, friend Swallow," says he. "Good day,
friend Gnat," replies the Swallow. "Have you accomplished your mission?"
"Yes, my dear," responded the Gnat. "Well, what is then the most
delicious blood under the heavens?" "My dear, it is that of Man."
"What!--of him? I haven't heard. Speak louder." The Gnat was beginning
to raise his voice, and opened his mouth to speak louder, when the
Swallow quickly fell upon him and nipped off his tongue in the middle of
a word. Spite of this, the Gnat continued his way, and arrived next day
at the general assembly, where Solomon was already seated. But when the
king questioned him, he had no means of proving his zeal. Said the king:
"Give us thy report." "Bizz! bizz! bizz!" said the poor fellow. "Speak
out, and let thy talk be clear," quoth the king. "Bizz! bizz! bizz!"
cried the other again. "What's the matter with the little stupid?"
exclaimed the king, in a rage. Here the Swallow intervened in a sweet
and shrill tone: "Sire, it is not his fault. Yesterday we were flying
side by side, when suddenly he became mute. But, by good luck, down
there about the sacred springs, before he met with this misfortune, he
told me the result of his investigations. May I depone in his name?"
"Certainly," replied Solomon. "What is the best blood, according to thy
companion?" "Sire, it is the blood of the Frog."

Everybody was astonished: the Gnat was mad with rage. "I hold," said
Solomon, "to all that I promised. Friend Serpent, renounce Man
henceforth--that food is bad. The Frog is the best meat; so eat as much
Frog as you please." So the Serpent had to submit to his deplorable lot,
and I leave you to think how the bile was stirred up within the rascally
reptile. As the Swallow was passing him--mocking and sneering--the
Serpent darted at her, but the bird swiftly passed beyond reach, and
with little effort cleft the vast blue sky and ascended more than a
league. The Serpent snapped only the end of the bird's tail, and that is
how the Swallow's tail is cloven to this day; but, so far from finding
it an inconvenience, she is thereby the more lively and beautiful. And
Man, knowing what he owes to her, is full of gratitude. She has her
abode under the eaves of our houses, and good luck comes wherever she
nestles. Her gay cries, sweet and shrill, rouse the springtide. Is she
not a bird-fairy--a good angel? On the other hand, the crafty Serpent
hardly knows how to get out of the mud, and drags himself along,
climbing and climbing; while the Swallow, free and light, flies in the
gold of the day. For she is faithful Friendship--the little sister of

M. Blémont does not say in what part of France this legend is current,
but it is doubtless of Asiatic extraction--whether Jewish or Muhammedan.


A variant of the same incident occurs in No. IV of M. Emile Legrand's
_Receuil de Contes Populaires Grecs_ (Paris, 1881), where a prince sets
out in quest of some maiden acquainted with "figurative language," whom
he would marry. He comes upon an old man and his daughter, and overhears
the latter address her father in metaphorical terms, which she has to
explain to the old man, at which the prince is highly pleased, and
following them to their hut desires and obtains shelter for the night.
"As there was not much to eat, the old man bade them kill a cock, and
when it was roasted it was placed on the table. Then the young girl got
up and carved the fowl. She gave the head to her father; the body to her
mother; the wings to the prince; and the flesh to the children. The old
man, seeing his daughter divide the fowl in this manner, turned and
looked at his wife, for he was ashamed to speak of it before the
stranger. But when they were going to bed he said to his daughter: 'Why,
my child, did you cut up the fowl so badly? The stranger has gone
starving to bed.' 'Ah, my father,' she replied, 'you have not understood
it; wait till I explain: I gave the head to you, because you are the
head of this house; to my mother I gave the body, because, like the body
of a ship, she has borne us in her sides; I gave the wings to the
stranger, because to-morrow he will take his flight and go away; and
lastly, to us the children I gave the bits of flesh, because we are the
true flesh of the house. Do you understand it now, my good
father?'"--The remainder of the story is so droll that, though but
remotely related to the Capon-carver, I think it worth while to give a
translation of it:

"As the room wherein the girl spoke with her father was adjacent to that
in which the stranger lay, the latter heard all that she said. Great was
his joy, and he said to himself that he would well like for wife one who
could thus speak figurative language. And when it was day he rose, took
his leave, and went away. On his return to the palace he called a
servant and gave him in a sack containing 31 loaves, a whole cheese, a
cock stuffed and roasted, and a skin of wine; and indicating to him the
position of the cabin where he had put up, told him to go there and
deliver these presents to a young girl of 18 years.

"The servant took the sack and set out to execute the orders of his
master.--But, pardon me, ladies [quoth the story-teller], if I have
forgotten to tell you this: Before setting out, the servant was ordered
by the prince to say these words to the young girl: 'Many, many
compliments from my master. Here is what he sends you: the month has 31
days; the moon is full; the chorister of the dawn is stuffed and
roasted; the he-goat's skin is stretched and full.'--The servant then
went towards the cabin, but on the way he met some friends. 'Good day,
Michael. Where are you going with this load, and what do you carry?'
'I'm going over the mountain to a cabin where my master sends me.' 'And
what have you got in there? The smell of it makes our mouths water.'
'Look, here are loaves, cheese, wine, and a roasted cock. It's a present
which my master has given me to take to a poor girl.' 'O indeed,
simpleton! Sit down, that we may eat a little. How should thy master
ever know of it?' Down they sat on the green mountain sward and fell-to.
The more they ate the keener their appetites grew, so that our fine
fellows cleared away 13 loaves, half the cheese, the whole cock, and
nearly half the wine. When they had eaten and drank their fill, the
servant took up the remainder and resumed his way to the cabin. Arrived,
he found the young girl, gave her the presents, and repeated the words
which his master had ordered him to say.

"The girl took what he brought and said to him: 'You shall say to your
master: "Many, many compliments. I thank him for all that he has sent
me; but the month has only 18 days, the moon is only half full, the
chorister of dawn was not there, and the he-goat's skin is lank and
loose. But, to please the partridge, let him not beat the sow."' (That
is to say, there were only 18 loaves, half a cheese, no roasted cock,
and the wine-skin was scarcely half full; but that, to please the young
girl, he was not to beat the servant, who had not brought the gift

"The servant left and returned to the palace. He repeated to the prince
what the young girl had said to him, except the last clause, which he
forgot. Then the prince understood all, and caused another servant to
give the rogue a good beating. When the culprit had received such a
caning that his skin and bones were sore, he cried out: 'Enough, prince,
my master! Wait until I tell you another thing that the young girl said
to me, and I have forgotten to tell you.' 'Come, what have you to
say?--be quick.' 'Master, the young girl added, "But, to please the
partridge, let him not beat the sow."' 'Ah, blockhead!' said the prince
to him. 'Why did you not tell me this before? Then you would not have
tasted the cane. But so be it.' A few days later the prince married the
young girl, and fêtes and great rejoicings were held."


In no other version of this fable does the Fox take a stone with him
when he enters one of the buckets and then throw it away--nor indeed
does he go into the bucket at all; he simply induces the other animal to
descend into the well, in order to procure the "fine cheese." La
Fontaine gives a variant of the fable, in which a fox goes down into a
well with the same purpose, and gets out by asking a wolf to come down
and feast on the "cheese": as the wolf descends in one bucket he draws
up the fox in the other one, and so the wolf, like Lord Ullin, is "left
lamenting."[114] M. Bérenger-Féraud thinks this version somewhat
analogous to a fable in his French collection of popular Senegambian
Tales,[115] of the Clever Monkey and the Silly Wolf, of which, as it is
short, I may offer a free translation, as follows:

A proud lion was pacing about a few steps forward, then a side movement,
then a grand stride backward. A monkey on a tree above imitates the
movements, and his antics enrage the lion, who warns him to desist. The
monkey however goes on with the caricature, and at last falls off the
tree, and is caught by the lion, who puts him into a hole in the ground,
and having covered it with a large stone goes off to seek his mate, that
they should eat the monkey together. While he is absent a wolf comes to
the spot, and is pleased to hear the monkey cry, for he had a grudge
against him. The wolf asks why the monkey cries. "I am singing," says
the monkey, "to aid my digestion. This is a hare's retreat, and we two
ate so heartily this morning that I cannot move, and the hare is gone
out for some medicine. We have lots of more food." "Let me in," says the
wolf; "I am a friend." The monkey, of course, readily consents, and just
as the wolf enters he slips out, and, replacing the stone, imprisons the
wolf. By-and-by the lion and his mate come up. "We shall have monkey
to-day," says the lion, lifting the stone--"faith! we shall only have
wolf after all!" So the poor wolf is instantly torn into pieces, while
the clever monkey once more overhead re-enacts his lion-pantomime.[116]

  [114] _Fables de La Fontaine_, Livre xi^e, fable v^e: "Le Loup
        et le Renard."

  [115] _Recueil de Contes Populaires de la Sénégambie_,
        recueillis par L.-J.-B.-Bérenger-Féraud. Paris, 1885.
        Page 51.

  [116] I have to thank my friend Dr. David Ross, Principal,
        E. C. Training College, Glasgow, for kindly drawing my
        attention to this diverting tale.

Strange as it may appear, there is a variant of the fable of the Fox and
the Bear current among the negroes in the United States, according to
_Uncle Remus_, that most diverting collection. In No. XVI, "Brer Rabbit"
goes down in a bucket into a well, and "Brer Fox" asks him what he is
doing there. "O I'm des a fishing, Brer Fox," says he; and Brer Fox goes
into the bucket while Brer Rabbit escapes and chaffs his comrade.


There is a tale in the _Gesta Romanorum_ (ch. 74 of the text translated
by Swan) which seems to have been suggested by the Hebrew parable of the
Desolate Island, and which has passed into general currency throughout
Europe: A dying king bequeaths to his son a golden apple, which he is to
give to the greatest fool he can find. The young prince sets out on his
travels, and after meeting with many fools, none of whom, however, he
deemed worthy of the "prize," he comes to a country the king of which
reigns only one year, and finds him indulging in all kinds of pleasure.
He offers the king the apple, explaining the terms of his father's
bequest, and saying that he considers him the greatest of all fools, in
not having made a proper use of his year of sovereignty.--A common oral
form of this story is to the effect that a court jester came to the
bedside of his dying master, who told him that he was going on a very
long journey, and the jester inquiring whether he had made due
preparation was answered in the negative. "Then," said the fool,
"prithee take my bauble, for thou art truly the greatest of all fools."


As analogues, or variants, of incidents in several wide-spread European
popular tales, other Hebrew legends are cited in some of my former
books; e.g.: The True Son, in _Popular Tales and Fictions_, vol. i, p.
14; Moses and the Angel (the ways of Providence: the original of
Parnell's "Hermit"), vol. i, p. 25; a mystical hymn, "A kid, a kid, my
Father bought," the possible original of our nursery cumulative rhyme of
"The House that Jack built," vol. i, p. 291; the Reward of Sabbath
observance, vol. i, p. 399; the Intended Divorce, vol. ii, p. 328, of
which, besides the European variants there cited, other versions will be
found in Prof. Crane's _Italian Popular Tales_: "The Clever Girl" and
Notes; the Lost Camel, in _A Group of Eastern Romances and Stories_, p.
512. In _Originals and Analogues of some of Chaucer's 'Canterbury
Tales'_ (for the Chaucer Society) I have cited two curious Jewish
versions of the Franklin's Tale, in the paper entitled "The Damsel's
Rash Promise," pp. 315, 317. A selection of Hebrew Facetiæ is given at
the end of the papers on Oriental Wit and Humour in the present volume
(p. 117); and an amusing story, also from the Talmud, is reproduced in
my _Book of Sindibád_, p. 103, _note_, of the Athenian and the witty
Tailor; and in the same work, p. 340, _note_, reference is made to a
Jewish version of the famous tale of the Matron of Ephesus. There may be
more in these books which I cannot call to mind.


  Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
  Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend
  More than cool reason ever comprehends.
                     _Midsummer Night's Dream_.

Every land has its favourite tale of love: in France, that of Abelard
and Eloisa, in Italy, of Petrarch and Laura; all Europe has the touching
tale of Romeo and Juliet in common; and Muslims have the ever fresh tale
of the loves and sorrows of Majnún and Laylá. Of the ten or twelve
Persian poems extant on this old tale those by Nizámí, who died A.D.
1211, and Jámí, of the 15th century, are considered as by far the best;
though Hátifí's version (ob. 1520) is highly praised by Sir William
Jones. The Turkish poet Fazúlí (ob. 1562) also made this tale the basis
of a fine mystical poem, of which Mr. Gibb has given some translated
specimens--reproducing the original rhythm and rhyme-movement very
cleverly--in his _Ottoman Poems_. The following is an epitome of the
tale of Majnún and Laylá:

Kays (properly, Qays), the handsome son of Syd Omri, an Arab chief of
Yemen, becomes enamoured of a beauteous maiden of another tribe: a
damsel bright as the moon,[117] graceful as the cypress;[118] with locks
dark as night, and hence she was called Laylá;[119] who captivated all
hearts, but chiefly that of Kays. His passion is reciprocated, but soon
the fond lovers are separated. The family of Laylá remove to the distant
mountains of Nejd, and Kays, distracted, with matted locks and bosom
bare to the scorching sun, wanders forth into the desert in quest of her
abode, causing the rocks to echo his voice, constantly calling upon her
name. His friends, having found him in woeful plight, bring him home,
and henceforth he is called Majnún--that is, one who is mad, or frantic,
from love. Syd Omri, his father, finding that Majnún is deaf to good
counsel--that nothing but the possession of Laylá can restore him to his
senses--assembles his followers and departs for the abode of Laylá's
family, and presenting himself before the maiden's father, proposes in
haughty terms the union of his son with Laylá; but the offer is
declined, on the ground that Syd Omri's son is a maniac, and he will not
give his daughter to a man bereft of his senses; but should he be
restored to his right mind he will consent to their union. Indignant at
this answer, Syd Omri returns home, and after his friends had in vain
tried the effect of love-philtres to make Laylá's father relent, as a
last resource they propose that Majnún should wed another damsel, upon
which the demented lover once more seeks the desert, where they again
find him almost at the point of death, and bring him back to his tribe.

  [117] Nothing is more hackneyed in Asiatic poetry than the
        comparison of a pretty girl's face to the moon, and not
        seldom to the disparagement of that luminary. Solomon,
        in his love-songs, exclaims: "Who is she that looketh
        forth in the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the
        sun?" The greatest of Persian poets, Firdausí, says of a

          "Love ye the moon? Behold her face,
          And there the lucid planet trace."

        And Kalidása, the Shakspeare of India (6th century
        B.C.), says:

          "Her countenance is brighter than the moon."

        Amongst ourselves the epithet "moon-faced" is not usually
        regarded as complimentary, yet Spenser speaks of a
        beautiful damsel's "moon-like forehead."--Be sure, the
        poets are right!

  [118] The lithe figure of a pretty girl is often likened by
        Eastern poets to the waving cypress, a tree which we
        associate with the grave-yard.--"Who is walking there?"
        asks a Persian poet. "Thou, or a tall cypress?"

  [119] "Nocturnal."

Now the season of pilgrimage to Mecca draws nigh, and it is thought that
a visit to the holy shrine and the waters of the Zemzem[120] might cure
his frenzy. Accordingly Majnún, weak and helpless, is conveyed to Mecca
in a litter. Most fervently his sorrowing father prays in the Kaába for
his recovery, but all in vain, and they return home. Again Majnún
escapes to the desert, whence his love-plaints, expressed in eloquent
verse, find their way to Laylá, who contrives to reply to them, also in
verse, assuring her lover of her own despair, and of her constancy.

  [120] The sacred well in the Kaába at Mecca, which, according
        to Muslim legends, miraculously sprang up when Hagar and
        her son Ishmael were perishing in the desert from thirst.

One day a gallant young chief, Ibn Salám, chances to pass near the
dwelling of Laylá, and, seeing the beauteous maiden among her
companions, falls in love with her, and straightway asks her in marriage
of her parents. Laylá's father does not reject the handsome and wealthy
suitor, who scatters his gold about as if it were mere sand, but desires
him to wait until his daughter is of proper age for wedlock, when the
nuptials should be duly celebrated; and with this promise Ibn Salám

Meanwhile, Noufal, the chief in whose land Majnún has taken up his
abode, while hunting one day comes upon the wretched lover, and, struck
with his appearance, inquires the cause of his distress. Noufal
conceives a warm friendship for Majnún, and sends a messenger to Laylá's
father to demand her in marriage with his friend. But the damsel's
parent scornfully refused to comply, and Noufal then marches with his
followers against him. A battle ensues, in which Noufal is victorious.
The father of Laylá then comes to Noufal, and offers submission; but he
declares that rather than consent to his daughter's union with Majnún he
would put her to death before his face. Seeing the old man thus
resolute, Noufal abandons his enterprise and returns to his own country.

And now Ibn Salám, having waited the appointed time, comes with his
tribesmen to claim the hand of Laylá; and, spite of her tears and
protestations, she is married to the wealthy young chief. Years pass
on--weary years of wedded life to poor Laylá, whose heart is ever true
to her wandering lover. At length a stranger seeks out Majnún, and tells
him that his beloved Laylá wishes to have a brief interview with him,
near her dwelling. At once the frantic lover speeds towards the
rendezvous; but when Laylá is informed of his arrival, her sense of duty
overcomes the passion of her life, and she resolves to forego the
dangerous meeting, and poor Majnún departs without having seen his
darling. Henceforth he is a constant dweller in the desert, having for
his companions the beasts and birds of the wilderness--his clothes in
tatters, his hair matted, his body wasted to a shadow, his bare feet
lacerated with thorns. After the lapse of many more years the husband of
Laylá dies, and the beautiful widow passes the prescribed period of
separation (_'idda_),[121] after which Majnún hastens to embrace his
beloved. Overpowered by the violence of their emotions, both are for a
space silent; at length Laylá addresses Majnún in tender accents; but
when he finds voice to reply it is evident that the reaction has
completely extinguished the last spark of reason: Majnún is now a
hopeless maniac, and he rushes from the arms of Laylá and seeks the
desert once more. Laylá never recovered from the shock occasioned by
this discovery. She pined away, and with her last breath desired her
mother to convey the tidings of her death to Majnún, and to assure him
of her constant, unquenchable affection. When Majnún hears of her death
he visits her tomb, and, exhausted with his journey and many privations,
he lays himself down on the turf that covered her remains, and dies--the
victim of pure, ever-during love.

  [121] According to Muslim law, four months and ten days must
        elapse before a widow can marry again.

       *       *       *       *       *

Possibly, readers of a sentimental turn--oft inclined to the "melting"
mood--may experience a kind of pleasing sadness in perusing a rhythmical
prose translation of the passage in Nizámí's poem in which

_Majnún bewails the Death of Laylá._

When Zayd,[122] with heart afflicted, heard that in the silent tomb that
moon[123] had set, he wept and mourned, and sadly flowed his tears. Who
in this world is free from grief and tears? Then, clothed in sable
garments, like one oppressed who seeks redress, he, agitated, and
weeping like a vernal cloud, hastened to the grave of Laylá; but, as he
o'er it hung, ask not how swelled his soul with grief; while from his
eyes the tears of blood incessant flowed, and from his sight and groans
the people fled. Sometimes he mourned with grief so deep and sad that
from his woe the sky became obscure. Then from the tomb of that fair
flower he to the desert took his way. There sought the wanderer from the
paths of man him whose night was now in darkness veiled, as that bright
lamp was gone; and, seated near him, weeping and sighing, he beat his
breast and struck upon the earth his head. When Majnún saw him thus
afflicted he said: "What has befallen thee, my brother, that thy soul is
thus overpowered? and why so pale that cheek? and why these sable
robes?" He thus replied: "Because that fortune now has changed: a sable
stream has issued from the earth, and even death has burst its iron
gates; a storm of hail has on the garden poured, and not a leaf of all
our rose-bower now remains. The moon has fallen from the firmament, and
prostrate on the mead that waving cypress lies! Laylá was, but from the
world has now departed; and from the wound thy love had caused she

  [122] An attendant, who had always befriended Majnún.

  [123] "The moon," to wit, the unhappy Laylá. See the note,
        p. 284.

Scarce had these accents reached his listening ear e'er, senseless,
Majnún fell as one by lightning struck. A short time, fainting, thus he
lay; recovered, then he raised his head to heaven and thus exclaimed: "O
merciless! what fate severe is this on one so helpless? Why such wrath?
Why blast a blade of grass with lightning, and on the ant [i.e. himself]
thy power exert? One ant and a thousand pains of hell, when one single
spark would be enough! Why thus with blood the goblet crown, and all my
hopes deceive? I burned with flames that by that lamp were fed; and by
that breath which quenched its light I too expire." Thus, like Asra, did
he complain, and, like Wamik, traversed on every side the desert,[124]
his heart broken, and his garments rent; while, as the beasts gazed on
him, his tears so constant flowed, that in their eyes the tear-drop
stood; and like a shadow Zayd his footsteps still pursued. When, weeping
and mourning, Majnún thus o'er many a hill and many a vale had passed,
as grief his path directed, he wished to view the tomb of all he loved;
and then inquired of Zayd where was the spot that held her grave, and
where the turf that o'er it grew.

  [124] See Note on 'Wamik and Asra' at the end of this paper.

But soon as to the tomb he came, struck with its view, his senses fled.
Recovering, then he thus exclaimed: "O Heaven! what shall I do, or what
resource attempt, as like a lamp I waste away? Alas! that heart-enslaver
was all that in this world I prized: and now, alas! in wrath, dire Fate
with ruthless blow has snatched her from me. In my hand I held a lovely
flower; the wind came and scattered all its leaves. I chose a cypress
that in the garden graceful grew; but soon the wind of fate destroyed
it. Spring bade a blossom bloom; but Fortune would not guard the flower.
A group of lilies I preserved, pure as the thoughts that in my bosom
rose; but one unjust purloined them. I sowed, but he the harvest

Then, resting within the tomb his head, he mourning wept, and said: "O
lovely floweret, struck by autumn's blast, and from this world departed
ere thou knewest it! A garden once in bloom, but now laid waste! O fruit
matured, but not enjoyed! To earth's mortality can such as thou be
subject, and such as thou within the darkness of the tomb repose? And
where is now that mole which seemed a grain of musk?[125] And where
those eyes soft as the gazelle's? Where those ruby lips? And where those
curling ringlets? In what bright hues is now thy form adorned? And
through the love of whom does now thy lamp consume? To whose fond eyes
are now thy charms displayed? And whom to captivate do now thy tresses
wave? Beside the margin of what stream is now that cypress seen? And in
what bower is now the banquet spread? Ah, can such as thou have felt the
pangs of death, and be reclined within this narrow cave?[126] But o'er
thy cell I mourn, as thou wast all I loved; and ere my grief shall
cease, the grave shall be my friend. Thou wast agitated like the sand of
the desert; but now thou reposest as the water of the lake. Thou, like
the moon, hast disappeared; but, though unseen, the moon is still the
same; and now, although thy form from me is hid, still in my breast
remains the loved remembrance. Though far removed beyond my aching
sight, still is thy image in my heart beheld. Thy form is now departed,
but grief eternal fills its place. On thee my soul was fixed, and never
will thy memory be forgot. Thou art gone, and from this wilderness
escaped, and now reposest in the bowers of Paradise. I, too, after some
little time will shake off these bonds, and there rejoin thee. Till
then, faithful to the love I vowed, around thy tomb my footsteps will I
bend. Until I come to thee within this narrow cell, pure be thy shroud!
May Paradise everlasting be thy mansion blest! And be thy soul received
into the mercy of thy God! And may thy spirit by his grace be vivified
to all eternity!"

  [125] A mole on the fair face of Beauty is not regarded as a
        blemish, but the very contrary, by Asiatics--or by
        Europeans either, else why did the ladies of the last
        century patch their faces, if not (originally) to set
        off the clearness of their complexion by contrast with
        the little black wafer?--though (afterwards) often to
        hide a pimple! Eastern poets are for ever raving over
        the mole on a pretty face. Háfíz goes the length of

          "For the mole on the cheek of that girl of Shíráz
          I would give away Samarkand and Bukhárá"--

        albeit they were none of his to give to anybody.

  [126] Cf. Shelley, in the fine opening of that wonderful
        poetical offspring of his adolescence, _Queen Mab_:

            "Hath, then, the gloomy Power
          Whose reign is in the tainted sepulchres
            Seized on her sinless soul?"

       *       *       *       *       *

"This," methinks I hear some misogynist exclaim, after reading it--"this
is rank nonsense--it is stark lunacy!" And so it is, perhaps. At all
events, these impassioned words are supposed to be uttered by a poor
youth who had gone mad from love. Our misogynist--and may I venture to
include the experienced married man?--will probably retort, that all
love between young folks is not only folly but sheer madness; and he
will be the more confirmed in this opinion when he learns that,
according to certain grave Persian writers, Laylá was really of a
swarthy visage, and far from being the beauty her infatuated lover
conceived her to be: thus verifying the dictum of our great dramatist,
in the ever-fresh passage where he makes "the lunatic, the lover, and
the poet" to be "of imagination all compact," the lover seeing "Helen's
beauty in the brow of Egypt!"--Notwithstanding all this, the ancient
legend of Laylá and Majnún has proved an inspiring theme to more than
one great poet of Persia, during the most flourishing period of the
literature of that country--for which let us all be duly thankful.


'WAMIK AND ASRA,' p. 289.

This is the title of an ancient Persian poem, composed in the reign of
Núshírván, A.D. 531-579, of which some fragments only now remain,
incorporated with an Arabian poem. In 1833, Von Hammer published a
German translation, at Vienna: _Wamik und Asra; das ist, Glühende und
die Blühende. Das älteste Persische romantische Gedicht. Jun fünftelsaft
abgezogen_, von Joseph von Hammer (Wamik and Asra; that is, the Glowing
and the Blowing. The most ancient Persian Romantic Poem. Transfer the
Fifth, etc.) The hero and heroine, namely, Wamik and Asra, are
personifications of the two great principles of heat and vegetation, the
vivifying energy of heaven and the correspondent productiveness of
earth.--This noble poem is the subject of a very interesting article in
the _Foreign Quarterly Review_, vol. xviii, 1836-7, giving some of the
more striking passages in English verse, of which the following may
serve as a specimen:

  'The Blowing One' Asra was justly named,
      For she, in mind and form, a blossom stood;
  Of beauty, youth, and grace divinely framed,
      Of holiest spirit, filled with heavenly good.
  The Spring, when warm, in fullest splendour showing,
      Breathing gay wishes to the inmost core
  Of youthful hearts, and fondest influence throwing,
      Yet veiled its bloom, her beauty's bloom before;
      For her the devotee his very creed forswore.
  Her hair was bright as hyacinthine dyes;
    Her cheek was blushing, sheen as Eden's rose;
  The soft narcissus tinged her sleeping eyes,
    And white her forehead, as the lotus shows
  _'Gainst Summer's earliest sunbeams shimmering fair._

A curious story is related by Dawlat Sháh regarding this poem, which
bears a close resemblance to the story of the destruction of the
Alexandrian Library, by order of the fanatical khalíf 'Umar: One day
when Amír Abdullah Tahir, governor of Khurasán under the Abbasside
khalífs, was giving audience, a person laid before him a book, as a rare
and valuable present. He asked: "What book is this?" The man replied:
"It is the story of Wamik and Asra." The Amír observed: "We are the
readers of the Kurán, and we read nothing except that sacred volume, and
the traditions of the Prophet, and such accounts as relate to him, and
we have therefore no use for books of this kind. They are besides
compositions of infidels, and the productions of worshippers of fire,
and are therefore to be rejected and contemned by us." He then ordered
the book to be thrown into the water, and issued his command that
whatever books could be found in the kingdom which were the composition
of the Persian infidels should be immediately burnt.


Scarcely less celebrated than the story of Majnún and Laylá--among the
Arabs, at least--is that of the poet Jamíl and the beauteous damsel
Buthayna. It is said that Jamíl fell in love with her while he was yet a
boy, and on attaining manhood asked her in marriage, but her father
refused. He then composed verses in her honour and visited her secretly
at Wádi-'l Kura, a delightful valley near Medína, much celebrated by the
poets. Jamíl afterwards went to Egypt, with the intention of reciting to
Abdu-'l Azíz Ibn Marwán a poem he had composed in his honour. This
governor admitted Jamíl into his presence, and, after hearing his
eulogistic verses and rewarding him generously, he asked him concerning
his love for Buthayna, and was told of his ardent and painful passion.
On this Abdu-'l Azíz promised to unite Jamíl to her, and bade him stay
at Misr (Cairo), where he assigned him a habitation and furnished him
with all he required. But Jamíl died there shortly after, A.H. 82 (A.D.

The following narrative is given in the _Kitabal-Aghání_, on the
authority of the famous poet and philologist Al-Asma'í, who flourished
in the 8th century:

A person who was present at the death of Jamíl in Egypt relates that the
poet called him and said: "If I give you all I leave after me, will you
perform one thing which I shall enjoin you?" "By Allah, yes," said the
other. "When I am dead," said Jamíl, "take this cloak of mine and put it
aside, but keep everything else for yourself. Then go to Buthayna's
tribe, and when you are near them, saddle this camel of mine and mount
her; then put on my cloak and rend it, and mounting on a hill, shout out
these verses: 'A messenger hath openly proclaimed the death of Jamíl. He
hath now a dwelling in Egypt from which he will never return. There was
a time when, intoxicated with love, he trained his mantle proudly in the
fields and palm-groves of Wádi-'l Kura! Arise, Buthayna! and lament
aloud: weep for the best of all thy lovers!'" The man did what Jamíl
ordered, and had scarcely finished the verses when Buthayna came forth,
beautiful as the moon when it appears from behind a cloud. She was
muffled in a cloak, and on coming up to him said: "Man, if what thou
sayest be true, thou hast killed me; if false, thou hast dishonoured
me!" [i.e. by associating her name with that of a strange man, still
alive.] He replied: "By Allah! I only tell the truth," and he showed her
Jamíl's mantle, on seeing which she uttered a loud cry and smote her
face, and the women of the tribe gathered around, weeping with her and
lamenting her lover's death. Her strength at length failed her, and she
swooned away. After some time she revived, and said [in verse]: "Never
for an instant shall I feel consolation for the loss of Jamíl! That time
shall never come. Since thou art dead, O Jamíl, son of Mamar! the pains
of life and its pleasures are alike to me." And quoth the lover's
messenger: "I never saw man or woman weep more than I saw that
day."--Abridged from Ibn Khallikan's great Biographical Dictionary as
translated by Baron De Slane, vol. i, pp. 331-326.


The origin of the Beast-Fable is still a vexed question among scholars,
some of whom ascribe it to the doctrine of metempsychosis, or the
transmigration of human souls into different animal forms; others,
again, are of the opinion that beasts and birds were first adopted as
characters of fictitious narratives, in order to safely convey reproof
or impart wholesome counsel to the minds of absolute princes, who would
signally resent "plain speaking."[127] Several nations of
antiquity--notably the Greeks, the Hindús, the Egyptians--have been
credited with the invention of the beast-fable, and there is no reason
to believe that it may not have been independently devised in different
countries. It is very certain, however, that Esop was not the inventor
of this kind of narrative in Greece, while those fables ascribed to him,
which have been familiar to us from our nursery days, are mostly
spurious, and have been traced to ancient Oriental sources. The
so-called Esopic apologue of the Lion and the House is found in an
Egyptian papyrus preserved at Leyden.[128] Many of them are quite modern
_rechauffés_ of Hindú apologues, such as the Milkmaid and her Pot of
Milk, which gave rise to our popular saying, "Don't count your chickens
until they be hatched." Nevertheless, genuine fables of Esop were
current in Athens at the best period of its literary history, though it
does not appear that they existed in writing during his lifetime.
Aristophanes represents a character in one of his plays as learning
Esop's fables from oral recitation. When first reduced to writing they
were in prose, and Socrates is said to have turned some of them into
verse, his example being followed by Babrius, amongst others, of whose
version but few fables remain entire. The most celebrated of his Latin
translators is Phædrus, who takes care to inform us that

  If any thoughts in these Iambics shine,
  The invention's Esop's, and the verse is mine.[129]

  [127] The reader may with advantage consult the article
        'Beast-Fable,' by Mr. Thos. Davidson, in _Chambers's
        Encylopædia_, new edition.

  [128] But this papyrus might be of as late a period as the
        second century of our era.

  [129] For the most complete history of the Esopic Fable, see
        vol. i of Mr. Joseph Jacobs' edition of _The Fables of
        Aesop, as first printed by Caxton in 1484, with those of
        Avian, Alfonso, and Poggio_, recently published by Mr.
        David Nutt; where a vast amount of erudite information
        will be found on the subject in all its ramifications.
        Mr. Jacobs, indeed, seems to have left little for future
        gleaners: he has done his work in a thorough,
        Benfey-like manner, and students of comparative
        folk-lore are under great obligations to him for the
        indefatigable industry he has devoted to the valuable
        outcome of his wide-reaching learning.

Little is authentically known regarding the career of the renowned
fabulist, who is supposed to have been born about B.C. 620, and, as in
the case of Homer, various places are assigned as that of his
nativity--Samos, Sardis, Mesembria in Thrace, and Cotiæium in Phrygia.
He is said to have been brought as a slave to Athens when very young,
and after serving several masters was enfranchised by Iadmon, the
Samian. His death is thus related by Plutarch: Having gone to Delphos,
by the order of Croesus, with a large quantity of gold and silver, to
offer a costly sacrifice to Apollo and to distribute a considerable sum
among the inhabitants, a quarrel arose between him and the Delphians,
which induced him to return the money, and inform the king that the
people were unworthy of the liberal benefaction he had intended for
them. The Delphians, incensed, charged him with sacrilege, and, having
procured his condemnation, precipitated him from a rock and caused his
death.--The popular notion that Esop was a monster of ugliness and
deformity is derived from a "Life" of the fabulist, prefixed to a Greek
collection of fables purporting to be his, said to have been written by
Maximus Planudes, a monk of the 14th century, which, however apocryphal,
is both curious and entertaining, from whatever sources the anecdotes
may have been drawn.

According to Planudes,[130] Esop was born at Amorium, in the Greater
Phrygia, a slave, ugly exceedingly: he was sharp-chinned, snub-nosed,
bull-necked, blubber-lipped, and extremely swarthy (whence his name,
_Ais-ôpos_, or _Aith-ôpos_: burnt-face, blackamoor); pot-bellied,
crook-legged, and crook-backed; perhaps uglier even than the Thersites
of Homer; worst of all, tongue-tied, obscure and inarticulate in his
speech; in short, everything but his mind seemed to mark him out for a
slave. His first master sent him out to dig one day. A husbandman having
presented the master with some fine fresh figs, they were given to a
slave to be set before him after his bath. Esop had occasion to go into
the house; meanwhile the other slaves ate the figs, and when the master
missed them they accused Esop, who begged a moment's respite: he then
drank some warm water and caused himself to vomit, and as he had not
broken his fast his innocence was thus manifest. The same test
discovered the thieves, who by their punishment illustrated the proverb:

  Whoso against another worketh guile
  Thereby himself doth injure unaware.[131]

  [130] _Fabulae Romanenses Graece conscriptae ex recensione et
        cum adnotationibus_, Alfredi Eberhard (Leipzig, 1872),
        vol. i, p. 226 ff.

  [131] It would have been well had the sultan Bayazíd compelled
        his soldier to adopt this plan when accused by an old
        woman of having drunk up all her supply of goat's milk.
        The soldier declared his innocence, upon which Bayazíd
        ordered his stomach to be cut open, and finding the milk
        not yet digested, quoth he to the woman: "Thou didst not
        complain without reason." And, having caused her to be
        recompensed for her loss, "Now go thy way," he added,
        "for thou hast had justice for the wrong done thee."

Next day the master goes to town. Esop works in the field, and
entertains with his own food some travellers who had lost their way, and
sets them on the right road again. They are really priests of Artemis,
and having received their blessing he falls asleep, and dreams that
Tychê (i.e. Fortune) looses his tongue, and gives him eloquence. Waking,
he finds he can say _bous_, _onos_, _dikella_, (ox, ass, mattock). This
is the reward of piety, for "well-doing is full of good hopes." Zenas,
the overseer, is rebuked by Esop for beating a slave. This is the first
time he has been heard to speak distinctly. Zenas goes to his master and
accuses Esop of having blasphemed him and the gods, and is given Esop to
sell or give away as he pleases. He sells him to a trader for three
obols (4-1/2d.), Esop pleading that, if useless for aught else, he will
do for a bugbear to keep his children quiet. When they arrive home the
little ones begin to cry. "Was I not right?" quoth Esop, and the other
slaves think he has been bought to avert the Evil Eye.

The merchant sets out for Asia with all his house-hold. Esop is offered
the lightest load, as being a raw recruit. From among the bags, beds,
and baskets he chooses a basket full of bread--"a load for two men."
They laugh at his folly, but let him have his will, and he staggers
under the burden to the wonder of his master. But at the first halt for
_ariston_, or breakfast, the basket is half-emptied, and by the evening
wholly so, and then Esop marches triumphantly ahead, all commending his
wit. At Ephesus the merchant sells all his slaves, excepting a musician,
a scribe, and Esop. Thence he goes to Samos, where he puts new garments
on the two former (he had none left for Esop), and sets them out for
sale, Esop between them. Xanthus, the philospher, lived at Samos. He
goes to the slave market, and, seeing the three, praises the dealer's
cunning in making the two look handsomer than they were by contrast with
the ugly one. Asking the scribe and the musician what they know, their
answer is, "Everything," upon which Esop laughs. The price of the
musician (1000 obols, or six guineas) and of the scribe (three times
that sum) prevents the philosopher from buying them, and he turns to
Esop to see what he is made of. He gives him the customary salutation,
"Khaire!" (Rejoice). "I wasn't grieving," retorts Esop. "I greet thee,"
says Xanthus. "And I thee," replies Esop. "What are thou?" "Black." "I
don't mean that, but in what sort of place wast thou born?" "My mother
didn't tell me whether in the second floor or the cellar." "What can you
do?" "Nothing." "How?" "Why, these fellows here say they know how to do
everything, and they haven't left me a single thing." "By Jove," cries
Xanthus, "he has answered right well; for there is no man who knows
everything. That was why he laughed, it is clear." In the end, Xanthus
buys Esop for sixty obols (about 7s. 6d.) and takes him home, where his
wife (who is "very cleanly") receives him only on sufferance.

One day Xanthus, meeting friends at the bath, sends Esop home to boil
pease (idiomatically using the word in the singular), for his friends
are coming to eat with him. Esop boils _one_ pea and sets it before
Xanthus, who tastes it and bids him serve up. The water is then placed
on the table, and Esop justifies himself to his distracted master, who
then sends him for four pig's feet. While they boil, Xanthus slyly
abstracts one, and when Esop discovers this he takes it for a plot
against him of the other slaves. He runs into the yard, cuts a foot from
the pig feeding there, and tosses it into the pot. Presently the other
foot is put back, and Esop is confounded to see _five_ trotters on the
boil. He serves them up, however, and when Xanthus asks him what the
five mean he replies: "How many feet have two pigs?" Xanthus saying,
"Eight," quoth Esop: "Then here are five, and the porker feeding below
goes on three." On being reproached he urges: "But, master, there is no
harm in doing a sum in addition and subtraction, is there?" For very
shame Xanthus forbears whipping him.

One morning Xanthus gives a breakfast, for which Esop is sent to buy
"the best and most useful." He buys tongues, and the guests
(philosophers all) have nothing else. "What could be better for man than
tongue?" quoth Esop. Another time he is ordered to get "the worst and
most worthless"; again he brings tongues, and again is ready with a
similar defence.[132] A guest reviles him, and Esop retorts that he is
"malicious and a busybody." On hearing this Xanthus commands him to find
some one who is not a busybody. In the road Esop finds a simple soul and
brings him home to his master, who persuades his wife to bear with him
in anything he should pretend to do to her; if the guest is a busybody
(or one who meddles) Esop will get a beating. The plan fails; for the
good man continues eating and takes no notice of the wife-cuffing going
on, and when his host seems about to burn her, he only asks leave to
bring his own wife to be also placed on the pile.

  [132] This story is also found in the _Liber de Donis_ of
        Etienne de Bourbon (No. 246), a Dominican monk of the
        14th century; in the _Summa Praedicantium_ of John
        Bromyard, and several other medieval monkish collections
        of _exempla_, or stories designed for the use of
        preachers: in these the explanation is that nothing can
        be better and nothing worse than _tongue_.

At a symposium Xanthus takes too much wine, and in bravado wagers his
house and all that it contains that he will drink up the waters of the
sea. Out of this scrape Esop rescues him by suggesting that he should
demand that all the rivers be stopped from flowing into the sea, for he
did not undertake to drink them too, and the other party is

  [133] This occurs in the several Asiatic versions of the Book
        of Sindibád (Story of the Sandalwood Merchant); in the
        _Gesta Romanorum_; in the old English metrical _Tale of
        Beryn_; in one of the Italian _Novelle_ of Sacchetti;
        and in the exploits of Tyl Eulenspiegel, the German

A party of scientific guests are coming to dinner one day, and Esop is
set just within the door to keep out "all but the wise." When there is a
knock at the door Esop shouts: "What does the dog shake?" and all save
one go away in high dudgeon, thinking he means them; but this last
answers: "His tail," and is admitted.

At a public festival an eagle carries off the municipal ring, and Esop
obtains his freedom by order of the state for his interpretation of this
omen--that some king purposes to annex Samos. This, it turns out, is
Croesus, who sends to claim tribute. Hereupon Esop relates his first
fable, that of the Wolf, the Dog, and the Sheep, and, going on an
embassy to Croesus, that of the Grasshopper who was caught by the
Locust-gatherer. He brings home "peace with honour." After this Esop
travels over the world, showing his wisdom and wit. At Babylon he is
made much of by the king. He then visits Egypt and confounds the sages
in his monarch's behalf. Once more he returns to Greece, and at Delphi
is accused of stealing a sacred golden bowl and condemned to be hurled
from a rock. He pleads the fables of the Matron of Ephesus,[134] the
Frog and the Mouse, the Beetle and the Eagle, the Old Farmer and his
Ass-waggon, and others, but all is of no avail, and the villains break
his neck.

  [134] Taken from Petronius Arbiter. The story is widely
        spread. It is found in the _Seven Wise Masters_,
        and--_mutatis mutandis_--is well known to the Chinese.
        Planudes takes some liberties with his original,
        substituting for the soldier guarding the suspended
        corpse of a criminal, who "comforts" the sorrowing
        widow, a herdsman with his beasts, which he loses in
        prosecuting his amour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Such are some of the apocryphal sayings and doings of Esop the
fabulist--the manner of his death being the only circumstance for which
there is any authority. The idea of his bodily deformity is utterly
without foundation, and may have been adopted as a foil to his
extraordinary shrewdness and wit, as exhibited in the anecdotes related
of him by Planudes. That there was nothing uncouth in the person of Esop
is evident from the fact that the Athenians erected a fine statue of
him, by the famed sculptor Lysippus.--The Latin collection of the fables
ascribed to Esop was first printed at Rome in 1473 and soon afterwards
translated into most of the languages of Europe. About the year 1480 the
Greek text was printed at Milan. From a French version Caxton printed
them in English at Westminster in 1484, with woodcuts: "Here begynneth
the Book of the subtyl History and Fables of Esope. Translated out of
Frenssche into Englissche, by William Caxton," etc. In this version
Planudes' description of Esop's personal appearance is reproduced:[135]
He was "deformed and evil shapen, for he had a great head, large visage,
long jaws, sharp eyes, a short neck, curb backed, great belly, great
legs, and large feet; and yet that which was worse, he was dumb and
could not speak; but, notwithstanding all this, he had a great wit and
was greatly ingenious, subtle in cavillection and joyous in words"--an
inconsistency which is done away in a later edition by the statement
that afterwards he found his tongue.--It is curious to find the Scottish
poet Robert Henryson (15th century), in one of the prologues to his
metrical versions of some of the Fables, draw a very different portrait
of Esop.[136] He tells us that one day in the midst of June, "that joly
sweit seasoun," he went alone to a wood, where he was charmed with the
"noyis of birdis richt delitious," and "sweit was the smell of flowris
quhyte and reid," and, sheltering himself under a green hawthorn from
the heat of the sun, he fell asleep:

  And, in my dreme, methocht come throw the schaw[137]
  The fairest man that ever befoir I saw.

  His gowne wes of ane claith als quhyte as milk,
      His chymeris[138] wes of chambelote purpour broun;
  His hude[139] of scarlet, bordourit[140] weill with silk,
      On hekellit-wyis,[141] untill his girdill doun;
      His bonat round, and of the auld fassoun,[142]
  His beird was quhyte, his ene was greit and gray,
  With lokker[143] hair, quilk ouer his schulderis lay.

  Ane roll of paper in his hand he bair,
    Ane swannis pen stikkand[144] under his eir,
  Ane inkhorne, with ane prettie gilt pennair,[145]
    Ane bag of silk, all at his belt can beir:
    Thus was he gudelie graithit[146] in his geir.
  Of stature large, and with ane feirfull[147] face;
  Evin quhair I lay, he came ane sturdie pace.

  [135] Mr. Jacobs was obliged to omit the Life of Esop in his
        reprint of Caxton's text of the Fables, as it would have
        unduly increased the bulk of his second volume. But
        those interested in the genealogy of popular tales and
        fables will be glad to have Mr. Jacobs' all but
        exhaustive account of the so-called Esopic fables,
        together with his excellent synopsis of parallels, in
        preference to the monkish collection of spurious
        anecdotes of the fabulist, of which the most noteworthy
        are given in the present paper.

  [136] Robert Henryson was a schoolmaster in Dunfermline in the
        latter part of the 15th century. His _Moral Fables_,
        edited by Dr. David Irving, were printed for the
        Maitland Club in 1832, and his complete works (Poems and
        Fables) were edited by Dr. David Laing, and published in
        1865. His _Testament of Cresseid_, usually considered as
        his best performance, is a continuation of Chaucer's
        _Troilus and Cresseide_, which was derived from the
        Latin of an unknown author named Lollius. Henryson was
        the author of the first pastoral poem composed in the
        English (or Scottish) language--that of _Robin and
        Makyn_. "To his power of poetical conception," Dr. Laing
        justly remarks, "he unites no inconsiderable skill in
        versification: his lines, if divested of their uncouth
        orthography, might be mistaken for those of a more
        modern poet."

  [137] _Schaw_, a wood, a covert.

  [138] _Chymeris_, a short, light gown.

  [139] _Hude_, hood.

  [140] _Bordourit_, embroidered.

  [141] _Hekellit-wise_, like the feathers in the neck of a cock.

  [142] _Fassoun_, fashion.

  [143] _Lokker_, (?) gray.

  [144] _Stikkand_, sticking.

  [145] _Pennair_, pen-case.

  [146] _Graithit_, apparelled, arrayed.

  [147] _Feirfull_, awe-inspiring, dignified.

The Arabian sage Lokinan is represented by tradition to have been a
black slave, and of hideous appearance, from which, and from the
identity of the apologues in the Arabian collection that bears his name
as the author with the so-called Esopic fables, some writers have
supposed that Esop and Lokman are simply different names of one and the
same individual. But the fables ascribed to Lokman have been for the
most part (if not indeed entirely) derived from the Greek; and there is
no authority whatever that Lokman composed any apologues. Various
traditions exist regarding Lokman's origin and history. It is said that
he was an Ethiopian, and was sold as a slave to the Israelites during
the reign of David. According to one version, he was a carpenter;
another describes him as having been originally a tailor; while a third
account states that he was a shepherd. If the Arabs may be credited, he
was nearly related to the patriarch Job. Among the anecdotes which are
recounted of his amiable disposition is the following: His master once
gave him a bitter lemon to eat. Lokman ate it all, upon which his
master, greatly astonished, asked him: "How was it possible for you to
eat so unpalatable a fruit?" Lokman replied: "I have received so many
favours from you, that it is no wonder I should once in my life eat a
bitter melon from your hand." Struck with this generous answer, the
master, it is said, immediately gave him his freedom.--A man of eminence
among the Jews, observing a great crowd around Lokman, eagerly listening
to his discourse, asked him whether he was not the black slave who
lately tended the sheep of such a person, to which Lokman replying in
the affirmative, "How was it possible," continued his questioner, "for
thee to attain so exalted a degree of wisdom and piety?" Lokman
answered: "By always speaking the truth; keeping my word; and never
intermeddling in affairs that did not concern me."--Being asked from
whom he had learned urbanity, he replied: "From men of rude manners, for
whatever I saw in them that was disagreeable I avoided doing myself."
And when asked from whom he had acquired his philosophy, he said: "From
the blind, who never advance a step until they have tried the ground."
Lokman is also credited with this apothegm: "Be a learned man, a
disciple of the learned, or an auditor of the learned; at least, be a
lover of knowledge and desirous of improvement."--In Persian and Turkish
tales Lokman sometimes figures as a highly skilled physician, and "wise
as Lokman" is proverbial throughout the Muhammedan world.



The same jest is also found in _Aino Folk-Tales_, translated by Prof.
Basil Hall Chamberlain, and published in the _Folk-Lore Journal_, 1888,
as follows:

There was the Chief of the Mouth of the River and the Chief of the Upper
Current of the River. The former was very vain-glorious, and therefore
wished to put the latter to shame or to kill him by engaging him in an
attempt to perform something impossible. So he sent for him and said:
"The sea is a useful thing, in so far as it is the original home of the
fish which come up the river. But it is very destructive in stormy
weather, when it beats wildly upon the beach. Do you now drink it dry,
so that there may be rivers and dry land only. If you cannot do so, then
forfeit all your possessions." The other said, greatly to the
vain-glorious man's surprise: "I accept the challenge." So, on their
going down to the beach, the Chief of the Upper Current of the River
took a cup and scooped up a little of the sea-water with it, drank a few
drops, and said: "In the sea-water itself there is no harm. It is some
of the rivers flowing into it that are poisonous. Do you, therefore,
first close the mouths of all the rivers both in Aino-land and in Japan,
and prevent them from flowing into the sea, and then I will undertake to
drink the sea dry." Hereupon the Chief of the Mouth of the River felt
ashamed, acknowledged his error, and gave all his treasures to his

       *       *       *       *       *

Such an idea as this of first "stopping the rivers" might well have been
conceived independently by different peoples, but surely not by such a
race so low in the scale of humanity as the Ainos, who must have got the
story from the Japanese, who in their turn probably derived it from some
Indian-Buddhist source--perhaps a version of the Book of Sindibád. Of
course, the several European versions and variants have been copied out
of one book into another, and independent invention is out of the


  _Orl._ Whom ambles Time withal?

  _Ros._ With a priest that lacks Latin; for he sleeps easily,
  because he cannot study, lacking the burden of lean and wasteful
  learning.--_As You Like It_.

During the 7th and 8th centuries the state of letters throughout
Christian Europe was so low that very few of the bishops could compose
their own discourses, and some of those Church dignitaries thought it no
shame to publicly acknowledge their inability to write their own names.
Numerous instances occur in the Acts of the Councils of Ephesus and
Chalcedon of an inscription in these words: "I, ----, have subscribed
by the hand of ----, because I cannot write"; and such a bishop having
thus confessed that he could not write, there followed: "I, ----, whose
name is underwritten, have therefore subscribed for him."

Alfred the Great--who was twelve years of age before a tutor could be
found competent to teach him the alphabet--complained, towards the close
of the 9th century, that "from the Humber to the Thames there was not a
priest who understood the liturgy in his mother-tongue, or could
translate the easiest piece of Latin"; and a correspondent of Abelard,
about the middle of the 12th century, complimenting him upon a resort to
him of pupils from all countries, says that "even Britain, distant as
she is, sends her savages to be instructed by you."

Henri Etienne, in the Introduction to his Apology for Herodotus,[148]
says that "the most brutish and blockish ignorance was to be found in
friars' cowls, especially mass-mongering priests, which we are the less
to wonder at, considering that which Menot twits them in the teeth
withal, that instead of books there was nothing to be found in their
chambers but a sword, or a long-bow, or a cross-bow, or some such
weapon. But how could they send _ad ordos_ such ignorant asses? You must
note, sir, that they which examined them were as wise as woodcocks
themselves, and therefore judged of them as penmen of pikemen and blind
men of colours. Or were it that they had so much learning in their
budgets as that they could make a shift to know their inefficiency, yet
to pleasure those that recommended them they suffered them to pass. One
is famous among the rest, who being asked by the bishop sitting at the
table: 'Es tu dignus?' answered, 'No, my Lord, but I shall dine anon
with your men.' For he thought that _dignus_ (that is, worthy) signified
to dine."

  [148] This is a work distinct from Henri Etienne's _Apologia
        pour Herodote_. An English translation of it was
        published at London in 1807, and at Edinburgh in 1808,
        under the title of "_A World of Wonders_; or, an
        Introduction to a Treatise touching the Conformitie of
        Ancient and Modern Wonders; or, a Preparative Treatise
        to the Apology for Herodotus," etc. For this book (the
        "Introduction") Etienne had to quit France, fearing the
        wrath of the clerics. His _Apologie pour Herodote_ has
        not been rendered into English--and why not, it would be
        hard to say.

Etienne gives another example, which, however, belongs rather to the
class of simpleton stories: A young man going to the bishop for
admission into holy orders, to test his _learning_, was asked by the
prelate, "Who was the father of the Four Sons of Aymon?"[149] and not
knowing what answer to make, this promising candidate was refused as
inefficient. Returning home, and explaining why he had not been
ordained, his father told him that he must be an ass if he could not
tell who was the father of the four sons of Aymon. "See, I pray thee,"
quoth he, "yonder is Great John, the smith, who has four sons; if a man
should ask thee who was their father, wouldst thou not say it was Great
John, the smith?" "Yes," said the brilliant youth; "now I understand
it." Thereupon he went again before the bishop, and being asked a second
time, "Who was the father of the Four Sons of Aymon?" he promptly
replied: "Great John, the smith."[150]

  [149] One of the Charlemagne Romances, translated by Caxton
        from the French, and printed by him about the year 1489,
        under the title of _The Right Pleasaunt and Goodly
        Historie of the Four Sonnes of Aymon_. It has been
        reprinted for the Early English Text Society, ably
        edited by Miss Octavia Richardson.

  [150] A slightly different version is found in _A Hundred Mery
        Talys_, No. lxix, "Of the franklyns sonne that cam to
        take orders." The bishop says that Noah had three sons,
        Shem, Ham, and Japheth;--who was the father of Japheth?
        When the "scholar" returns home and tells his father how
        he had been puzzled by the bishop, he endeavours to
        enlighten his son thus: "Here is Colle, my dog, that
        hath three whelps; must not these three whelps have
        Colle for their sire?" Going back to the bishop, he
        informs his lordship that the father of Japheth was
        "Colle, my father's dogge."

The same author asks who but the churchmen of those days of ignorance
corrupted and perverted the text of the New Testament? Thus, in the
parable of the lost piece of money, _evertit domum_, "she overturned the
house," was substituted for _everrit domum_, "she _swept_ the house."
And in the Acts of the Apostles, where Saul (or Paul) is described as
being let down from the house on the wall of Damascus in a basket, for
_demissus per sportam_ was substituted _demissus per portam_, a
correction which called forth a rather witty Latin epigram to this

  This way the other day did pass
  As jolly a carpenter as ever was;
  So strangely skilful in his trade,
  That of a _basket_ a _door_ he made.

Among the many curious anecdotes told in illustration of the gross
ignorance of the higher orders of the clergy in medieval times the two
following are not the least amusing:

About the year 1330 Louis Beaumont was bishop of Durham. He was an
extremely illiterate French nobleman, so incapable of reading that he
could not, although he had studied them, read the bulls announced to the
people at his consecration. During that ceremony the word
"metropoliticæ" occurred. The bishop paused, and tried in vain to repeat
it, and at last remarked: "Suppose that said." Then he came to
"enigmate," which also puzzled him. "By St. Louis!" he exclaimed in
indignation, "it could be no gentleman who wrote that stuff!"

Our second anecdote is probably more generally known: Andrew Forman, who
was bishop of Moray and papal legate for Scotland, at an entertainment
given by him at Rome to the Pope and cardinals, blundered so in his
Latinity when he said grace that his Holiness and the cardinals lost
their gravity. The disconcerted bishop concluded his blessing by giving
"a' the fause carles to the de'il," to which the company, not
understanding his Scotch Latinity, said "Amen!"

When such was the condition of the bishops, it is not surprising to find
that few of the ordinary priests were acquainted with even the rudiments
of the Latin tongue, and they consequently mumbled over masses which
they did not understand. A rector of a parish, we are told, going to law
with his parishioners about paving the church, cited these words,
_Paveant illi, non paveam ego_, which, ascribing them to St. Peter, he
thus construed: "They are to pave the church, not I"--and this was
allowed to be good law by a judge who was himself an ecclesiastic.

We have an amusing example of the ignorance of the lower orders of
churchmen during the "dark ages" in No. xii of _A Hundred Mery Talys_,
as follows: "The archdekyn of Essex, that had ben longe in auctorite, in
a tyme of vysytacyon, whan all the prestys apperyd before hym, called
aside iii. of the yonge prestys which were acusyd that th[e]y could not
wel say theyr dyvyne service, and askyd of them, when they sayd mas,
whether they sayd corpus meus or corpum meum. The fyrst prest sayde that
he sayd corpus meus. The second sayd that he sayd corpum meum. And than
he asked of the thyrd how he sayde; whyche answered and sayd thus: Sir,
because it is so great a dout, and dyvers men be in dyvers opynyons,
therfore, because I wolde be sure I wolde not offende, whan I come to
the place I leve it clene out and say nothynge therfore. Wherfore the
bysshoppe than openly rebuked them all thre. But dyvers that were
present thought more defaut in hym, because he hym selfe beforetyme had
admytted them to be prestys." And assuredly they were right in so
thinking, and the worthy archdeacon (or bishop, as he is also styled),
who had probably passed the three young men "for value received" from
their fathers, should have refrained from publicly examining them

The covetousness and irreverence of the churchmen in former times are
well exemplified in another tale given in the same old jest-book, No.
lxxi, which, with spelling modernised, goes thus: "Sometime there
dwelled a priest in Stratford-on-Avon, of small learning, which
undevoutly sang mass and oftentimes twice on one day. So it happened on
a time, after his second mass was done in short space, not a mile from
Stratford there met him divers merchantmen, which would have heard mass,
and desired him to sing mass and he should have a groat, which answered
them and said: 'Sirs, I will say mass no more this day; but I will say
you two gospels for one groat, and that is dog-cheap for a mass in any
place in England.'" The story-teller does not inform us whether the
pious merchants accepted of the business-like compromise offered by
"Mass John."

Hagiolatry was quite as much in vogue among the priesthood in medieval
times as mariolatry has since been the special characteristic of the
Romish Church, to the subordination (one might almost say, the
suppression) of the only true object of worship; in proof of which, here
is a droll anecdote from another early English collection, _Mery Tales,
Wittie Questions, and Quicke Answeres, very pleasant to be readde_ (No.
cxix): "A friar, preaching to the people, extolled Saint Francis above
[all] confessors, doctors, virgins, martyrs, prophets--yea, and above
one more than prophets, John the Baptist, and finally above the
seraphical order of angels; and still he said, 'Yet let us go higher.'
So when he could go no farther, except he should put Christ out of his
place, which the good man was half afraid to do, he said aloud, 'And yet
we have found no fit place for him.' And, staying a little while, he
cried out at last, saying, 'Where shall we place the holy father?' A
froward fellow standing among the audience,[151] said, 'If thou canst
find none other, then set him here in my place, for I am weary,' and so
he went his way."--This "froward fellow's" unexpected reply will
doubtless remind the reader of the old man's remark in the mosque, about
the "calling of Noah," _ante_, pp. 66, 67.[152]

  [151] There were no pews in the churches in those "good old

  [152] _Apropos_ of saint-worship, quaint old Thomas Fuller
        relates a droll story in his _Church History_, ed. 1655,
        p. 278: A countryman who had lived many years in the
        Hercinian woods, in Germany, at last came into a
        populous city, demanding of the people therein, what God
        they did worship. They answered him, that they
        worshipped Jesus Christ. Whereupon the wild wood-man
        asked the names of the several churches in the city,
        which were all called by sundry saints, to whom they
        were consecrated. "It is strange," said he, "that you
        should worship Jesus Christ, and he not have a temple in
        all the city dedicated to him."

Probably not less than one third of the jests current in Europe in the
16th century turned on the ignorance of the Romish clergy--such, for
instance, as that of the illiterate priest who, finding _salta per tria_
(skip over three leaves) written at the foot of a page in his mass-book,
deliberately jumped down three of the steps before the altar, to the
great astonishment of the congregation; or that of another who, finding
the title of the day's service indicated only by the abbreviation _Re._,
read the mass of the Requiem instead of the service of the Resurrection;
or that of yet another, who being so illiterate as to be unable to
pronounce readily the long words in his ritual always omitted them, and
pronounced the word Jesus, which he said was much more devotional.

There is a diverting tale of a foolish curé of Brou, which is well
worthy of reproduction, in _Les Contes; ou, les Nouvelles Récréations et
Joyeux Devis_, by Bonaventure des Periers--one of the best story-books
of the 16th century (Bonaventure succeeded the celebrated poet Clement
Marot as _valet-de-chambre_ to Margaret, queen of Navarre):

It happened that a lady of rank and importance, on her way to Châteaudun
to keep there the festival of Easter, passed through Brou on Good
Friday, about ten o'clock in the morning, and, wishing to hear service,
she went into the church. When the curé came to the Passion he said it
in his own peculiar manner, and made the whole church ring when he said,
"_Quem, quæritis_?" But when it came to the reply, "_Jesum,
Nazarenum_,"[153] he spoke as low as he possibly could, and in this
manner he continued the Passion. The lady, who was very devout and, for
a woman, well-informed, in the Holy Scriptures [the reader will
understand this was early in the 16th century], and attentive to
ecclesiastical ceremonies, felt scandalised at this mode of chanting,
and wished that she had never entered the church. She had a mind to
speak to the curé, and tell him what she thought of it, and for this
purpose sent for him to come to her after service. When he was come,
"Monsieur le Curé," she said to him, "I don't know where you have
learned to officiate on a day like this, when the people ought to be all
humility. But to hear you perform the service is enough to drive away
anybody's devotion." "How so, madame?" said the curé. "How so?"
responded the lady. "You have said a Passion contrary to all rules of
decency. When our Lord speaks you cry as if you were in the town-hall,
and when it is Caiaphas, or Pilate, or the Jews, you speak softly like a
young bride. Is this becoming in one like you? Are you fit to be a curé?
If you had what you deserve, you would be turned out of your benefice,
and then you would be made to know your fault." When the curé had very
attentively listened to the good lady, "Is this what you have to say to
me, madame?" said he. "By my soul! it is very true what you say, and the
truth is, there are many people who talk of things which they do not
understand. Madame, I believe I know my office as well as another, and
beg all the world to know that God is as well served in this parish
according to its condition as in any place within a hundred leagues of
it. I know very well that the other curés chant the Passion quite
differently. I could easily chant it like them if I would; but they
don't understand their business at all. I should like to know if it
becomes those rogues of Jews to speak as loud as our Lord? No, no,
madame; rest assured that in my parish it is my will that God be master,
and he shall be as long as I live, and let others do in their parishes
according to their understanding."

  [153] "Jesus, therefore, knowing all things that should come
        upon him, went forth, and said unto them, 'Whom seek
        ye?' They answered him, 'Jesus of Nazareth.'"--_Gospel
        of S. John_, xviii, 4, 5.

This is another of Des Periers' comical tales at the expense of the
clerical orders: There was a priest of a village who was as proud as
might be because he had seen a little more than his Cato. And this made
him set up his feathers and talk very grand, using words that filled his
mouth in order to make people think him a great doctor. Even at
confession he made use of terms which astonished the poor people. One
day he was confessing a poor working man, of whom he asked: "Here, now,
my friend, tell me, art thou not ambitious?" The poor man said, "No,"
thinking this was a word which belonged to great lords, and almost
repented of having come to confess to this priest; for he had already
heard that he was such a great clerk and that he spoke so grandly that
nobody understood him, which he knew by the word _ambitious_; for
although he might have heard it somewhere, yet he knew not at all what
it meant. The priest went on to ask: "Art thou not a gourmand?" Said the
labourer, who understood as little as before: "No." "Art thou not
superbe" [proud]? "No." "Art thou not iracund" [passionate]? "No." The
priest, seeing the man always answer, "No," was somewhat surprised. "Art
thou not concupiscent?" "No." "And what are thou, then?" said the
priest. "I am," said he, "a mason--here's my trowel."

       *       *       *       *       *

Readers acquainted with the _fabliaux_ of the minstrels (the Trouvères)
of Northern France know that those light-hearted gentry very often
launched their satirical shafts at the churchmen of their day. One of
the _fabliaux_ in Barbazan's collection relates how a doltish,
thick-headed priest was officiating in his church on Good Friday, and
when about to read the service for that day he discovered that he had
lost his book-mark ("_mais il ot perdu ses festuz_.")[154] Then he began
to go back and turn over the leaves, but until Ascension Day he found
not the Passion service. And the assembled peasants fretted and
complained that he made them fast too long, since it was time for the
festival. "Had he but said them the service," interjects the _fableur_,
"should I make you a longer story?" So much did they grumble on all
sides, that the priest began on them and fell to saying very rapidly,
first in a loud and then in a low tone of voice, "_Dixit Dominus Domino
meo_" (the Lord said unto my Lord); "but," says the _fableur_, "I cannot
find here any sequel." The priest having read the text as chance might
lead him, read the vespers for Sunday;--and you must know he travailed
hard, that the offerings should be worth something to him. Then he fell
to crying, "Barabbas!"--no crier could have cried a ban so loud as he
cried to them; and everyone began to confess his sins aloud (i.e.,
struck up "_mea culpa_") and cried, "Mercy!" The priest, who read on the
sequence of his Psalter, once more began to cry out, saying, "Crucify
him!" So that both men and women prayed God that he would defend them
from torment. But it sorely vexed the clerk, who said to the priest,
"Make an end"; but he answered, "Make no end, friend, till 'unto the
marvellous works'"--referring to a passage in the Psalter. The clerk
then said that a long Passion service boots nothing, and that it is
never a gain to keep the people too long. And as soon as the offerings
of the people were collected he finished the Passion.--"By this tale,"
adds the _raconteur_, "I would show you how--by the faith of Saint
Paul!--it as well befits a fool to talk folly and sottishness as it
becomes a wise man to speak wisely. And he is a fool who believes me
not."[155]--A commentary, this, which recalls the old English saying,
that "it is as great marvel to see a woman weep as to see a goose go

  [154] _Festueum_, the split straw so used in the Middle Ages.

  [155] See Méon's edition of Barbazan's _Fabliaux et Contes_,
        ed. 1808, tome ii, p. 442, and a prose _extrait_ in Le
        Grand d'Aussy's collection, ed. 1781, tome iv, p. 101,
        "Du Prêtre qui dit la Passion."

       *       *       *       *       *

They were bold fellows, those Trouvères. Not content with making the
ignorance and the gross vices of the clerical orders the subjects of
their _fabliaux_, they did not scruple to ridicule their superstitious
teachings, as witness the satire on saint-worship, entitled "Du vilain
[i.e., peasant] qui conquist Paradis par plait," the substance of which
is as follows: A poor peasant dies suddenly, and his soul escapes at a
moment when neither angel nor demon was on the watch, so that, unclaimed
and left to his own discretion, the peasant follows St. Peter, who
happened to be on his way to Paradise, and enters the gate with him
unperceived. When the saint finds that the soul of such a low person has
found its way into Paradise he is angry, and rudely orders the peasant
out. But the latter accuses St. Peter of denying his Saviour, and,
conscience-stricken, the gate-keeper of heaven applies to St. Thomas,
who undertakes to drive away the intruder. The peasant, however,
disconcerts St. Thomas by reminding him of his disbelief, and St. Paul,
who comes next, fares no better--he had persecuted the saints. At length
Christ hears of what had occurred, and comes himself. The Saviour
listens benignantly to the poor soul's pleading, and ends by forgiving
the peasant his sins, and allowing him to remain in Paradise.[156]

  [156] See Méon's Barbazan, 1808, tome iv, p. 114; also Le
        Grand, 1781, tome ii, p. 190: "Du Vilain qui gagna
        Paradis en plaidant."

       *       *       *       *       *

There exists a very singular English burlesque of the unprofitable
sermons of the preaching friars in the Middle Ages, which is worthy of
Rabelais himself, and of which this is a modernised extract:

_Mollificant olera durissima crusta._--"Friends, this is to say to your
ignorant understanding, that hot plants and hard crusts make soft hard
plants. The help and the grace of the gray goose that goes on the green,
and the wisdom of the water wind-mill, with the good grace of a gallon
pitcher, and all the salt sausages that be sodden in Norfolk upon
Saturday, be with us now at our beginning, and help us in our ending,
and quit you of bliss and both your eyes, that never shall have ending.
Amen. My dear curst creatures, there was once a wife whose name was
Catherine Fyste, and she was crafty in court, and well could carve.
Hence she sent after the four Synods of Rome to know why, wherefore, and
for what cause that Alleluja was closed before the cup came once round.
Why, believest thou not, forsooth, that there stood once a cock on St.
Paul's steeple-top, and drew up the strapples of his breech? How provest
thou that tale? By all the four doctors of Wynberryhills--that is to
say, Vertas, Gadatryne, Trumpas, and Dadyltrymsert--the which four
doctors say there was once an old wife had a cock to her son, and he
looked out of an old dove-cot, and warned and charged that no man should
be so hardy either to ride or go on St. Paul's steeple-top unless he
rode on a three-footed stool, or else that he brought with him a warrant
of his neck"--and so on, in this fantastical style.

       *       *       *       *       *

The meaning of the phrase "benefit of clergy" is not perhaps very
generally understood. The phrase had its origin in those days of
intellectual darkness, when the state of letters was so low that anyone
found guilty in a court of justice of a crime which was punishable with
death, if he could prove himself able to read a verse in a Latin Bible
he was pardoned, as being a man of learning, and therefore likely to be
useful to the state; but if he could not read he was sure to be hanged.
This privilege, it is said, was granted to all offences, excepting high
treason and sacrilege, till after the year 1350. At first it was
extended not only to the clergy but to any person that could read, who,
however, had to vow that he would enter into holy orders; but with the
increase of learning this "benefit to clergy" was restricted by several
Acts of Parliament, and it was finally abolished only so late as the
reign of George IV.

In _Pasquils Jests and Mother Bunches Merriments_, a book of _facetiæ_
very popular in the 16th century, a story is told of a criminal at the
Oxford Assizes who "prayed his clergy," and a Bible was accordingly
handed to him that he might read a verse. He could not read a word,
however, which a scholar who chanced to be present observing, he stood
behind him and prompted him with the verse he was to read; but coming
towards the end, the man's thumb happened to cover the remaining words,
and so the scholar, in a low voice, said: "Take away thy thumb," which
words the man, supposing them to form part of the verse he was reading,
repeated aloud, "Take away thy thumb"--whereupon the judge ordered him
to be taken away and hanged. And in Taylor's _Wit and Mirth_ (1630): "A
fellow having his book [that is, having read a verse in the Bible] at
the sessions, was burnt in the hand, and was commanded to say: 'May God
save the King.' 'The King!' said he, 'God save my grandam, that taught
me to read; I am sure I had been hanged else.'"

The verse in the Bible which a criminal was required to read, in order
to entitle him to the "benefit of clergy" (the beginning of the 51st
Psalm, "Miserere mei"), was called the "neck-verse," because his doing
so saved his neck from the gallows. It is sometimes jestingly alluded to
in old plays. For example, in Massinger's _Great Duke of Florence_, Act
iii, sc. 1:

  _Cataminta_.--How the fool stares!

  _Fiorinda_.--And looks as if he were conning his neck-verse;

and in the same dramatist's play of _The Picture_:

          Twang it perfectly,
  As if it were your neck-verse.

In the anonymous _Pleasant Comedy of Patient Grissell_ (1603), Act ii,
sc. 1, we find this custom again referred to:

  _Farnese_.--Ha, hah! Emulo not write and read?

  _Rice_.--Not a letter, an you would hang him.

  _Urcenze_.--Then he'll never be saved by his book.

In Scott's _Lay of the Last Minstrel_, the moss-trooper, William of
Deloraine, assures the lady, who had warned him not to look into what he
should receive from the Monk of St. Mary's Aisle, "be it scroll or be it
book," that

  "Letter nor line know I never a one,
  Were't my neck-verse at Haribee"--

the place where such Border rascals were usually executed.

It was formerly the custom to sing a psalm at the gallows before a
criminal was "turned off." And there is a good story, in Zachary Gray's
notes to _Hudibras_, told of one of the chaplains of the famous
Montrose; how, being condemned in Scotland to die for attending his
master in some of his expeditions, and being upon the ladder and ordered
to select a psalm to be sung, expecting a reprieve, he named the 119th
Psalm, with which the officer attending the execution complied (the
Scottish Presbyterians were great psalm-singers in those days), and it
was well for him he did so, for they had sung it half through before the
reprieve came. Any other psalm would certainly have hanged him! Cotton,
in his _Virgil Travestie_, thus alludes to the custom of psalm-singing
at the foot of the gallows:

  Ready, when Dido gave the word,
  To be advanced into the halter,
  Without the benefit on's Psalter.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Then 'cause she would, to part the sweeter,
  A portion have of Hopkins' metre,
  As people use at execution,
  For the decorum of conclusion,
  Being too sad to sing, she says.[157]

  [157] _Scarronides; or, Virgil Travestie_, etc., by Charles
        Cotton, Book iv. _Poetical Works_, 5th edition, London,
        1765, pp. 122, 140.

If the clergy in medieval times had, as they are said to have had, all
the learning among themselves, what a blessed state of ignorance must
the laity have been in! And so, indeed, it appears, for there is extant
an old Act of Parliament which provides that a nobleman shall be
entitled to the "benefit of clergy," even though he could not read. And
another law sets forth that "the command of the sheriff to his officer
by word of mouth, and without writing is good; for it may be that
neither the sheriff nor his officer can write or read!" Many charters
are preserved to which persons of great dignity, even kings, have
affixed the sign of the cross, because they were not able to write their
names, and hence the term of _signing_, instead of subscribing. In this
respect a ten-year-old Board School boy in these "double-distilled" days
is vastly superior to the most renowned of the "barons bold."


  'Tis merry in the hall when beards wag all.--_Old Song_.

Among the harmless foibles of adolescence which contribute to the quiet
amusement of folks of mature years is the eager desire of youths to have
their smooth faces adorned with that "noble" distinction of manhood--a
beard. And no wonder. For, should a clever lad, getting out of his
"teens," venture to express opinions contrary to those of his elders
present, is he not at once snubbed by being called "a beardless boy"? A
boy! Bitter taunt! He very naturally feels that he is grossly insulted,
and all because his "dimpled chin never has known the barber's shear."
Full well does our ingenuous youth know that a man is not wise in
consequence of his beard--that, as the Orientals say of women's long
hair, it often happens that men with long beards have short wits;
nevertheless, had he but a beard himself, he should then be free from
such a wretched "argument"--such an implied accusation of his lack of
wit, as that he is beardless. The young Roman watched the first
appearance of the downy precursor of his beard with no little
solicitude, and applied the household oil to his face--there were no
patent specifics in those days for "infallibly producing luxuriant
whiskers and moustaches in a few weeks"--to promote its tardy growth,
and entitle him, from the incipient fringe, to be styled "barbatulus."
When his beard was full-grown he was called "barbatus."

It would seem that the beard was held in the highest esteem, especially
in Asiatic countries, from the earliest period of which any records have
been preserved. The Hebrew priests are commanded in the Book of
Leviticus, ch. xix, not to shave off the corners of their beards; and
the first High Priest, Aaron, probably wore a magnificent beard, since
the amicable relations between brethren are compared, in the 133rd
Psalm, to "the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the
beard, even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his
garments." The Assyrian kings intertwined gold thread with their fine
beards--and, judging from mural sculptures, curling tongs must have been
in considerable demand with them. In ancient Greece the beard was
universally worn, and it is related of Zoilus, the founder of the
anti-Homeric school, that he shaved the crown of his head, in order that
all the virtue should go to the nourishment of his beard. Persius could
not think of a more complimentary epithet to apply to Socrates than that
of "Magistrum Barbatum," or Bearded Master--the notion being that the
beard was the symbol of profound sagacity.[158] Alexander the Great,
however, caused his soldiers to shave off their beards, because they
furnished their enemies with handles whereby to seize hold of them in
battle. The beard was often consecrated to the deities, as the most
precious offering. Chaucer, in his _Knight's Tale_, represents Arcite as
offering his beard to Mars:

  And evermore, unto that day I dye,
  Eternè fyr I wol bifore the fynde,
  And eek to this avow I wol me bynde,
  My berd, myn heer, that hangeth long a doun,
  That neuer yit ne felt offensioun
  Of rasour ne of schere, I wol ye giue,
  And be thy trewè seruaunt whiles I lyue.[159]

  [158] The notion that a beard indicated wisdom on the part of
        the wearer is often referred to in early European
        literature. For example, in Lib. v of Caxton's Esop, the
        Fox, to induce the sick King Lion to kill the Wolf, says
        he has travelled far and wide, seeking a good medicine
        for his Majesty, and "certaynly I have found no better
        counceylle than the counceylle of an auncyent Greke,
        with a grete and long berd, a man of grete wysdom, sage,
        and worthy to be praysed." And when the Fox, in another
        fable, leaves the too-credulous Goat in the well,
        Reynard adds insult to injury by saying to him, "O
        maystre goote, yf thow haddest be [i.e. been] wel
        wyse, with thy fayre berde," and so forth. (Pp. 153 and
        196 of Mr. Jacobs' new edition.)--A story is told of a
        close-shaven French ambassador to the court of some
        Eastern potentate, that on presenting his credentials
        his Majesty made sneering remarks on his smooth face
        (doubtless he was himself "bearded to the eyes"), to
        which the envoy boldly replied: "Sire, had my master
        supposed that you esteem a beard so highly, instead of
        me, he would have sent your Majesty a goat as his

  [159] Harleian MS. No. 7334, lines 2412-2418. Printed for the
        Early English Text Society.

Selim I was the first Turkish sultan who shaved his beard after his
accession to the throne; and when his muftis remonstrated with him for
this _dangerous_ innovation, he facetiously replied that he had removed
his beard in order that his vazírs should not have wherewith to _lead_
him. The beards of modern Persian soldiers were abolished in consequence
of a singular accident, which Morier thus relates in his _Second
Journey_: When European discipline was introduced into the Persian army,
Lieutenant Lindsay raised a corps of artillery. His zeal was only
equalled by the encouragement of the king, who liberally adopted every
method proposed. It was only upon the article of shaving off the beards
of the Persian soldiers that the king was inexorable; nor would the
sacrifice have ever taken place had it not happened that, in discharging
the guns before the prince, a powder-horn exploded in the hand of a
gunner who had been gifted with a very long beard, which in an instant
was blown away from his chin. Lieutenant Lindsay, availing himself of
this lucky opportunity to prove his argument on the inconvenience of
beards to soldiers, immediately produced the scorched gunner before the
prince, who was so much struck with his woeful appearance that the
abolition of military beards was at once decided upon.

It was customary for the early French monarchs to place three hairs of
their beard under the seal attached to important documents; and there is
still extant a charter of the year 1121, which concludes with these
words: "Quod ut ratum et stabile perseveret in posterum, præsentis
scripto sigilli mei robur apposui cum tribus pilis barbæ meæ."--In
obedience to his spiritual advisers, Louis VII of France had his hair
cut close and his beard shaved off. But his consort Eleanor was so
disgusted with his smooth face and cropped head that she took her own
measures to be revenged, and the poor king was compelled to obtain a
divorce from her. She subsequently gave her hand to the Count of Anjou,
afterwards Henry II of England, and the rich provinces of Poitou and
Guienne were her dowry. From this sprang those terrible wars which
continued for three centuries, and cost France untold treasure and three
millions of men--and all because Louis did not consult his consort
before shaving off his beard!

Charles the Fifth of Spain ascending the throne while yet a mere boy,
his courtiers shaved their beards in compliment to the king's smooth
face. But some of the shaven Dons were wont to say bitterly, "Since we
have lost our beards, we have lost our souls!" Sully, the eminent
statesman and soldier, scorned, however, to follow the fashion, and,
being one day summoned to Court on urgent business of State, his beard
was made the subject of ridicule by the foppish courtiers. The veteran
thus gravely addressed the king: "Sire, when your father, of glorious
memory, did me the honour to consult me in grave State matters, he first
dismissed the buffoons and stage-dancers from the presence-chamber." It
may be readily supposed that after this well-merited rebuke the grinning
courtiers at once disappeared.

Julius II, one of the most warlike of all the Roman Pontiffs, was the
first Pope who permitted his beard to grow, to inspire the faithful with
still greater respect for his august person. Kings and their courtiers
were not slow to follow the example of the Head of the Church and the
ruler of kings, and the fashion soon spread among people of all ranks.

So highly prized was the beard in former times that Baldwin, Prince of
Edessa, as Nicephorus relates in his Chronicle, pawned his beard for a
large sum of money, which was redeemed by his father Gabriel, Prince of
Melitene, to prevent the ignominy which his son must have suffered by
its loss. And when Juan de Castro, the Portuguese admiral, borrowed a
thousand pistoles from the citizens of Goa he pledged one of his
whiskers, saying, "All the gold in the world cannot equal this natural
ornament of my valour." And it is said the people of Goa were so much
affected by the noble message that they remitted the money and returned
the whisker--though of what earthly use it could prove to the gallant
admiral, unless, perhaps, to stuff a tennis ball, it is not easy to say.

To deprive a man of his beard was a token of ignominious subjection, and
is still a common mode of punishment in some Asiatic countries. And such
was the treatment that the conjuror Pinch received at the hands of
Antipholus of Ephesus and his man, in the _Comedy of Errors_, according
to the servant's account of the outrage, who states that not only had
they "beaten the maids a-row," but they

                      bound the doctor,
  Whose beard they have singed off with brands of fire;
  And ever as it blazed they threw on him
  Great pails of puddled mire to quench the hair (v, 1).

In Persia and India when a wife is found to have been unfaithful, her
hair--the distinguishing ornament of woman, as the beard is considered
to be that of man--is shaved off, among other indignities.

Don Sebastian Cobbarruvius gravely relates the following marvellous
legend to show that nothing so much disgraced a Spaniard as pulling his
beard: "A noble of that nation dying (his name Cid Lai Dios), a Jew, who
hated him much in his lifetime, stole privately into the room where his
body was laid out, and, thinking to do what he never durst while living,
stooped down and plucked his beard; at which the body started up, and
drawing out half way his sword, which lay beside him, put the Jew in
such a fright that he ran out of the room as if a thousand devils had
been behind him. This done, the body lay down as before to rest; and,"
adds the veracious chronicler, "the Jew after that turned
Christian."--In the third of Don Quevedo's Visions of the Last Judgment,
we read that a Spaniard, after receiving sentence, was taken into
custody by a pair of demons who happened to disorder the set of his
moustache, and they had to re-compose them with a pair of curling-tongs
before they could get him to proceed with them!

By the rules of the Church of Rome, lay monks were compelled to wear
their beards, and only the priests were permitted to shave.[160] The
clergy at length became so corrupt and immoral, and lived such
scandalous lives, that they could not be distinguished from the laity
except by their close-shaven faces. The first Reformers, therefore, to
mark their separation from the Romish Church, allowed their beards to
grow. Calvin, Fox, Cranmer, and other leaders of the Reformation are all
represented in their portraits with long flowing beards. John Knox, the
great Scottish Reformer, wore, as is well known, a beard of prodigious

  [160] In a scarce old poem, entitled, _The Pilgrymage and the
        Wayes of Jerusalem_, we read:

          The thyrd Seyte beyn prestis of oure lawe,
          That synge masse at the Sepulcore;
          At the same grave there oure lorde laye,
          They synge the leteny every daye.
          In oure manner is her [i.e. their] songe,
          Saffe, here [i.e. their] _berdys be ryght longe_,
          That is the geyse of that contre,
          _The lenger the berde the bettyr is he_;
          The order of hem [i.e. them] be barfote freeres.

The ancient Britons shaved the chin and cheeks, but wore their
moustaches down to the breast. Our Saxon ancestors wore forked beards.
The Normans at the Conquest shaved not only the chin, but also the back
of the head. But they soon began to grow very long beards. During the
Wars of the Roses beards grew "small by degrees and beautifully less."

Queen Mary of England, in the year 1555, sent to Moscow four accredited
agents, who were all bearded; but one of them, George Killingworth, was
particularly distinguished by a beard five feet two inches long, at the
sight of which, it is said, a smile crossed the grim features of Ivan
the Terrible himself; and no wonder. But the longest beard known out of
fairy tales was that of Johann Mayo, the German painter, commonly called
"John the Bearded." His beard actually trailed on the ground when he
stood upright, and for convenience he usually kept it tucked in his
girdle. The emperor Charles V, it is said, was often pleased to cause
Mayo to unfasten his beard and allow it to blow in the faces of his
courtiers.--A worthy clergyman in the time of Queen Elizabeth gave as
the best reason he had for wearing a beard of enormous length, "that no
act of his life might be unworthy of the gravity of his appearance."

Queen Elizabeth, in the first year of her reign, made an abortive
attempt to abolish her subjects' beards by an impost of 3s. 4d. a year
(equivalent to four times that sum in these "dear" days) on every beard
of more than a fortnight's growth. And Peter the Great also laid a tax
upon beards in Russia: nobles' beards were assessed at a rouble, and
those of commoners at a copeck each. "But such veneration," says Giles
Fletcher, "had this people for these ensigns of gravity that many of
them carefully preserved their beards in their cabinets to be buried
with them, imagining perhaps that they should make but an odd figure in
their grave with their naked chins."

The beard of the renowned Hudibras was portentous, as we learn from
Butler, who thus describes the Knight's hirsute honours:

  His tawny beard was th' equal grace
  Both of his wisdom and his face;
  In cut and dye so like a tile,
  A sadden view it would beguile:
  The upper part whereof was whey,
  The nether orange mixt with grey.
  This hairy meteor did denounce
  The fall of sceptres and of crowns;
  With grisly type did represent
  Declining age of government,
  And tell, with hieroglyphic spade,
  Its own grave and the state's were made.

Philip Nye, an Independent minister in the time of the Commonwealth, and
one of the famous Assembly of Divines, was remarkable for the
singularity of his beard. Hudibras, in his Heroical Epistle to the lady
of his "love," speaks of

                  Amorous intrigues
  In towers, and curls, and periwigs,
  With greater art and cunning reared
  Than Philip Nye's _thanksgiving beard_.

Nye opposed Lilly the astrologer with no little virulence, for which he
was rewarded with the privilege of holding forth upon Thanksgiving Day,
and so, as Butler says, in some MS. verses,

  He thought upon it and resolved to put
  His beard into as wonderful a cut.

Butler even honoured Nye's beard with a whole poem, entitled "On Philip
Nye's Thanksgiving Beard," which is printed in his _Genuine Remains_,
edited by Thyer, vol. i, p. 177 ff., and opens thus:

  A beard is but the vizard of the face,
  That nature orders for no other place;
  The fringe and tassel of a countenance
  That hides his person from another man's,
  And, like the Roman habits of their youth,
  Is never worn until his perfect growth.

And in another set of verses he has again a fling at the obnoxious beard
of the same preacher:

  This reverend brother, like a goat,
  Did wear a tail upon his throat;
  The fringe and tassel of a face
  That gives it a becoming grace,
  But set in such a curious frame,
  As if 'twere wrought in filograin;
  And cut so even as if 't had been
  Drawn with a pen upon the chin.

As it was customary among the peoples of antiquity who wore their beards
to cut them off, and for those who shaved to allow their beards to grow,
in times of mourning, so many of the Presbyterians and Independents
vowed not to cut their beards till monarchy and episcopacy were utterly
destroyed. Thus in a humorous poem, entitled "The Cobler and the Vicar
of Bray," we read:

  This worthy knight was one that swore,
    He would not cut his beard
  Till this ungodly nation was
    From kings and bishops cleared.

  Which holy vow he firmly kept,
    And most devoutly wore
  A grisly meteor on his face,
    Till they were both no more.

In _Pericles, Prince of Tyre_, when the royal hero leaves his infant
daughter Marina in charge of his friend Cleon, governor of Tharsus, to
be brought up in his house, he declares to Cleon's wife (Act iii, sc.

  Till she be married, madam,
  By bright Diana, whom we honour all,
  Unscissored shall this hair of mine remain,
  Though I show well in't;

and that he meant his beard is evident from what he says at the close of
the play, when his daughter is about to be married to Lysimachus,
governor of Mitylene (Act v, sc. 3):

                               And now
  This ornament, that makes me look so dismal,
  Will I, my loved Marina, clip to form;
  And what these fourteen years no razor touched,
  To grace thy marriage day, I'll beautify.

Scott, in his _Woodstock_, represents Sir Henry Lee, of Ditchley, whilom
Ranger of Woodstock Park (or Chase), as wearing his full beard, to
indicate his profound grief for the death of the "Royal Martyr," which
indeed was not unusual with elderly and warmly devoted Royalists until
the "Happy Restoration"--save the mark!

Another extraordinary beard was that of Van Butchell, the quack doctor,
who died at London in 1814, in his 80th year. This singular individual
had his first wife's body carefully embalmed and preserved in a glass
case in his "study," in order that he might enjoy a handsome annuity to
which he was entitled "so long as his wife remained above ground." His
person was for many years familiar to loungers in Hyde Park, where he
appeared regularly every afternoon, riding on a little pony, and wearing
a magnificent beard of twenty years' growth, which an Oriental might
well have envied, the more remarkable in an age when shaving was so
generally practised.--A jocular epitaph was composed on "Mary Van
Butchell," of which these lines may serve as a specimen:

  O fortunate and envied man!
  To keep a wife beyond life's span;
  Whom you can ne'er have cause to blame,
  Is ever constant and the same;
  Who, qualities most rare, inherits
  A wife that's dumb, yet _full of spirits_.

The celebrated Dr. John Hunter is said to have embalmed the body of Van
Butchell's first wife--for the bearded empiric married again--and the
"mummy," in its original glass case, is still to be seen in the Museum
of the Royal College of Surgeon's, Lincoln's-Inn-Fields, London.

It was once the fashion for gallants to dye their beards various
colours, such as yellow, red, gray, and even green. Thus in the play of
_Midsummer Night's Dream_, Bottom the weaver asks in what kind of beard
he is to play the part of Pyramis--whether "in your straw-coloured
beard, your orange-tawny beard, your purple-in-grain beard, or your
French crown-coloured beard, your perfect yellow?" (Act i, sc. 2.) In
ancient church pictures, and in the miracle plays performed in medieval
times, both Cain and Judas Iscariot were always represented with yellow
beards. In the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, Mistress Quickly asks Simple
whether his master (Slender) does not wear "a great round beard, like a
glover's paring-knife," to which he replies: "No, forsooth; he hath but
a little wee face, with a little yellow beard--a Cain-coloured beard"
(Act i, sc. 4).--Allusions to beards are of very frequent occurrence in
Shakspeare's plays, as may be seen by reference to any good Concordance,
such as that of the Cowden Clarkes.

Harrison, in his _Description of England_, ed. 1586, p. 172, thus refers
to the vagaries of fashion of beards in his time: "I will saie nothing
of our heads, which sometimes are polled, sometimes curled, or suffered
to grow at length like womans lockes, manie times cut off, above or
under the eares, round as by a woodden dish. Neither will I meddle with
our varietie of beards, of which some are shaven from the chin like
those of Turks, not a few cut short like to the beard of marques Otto,
some made round like a rubbing brush, others with a _pique de vant_ (O
fine fashion!), or now and then suffered to grow long, the barbers being
growen to be so cunning in this behalfe as the tailors. And therfore if
a man have a leane and streight face, a marquesse Ottons cut will make
it broad and large; if it be platter like, a long slender beard will
make it seeme the narrower; if he be wesell becked, then much heare left
on the cheekes will make the owner looke big like a bowdled hen, and so
grim as a goose."[161]

  [161] Reprint for the Shakspere Society, 1877, B. ii, ch. vii,
        p. 169.

Barnaby Rich, in the conclusion of his _Farewell to the Military
Profession_ (1581), says that the young gallants sometimes had their
beards "cutte rounde, like a Philippes doler; sometymes square, like the
kinges hedde in Fishstreate; sometymes so neare the skinne, that a manne
might judge by his face the gentlemen had had verie pilde lucke."[162]

  [162] Reprint for the (old) Shakspeare Society, 1846, p. 217.

In Taylor's _Superbiae Flagellum_ we find the following amusing
description of the different "cuts" of beards:

  Now a few lines to paper I will put,
  Of mens Beards strange and variable cut:
  In which there's some doe take as vaine a Pride,
  As almost in all other things beside.
  Some are reap'd most substantiall, like a brush,
  Which makes a Nat'rall wit knowne by the bush:
  (And in my time of some men I have heard,
  Whose wisedome have bin onely wealth and beard)
  Many of these the proverbe well doth fit,
  Which sayes Bush naturall, More haire then wit.
  Some seeme as they were starched stiffe and fine,
  Like to the bristles of some angry swine:
  And some (to set their Loves desire on edge)
  Are cut and prun'de like to a quickset hedge.
  Some like a spade, some like a forke, some square,
  Some round, some mow'd like stubble, some starke bare,
  Some sharpe Steletto fashion, dagger like,
  That may with whispering a mans eyes out pike:
  Some with the hammer cut, or Romane T,[163]
  Their beards extravagant reform'd must be,
  Some with the quadrate, some triangle fashion,
  Some circular, some ovall in translation,
  Some perpendicular in longitude,
  Some like a thicket for their crassitude,
  That heights, depths, bredths, triforme, square, ovall, round,
  And rules Ge'metricall in beards are found.
  Besides the upper lip's strange variation,
  Corrected from mutation to mutation;
  As 'twere from tithing unto tithing sent,
  Pride gives to Pride continuall punishment.
  Some (spite their teeth) like thatch'd eves downeward grows,
  And some growes upwards in despite their nose.
  Some their mustatioes of such length doe keepe,
  That very well they may a maunger sweepe:
  Which in Beere, Ale, or Wine, they drinking plunge,
  And sucke the liquor up, as 'twere a Spunge;
  But 'tis a Slovens beastly Pride, I thinke,
  To wash his beard where other men must drinke.
  And some (because they will not rob the cup),
  Their upper chaps like pot hookes are turn'd up;
  The Barbers thus (like Taylers) still must be,
  Acquainted with each cuts variety--
  Yet though with beards thus merrily I play,
  'Tis onely against Pride which I inveigh:
  For let them weare their haire or their attire,
  According as their states or mindes desire,
  So as no puff'd up Pride their hearts possesse,
  And they use Gods good gifts with thankfulnesse.[164]

  [163] Formed by the moustache and a chin-tuft, as worn by
        Louis Napoleon and his imperialist supporters.

  [164] _Works of John Taylor, the Water Poet, comprised in the
        Folio edition of 1630_. Printed for the Spenser Society,
        1869. "_Superbiae Flagellum_, or the Whip of Pride," p. 34.

The staunch Puritan Phillip Stubbes, in the second part of his _Anatomie
of Abuses_ (1583), thus rails at the beards and the barbers of his day:

"There are no finer fellowes under the sunne, nor experter in their
noble science of barbing than they be. And therefore in the fulnes of
their overflowing knowledge (oh ingenious heads, and worthie to be
dignified with the diademe of follie and vaine curiositie), they have
invented such strange fashions and monstrous maners of cuttings,
trimings, shavings and washings, that you would wonder to see. They have
one maner of cut called the French cut, another the Spanish cut, one
called the Dutch cut, another the Italian, one the newe cut, another the
old, one of the bravado fashion, another of the meane fashion. One a
gentlemans cut, another the common cut, one cut of the court, another of
the country, with infinite the like vanities, which I overpasse. They
have also other kinds of cuts innumerable; and therefore when you come
to be trimed, they will aske you whether you will be cut to looke
terrible to your enimie, or amiable to your freend, grime and sterne in
countenance, or pleasant and demure (for they have divers kinds of cuts
for all these purposes, or else they lie). Then when they have done all
their feats, it is a world to consider, how their mowchatowes [i.e.,
moustaches] must be preserved and laid out, and from one cheke to
another, yea, almost from one eare to another, and turned up like two
hornes towards the forehead. Besides that, when they come to the cutting
of the haire, what snipping and snapping of the cycers is there, what
tricking and toying, and all to tawe out mony, you may be sure. And when
they come to washing, oh how gingerly they behave themselves therein.
For then shall your mouth be bossed with the lather or fome that riseth
of the balle (for they have their sweet balles wherewith-all they use to
washe), your eyes closed must be anointed therewith also. Then snap go
the fingers ful bravely, God wot. Thus this tragedy ended, comes me
warme clothes, to wipe and dry him withall; next the eares must be
picked and closed againe togither artificially forsooth. The haire of
the nostrils cut away, and every thing done in order comely to behold.
The last action in this tragedie is the paiment of monie. And least
these cunning barbers might seeme unconscionable in asking much for
their paines, they are of such a shamefast modestie, as they will aske
nothing at all, but standing to the curtisie and liberalitie of the
giver, they will receive all that comes, how much soever it be, not
giving anie againe, I warrant you: for take a barber with that fault,
and strike off his head. No, no, such fellowes are _Rarae aves in
terris, nigrisque similimi cygnis_, Rare birds upon the earth, and as
geason as blacke swans. You shall have also your orient perfumes for
your nose, your fragrant waters for your face, wherewith you shall bee
all to besprinkled, your musicke againe, and pleasant harmonic, shall
sound in your eares, and all to tickle the same with vaine delight. And
in the end your cloke shall be brushed, and 'God be with you

  [165] Reprint for the Shakspere Society, Part ii (1882),
        pp. 50, 51.

       *       *       *       *       *

A very curious Ballad of the Beard, of the time of Charles I, if not
earlier, is reproduced in _Satirical Songs and Poems on Costume_, edited
by F. W. Fairholt, for the Percy Society, in which "the varied forms of
beards which characterised the profession of each man are amusingly
descanted on":

  The beard, thick or thin, on the lip or the chin,
    Doth dwell so near the tongue,
  That her silence in the beards defence
    May do her neighbour wrong.

  Now a beard is a thing that commands in a king,
    Be his sceptre ne'er so fair:
  Where the beard bears the sway the people obey,
    And are subject to a hair.

  'Tis a princely sight, and a grave delight,
    That adorns both young and old;
  A well-thatcht face is a comely grace,
    And a shelter from the cold.

  When the piercing north comes thundering forth,
    Let a barren face beware;
  For a trick it will find, with a razor of wind,
    To shave a face that's bare.

  But there's many a nice and strange device
    That doth the beard disgrace;
  But he that is in such a foolish sin
    Is a traitor to his face.

  Now of beards there be such company,
    And fashions such a throng,
  That it is very hard to handle a beard,
    Tho' it be never so long.

  The Roman T, in its bravery,
    Both first itself disclose,
  But so high it turns, that oft it burns
    With the flames of a torrid nose.

  The stiletto-beard, oh, it makes me afear'd,
    It is so sharp beneath,
  For he that doth place a dagger in 's face,
    What wears he in his sheath?

  But, methinks, I do itch to go thro' the stitch
    The needle-beard to amend,
  Which, without any wrong, I may call too long,
    For a man can see no end.

  The soldier's beard doth march in shear'd,
    In figure like a spade,
  With which he'll make his enemies quake,
    And think their graves are made.

       *       *       *       *       *

  What doth invest a bishop's breast,
    But a milk-white spreading hair?
  Which an emblem may be of integrity
    Which doth inhabit there.

       *       *       *       *       *

  But oh, let us tarry for the beard of King Harry,
    That grows about the chin,
  With his bushy pride, and a grove on each side,
    And a champion ground between.

"Barnes in the defence of the Berde" is another curious piece of verse,
or rather of arrant doggrel, printed in the 16th century. It is
addressed to Andrew Borde, the learned and facetious physician, in the
time of Henry VIII, who seems to have written a tract against the
wearing of beards, of which nothing is now known. In the second part
Barnes (whoever he was) says:

  But, syr, I praye you, yf you tell can,
  Declare to me, when God made man,
  (I meane by our forefather Adam)
  Whyther he had a berde than;
  And yf he had, who dyd hym shave,
  Syth that a barber he coulde not have.
  Well, then, ye prove hym there a knave,
  Bicause his berde he dyd so save:
                  I fere it not.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Sampson, with many thousandes more
  Of auncient phylosophers (!), full great store,
  Wolde not be shaven, to dye therefore;
  Why shulde you, then, repyne so sore?
  Admit that men doth imytate
  Thynges of antyquité, and noble state,
  Such counterfeat thinges oftymes do mytygate
  Moche ernest yre and debate:
                 I fere it not.

  Therefore, to cease, I thinke be best;
  For berdyd men wolde lyve in rest.
  You prove yourselfe a homly gest,
  So folysshely to rayle and jest;
  For if I wolde go make in ryme,
  How new shavyd men loke lyke scraped swyne,
  And so rayle forth, from tyme to tyme,
  A knavysshe laude then shulde be myne:
                 I fere it not.

What should this avail him? he asks; and so let us all be good friends,
bearded and unbearded.[166]

  [166] _The Treatise answerynge the boke of Berdes, Compyled by
        Collyn Clowte, dedicated to Barnarde, Barber, dwellyng
        in Banbury_: "Here foloweth a treatyse made, Answerynge
        the treatyse of doctor Borde upon Berdes."--Appended to
        reprint of Andrew Borde's _Introduction of Knowledge_,
        edited by Dr. F. J. Furnivall, for the Early English Text
        Society, 1870--see pp. 314, 315.

But Andrew Borde, if he did ever write a tract against beards, must have
formerly held a different opinion on the subject, for in his _Breviary
of Health_, first printed in 1546, he says: "The face may have many
impediments. The first impediment is to see a man having no beard, and a
woman to have a beard." It was long a popular notion that the few hairs
which are sometimes seen on the chins of very old women signified that
they were in league with the arch-enemy of mankind--in plain English,
that they were witches. The celebrated Three Witches who figure in
_Macbeth_, "and palter with him in a double sense," had evidently this
distinguishing mark, for says Banquo to the "weird sisters" (Act i, sc.

                          You should be women,
  And yet your beards forbid me to interpret
  That you are so.

And in the ever-memorable scene in the _Merry Wives of Windsor_, when
Jack Falstaff, disguised as the fat woman of Brentford, is escaping from
Ford's house, he is cuffed and mauled by Ford, who exclaims, "Hang her,
witch!" on which the honest Cambrian Sir Hugh Evans sapiently remarks:
"Py yea and no, I think the 'oman is a witch indeed. I like not when a
'oman has a great peard. I spy a great peard under her muffler!" (Act
iv, sc. 2.)

There have been several notable bearded women in different parts of
Europe. The Duke of Saxony had the portrait painted of a poor Swiss
woman who had a remarkably fine, large beard. Bartel Græfjë, of
Stuttgart, who was born in 1562, was another bearded woman. In 1726
there appeared at Vienna a female dancer with a large bushy beard.
Charles XII of Sweden had in his army a woman who wore a beard a yard
and a half in length. In 1852 Mddle. Bois de Chêne, who was born at
Genoa in 1834, was exhibited in London: she had "a profuse head of hair,
a strong black beard, and large bushy whiskers." It is not unusual to
see dark beauties in our own country with a moustache which must be the
envy of "young shavers." And, _apropos_, the poet Rogers is said to have
had a great dislike of ladies' beards, such as this last described; and
he happened to be in a circulating library turning over the books on the
counter, when a lady, who seemed to cherish her beard with as much
affection as the young gentlemen aforesaid, alighted from her carriage,
and, entering the shop, asked the librarian for a certain book. The
polite man of books replied that he was sorry he had not a copy at
present. "But," said Roger, slily, "you have the _Barber of Seville_,
have you not?" "O yes," said the bookseller, not seeing the poet's
drift, "I have the _Barber of Seville_, very much at your ladyship's
service." The lady drove away, evidently much offended, but the beard
afterwards disappeared. Talking of barbers--but they deserve a whole
paper to themselves, and they shall have it, from me, some day, if I
live a little longer.

       *       *       *       *       *

In No. 331 of the _Spectator_, Addison tells us how his friend Sir Roger
de Coverley, in Westminster Abbey, pointing to the bust of a venerable
old man, asked him whether he did not think "our ancestors looked much
wiser in their beards than we without them. For my part," said he, "when
I am walking in my gallery in the country, and see my ancestors, who
many of them died before they were my age, I cannot forbear regarding
them as so many patriarchs, and at the same time looking upon myself as
an idle, smock-faced young fellow. I love to see your Abrahams, your
Isaacs, and your Jacobs, as we have them in old pieces of tapestry, with
beards below their girdles, that cover half the hangings."

       *       *       *       *       *

During most part of last century close shaving was general throughout
Europe. In France the beard began to appear on the faces of Bonaparte's
"braves," and the fashion soon extended to civilians, then to Italy,
Germany, Spain, Russia, and lastly to England, where, after the gradual
enlargement of the side-whiskers, the full beard is now commonly
worn--to the comfort and health of the wearers.


    Abbas the Great, 107.
    Abraham: jealous of his wives, 197;
      arrival in Egypt, 197;
      his servant in Sodom, 202;
      Ishmael's wives, 203;
      the 'ram caught in a thicket,' 205;
      the idols, 251.
    Abstinence, advantages of, 20.
    Acrostic in the Bible, 251.
    Adam and Eve, 191, 267, 268.
    Addison's Spectator, 359.
    Advice to a conceited man, 44;
      gratuitous, 261.
    Aesop--_see_ Esop.
    Affenschwanz, etc., 192.
    Aino Folk-Tales, 312.
    Akhlák-i Jalaly, 23, 261.
    Aladdin's Lamp, 144.
    Alakésa Kathá, 176.
    Alexander the Great, 253, 254.
    Alfonsus, Petrus, 99, 100, 227, 231, 241.
    Alfred the Great, 315.
    Ali, Mrs. Meer Hassan, 270.
    Ambition, vanity of, 254.
    Amír Khusrú, 18.
    Ancestry, pride of, 22.
    Androgynous nature of Adam, 191, 192.
    Ant and Nightingale, 41.
    Antar, the Arabian poet-hero, 46.
    Anthologia, 259.
    Anwarí, the Persian poet, 106.
    Aphorisms of Saádí, 7, 41, 44, 125;
      of the Jewish Fathers, 260.
    Apparition, the golden, 136.
    Arab and his camel, 82.
    Arab Sháh, 87.
    Arabian lovers, 283, 294.
    Arabian Nights, 93, 123, 178, 196, 212.
    Archery feat, 20.
    Arienti, 203.
    Ashaab the covetous, 93.
    Ass, the singing, 149.
    Astrologer's faithless wife, 36.
    Attár, Farídu 'd-Dín, 51.
    Athenæus, 262.
    Athenians and Jewish boys, 117, 118.
    Auvaiyár, Tamil poetess, 25, 27, 44.
    Avarice, 44.
    Avianus, 44.
    Aymon, Four Sons of, 317.

    Babrius, 300.
    Babylonian tale, 210.
    Bacon on aphorisms, 259.
    Baghdádí, witty, 83.
    Baháristán, 40, 48, 63, 109.
    Bakhtyár Náma, 124, 172.
    Barbary Tales, 218.
    Barbazan's Fabliaux, 327, 328.
    Baring-Gould, 142, 192, 194.
    Barlaam and Joasaph, 246, 248.
    Basset's Tales of Barbary, 218.
    Basket made into a door, 318.
    Bayazíd and the old woman, 302.
    Beal, Samuel, 147.
    Beards: Asiatics', 338;
      Ballad of the Beard, 355;
      Barnes in defence of the Beard, 356;
      Britons' and Normans', 344;
      Coverley (Sir Roger de), on his ancestors', 359;
      dedicated to deities, 339;
      dyeing the beard, 349;
      famous beards, 344, 346;
      French kings', 346;
      Greeks', 338;
      Monks', 343;
      Pope Julius II, 341;
      pledged for loans, 342;
      pulling beard, 343;
      reformers', 344;
      Roman youths', 337;
      Sully's beard, 341;
      shapes of, 350, 351, 352, 355;
      taxes on, 345;
      tokens of wisdom, 338;
      Turkish sultans', 339;
      vowing not to cut or shave, 342, 347;
      witches', 358;
      women, bearded, 358.
    Beast-fables, origin of, 239, 299.
    Beaumont, bp. of Durham, 318.
    Beauty unadorned, 46.
    Beggar and Khoja, 68.
    Bendall, Cecil, 159.
    Beneficence, 24, 44, 48.
    Bérenger-Féraud, 278.
    Berkeley's 'ideal' theory, 97.
    Beryn, Tale of, 212, 306.
    Bhartrihari, 258.
    Bible, 191, 193, 205, 207, 229, 231, 239, 240, 249, 251,
           254, 257, 261, 270, 323, 331, 332.
    Bidpaï's Fables, 39.
    Birth, pride of, 22.
    Bishop and ignorant priest, 316;
      and the simple youth, 317.
    'Bi'smi'llahi,' etc., 53.
    Bi-sexual nature of Adam, 191.
    Blémont, Emile, 274.
    Blind man's wife, 62.
    Blockheads, list of, 80.
    Boccaccio's Decameron, 82, 217, 231.
    Boethius' Consol. Phil., 131.
    Bonaventure des Periers, 82, 323, 325.
    Borde, Andrew, 356, 357.
    Boy in terror at sea, 22.
    Bride and Bridegroom, 250.
    Bromyard, John, 305.
    Broth, Hot, 69.
    Buddha, Rom. Hist, of, 147.
    Buddha's Dhammapada, 261.
    Buddhaghosha's Parables, 163, 261.
    Burns, the Scottish poet, 262, 263.
    Butler's Hudibras, etc., 332, 345, 346.
    Burton, Sir R. F., 38, 274.
    Buthayna and Jamíl, 294.
    Buzurjmihr on silence, 38.

    Cabinet des Fées, 144.
    Cain and Abel, 194.
    Camel and cat, 82.
    Capon-carver, 231, 276.
    Cardonne's Mél. de Littèrature Orientale, 83.
    Carlyle, Thos., 60, 263.
    Cat and its master, 80.
    Cauldron, the, 67.
    Caution with friends, 46, 263.
    Caxton's Dictes, 38;
      Esop's Fables, 300, 308, 339.
    Caylus, Comte de, 144.
    Cento Novelle Antiche, 231.
    Chamberlain, B. H., 312.
    Chaste Wives, Value of, 127.
    Chaucer, 196, 279, 339.
    Chess, game of, 240.
    Chinese Humour: rich man and smiths, 77;
      to keep plants alive, 78;
      criticising a portrait, 78.
    Clergy, Benefit of, 329.
    Clouston's Analogues of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, 279;
      Book of Noodles, 66, 111;
      Book of Sindibád, 280;
      Eastern Romances, 176, 268, 279;
      Popular Tales and Fictions, 144, 157, 178, 279.
    Coleridge, the poet, 229, 264.
    Comparetti, Prof., 235.
    Conceited man, 44.
    Conde Lucanor, 81, 247.
    Condolence, house of, 62.
    Conjugal quarrels, 262.
    Contes Orientaux, 144.
    Cooks, too many, 262.
    'Corpus meum,' 320.
    Cotton's Virgil Travestie, 332.
    Courtier and old friend, 79.
    Coverley, Sir Roger de, 359.
    Covetous man, 93;
      goldsmith, 128, 160.
    Covetousness, 45.
    Crane's Italian Tales, 100, 235, 279.
    Cup-bearer and Saádí, 28.
    Cypress, 284.

    Dabistán, 97, 99.
    Daulat Sháh, 294.
    David, legends of King, 213.
    Davidson, Thos., 299.
    Deaf men, 73, 75.
    Death, rest to the poor, 51.
    Decameron, 82, 217.
    Deluge, 225.
    Demon, Tales of a, 124, 162, 179.
    Dervish and magic candlestick, 141.
    Dervish who became king, 32.
    Dervishes, Three, 113.
    Desolate Island, 243, 279.
    Des Periers, Bonaventure, 82, 323, 325.
    Devotee and learned man, 40.
    Dictes, or the sayings of philosophers, 38.
    Disciplina Clericalis, 99, 100, 227, 231, 241.
    Domestics, lazy, 76.
    Don Quixote, 11, 99.
    Dreams of fair women, 133, 134.
    Drinking the sea dry, 312.
    Drunken governor, 68.
    Dublin ballad-singer, 209.
    Dutiful son, 236.

    Eastern story-books, general plan of, 123.
    Eberhard's ed. of Planudes' Life of Esop, 301.
    Education, advantages of, 27.
    Egg-stealer and Solomon, 218.
    Eliezer in Sodom, 202.
    Eliot, George, 45.
    Ellis' Metrical Romances, 100.
    Emperor's dream, 134.
    Esop: unlucky omens, 108;
      wise saying of, 264;
      apocryphal Life, by Planudes, 301;
      Jacobs on the Esopic Fable, 300;
      the figs, 302;
      how Esop became eloquent, 303;
      his choice of load, 303;
      offered for sale, 304;
      boiling peas, 304;
      the missing pig's foot, 305;
      dish of tongues, 305;
      the man who was no busy-body, 306;
      drinking the sea dry, 306, 312;
      the dog's tail, 306;
      as ambassador, 307;
      his death, 307;
      Henryson's description of Esop, 309.
    Etienne de Bourbon, 305.
    Etienne, Henri, 316.
    Eulenspiegel, Tyl, 306.
    Expectation, 7.

    Fabliaux, 96, 100, 327, 328.
    Fables, origin of, 239, 300.
    Facetiæ, Jewish, 117.
    Faggot-maker, 152.
    Fairholt, F. W., 355.
    Fairies' gifts, 153, 157, 181.
    Fate, decrees of, 99.
    Faults, 7, 44, 262.
    Féraud, Bérenger, 278.
    Firdausí, 50, 284.
    Fitnet Khánim, Turkish poetess, 17.
    Flood, 225.
    Flowers, hymn to the, 54.
    Folk-Lore of S. India, 73.
    Fool, greatest, 279.
    Fools, list of, 80.
    Foolish peasants, 111;
      thieves, 151.
    Forbidden tree, 268.
    Forman, bp. of Moray, 319.
    Fortitude and liberality, 24.
    Fortune capricious, 45.
    Forty, the number, 268.
    Forty Vezírs, History of, 65, 110, 132.
    Fox and Bear, 240, 278;
      Fox in the garden, 241.
    Friends: caution with, 46, 263;
      man with three, 247;
      misfortunes of, 23.
    Fryer's Eng. Fairy Tales, 115.
    Fuller's Church History, 322.
    Furnivall, F. J., 357.

    Garments, the, 248.
    Garrick and Dr. Johnson, 52.
    Gemara, authors of the, 186.
    Generosity, 24, 44, 48.
    Gerrans, 124, 126, 136.
    Gesta Romanorum, 187, 196, 227, 231, 279, 306.
    Gibb, E. J. W., 15, 110, 132, 283.
    Gisli the Outlaw, 65.
    Gladwin's Persian Moonshee, 71.
    Goat, the dead, 71.
    God, a jealous God, 264.
    God, for the sake of, 9.
    Good or evil genius, 140, 141.
    'God, the merciful,' etc., 53.
    Golden apparition, 136.
    Goldsmith, the covetous, 128, 160.
    Goliath's brother, 213.
    Goose, Tales of a, 124.
    Goose-thief, 218.
    Gospels, two, for a groat, 320.
    Governor and the Khoja, 68;
      and the poor poet, 104;
      and the shopkeeper, 116.
    Gratitude for benefits, 262.
    Great Name, 214.
    Greek Popular Tales, 276.
    Grey, Zachary, 332.
    Grief and anger, times of, 260.
    Grissell, Patient, 331.
    Gulistán, or rose-garden, 9.

    Háfíz, the Persian poet, 291.
    Hagiolatry, 321, 327.
    Hamsa Vinsati, 124.
    Harírí, the Arabian poet, 208.
    Harrison on beards, 350.
    Hartland, E. Sidney, 181.
    Hátim Taï, 24.
    Hazár ú Yek Rúz, 93.
    Hebrew facetiæ, 117.
    Henryson, Robert, 309.
    Heptameron, 82.
    Herrick's Hesperides, 53.
    Herodotus, Apology for, 316.
    Herrtage, S. J., 196.
    Hershon's Talmudic Miscel., 191.
    Hesiod's fables, 239.
    Hitopadesa, 140, 240.
    Horse-dealers and the king, 81.
    Hudibras, etc., 332, 345, 346.
    Hundred Mery Talys, 70, 317, 320.
    Hurwitz, Hyman, 117, 189, 218, 257.

    'Idda: compulsory widowhood, 287.
    Ideal, not the real, 97.
    Idleness and industry, 41, 261.
    Ignorance, 262.
    Ill news, breaking, 95;
      telling, 45.
    Images, the stolen, 128.
    Indian poetess, 25, 27, 44.
    Inferiors and superiors, 260.
    Ingratitude, 47.
    Intolerance, religious, 188, 190.
    Investment, safe, 228.
    Irving, David, 309.
    Isfahání and the governor, 116.
    Ishmael's wives, 203.
    Island, Desolate, 243, 279.
    Israel likened to a bride, 250.
    Italian Tales, 100, 115, 203, 231, 235, 279, 306.

    Jacob's sorrow, 208.
    Jacobs, Joseph, on the Esopic Fables, 300, 308.
    Jámí, 40, 48, 63, 109.
    Jamíl and Buthayna, 294.
    'January and May,' 29.
    Jehennan, 145.
    Jehoshua, Rabbi, 205.
    Jehudah, Rabbi, 186.
    Jests, antiquity of, 60.
    Jewels, the, 229;
      luminous, 196.
    Jewish facetiæ, 117
    Jochonan, Rabbi, 186;
      and the poor woman, 227.
    Johnson and Garrick, 52.
    Johnson, Dr., on springtide, 14.
    Jones, Sir William, 15.
    Joseph and Potiphar's wife, 205;
      and his brethren, 206.
    Josephus on Solomon's fables, 239.
    Jotham's fable, 239.
    Julien, Stanislas, 77.

    Kádirí's Tútí Náma, 124.
    Kah-gyur, 159.
    Kalíla wa Dimna, 39.
    Kalidása, 284.
    Káma Sutra, 126.
    Kámarupa, 133.
    Káshifí, 38.
    Kashmírí Folk-Tales, 111, 118.
    Kathá Manjarí, 71, 100, 175.
    Kathá Sarit Ságara, 157, 163, 179.
    Khalíf and poet, 101, 105.
    Khizar and the Water of Life, 177.
    Khoja Nasr-ed-Dín, 65, 70.
    King and his Four Ministers, 176;
      and the horse-dealers, 81;
      and the Seven Vazírs, 173;
      and the story-teller, 99, 100;
      who died of love, 161.
    Knowles, J. H., 111, 118.
    Kurán, 65.

    Ladies, witty Persian, 63.
    Laing, David, 309.
    La Fontaine, 278.
    Landsberger on Fables, 239.
    Langlès (_not_ Lescallier), 93.
    La Rochefoucauld, 23.
    Lappländische Märchen, 181.
    Laughter, 59, 60.
    Laylá and Majnún, 283.
    Lazy servants, 76.
    Learned man and blockhead, 49;
      youth, modesty of, 27.
    Learning the best treasure, 27;
      and virtue, 47.
    Le Grand's Fabliaux, 96, 327, 328.
    Legrand's Popular Greek Tales, 276.
    Lescallier, 173--_see_ also Langlès.
    Liars, 261.
    Liber de Donis, 305.
    Liberality to the poor, 24, 44, 48,
    Liberality and fortitude, 24.
    Life, Tree of, 174;
      Water of, 174, 177.
    Lions, tail of the, 263.
    Liwá'í, Persian poet, 95.
    Lokman, sayings of, 310.
    Luminous Jewels, 196.
    Love, dying for, 161, 163.
    Lovers, Arabian, 283, 294.

    Madden, Sir F., 196.
    Magic Bowl, etc., 153, 157, 181.
    Maiden and Saádí, 28.
    Maimonides, 186.
    Majnún and Laylá, 273.
    Makamat of El-Harírí, 208.
    Malcolm's Sketches of Persia, 107, 116.
    Man, a laughing animal, 59;
      and his three friends, 247;
      and the place, 262;
      the mighty man, 261.
    Manna, daily, 266.
    Manuel, Don Juan, 81.
    Marcus Aurelius, 49.
    Mare kicked by a horse, 132.
    Marelle, Charles, 192.
    Marguerite, queen of Navarre, 82, 323.
    Marie de France, 241.
    Massinger's plays, 331.
    Mazarin, Cardinal, 52.
    Meir's (Rabbi) fables, 240.
    Mélanges de Litt. Orient., 83.
    Merchant and lady, 87;
      and poor Bedouin, 95.
    Merchandise, 262.
    Mery Tales and Quicke Answeres, 37, 71, 218, 321.
    Mesíhí's ode on spring, 15.
    Metempsychosis, 179, 301.
    Mihra-i Iskandar, 18.
    Milton's Paradise Lost, 270.
    Mind, the infant, 261.
    Miser, 262.
    Misers, Muslim, 71, 72.
    Mishlé Sandabar, 173.
    Misfortunes of friends, 23.
    Mishna, authors of the, 186.
    Mole on the face, 291.
    Money, in praise of, 125;
      sound of two coins, 262.
    Monsters, unheard of, 224.
    Moon, a type of female beauty, 284.
    Moses and Pharaoh, 208;
      height of Moses, 225;
      Moses and the Poor Woodcutter, 270.
    Muezzin with harsh voice, 33.
    Muhammedan legends, 195, 206, 209, 218, 219, 223, 268, 270.
    Mukhlis of Isfahán, 135.
    Music, discovery of, 163;
      effects of, 7.
    Musician, bad, 7.
    Muslim confession of Faith, 53.

    Nakhshabí, 46, 124, 260.
    Name, the Great, 214.
    Nasr-ed-Dín, Khoja, 65.
    Natésa Sastrí, 73.
    Nathan of Babylon, 260.
    'Neck-verse,' 331.
    Neighbour, objectionable, 37.
    'Night and Day,' 61.
    Nightingale and Ant, 41;
      and Rose, 42.
    Nimrod and Abraham, 253.
    Noah, 194, 196, 225, 270.
    Noble's Orientalist, 141.
    'No rule without exception,' 119.
    Numerals, Arabic, 240.
    Núshírván the Just, 21, 37.
    Nye, Philip, 346.

    Og, king of Bashan, 225, 226.
    Old man and young wife, 29.
    Old man's prayer, 109;
      reason for not marrying, 31.
    Old woman in mosque, 109.
    Omens, unlucky, 107, 108.
    Opportunity, 263.
    Oriental story-books, general plan of, 123.
    Orientalist, or Letters of a Rabbi, 141.
    Origin, all things return to their, 131.
    Ouseley, Sir Gore, 6, 52.

    Painter and critics, 78.
    Panchatantra, 49, 129, 140, 146, 147, 159, 240.
    Panjábí Legends, 179.
    Paradise, persons translated to, 209.
    Parents, reverence for, 236.
    Parrot and maina, 178;
      oilman's parrot, 114;
      Moghul's parrot, 116.
    Parrot-Book, 124;
      frame-story of, 125, 178.
    Parrot, Seventy Tales of a, 124.
    Parrots in Hindú fictions, 179.
    Passion-service, 323, 326.
    Pasquil's Jests, 81, 330.
    Patient Grissell, 331.
    'Paveant illi,' etc., 319.
    Payne's Arabian Nights, 274.
    Peasant in Paradise, 327.
    Peasants, Foolish, 111.
    Persian and his cat, 80;
      and the governor, 116;
      courtier and old friend, 79;
      ladies, witty, 63;
      Moonshee, 71;
      poet and the impostor, 106;
      Tales of a Thousand and one Days, 93, 135.
    Petis de la Croix, 93.
    Petronius Arbiter, 307.
    Phædrus, 300.
    Pharaoh and Moses, 208.
    Pharaoh's daughters, 209.
    Pirke Aboth, 260.
    Plants, to keep alive, 78.
    Planudes' Life of Esop, 108, 301.
    Poets in praise of springtide, 14.
    Poet, rich man and, 107.
    Poet's meaning, 104.
    Poetry, 'stealing,' 106.
    Poets, royal gifts to, 101, 104, 105.
    Poverty, 263.
    Prayers, odd, 71, 109.
    Preachers, Muslim, 34, 66, 70, 71.
    Precept and Practice, 47, 263.
    Prefaces to books, 11.
    Priest confessing poor man, 325.
    Pride, 261.
    Princess of Rúm and her son, 166.
    Procrustes, bed of, 199.
    Prodigality, 24.
    Psalm-singing at gallows, 331.

    Quevedo's Visions, 343.

    Rabbi and the poor woman, 227;
      and the emperor Trajan, 265;
      and the cup of wine, 119.
    Ralston's Russian Folk-Tales, 141;
      Tibetan Tales, 159.
    'Ram caught in a thicket,' 205.
    Rasálú, Legend of Rájá, 178.
    Rats that ate iron, 129.
    Richardson, Octavia, 317.
    Rich, Barnaby, 350.
    Riches, 44, 50, 261.
    Rieu, Charles, 124.
    Robber and the Khoja, 69.
    Rogers, the poet, 359.
    Rose and Nightingale, 42.
    Ross, David, 278.
    Rúm, country of, 134.
    Russian Folk-Tales, 141.

    Saádí: sketch of his life, 3;
      character of his writings, 6;
      on a bad musician, 7;
      his 'Gulistán,' 9;
      prefaces to books, 11;
      preface to the 'Gulistán,' 12;
      the fair cup-bearer, 28;
      assured of lasting fame, 55;
      on money, 125.
    Sacchetti, 231, 306.
    Saint-worship, 321, 327.
    Samradians, sect of the, 97.
    Satan in form of a deer, 213.
    Satiety and hunger, 45.
    Sayce, A. H., 210.
    Scarronides, 332.
    Schoolmaster and wit, 79.
    Scornfulness, 260.
    Scott's 'Lay,' 331.
    Scribe's excuse, 79.
    Secrets, 48, 263.
    Seneca on aphorisms, 259.
    Senegambian Tales, 278.
    Sermon, burlesque, 328.
    Servant, wakeful, 112.
    Servants, lazy, 76.
    Seven stages of human life, 257.
    Seven Vazírs, 173
      _see also_ Sindibád, Book of.
    Seven Wise Masters, 133, 173, 178, 307.
    Shakspeare, 53, 163, 257, 342, 347, 349, 350.
    Sheba, Queen of, 218.
    Shelley's Queen Mab, 291.
    Signing with ×, 333.
    Silence, on keeping, 38, 39, 45, 263.
    Simonides, 40.
    Sindibád, Book of, 123, 159, 173, 176, 178, 306.
    Singing Ass, 149.
    Sinhásana Dwatrinsati, 124.
    Shopkeeper and governor, 116.
    Sindbán, 173.
    'Skip over three leaves,' 322.
    Slander, 44.
    Slave, witty, 35.
    Slippers, the unlucky, 83.
    Smith, Horace, 53.
    Smiths and rich man, 77.
    Socrates, 300, 338.
    Sodom, the citizens of, 198.
    Solomon: advice to three men, 215;
      the Queen of Sheba, 218;
      the egg-stealer, 218;
      his signet-ring, 220;
      his lost fables, 239;
      his precocious sagacity, 73;
      his choice of wisdom, 249;
      the serpent's prey, 274.
    Son, dutiful, 236.
    Sorrow, times of, 260.
    Spectator, Addison's, 359.
    Spenser, Edmund, 284.
    Springtide, in praise of, 14.
    Stingy merchant and poor Bedouin, 95.
    Story-teller and the King, 100.
    Stubbes on beards and barbers, 352.
    Stupidity, 26.
    Súfís, 51.
    Suka Saptati, 124.
    Sully and the courtiers, 341.
    Summa Praedicantium, 305.
    Superiors and inferiors, 260.
    Swynnerton, Charles, 179.
    Syntipas, 173.

    Tales and Quicke Answeres, 37, 71, 218, 321.
    Talkers, comprehensive, 45.
    Talmud, authors of the, 185, 186;
      traducers of the, 187;
      teachings of the, 188.
    Tantrákhyána, 159.
    Taylor's Wit and Mirth, 330;
      Superbiae Flagellum, 351.
    Teaching and learning, 262.
    Temple's Panjábí Legends, 179.
    Thálebí and the Khalíf, 105.
    Thief, self-convicted, 218;
      without opportunity, 263.
    Thieves, Foolish, 151.
    Thomson's Seasons, 46.
    Three Dervishes, 113.
    Throne, Tales of a, 124.
    Tibetan Tales, 159.
    Tongue, the key of wisdom, 46.
    Tongues, dish of, 305.
    'Tongues in Trees,' 53.
    Trajan and the Rabbi, 265.
    Treasure, concealed, 129.
    Treasure-seekers, the Four, 144.
    Tree of Life, 174, 177.
    Trouvères, 327.
    Turkish Jester: in the pulpit, 66;
      the cauldron, 67;
      the beggar, 68;
      the drunken governor, 68;
      the robber, 69;
      the hot broth, 69.
    Turkish poetess, 17.
    Turkmans, weeping, 110.
    Tútí Náma, 124;
      frame story, 125, 178.
    Tyl Eulenspiegel, 306.

    Ugly wife, 61, 62.
    Uncle Remus, 279.
    Unicorn, 225.
    Unlucky omens, 107, 108.
    Unlucky slippers, 83.

    Van Butchell, 348.
    Vasayadatta, 133.
    Vase, use thy, 263.
    Vatsyayana's Káma Sutra, 126.
    Vazírs, the Seven, 173.
    Vetála Panchavinsati, 124, 162, 179.
    Vicious hate the virtuous, 44.
    Vine, planting of the, 196.
    Virgil Travestie, 332.
    Virtue cannot come out of vice, 50.
    Visitors, troublesome, 40.
    Von Hammer, 293.
    Vrihat Kathá, 158.

    Wakeful servant, 112.
    Wamik and Azra, 293.
    Want: moderation, 7.
    Warton's Hist. of Eng. Poetry, 163.
    Water of Life, 174, 177.
    Weil's Bible, Korán, and Talmud, 273.
    Weeping Turkmans, 110.
    Wheel on man's head, 146, 147.
    Wicked rich man, 44.
    Widowhood, compulsory, 287.
    Wife, choosing a, 263.
    Williams, Sir Monier, 259.
    Will, Ingenious, 237.
    Wisdom, who gains, 261.
    Wise man in mean company, 49.
    Witches' beards, 358.
    Witty Baghdádí, 83;
      Isfahání, 116;
      Jewish boys, 117, 118;
      Persian ladies, 63;
      slave, 35.
    Woman: carved out of wood, 130;
      seven requisites of, 165.
    Woman's counsel, 64, 65;
      wiles, 87.
    Women, bearded, 358.
    Woodcutter and Moses, 270.
    World of Wonders, 316.
    Wright's Latin Stories, 76.

    Young's Night Thoughts, 46.
    Youth, modest and learned, 27.

    Zemzem, 285.
    Zotenberg, Hermann, 246.
    Zozimus, the ballad-singer, 209.
    Zulaykhá, Potiphar's wife, 206.

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