The Project Gutenberg eBook of A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, Now Entituled the Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 10 (of 17)

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Title: A Plain and Literal Translation of the Arabian Nights Entertainments, Now Entituled the Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 10 (of 17)

Translator: Sir Richard Francis Burton

Release date: November 26, 2018 [eBook #58360]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing, Richard Hulse and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

‏‏لا لابرار كلّ شي تبر‎‎
(Puris omnia pura)
Arab Proverb.
Niuna corrotta mente intese mai sanamente parole.
Erubuit, posuitque meum Lucretia librum
Sed coram Bruto. Brute! recede, leget.
Mieulx est de ris que de larmes escripre,
Pour ce que rire est le propre des hommes.

“The pleasure we derive from perusing the Thousand-and-One Stories makes us regret that we possess only a comparatively small part of these truly enchanting fictions.”

Crichton’sHistory of Arabia.”


Thousand Nights and a Night


Shammar Edition

Limited to one thousand numbered sets, of which this is

Number 547
Printed in U. S. A.
My Dear Pasha,

During the last dozen years, since we first met at Cairo, you have done much for Egyptian folk-lore and you can do much more. This volume is inscribed to you with a double purpose; first it is intended as a public expression of gratitude for your friendly assistance; and, secondly, as a memento that the samples which you have given us imply a promise of further gift. With this lively sense of favours to come I subscribe myself

Ever your friend and fellow worker,
London, July 12, 1886.


(Lane, The Story of Ma’aruf, III. 671–732.)
  I. Index to the Tales and Proper Names 309
  II. Alphabetical Table of the Notes (Anthropological, &c.) 322
  III. Alphabetical Table of First Lines  
    A. English 393
    B. Arabic 421
  IV. Table of Contents of the various Arabic Texts  
    A. The Unfinished Calcutta Edition (1814–1818) 448
    B. The Breslau Text 450
    C. The Macnaghten Text and the Bulak Edition 457
    D. The same with Mr. Lane’s and my Version 464
  Contributions to the Bibliography of the Thousand and One Nights and their Imitations, by W. F. Kirby 465


There dwelt once upon a time in the God-guarded city of Cairo a cobbler who lived by patching old shoes.[1] His name was Ma’aruf[2] and he had a wife called Fatimah, whom the folk had nicknamed “The Dung;”[3] for that she was a whorish, worthless wretch, scanty of shame and mickle of mischief. She ruled her spouse and used to abuse him and curse him a thousand times a day; and he feared her malice and dreaded her misdoings; for that he was a sensible man and careful of his repute, but poor-conditioned. When he earned much, he spent it on her, and when he gained little, she revenged herself on his body that night, leaving him no peace and making his night black as her book;[4] for she was even as of one like her saith the poet:—

How manifold nights have I passed with my wife ✿ In the saddest plight with all misery rife:
Would Heaven when first I went in to her ✿ With a cup of cold poison I’d ta’en her life.

Amongst other afflictions which befel him from her one day she said to him, “O Ma’aruf, I wish thee to bring me this night a vermicelli-cake dressed with bees’ honey.”[5] He replied, “So Allah 2Almighty aid me to its price, I will bring it thee. By Allah, I have no dirhams to-day, but our Lord will make things easy.”[6] Rejoined she,——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninetieth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ma’aruf the Cobbler said to his spouse, “If Allah aid me to its price, I will bring it to thee this night. By Allah, I have no dirhams to-day, but our Lord will make things easy to me!” She rejoined, “I wot naught of these words; whether He aid thee or aid thee not, look thou come not to me save with the vermicelli and bees’ honey; and if thou come without it I will make thy night black as thy fortune whenas thou marriedst me and fellest into my hand.” Quoth he, “Allah is bountiful!” and going out with grief scattering itself from his body, prayed the dawn-prayer and opened his shop, saying, “I beseech thee, O Lord, to vouchsafe me the price of the Kunafah and ward off from me the mischief of yonder wicked woman this night!” After which he sat in the shop till noon, but no work came to him and his fear of his wife redoubled. Then he arose and locking his shop, went out perplexed as to how he should do in the matter of the vermicelli-cake, seeing he had not even the wherewithal to buy bread. Presently he came up to the shop of the Kunafah-seller and stood before it distraught, whilst his eyes brimmed with tears. The pastry-cook glanced at him and said, “O Master Ma’aruf, why dost thou weep? Tell me what hath befallen thee.” So he acquainted him with his case, saying, “My wife is a shrew, a virago who would have me bring her a Kunafah; but I have sat in my shop till past mid-day and have not gained even the price of bread; wherefore I am in fear of her.” The cook laughed and said, “No harm shall come to thee. How many pounds wilt thou have?” “Five pounds,” answered Ma’aruf. So the man weighed him out five pounds of vermicelli-cake and said to him, “I have clarified butter, but no bees’ honey. Here is drip-honey,[7] however, which is better 3than bees’ honey; and what harm will there be, if it be with drip-honey?” Ma’aruf was ashamed to object, because the pastry-cook was to have patience with him for the price, and said, “Give it me with drip-honey.” So he fried a vermicelli-cake for him with butter and drenched it with drip-honey, till it was fit to present to Kings. Then he asked him, “Dost thou want bread[8] and cheese?”; and Ma’aruf answered, “Yes.” So he gave him four half dirhams worth of bread and one of cheese, and the vermicelli was ten nusfs. Then said he, “Know, O Ma’aruf, that thou owest me fifteen nusfs; so go to thy wife and make merry and take this nusf for the Hammam;[9] and thou shalt have credit for a day or two or three till Allah provide thee with thy daily bread. And straiten not thy wife, for I will have patience with thee till such time as thou shalt have dirhams to spare.” So Ma’aruf took the vermicelli-cake and bread and cheese and went away, with a heart at ease, blessing the pastry-cook and saying, “Extolled be Thy perfection, O my Lord! How bountiful art Thou!” When he came home, his wife enquired of him, “Hast thou brought the vermicelli-cake?”; and, replying “Yes,” he set it before her. She looked at it and seeing that it was dressed with cane-honey,[10] said to him, “Did I not bid thee bring it with bees’ honey? Wilt thou contrary my wish and have it dressed with cane-honey?” He excused himself to her, saying, “I bought it not save on credit;” but said she, “This talk is idle; I will not eat Kunafah save with bees’ honey.” And she was wroth with it and threw it in his face, saying, “Begone, thou pimp, and bring me other than this!” Then she dealt him a buffet on the cheek and knocked out one of his teeth. The blood ran down upon his breast and for stress of anger he smote her on the head a single blow and a slight; whereupon she clutched his beard and fell to shouting out and saying, “Help, O Moslems!” So the neighbours came in and freed his beard from her grip; then they reproved and reproached her, saying, “We are all content to eat Kunafah with cane-honey. Why, then, wilt thou oppress this poor man thus? Verily, this is 4disgraceful in thee!” And they went on to soothe her till they made peace between her and him. But, when the folk were gone, she sware that she would not eat of the vermicelli, and Ma’aruf, burning with hunger, said in himself, “She sweareth that she will not eat; so I will e’en eat.” Then he ate, and when she saw him eating, she said, “Inshallah, may the eating of it be poison to destroy the far one’s body.”[11] Quoth he, “It shall not be at thy bidding,” and went on eating, laughing and saying, “Thou swarest that thou wouldst not eat of this; but Allah is bountiful, and to-morrow night, an the Lord decree, I will bring thee Kunafah dressed with bees’ honey, and thou shalt eat it alone.” And he applied himself to appeasing her, whilst she called down curses upon him; and she ceased not to rail at him and revile him with gross abuse till the morning, when she bared her forearm to beat him. Quoth he, “Give me time and I will bring thee other vermicelli-cake.” Then he went out to the mosque and prayed, after which he betook himself to his shop and opening it, sat down; but hardly had he done this when up came two runners from the Kazi’s court and said to him, “Up with thee, speak with the Kazi, for thy wife hath complained of thee to him and her favour is thus and thus.” He recognised her by their description; and saying, “May Allah Almighty torment her!” walked with them till he came to the Kazi’s presence, where he found Fatimah standing with her arm bound up and her face-veil besmeared with blood; and she was weeping and wiping away her tears. Quoth the Kazi, “Ho man, hast thou no fear of Allah the Most High? Why hast thou beaten this good woman and broken her forearm and knocked out her tooth and entreated her thus?” And quoth Ma’aruf, “If I beat her or put out her tooth, sentence me to what thou wilt; but in truth the case was thus and thus and the neighbours made peace between me and her.” And he told him the story from first to last. Now this Kazi was a benevolent man; so he brought out to him a quarter dinar, saying, “O man, take this and get her Kunafah with bees’ honey and do ye make peace, thou and she.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Give it to her.” So she took it and the Kazi made peace between them, saying, “O wife, obey thy husband; and thou, O man, deal kindly with her.[12]5Then they left the court, reconciled at the Kazi’s hands, and the woman went one way, whilst her husband returned by another way to his shop and sat there, when, behold, the runners came up to him and said, “Give us our fee.” Quoth he, “The Kazi took not of me aught; on the contrary, he gave me a quarter dinar.” But quoth they, “’Tis no concern of ours whether the Kazi took of thee or gave to thee, and if thou give us not our fee, we will exact it in despite of thee.” And they fell to dragging him about the market; so he sold his tools and gave them half a dinar, whereupon they let him go and went away, whilst he put his hand to his cheek and sat sorrowful, for that he had no tools wherewith to work. Presently, up came two ill-favoured fellows and said to him, “Come, O man, and speak with the Kazi; for thy wife hath complained of thee to him.” Said he, “He made peace between us just now.” But said they, “We come from another Kazi, and thy wife hath complained of thee to our Kazi.” So he arose and went with them to their Kazi, calling on Allah for aid against her; and when he saw her, he said to her, “Did we not make peace, good woman?” Whereupon she cried, “There abideth no peace between me and thee.” Accordingly he came forward and told the Kazi his story, adding, “And indeed the Kazi Such-an-one made peace between us this very hour.” Whereupon the Kazi said to her, “O strumpet, since ye two have made peace with each other, why comest thou to me complaining?” Quoth she, “He beat me after that;” but quoth the Kazi, “Make peace each with other, and beat her not again, and she will cross thee no more.” So they made peace and the Kazi said to Ma’aruf, “Give the runners their fee.” So he gave them their fee and going back to his shop, opened it and sat down, as he were a drunken man for excess of the chagrin which befel him. Presently, while he was still sitting, behold, a man came up to him and said, “O Ma’aruf, rise and hide thyself, for thy wife hath complained of thee to the High Court[13] and Abú Tabak[14] is after thee.” So he shut his shop and 6fled towards the Gate of Victory.[15] He had five Nusfs of silver left of the price of the lasts and gear; and therewith he bought four worth of bread and one of cheese, as he fled from her. Now it was the winter season and the hour of mid-afternoon prayer; so, when he came out among the rubbish-mounds the rain descended upon him, like water from the mouths of water-skins, and his clothes were drenched. He therefore entered the ‘Ádiliyah,[16] where he saw a ruined place and therein a deserted cell without a door; and in it he took refuge and found shelter from the rain. The tears streamed from his eyelids, and he fell to complaining of what had betided him and saying, “Whither shall I flee from this whore? I beseech Thee, O Lord, to vouchsafe me one who shall conduct me to a far country, where she shall not know the way to me!” Now while he sat weeping, behold, the wall clave and there came forth to him therefrom one of tall stature, whose aspect caused his body-pile to bristle and his flesh to creep, and said to him, “O man, what aileth thee that thou disturbest me this night? These two hundred years have I dwelt here and have never seen any enter this place and do as thou dost. Tell me what thou wishest and I will accomplish thy need, as ruth for thee hath got hold upon my heart”. Quoth Ma’aruf, “Who and what art thou?”; and quoth he, “I am the Haunter[17] of this place.” So Ma’aruf told him all that had befallen him with his wife and he said, “Wilt thou have me convey thee to a country, where thy wife shall know no way to thee?” “Yes,” said Ma’aruf; and the other, “Then mount my back.” So he mounted on his back and he flew with him from after supper-tide till daybreak, when he set him down on the top of a high mountain——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-first Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Marid having taken up Ma’aruf the Cobbler, flew off with him and set him down upon a high mountain and said to him, “O mortal, descend this mountain and thou wilt see the gate of a city. Enter it, for therein thy wife cannot come at thee.” He then left him and went his way, whilst Ma’aruf abode in amazement and perplexity till the sun rose, when he said to himself, “I will up with me and go down into the city: indeed there is no profit in my abiding upon this highland.” So he descended to the mountain-foot and saw a city girt by towering walls, full of lofty palaces and gold-adorned buildings which was a delight to beholders. He entered in at the gate and found it a place such as lightened the grieving heart; but, as he walked through the streets the townsfolk stared at him as a curiosity and gathered about him, marvelling at his dress, for it was unlike theirs. Presently, one of them said to him, “O man, art thou a stranger?” “Yes.” “What countryman art thou?” “I am from the city of Cairo the Auspicious.” “And when didst thou leave Cairo?” “I left it yesterday, at the hour of afternoon-prayer.” Whereupon the man laughed at him and cried out, saying, “Come look, O folk, at this man and hear what he saith!” Quoth they, “What doeth he say?” and quoth the townsman, “He pretendeth that he cometh from Cairo and left it yesterday at the hour of afternoon-prayer!” At this they all laughed and gathering round Ma’aruf, said to him, “O man, art thou mad to talk thus? How canst thou pretend that thou leftest Cairo at mid-afternoon yesterday and foundedst thyself this morning here, when the truth is that between our city and Cairo lieth a full year’s journey?” Quoth he, “None is mad but you. As for me, I speak sooth, for here is bread which I brought with me from Cairo, and see, ’tis yet new.” Then he showed them the bread and they stared at it, for it was unlike their country bread. So the crowd increased about him and they said to one another, “This is Cairo bread: look at it;” and he became a gazing-stock in the city and some believed him; whilst others gave him the lie and made mock of him. Whilst this was going on, behold, up came a merchant riding on a she-mule and followed by two black slaves, and brake a way through the people, saying, “O folk, are ye not ashamed to mob this stranger and make mock of 8him and scoff at him?” And he went on to rate them, till he drave them away from Ma’aruf, and none could make him any answer. Then he said to the stranger, “Come, O my brother, no harm shall betide thee from these folk. Verily they have no shame.”[18] So he took him and carrying him to a spacious and richly-adorned house, seated him in a speak-room fit for a King, whilst he gave an order to his slaves, who opened a chest and brought out to him a dress such as might be worn by a merchant worth a thousand.[19] He clad him therewith and Ma’aruf, being a seemly man, became as he were consul of the merchants. Then his host called for food and they set before them a tray of all manner exquisite viands. The twain ate and drank and the merchant said to Ma’aruf, “O my brother, what is thy name?” “My name is Ma’aruf and I am a cobbler by trade and patch old shoes.” “What countryman art thou?” “I am from Cairo.” “What quarter?” “Dost thou know Cairo?” “I am of its children.[20]” “I come from the Red Street.[21]” “And whom dost thou know in the Red Street?” “I know such an one and such an one,” answered Ma’aruf and named several people to him. Quoth the other, “Knowest thou Shaykh Ahmad the druggist?[22]” “He was my next neighbour, wall to wall.” “Is he well?” “Yes.” “How many sons hath he?” “Three, Mustafà, Mohammed and Ali.” “And what hath Allah done with them?” “As for Mustafà, he is well and he is a learned man, a professor[23]: Mohammed is a druggist and opened him a shop beside that of his father, after he had married, and his wife hath borne him a son named Hasan.” “Allah gladden thee with good news!” said the merchant; and Ma’aruf continued, “As for Ali, he was my friend, when we were boys, and we always played together, I and he. We used to go in the guise of the children of the Nazarenes and enter the church and steal the books of the Christians and sell them and buy food with the 9price. It chanced once that the Nazarenes caught us with a book; whereupon they complained of us to our folk and said to Ali’s father:—An thou hinder not thy son from troubling us, we will complain of thee to the King. So he appeased them and gave Ali a thrashing; wherefore he ran away none knew whither and he hath now been absent twenty years and no man hath brought news of him.” Quoth the host, “I am that very Ali, son of Shaykh Ahmad the druggist, and thou art my playmate Ma’aruf.”[24] So they saluted each other and after the salam Ali said, “Tell me why, O Ma’aruf, thou camest from Cairo to this city.” Then he told him all that had befallen him of ill-doing with his wife Fatimah the Dung and said, “So, when her annoy waxed on me, I fled from her towards the Gate of Victory and went forth the city. Presently, the rain fell heavy on me; so I entered a ruined cell in the Adiliyah and sat there, weeping; whereupon there came forth to me the Haunter of the place, which was an Ifrit of the Jinn, and questioned me. I acquainted him with my case and he took me on his back and flew with me all night between heaven and earth, till he set me down on yonder mountain and gave me to know of this city. So I came down from the mountain and entered the city, when the people crowded about me and questioned me. I told them that I had left Cairo yesterday, but they believed me not, and presently thou camest up and driving the folk away from me, carriedst me to this house. Such, then, is the cause of my quitting Cairo; and thou, what object brought thee hither?” Quoth Ali, “The giddiness[25] of folly turned my head when I was seven years old, from which time I wandered from land to land and city to city, till I came to this city, the name whereof is Ikhtiyán al-Khatan.[26] I found its people an hospitable folk and a kindly, compassionate for the poor man and selling to him on credit and believing all he said. So quoth I to them:—I am a merchant and have preceded my packs and I need a place wherein to bestow my baggage. And they believed me and assigned me a lodging. Then quoth I to them:—Is there any of you will lend me a thousand dinars, till my loads arrive, 10when I will repay it to him; for I am in want of certain things before my goods come? They gave me what I asked and I went to the merchants’ bazar, where, seeing goods, I bought them and sold them next day at a profit of fifty gold pieces and bought others.[27] And I consorted with the folk and entreated them liberally, so that they loved me, and I continued to sell and buy, till I grew rich. Know, O my brother, that the proverb saith, The world is show and trickery: and the land where none wotteth thee, there do whatso liketh thee. Thou too, an thou say to all who ask thee, I’m a cobbler by trade and poor withal, and I fled from my wife and left Cairo yesterday, they will not believe thee and thou wilt be a laughing-stock among them as long as thou abidest in the city; whilst, an thou tell them, An Ifrit brought me hither, they will take fright at thee and none will come near thee; for they will say, This man is possessed of an Ifrit and harm will betide whoso approacheth him. And such public report will be dishonouring both to thee and to me, because they ken I come from Cairo.” Ma’aruf asked:—“How then shall I do?”; and Ali answered, “I will tell thee how thou shalt do, Inshallah! To-morrow I will give thee a thousand dinars and a she-mule to ride and a black slave, who shall walk before thee and guide thee to the gate of the merchants’ bazar; and do thou go into them. I will be there sitting amongst them, and when I see thee, I will rise to thee and salute thee with the salam and kiss thy hand and make a great man of thee. Whenever I ask thee of any kind of stuff, saying, Hast thou brought with thee aught of such a kind? do thou answer, “Plenty.[28]” And if they question me of thee, I will praise thee and magnify thee in their eyes and say to them, Get him a store-house and a shop. I also will give thee out for a man of great wealth and generosity; and if a beggar come to thee, bestow upon him what thou mayst; so will they put faith in what I say and believe in thy greatness and generosity and love thee. Then will I invite thee to my house and invite all the merchants 11on thy account and bring together thee and them, so that all may know thee and thou know them,”——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-second Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the merchant Ali said to Ma’aruf, “I will invite thee to my house and invite all the merchants on thy account and bring together thee and them, so that all may know thee and thou know them, whereby thou shalt sell and buy and take and give with them; nor will it be long ere thou become a man of money.” Accordingly, on the morrow he gave him a thousand dinars and a suit of clothes and a black slave and mounting him on a she-mule, said to him, “Allah give thee quittance of responsibility for all this,[29] inasmuch as thou art my friend and it behoveth me to deal generously with thee. Have no care; but put away from thee the thought of thy wife’s misways and name her not to any.” “Allah requite thee with good!” replied Ma’aruf and rode on, preceded by his blackamoor till the slave brought him to the gate of the merchants’ bazar, where they were all seated, and amongst them Ali, who when he saw him, rose and threw himself upon him, crying, “A blessed day, O Merchant Ma’aruf, O man of good works and kindness[30]!” And he kissed his hand before the merchants and said to them, “Our brothers, ye are honoured by knowing[31] the merchant Ma’aruf.” So they saluted him, and Ali signed to them to make much of him, wherefore he was magnified in their eyes. Then Ali helped him to dismount from his she-mule and saluted him with the salam; after which he took the merchants apart, one after other, and vaunted Ma’aruf to them. They asked, “Is this man a merchant?;” and he answered, “Yes; and indeed he is the chiefest of merchants, there liveth not a wealthier than he; for his wealth and the riches of his father and forefathers are famous among the merchants of Cairo. He hath partners in Hind and Sind and Al-Yaman 12and is high in repute for generosity. So know ye his rank and exalt ye his degree and do him service, and wot also that his coming to your city is not for the sake of traffic, and none other save to divert himself with the sight of folk’s countries: indeed, he hath no need of strangerhood for the sake of gain and profit, having wealth that fires cannot consume, and I am one of his servants.” And he ceased not to extol him, till they set him above their heads and began to tell one another of his qualities. Then they gathered round him and offered him junkets[32] and sherbets, and even the Consul of the Merchants came to him and saluted him; whilst Ali proceeded to ask him, in the presence of the traders, “O my lord, haply thou hast brought with thee somewhat of such and such a stuff?”; and Ma’aruf answered, “Plenty.” Now Ali had that day shown him various kinds of costly clothes and had taught him the names of the different stuffs, dear and cheap. Then said one of the merchants, “O my lord, hast thou brought with thee yellow broad cloth?”: and Ma’aruf said, “Plenty”! Quoth another, “And gazelles’ blood red[33]?”; and quoth the Cobbler, “Plenty”; and as often as he asked him of aught, he made him the same answer. So the other said, “O Merchant Ali had thy countryman a mind to transport a thousand loads of costly stuffs, he could do so”; and Ali said, “He would take them from a single one of his store-houses, and miss naught thereof.” Now whilst they were sitting, behold, up came a beggar and went the round of the merchants. One gave him a half dirham and another a copper,[34] but most of them gave him nothing, till he came to Ma’aruf who pulled out a handful of gold and gave it to him, whereupon he blessed him and went his ways. The merchants marvelled at this and said, “Verily, this is a King’s bestowal for he gave the beggar gold without count, and were he not a man of vast wealth and money without end, he had not given a beggar a handful of gold.” After a while, there came to him a poor woman and he gave her a handful of gold; whereupon she went away, blessing him, and told the other beggars, who came to him, one after other, and he gave them each a handful of gold, till he disbursed the thousand dinars. Then he struck hand upon hand 13and said, “Allah is our sufficient aid and excellent is the Agent!” Quoth the Consul, “What aileth thee, O Merchant Ma’aruf?”; and quoth he, “It seemeth that the most part of the people of this city are poor and needy; had I known their misery I would have brought with me a large sum of money in my saddle-bags and given largesse thereof to the poor. I fear me I may be long abroad[35] and ’tis not in my nature to baulk a beggar; and I have no gold left: so, if a pauper come to me, what shall I say to him?” Quoth the Consul, “Say, Allah will send thee thy daily bread[36]!”; but Ma’aruf replied, “That is not my practice and I am care-ridden because of this. Would I had other thousand dinars, wherewith to give alms till my baggage come!” “Have no care for that,” quoth the Consul and sending one of his dependents for a thousand dinars, handed them to Ma’aruf, who went on giving them to every beggar who passed till the call to noon-prayer. Then they entered the Cathedral-mosque and prayed the noon-prayers, and what was left him of the thousand gold pieces he scattered on the heads of the worshippers. This drew the people’s attention to him and they blessed him, whilst the merchants marvelled at the abundance of his generosity and openhandedness. Then he turned to another trader and borrowing of him other thousand ducats, gave these also away, whilst Merchant Ali looked on at what he did, but could not speak. He ceased not to do thus till the call to mid-afternoon prayer, when he entered the mosque and prayed and distributed the rest of the money. On this wise, by the time they locked the doors of the bazar,[37] he had borrowed five thousand sequins and given them away, saying to every one of whom he took aught, “Wait till my baggage come when, if thou desire gold I will give thee gold, and if thou desire stuffs, thou shalt have stuffs; for I have no end of them.” At eventide Merchant Ali invited Ma’aruf and the rest of the traders to an entertainment and seated him in the upper end, the place of honour, where he talked of nothing but cloths and jewels, and whenever they made mention to him of aught, he said, “I have plenty of it.” Next day, he again repaired to the market-street where he showed a 14friendly bias towards the merchants and borrowed of them more money, which he distributed to the poor: nor did he leave doing thus twenty days, till he had borrowed threescore thousand dinars, and still there came no baggage, no, nor a burning plague.[38] At last folk began to clamour for their money and say, “The merchant Ma’aruf’s baggage cometh not. How long will he take people’s monies and give them to the poor?” And quoth one of them, “My rede is that we speak to Merchant Ali.” So they went to him and said, “O Merchant Ali, Merchant Ma’aruf’s baggage cometh not.” Said he, “Have patience, it cannot fail to come soon.” Then he took Ma’aruf aside and said to him, “O Ma’aruf, what fashion is this? Did I bid thee brown[39] the bread or burn it? The merchants clamour for their coin and tell me that thou owest them sixty thousand dinars, which thou hast borrowed and given away to the poor. How wilt thou satisfy the folk, seeing that thou neither sellest nor buyest?” Said Ma’aruf, “What matters it[40]; and what are threescore thousand dinars? When my baggage shall come, I will pay them in stuffs or in gold and silver, as they will.” Quoth Merchant Ali, “Allah is Most Great! Hast thou then any baggage?” and he said, “Plenty.” Cried the other, “Allah and the Hallows[41] requite thee thine impudence! Did I teach thee this saying, that thou shouldst repeat it to me? But I will acquaint the folk with thee.” Ma’aruf rejoined, “Begone and prate no more! Am I a poor man? I have endless wealth in my baggage and as soon as it cometh, they shall have their money’s worth, two for one. I have no need of them.” At this Merchant Ali waxed wroth and said, “Unmannerly wight that thou art, I will teach thee to lie to me and be not ashamed!” Said Ma’aruf, “E’en work the worst thy hand can do! They must wait till my baggage come, when they shall have their due and more.” So Ali left him and went away, saying in himself, “I praised him whilome and if I blame him now, I make myself out a liar and become of those of whom it is 15said:—Whoso praiseth and then blameth lieth twice.”[42] And he knew not what to do. Presently, the traders came to him and said, “O Merchant Ali, hast thou spoken to him?” Said he, “O folk, I am ashamed and, though he owe me a thousand dinars, I cannot speak to him. When ye lent him your money ye consulted me not; so ye have no claim on me. Dun him yourselves, and if he pay you not, complain of him to the King of the city, saying:—He is an impostor who hath imposed upon us. And he will deliver you from the plague of him.” Accordingly, they repaired to the King and told him what had passed, saying, “O King of the age, we are perplexed anent this merchant, whose generosity is excessive; for he doeth thus and thus, and all he borroweth, he giveth away to the poor by handsful. Were he a man of naught, his sense would not suffer him to lavish gold on this wise; and were he a man of wealth, his good faith had been made manifest to us by the coming of his baggage; but we see none of his luggage, although he avoucheth that he hath a baggage-train and hath preceded it. Now some time hath past, but there appeareth no sign of his baggage-train, and he oweth us sixty thousand gold pieces, all of which he hath given away in alms.” And they went on to praise him and extol his generosity. Now this King was a very covetous man, a more covetous than Ash’ab[43]; and when he heard tell of Ma’aruf’s generosity and openhandedness, greed of gain got the better of him and he said to his Wazir, “Were not this merchant a man of immense wealth, he had not shown all this munificence. His baggage-train will assuredly come, whereupon these merchants will flock to him and he will scatter amongst them riches galore. Now I have more right to this money than they; wherefore I have a mind to make friends with him and 16profess affection for him, so that, when his baggage cometh whatso the merchants would have had I shall get of him; and I will give him my daughter to wife and join his wealth to my wealth.” Replied the Wazir, “O King of the age, methinks he is naught but an impostor, and ’tis the impostor who ruineth the house of the covetous;”——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-third Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir said to the King, “Methinks he is naught but an impostor, and ’tis the impostor who ruineth the house of the covetous;” the King said, “O Wazir, I will prove him and soon know if he be an impostor or a true man and whether he be a rearling of Fortune or not.” The Wazir asked, “And how wilt thou prove him?”; and the King answered, “I will send for him to the presence and entreat him with honour and give him a jewel which I have. An he know it and wot its price, he is a man of worth and wealth; but an he know it not, he is an impostor and an upstart and I will do him die by the foulest fashion of deaths.” So he sent for Ma’aruf, who came and saluted him. The King returned his salam and seating him beside himself, said to him, “Art thou the merchant Ma’aruf?” and said he, “Yes.” Quoth the King, “The merchants declare that thou owest them sixty thousand ducats. Is this true?” “Yes,” quoth he. Asked the King, “Then why dost thou not give them their money?”; and he answered, “Let them wait till my baggage come and I will repay them twofold. An they wish for gold, they shall have gold; and should they wish for silver, they shall have silver; or an they prefer for merchandise, I will give them merchandise; and to whom I owe a thousand I will give two thousand in requital of that wherewith he hath veiled my face before the poor; for I have plenty.” Then said the King, “O merchant, take this and look what is its kind and value.” And he gave him a jewel the bigness of a hazel-nut, which he had bought for a thousand sequins and not having its fellow, prized it highly. Ma’aruf took it and pressing it between his thumb and forefinger brake it, for it was brittle and would not brook the squeeze. Quoth the King, “Why hast thou broken the jewel?”; and Ma’aruf laughed and said, “O King 17of the age, this is no jewel. This is but a bittock of mineral worth a thousand dinars; why dost thou style it a jewel? A jewel I call such as is worth threescore and ten thousand gold pieces and this is called but a piece of stone. A jewel that is not of the bigness of a walnut hath no worth in my eyes and I take no account thereof. How cometh it, then, that thou, who art King, stylest this thing a jewel, when ’tis but a bit of mineral worth a thousand dinars? But ye are excusable, for that ye are poor folk and have not in your possession things of price.” The King asked, “O merchant, hast thou jewels such as those whereof thou speakest?”; and he answered, “Plenty.” Whereupon avarice overcame the King and he said, “Wilt thou give me real jewels?” Said Ma’aruf, “When my baggage-train shall come, I will give thee no end of jewels; and all that thou canst desire I have in plenty and will give thee, without price.” At this the King rejoiced and said to the traders, “Wend your ways and have patience with him, till his baggage arrive, when do ye come to me and receive your monies from me.” So they fared forth and the King turned to his Wazir and said to him, “Pay court to Merchant Ma’aruf and take and give with him in talk and bespeak him of my daughter, Princess Dunyá, that he may wed her and so we gain these riches he hath.” Said the Wazir, “O King of the age, this man’s fashion misliketh me and methinks he is an impostor and a liar: so leave this whereof thou speakest lest thou lose thy daughter for naught.” Now this Minister had sued the King aforetime to give him his daughter to wife and he was willing to do so, but when she heard of it she consented not to marry him. Accordingly, the King said to him, “O traitor, thou desirest no good for me, because in past time thou soughtest my daughter in wedlock, but she would none of thee; so now thou wouldst cut off the way of her marriage and wouldst have the Princess lie fallow, that thou mayst take her; but hear from me one word. Thou hast no concern in this matter. How can he be an impostor and a liar, seeing that he knew the price of the jewel, even that for which I bought it, and brake it because it pleased him not? He hath jewels in plenty, and when he goeth in to my daughter and seeth her to be beautiful, she will captivate his reason and he will love her and give her jewels and things of price: but, as for thee, thou wouldst forbid my daughter and myself these good things.” So the Minister was silent, for fear of the King’s anger, and said to himself, “Set the curs on the 18cattle[44]!” Then with show of friendly bias he betook himself to Ma’aruf and said to him, “His highness the King loveth thee and hath a daughter, a winsome lady and a lovesome, to whom he is minded to marry thee. What sayst thou?” Said he, “No harm in that; but let him wait till my baggage come, for marriage-settlements on Kings’ daughters are large and their rank demandeth that they be not endowed save with a dowry befitting their degree. At this present I have no money with me till the coming of my baggage, for I have wealth in plenty and needs must I make her marriage-portion five thousand purses. Then I shall need a thousand purses to distribute amongst the poor and needy on my wedding-night, and other thousand to give to those who walk in the bridal procession and yet other thousand wherewith to provide provaunt for the troops and others[45]; and I shall want an hundred jewels to give to the Princess on the wedding-morning[46] and other hundred gems to distribute among the slave-girls and eunuchs, for I must give each of them a jewel in honour of the bride; and I need wherewithal to clothe a thousand naked paupers, and alms too needs must be given. All this cannot be done till my baggage come; but I have plenty and, once it is here, I shall make no account of all this outlay.” The Wazir returned to the King and told him what Ma’aruf said, whereupon quoth he, “Since this is his wish, how canst thou style him impostor and liar?” Replied the Minister, “And I cease not to say this.” But the King chid him angrily and threatened him, saying, “By the life of my head, an thou cease not this talk, I will slay thee! Go back to him and fetch him to me and I will manage matters with him myself.” So the Wazir returned to Ma’aruf and said to him, “Come and speak with the King.” “I hear and I obey,” said Ma’aruf and went in to the King, who said to him, “Thou shalt not put me off with these excuses, for my treasury is full; so take the keys and spend all thou needest and give what thou wilt and clothe the poor and do thy desire and have no care for the girl and the handmaids. When the baggage shall come, do what thou wilt with thy wife, by way of generosity, and we will have patience with thee anent the marriage-portion till then, for there is no manner of difference betwixt me and thee; none at 19all.” Then he sent for the Shaykh Al-Islam[47] and bade him write out the marriage-contract between his daughter and Merchant Ma’aruf, and he did so; after which the King gave the signal for beginning the wedding festivities and bade decorate the city. The kettle drums beat and the tables were spread with meats of all kinds and there came performers who paraded their tricks. Merchant Ma’aruf sat upon a throne in a parlour and the players and gymnasts and effeminates[48] and dancing-men of wondrous movements and posture-makers of marvellous cunning came before him, whilst he called out to the treasurer and said to him, “Bring gold and silver.” So he brought gold and silver and Ma’aruf went round among the spectators and largessed each performer by the handful; and he gave alms to the poor and needy and clothes to the naked and it was a clamorous festival and a right merry. The treasurer could not bring money fast enough from the treasury, and the Wazir’s heart was like to burst for rage; but he dared not say a word, whilst Merchant Ali marvelled at this waste of wealth and said to Merchant Ma’aruf, “Allah and the Hallows visit this upon thy head-sides[49]! Doth it not suffice thee to squander the traders’ money, but thou must squander that of the King to boot?” Replied Ma’aruf, “’Tis none of thy concern: whenas my baggage shall come, I will requite the King manifold.” And he went on lavishing money and saying in himself, “A burning plague! What will happen will happen and there is no flying from that which is fore-ordained.” The festivities ceased not for the space of forty days, and on the one-and-fortieth day, they made the bride’s cortège and all the Emirs and troops walked before her. When they brought her in before Ma’aruf, he began scattering gold on the people’s heads, and they made her a mighty fine procession, whilst Ma’aruf expended in her honour vast sums of money. Then they brought him in to Princess Dunya and he sat down on the high divan; after which 20they let fall the curtains and shut the doors and withdrew, leaving him alone with his bride; whereupon he smote hand upon hand and sat awhile sorrowful and saying, “There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great!” Quoth the Princess, “O my lord, Allah preserve thee! What aileth thee that thou art troubled?” Quoth he, “And how should I be other than troubled, seeing that thy father hath embarrassed me and done with me a deed which is like the burning of green corn?” She asked, “And what hath my father done with thee? Tell me!”; and he answered, “He hath brought me in to thee before the coming of my baggage, and I want at very least an hundred jewels to distribute among thy handmaids, to each a jewel, so she might rejoice therein and say, My lord gave me a jewel on the night of his going in to my lady. This good deed would I have done in honour of thy station and for the increase of thy dignity; and I have no need to stint myself in lavishing jewels, for I have of them great plenty.” Rejoined she, “Be not concerned for that. As for me, trouble not thyself about me, for I will have patience with thee till thy baggage shall come, and as for my women have no care for them. Rise, doff thy clothes and take thy pleasure; and when the baggage cometh we shall get the jewels and the rest.” So he arose and putting off his clothes sat down on the bed and sought love-liesse and they fell to toying with each other. He laid his hand on her knee and she sat down in his lap and thrust her lip like a tit-bit of meat into his mouth, and that hour was such as maketh a man to forget his father and his mother. So he clasped her in his arms and strained her fast to his breast and sucked her lip, till the honey-dew ran out into his mouth; and he laid his hand under her left-armpit, whereupon his vitals and her vitals yearned for coition. Then he clapped her between the breasts and his hand slipped down between her thighs and she girded him with her legs, whereupon he made of the two parts proof amain and crying out, “O sire of the chin-veils twain[50]!” applied the priming and kindled the match and set it to the touch-hole and gave fire and breached the citadel in its four corners; so 21there befel the mystery[51] concerning which there is no enquiry; and she cried the cry that needs must be cried.[52]——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-fourth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that while the Princess Dunya cried the cry which must be cried, Merchant Ma’aruf abated her maidenhead and that night was one not to be counted among lives for that which it comprised of the enjoyment of the fair, clipping and dallying langue fourrée and futtering till the dawn of day, when he arose and entered the Hammam whence, after donning a suit for sovrans suitable he betook himself to the King’s Divan. All who were there rose to him and received him with honour and worship, giving him joy and invoking blessings upon him; and he sat down by the King’s side and asked, “Where is the treasurer?” They answered, “Here he is, before thee,” and he said to him, “Bring robes of honour for all the Wazirs and Emirs and dignitaries and clothe them therewith.” The treasurer brought him all he sought and he sat giving to all who came to him and lavishing largesse upon every man according to his station. On this wise he abode twenty days, whilst no baggage appeared for him nor aught else, till the treasurer was straitened by him to the uttermost and going in to the King, as he sat alone with the Wazir in Ma’aruf’s absence, kissed ground between his hands and said, “O King of the age, I must tell thee somewhat, lest haply thou blame me for not acquainting thee therewith. Know that the treasury is being exhausted; there is none but a little money left in it and in ten days more we shall shut it upon emptiness.” Quoth the King, “O Wazir, verily my son-in-law’s baggage-train tarrieth long and there appeareth no news thereof.” The Minister laughed and said, “Allah be gracious to thee, O King of the age! Thou art none other but heedless with respect 22to this impostor, this liar. As thy head liveth, there is no baggage for him, no, nor a burning plague to rid us of him! Nay, he hath but imposed on thee without surcease, so that he hath wasted thy treasures and married thy daughter for naught. How long therefore wilt thou be heedless of this liar?” Then quoth the King, “O Wazir, how shall we do to learn the truth of his case?”; and quoth the Wazir, “O King of the age, none may come at a man’s secret but his wife; so send for thy daughter and let her come behind the curtain, that I may question her of the truth of his estate, to the intent that she may make question of him and acquaint us with his case.” Cried the King, “There is no harm in that; and as my head liveth, if it be proved that he is a liar and an impostor, I will verily do him die by the foulest of deaths!” Then he carried the Wazir into the sitting-chamber and sent for his daughter, who came behind the curtain, her husband being absent, and said, “What wouldst thou, O my father?” Said he “Speak with the Wazir.” So she asked, “Ho thou, the Wazir, what is thy will?”; and he answered, “O my lady, thou must know that thy husband hath squandered thy father’s substance and married thee without a dower; and he ceaseth not to promise us and break his promises, nor cometh there any tidings of his baggage; in short we would have thee inform us concerning him.” Quoth she, “Indeed his words be many, and he still cometh and promiseth me jewels and treasures and costly stuffs; but I see nothing.” Quoth the Wazir, “O my lady, canst thou this night take and give with him in talk and whisper to him:—Say me sooth and fear from me naught, for thou art become my husband and I will not transgress against thee. So tell me the truth of the matter and I will devise thee a device whereby thou shalt be set at rest. And do thou play near and far[53] with him in words and profess love to him and win him to confess and after tell us the facts of his case.” And she answered, “O my papa, I know how I will make proof of him.” Then she went away and after supper her husband came in to her, according to his wont, whereupon Princess Dunya rose to him and took him under the armpit and wheedled him with winsomest wheedling (and all-sufficient[54] are woman’s wiles whenas she would aught of men); and she ceased not 23to caress him and beguile him with speech sweeter than the honey till she stole his reason; and when she saw that he altogether inclined to her, she said to him, “O my beloved, O coolth of my eyes and fruit of my vitals, Allah never desolate me by less of thee nor Time sunder us twain me and thee! Indeed, the love of thee hath homed in my heart and the fire of passion hath consumed my liver, nor will I ever forsake thee or transgress against thee. But I would have thee tell me the truth, for that the sleights of falsehood profit not, nor do they secure credit at all seasons. How long wilt thou impose upon my father and lie to him? I fear lest thine affair be discovered to him, ere we can devise some device and he lay violent hands upon thee? So acquaint me with the facts of the case for naught shall befal thee save that which shall begladden thee; and, when thou shalt have spoken sooth, fear not harm shall betide thee. How often wilt thou declare that thou art a merchant and a man of money and hast a luggage-train? This long while past thou sayest, My baggage! my baggage! but there appeareth no sign of thy baggage, and visible in thy face is anxiety on this account. So an there be no worth in thy words, tell me and I will contrive thee a contrivance whereby thou shalt come off safe, Inshallah!” He replied, “I will tell thee the truth, and then do thou whatso thou wilt.” Rejoined she, “Speak and look thou speak soothly; for sooth is the ark of safety, and beware of lying, for it dishonoureth the liar and God-gifted is he who said:—

’Ware that truth thou speak, albe sooth when said ✿ Shall cause thee in threatenèd fire to fall:
And seek Allah’s approof, for most foolish he ✿ Who shall anger his Lord to make friends with thrall.

He said, “Know, then, O my lady, that I am no merchant and have no baggage, no, nor a burning plague; nay, I was but a cobbler in my own country and had a wife called Fatimah the Dung, with whom there befel me this and that.” And he told her his story from beginning to end; whereat she laughed and said, “Verily, thou art clever in the practice of lying and imposture!” Whereto he answered, “O my lady, may Allah Almighty preserve thee to veil sins and countervail chagrins!” Rejoined she, “Know, that thou imposedst upon my sire and deceivedst him by dint of thy deluding vaunts, so that of his greed for gain he married me to thee. Then thou squanderedst 24his wealth and the Wazir beareth thee a grudge for this. How many a time hath he spoken against thee to my father, saying, Indeed, he is an impostor, a liar! But my sire hearkened not to his say, for that he had sought me in wedlock and I consented not that he be baron and I femme. However, the time grew longsome upon my sire and he became straitened and said to me, Make him confess. So I have made thee confess and that which was covered is discovered. Now my father purposeth thee a mischief because of this; but thou art become my husband and I will never transgress against thee. An I told my father what I have learnt from thee, he would be certified of thy falsehood and imposture and that thou imposest upon Kings’ daughters and squanderest royal wealth: so would thine offence find with him no pardon and he would slay thee sans a doubt: wherefore it would be bruited among the folk that I married a man who was a liar, an impostor, and this would smirch mine honour. Furthermore an he kill thee, most like he will require me to wed another, and to such thing I will never consent; no, not though I die![55] So rise now and don a Mameluke’s dress and take these fifty thousand dinars of my monies, and mount a swift steed and get thee to a land whither the rule of my father doth not reach. Then make thee a merchant and send me a letter by a courier who shall bring it privily to me, that I may know in what land thou art, so I may send thee all my hand can attain. Thus shall thy wealth wax great and if my father die, I will send for thee, and thou shalt return in respect and honour; and if we die, thou or I and go to the mercy of God the Most Great, the Resurrection shall unite us. This, then, is the rede that is right: and while we both abide alive and well, I will not cease to send thee letters and monies. Arise ere the day wax bright and thou be in perplexed plight and perdition upon thy head alight!” Quoth he, “O my lady, I beseech thee of thy favour to bid me farewell with thine embracement;” and quoth she, “No harm in that.”[56] So he embraced her and knew her carnally; after which he made the Ghusl-ablution; then, donning the dress of a white slave, he bade the syces saddle him a thoroughbred steed. Accordingly, they 25saddled him a courser and he mounted and farewelling his wife, rode forth the city at the last of the night, whilst all who saw him deemed him one of the Mamelukes of the Sultan going abroad on some business. Next morning, the King and his Wazir repaired to the sitting-chamber and sent for Princess Dunya who came behind the curtain; and her father said to her, “O my daughter, what sayst thou?” Said she, “I say, Allah blacken thy Wazir’s face, because he would have blackened my face in my husband’s eyes!” Asked the King, “How so?”; and she answered, “He came in to me yesterday; but, before I could name the matter to him, behold, in walked Faraj the Chief Eunuch, letter in hand, and said:—Ten white slaves stand under the palace window and have given me this letter, saying:—Kiss for us the hands of our lord, Merchant Ma’aruf, and give him this letter, for we are of his Mamelukes with the baggage, and it hath reached us that he hath wedded the King’s daughter, so we are come to acquaint him with that which befel us by the way. Accordingly I took the letter and read as follows:—From the five hundred Mamelukes to his highness our lord Merchant Ma’aruf. But further. We give thee to know that, after thou quittedst us, the Arabs[57] came out upon us and attacked us. They were two thousand horse and we five hundred mounted slaves and there befel a mighty sore fight between us and them. They hindered us from the road thirty days doing battle with them and this is the cause of our tarrying from thee.——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-fifth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Princess Dunya said to her sire, “My husband received a letter from his dependents ending with:—The Arabs hindered us from the road thirty days which is the cause of our being behind time. They also took from us of the luggage two hundred loads of cloth and slew of us fifty Mamelukes. When the news reached my husband, he cried, Allah disappoint them! What ailed them to wage war with the Arabs for the sake of two hundred loads of merchandise? 26What are two hundred loads? It behoved them not to tarry on that account, for verily the value of the two hundred loads is only some seven thousand dinars. But needs must I go to them and hasten them. As for that which the Arabs have taken, ’twill not be missed from the baggage, nor doth it weigh with me a whit, for I reckon it as if I had given it to them by way of an alms. Then he went down from me, laughing and taking no concern for the wastage of his wealth nor the slaughter of his slaves. As soon as he was gone, I looked out from the lattice and saw the ten Mamelukes who had brought him the letter, as they were moons, each clad in a suit of clothes worth two thousand dinars, there is not with my father a chattel to match one of them. He went forth with them to bring up his baggage and hallowed be Allah who hindered me from saying to him aught of that thou badest me, for he would have made mock of me and thee, and haply he would have eyed me with the eye of disparagement and hated me. But the fault is all with thy Wazir,[58] who speaketh against my husband words that besit him not.” Replied the King, “O my daughter, thy husband’s wealth is indeed endless and he recketh not of it; for, from the day he entered our city, he hath done naught but give alms to the poor. Inshallah, he will speedily return with the baggage, and good in plenty shall betide us from him.” And he went on to appease her and menace the Wazir, being duped by her device. So fared it with the King; but as regards Merchant Ma’aruf he rode on into waste lands, perplexed and knowing not to what quarter he should betake him; and for the anguish of parting he lamented and in the pangs of passion and love-longing he recited these couplets:—

Time falsed our Union and divided who were one in tway; ✿ And the sore tyranny of Time doth melt my heart away:
Mine eyes ne’er cease to drop the tear for parting with my dear; ✿ When shall Disunion come to end and dawn the Union-day?
O favour like the full moon’s face of sheen, indeed I’m he ✿ Whom thou didst leave with vitals torn when faring on thy way.
Would I had never seen thy sight, or met thee for an hour; ✿ Since after sweetest taste of thee to bitters I’m a prey.
27Ma’aruf will never cease to be enthralled by Dunyá’s[59] charms ✿ And long live she albe he die whom love and longing slay,
O brilliance, like resplendent sun of noontide, deign them heal ✿ His heart for kindness[60] and the fire of longing love allay!
Would Heaven I wot an e’er the days shall deign conjoin our lots, ✿ Join us in pleasant talk o’ nights, in Union glad and gay:
Shall my love’s palace hold two hearts that savour joy, and I ✿ Strain to my breast the branch I saw upon the sand-hill[61] sway?
O favour of full moon in sheen, never may sun o’ thee ✿ Surcease to rise from Eastern rim with all-enlightening ray!
I’m well content with passion-pine and all its bane and bate ✿ For luck in love is evermore the butt of jealous Fate.

And when he ended his verses, he wept with sore weeping, for indeed the ways were walled up before his face and death seemed to him better than dreeing life, and he walked on like a drunken man for stress of distraction, and stayed not till noontide, when he came to a little town and saw a plougher hard by, ploughing with a yoke of bulls. Now hunger was sore upon him; and he went up to the ploughman and said to him, “Peace be with thee!”; and he returned his salam and said to him, “Welcome, O my lord! Art thou one of the Sultan’s Mamelukes?” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Yes;” and the other said, “Alight with me for a guest-meal.” Whereupon Ma’aruf knew him to be of the liberal and said to him, “O my brother, I see with thee naught with which thou mayst feed me: how is it, then, that thou invitest me?” Answered the husbandman, “O my lord, weal is well nigh.[62] Dismount thee here: the town is near hand and I will go and fetch thee dinner and fodder for thy stallion.” Rejoined Ma’aruf, “Since the town is near at hand, I can go thither as quickly as thou canst and buy me what I have a mind to in the bazar and eat.” The peasant replied, “O my lord, the place is but a little village[63] and there is no bazar there, neither selling nor buying. So I conjure thee by Allah, alight here with me and hearten my heart, and I will run thither and return to thee in haste.” Accordingly he dismounted 28and the Fellah left him and went off to the village, to fetch dinner for him whilst Ma’aruf sat awaiting him. Presently he said in himself, “I have taken this poor man away from his work; but I will arise and plough in his stead, till he come back, to make up for having hindered him from his work.[64]” Then he took the plough and starting the bulls, ploughed a little, till the share struck against something and the beasts stopped. He goaded them on, but they could not move the plough; so he looked at the share and finding it caught in a ring of gold, cleared away the soil and saw that it was set centre-most a slab of alabaster, the size of the nether millstone. He strave at the stone till he pulled it from its place, when there appeared beneath it a souterrain with a stair. Presently he descended the flight of steps and came to a place like a Hammam, with four daïses, the first full of gold, from floor to roof, the second full of emeralds and pearls and coral also from ground to ceiling; the third of jacinths and rubies and turquoises and the fourth of diamonds and all manner other preciousest stones. At the upper end of the place stood a coffer of clearest crystal, full of union-gems each the size of a walnut, and upon the coffer lay a casket of gold, the bigness of a lemon. When he saw this, he marvelled and rejoiced with joy exceeding and said to himself, “I wonder what is in this casket?” So he opened it and found therein a seal-ring of gold, whereon were graven names and talismans, as they were the tracks of creeping ants. He rubbed the ring and behold, a voice said, “Adsum! Here am I, at thy service, O my lord! Ask and it shall be given unto thee. Wilt thou raise a city or ruin a capital or kill a king or dig a river-channel or aught of the kind? Whatso thou seekest, it shall come to pass, by leave of the King of All-might, Creator of day and night.” Ma’aruf asked, “O creature of my lord, who and what art thou?”; and the other answered, “I am the slave of this seal-ring standing in the service of him who possesseth it. Whatsoever he seeketh, that I accomplish for him, and I have no excuse in neglecting that he biddeth me do; because I am Sultan over two-and-seventy tribes of the Jinn, each two-and-seventy thousand in number every one of which thousand ruleth over a thousand Marids, each Marid over a thousand Ifrits, each Ifrit over a thousand Satans and each Satan over a thousand Jinn: and they are all under command of me and may not gainsay me. As 29for me, I am spelled to this seal-ring and may not thwart whoso holdeth it. Lo! thou hast gotten hold of it and I am become thy slave; so ask what thou wilt, for I hearken to thy word and obey thy bidding; and if thou have need of me at any time, by land or by sea rub the signet-ring and thou wilt find me with thee. But beware of rubbing it twice in succession, or thou wilt consume me with the fire of the names graven thereon; and thus wouldst thou lose me and after regret me. Now I have acquainted thee with my case and—the Peace!”——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-sixth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Slave of the Signet-ring acquainted Ma’aruf with his case, the Merchant asked him, “What is thy name?” and the Jinni answered, “My name is Abú al-Sa’ádát.[65]” Quoth Ma’aruf, “O Abu al-Sa’adat what is this place and who enchanted thee in this casket?”; and quoth he, “O my lord, this is a treasure called the Hoard of Shaddád son of Ad, him who the base of ‘Many-columned Iram laid, the like of which in the lands was never made.[66]’ I was his slave in his lifetime and this is his Seal-ring, which he laid up in his treasure; but it hath fallen to thy lot.” Ma’aruf enquired, “Canst thou transport that which is in this hoard to the surface of the earth?”; and the Jinni replied, “Yes! Nothing were easier.” Said Ma’aruf, “Bring it forth and leave naught.” So the Jinni signed with his hand to the ground, which clave asunder, and he sank and was absent a little while. Presently, there came forth young boys full of grace, and fair of face bearing golden baskets filled with gold which they emptied out and going away, returned with more; nor did they cease to transport the gold and jewels, till ere an hour had sped they said, “Naught is left in the hoard.” Thereupon out came Abu al-Sa’adat and said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, thou seest that we have brought forth all that was in the hoard.” Ma’aruf asked, “Who be these beautiful 30boys?” and the Jinni answered, “They are my sons. This matter merited not that I should muster for it the Marids, wherefore my sons have done thy desire and are honoured by such service. So ask what thou wilt beside this.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Canst thou bring me he-mules and chests and fill the chests with the treasure and load them on the mules?” Quoth Abu al-Sa’adat, “Nothing easier,” and cried a great cry; whereupon his sons presented themselves before him, to the number of eight hundred, and he said to them, “Let some of you take the semblance of he-mules and others of muleteers and handsome Mamelukes, the like of the least of whom is not found with any of the Kings; and others of you be transmewed to muleteers, and the rest to menials.” So seven hundred of them changed themselves into bât-mules and other hundred took the shape of slaves. Then Abu al-Sa’adat called upon his Marids, who presented themselves between his hands and he commanded some of them to assume the aspect of horses saddled with saddles of gold crusted with jewels. And when Ma’aruf saw them do as he bade he cried, “Where be the chests?” They brought them before him and he said, “Pack the gold and the stones, each sort by itself.” So they packed them and loaded three hundred he-mules with them. Then asked Ma’aruf, “O Abu al-Sa’adat, canst thou bring me some loads of costly stuffs?”; and the Jinni answered, “Wilt thou have Egyptian stuffs or Syrian or Persian or Indian or Greek?” Ma’aruf said, “Bring me an hundred loads of each kind, on five hundred mules;” and Abu al-Sa’adat, “O my lord accord me delay that I may dispose my Marids for this and send a company of them to each country to fetch an hundred loads of its stuffs and then take the form of he-mules and return, carrying the stuffs.” Ma’aruf enquired, “What time dost thou want?”; and Abu al-Sa’adat replied, “The time of the blackness of the night, and day shall not dawn ere thou have all thou desirest.” Said Ma’aruf, “I grant thee this time,” and bade them pitch him a pavilion. So they pitched it and he sat down therein and they brought him a table of food. Then said Abu al-Sa’adat to him, “O my lord, tarry thou in this tent and these my sons shall guard thee: so fear thou nothing; for I go to muster my Marids and despatch them to do thy desire.” So saying, he departed, leaving Ma’aruf seated in the pavilion, with the table before him and the Jinni’s sons attending upon him, in the guise of slaves and servants and suite. And while he sat in this state behold, up came the husbandman, 31with a great porringer of lentils[67] and a nose-bag full of barley and seeing the pavilion pitched and the Mamelukes standing, hands upon breasts, thought that the Sultan was come and had halted on that stead. So he stood open-mouthed and said in himself, “Would I had killed a couple of chickens and fried them red with clarified cow-butter for the Sultan!” And he would have turned back to kill the chickens as a regale for the Sultan; but Ma’aruf saw him and cried out to him and said to the Mamelukes, “Bring him hither.” So they brought him and his porringer of lentils before Ma’aruf, who said to him, “What is this?” Said the peasant, “This is thy dinner and thy horse’s fodder! Excuse me, for I thought not that the Sultan would come hither; and, had I known that, I would have killed a couple of chickens and entertained him in goodly guise.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “The Sultan is not come. I am his son-in-law and I was vexed with him. However he hath sent his officers to make his peace with me, and now I am minded to return to city. But thou hast made me this guest-meal without knowing me, and I accept it from thee, lentils though it be, and will not eat save of thy cheer.” Accordingly he bade him set the porringer amiddlemost the table and ate of it his sufficiency, whilst the Fellah filled his belly with those rich meats. Then Ma’aruf washed his hands and gave the Mamelukes leave to eat; so they fell upon the remains of the meal and ate; and, when the porringer was empty, he filled it with gold and gave it to the peasant, saying, “Carry this to thy dwelling and come to me in the city, and I will entreat thee with honour.” Thereupon the peasant took the porringer full of gold and returned to the village, driving the bulls before him and deeming himself akin to the King. Meanwhile, they brought Ma’aruf girls of the Brides of the Treasure,[68] who smote on instruments of music and danced before him, and he passed that night in joyance and delight, a night not to be reckoned among lives. Hardly had dawned the day when there arose a great cloud of dust which presently lifting, discovered seven hundred mules laden with stuffs and attended by muleteers and baggage-tenders and cresset-bearers. With them came Abu al-Sa’adat, riding on a she-mule, in the guise of a caravan-leader, 32and before him was a travelling-litter, with four corner-terminals[69] of glittering red gold, set with gems. When Abu al-Sa’adat came up to the tent, he dismounted and kissing the earth, said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, thy desire hath been done to the uttermost and in the litter is a treasure-suit which hath not its match among Kings’ raiment: so don it and mount the litter and bid us do what thou wilt.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “O Abu al-Sa’adat, I wish thee to go to the city of Ikhtiyan al-Khutan and present thyself to my father-in-law the King; and go thou not in to him but in the guise of a mortal courier;” and quoth he, “To hear is to obey.” So Ma’aruf wrote a letter to the Sultan and sealed it and Abu al-Sa’adat took it and set out with it; and when he arrived, he found the King saying, “O Wazir, indeed my heart is concerned for my son-in-law and I fear lest the Arabs slay him. Would Heaven I wot whither he was bound, that I might have followed him with the troops! Would he had told me his destination!” Said the Wazir, “Allah be merciful to thee for this thy heedlessness! As thy head liveth, the wight saw that we were awake to him and feared dishonour and fled, for he is nothing but an impostor, a liar.” And behold, at this moment in came the courier and kissing ground before the King, wished him permanent glory and prosperity and length of life. Asked the King, “Who art thou and what is thy business?” “I am a courier,” answered the Jinni, “and thy son-in-law who is come with the baggage sendeth me to thee with a letter, and here it is!” So he took the letter and read therein these words, “After salutations galore to our uncle[70] the glorious King! Know that I am at hand with the baggage-train: so come thou forth to meet me with the troops.” Cried the King, “Allah blacken thy brow, O Wazir! How often wilt thou defame my son-in-law’s name and call him liar and impostor? Behold, he is come with the baggage-train and thou art naught but a traitor.” The Minister hung his head groundwards in shame and confusion and replied, “O King of the age, I said not this save because of the long delay of the baggage and because I feared the loss of the wealth he hath wasted.” The King exclaimed, “O 33traitor, what are my riches! Now that his baggage is come he will give me great plenty in their stead.” Then he bade decorate the city and going in to his daughter, said to her, “Good news for thee! Thy husband will be here anon with his baggage; for he hath sent me a letter to that effect and here am I now going forth to meet him.” The Princess Dunya marvelled at this and said in herself, “This is a wondrous thing! Was he laughing at me and making mock of me, or had he a mind to try me, when he told me that he was a pauper? But Alhamdolillah, Glory to God, for that I failed not of my duty to him!” On this wise fared it in the Palace; but as regards Merchant Ali, the Cairene, when he saw the decoration of the city and asked the cause thereof, they said to him, “The baggage-train of Merchant Ma’aruf, the King’s son-in-law, is come.” Said he, “Allah is Almighty! What a calamity is this man![71] He came to me, fleeing from his wife, and he was a poor man. Whence then should he get a baggage-train? But haply this is a device which the King’s daughter hath contrived for him, fearing his disgrace, and Kings are not unable to do anything. May Allah the Most High veil his fame and not bring him to public shame!”——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-seventh Night,

She pursued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Merchant Ali asked the cause of the decorations, they told him the truth of the case; so he blessed Merchant Ma’aruf and cried, “May Allah Almighty veil his fame and not bring him to public shame!” And all the merchants rejoiced and were glad for that they would get their monies. Then the King assembled his troops and rode forth, whilst Abu al-Sa’adat returned to Ma’aruf and acquainted him with the delivering of the letter. Quoth Ma’aruf, “Bind on the loads;” and when they had done so, he donned the treasure-suit and mounting the litter became a thousand times greater and more majestic than the King. Then he set forward; but, when he had gone half-way, behold, the King met him with the troops, and seeing him riding in the 34Takhtrawan and clad in the dress aforesaid, threw himself upon him and saluted him, and giving him joy of his safety, greeted him with the greeting of peace. Then all the Lords of the land saluted him and it was made manifest that he had spoken the truth and that in him there was no lie. Presently he entered the city in such state procession as would have caused the gall-bladder of the lion to burst[72] for envy and the traders pressed up to him and kissed his hands, whilst Merchant Ali said to him, “Thou hast played off this trick and it hath prospered to thy hand, O Shaykh of Impostors! But thou deservest it and may Allah the Most High increase thee of His bounty!”; whereupon Ma’aruf laughed. Then he entered the palace and sitting down on the throne said, “Carry the loads of gold into the treasury of my uncle the King and bring me the bales of cloth.” So they brought them to him and opened them before him, bale after bale, till they had unpacked the seven hundred loads, whereof he chose out the best and said, “Bear these to Princess Dunya that she may distribute them among her slave-girls; and carry her also this coffer of jewels, that she may divide them among her handmaids and eunuchs.” Then he proceeded to make over to the merchants in whose debt he was stuffs by way of payment for their arrears, giving him whose due was a thousand, stuffs worth two thousand or more; after which he fell to distributing to the poor and needy, whilst the King looked on with greedy eyes and could not hinder him; nor did he cease largesse till he had made an end of the seven hundred loads, when he turned to the troops and proceeded to apportion amongst them emeralds and rubies and pearls and coral and other jewels by handsful, without count, till the King said to him, “Enough of this giving, O my son! There is but little left of the baggage.” But he said, “I have plenty.” Then indeed, his good faith was become manifest and none could give him the lie; and he had come to reck not of giving, for that the Slave of the Seal-ring brought him whatsoever he sought. Presently, the treasurer came in to the King and said, “O King of the age, the treasury is full indeed and will not hold the rest of the loads. Where shall we lay that which is left of the gold and jewels?” And he assigned to him another place. As for the Princess 35Dunya when she saw this, her joy redoubled and she marvelled and said in herself, “Would I wot how came he by all this wealth!” In like manner the traders rejoiced in that which he had given them and blessed him; whilst Merchant Ali marvelled and said to himself, “I wonder how he hath lied and swindled, that he hath gotten him all these treasures[73]? Had they come from the King’s daughter, he had not wasted them on this wise! But how excellent is his saying who said:—

When the Kings’ King giveth, in reverence pause ✿ And venture not to enquire the cause:
Allah gives His gifts unto whom He will, ✿ So respect and abide by His Holy Laws!

So far concerning him; but as regards the King, he also marvelled with passing marvel at that which he saw of Ma’aruf’s generosity and openhandedness in the largesse of wealth. Then the Merchant went in to his wife, who met him, smiling and laughing-lipped and kissed his hand, saying, “Didst thou mock me or hadst thou a mind to prove me with thy saying:—I am a poor man and a fugitive from my wife? Praised be Allah for that I failed not of my duty to thee! For thou art my beloved and there is none dearer to me than thou, whether thou be rich or poor. But I would have thee tell me what didst thou design by these words.” Said Ma’aruf, “I wished to prove thee and see whether thy love were sincere or for the sake of wealth and the greed of worldly good. But now ’tis become manifest to me that thine affection is sincere and as thou art a true woman, so welcome to thee! I know thy worth.” Then he went apart into a place by himself and rubbed the seal-ring, whereupon Abu al-Sa’adat presented himself and said to him, “Adsum, at thy service! Ask what thou wilt.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “I want a treasure-suit and treasure-trinkets for my wife, including a necklace of forty unique jewels.” Quoth the Jinni, “To hear is to obey,” and brought him what he sought, whereupon Ma’aruf dismissed him and carrying the dress and ornaments in to his wife, laid them before her and said, “Take these and put them on and welcome!” When she saw this, her wits fled for joy, and she found among the ornaments a pair of anklets of gold set with jewels of the handiwork of the magicians, 36and bracelets and earrings and a belt[74] such as no money could buy. So she donned the dress and ornaments and said to Ma’aruf, “O my lord, I will treasure these up for holidays and festivals.” But he answered, “Wear them always, for I have others in plenty.” And when she put them on and her women beheld her, they rejoiced and bussed his hands. Then he left them and going apart by himself, rubbed the seal-ring whereupon its slave appeared and he said to him, “Bring me an hundred suits of apparel, with their ornaments of gold.” “Hearing and obeying,” answered Abu al Sa’adat and brought him the hundred suits, each with its ornaments wrapped up within it. Ma’aruf took them and called aloud to the slave-girls, who came to him and he gave them each a suit: so they donned them and became like the black-eyed girls of Paradise, whilst the Princess Dunya shone amongst them as the moon among the stars. One of the handmaids told the King of this and he came in to his daughter and saw her and her women dazzling all who beheld them; whereat he wondered with passing wonderment. Then he went out and calling his Wazir, said to him, “O Wazir, such and such things have happened; what sayst thou now of this affair?” Said he, “O King of the age, this be no merchant’s fashion; for a merchant keepeth a piece of linen by him for years and selleth it not but at a profit. How should a merchant have generosity such as this generosity, and whence should he get the like of these monies and jewels, of which but a slight matter is found with the Kings? So how should loads thereof be found with merchants? Needs must there be a cause for this; but, an thou wilt hearken to me, I will make the truth of the case manifest to thee.” Answered the King, “O Wazir, I will do thy bidding.” Rejoined the Minister, “Do thou foregather with thy son-in-law and make a show of affect to him and talk with him and say:—O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, I and thou and the Wazir but no more, to a flower-garden that we may take our pleasure there. When we come to the garden, we will set on the table wine, and I will ply him therewith and compel him to drink; for, when he shall have drunken, he will lose his 37reason and his judgment will forsake him. Then we will question him of the truth of his case and he will discover to us his secrets, for wine is a traitor and Allah-gifted is he who said:—

When we drank the wine, and it crept its way ✿ To the place of Secrets, I cried, “O stay!”
In my fear lest its influence stint my wits ✿ And my friends spy matters that hidden lay.

When he hath told us the truth we shall ken his case and may deal with him as we will; because I fear for thee the consequences of this his present fashion: haply he will covet the kingship and win over the troops by generosity and lavishing money and so depose thee and take the kingdom from thee.” “True,” answered the King.——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-eighth Night,

She resumed, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Wazir devised this device the King said to him, “Thou hast spoken sooth!”; and they passed the night on this agreement. And when morning morrowed the King went forth and sat in the guest-chamber, when lo, and behold! the grooms and serving-men came in to him in dismay. Quoth he, “What hath befallen you?”; and quoth they, “O King of the age, the Syces curried the horses and foddered them and the he-mules which brought the baggage; but, when we arose in the morning, we found that thy son-in-law’s Mamelukes had stolen the horses and mules. We searched the stables, but found neither horse nor mule; so we entered the lodging of the Mamelukes and found none there, nor know we how they fled.” The King marvelled at this, unknowing that the horses and Mamelukes were all Ifrits, the subjects of the Slave of the Spell, and asked the grooms, “O accursed how could a thousand beasts and five hundred slaves and servants flee without your knowledge?” Answered they, “We know not how it happened,” and he cried, “Go, and when your lord cometh forth of the Harim, tell him the case.” So they went out from before the King and sat down bewildered, till Ma’aruf came out and, seeing them chagrined enquired of them, “What may be the matter?” They told him all that had happened and he said, “What is their worth 38that ye should be concerned for them? Wend your ways.” And he sat laughing and was neither angry nor grieved concerning the case; whereupon the King looked in the Wazir’s face and said to him, “What manner of man is this, with whom wealth is of no worth? Needs must there be a reason for this?” Then they talked with him awhile and the King said to him, “O my son-in-law, I have a mind to go, I, thou and the Wazir, to a garden, where we may divert ourselves.” “No harm in that,” said Ma’aruf. So they went forth to a flower-garden, wherein every sort of fruit was of kinds twain and its waters were flowing and its trees towering and its birds carolling. There they entered a pavilion, whose sight did away sorrow from the soul, and sat talking, whilst the Minister entertained them with rare tales and quoted merry quips and mirth-provoking sayings and Ma’aruf attentively listened, till the time of dinner came, when they set on a tray of meats and a flagon of wine. When they had eaten and washed hands, the Wazir filled the cup and gave it to the King, who drank it off; then he filled a second and handed it to Ma’aruf, saying, “Take the cup of the drink to which Reason boweth neck in reverence.” Quoth Ma’aruf, “What is this, O Wazir?”; and quoth he, “This is the grizzled[75] virgin and the old maid long kept at home,[76] the giver of joy to hearts, whereof saith the poet:—

The feet of sturdy Miscreants[77] went trampling heavy tread, ✿ And she hath ta’en a vengeance dire on every Arab’s head.
A Káfir youth like fullest moon in darkness hands her round ✿ Whose eyne are strongest cause of sin by him inspiritèd.

And Allah-gifted is he who said:-

’Tis as if wine and he who bears the bowl, ✿ Rising to show her charms for man to see,[78]
Were dancing undurn-Sun whose face the moon ✿ Of night adorned with stars of Gemini.
39So subtle is her essence it would seem ✿ Through every limb like course of soul runs she.

And how excellent is the saying of the poet:—

Slept in mine arms full Moon of brightest blee ✿ Nor did that sun eclipse in goblet see:
I nighted spying fire whereto bow down ✿ Magians, which bowed from ewer’s lip to me.

And that of another:—

It runs through every joint of them as runs ✿ The surge of health returning to the sick.

And yet another:—

I marvel at its pressers, how they died ✿ And left us aqua vitæ—lymph of life!

And yet goodlier is the saying of Abu Nowas:—

Cease then to blame me, for thy blame doth anger bring ✿ And with the draught that madded me come med’cining:
A yellow girl[79] whose court cures every carking care; ✿ Did a stone touch it would with joy and glee upspring:
She riseth in her ewer during darkest night ✿ The house with brightest, sheeniest light illumining:
And going round of youths to whom the world inclines[80] ✿ Ne’er, save in whatso way they please, their hearts shall wring.
From hand of coynted[81] lass begarbed like yarded lad,[82] ✿ Wencher and Tribe of Lot alike enamouring,
She comes: and say to him who dares claim lore of love ✿ Something hast learnt but still there’s many another thing.

But best of all is the saying of Ibn al-Mu’tazz[83]:—

40On the shaded woody island[84] His showers Allah deign ✿ Shed on Convent hight Abdún[85] drop and drip of railing rain:
Oft the breezes of the morning have awakened me therein ✿ When the Dawn shows her blaze,[86] ere the bird of flight was fain;
And the voices of the monks that with chants awoke the walls ✿ Black-frocked shavelings ever wont the cup amorn to drain.[87]
’Mid the throng how many fair with languour-kohl’d eyes[88] ✿ And lids enfolding lovely orbs where black on white was lain,
In secret came to see me by shirt of night disguised ✿ In terror and in caution a-hurrying amain!
Then I rose and spread my cheek like a carpet on his path ✿ In homage, and with skirts wiped his trail from off the plain.
But threatening disgrace rose the Crescent in the sky ✿ Like the paring of a nail yet the light would never wane:
Then happened whatso happened: I disdain to kiss and tell ✿ So deem of us thy best and with queries never mell.

And gifted of God is he who saith:—

In the morn I am richest of men ✿ And in joy at good news I start up
For I look on the liquid gold[89] ✿ And I measure it out by the cup.

And how goodly is the saying of the poet:—

By Allah, this is th’ only alchemy ✿ All said of other science false we see!
Carat of wine on hundredweight of woe ✿ Transmuteth gloomiest grief to joy and glee.

And that of another:—

The glasses are heavy when empty brought ✿ Till we charge them all with unmixèd wine.
Then so light are they that to fly they’re fain ✿ As bodies lightened by soul divine.

41And yet another:—

Wine-cup and ruby-wine high worship claim; ✿ Dishonour ’twere to see their honour waste:
Bury me, when I’m dead, by side of vine ✿ Whose veins shall moisten bones in clay misplaced;
Nor bury me in wold and wild, for I ✿ Dread only after death no wine to taste.”[90]

And he ceased not to egg him on to the drink, naming to him such of the virtues of wine as he thought well and reciting to him what occurred to him of poetry and pleasantries on the subject, till Ma’aruf addressed himself to sucking the cup-lips and cared no longer for aught else. The Wazir ceased not to fill for him and he to drink and enjoy himself and make merry, till his wits wandered and he could not distinguish right from wrong. When the Minister saw that drunkenness had attained in him to utterest and the bounds transgressed, he said to him, “By Allah, O Merchant Ma’aruf, I admire whence thou gottest these jewels whose like the Kings of the Chosroës possess not! In all our lives never saw we a merchant that had heaped up riches like unto thine or more generous than thou, for thy doings are the doings of Kings and not merchants’ doings. Wherefore, Allah upon thee, do thou acquaint me with this, that I may know thy rank and condition.” And he went on to test him with questions and cajole him, till Ma’aruf, being reft of reason, said to him, “I’m neither merchant nor King,” and told him his whole story from first to last. Then said the Wazir, “I conjure thee by Allah, O my lord Ma’aruf, show us the ring, that we may see its make.” So, in his drunkenness, he pulled off the ring and said, “Take it and look upon it.” The Minister took it and turning it over, said, “If I rub it, will 42its slave appear?” Replied Ma’aruf, “Yes. Rub it and he will appear to thee, and do thou divert thyself with the sight of him.” Thereupon the Wazir rubbed the ring and behold forthright appeared the Jinni and said, “Adsum, at thy service, O my lord! Ask and it shall be given to thee. Wilt thou ruin a city or raise a capital or kill a king? Whatso thou seekest, I will do for thee, sans fail.” The Wazir pointed to Ma’aruf and said, “Take up yonder wretch and cast him down in the most desolate of desert lands, where he shall find nothing to eat nor drink, so he may die of hunger and perish miserably, and none know of him.” Accordingly, the Jinni snatched him up and flew with him betwixt heaven and earth, which when Ma’aruf saw, he made sure of destruction and wept and said, “O Abu al-Sa’adat, whither goest thou with me?” Replied the Jinni, “I go to cast thee down in the Desert Quarter,[91] O ill-bred wight of gross wits. Shall one have the like of this talisman and give it to the folk to gaze at? Verily, thou deservest that which hath befallen thee; and but that I fear Allah, I would let thee fall from a[91] eight of a thousand fathoms, nor shouldst thou reach the earth, till the winds had torn thee to shreds.” Ma’aruf was silent[92] and did not again bespeak him till he reached the Desert Quarter and casting him down there, went away and left him in that horrible place.——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.

Now when it was the Nine Hundred and Ninety-ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Slave of the Seal-ring took up Ma’aruf and cast him down in the Desert Quarter where he left him and went his ways. So much concerning him; but returning to the Wazir who was now in possession of the talisman, he said to the King, “How deemest thou now? Did I not tell thee that this fellow was a liar, an impostor, but thou wouldst not credit me?” Replied the King, “Thou wast in 43the right, O my Wazir, Allah grant thee weal! But give me the ring, that I may solace myself with the sight.” The Minister looked at him angrily and spat in his face, saying, “O lack-wits, how shall I give it to thee and abide thy servant, after I am become thy master? But I will spare thee no more on life.” Then he rubbed the seal-ring and said to the Slave, “Take up this ill-mannered churl and cast him down by his son-in-law the swindler-man.” So the Jinni took him up and flew off with him, whereupon quoth the King to him, “O creature of my Lord, what is my crime?” Abu al-Sa’adat replied, “That wot I not, but my master hath commanded me and I cannot cross whoso hath compassed the enchanted ring.” Then he flew on with him, till he came to the Desert Quarter and, casting him down where he had cast Ma’aruf left him and returned. The King hearing Ma’aruf weeping, went up to him and acquainted him with his case; and they sat weeping over that which had befallen them and found neither meat nor drink. Meanwhile the Minister, after driving father-in-law and son-in-law from the country, went forth from the garden and summoning all the troops held a Divan, and told them what he had done with the King and Ma’aruf and acquainted them with the affair of the talisman, adding, “Unless ye make me Sultan over you, I will bid the Slave of the Seal-ring take you up one and all and cast you down in the Desert Quarter where you shall die of hunger and thirst.” They replied, “Do us no damage, for we accept thee as Sultan over us and will not anywise gainsay thy bidding.” So they agreed, in their own despite, to his being Sultan over them, and he bestowed on them robes of honour, seeking all he had a mind to of Abu al-Sa’adat, who brought it to him forthwith. Then he sat down on the throne and the troops did homage to him; and he sent to Princess Dunya, the King’s daughter, saying, “Make thee ready, for I mean to come in unto thee this night, because I long for thee with love.” When she heard this, she wept, for the case of her husband and father was grievous to her, and sent to him saying, “Have patience with me till my period of widowhood[93] be ended: then draw up thy contract 44of marriage with me and go in to me according to law.” But he sent back to say to her, “I know neither period of widowhood nor to delay have I a mood; and I need not a contract nor know I lawful from unlawful; but needs must I go in unto thee this night.” She answered him saying, “So be it, then, and welcome to thee!”; but this was a trick on her part. When the answer reached the Wazir, he rejoiced and his breast was broadened, for that he was passionately in love with her. He bade set food before all the folk, saying, “Eat; this is my bride-feast; for I purpose to go in to the Princess Dunya this night.” Quoth the Shaykh al-Islam, “It is not lawful for thee to go in unto her till her days of widowhood be ended and thou have drawn up thy contract of marriage with her.” But he answered, “I know neither days of widowhood nor other period; so multiply not words on me.” The Shaykh Al-Islam was silent,[94] fearing his mischief, and said to the troops, “Verily, this man is a Kafir, a Miscreant, and hath neither creed nor religious conduct.” As soon as it was evenfall, he went in to her and found her robed in her richest raiment and decked with her goodliest adornments. When she saw him, she came to meet him, laughing and said, “A blessed night! But hadst thou slain my father and my husband, it had been more to my mind.” And he said, “There is no help but I slay them.” Then she made him sit down and began to jest with him and make show of love caressing him and smiling in his face so that his reason fled; but she cajoled him with her coaxing and cunning only that she might get possession of the ring and change his joy into calamity on the mother of his forehead:[95] nor did she deal thus with him but after the rede of him who said[96]:—

I attained by my wits ✿ What no sword had obtained,
And return wi’ the spoils ✿ Whose sweet pluckings I gained.

When he saw her caress him and smile upon him, desire surged up in him and he besought her of carnal knowledge; but, when he approached her, she drew away from him and burst into tears, 45saying, “O my lord, seest thou not the man looking at us? I conjure thee by Allah, screen me from his eyes! How canst thou know me what while he looketh on us?” When he heard this, he was angry and asked, “Where is the man?”; and answered she, “There he is, in the bezel of the ring! putting out his head and staring at us.” He thought that the Jinni was looking at them and said laughing, “Fear not; this is the Slave of the Seal-ring, and he is subject to me.” Quoth she, “I am afraid of Ifrits; pull it off and throw it afar from me.” So he plucked it off and laying it on the cushion, drew near to her, but she dealt him a kick, her foot striking him full in the stomach[97], and he fell over on his back senseless; whereupon she cried out to her attendants, who came to her in haste, and said to them, “Seize him!” So forty slave-girls laid hold on him, whilst she hurriedly snatched up the ring from the cushion and rubbed it; whereupon Abu al-Sa’adat presented himself, saying, “Adsum, at thy service O my mistress.” Cried she, “Take up yonder Infidel and clap him in jail and shackle him heavily.” So he took him and throwing him into the Prison of Wrath[98] returned and reported, “I have laid him in limbo.” Quoth she, “Whither wentest thou with my father and my husband?”; and quoth he, “I cast them down in the Desert Quarter.” Then cried she, “I command thee to fetch them to me forthwith.” He replied, “I hear and I obey,” and taking flight at once, stayed not till he reached the Desert Quarter, where he lighted down upon them and found them sitting weeping and complaining each to other. Quoth he, “Fear not, for relief is come to you”; and he told them what the Wazir had done, adding, “Indeed I imprisoned him with my own hands in obedience to her, and she hath bidden me bear you back.” And they rejoiced in his news. Then he took them both up and flew home with them; nor was it more than an hour before he brought them in to Princess Dunya, who rose and saluted sire and spouse. Then she made them sit down and brought them food and sweetmeats, and they passed the rest of the night with her. On the next day she clad them in rich clothing and said to the King, “O my papa, sit thou upon thy 46throne and be King as before and make my husband thy Wazir of the Right and tell thy troops that which hath happened. Then send for the Minister out of prison and do him die, and after burn him, for that he is a Miscreant, and would have gone in unto me in the way of lewdness, without the rites of wedlock and he hath testified against himself that he is an Infidel and believeth in no religion. And do tenderly by thy son-in-law, whom thou makest thy Wazir of the Right.” He replied, “Hearing and obeying, O my daughter. But do thou give me the ring or give it to thy husband.” Quoth she, “It behoveth not that either thou or he have the ring. I will keep the ring myself, and belike I shall be more careful of it than you. Whatso ye wish seek it of me and I will demand it for you of the Slave of the Seal-ring. So fear no harm so long as I live and after my death, do what ye twain will with the ring.” Quoth the King, “This is the right rede, O my daughter,” and taking his son-in-law went forth to the Divan. Now the troops had passed the night in sore chagrin for Princess Dunya and that which the Wazir had done with her, in going in to her after the way of lewdness, without marriage-rites, and for his ill-usage of the King and Ma’aruf, and they feared lest the law of Al-Islam be dishonoured, because it was manifest to them that he was a Kafir. So they assembled in the Divan and fell to reproaching the Shaykh al-Islam, saying, “Why didst thou not forbid him from going in to the Princess in the way of lewdness?” Said he, “O folk, the man is a Miscreant and hath gotten possession of the ring and I and you may not prevail against him. But Almighty Allah will requite him his deed, and be ye silent, lest he slay you.” And as the host was thus engaged in talk, behold the King and Ma’aruf entered the Divan.——And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

Now when it was the Thousandth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the troops sorely chagrined sat in the Divan talking over the ill-deeds done by the Wazir to their Sovran, his son-in-law and his daughter, behold, the King and Ma’aruf entered. Then the King bade decorate the city and sent to fetch the Wazir from the place of duresse. So they brought him, and as he passed by the troops, they cursed him and abused him and menaced him, till he came to 47the King, who commanded to do him dead by the vilest of deaths. Accordingly, they slew him and after burned his body, and he went to Hell after the foulest of plights; and right well quoth one of him:—

The Compassionate show no ruth to the tomb where his bones shall lie ✿ And Munkar and eke Nakír[99] ne’er cease to abide thereby!

The King made Ma’aruf his Wazir of the Right and the times were pleasant to them and their joys were untroubled. They abode thus five years till, in the sixth year, the King died and Princess Dunya made Ma’aruf Sultan in her father’s stead, but she gave him not the seal-ring. During this time she had conceived by him and borne him a boy of passing loveliness, excelling in beauty and perfection, who ceased not to be reared in the laps of nurses till he reached the age of five, when his mother fell sick of a deadly sickness and calling her husband to her, said to him, “I am ill.” Quoth he, “Allah preserve thee, O dearling of my heart!” But quoth she, “Haply I shall die and thou needest not that I commend to thy care thy son: wherefore I charge thee but be careful of the ring, for thine own sake and for the sake of this thy boy.” And he answered, “No harm shall befal him whom Allah preserveth!” Then she pulled off the ring and gave it to him, and on the morrow she was admitted to the mercy of Allah the Most High,[100] whilst Ma’aruf abode in possession of the kingship and applied himself to the business of governing. Now it chanced that one day, as he shook the handkerchief[101] and the troops withdrew to their places that he betook himself to the sitting-chamber, where he sat till the day departed and the night advanced with murks bedight. Then came in to him his cup-companions of the notables according to their custom, and sat with him by way of solace and diversion, till midnight, when they craved permission to withdraw. He gave them leave and they retired to their houses; after which there came in to him a slave-girl affected to the service 48of his bed, who spread him the mattress and doffing his apparel, clad him in his sleeping-gown. Then he lay down and she kneaded his feet, till sleep overpowered him; whereupon she withdrew to her own chamber and slept. But suddenly he felt something beside him in the bed and awaking started up in alarm and cried, “I seek refuge with Allah from Satan the stoned!” Then he opened his eyes and seeing by his side a woman foul of favour, said to her, “Who art thou?” Said she, “Fear not, I am thy wife Fatimah al-Urrah.” Whereupon he looked in her face and knew her by her loathly form and the length of her dog-teeth: so he asked her, “Whence camest thou in to me and who brought thee to this country?” “In what country art thou at this present?” “In the city of Ikhtiyan al-Khutan. But thou, when didst thou leave Cairo?” “But now.” “How can that be?” “Know,” said she, “that, when I fell out with thee and Satan prompted me to do thee a damage, I complained of thee to the magistrates, who sought for thee and the Kazis enquired of thee, but found thee not. When two days were past, repentance gat hold upon me and I knew that the fault was with me; but penitence availed me not, and I abode for some days weeping for thy loss, till what was in my hand failed and I was obliged to beg my bread. So I fell to begging of all, from the courted rich to the contemned poor, and since thou leftest me, I have eaten of the bitterness of beggary and have been in the sorriest of conditions. Every night I sat beweeping our separation and that which I suffered, since thy departure, of humiliation and ignominy, of abjection and misery.” And she went on to tell him what had befallen her, whilst he stared at her in amazement, till she said, “Yesterday, I went about begging all day but none gave me aught; and as often as I accosted any one and craved of him a crust of bread, he reviled me and gave me naught. When night came, I went to bed supperless, and hunger burned me and sore on me was that which I suffered: and I sat weeping when, behold, one appeared to me and said, O woman why weepest thou? Said I, erst I had a husband who used to provide for me and fulfil my wishes; but he is lost to me and I know not whither he went and have been in sore straits since he left me. Asked he, What is thy husband’s name? and I answered, His name is Ma’aruf. Quoth he, I ken him. Know that thy husband is now Sultan in a certain city, and if thou wilt, I will carry thee to him. Cried I, I am under thy protection: of thy bounty bring me to him! So he took me up and flew with me 49between heaven and earth, till he brought me to this pavilion and said to me:—Enter yonder chamber, and thou shalt see thy husband asleep on the couch. Accordingly I entered and found thee in this state of lordship. Indeed I had not thought thou wouldst forsake me, who am thy mate, and praised be Allah who hath united thee with me!” Quoth Ma’aruf, “Did I forsake thee or thou me? Thou complainedst of me from Kazi to Kazi and endedst by denouncing me to the High Court and bringing down on me Abú Tabak from the Citadel: so I fled in mine own despite.” And he went on to tell her all that had befallen him and how he was become Sultan and had married the King’s daughter and how his beloved Dunya had died, leaving him a son who was then seven years old. She rejoined, “That which happened was fore-ordained of Allah; but I repent me and I place myself under thy protection beseeching thee not to abandon me, but suffer me eat bread, with thee by way of an alms.” And she ceased not to humble herself to him and to supplicate him till his heart relented towards her and he said, “Repent from mischief and abide with me, and naught shall betide thee save what shall pleasure thee: but, an thou work any wickedness, I will slay thee nor fear any one. And fancy not that thou canst complain of me to the High Court and that Abu Tabak will come down on me from the Citadel; for I am become Sultan and the folk dread me: but I fear none save Allah Almighty, because I have a talismanic ring which when I rub, the Slave of the Signet appeareth to me. His name is Abu al-Sa’adat, and whatsoever I demand of him he bringeth to me. So, an thou desire to return to thine own country, I will give thee what shall suffice thee all thy life long and will send thee thither speedily; but, an thou desire to abide with me, I will clear for thee a palace and furnish it with the choicest of silks and appoint thee twenty slave-girls to serve thee and provide thee with dainty dishes and sumptuous suits, and thou shalt be a Queen and live in all delight till thou die or I die. What sayest thou of this?” “I wish to abide with thee,” she answered and kissed his hand and vowed repentance from frowardness. Accordingly he set apart a palace for her sole use and gave her slave-girls and eunuchs, and she became a Queen. The young Prince used to visit her as he visited his sire; but she hated him for that he was not her son; and when the boy saw that she looked on him with the eye of aversion and anger, he shunned her and took a dislike to her. As 50for Ma’aruf, he occupied himself with the love of fair handmaidens and bethought him not of his wife Fatimah the Dung, for that she was grown a grizzled old fright, foul-favoured to the sight, a bald-headed blight, loathlier than the snake speckled black and white; the more that she had beyond measure evil entreated him aforetime; and as saith the adage, “Ill-usage the root of desire disparts and sows hate in the soil of hearts;” and God-gifted is he who saith:—

Beware of losing hearts of men by thine injurious deed; ✿ For when Aversion takes his place none may dear Love restore:
Hearts, when affection flies from them, are likest unto glass ✿ Which broken, cannot whole be made,—’tis breached for evermore.

And indeed Ma’aruf had not given her shelter by reason of any praiseworthy quality in her, but he dealt with her thus generously only of desire for the approval of Allah Almighty.—Here Dunyazad interrupted her sister Shahrazad, saying, “How winsome are these words of thine which win hold of the heart more forcibly than enchanters’ eyne; and how beautiful are these wondrous books thou hast cited and the marvellous and singular tales thou hast recited!” Quoth Shahrazad, “And where is all this compared with what I shall relate to thee on the coming night, an I live and the King deign spare my days?” So when morning morrowed and the day brake in its sheen and shone, the King arose from his couch with breast broadened and in high expectation for the rest of the tale and saying, “By Allah, I will not slay her till I hear the last of her story;” repaired to his Durbár while the Wazir, as was his wont, presented himself at the Palace, shroud under arm. Shahriyar tarried abroad all that day, bidding and forbidding between man and man; after which he returned to his Harim and, according to his custom went in to his wife Shahrazad.[102]

Now when it was the Thousand and First Night,

Dunyazad said to her sister, “Do thou finish for us the History of Ma’aruf!” She replied, “With love and goodly gree, an my lord deign permit me recount it.” Quoth the King, “I permit thee; for that I am fain of hearing it.” So she said:—It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Ma’aruf would have naught to do with his wife by way of conjugal duty. Now when she saw that he held aloof from her bed and occupied himself with other women, she hated him and jealousy gat the mastery of her and Iblis prompted her to take the seal-ring from him and slay him and make herself Queen in his stead. So she went forth one night from her pavilion, intending for that in which was her husband King Ma’aruf; and it chanced by decree of the Decreer and His written destiny, that Ma’aruf lay that night with one of his concubines; a damsel endowed with beauty and loveliness, symmetry and a stature all grace. And it was his wont, of the excellence of his piety, that, when he was minded to have to lie with a woman, he would doff the enchanted seal-ring from his finger, in reverence to the Holy Names graven thereon, and lay it on the pillow, nor would he don it again till he had purified himself by the Ghusl-ablution. Moreover, when he had lain with a woman, he was used to order her go forth from him before daybreak, of his fear for the seal-ring; and when he went to the Hammam he locked the door of the pavilion till his return, when he put on the ring, and after this, all were free to enter according to custom. His wife Fatimah the Dung knew of all this and went not forth from her place till she had certified herself of the case. So she sallied out, when the night was dark, purposing to go in to him, whilst he was drowned in sleep, and steal the ring, unseen of him. Now it chanced at this time that the King’s son had gone out, without light, to the Chapel of Ease for an occasion, and sat down over the marble slab[103] of the jakes in the dark, leaving the door open. Presently, he saw Fatimah come forth of her pavilion and make stealthily for that of his father and said in himself, “What aileth this witch to leave her lodging in the dead of the night and make for my father’s pavilion? 52Needs must there be some reason for this:” so he went out after her and followed in her steps unseen of her. Now he had a short sword of watered steel, which he held so dear that he went not to his father’s Divan, except he were girt therewith; and his father used to laugh at him and exclaim, “Mahallah![104] This is a mighty fine sword of thine, O my son! But thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head therewith.” Whereupon the boy would reply, “I will not fail to cut off with it some head which deserveth[105] cutting.” And Ma’aruf would laugh at his words. Now when treading in her track, he drew the sword from its sheath and he followed her till she came to his father’s pavilion and entered, whilst he stood and watched her from the door. He saw her searching about and heard her say to herself, “Where hath he laid the seal-ring?”; whereby he knew that she was looking for the ring and he waited till she found it and said, “Here it is.” Then she picked it up and turned to go out; but he hid behind the door. As she came forth, she looked at the ring and turned it about in her grasp. But when she was about to rub it, he raised his hand with the sword and smote her on the neck; and she cried a single cry and fell down dead. With this Ma’aruf awoke and seeing his wife strown on the ground, with her blood flowing, and his son standing with the drawn sword in his hand, said to him, “What is this, O my son?” He replied, “O my father, how often hast thou said to me, Thou hast a mighty fine sword; but thou hast not gone down with it to battle nor cut off a head. And I have answered thee, saying, I will not fail to cut off with it a head which deserveth cutting. And now, behold, I have therewith cut off for thee a head well worth the cutting!” And he told him what had passed. Ma’aruf sought for the Seal-ring, but found it not; so he searched the dead woman’s body till he saw her hand closed upon it; whereupon he took it from her grasp and said to the boy, “Thou art indeed my very son, without doubt or dispute; Allah ease thee in this world and the next, even as thou hast eased me of this vile woman! Her attempt led only to her own destruction, and Allah-gifted is he who said:—

53When forwards Allah’s aid a man’s intent, ✿ His wish in every case shall find consent:
But an that aid of Allah be refused, ✿ His first attempt shall do him damagement.

Then King Ma’aruf called aloud to some of his attendants, who came in haste, and he told them what his wife Fatimah the Dung had done and bade them to take her and lay her in a place till the morning. They did his bidding, and next day he gave her in charge to a number of eunuchs, who washed her and shrouded her and made her a tomb[106] and buried her. Thus her coming from Cairo was but to her grave, and Allah-gifted is he who said[107]:—

We trod the steps appointed for us: and he whose steps are appointed must tread them.
He whose death is decreed to take place in our land shall not die in any land but that.

And how excellent is the saying of the poet:—

I wot not, whenas to a land I fare, ✿ Good luck pursuing, what my lot shall be.
Whether the fortune I perforce pursue ✿ Or the misfortune which pursueth me.

After this, King Ma’aruf sent for the husbandman, whose guest he had been, when he was a fugitive, and made him his Wazir of the Right and his Chief Counsellor.[108] Then, learning that he had a daughter of passing beauty and loveliness, of qualities nature-ennobled at birth and exalted of worth, he took her to wife; and in due time he married his son. So they abode awhile in all solace of life and its delight and their days were serene and their joys untroubled, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Sunderer of societies, the Depopulator of populous places and the Orphaner of sons and daughters. And glory be to the Living who dieth not and in whose hand are the Keys of the Seen and the Unseen!”



Now, during this time, Shahrazad had borne the King three boy children: so, when she had made an end of the story of Ma’aruf, she rose to her feet and kissing ground before him, said, “O King of the time and unique one[109] of the age and the tide, I am thine handmaid and these thousand nights and a night have I entertained thee with stories of folk gone before and admonitory instances of the men of yore. May I then make bold to crave a boon of Thy Highness?” He replied, “Ask, O Shahrazad, and it shall be granted to thee.[110]” Whereupon she cried out to the nurses and the eunuchs, saying, “Bring me my children.” So they brought them to her in haste, and they were three boy children, one walking, one crawling and one sucking. She took them and setting them before the King, again kissed the ground and said, “O King of the age, these are thy children and I crave that thou release me from the doom of death, as a dole to these infants; for, an thou kill me, they will become motherless and will find none among women to rear them as they should be reared.” When the King heard this, he wept and straining the boys to his bosom, said, “By Allah, O Shahrazad, I pardoned thee before the coming of these children, for that I found thee chaste, pure, ingenuous and pious! Allah bless thee and thy father and thy mother and thy root and thy branch! I take the Almighty to witness against me that I exempt thee from aught that can harm thee.” So she kissed his hands and feet and rejoiced with exceeding joy, saying, “The Lord make thy life long and increase thee in dignity and majesty[111]!”; presently adding, “Thou marvelledst at that which befel thee on the part of women; yet there betided the Kings of the Chosroës before thee greater mishaps and more grievous than that which hath befallen thee, and indeed I have set forth unto thee that which happened to Caliphs and Kings and others with their women, but the relation is longsome and hearkening groweth tedious, and in this is all-sufficient 55warning for the man of wits and admonishment for the wise.” Then she ceased to speak, and when King Shahriyar heard her speech and profited by that which she said, he summoned up his reasoning powers and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding revert and turned to Allah Almighty and said to himself, “Since there befel the Kings of the Chosroës more than that which hath befallen me, never, whilst I live, shall I cease to blame myself for the past. As for this Shahrazad, her like is not found in the lands; so praise be to Him who appointed her a means for delivering His creatures from oppression and slaughter!” Then he arose from his séance and kissed her head, whereat she rejoiced, she and her sister Dunyazad, with exceeding joy. When the morning morrowed, the King went forth and sitting down on the throne of the Kingship, summoned the Lords of his land; whereupon the Chamberlains and Nabobs and Captains of the host went in to him and kissed ground before him. He distinguished the Wazir, Shahrazad’s sire, with special favour and bestowed on him a costly and splendid robe of honour and entreated him with the utmost kindness, and said to him, “Allah protect thee for that thou gavest me to wife thy noble daughter, who hath been the means of my repentance from slaying the daughters of folk. Indeed I have found her pure and pious, chaste and ingenuous, and Allah hath vouchsafed me by her three boy children; wherefore praised be He for his passing favour.” Then he bestowed robes of honour upon his Wazirs, and Emirs and Chief Officers and he set forth to them briefly that which had betided him with Shahrazad and how he had turned from his former ways and repented him of what he had done and purposed to take the Wazir’s daughter, Shahrazad, to wife and let draw up the marriage-contract with her. When those who were present heard this, they kissed the ground before him and blessed him and his betrothed[112] Shahrazad, and the Wazir thanked her. Then Shahriyar made an end of his sitting in all weal, whereupon the folk dispersed to their dwelling-places and the news was bruited abroad that the King purposed to marry the Wazir’s daughter, Shahrazad. Then he proceeded to make ready the wedding gear, and presently he sent after his brother, King Shah Zaman, who came, and King Shahriyar went forth to meet him with the troops. Furthermore, they decorated the city after the goodliest fashion and diffused scents from censers and burnt 56aloes-wood and other perfumes in all the markets and thoroughfares and rubbed themselves with saffron,[113] what while the drums beat and the flutes and pipes sounded and mimes and mountebanks played and plied their arts and the King lavished on them gifts and largesse; and in very deed it was a notable day. When they came to the palace, King Shahriyar commanded to spread the tables with beasts roasted whole and sweetmeats and all manner of viands and bade the crier cry to the folk that they should come up to the Divan and eat and drink and that this should be a means of reconciliation between him and them. So, high and low, great and small came up unto him and they abode on that wise, eating and drinking, seven days with their nights. Then the King shut himself up with his brother and related to him that which had betided him with the Wazir’s daughter, Shahrazad, during the past three years and told him what he had heard from her of proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories and elegies and other verses; whereat King Shah Zaman marvelled with the uttermost marvel and said, “Fain would I take her younger sister to wife, so we may be two brothers-german to two sisters-german, and they on like wise be sisters to us; for that the calamity which befel me was the cause of our discovering that which befel thee and all this time of three years past I have taken no delight in woman, save that I lie each night with a damsel of my kingdom, and every morning I do her to death; but now I desire to marry thy wife’s sister Dunyazad.” When King Shahriyar heard his brother’s words, he rejoiced with joy exceeding and arising forthright, went in to his wife Shahrazad and acquainted her with that which his brother purposed, namely that he sought her sister Dunyazad in wedlock; whereupon she answered, “O King of the age, we seek of him one condition, to wit, that he take up his abode with us, for that I cannot brook to be parted from my sister an hour, because we were brought up together and may not endure separation each from other.[114] If he accept this pact, she is his handmaid.” King Shahriyar returned to his brother and acquainted him with that which Shahrazad had 57said; and he replied, “Indeed, this is what was in my mind, for that I desire nevermore to be parted from thee one hour. As for the kingdom, Allah the Most High shall send to it whomso He chooseth, for that I have no longer a desire for the kingship.” When King Shahriyar heard his brother’s words, he rejoiced exceedingly and said, “Verily, this is what I wished, O my brother. So Alhamdolillah—Praised be Allah—who hath brought about union between us.” Then he sent after the Kazis and Olema, Captains and Notables, and they married the two brothers to the two sisters. The contracts were written out and the two Kings bestowed robes of honour of silk and satin on those who were present, whilst the city was decorated and the rejoicings were renewed. The King commanded each Emir and Wazir and Chamberlain and Nabob to decorate his palace and the folk of the city were gladdened by the presage of happiness and contentment. King Shahriyar also bade slaughter sheep and set up kitchens and made bride-feasts and fed all comers, high and low; and he gave alms to the poor and needy and extended his bounty to great and small. Then the eunuchs went forth, that they might perfume the Hammam for the brides; so they scented it with rose-water and willow-flower-water and pods of musk and fumigated it with Kákilí[115] eagle-wood and ambergris. Then Shahrazad entered, she and her sister Dunyazad, and they cleansed their heads and clipped their hair. When they came forth of the Hammam-bath, they donned raiment and ornaments; such as men were wont prepare for the Kings of the Chosroës; and among Shahrazad’s apparel was a dress purfled with red gold and wrought with counterfeit presentments of birds and beasts. And the two sisters encircled their necks with necklaces of jewels of price, in the like whereof Iskander[116] rejoiced not, for therein were great jewels such as amazed the wit and dazzled the eye; and the imagination was bewildered at their charms, for indeed each of them was brighter than the sun and the moon. Before them they lighted brilliant flambeaux of wax in candelabra of gold, but their faces outshone the flambeaux, for that they had eyes sharper than unsheathed swords and the lashes of their eyelids bewitched all hearts. Their cheeks were rosy red and their necks and shapes gracefully swayed and their eyes wantoned like the 58gazelle’s; and the slave-girls came to meet them with instruments of music. Then the two Kings entered the Hammam-bath, and when they came forth, they sat down on a couch set with pearls and gems, whereupon the two sisters came up to them and stood between their hands, as they were moons, bending and leaning from side to side in their beauty and loveliness. Presently they brought forward Shahrazad and displayed her, for the first dress, in a red suit; whereupon King Shahriyar rose to look upon her and the wits of all present, men and women, were bewitched for that she was even as saith of her one of her describers[117]:—

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

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

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

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

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

59Then they displayed Dunyazad in a second and a third and a fourth dress and she paced forward like the rising sun, and swayed to and fro in the insolence of beauty; and she was even as saith the poet of her in these couplets[120]:—

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

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

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

Then they returned to Dunyazad and displayed her in the fifth dress and in the sixth, which was green, when she surpassed with her loveliness the fair of the four quarters of the world and outvied, with the brightness of her countenance, the full moon at rising tide; for she was even as saith of her the poet in these couplets[122]:—

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

60Then they displayed Shahrazad in the sixth and seventh dresses and clad her in youth’s clothing, whereupon she came forward swaying from side to side and coquettishly moving and indeed she ravished wits and hearts and ensorcelled all eyes with her glances. She shook her sides and swayed her haunches, then put her hair on sword-hilt and went up to King Shahriyar, who embraced her as hospitable host embraceth guest, and threatened her in her ear with the taking of the sword; and she was even as saith of her the poet in these words:—

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

Thus also they did with her sister Dunyazad, and when they had made an end of the display the King bestowed robes of honour on all who were present and sent the brides to their own apartments. Then Shahrazad went in to King Shahriyar and Dunyazad to King Shah Zaman and each of them solaced himself with the company of his beloved consort and the hearts of the folk were comforted. When morning morrowed, the Wazir came in to the two Kings and kissed ground before them; wherefore they thanked him and were large of bounty to him. Presently they went forth and sat down upon couches of Kingship, whilst all the Wazirs and Emirs and Grandees and Lords of the land presented themselves and kissed ground. King Shahriyar ordered them dresses of honour and largesse and they prayed for the permanence and prosperity of the King and his brother. Then the two Sovrans appointed their sire-in-law the Wazir to be Viceroy in Samarcand and assigned him five of the Chief Emirs to accompany him, charging them attend him and do him service. The Minister kissed the ground and prayed that they might be vouchsafed length of life: then he went in to his daughters, whilst the Eunuchs and Ushers walked before him, and saluted them and farewelled them. They kissed his hands and gave him joy of the Kingship and bestowed on him immense treasures; after which he took leave of them and setting out, fared days and nights, till he came near Samarcand, where the townspeople met him at a distance of three marches and rejoiced in him with exceeding joy. So he 61entered the city and they decorated the houses and it was a notable day. He sat down on the throne of his kingship and the Wazirs did him homage and the Grandees and Emirs of Samarcand and all prayed that he might be vouchsafed justice and victory and length of continuance. So he bestowed on them robes of honour and entreated them with distinction and they made him Sultan over them. As soon as his father-in-law had departed for Samarcand, King Shahriyah summoned the Grandees of his realm and made them a stupendous banquet of all manner of delicious meats and exquisite sweetmeats. He also bestowed on them robes of honour and guerdoned them and divided the kingdoms between himself and his brother in their presence, whereat the folk rejoiced. Then the two Kings abode, each ruling a day in turn, and they were ever in harmony each with other while on similar wise their wives continued in the love of Allah Almighty and in thanksgiving to Him; and the peoples and the provinces were at peace and the preachers prayed for them from the pulpits, and their report was bruited abroad and the travellers bore tidings of them to all lands. In due time King Shahriyah summoned chroniclers and copyists and bade them write all that had betided him with his wife, first and last; so they wrote this and named it “The Stories of the Thousand Nights and A Night.” The book came to thirty volumes and these the King laid up in his treasury. And the two brothers abode with their wives in all pleasance and solace of life and its delights, for that indeed Allah the Most High had changed their annoy into joy; and on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies, the Desolator of dwelling-places and Garnerer of grave-yards, and they were translated to the ruth of Almighty Allah; their houses fell waste and their palaces lay in ruins[124] and the Kings inherited their riches. Then there reigned after them a wise ruler, who was just, keen-witted and accomplished and loved tales and legends, especially those which chronicle the doings of Sovrans and Sultans, and he found in the treasury these marvellous stories and wondrous histories, contained in the thirty volumes aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a third and so on to the last of them, and each book astounded and delighted him more than that which preceded it, till he came to the end of them. Then he admired 62whatso he had read therein of description and discourse and rare traits and anecdotes and moral instances and reminiscences and bade the folk copy them and dispread them over all lands and climes; wherefore their report was bruited abroad and the people named them “The marvels and wonders of the Thousand Nights and A Night.” This is all that hath come down to us of the origin of this book, and Allah is All-knowing.[125] So Glory be to Him whom the shifts of Time waste not away, nor doth aught of chance or change affect His sway: whom one case diverteth not from other case and Who is sole in the attributes of perfect grace. And prayer and peace be upon the Lord’s Pontiff and Chosen One among His creatures, our lord MOHAMMED the Prince of mankind through whom we supplicate Him for a goodly and a godly


Terminal Essay.


The reader who has reached this terminal stage will hardly require my assurance that he has seen the mediæval Arab at his best and, perhaps, at his worst. In glancing over the myriad pictures of this panorama, those who can discern the soul of goodness in things evil will note the true nobility of the Moslem’s mind in the Moyen Age, and the cleanliness of his life from cradle to grave. As a child he is devoted to his parents, fond of his comrades and respectful to his “pastors and masters,” even schoolmasters. As a lad he prepares for manhood with a will and this training occupies him throughout youth-tide: he is a gentleman in manners without awkwardness, vulgar astonishment or mauvaise-honte. As a man he is high-spirited and energetic, always ready to fight for his Sultan, his country and, especially, his Faith: courteous and affable, rarely failing in temperance of mind and self-respect, self-control and self-command: hospitable to the stranger, attached to his fellow-citizens, submissive to superiors and kindly to inferiors—if such classes exist: Eastern despotisms have arrived nearer the idea of equality and fraternity than any republic yet invented. As a friend he proves a model to the Damons and Pythiases: as a lover an exemplar to Don Quijote without the noble old Caballero’s touch of eccentricity. As a knight he is the mirror of chivalry, doing battle for the weak and debelling the strong, while ever “defending the honour of women.” As a husband his patriarchal position causes him to be loved and 64fondly loved by more than one wife: as a father affection for his children rules his life: he is domestic in the highest degree and he finds few pleasures beyond the bosom of his family. Lastly, his death is simple, path ethic and edifying as the life which led to it.

Considered in a higher phase, the mediæval Moslem mind displays, like the ancient Egyptian, a most exalted moral idea, the deepest reverence for all things connected with his religion and a sublime conception of the Unity and Omnipotence of the Deity. Noteworthy too is a proud resignation to the decrees of Fate and Fortune (Kazá wa Kadar), of Destiny and Predestination—a feature which ennobles the low aspect of Al-Islam even in these her days of comparative degeneration and local decay. Hence his moderation in prosperity, his fortitude in adversity, his dignity, his perfect self-dominance and, lastly, his lofty quietism which sounds the true heroic ring. This again is softened and tempered by a simple faith in the supremacy of Love over Fear, an unbounded humanity and charity for the poor and helpless: an unconditional forgiveness of the direst injuries (“which is the note of the noble”); a generosity and liberality which at times seem impossible and an enthusiasm for universal benevolence and beneficence which, exalting kindly deeds done to man above every form of holiness, constitute the root and base of Oriental, nay, of all, courtesy. And the whole is crowned by pure trust and natural confidence in the progress and perfectability of human nature, which he exalts instead of degrading; this he holds to be the foundation-stone of society and indeed the very purpose of its existence. His Pessimism resembles far more the optimism which the so-called Books of Moses borrowed from the Ancient Copt than the mournful and melancholy creed of the true Pessimist, as Solomon the Hebrew, the Indian Buddhist and the esoteric European imitators of Buddhism. He cannot but sigh when contemplating the sin and sorrow, the pathos and bathos of the world; and feel the pity of it, with its shifts and changes ending 65in nothingness, its scanty happiness and its copious misery. But his melancholy is expressed in—

“A voice divinely sweet, a voice no less
Divinely sad.”

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

Such was the Moslem at a time when “the dark clouds of ignorance and superstition hung so thick on the intellectual horizon of Europe as to exclude every ray of learning that darted from the East and when all that was polite or elegant in literature was classed among the Studia Arabum.”[126]

Nor is the shady side of the picture less notable. Our Arab at his worst is a mere barbarian who has not forgotten the savage. He is a model mixture of childishness and astuteness, of simplicity and cunning, concealing levity of mind under solemnity of aspect. His stolid instinctive conservatism grovels before the tyrant rule of routine, despite that turbulent and licentious independence which ever suggests revolt against the ruler: his mental torpidity, founded upon physical indolence, renders immediate action and all manner of exertion distasteful: his conscious weakness shows itself in overweening arrogance and intolerance. His crass and self-satisfied ignorance makes him glorify the most ignoble superstitions, while acts of revolting savagery are the natural results of a malignant fanaticism and a furious hatred of every creed beyond the pale of Al-Islam.

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


§ I

A.—The Birthplace.

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

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

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

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

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

67Each of these constituents will require further notice when the subject-matter of the book is discussed. The metrical portion of The Nights may also be divided into three categories, viz.:—

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

2. The mediæval, beginning with the laureates of Al-Rashid’s court, such as Al-Asma’í and Abú Nowás; and ending with Al-Harírí A.H. 446–516 = 1030–1100.

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

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

In considering the unde derivatur of The Nights we must carefully separate subject-matter from language-manner. The neglect of such essential difference has caused the remark, “It is not a little curious that the origin of a work which has been 68known to Europe and has been studied by many during nearly two centuries, should still be so mysterious, and that students have failed in all attempts to detect the secret.” Hence also the chief authorities at once branched off into two directions. One held the work to be practically Persian: the other as persistently declared it to be purely Arab.

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

Von Hammer began by summoning into Court the “Herodotus of the Arabs, (Ali Abú al-Hasan) Al-Mas’údi who, in A.H. 333 (= 944) about one generation before the founding of Cairo, published at Bassorah the first edition of his far-famed Murúj al-Dahab wa Ma’ádin al-Jauhar, Meads of Gold and Mines of 69Gems. The Styrian Orientalist[129] quotes with sundry misprints[130] an ampler version of a passage in Chapter lxviii., which is abbreviated in the French translation of M. C. Barbier de Meynard.[131]

“And, indeed, many men well acquainted with their (Arab) histories[132] opine that the stories above mentioned and other trifles were strung together by men who commended themselves to the Kings by relating them, and who found favour with their contemporaries by committing them to memory and by reciting them. Of such fashion[133] is the fashion of the books which have come down to us translated from the Persian (Fárasiyah), the Indian (Hindíyah),[134] and the Græco-Roman (Rúmíyah)[135]: we have noted the judgment which should be passed upon compositions of this nature. Such is the book entituled Hazár Afsánah or The Thousand Tales, which word in Arabic signifies Khuráfah (Facetiæ): it is known to the public under the name of The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, (Kitab Alf Laylah wa Laylah).[136] This is an history of a King and his Wazir, the minister’s daughter and a slave-girl (járiyah) who are named Shírzád (lion-born) and Dínár-zád (ducat-born).[137] Such also is 70the Tale of Farzah,[138] (alii Firza), and Simás, containing details concerning the Kings and Wazirs of Hind: the Book of Al-Sindibád[139] and others of a similar stamp.”

Von Hammer adds, “quoting chapt. cxvi, of Al-Mas’údi that Al-Mansúr (second Abbaside A.H. 136–158 = 754–775, and grandfather of Al-Rashíd) caused many translations of Greek and Latin, Syriac and Persian (Pehlevi) works to be made into Arabic, specifying the Kalílah wa Damnah,”[140] the Fables of Bidpái (Pilpay), the Logic of Aristotle, the Geography of Ptolemy and the Elements of Euclid. Hence he concludes “L’original des Mille et une Nuits * * * selon toute vraisemblance, a été traduit au temps du Khalife Mansur, c’est-à-dire trente ans avant le règne du Khalife Haroun al-Raschid, qui, par la suite, devait lui-même jouer un si grand rôle dans ces histoires.” He also notes that, about a century after Al-Mas’udi had mentioned the Hazár Afsánah, it was versified and probably remodelled by one “Rásti,” the Takhallus or nom de plume of a bard at the Court of 71Mahmúd, the Ghaznevite Sultan who, after a reign of thirty-three years, ob. A.D. 1030.[141]

Von Hammer some twelve years afterwards (Journ. Asiat. August, 1839) brought forward, in his “Note sur l’origine Persane des Mille et une Nuits,” a second and an even more important witness: this was the famous Kitab al-Fihrist,[142] or Index List of (Arabic) works, written (in A.H. 387 = 987) by Mohammed bin Is’hák al-Nadím (cup-companion or equerry), “popularly known as Ebou Yacoub el-Werrek.”[143] The following is an extract (p. 304) from the Eighth Discourse which consists of three arts (funún).[144] “The first section on the history of the confabulatores nocturni (tellers of night tales) and the relaters of fanciful adventures, together with the names of books treating upon such subjects. Mohammed ibn Is’hák saith:—The first who indited themes of imagination and made books of them, consigning these works to the libraries, and who ordered some of them as though related by the tongues of brute beasts, were the palæo-Persians (and the Kings of the First Dynasty). The Ashkanian Kings of the Third Dynasty appended others to them and they were augmented and amplified in the days of the Sassanides” (the fourth and last royal house). “The Arabs also translated them into Arabic, 72and the loquent and eloquent polished and embellished them and wrote others resembling them. The first work of such kind was entituled ‘The Book of Hazár Afsán,’ signifying Alf Khuráfah, the argument whereof was as follows. A King of their Kings was wont, when he wedded a woman and had lain one night with her, to slay her on the next morning. Presently he espoused a damsel of the daughters of the Kings, Shahrázád[145] hight, one endowed with intellect and erudition and, whenas she lay with him, she fell to telling him tales of fancy; moreover she used to connect the story at the end of the night with that which might induce the King to preserve her alive and to ask her of its ending on the next night until a thousand nights had passed over her. Meanwhile he cohabited with her till she was blest by boon of child of him, when she acquainted him with the device she had wrought upon him; wherefore he admired her intelligence and inclined to her and preserved her life. That King had also a Kahramánah (nurse and duenna, not entremetteuse), hight Dínárzád (Dunyázád?), who aided the wife in this (artifice). It is also said that this book was composed for (or, by) Humái daughter of Bahman[146] and in it were included other matters. Mohammed bin Is’hak adds:—And the truth is, Inshallah,[147] that the first who solaced himself with hearing night-tales was Al-Iskandar 73(he of Macedon) and he had a number of men who used to relate to him imaginary stories and provoke him to laughter: he, however, designed not therein merely to please himself, but that he might thereby become the more cautious and alert. After him the Kings in like fashion made use of the book entitled ‘Hazár Afsán.’ It containeth a thousand nights, but less than two hundred night-stories, for a single history often occupied several nights. I have seen it complete sundry times; and it is, in truth, a corrupted book of cold tales.”[148]

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

“Ibn Said (may God have mercy upon him!) sets forth in his book, El Muhella bi-s-Shaar, quoting from El Curtubi the story of the building of the Houdej in the Garden of Cairo, the 74which was of the magnificent pleasaunces of the Fatimite Khalifs, the rare of ordinance and surpassing, to wit that the Khalif El Aamir bi-ahkam-illah[152] let build it for a Bedouin woman, the love of whom had gotten the mastery of him, in the neighbourhood of the ‘Chosen Garden’[153] and used to resort often thereto and was slain as he went thither; and it ceased not to be a pleasuring-place for the Khalifs after him. The folk abound in stories of the Bedouin girl and Ibn Meyyah[154] of the sons of her uncle (cousin?) and what hangs thereby of the mention of El-Aamir, so that the tales told of them on this account became like unto the story of El Bettál[155] and the Thousand Nights and a Night and what resembleth them.”

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

“The Khalif El-Aamir bi-ahkam-illah set apart, in the neighbourhood of the Chosen Garden, a place for his beloved the Bedouin maid (Aaliyah)[157] which he named El Houdej. Quoth Ibn Said, in the book El-Muhella bi-l-ashar, from the History of El Curtubi, concerning the traditions of the folk of the story of the Bedouin maid and Ibn Menah (Meyyah) of the sons of 75her uncle and what hangs thereby of the mention of the Khalif El Aamír bi-ahkam-illah, so that their traditions (or tales) upon the garden became like unto El Bettál[158] and the Thousand Nights and what resembleth them.”

This evidently means either that The Nights existed in the days of Al-’Ámir (xiith cent.) or that the author compared them with a work popular in his own age. Mr. Payne attaches much importance to the discrepancy of titles, which appears to me a minor detail. The change of names is easily explained. Amongst the Arabs, as amongst the wild Irish, there is divinity (the proverb says luck) in odd numbers and consequently the others are inauspicious. Hence as Sir Wm. Ouseley says (Travels ii. 21), the number Thousand and One is a favourite in the East (Olivier, Voyages vi. 385, Paris 1807), and quotes the Cistern of the “Thousand and One Columns” at Constantinople. Kæmpfer (Amœn, Exot. p. 38) notes of the Takiyahs or Dervishes’ convents and the Mazárs or Santons’ tombs near Koníah (Iconium), “Multa seges sepulchralium quæ virorum ex omni ævo doctissimorum exuvias condunt, mille et unum recenset auctor Libri qui inscribitur Hassaaer we jek mesaar (Hazár ve yek Mezár), i.e., mille et unum mausolea.” A book, The Hazar o yek Rúz (= 1001 Days), was composed in the mid-xviith century by the famous Dervaysh Mukhlis, Chief Sofi of Isfahan: it was translated into French by Petis de la Croix, with a preface by Cazotte, and was Englished by Ambrose Phillips. Lastly, in India and throughout Asia where Indian influence extends, the number of cyphers not followed by a significant number is indefinite: for instance, to determine hundreds the Hindus affix the required figure to the end and for 100 write 101; for 1000, 1001. But the grand fact of the Hazár Afsánah 76is its being the archetype of The Nights, unquestionably proving that the Arab work borrows from the Persian bodily its cadre or frame-work, the principal characteristic; its exordium and its dénoûement, whilst the two heroines still bear the old Persic names.

Baron Silvestre de Sacy[159]clarum et venerabile nomen—is the chief authority for the Arab provenance of The Nights. Apparently founding his observations upon Galland,[160] he is of opinion that the work, as now known, was originally composed in Syria[161] and written in the vulgar dialect; that it was never completed by the author, whether he was prevented by death or by other cause; and that imitators endeavoured to finish the work by inserting romances which were already known but which formed no part of the original recueil, such as the Travels of Sindbad the Seaman, the Book of the Seven Wazirs and others. He accepts the Persian scheme and cadre of the work, but no more. He contends that no considerable body of præ-Mohammedan or non-Arabic fiction appears in the actual texts[162]; and that all the tales, even those dealing with events localised in Persia, India, China and other infidel lands and dated from ante-islamitic ages, mostly with the naïvest anachronism, confine themselves to 77depicting the people, manners and customs of Baghdad and Mosul, Damascus and Cairo, during the Abbaside epoch; and he makes a point of the whole being impregnated with the strongest and most zealous spirit of Mohammedanism. He points out that the language is the popular or vulgar dialect, differing widely from the classical and literary; that it contains many words in common modern use and that generally it suggests the decadence of Arabian literature. Of one tale he remarks:—The History of the loves of Camaralzaman and Budour, Princess of China, is no more Indian or Persian than the others. The prince’s father has Moslems for subjects, his mother is named Fatimah and when imprisoned he solaces himself with reading the Koran. The Genii who interpose in these adventures are, again, those who had dealings with Solomon. In fine, all that we here find of the City of the Magians, as well as of the fire-worshippers, suffices to show that one should not expect to discover in it anything save the production of a Moslem writer.

All this, with due deference to so high an authority, is very superficial. Granted, which nobody denies, that the archetypal Hazár Afsánah was translated from Persic into Arabic nearly a thousand years ago, it had ample time and verge enough to assume another and a foreign dress, the corpus however remaining untouched. Under the hands of a host of editors, scribes and copyists, who have no scruples anent changing words, names and dates, abridging descriptions and attaching their own decorations, the florid and rhetorical Persian would readily be converted into the straight-forward, business-like, matter of fact Arabic. And what easier than to islamise the old Zoroasterism, to transform Ahrimán into Iblís the Shaytán, Ján bin Ján into Father Adam, and the Divs and Peris of Kayomars and the olden Guebre Kings into the Jinns and Jinniyahs of Sulayman? Volumes are spoken by the fact that the Arab adapter did not venture to change the Persic names of the two heroines and of 78the royal brothers or to transfer the mise-en-scène any whither from Khorasan or outer Persia. Where the story has not been too much worked by the literato’s pen, for instance the “Ten Wazirs” (in the Bresl. Edit. vi. 191–343) which is the Guebre Bakhtiyár-námah, the names and incidents are old Iranian and with few exceptions distinctly Persian. And at times we can detect the process of transition, e.g. when the Mázin of Khorásán[163] of the Wortley Montagu MS. becomes the Hasan of Bassorah of the Turner Macan MS. (Mac. Edit.).

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

Mr. Lane, during his three years’ labour of translation, first accepted Von Hammer’s view and then came round to that of De Sacy; differing, however, in minor details, especially in the native country of The Nights. Syria had been chosen because 79then the most familiar to Europeans: the “Wife of Bath” had made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem; but few cared to visit the barbarous and dangerous Nile-Valley. Mr. Lane, however, was an enthusiast for Egypt or rather for Cairo, the only part of it he knew; and, when he pronounces The Nights to be of purely “Arab,” that is, of Nilotic origin, his opinion is entitled to no more deference than his deriving the sub-African and negroid Fellah from Arabia, the land per excellentiam of pure and noble blood. Other authors have wandered still further afield. Some finding Mosul idioms in the Recueil, propose “Middlegates” for its birth-place and Mr. W. G. P. Palgrave boldly says “The original of this entertaining work appears to have been composed in Baghdad about the eleventh century; another less popular but very spirited version is probably of Tunisian authorship and somewhat later.”[166]

B.—The Date.

The next point to consider is the date of The Nights in its present form; and here opinions range between the tenth and the sixteenth centuries. Professor Galland began by placing it arbitrarily in the middle of the thirteenth. De Sacy, who abstained from detailing reasons and who, forgetting the number of editors and scribes through whose hands it must have passed, argued only from the nature of the language and the peculiarities of style, proposed le milieu du neuvième siècle de l’hégire (= A.D. 1445–6) as its latest date. Mr. Hole, who knew The Nights only through Galland’s version, had already advocated in his “Remarks” the close of the fifteenth century; and M. Caussin (de Perceval), upon the authority of a supposed note 80in Galland’s MS.[167] (vol. iii. fol. 20, verso), declares the compiler to have been living in A.D. 1548 and 1565. Mr. Lane says “Not begun earlier than the last fourth of the fifteenth century nor ended before the first fourth of the sixteenth,” i.e. soon after Egypt was conquered by Selim, Sultan of the Osmanli Turks in A.D. 1517. Lastly the learned Dr. Weil says in his far too scanty Vorwort (p. ix. 2nd Edit.):—“Das wahrscheinlichste dürfte also sein, das im 15. Jahrhundert ein Egyptier nach altern Vorbilde Erzählungen für 1001 Nächte theils erdichtete, theils nach mündlichen Sagen, oder frühern schriftlichen Aufzeichnungen, bearbeitete, dass er aber entweder sein Werk nicht vollendete, oder dass ein Theil desselben verloren ging, so dass das Fehlende von Andern bis ins 16. Jahrhundert hinein durch neue Erzählungen ergänzt wurde.

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

The Introduction (with a single incidental story “The Bull and the Ass”).
The Trader and the Jinni (with three incidentals).
The Fisherman and the Jinni (with four).
The Porter and the three Ladies of Baghdad.
The Tale of the Three Apples.
The Tale of Núr al-Dín Ali and his son Badr al-Dín Hasan.
The Hunchback’s Tale (with eleven).
Nur al-Dín and Anís al-Jalís.
Tale of Ghánim bin ’Ayyúb (with two).
Alí bin Bakkár and Shams al-Nahár (with two).
Tale of Kamar al-Zamán.
The Ebony Horse; and
Julnár the Sea-born.

These forty-two tales, occupying one hundred and twenty Nights, form less than a fifth part of the whole collection which in the Mac. Edit.[169] contains a total of two hundred and sixty-four. Hence Dr. Patrick Russell,[170] the Natural Historian of Aleppo,[171] whose valuable monograph amply deserves study even in this our day, believed that the original Nights did not outnumber two hundred, to which subsequent writers added till the total of a thousand and one was made up. Dr. Jonathan Scott,[172] who quotes Russell, “held it highly probable that the tales of the original Arabian Nights did not run through more than two 82hundred and eighty Nights, if so many.” So this suggestion I may subjoin, “habent sua fata libelli.” Galland, who preserves in his Mille et une Nuits only about one fourth of The Nights, ends them in No. cclxiv[173] with the seventh voyage of Sindbad: after that he intentionally omits the dialogue between the sisters and the reckoning of time, to proceed uninterruptedly with the tales. And so his imitator, Petis de la Croix,[174] in his Mille et un Jours, reduces the thousand to two hundred and thirty-two.

The internal chronological evidence offered by the Collection is useful only in enabling us to determine that the tales were not written after a certain epoch: the actual dates and, consequently, all deductions from them, are vitiated by the habits of the scribes. For instance we find the Tale of the Fisherman and the Jinni (vol. i. 41) placed in A.H. 169 = A.D. 785,[175] which is hardly possible. The immortal Barber in the “Tailor’s Tale” (vol. i. 304) places his adventure with the unfortunate lover on Safar 10, A.H. 653 (= March 25th, 1255) and 7,320 years of the era of Alexander.[176] This is supported in his Tale of Himself (vol. i. pp. 317–348), where he dates his banishment from Baghdad during the reign of the penultimate Abbaside, Al-Mustansir bi ’llah[177] (A.H. 623–640 = 1225–1242), and his return to Baghdad after the accession of another Caliph who can be no other but 83Al-Muntasim bi ’llah (A.H. 640–656 = A.D. 1242–1258). Again at the end of the tale (vol. i. 350) he is described as “an ancient man, past his ninetieth year” and “a very old man” in the days of Al-Mustansir (vol. i. 318); so that the Hunchback’s adventure can hardly be placed earlier than A.D. 1265 or seven years after the storming of Baghdad by Huláku Khan, successor of Janghíz Khan, a terrible catastrophe which resounded throughout the civilised world. Yet there is no allusion to this crucial epoch and the total silence suffices to invalidate the date.[178] Could we assume it as true, by adding to A.D. 1265 half a century for the composition of the Hunchback’s story and its incidentals, we should place the earliest date in A.D. 1315.

As little can we learn from inferences which have been drawn from the body of the book: at most they point to its several editions or redactions. In the Tale of the “Ensorcelled Prince” (vol. i. 77) Mr. Lane (i. 135) conjectured that the four colours of the fishes were suggested by the sumptuary laws of the Mameluke Soldan, Mohammed ibn Kala’un, “subsequently to the commencement of the eighth century of the Flight, or fourteenth of our era.” But he forgets that the same distinction of dress was enforced by the Caliph Omar after the capture of Jerusalem in A.D. 636; that it was revived by Harun al-Rashid, a contemporary of Carolus Magnus and that it was noticed as a long standing grievance by the so-called Mandeville in A.D. 1322. In the Tale of the Porter and the Ladies of Baghdad the “Sultáni oranges” (vol. i. 83) have been connected with Sultáníyah city in Persian Irák, which was founded about the middle of the thirteenth century: but “Sultáni” may simply mean “royal,” a superior growth. The same story makes mention (vol. i. 94) of 84Kalandars or religious mendicants, a term popularly corrupted, even in writing, to Karandal.[179] Here again “Kalandar” may be due only to the scribes as the Bresl. Edit, reads Sa’alúk = asker, beggar. The Khan al-Masrúr in the Nazarene Broker’s story (i. 265) was a ruin during the early ninth century A.H. = A.D. 1420; but the Báb Zuwaylah (i. 269) dates from A.D. 1087. In the same tale occurs the Darb al-Munkari (or Munakkari) which is probably the Darb al-Munkadi of Al-Makrizi’s careful topography, the Khitat (ii. 40). Here we learn that in his time (about A.D. 1430) the name had become obsolete, and the highway was known as Darb al-Amír Baktamír al-Ustaddar from one of two high officials who both died in the fourteenth century (circ. A.D. 1350). And lastly we have the Khan al-Jáwali built about A.D. 1320. In Badr al-Din Hasan (vol. i. 237) “Sáhib” is given as a Wazirial title and it dates only from the end of the fourteenth century.[180] In Sindbad the Seaman, there is an allusion (vol. vi. 67) to the great Hindu Kingdom, Vijayanagar of the Narasimha,[181] the great power of the Deccan; but this may be due to editors or scribes as the despotism was founded only in the fourteenth century (A.D. 1320). The Ebony Horse (vol. v. 1) apparently dates before Chaucer; and “The Sleeper and The Waker” (Bresl. Edit. iv. 134–189) may precede Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew”: no stress, however, can be laid upon such resemblances, the nouvelles being world-wide. But when we come to the last stories, especially to Kamar al-Zaman II. and the tale of Ma’arúf, we are apparently in the fifteenth and sixteenth 85centuries. The first contains (Night cmlxxvii.) the word Láwandiyah = Levantine, the mention of a watch = Sá’ah in the next Night[182]; and, further on (cmlxxvi.), the “Shaykh Al-Islam,” an officer invented by Mohammed II. after the capture of Stambul in A.D. 1453. In Ma’arúf the ’Ádiliyah is named; the mosque founded outside the Bab al-Nasr by Al-Malik al-’Ádil, Túmán Bey in A.H. 906 = A.D. 1501. But, I repeat, all these names may be mere interpolations.

On the other hand, a study of the vie intime in Al-Islam and of the manners and customs of the people proves that the body of the work, as it now stands, must have been written before A.D. 1400. The Arabs use wines, ciders and barley-beer, not distilled spirits; they have no coffee or tobacco and, while familiar with small-pox (judrí), they ignore syphilis. The battles in The Nights are fought with bows and javelins, swords, spears (for infantry) and lances (for cavalry); and, whenever fire-arms are mentioned, we must suspect the scribe. Such is the case with the Madfa’ or cannon by means of which Badr al-Din Hasan breaches the bulwarks of the Lady of Beauty’s virginity (i. 223). This consideration would determine the work to have been written before the fourteenth century. We ignore 86the invention-date and the inventor of gunpowder, as of all old discoveries which have affected mankind at large: all we know is that the popular ideas betray great ignorance and we are led to suspect that an explosive compound, having been discovered in the earliest ages of human society, was utilised by steps so gradual that history has neglected to trace the series. According to Demmin[183], bullets for stuffing with some incendiary composition, in fact bombs, were discovered by Dr. Keller in the Palafites or Crannogs of Switzerland; and the Hindu’s Agni-Astar (“fire-weapon”), Agni-bán (“fire-arrow”) and Shatagni (“hundred-killer”), like the Roman Phalarica, and the Greek fire of Byzantium, suggest explosives. Indeed, Dr. Oppert[184] accepts the statement of Flavius Philostratus that when Appolonius of Tyana, that grand semi-mythical figure, was travelling in India, he learned the reason why Alexander of Macedon desisted from attacking the Oxydracæ who live between the Ganges and the Hyphasis (Satadru or Sutledge):—“These holy men, beloved by the gods, overthrow their enemies with tempests and thunderbolts shot from their walls.” Passing over the Arab sieges of Constantinople (A.D. 668) and Meccah (A.D. 690) and the disputed passage in Firishtah touching the Tufang or musket during the reign of Mahmúd the Ghaznevite[185] (ob. A.D. 1030), we come to the days of Alphonso the Valiant, whose long and short guns, used at the Siege of Madrid in A.D. 1084, are preserved in the Armeria Real. Viardot has noted that the African Arabs first employed cannon in A.D. 1200, and that the Maghribis defended Algeciras near Gibraltar with great guns in 87A.D. 1247, and utilised them to besiege Seville in A.D. 1342. This last feat of arms introduced the cannon into barbarous Northern Europe, and it must have been known to civilised Asia for many a decade before that date.

The mention of wine in The Nights, especially the Nabíz or fermented infusion of raisins well known to the præ-Mohammedan Badawis, perpetually recurs. As a rule, except only in the case of holy personages and mostly of the Caliph Al-Rashid, the “service of wine” appears immediately after the hands are washed; and women, as well as men, drink, like true Orientals, for the honest purpose of getting drunk—la recherche de l’idéal, as the process has been called. Yet distillation became well known in the fourteenth century. Amongst the Greeks and Romans it was confined to manufacturing aromatic waters, and Nicander the poet (B.C. 140) used for a still the term ἄμβιξ, like the Irish “pot” and its produce “poteen.” The simple art of converting salt water into fresh, by boiling the former and passing the steam through a cooled pipe into a recipient, would not have escaped the students of the Philosopher’s “stone;” and thus we find throughout Europe the Arabic modifications of Greek terms Alchemy, Alembic (Al-ἄμβιξ), Chemistry and Elixir; while “Alcohol” (Al-Kohl), originally meaning “extreme tenuity or impalpable state of pulverulent substances,” clearly shows the origin of the article. Avicenna, who died in A.H. 428 = 1036, nearly two hundred years before we read of distillation in Europe, compared the human body with an alembic, the belly being the cucurbit and the head the capital:—he forgot one important difference but n’importe. Spirits of wine were first noticed in the xiiith century, when the Arabs had overrun the Western Mediterranean, by Arnaldus de Villa Nova, who dubs the new invention a universal panacea; and his pupil, Raymond Lully (nat. Majorca A.D. 1236), declared this essence of wine to be a boon from the Deity. Now The Nights, even in the latest 88adjuncts, never allude to the “white coffee” of the “respectable” Moslem, the Ráki (raisin-brandy) or Ma-hayát (aqua vitæ) of the modern Mohametan: the drinkers confine themselves to wine like our contemporary Dalmatians, one of the healthiest and the most vigorous of seafaring races in Europe.

Syphilis also, which at the end of the xvth century began to infect Europe, is ignored by The Nights. I do not say it actually began: diseases do not begin except with the dawn of humanity; and their history, as far as we know, is simple enough. They are at first sporadic and comparatively non-lethal: at certain epochs which we can determine, and for reasons which as yet we cannot, they break out into epidemics raging with frightful violence: they then subside into the endemic state and lastly they return to the milder sporadic form. For instance, “English cholera” was known of old: in 1831 (Oct. 26) the Asiatic type took its place and now, after sundry violent epidemics, the disease is becoming endemic on the Northern seaboard of the Mediterranean, notably in Spain and Italy. So small-pox (Al-judrí, vol. i. 254) passed over from Central Africa to Arabia in the year of Mohammed’s birth (A.D. 570) and thence overspread the civilised world, as an epidemic, an endemic and a sporadic successively. The “Greater Pox” has appeared in human bones of prehistoric graves and Moses seems to mention gonorrhœa (Levit. xv. 12). Passing over allusions in Juvenal and Martial,[186] we find Eusebius relating that Galerius died (A.D. 302) of ulcers on the genitals and other parts of his body; and, about a century afterwards, Bishop Palladius records that one Hero, after conversation with a prostitute, fell a victim to an abscess on the penis 89(phagedænic shanker?). In 1347 the famous Joanna of Naples founded (æt. 23), in her town of Avignon, a bordel whose inmates were to be medically inspected—a measure to which England (proh pudor!) still objects. In her Statuts du Lieu-publique d’Avignon, No. iv. she expressly mentions the Mal vengut de paillardise. Such houses, says Ricord who studied the subject since 1832, were common in France after A.D. 1200; and sporadic venereals were known there. But in A.D. 1493–94 an epidemic broke out with alarming intensity at Barcelona, as we learn from the “Tractado llamado fructo de todos los Sanctos contra el mal serpentino, venido de la Isla espanola,” of Rodrigo Ruiz Días, the specialist. In Santo Domingo the disease was common under the names Hipas, Guaynaras and Taynastizas: hence the opinion in Europe that it arose from the mixture of European and “Indian” blood.[187] Some attributed it to the Gypsies who migrated to Western Europe in the xvth century:[188] others to the Moriscos expelled from Spain. But the pest got its popular name after the violent outbreak at Naples in A.D. 1493–4, when Charles VIII. of Anjou with a large army of mercenaries, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Germans, attacked Ferdinand II. Thence it became known as the Mal de Naples and Morbus Gallicus—una gallica being still the popular term in neo-Latin lands—and the “French disease” in England. As early as July 1496 Marin Sanuto (Journal i. 171) describes with details the “Mal Franzoso.” The scientific “syphilis” dates from Fracastori’s poem (A.D. 1521) in which Syphilus the Shepherd 90is struck like Job, for abusing the sun. After crippling a Pope (Sixtus IV.[189]) and killing a King (Francis I.) the Grosse Vérole began to abate its violence, under the effects of mercury it is said; and became endemic, a stage still shown at Scherlievo near Fiume, where legend says it was implanted by the Napoleonic soldiery. The Aleppo and other “buttons” also belong apparently to the same grade. Elsewhere it settled as a sporadic and now it appears to be dying out while gonorrhœa is on the increase.[190]

The Nights, I have said, belongs to the days before coffee (A.D. 1550) and tobacco (A.D. 1650) had overspread the East. The former, which derives its name from the Káfá or Káffá province, lying south of Abyssinia proper and peopled by the Sidáma Gallas, was introduced to Mokha of Al-Yaman in A.D. 1429–30 by the Shaykh al-Sházili who lies buried there, and found a congenial name in the Arabic Kahwah = old wine.[191] In The Nights (Mac. Edit.) it is mentioned twelve times[192]; but never in the earlier 91tales: except in the case of Kamar al-Zaman II. it evidently does not belong to the epoch and we may fairly suspect the scribe. In the xvith century coffee began to take the place of wine in the nearer East; and it gradually ousted the classical drink from daily life and from folk-tales.

It is the same with tobacco, which is mentioned only once by The Nights (cmxxxi.), in conjunction with meat, vegetables and fruit and where it is called “Tábah.” Lane (iii. 615) holds it to be the work of a copyist; but in the same tale of Abu Kir and Abu Sir, sherbet and coffee appear to have become en vogue, in fact to have gained the ground they now hold. The result of Lord Macartney’s Mission to China was a suggestion that smoking might have originated spontaneously in the Old World.[193] This is undoubtedly true. The Bushmen and other wild tribes of Southern Africa threw their Dakhá (cannabis indica) on the fire and sat round it inhaling the intoxicating fumes. Smoking without tobacco was easy enough. The North American Indians of the Great Red Pipe Stone Quarry and those who lived above the line where nicotiana grew, used the kinni-kinik or bark of the red willow and some seven other succedanea.[194] But tobacco proper, which soon superseded all materials except hemp and opium, was first adopted by the Spaniards of Santo Domingo in A.D. 1496 and reached England in 1565. Hence the word, which, amongst the so-called Red Men, denoted the pipe, the container, not the contained, spread over the Old World as a generic term with additions, like “Tutun,”[195] for especial varieties. The change in English manners brought about by the cigar after dinner has already been noticed; and much of the modified sobriety of the 92present day may be attributed to the influence of the Holy Herb en cigarette. Such, we know from history was its effect amongst Moslems; and the normal wine-parties of The Nights suggest that the pipe was unknown even when the latest tales were written.


We know absolutely nothing of the author or authors who produced our marvellous Recueil. Galland justly observes (Epist. Dedic.), “probably this great work is not by a single hand; for how can we suppose that one man alone could own a fancy fertile enough to invent so many ingenious fictions?” Mr. Lane, and Mr. Lane alone, opined that the work was written in Egypt by one person or at most by two, one ending what the other had begun, and that he or they had re-written the tales and completed the collection by new matter composed or arranged for the purpose. It is hard to see how the distinguished Arabist came to such a conclusion: at most it can be true only of the editors and scribes of MSS. evidently copied from each other, such as the Mac. and the Bul. texts. As the Reviewer (Forbes Falconer?) in the “Asiatic Journal” (vol. xxx., 1839) says, “Every step we have taken in the collation of these agreeable fictions has confirmed us in the belief that the work called the Arabian Nights is rather a vehicle for stories, partly fixed and partly arbitrary, than a collection fairly deserving, from its constant identity with itself, the name of a distinct work, and the reputation of having wholly emanated from the same inventive mind. To say nothing of the improbability of supposing that one individual, with every license to build upon the foundation of popular stories, a work which had once received a definite form from a single writer, would have been multiplied by the copyist with some regard at least to his arrangement of words as well as matter. But the various copies we have seen bear about as much mutual resemblance as if they 93had passed through the famous process recommended for disguising a plagiarism: ‘Translate your English author into French and again into English.’”

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

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

1. The framework of the book is purely Persian perfunctorily Arabised; the archetype being the Hazár Afsánah.[196]

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

3. The thirteen tales mentioned above (p. 81) as the nucleus of 94the Repertory, together with “Dalilah the Crafty,”[197] may be placed in our tenth century.

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

5. The work assumed its present form in the thirteenth century.

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


§ II.

The history of The Nights in Europe is one of slow and gradual development. The process was begun (1704–17) by Galland, a Frenchman, continued (1823) by Von Hammer, an Austro-German, and finished by Mr. John Payne (1882–84) an Englishman. But we must not forget that it is wholly and solely to the genius of the Gaul that Europe owes The “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments” over which Western childhood and youth have spent so many spelling hours. Antoine Galland was the first to discover the marvellous fund of material for the story-teller buried in the Oriental mine; and he had in a high degree that art of telling a tale which is far more captivating than culture or scholarship. Hence his delightful version (or perversion) became one of the world’s classics and at once made Sheherazade and Dinarzarde, Haroun Alraschid, the Calendars and a host of other personages as familiar to the home reader as Prospero, Robinson Crusoe, Lemuel Gulliver and Dr. Primrose. Without the name and fame won for the work by the brilliant paraphrase of the learned and single-minded Frenchman, Lane’s curious hash and latinized English, at once turgid and emasculated, would have found few readers. Mr. Payne’s admirable version appeals to the Orientalist and the “stylist,” not to the many-headed; and mine to the anthropologist and student of Eastern manners and customs. Galland did it and alone he did it: his fine literary flaire, his pleasing style, his polished taste and perfect tact at once made his work take high rank in the republic of letters nor will the immortal fragment ever be superseded in the infallible judgment of childhood. As the Encyclopædia Britannica has been pleased to 96ignore this excellent man and admirable Orientalist, numismatologist and littérateur, the reader may not be unwilling to see a short sketch of his biography.[198]

Antoine Galland was born in A.D. 1646 of peasant parents “poor and honest” at Rollot, a little bourg in Picardy some two leagues from Montdidier. He was a seventh child and his mother, left a widow in early life and compelled to earn her livelihood, saw scant chance of educating him when the kindly assistance of a Canon of the Cathedral and President of the Collége de Noyon relieved her difficulties. In this establishment Galland studied Greek and Hebrew for ten years, after which the “strait thing at home” apprenticed him to a trade. But he was made for letters; he hated manual labour and he presently removed en cachette to Paris, where he knew only an ancient kinswoman. She introduced him to a priestly relative of the Canon of Noyon, who in turn recommended him to the “Sous-principal” of the Collége Du Plessis. Here he made such notable progress in Oriental studies, that M. Petitpied, a Doctor of the Sorbonne, struck by his abilities, enabled him to study at the Collége Royal and eventually to catalogue the Eastern MSS. in the great ecclesiastical Society. Thence he passed to the Collége Mazarin, where a Professor, M. Godouin, was making an experiment which might be revived to advantage in our present schools. He collected a class of boys, aged about four, and proposed to teach them Latin speedily and easily by making them converse in the classical language as well as read and write it.[199] Galland, his assistant, 97had not time to register success or failure before he was appointed attaché-secretary to M. de Nointel named in 1660 Ambassadeur de France for Constantinople. His special province was to study the dogmas and doctrines and to obtain official attestations concerning the articles of the Orthodox (or Greek) Christianity which had then been a subject of lively discussion amongst certain Catholics, especially Arnauld (Antoine) and Claude the Minister, and which even in our day occasionally crops up amongst “Protestants.”[200] Galland, by frequenting the cafés and listening to the tale-teller, soon mastered Romaic and grappled with the religious question, under the tuition of a deposed Patriarch and of sundry Matráns or Metropolitans, whom the persecutions of the Pashas had driven for refuge to the Palais de France. M. de Nointel, after settling certain knotty points in the Capitulations, visited the harbour-towns of the Levant and the “Holy Places,” including Jerusalem, where Galland copied epigraphs, sketched monuments and collected antiques, such as the marbles in the Baudelot Gallery of which Père Dom Bernard de Montfaucon presently published specimens in his “Palæographia Græca,” etc. (Parisiis, 1708).

In Syria Galland was unable to buy a copy of The Nights: as he expressly states in his Epistle Dedicatory, il a fallu le faire venir de Syrie. But he prepared himself for translating it by studying the manners and customs, the religion and superstitions of the people; and in 1675, leaving his chief, who was ordered back to Stambul, he returned to France. In Paris his numismatic fame recommended him to MM. Vaillant, Carcary and Giraud who strongly urged a second visit to the Levant, for the purpose 98of collecting, and he set out without delay. In 1691 he made a third journey, travelling at the expense of the Compagnie des Indes-Orientales, with the main object of making purchases for the Library and Museum of Colbert the magnificent. The commission ended eighteen months afterwards with the changes of the Company, when Colbert and the Marquis de Louvois caused him to be created “Antiquary to the King,” Louis le Grand, and charged him with collecting coins and medals for the royal cabinet. As he was about to leave Smyrna, he had a narrow escape from the earthquake and subsequent fire which destroyed some fifteen thousand of the inhabitants: he was buried in the ruins; but, his kitchen being cold as becomes a philosopher’s, he was dug out unburnt.[201]

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

99At Caen Galland issued in 1704,[204] the first part of his Mille et une Nuits, Contes Arabes traduits en François which at once became famous as “The Arabian Nights’ Entertainments.” Mutilated, fragmentary and paraphrastic though the tales were, the glamour of imagination, the marvel of the miracles and the gorgeousness and magnificence of the scenery at once secured an exceptional success: it was a revelation in romance, and the public recognised that it stood in presence of a monumental literary work. France was a-fire with delight at a something so new, so unconventional, so entirely without purpose, religious, moral or philosophical: the Oriental wanderer in his stately robes was a startling surprise to the easy-going and utterly corrupt Europe of the ancien régime with its indecently tight garments and perfectly loose morals. “Ils produisirent,” said Charles Nodier, a genius in his way, “dès le moment de leur publication, cet effet qui assure aux productions de l’esprit une vogue populaire, quoiqu’ils appartinssent à une littérature peu connue en France; et que ce genre de composition admît ou plutôt exigeât des détails de moeurs, de caractère, de costume et de localités absolument étrangers à toutes les idées établies dans nos contes et nos romans. On fut étonné du charme qui résultait de leur lecture. C’est que la vérité des sentimens, la nouveauté des tableaux, une imagination féconde en prodiges, un coloris plein de chaleur, l’attrait d’une sensibilité sans prétention, et le sel d’un comique sans caricature, c’est que l’esprit et le naturel enfin plaisent partout, et plaisent à tout le monde.[205]

The Contes Arabes at once made Galland’s name and a popular tale is told of them and him known to all reviewers who, however, 100mostly mangle it. In the Biographie Universelle of Michaud[206] we find:—Dans les deux premiers volumes de ces contes l’exorde était toujours, “Ma chère sœur, si vous ne dormez pas, faites-nous un de ces contes que vous savez.” Quelques jeunes gens, ennuyés de cette plate uniformité, allèrent une nuit qu’il faisait très-grand froid, frapper à la porte de l’auteur, qui courut en chemise à sa fenêtre. Après l’avoir fait morfondre quelque temps par diverses questions insignifiantes, ils terminèrent en lui disant, “Ah, Monsieur Galland, si vous ne dormez pas, faites-nous un de ces beaux contes que vous savez si bien.” Galland profita de la leçon, et supprima dans les volumes suivants le préambule qui lui avait attiré la plaisanterie. This legend has the merit of explaining why the Professor so soon gave up the Arab framework which he had deliberately adopted.

The Nights was at once translated from the French[207] though when, where and by whom no authority seems to know. In Lowndes’ “Bibliographer’s Manual” the English Editio Princeps is thus noticed, “Arabian Nights’ Entertainments translated from the French, London, 1724, 12mo, 6 vols.” and a footnote states that this translation, very inaccurate and vulgar in its diction, was often reprinted. In 1712 Addison introduced into the Spectator (No. 535, Nov. 13) the Story of Alnaschar (= Al-Nashshár, the Sawyer) and says that his remarks on Hope “may serve as a moral to an Arabian tale which I find translated into French by Monsieur Galland.” His version appears, from the tone and style, to have been made by himself, and yet in that year a second English edition had appeared. The nearest approach 101to the Edit. Princeps in the British Museum[208] is a set of six volumes bound in three and corresponding with Galland’s first half dozen. Tomes i. and ii. are from the fourth edition of 1713, Nos. iii. and iv. are from the second of 1712 and v. and vi. are from the third of 1715. It is conjectured that the two first volumes were reprinted several times apart from their subsequents, as was the fashion of the day; but all is mystery. We (my friends and I) have turned over scores of books in the British Museum, the University Library and the Advocates’ Libraries of Edinburgh and Glasgow: I have been permitted to put the question in “Notes and Queries” and in the “Antiquary”; but all our researches hitherto have been in vain.

The popularity of The Nights in England must have rivalled their vogue in France, judging from the fact that in 1713, or nine years after Galland’s Edit. Prin. appeared they had already reached a fourth issue. Even the ignoble national jealousy which prompted Sir William Jones grossly to abuse that valiant scholar, Auquetil du Perron, could not mar their popularity. But as there are men who cannot read Pickwick, so they were not wanting who spoke of “Dreams of the distempered fancy of the East.”[209] “When the work was first published in England,” says Henry Webber,[210] “it seems to have made a considerable impression upon 102the public.” Pope in 1720 sent two volumes (French? or English?) to Bishop Atterbury, without making any remark on the work; but, from his very silence, it may be presumed that he was not displeased with the perusal. The bishop, who does not appear to have joined a relish for the flights of imagination to his other estimable qualities, expressed his dislike of these tales pretty strongly and stated it to be his opinion, formed on the frequent descriptions of female dress, that they were the work of some Frenchman (Petis de la Croix, a mistake afterwards corrected by Warburton). The Arabian Nights, however, quickly made their way to public favour. “We have been informed of a singular instance of the effect they produced soon after their first appearance. Sir James Stewart, Lord Advocate for Scotland, having one Saturday evening found his daughters employed in reading these volumes, seized them with a rebuke for spending the evening before the ‘Sawbbath’ in such worldly amusement; but the grave advocate himself became a prey to the fascination of the tales, being found on the morning of the Sabbath itself employed in their perusal, from which he had not risen the whole night.” As late as 1780 Dr. Beattie professed himself uncertain whether they were translated or fabricated by M. Galland; and, while Dr. Pusey wrote of them “Noctes Mille et Una dictæ, quæ in omnium firmè populorum cultiorum linguas conversæ, in deliciis omnium habentur, manibusque omnium terentur,”[211] the amiable Carlyle, in the gospel according to Saint Froude, characteristically termed them “downright lies” and forbade the house to such “unwholesome literature.” What a sketch of character in two words!

103The only fault found in France with the Contes Arabes was that their style is peu correcte; in fact they want classicism. Yet all Gallic imitators, Trébutien included, have carefully copied their leader and Charles Nodier remarks:—“Il me semble que l’on n’a pas rendu assez de justice au style de Galland. Abondant sans être prolixe, naturel et familier sans être lâche ni trivial, il ne manque jamais de cette élégance qui résulte de la facilité, et qui présente je ne sais quel mélange de la naïveté de Perrault et de la bonhomie de La Fontaine.

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

Professor Galland was a French littérateur of the good old school which is rapidly becoming extinct. Homme vrai dans les moindres choses (as his Éloge stated); simple in life and manners and single-hearted in his devotion to letters, he was almost childish in worldly matters, while notable for penetration and acumen in 104his studies. He would have been as happy, one of his biographers remarks, in teaching children the elements of education as he was in acquiring his immense erudition. Briefly, truth and honesty, exactitude and indefatigable industry characterised his most honourable career.

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

Histoire du prince Zeyn Al-asnam et du Roi des Génies.[216]
Histoire de Codadad et de ses frères.
Histoire de la Lampe merveilleuse (Aladdin).
Histoire de l’aveugle Baba Abdalla. 105
Histoire de Sidi Nouman.
Histoire de Cogia Hassan Alhabbal.
Histoire d’Ali Baba, et de Quarante Voleurs exterminés par une Esclave.
Histoire d’Ali Cogia, marchand de Bagdad.
Histoire du prince Ahmed et de la fée Peri-Banou.
Histoire de deux Sœurs jalouses de leur Cadette.[217]

Concerning these interpolations which contain two of the best and most widely known stories in the work, Aladdin and the Forty Thieves, conjectures have been manifold but they mostly run upon three lines. De Sacy held that they were found by Galland in the public libraries of Paris. Mr. Chenery, whose acquaintance with Arabic grammar was ample, suggested that the Professor had borrowed them from the recitations of the Rawis, rhapsodists or professional story-tellers in the bazars of Smyrna and other ports of the Levant. The late Mr. Henry Charles Coote (in the “Folk-Lore Record,” vol. iii. Part ii. p. 178 et seq.), “On the source of some of M. Galland’s Tales,” quotes from popular Italian, Sicilian and Romaic stories incidents identical with those in Prince Ahmad, Aladdin, Ali Baba and the Envious Sisters, suggesting that the Frenchman had heard these paramythia in Levantine coffee-houses and had inserted them into his unequalled corpus fabularum. Mr. Payne (ix. 268) conjectures the probability “of their having been composed at a comparatively recent period by an inhabitant of Baghdad, in imitation of the legends of Haroun er Rashid and other well-known tales of the original work;” and adds, “It is possible that an exhaustive examination of the various MS. copies of the Thousand and One Nights known to exist in the public libraries of Europe might yet cast 106some light upon the question of the origin of the interpolated Tales.” I quite agree with him, taking “The Sleeper and the Waker” and “Zeyn Al-asnam” as cases in point; but I should expect, for reasons before given, to find the stories in a Persic rather than an Arabic MS. And I feel convinced that all will be recovered: Galland was not the man to commit a literary forgery.

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

All Arabists have remarked the sins of omission and commission, of abridgment, amplification and substitution, and the audacious distortion of fact and phrase in which Galland freely indulged, whilst his knowledge of Eastern languages proves that he knew better. But literary license was the order of his day and at that time French, always the most bégueule of European languages, was bound by a rigorisme of the narrowest and the straightest of lines 107from which the least écart condemned a man as a barbarian and a tudesque. If we consider Galland fairly we shall find that he errs mostly for a purpose, that of popularising his work; and his success indeed justified his means. He has been derided (by scholars) for “Hé Monsieur!” and “Ah Madame!”; but he could not write “O mon sieur” and “O ma dame;” although we can borrow from biblical and Shakespearean English, “O my lord!” and “O my lady!” “Bon Dieu! ma sœur” (which our translators english by “O heavens,” Night xx.) is good French for Wa ’lláhi—by Allah; and “cinquante cavaliers bien faits” (“fifty handsome gentlemen on horseback”) is a more familiar picture than fifty knights. “L’officieuse Dinarzade” (Night lxi.), and “Cette plaisante querelle des deux frères” (Night lxxii.) become ridiculous only in translation—“the officious Dinarzade” and “this pleasant quarrel;” while “ce qu’il y de remarquable” (Night lxxiii.) would relieve the Gallic mind from the mortification of “Destiny decreed.” “Plusieurs sortes de fruits et de bouteilles de vin” (Night ccxxxi. etc.) europeanises flasks and flaggons; and the violent convulsions in which the girl dies (Night cliv., her head having been cut off by her sister) is mere Gallic squeamishness: France laughs at “le shoking” in England but she has only to look at home especially during the reign of Galland’s contemporary—Roi Soleil. The terrible “Old man” (Shaykh) “of the Sea” (-board) is badly described by “l’incommode vieillard” (“the ill-natured old fellow”): “Brave Maimune” and “Agréable Maimune” are hardly what a Jinni would say to a Jinniyah (ccxiii.); but they are good Gallic. The same may be noted of “Plier les voiles pour marque qu’il se rendait” (Night ccxxxv.), a European practice; and of the false note struck in two passages. “Je m’estimais heureuse d’avoir fait une si belle conquête” (Night lxvii.) gives a Parisian turn; and, “Je ne puis voir sans horreur cet abominable barbier que voilà: quoiqu’il soit né dans un pays où tout le monde est blanc, il ne laisse pas à 108ressembler à un Éthiopien; mais il a l’âme encore plus noire et horrible que le visage” (Night clvii.), is a mere affectation of Orientalism. Lastly, “Une vieille dame de leur connaissance” (Night clviii.) puts French polish upon the matter of fact Arab’s “an old woman.”

The list of absolute mistakes, not including violent liberties, can hardly be held excessive. Professor Weil and Mr. Payne (ix. 271) justly charge Galland with making the Trader (Night i.) throw away the shells (écorces) of the date which has only a pellicle, as Galland certainly knew; but dates were not seen every day in France, while almonds and walnuts were of the quatre mendiants. He preserves the écorces, which later issues have changed to noyaux, probably in allusion to the jerking practice called Inwá. Again in the “First Shaykh’s Story” (vol. i. 27) the “maillet” is mentioned as the means of slaughtering cattle, because familiar to European readers: at the end of the tale it becomes “le couteau funeste.” In Badr al-Din a “tarte à la crême,” so well known to the West, displaces, naturally enough, the outlandish “mess of pomegranate-seeds.” Though the text especially tells us the hero removed his bag-trousers (not only “son habit”) and placed them under the pillow, a crucial fact in the history, our Professor sends him to bed fully dressed, apparently for the purpose of informing his readers in a footnote that Easterns “se couchent en caleçon” (Night lxxx). It was mere ignorance to confound the arbalète or cross-bow with the stone-bow (Night xxxviii.), but this has universally been done, even by Lane who ought to have known better; and it was an unpardonable carelessness or something worse to turn Nár (fire) and Dún (in lieu of) into “le faux dieu Nardoun” (Night lxv.): as this has been untouched by De Sacy, I cannot but conclude that he never read the text with the translation. Nearly as bad also to make the Jewish physician remark, when the youth gave him the left wrist (Night cl.), “voilà une grande ignorance de ne savoir pas que l’on presente la main droite à un médecin et non pas la 109gauche”—whose exclusive use all travellers in the East must know. I have noticed the incuriousness which translates “along the Nile-shore” by “up towards Ethiopia” (Night cli.), and the “Islands of the Children of Khaledan” (Night ccxi.) instead of the Khálidatáni or Khálidát, the Fortunate Islands. It was by no means “des petits soufflets” (“some tips from time to time with her fingers”) which the sprightly dame administered to the Barber’s second brother (Night clxxi.), but sound and heavy “cuffs” on the nape; and the sixth brother (Night clxxx.) was not “aux lèvres fendues” (“he of the hair-lips”), for they had been cut off by the Badawi jealous of his fair wife. Abu al-Hasan would not greet his beloved by saluting “le tapis à ses pieds:” he would kiss her hands and feet. Haïatalnefous (Hayat al-Nufús, Night ccxxvi.) would not “throw cold water in the Princess’s face:” she would sprinkle it with eau-de-rose. “Camaralzaman” I addresses his two abominable wives in language purely European (ccxxx.), “et de la vie il ne s’approcha d’elles,” missing one of the fine touches of the tale which shows its hero a weak and violent man, hasty and lacking the pundonor. “La belle Persienne,” in the Tale of Nur al-Din, was no Persian; nor would her master address her, “Venez çà, impertinente!” (“come hither, impertinence”). In the story of Badr, one of the Comoro Islands becomes “L’île de la Lune.” “Dog” and “dog-son” are not “injures atroces et indignes d’un grand roi:” the greatest Eastern kings allow themselves far more energetic and significant language. Fitnah[219] 110is by no means “Force de cœurs.” Lastly the dénoûement of The Nights is widely different in French and in Arabic; but that is probably not Galland’s fault, as he never saw the original, and indeed he deserves high praise for having invented so pleasant and sympathetic a close, inferior only to the Oriental device.[220]

Galland’s fragment has a strange effect upon the Orientalist and those who take the scholastic view, be it wide or narrow. De Sacy does not hesitate to say that the work owes much to his fellow-countryman’s hand; but I judge otherwise: it is necessary to dissociate the two works and to regard Galland’s paraphrase, which contains only a quarter of The Thousand Nights and a Night, as a wholly different book. Its attempts to amplify beauties and to correct or conceal the defects and the grotesqueness of the original, absolutely suppress much of the local colour, clothing the bare body in the best of Parisian suits. It ignores the rhymed prose and excludes the verse, rarely and very rarely rendering a few lines in a balanced style. It generally rejects the proverbs, epigrams and moral reflections which form the pith and marrow of the book; and, worse still, it disdains those finer touches of character which are often Shakespearean in their depth and delicacy, and which, applied to a race of familiar ways and thoughts, manners and customs, would have been the wonder and delight of Europe. It shows only a single side of the gem that has so many facets. By deference to public taste it was compelled to expunge the often repulsive simplicity, the childish indecencies and the wild orgies of the original, contrasting with the gorgeous tints, the elevated morality and the religious tone of passages which crowd upon them. We miss the odeur du sang 111which taints the parfums du harem; also the humouristic tale and the Rabelaisian outbreak which relieve and throw out into strong relief the splendour of Empire and the havoc of Time. Considered in this light it is a caput mortuum, a magnificent texture seen on the wrong side; and it speaks volumes for the genius of the man who could recommend it in such blurred and caricatured condition to readers throughout the civilised world. But those who look only at Galland’s picture, his effort to “transplant into European gardens the magic flowers of Eastern fancy,” still compare his tales with the sudden prospect of magnificent mountains seen after a long desert-march: they arouse strange longings and indescribable desires; their marvellous imaginativeness produces an insensible brightening of mind and an increase of fancy-power, making one dream that behind them lies the new and unseen, the strange and unexpected—in fact, all the glamour of the unknown.

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

I was assured by the late Bertholdy Seemann that the “language of Hoffmann and Heine” contained a literal and complete translation of The Nights; but personal enquiries at Leipzig and elsewhere convinced me that the work still remains to be done. The first attempt to improve upon Galland and to show the world what the work really is was made by Dr. Max Habicht and was printed at Breslau (1824–25), in fifteen small square 112volumes.[222] Thus it appeared before the “Tunis Manuscript”[223] of which it purports to be a translation. The German version is, if possible, more condemnable than the Arabic original. It lacks every charm of style; it conscientiously shirks every difficulty; it abounds in the most extraordinary blunders and it is utterly useless as a picture of manners or a book of reference. We can explain its lâches only by the theory that the eminent Professor left the labour to his collaborateurs and did not take the trouble to revise their careless work.

The next German translation was by Aulic Councillor J. von Hammer-Purgstall[224] who, during his short stay at Cairo and Constantinople, turned into French the tales neglected by Galland. After some difference with M. Caussin (de Perceval) in 1810, the Styrian Orientalist entrusted his MS. to Herr Cotta the publisher of Tubingen. Thus a German version appeared, the translation of a translation, at the hand of Professor Zinserling,[224] while the French version was unaccountably lost en route to 113London. Finally the “Contes inédits,” etc., appeared in a French translation by G. S. Trébutien (Paris, mdcccxxviii.). Von Hammer took liberties with the text which can compare only with those of Lane: he abridged and retrenched till the likeness in places entirely disappeared; he shirked some difficult passages and he misexplained others. In fact the work did no honour to the amiable and laborious historian of the Turks.

The only good German translation of The Nights is due to Dr. Gustav Weil who, born on April 24, 1808, is still (1886) professing at Heidelburg.[225] His originals (he tells us) were the Breslau Edition, the Bulak text of Abd al-Rahman al-Safati and a MS. in the library of Saxe Gotha. The venerable savant, who has rendered such service to Arabism, informs me that Aug. Lewald’s “Vorhalle” (pp. i.-xv.)[226] was written without his knowledge. Dr. Weil neglects the division of days which enables him to introduce any number of tales: for instance, Galland’s eleven occupy a large part of vol. iii. The Vorwort wants development; the notes, confined to a few words, are inadequate and verse is everywhere rendered by prose, the Saj’a or assonance being wholly ignored. On the other hand the scholar shows himself by a correct translation, contrasting strongly with those which preceded him, and by a strictly literal version, save where the treatment required to be modified in a book intended for the public. Under 114such circumstances it cannot well be other than longsome and monotonous reading.

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

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


§ III.

A.—The Matter.

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

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

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

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

The literary origin of the fable is not Buddhistic: we must especially shun that “Indo-Germanic” school which goes to India 116for its origins, when Pythagoras, Solon, Herodotus, Plato, Aristotle and possibly Homer sat for instruction at the feet of the Hir-seshtha, the learned grammarians of the pharaohnic court. Nor was it Æsopic, evidently Æsop inherited the hoarded wealth of ages. As Professor Lepsius taught us, “In the olden times within the memory of man, we know only of one advanced culture; of only one mode of writing, and of only one literary development, viz. those of Egypt.” The invention of an alphabet, as opposed to a syllabary, unknown to Babylonia, to Assyria and to that extreme bourne of their civilising influences, China, would for ever fix their literature—poetry, history and criticism,[230] the apologue and the anecdote. To mention no others The Lion and the Mouse appears in a Leyden papyrus dating from B.C. 1200–1166 the days of Rameses III. (Rhampsinitus) or Hak On, not as a rude and early attempt, but in a finished form, postulating an ancient origin and illustrious ancestry. The dialogue also is brought to perfection in the discourse between the Jackal Koufi and the Ethiopian Cat (Revue Égyptologique ivme. année Part i.). Africa therefore was the home of the Beast-fable not, as Professor Mahaffy thinks, because it was the chosen land of animal worship, where

Oppida tota canem venerantur nemo Dianam;[231]

117but simply because the Nile-land originated every form of literature between Fabliau and Epos.

From Kemi the Black-land it was but a step to Phœnicia, Judæa,[232] Phrygia and Asia Minor, whence a ferry led over to Greece. Here the Apologue found its populariser in Αἴσωπος, Æsop, whose name, involved in myth, possibly connects with Αἰθίοψ:—“Æsopus et Aithiops idem sonant” says the sages. This would show that the Hellenes preserved a legend of the land whence the Beast-fable arose, and we may accept the fabulist’s æra as contemporary with Crœsus and Solon (B.C. 570), about a century after Psammeticus (Psamethik 1st) threw Egypt open to the restless Greek.[233] From Africa too the Fable would in early ages migrate eastwards and make for itself a new home in the second great focus of civilisation formed by the Tigris-Euphrates Valley. The late Mr. George Smith found amongst the cuneiforms fragmentary Beast-fables, such as dialogues between the Ox and the Horse, the Eagle and the Sun. In after centuries, when the conquests of Macedonian Alexander completed what Sesostris and Semiramis had begun, and mingled the manifold families of mankind by joining the eastern to the western world, the Orient became formally hellenised. Under the Seleucidæ and during the life of the independent Bactrian kingdom (B.C. 255–125), Grecian art and science, literature and even language overran the old Iranic reign and extended eastwards throughout northern India. Porus sent two embassies to Augustus in B.C. 19 and in one of them the herald Zarmanochagas (Shramanáchárya) of Bargosa, the modern Baroch in Guzerat, bore an epistle upon vellum written in Greek 118(Strabo xv. 1 § 78). “Videtis gentes populosque mutasse sedes” says Seneca (De Cons. ad Helv. c. vi.). “Quid sibi volunt in mediis barbarorum regionibus Græcæ artes? Quid inter Indos Persasque Macedonicus sermo? Atheniensis in Asia turba est.” Upper India, in the Macedonian days would have been mainly Buddhistic, possessing a rude alphabet borrowed from Egypt through Arabia and Phœnicia, but still in a low and barbarous condition: her buildings were wooden and she lacked, as far as we know, stone-architecture—the main test of social development. But the Bactrian Kingdom gave an impulse to her civilisation and the result was classical opposed to vedic Sanskrit. From Persia Greek letters, extending southwards to Arabia, would find indigenous imitators and there Æsop would be represented by the sundry sages who share the name Lokman.[234] One of these was of servile 119condition, tailor, carpenter or shepherd; and a “Habashi” (Æthiopian) meaning a negro slave with blubber lips and splay feet, so far showing a superficial likeness to the Æsop of history.

The Æsopic fable, carried by the Hellenes to India, might have fallen in with some rude and fantastic barbarian of Buddhistic “persuasion” and indigenous origin: so Reynard the Fox has its analogue amongst the Kafirs and the Vái tribe of Mandengan negroes in Liberia[235] amongst whom one Doalu invented or rather borrowed a syllabarium. The modern Gypsies are said also to have beast-fables which have never been traced to a foreign source (Leland). But I cannot accept the refinement of difference which Professor Benfey, followed by Mr. Keith-Falconer, discovers between the Æsopic and the Hindu apologue:—“In the former animals are allowed to act as animals: the latter makes them act as men in the form of animals.” The essence of the beast-fable is a reminiscence of Homo primigenius with erected ears and hairy hide, and its expression is to make the brother brute behave, think and talk like him with the superadded experience of ages. To early man the “lower animals,” which are born, live and die like himself, showing all the same affects and disaffects, loves and hates, passions, prepossessions and prejudices, must have seemed quite human enough and on an equal level to become his substitutes. The savage, when he began to reflect, would regard the carnivore and the serpent with awe, wonder and dread; and would soon suspect the same mysterious potency in the brute as in himself: so the Malays still look upon the Uran-utan, or Wood-man, as the possessor of superhuman wisdom. The hunter and the herdsman, who had few other companions, would presently explain the peculiar relations of animals to themselves by material 120metamorphosis, the bodily transformation of man to brute giving increased powers of working him weal and woe. A more advanced stage would find the step easy to metempsychosis, the beast containing the Ego (alias soul) of the human: such instinctive belief explains much in Hindu literature, but it was not wanted at first by the Apologue.

This blending of blood, this racial baptism would produce a fine robust progeny; and, after our second century, Ægypto-Græco-Indian stories overran the civilized globe between Rome and China. Tales have wings and fly farther than the jade hatchets of proto-historic days. And the result was a book which has had more readers than any other except the Bible. Its original is unknown.[236] The volume, which in Pehlevi became the Jávidán Khirad (“Wisdom of Ages”) or the Testament of Hoshang, that ancient guebre King, and in Sanskrit the Panchatantra (“Five Chapters”), is a recueil of apologues and anecdotes related by the learned Brahman, Vishnu Sharmá, for the benefit of his pupils the sons of an Indian Rajah. The Hindu original has been adapted and translated into a number of languages; Arabic, Hebrew and Syriac, Greek and Latin, Persian and Turkish, under a host of names.[237] Voltaire[238] wisely remarks of this venerable production:—Quand on fait réflexion que presque toute la terre a été enfatuée de pareils contes, et qu’ils ont fait 121l’éducation du genre humain, on trouve les fables de Pilpay, de Lokman,[239] d’Ésope, bien raisonables. But methinks the sage of Ferney might have said far more. These fables speak with the large utterance of early man; they have also their own especial beauty—the charms of well-preserved and time-honoured old age. There is in their wisdom a perfume of the past, homely and ancient-fashioned like a whiff of pot pourri, wondrous soothing withal to olfactories agitated by the patchoulis and jockey clubs of modern pretenders and petit-maîtres, with their grey young heads and pert intelligence, the motto of whose ignorance is “Connu!” Were a dose of its antique, mature experience adhibited to the Western before he visits the East, those few who could digest it might escape the normal lot of being twisted round the fingers of every rogue they meet from Dragoman to Rajah. And a quotation from them tells at once: it shows the quoter to be a man of education, not a “Jangalí,” a sylvan or savage, as the Anglo-Indian official is habitually termed by his more civilised “fellow-subject.”

The main difference between the classical apologue and the fable in The Nights is that while Æsop and Gabrias write laconic tales with a single event and a simple moral, the Arabian fables are often “long-continued novelle involving a variety of events, each characterised by some social or political aspect, forming a narrative highly interesting in itself, often exhibiting the most exquisite moral, and yet preserving, with rare ingenuity, the peculiar characteristics of the actors.”[240] And the distinction between the ancient and the mediæval apologue, including the modern which, since “Reineke Fuchs,” is mainly German, appears equally pronounced. The latter is humorous enough and rich in the wit which results from superficial incongruity; but it ignores the deep underlying bond which connects man with beast. Again, 122the main secret of its success is the strain of pungent satire, especially in the Renardine Cycle, which the people could apply to all unpopular “lordes and prelates, gostly and worldly.”

Our Recueil contains two distinct sets of apologues.[241] The first (vol. iii.) consists of eleven, alternating with five anecdotes (Nights cxlvi.-cliii.), following the lengthy and knightly romance of King Omar bin al Nu’man and followed by the melancholy love tale of Ali bin Bakkár. The second series in vol. ix., consisting of eight fables, not including ten anecdotes (Nights cmi.-cmxxiv.), is injected into the romance of King Jali’ad and Shimas mentioned by Al-Mas’udi as independent of The Nights. In both places the Beast-fables are introduced with some art and add variety to the subject-matter, obviating monotony—the deadly sin of such works—and giving repose to the hearer or reader after a climax of excitement such as the murder of the Wazirs. And even these are not allowed to pall upon the mental palate, being mingled with anecdotes and short tales, such as the Hermits (iii. 125), with biographical or literary episodes, acroamata, table-talk and analects where humorous Rabelaisian anecdote finds a place; in fact the fabliau or novella. This style of composition may be as ancient as the apologues. We know that it dates as far back as Rameses III., from the history of the Two Brothers in the Orbigny papyrus,[242] the prototype of Yusuf and Zulaykha, the 123Koranic Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. It is told with a charming naïveté and such sharp touches of local colour as, “Come, let us make merry an hour and lie together! Let down thy hair!

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

Next in date to the Apologue comes the Fairy Tale proper, where the natural universe is supplemented by one of purely imaginative existence. “As the active world is inferior to the rational soul,” says Bacon with his normal sound sense, “so Fiction gives to Mankind what History denies and in some measure satisfies the Mind with Shadows when it cannot enjoy the Substance. And as real History gives us not the success of things according to the deserts of vice and virtue, Fiction corrects it and presents us with the fates and fortunes of persons rewarded and punished according to merit.” But I would say still more. History paints or attempts to paint life as it is, a mighty maze with or without a plan: Fiction shows or would show us life as it 124should be, wisely ordered and laid down on fixed lines. Thus Fiction is not the mere handmaid of History: she has a household of her own and she claims to be the triumph of Art which, as Goëthe remarked, is “Art because it is not Nature.” Fancy, la folle du logis, is “that kind and gentle portress who holds the gate of Hope wide open, in opposition to Reason, the surly and scrupulous guard.”[244] As Palmerin of England says and says well, “For that the report of noble deeds doth urge the courageous mind to equal those who bear most commendation of their approved valiancy; this is the fair fruit of Imagination and of ancient histories.” And, last but not least, the faculty of Fancy takes count of the cravings of man’s nature for the marvellous, the impossible, and of his higher aspirations for the Ideal, the Perfect: she realises the wild dreams and visions of his generous youth and portrays for him a portion of that “other and better world,” with whose expectation he would console his age.

The imaginative varnish of The Nights serves admirably as a foil to the absolute realism of the picture in general. We enjoy being carried away from trivial and common-place characters, scenes and incidents; from the matter of fact surroundings of a work-a-day world, a life of eating and drinking, sleeping and waking, fighting and loving, into a society and a mise-en-scène which we suspect can exist and which we know does not. Every man at some turn or term of his life has longed for supernatural powers and a glimpse of Wonderland. Here he is in the midst of it. Here he sees mighty spirits summoned to work the human mite’s will, however whimsical, who can transport him in an eye-twinkling whithersoever he wishes; who can ruin cities and build palaces of gold and silver, gems and jacinths; who can serve up delicate viands and delicious drinks in priceless chargers and impossible cups and bring the choicest fruits from farthest Orient: 125here he finds magas and magicians who can make kings of his friends, slay armies of his foes and bring any number of beloveds to his arms. And from this outraging probability and outstripping possibility arises not a little of that strange fascination exercised for nearly two centuries upon the life and literature of Europe by The Nights, even in their mutilated and garbled form. The reader surrenders himself to the spell, feeling almost inclined to enquire “And why may it not be true?”[245] His brain is dazed and dazzled by the splendours which flash before it, by the sudden procession of Jinns and Jinniyahs, demons and fairies, some hideous, others preternaturally beautiful; by good wizards and evil sorcerers, whose powers are unlimited for weal and for woe; by mermen and mermaids, flying horses, talking animals, and reasoning elephants; by magic rings and their slaves and by talismanic couches which rival the carpet of Solomon. Hence, as one remarks, these Fairy Tales have pleased and still continue to please almost all ages, all ranks and all different capacities.

Dr. Hawkesworth[246] observes that these Fairy Tales find favour “because even their machinery, wild and wonderful as it is, has its laws; and the magicians and enchanters perform nothing but what was naturally to be expected from such beings, after we had once granted them existence.” Mr. Heron “rather supposes the very contrary is the truth of the fact. It is surely the strangeness, the unknown nature, the anomalous character of the supernatural agents here employed, that makes them to operate so powerfully on our hopes, fears, curiosities, sympathies, and, in short, on all the feelings of our hearts. We see men and women, who possess qualities to recommend them to our favour, subjected to the influence of beings, whose good or ill will, power or weakness, 126attention or neglect, are regulated by motives and circumstances which we cannot comprehend: and hence, we naturally tremble for their fate, with the same anxious concern, as we should for a friend wandering, in a dark night, amidst torrents and precipices; or preparing to land on a strange island, while he knew not whether he should be received, on the shore, by cannibals waiting to tear him piecemeal, and devour him, or by gentle beings, disposed to cherish him with fond hospitality.” Both writers have expressed themselves well, but meseems each has secured, as often happens, a fragment of the truth and holds it to be the whole Truth. Granted that such spiritual creatures as Jinns walk the earth, we are pleased to find them so very human, as wise and as foolish in word and deed as ourselves: similarly we admire in a landscape natural forms like those of Staffa or the Palisades which favour the works of architecture. Again, supposing such preternaturalisms to be around and amongst us, the wilder and more capricious they prove, the more our attention is excited and our forecasts are baffled to be set right in the end. But this is not all. The grand source of pleasure in Fairy Tales is the natural desire to learn more of the Wonderland which is known to many as a word and nothing more, like Central Africa before the last half century: thus the interest is that of the “Personal Narrative” of a grand exploration to one who delights in travels. The pleasure must be greatest where faith is strongest; for instance amongst imaginative races like the Kelts and especially Orientals, who imbibe supernaturalism with their mother’s milk. “I am persuaded,” writes Mr. Bayle St. John,[247] “that the great scheme of preternatural energy, so fully developed in The Thousand and One Nights, is believed in by the majority of the inhabitants of all the religious 127professions both in Syria and Egypt.” He might have added “by every reasoning being from prince to peasant, from Mullah to Badawi, between Marocco and Outer Ind.”

The Fairy Tale in The Nights is wholly and purely Persian. The gifted Iranian race, physically the noblest and the most beautiful of all known to me, has exercised upon the world-history an amount of influence which has not yet been fully recognised. It repeated for Babylonian art and literature what Greece had done for Egyptian, whose dominant idea was that of working for eternity a κτῆμα εἰς ἀεί. Hellas and Iran instinctively chose as their characteristic the idea of Beauty, rejecting all that was exaggerated and grotesque; and they made the sphere of Art and Fancy as real as the world of Nature and Fact. The innovation was hailed by the Hebrews. The so-called Books of Moses deliberately and ostentatiously ignored the future state of rewards and punishments, the other world which ruled the life of the Egyptian in this world: the lawgiver, whoever he may have been, Osarsiph or Moshe, apparently held the tenet unworthy of a race whose career he was directing to conquest and isolation in dominion. But the Jews, removed to Mesopotamia, the second cradle of the creeds, presently caught the infection of their Asiatic media; superadded Babylonian legend to Egyptian myth; stultified The Law by supplementing it with the “absurdities of foreign fable” and ended, as the Talmud proves, with becoming the most wildly superstitious and “otherworldly” of mankind.

The same change befel Al-Islam. The whole of its supernaturalism is borrowed bodily from Persia, which had “imparadised Earth by making it the abode of angels.” Mohammed, a great and commanding genius, blighted and narrowed by surroundings and circumstance to something little higher than a Covenanter or a Puritan, declared to his followers,

“I am sent to ’stablish the manners and customs;”

128and his deficiency of imagination made him dislike everything but “women, perfumes, and prayers,” with an especial aversion to music and poetry, plastic art and fiction. Yet his system, unlike that of Moses, demanded thaumaturgy and metaphysical entities, and these he perforce borrowed from the Jews who had borrowed them from the Babylonians: his soul and spirit, his angels and devils, his cosmogony, his heavens and hells, even the Bridge over the Great Depth are all either Talmudic or Iranian. But there he stopped and would have stopped others. His enemies among the Koraysh were in the habit of reciting certain Persian fabliaux and of extolling them as superior to the silly and equally fictitious stories of the “Glorious Koran.” The leader of these scoffers was one Nazr ibn Háris who, taken prisoner after the Battle of Bedr, was incontinently decapitated, by apostolic command, for what appears to be a natural and sensible preference. It was the same furious fanaticism and one-idea’d intolerance which made Caliph Omar destroy all he could find of the Alexandrian Library and prescribe burning for the Holy Books of the Persian Guebres. And the taint still lingers in Al-Islam: it will be said of a pious man, “He always studies the Koran, the Traditions and other books of Law and Religion; and he never reads poems nor listens to music or to stories.”

Mohammed left a dispensation or rather a reformation so arid, jejune and material that it promised little more than the “Law of Moses,” before this was vivified and racially baptised by Mesopotamian and Persic influences. But human nature was stronger than the Prophet and, thus outraged, took speedy and absolute revenge. Before the first century had elapsed, orthodox Al-Islam was startled by the rise of Tasawwuf or Sufyism[248] a revival of classic Platonism and Christian Gnosticism, with a mingling of modern Hylozoism; which, quickened by the glowing imagination 129of the East, speedily formed itself into a creed the most poetical and impractical, the most spiritual and the most transcendental ever invented; satisfying all man’s hunger for “belief” which, if placed upon a solid basis of fact and proof, would forthright cease to be belief.

I will take from The Nights, as a specimen of the true Persian romance, “The Queen of the Serpents” (vol. v. 298), the subject of Lane’s Carlylean denunciation. The first gorgeous picture is the Session of the Snakes which, like their Indian congeners the Nága kings and queens, have human heads and reptile bodies, an Egyptian myth that engendered the “old serpent” of Genesis. The Sultánah welcomes Hásib Karím al-Dín, the hapless lad who had been left in a cavern to die by the greedy woodcutters; and, in order to tell him her tale, introduces the “Adventures of Bulúkiyá”: the latter is an Israelite converted by editor and scribe to Mohammedanism; but we can detect under his assumed faith the older creed. Solomon is not buried by authentic history “beyond the Seven (mystic) Seas,” but at Jerusalem or Tiberias; and his seal-ring suggests the Jám-i-Jam, the crystal cup of the great King Jamshíd. The descent of the Archangel Gabriel, so familiar to Al-Islam, is the manifestation of Bahman, the First Intelligence, the mightiest of the Angels who enabled Zarathustra-Zoroaster to walk like Bulukiya over the Dálatí or Caspian Sea.[249] Amongst the sights shown to Bulukiya, as he traverses the Seven Oceans, is a battle royal between the believing and the unbelieving Jinns, true Magian dualism, the eternal duello of the Two Roots or antagonistic Principles, Good and Evil, Hormuzd and Ahriman, which Milton has debased into a common-place modern combat fought also with cannon. Sakhr the Jinni is Eshem chief of the Divs, and Kaf, the encircling 130mountain, is a later edition of Persian Alborz. So in the Mantak al-Tayr (Colloquy of the Flyers) the Birds, emblems of souls, seeking the presence of the gigantic feathered biped Simurgh, their god, traverse seven Seas (according to others seven Wadys) of Search, of Love, of Knowledge, of Competence, of Unity, of Stupefaction, and of Altruism (i.e. annihilation of self), the several stages of contemplative life. At last, standing upon the mysterious island of the Simurgh and “casting a clandestine glance at him they saw thirty birds[250] in him; and when they turned their eyes to themselves the thirty birds seemed one Simurgh: they saw in themselves the entire Simurgh; they saw in the Simurgh the thirty birds entirely.” Therefore they arrived at the solution of the problem “We and Thou;” that is, the identity of God and Man; they were for ever annihilated in the Simurgh and the shade vanished in the sun (Ibid. iii. 250). The wild ideas concerning Khalít and Malít (vol. v. 319) are again Guebre. “From the seed of Kayomars (the androgyne, like pre-Adamite man) sprang a tree shaped like two human beings and thence proceeded Meshia and Meshianah, first man and woman, progenitors of mankind;” who, though created for “Shídistán, Lightland,” were seduced by Ahriman. This “two-man-tree” is evidently the duality of Physis and Anti-physis, Nature and her counterpart, the battle between Mihr, Izad or Mithra with his Surush and Feristeh (Seraphs and Angels) against the Divs who are the children of Time led by the arch-demon Eshem. Thus when Hormuzd created the planets, the dog, and all useful animals and plants, Ahriman produced the comets, the wolf, noxious beasts and poisonous growths. The Hindus represent the same metaphysical idea by Bramhá the Creator and Visvakarma, 131the Anti-creator,[251] miscalled by Europeans Vulcan: the former fashions a horse and a bull and the latter caricatures them with an ass and a buffalo,—evolution turned topsy turvy. After seeing nine angels and obtaining an explanation of the Seven Stages of Earth which is supported by the Gav-i-Zamín, the energy, symbolised by a bull, implanted by the Creator in the mundane sphere, Bulukiya meets the four Archangels, to wit Gabriel who is the Persian Rawánbakhsh or Life-giver; Michael or Beshter, Raphael or Israfil alias Ardibihisht, and Azazel or Azrail who is Dumá or Mordad, the Death-giver; and the four are about to attack the Dragon, that is, the demons hostile to mankind who were driven behind Alborz-Kaf by Tahmuras the ancient Persian king. Bulukiya then recites an episode within an episode, the “Story of Jánsháh,” itself a Persian name and accompanied by two others (vol. v. 329), the mise-en-scène being Kabul and the King of Khorasan appearing in the proem. Janshah, the young Prince, no sooner comes to man’s estate than he loses himself out hunting and falls in with cannibals whose bodies divide longitudinally, each moiety going its own way: these are the Shikk (split ones) which the Arabs borrowed from the Persian Ním-chihrah or Half-faces. They escape to the Ape-island whose denizens are human in intelligence and speak articulately, as the universal East believes they can: these Simiads are at chronic war with the Ants, alluding to some obscure myth which gave rise to the gold-diggers of Herodotus and other classics, “emmets in size somewhat less than dogs but bigger than foxes.”[252] The episode then falls into the banalities of Oriental 132folk-lore. Janshah, passing the Sabbation river and reaching the Jews’ city, is persuaded to be sewn up in a skin and is carried in the normal way to the top of the Mountain of Gems where he makes acquaintance with Shaykh Nasr, Lord of the Birds: he enters the usual forbidden room; falls in love with the pattern Swan-maiden; wins her by the popular process; loses her and recovers her through the Monk Yaghmús, whose name, like that of King Teghmús, is a burlesque of the Greek; and, finally, when she is killed by a shark, determines to mourn her loss till the end of his days. Having heard this story Bulukiya quits him; and, resolving to regain his natal land, falls in with Khizr; and the Green Prophet, who was Wazir to Kay Kobad (vith century B.C.) and was connected with Macedonian Alexander (!) enables him to win his wish. The rest of the tale calls for no comment.

Thirdly and lastly we have the histories, historical stories and the “Ana” of great men in which Easterns as well as Westerns delight: the gravest writers do not disdain to relieve the dullness of chronicles and annals by means of such discussions, humorous or pathetic, moral or grossly indecent. The dates must greatly vary: some of the anecdotes relating to the early Caliphs appear almost contemporary; others, like Ali of Cairo and Abu al-Shamat, may be as late as the Ottoman Conquest of Egypt (sixteenth century). All are distinctly Sunnite and show fierce animus against the Shi’ah heretics, suggesting that they were written after the destruction of the Fatimite dynasty (twelfth century) by Salah al-Din (Saladin the Kurd) one of the latest historical personages and the last king named in The Nights.[253] These anecdotes are so 133often connected with what a learned Frenchman terms the “regne féerique de Haroun er-Réschid,”[254] that the Great Caliph becomes the hero of this portion of The Nights. Aaron the Orthodox was the central figure of the most splendid empire the world had seen, the Viceregent of Allah combining the powers of Cæsar and Pope, and wielding them right worthily according to the general voice of historians. To quote a few: Ali bin Talib al-Khorásáni described him, in A.D. 934, a century and-a-half after his death when flattery would be tongue-tied, as, “one devoted to war and pilgrimage, whose bounty embraced the folk at large.” Sa’adi (ob. A.D. 1291) tells a tale highly favourable to him in the “Gulistan” (lib. i. 36). Fakhr al-Din[255] (xivth century) lauds his merits, eloquence, science and generosity; and Al-Siyuti (nat. A.D. 1445) asserts “He was one of the most distinguished of Caliphs and the most illustrious of the Princes of the Earth” (p. 290). The Shaykh al-Nafzáwi[256] (sixteenth century) in his Rauz al-’Átir fí Nazáh 134al-Khátir = Scented Garden-site for Heart-delight, calls Harun (chapt. vii.) the “Master of munificence and bounty, the best of the generous.” And even the latest writers have not ceased to praise him. Says Alí Azíz Efendi the Cretan, in the Story of Jewád[257] (p. 81), “Harun was the most bounteous, illustrious and upright of the Abbaside Caliphs.”

The fifth Abbaside was fair and handsome, of noble and majestic presence, a sportsman and an athlete who delighted in polo and archery. He showed sound sense and true wisdom in his speech to the grammarian-poet Al-Asma’í, who had undertaken to teach him:—“Ne m’enseignez jamais en public, et ne vous empressez pas trop de me donner des avis en particulier. Attendez ordinairement que je vous interroge, et contentez-vous de me donner une response précise à ce que je vous demanderai, sans y rien ajouter de superflu. Gardez vous surtout de vouloir me préoccuper pour vous attirer ma créance, et pour vous donner de l’autorité. Ne vous étendez jamais trop en long sur les histoires et les traditions que vous me raconterez, si je ne vous en donne la permission. Lorsque vous verrai que je m’eloignerai de l’équité dans mes jugements, ramenez-moi avec douceur, sans user de paroles fâcheuses ni de réprimandes. Enseignez-moi principalement les choses qui sont les plus nécessaires pour les discours que je dois faire en public, dans les mosquées et ailleurs; et ne parlez point en termes obscurs, ou mystérieux, ni avec des paroles trop recherchées.[258]

He became well read in science and letters, especially history and tradition, for “his understanding was as the understanding of 135the learned;” and, like all educated Arabs of his day, “he was a connoisseur of poetry which at times he improvised with success.”[259] He made the pilgrimage every alternate year and sometimes on foot, while “his military expeditions almost equalled his pilgrimages.” Day after day during his Caliphate he prayed a hundred “bows,” never neglecting them, save for some especial reason, till his death; and he used to give from his privy purse alms to the extent of a hundred dirhams per diem. He delighted in panegyry and liberally rewarded its experts, one of whom, Abd al-Sammák the Preacher, fairly said of him, “Thy humility in thy greatness is nobler than thy greatness.” “No Caliph,” says Al-Niftawayh, “had been so profusely liberal to poets, lawyers and divines, although as the years advanced he wept over his extravagance amongst other sins.” There was vigorous manliness in his answer to the Grecian Emperor who had sent him an insulting missive:—“In the name of Allah! From the Commander of the Faithful Harun al-Rashid, to Nicephorus the Roman dog. I have read thy writ, O son of a miscreant mother! Thou shalt not hear, thou shalt see my reply.” Nor did he cease to make the Byzantine feel the weight of his arm till he “nakh’d”[260] his camel in the imperial Court-yard; and this was only one instance of his indomitable energy and hatred of the Infidel. Yet, if the West is to be believed, he forgot his fanaticism in his diplomatic dealings and courteous intercourse with Carolus Magnus.[261] Finally, his 136civilised and well regulated rule contrasted as strongly with the barbarity and turbulence of occidental Christendom, as the splendid Court and the luxurious life of Baghdad and its carpets and hangings devanced the quasi-savagery of London and Paris whose palatial halls were spread with rushes.

The great Caliph ruled twenty-three years and a few months (A.H. 170–193 = A.D. 786–808); and, as his youth was chequered and his reign was glorious, so was his end obscure.[262] After a vision foreshadowing his death,[263] which happened, as becomes a good Moslem, during a military expedition to Khorasan, he ordered his grave to be dug and himself to be carried to it in a covered litter: when sighting the fosse he exclaimed, “O son of man thou art come to this!” Then he commanded himself to be set down and a perlection of the Koran to be made over him in the litter on the edge of the grave. He was buried (æt. forty-five) at Sanábád, a village near Tús.

Aaron the Orthodox appears in The Nights as a headstrong and violent autocrat, a right royal figure according to the Moslem ideas of his day. But his career shows that he was not more tyrannical or more sanguinary than the normal despot of the East, or the contemporary Kings of the West: in most points, indeed, he was far superior to the historic misrulers who have afflicted the world from Spain to furthest China. But a single great crime, a tragedy whose details are almost incredibly horrible, marks his reign with the stain of infamy, with a blot of blood never to be 137washed away. This tale, “full of the waters of the eye,” as Firdausi sings, is the massacre of the Barmecides; a story which has often been told and which cannot here be passed over in silence. The ancient and noble Iranian house, belonging to the “Ebná” or Arabised Persians, had long served the Ommiades till, early in our eighth century, Khálid bin Bermek,[264] the chief, entered the service of the first Abbaside and became Wazir and Intendant of Finance to Al-Saffah. The most remarkable and distinguished of the family, he was in office when Al-Mansur transferred the capital from Damascus, the head-quarters of the hated Ommiades, to Baghdad, built ad hoc. After securing the highest character in history by his personal gifts and public services, he was succeeded by his son and heir Yáhyá (John), a statesman famed from early youth for prudence and profound intelligence, liberality and nobility of soul.[265] He was charged by the Caliph Al-Mahdi with the education of his son Harun, hence the latter was accustomed to call him father; and, until the assassination of the fantastic tyrant Al-Hádi, who proposed to make his own child Caliph, he had no little difficulty in preserving the youth from death in prison. The Orthodox, once seated firmly on the throne, appointed Yahya his Grand Wazir. This great administrator had four sons, Al-Fazl, Ja’afar, Mohammed, and Musa,[266] in whose time the house of Bermek rose to that height from which decline and fall are, in the East, well nigh certain and immediate. Al-Fazl was a foster-brother of Harun, an exchange of suckling infants having taken place between the two mothers for the usual object, a tightening of the ties of intimacy: he was a man of exceptional mind, but he lacked the charm of temper and manner which characterised 138Ja’afar. The poets and rhetoricians have been profuse in their praises of the cadet who appears in The Nights as an adviser of calm sound sense, an intercessor and a peace-maker, and even more remarkable than the rest of his family for an almost incredible magnanimity and generosity—une générosité effrayante. Mohammed was famed for exalted views and nobility of sentiment and Musa for bravery and energy: of both it was justly said, “They did good and harmed not.”[267]

For ten years (not including an interval of seven) from the time of Al-Rashid’s accession (A.D. 786) to the date of their fall, (A.D. 803), Yahya and his sons, Al-Fazl and Ja’afar, were virtually rulers of the great heterogeneous empire, which extended from Mauritania to Tartary, and they did notable service in arresting its disruption. Their downfall came sudden and terrible like “a thunderbolt from the blue.” As the Caliph and Ja’afar were halting in Al-’Umr (the convent) near Anbár-town on the Euphrates, after a convivial evening spent in different pavilions, Harun during the dead of the night called up his page Yásir al-Rikhlah[268] and bade him bring Ja’afar’s head. The messenger found Ja’afar still carousing with the blind poet Abú Zakkár and the Christian physician Gabriel ibn Bakhtiashú, and was persuaded to return to the Caliph and report his death; the Wazir adding, “An he express regret I shall owe thee my life; and, if not, whatso Allah will be done.” Ja’afar followed to listen and heard only the Caliph exclaim, “O sucker of thy mother’s clitoris, if thou answer me another word, I will send thee before him!” whereupon he at once bandaged his own eyes and received the fatal blow. Al-Asma’í, who 139was summoned to the presence shortly after, recounts that when the head was brought to Harun he gazed at it, and summoning two witnesses commanded them to decapitate Yasir, crying, “I cannot bear to look upon the slayer of Ja’afar!” His vengeance did not cease with the death: he ordered the head to be gibbetted at one end and the trunk at the other abutment of the Tigris bridge where the corpses of the vilest malefactors used to be exposed; and, some months afterwards, he insulted the remains by having them burned—the last and worst indignity which can be offered to a Moslem. There are indeed pity and terror in the difference between two such items in the Treasury-accounts as these: “Four hundred thousand dinars (£200,000) to a robe of honour for the Wazir Ja’afar bin Yahya;” and, “Ten kírát, (5 shill.) to naphtha and reeds for burning the body of Ja’afar the Barmecide.”

Meanwhile Yahya and Al-Fazl, seized by the Caliph Harun’s command at Baghdad, were significantly cast into the prison “Habs al-Zanádikah”—of the Guebres—and their immense wealth which, some opine, hastened their downfall, was confiscated. According to the historian, Al-Tabari, who, however, is not supported by all the annalists, the whole Barmecide family, men, women, and children, numbering over a thousand, were slaughtered with only three exceptions; Yahya, his brother Mohammed, and his son Al-Fazl. The Caliph’s foster-father, who lived to the age of seventy-four, was allowed to die in jail (A.H. 805) after two years’ imprisonment at Rukkah. Al-Fazl, after having been tortured with two hundred blows in order to make him produce concealed property, survived his father three years and died in Nov. A.H. 808, some four months before his terrible foster-brother. A pathetic tale is told of the son warming water for the old man’s use by pressing the copper ewer to his stomach.

The motives of this terrible massacre are variously recounted, 140but no sufficient explanation has yet been, or possibly ever will be, given. The popular idea is embodied in The Nights.[269] Harun, wishing Ja’afar to be his companion even in the Harem, had wedded him, pro formâ, to his eldest sister Abbásah, “the loveliest woman of her day,” and brilliant in mind as in body; but he had expressly said, “I will marry thee to her, that it may be lawful for thee to look upon her but thou shalt not touch her.” Ja’afar bound himself by a solemn oath; but his mother Attábah was mad enough to deceive him in his cups and the result was a boy (Ibn Khallikan) or, according to others, twins. The issue was sent under the charge of a confidential eunuch and a slave-girl to Meccah for concealment; but the secret was divulged to Zubaydah who had her own reasons for hating husband and wife and cherished an especial grievance against Yahya.[270] Thence it soon found its way to head-quarters. Harun’s treatment of Abbásah supports the general conviction: according to the most credible accounts she and her child were buried alive in a pit under the floor of her apartment.

But, possibly, Ja’afar’s perjury was only “the last straw.” Already Al-Fazl bin Rabí’a, the deadliest enemy of the Barmecides, had been entrusted (A.D. 786) with the Wazirate which he kept seven years. Ja’afar had also acted generously but imprudently in abetting the escape of Yahya bin Abdillah, Sayyid and Alide, for whom the Caliph had commanded confinement in a close dark dungeon: when charged with disobedience the Wazir had made full confession and Harun had (they say) exclaimed, “Thou hast done well!” but was heard to mutter, “Allah slay me an I slay thee not.”[271] The great house seems at times to have 141abused its powers by being too peremptory with Harun and Zubaydah, especially in money matters;[272] and its very greatness would have created for it many and powerful enemies and detractors who plied the Caliph with anonymous verse and prose. Nor was it forgotten that, before the spread of Al-Islam, they had presided over the Naubehár or Pyræthrum of Balkh; and Harun is said to have remarked anent Yahya, “The zeal for magianism, rooted in his heart, induces him to save all the monuments connected with his faith.”[273] Hence the charge that they were “Zanádakah,” a term properly applied to those who study the Zend scripture, but popularly meaning Mundanists, Positivists, Reprobates, Atheists; and it may be noted that, immediately after Al-Rashid’s death, violent religious troubles broke out in Baghdad. Ibn Khallikan[274] quotes Sa’íd ibn Sálim, a well-known grammarian and traditionist who philosophically remarked, “Of a truth the Barmecides did nothing to deserve Al-Rashid’s severity, but the day (of their power and prosperity) had been long and whatso endureth long waxeth longsome.” Fakhr al-Din says (p. 27), “On attribue encore leur ruine aux manières fières et orgueilleuses de Djafar (Ja’afar) et de Fadhl (Al-Fazl), manières que les rois ne sauroient supporter.” According to Ibn Badrún, the poet, when the Caliph’s sister ’Olayyah[275] asked him, “O my lord, I have not seen thee enjoy one happy day since putting Ja’afar to death: wherefore didst thou slay him?” he answered, “My dear life, an I thought that my shirt knew the reason I would rend it in pieces!” I therefore hold with Al-Mas’udi, “As regards the intimate cause (of the catastrophe) it is unknown and Allah is Omniscient.”

142Aaron the Orthodox appears sincerely to have repented his enormous crime. From that date he never enjoyed refreshing sleep: he would have given his whole realm to recall Ja’afar to life; and, if any spoke slightingly of the Barmecides in his presence, he would exclaim, “God damn your fathers! Cease to blame them or fill the void they have left.” And he had ample reason to mourn the loss. After the extermination of the wise and enlightened family, the affairs of the Caliphate never prospered: Fazl bin Rabí’a, though a man of intelligence and devoted to letters, proved a poor substitute for Yahya and Ja’afar; and the Caliph is reported to have applied to him the couplet:—

No sire to your sire,[276] I bid you spare ✿ Your calumnies or their place replace.

His unwise elevation of his two rival sons filled him with fear of poison, and, lastly, the violence and recklessness of the popular mourning for the Barmecides,[277] whose echo has not yet died away, must have added poignancy to his tardy penitence. The crime still “sticks fiery off” from the rest of Harun’s career: it stands out in ghastly prominence as one of the most terrible tragedies recorded by history, and its horrible details make men write passionately on the subject to this our day.[278]

As of Harun so of Zubaydah it may be said that she was far superior in most things to contemporary royalties, and she was not worse at her worst than the normal despot-queen of the Morning-land. We must not take seriously the tales of her 143jealousy in The Nights, which mostly end in her selling off or burying alive her rivals; but, even were all true, she acted after the recognised fashion of her exalted sisterhood. The secret history of Cairo, during the last generation, tells of many a viceregal dame who committed all the crimes, without any of the virtues which characterised Harun’s cousin-spouse. And the difference between the manners of the Caliphate and the “respectability” of the nineteenth century may be measured by the Tale called, “Al-Maamun and Zubaydah.”[279] The lady, having won a game of forfeits from her husband, and being vexed with him for imposing unseemly conditions when he had been the winner, condemned him to lie with the foulest and filthiest kitchen-wench in the palace; and thus was begotten the Caliph who succeeded and destroyed her son.

Zubaydah was the grand-daughter of the second Abbaside Al-Mansur, by his son Ja’afar whom The Nights persistently term Al-Kasim: her name was Amat al-Azíz or Handmaid of the Almighty; her cognomen was Umm Ja’afar as her husband’s was Abú Ja’afar; and her popular name “Creamkin” derives from Zubdah,[280] cream or fresh butter, on account of her plumpness and freshness. She was as majestic and munificent as her husband; and the hum of prayer was never hushed in her palace. Al-Mas’udi[281] makes a historian say to the dangerous Caliph Al-Káhir, “The nobleness and generosity of this Princess, in serious matters as in her diversions, place her in the highest rank”; and he proceeds to give ample proof. Al-Siyuti relates how she once filled a poet’s mouth with jewels which he sold for twenty 144thousand dinars. Ibn Khallikan (i. 523) affirms of her, “Her charity was ample, her conduct virtuous, and the history of her pilgrimage to Meccah and of what she undertook to execute on the way is so well-known that it were useless to repeat it.” I have noted (Pilgrimage iii. 2) how the Darb al-Sharki or Eastern road from Meccah to Al-Medinah was due to the piety of Zubaydah who dug wells from Baghdad to the Prophet’s burial place and built not only cisterns and caravanserais, but even a wall to direct pilgrims over the shifting sands. She also supplied Meccah, which suffered severely from want of water, with the chief requisite for public hygiene by connecting it, through levelled hills and hewn rocks, with the Ayn al-Mushásh in the Arafat subrange; and the fine aqueduct, some ten miles long, was erected at a cost of 1,700,000 to 2,000,000 of gold pieces.[282] We cannot wonder that her name is still famous among the Badawin and the “Sons of the Holy Cities.” She died at Baghdad, after a protracted widowhood, in A.H. 216 and her tomb, which still exists, was long visited by the friends and dependents who mourned the loss of a devout and most liberal woman.

The reader will bear with me while I run through the tales and add a few remarks to the notices given in the notes: the glance must necessarily be brief, however extensive be the theme. The admirable introduction follows, in all the texts and MSS. known to me, the same main lines but differs greatly in minor details as will be seen by comparing Mr. Payne’s translation with Lane’s and mine. In the Tale of the Sage Dúbán appears the speaking head which is found in the Kámil, in Mirkhond and in the Kitáb al-Uyún: M. C. Barbier de Meynard (v. 503) traces it back to an abbreviated text of Al-Mas’udi. I would especially recommend to students The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad (i. 82), whose mighty orgie ends so innocently in general 145marriage. Lane (iii. 746) blames it “because it represents Arab ladies as acting like Arab courtesans”; but he must have known that during his day the indecent frolic was quite possible in some of the highest circles of his beloved Cairo. To judge by the style and changes of person, some of the most “archaic” expressions suggest the hand of the Ráwi or professional tale-teller; yet as they are in all the texts they cannot be omitted in a loyal translation. The following story of The Three Apples perfectly justifies my notes concerning which certain carpers complain. What Englishman would be jealous enough to kill his cousin-wife because a blackamoor in the streets boasted of her favours? But after reading what is annotated in vol. i. 6, and purposely placed there to give the key-note of the book, he will understand the reasonable nature of the suspicion; and I may add that the same cause has commended these “skunks of the human race” to debauched women in England.

The next tale, sometimes called “The Two Wazírs” is notable for its regular and genuine drama-intrigue which, however, appears still more elaborate and perfected in other pieces. The richness of this Oriental plot-invention contrasts strongly with all European literatures except the Spaniard’s, whose taste for the theatre determined his direction, and the Italian, which in Boccaccio’s day had borrowed freely through Sicily from the East. And the remarkable deficiency lasted till the romantic movement dawned in France, when Victor Hugo and Alexander Dumas showed their marvellous powers of faultless fancy, boundless imagination and scenic luxuriance, “raising French Poetry from the dead and not mortally wounding French prose.”[283] The Two Wazirs is followed by the gem of the volume, The Adventure of the Hunchback-jester (i. 225), also containing an admirable surprise and a fine development 146of character, while its “wild but natural simplicity” and its humour are so abounding that it has echoed through the world to the farthest West. It gave to Addison the Story of Alnaschar[284] and to Europe the term “Barmecide Feast,” from the “Tale of Shacabac” (vol. i. 343). The adventures of the corpse were known in Europe long before Galland, as shown by three fabliaux in Barbazan. I have noticed that the Barber’s Tale of himself (i. 317) is historical and I may add that it is told in detail by Al-Mas’udi (chapt. cxiv).

Follows the tale of Núr al-Dín Alí, and what Galland miscalls “The Fair Persian,” a brightly written historiette with not a few touches of true humour. Noteworthy are the Slaver’s address (vol. ii. 15), the fine description of the Baghdad garden (vol. ii. 21–24), the drinking-party (vol. ii. 25), the Caliph’s frolic (vol. ii. 31–37) and the happy end of the hero’s misfortunes (vol. ii. 44). Its brightness is tempered by the gloomy tone of the tale which succeeds, and which has variants in the Bágh o Bahár, a Hindustani version of the Persian “Tale of the Four Darwayshes;” and in the Turkish Kirk Vezir or “Book of the Forty Vezirs.” Its dismal péripéties are relieved only by the witty indecency of Eunuch Bukhayt and the admirable humour of Eunuch Káfur, whose “half-lie” is known throughout the East. Here also the lover’s agonies are piled upon him for the purpose of unpiling at last: the Oriental tale-teller knows by experience that, as a rule, doleful endings “don’t pay.”

147The next is the long romance of chivalry, “King Omar bin al-Nu’man” etc., which occupies an eighth of the whole repertory and the best part of two volumes. Mr. Lane omits it because “obscene and tedious,” showing the license with which he translated; and he was set right by a learned reviewer,[285] who truly declared that “the omission of half-a-dozen passages out of four hundred pages would fit it for printing in any language[286] and the charge of tediousness could hardly have been applied more unhappily.” The tale is interesting as a picture of mediæval Arab chivalry and has many other notable points; for instance, the lines (iii. 86) beginning “Allah holds the kingship!” are a lesson to the manichæanism of Christian Europe. It relates the doings of three royal generations and has all the characteristics of Eastern art: it is a phantasmagoria of Holy Places, palaces and Harems; convents, castles and caverns, here restful with gentle landscapes (ii. 240) and there bristling with furious battle-pictures (ii. 117, 221–8, 249) and tales of princely prowess and knightly derring-do. The characters stand out well. King Nu’man is an old lecher who deserves his death; the ancient Dame Zát al-Dawáhí merits her title Lady of Calamities (to her foes); Princess Abrízah appears as a charming Amazon, doomed to a miserable and pathetic end; Zau al-Makán is a wise and pious royalty; Nuzhat al-Zamán, though a longsome talker, is a model sister; the Wazir Dandán, a sage and sagacious counsellor, contrasts with the Chamberlain, an ambitious miscreant; Kánmakán is the typical Arab knight, gentle and brave:—

Now managing the mouthes of stubborne steedes
Now practising the proof of warlike deedes;

148And the kind-hearted, simple-minded Stoker serves as a foil to the villains, the kidnapping Badawi and Ghazbán the detestable negro. The fortunes of the family are interrupted by two episodes, both equally remarkable. Taj al-Mulúk[287] is the model lover whom no difficulties or dangers can daunt. In Azíz and Azízah (ii. 291) we have the beau idéal of a loving woman: the writer’s object was to represent a “softy” who had the luck to win the love of a beautiful and clever cousin and the mad folly to break her heart. The poetical justice which he receives at the hands of women of quite another stamp leaves nothing to be desired. Finally the plot of “King Omar” is well worked out; and the gathering of all the actors upon the stage before the curtain drops may be improbable but it is highly artistic.

The long Crusading Romance is relieved by a sequence of sixteen fabliaux, partly historiettes of men and beasts and partly apologues proper—a subject already noticed. We have then (iii. 162) the saddening and dreary love-tale of Ali bin Bakkár, a Persian youth and the Caliph’s concubine Shams al-Nahár. Here the end is made doleful enough by the deaths of the “two martyrs,” who are killed off, like Romeo and Juliet,[288] a lesson that the course of true Love is sometimes troubled and that men as well as women can die of the so-called “tender passion.” It is followed (iii. 212) by the long tale of Kamar al-Zamán, or Moon of the Age, the first of that name, the “Camaralzaman” whom Galland introduced into the best European society. Like “The Ebony Horse” it seems to have been derived from a common source with “Peter of Provence” and “Cleomades and Claremond”; and we can hardly wonder at its 149wide diffusion: the tale is brimful of life, change, movement, containing as much character and incident as would fill a modern three-volumer and the Supernatural pleasantly jostles the Natural; Dahnash the Jinn and Maymúnah daughter of Al-Dimiryát,[289] a renowned King of the Jann, being as human in their jealousy about the virtue of their lovers as any children of Adam, and so their metamorphosis to fleas has all the effect of a surprise. The troupe is again drawn with a broad firm touch. Prince Charming, the hero, is weak and wilful, shifty and immoral, hasty and violent: his two spouses are rivals in abominations as his sons, Amjad and As’ad, are examples of a fraternal affection rarely found in half-brothers by sister-wives. There is at least one fine melodramatic situation (iii. 228); and marvellous feats of indecency, a practical joke which would occur only to the canopic mind (iii. 300–305), emphasise the recovery of her husband by that remarkable “blackguard,” the Lady Budúr. The interpolated tale of Ni’amah and Naomi (iv. 1), a simple and pleasing narrative of youthful amours, contrasts well with the boiling passions of the incestuous and murderous Queens and serves as a pause before the grand dénoûement when the parted meet, the lost are found, the unwedded are wedded and all ends merrily as a xixth century novel.

The long tale of Alá al-Din, our old friend “Aladdin,” is wholly out of place in its present position (iv. 29): it is a counterpart of Ali Núr al-Dín and Miriam the Girdle-girl (vol. ix. 1); and the mention of the Shahbandar or Harbour-master (iv. 29), the Kunsúl or Consul (p. 84), the Kaptán (Capitano), the use of cannon at sea and the choice of Genoa-city (p. 85) prove that it belongs to the xvth or xvith century and should accompany Kamar al-Zamán II. and Ma’aruf at the end of The Nights. Despite the 150lutist Zubaydah being carried off by the Jinn, the Magic Couch, a modification of Solomon’s carpet, and the murder of the King who refused to islamize, it is evidently a European tale and I believe with Dr. Bacher that it is founded upon the legend of “Charlemagne’s” daughter Emma and his secretary Eginhardt, as has been noted in the counterpart (vol. ix. 1).

This quasi-historical fiction is followed by a succession of fabliaux, novelle and historiettes which fill the rest of vol. iv. and the whole of vol. v. till we reach the terminal story, The Queen of the Serpents (vol. v. pp. 304–329). It appears to me that most of them are historical and could easily be traced. Not a few are in Al-Mas’udi; for instance the grim Tale of Hatim of Tayy (vol. iv. 94) is given bodily in “Meads of Gold” (iii. 327); and the two adventures of Ibrahim al-Mahdi with the barber-surgeon (vol. iv. 103) and the Merchant’s sister (vol. iv. 176) are in his pages (vol. vii. pp. 68 and 18). The City of Lubtayt (vol. iv. 99) embodies the legend of Don Rodrigo, last of the Goths, and may have reached the ears of Washington Irving; Many-columned Iram (vol. iv. 113) is held by all Moslems to be factual and sundry writers have recorded the tricks played by Al-Maamun with the Pyramids of Jízah which still show his handiwork.[290] The germ of Isaac of Mosul (vol. iv. 119) is found in Al-Mas’udi who (vii. 65) names “Burán” the poetess (Ibn Khall. i. 268); and Harun al-Rashid and the Slave-girl (vol. iv. 153) is told by a host 151of writers. Ali the Persian is a rollicking tale of fun from some Iranian jest-book: Abu Mohammed hight Lazybones belongs to the cycle of “Sindbad the Seaman,” with a touch of Whittington and his Cat; and Zumurrud (“Smaragdine”) in Ali Shar (vol. iv. 187) shows at her sale the impudence of Miriam the Girdle-girl and in bed the fescennine device of the Lady Budur. The “Ruined Man who became Rich,” etc. (vol. iv. 289) is historical and Al-Mas’udi (vii. 281) relates the coquetry of Mahbúbah the concubine (vol. iv. 291): the historian also quotes four couplets, two identical with Nos. 1 and 2 in The Nights (vol. iv. 292) and adding:—

Then see the slave who lords it o’er her lord ✿ In lover privacy and public site:
Behold these eyes that one like Ja’afar saw: ✿ Allah on Ja’afar reign boons infinite!

Uns al-Wujúd (vol. v. 32) is a love-tale which has been translated into a host of Eastern languages; and The Lovers of the Banu Ozrah belong to Al-Mas’udí’s “Martyrs of Love” (vii. 355), with the ozrite “Ozrite love” of Ibn Khallikan (iv. 537). “Harun and the Three Poets” (vol. v. 77) has given to Cairo a proverb which Burckhardt (No. 561) renders “The day obliterates the word or promise of the Night,” for

The promise of night is effaced by day.

It suggests Congreve’s Doris:—

For who o’er night obtain’d her grace,
She can next day disown, etc.

“Harun and the three Slave-girls” (vol. v. 81) smacks of Gargantua (lib. i. c. II): “It belongs to me, said one: ’Tis mine, said another”; and so forth. The Simpleton and the Sharper (vol. v. 83) like the Foolish Dominie (vol. v. 118) is an old Joe Miller in Hindu as well as Moslem folk-lore. “Kisra Anushirwán” (vol. v. 87) is 152“The King, the Owl and the Villages of Al-Mas’údi” (iii. 171), who also notices the Persian monarch’s four seals of office (ii. 204); and “Masrur the Eunuch and Ibn Al-Káribi” (vol. v. 109) is from the same source as Ibn al-Magházili the Reciter and a Eunuch belonging to the Caliph Al-Mu’tazad (vol. viii. 161). In the Tale of Tawaddud (vol. v. 139) we have the fullest development of the disputations and displays of learning then so common in Europe, teste the “Admirable Crichton”; and these were affected not only by Eastern tale-tellers but even by sober historians. To us it is much like “padding” when Nuzhat al-Zamán (vol. ii. 156 etc.) fags her hapless hearers with a discourse covering sixteen mortal pages; when the Wazir Dandan (vol. ii. 195 etc.) reports at length the cold speeches of the five high-bosomed maids and the Lady of Calamities and when Wird Khan, in presence of his papa (Nights cmxiv-xvi.) discharges his patristic exercitations and heterogeneous knowledge. Yet Al-Mas’udi also relates, at dreary extension (vol. vi. 369) the disputation of the twelve sages in presence of Barmecide Yahya upon the origin, the essence, the accidents and the omnes res of Love; and in another place (vii. 181) shows Honayn, author of the Book of Natural Questions, undergoing a long examination before the Caliph Al-Wásik (Vathek) and describing, amongst other things, the human teeth. See also the dialogue or catechism of Al-Hajjáj and Ibn Al-Kirríya in Ibn Khallikan (vol. i. 238–240).

These disjecta membra of tales and annals are pleasantly relieved by the seven voyages of Sindbad the Seaman (vol. vi. 1–83). The “Arabian Odyssey” may, like its Greek brother, descend from a noble family, the “Shipwrecked Mariner,” a Coptic travel-tale of the twelfth dynasty (B.C. 3500) preserved on a papyrus at St. Petersburg. In its actual condition “Sindbad” is a fanciful compilation, like De Foe’s “Captain Singleton,” borrowed from travellers’ tales of an immense variety and extracts from Al-Idrísi, Al-Kazwíni and Ibn al-Wardi. Here we find the Polyphemus, the 153Pygmies and the cranes of Homer and Herodotus; the escape of Aristomenes; the Plinian monsters well known in Persia; the magnetic mountain of Saint Brennan (Brandanus); the aeronautics of “Duke Ernest of Bavaria”[291] and sundry cuttings from Moslem writers dating between our ninth and fourteenth centuries.[292] The “Shaykh of the Seaboard” appears in the Persian romance of Kámarupa translated by Francklin, all the particulars absolutely corresponding. The “Odyssey” is valuable because it shows how far Eastward the mediæval Arab had extended: already in The Ignorance he had reached China and had formed a centre of trade at Canton. But the higher merit of the cento is to produce one of the most charming books of travel ever written, like Robinson Crusoe the delight of children and the admiration of all ages.

The hearty life and realism of Sindbad are made to stand out in strong relief by the deep melancholy which pervades “The City of Brass” (vol. vi. 83), a dreadful book for a dreary day. It is curious to compare the doleful verses (pp. 103, 105) with those spoken to Caliph Al-Mutawakkil by Abu al-Hasan Ali (Al-Mas’udi, vii. 246). We then enter upon the venerable Sindibad-nameh, the Malice of Women (vol. vi. 122), of which, according to the Kitab al-Fihrist, (vol. i. 305) there were two editions, a Sinzibád al-Kabír and a Sinzibád al-Saghír, the latter being probably an epitome of the former. This bundle of legends, I have shown, was incorporated with The Nights as an editor’s addition; and as an independent work it has made the round of the world. Space forbids any 154detailed notice of this choice collection of anecdotes for which a volume would be required. I may, however, note that the “Wife’s device” (vol. vi. 152) has its analogues in the Kathá (chapt. xiii.) in the Gesta Romanorum (No. xxviii.) and in Boccaccio (Day iii. 6 and Day vi. 8), modified by La Fontaine to Richard Minutolo (Contes lib. i. tale 2): it is quoted almost in the words of The Nights by the Shaykh al-Nafzáwi (p. 207). That most witty and indecent tale The Three Wishes (vol. vi. 180) has forced its way disguised as a babe into our nurseries. Another form of it is found in the Arab proverb “More luckless than Basús” (Kamus), a fair Israelite who persuaded her husband, also a Jew, to wish that she might become the loveliest of women. Jehovah granted it, spitefully as Jupiter; the consequence was that her contumacious treatment of her mate made him pray that the beauty might be turned into a bitch; and the third wish restored her to her original state.

The Story of Júdar (vol. vi. 207) is Egyptian, to judge from its local knowledge (pp. 217 and 254) together with its ignorance of Marocco (p. 223). It shows a contrast, in which Arabs delight, of an almost angelical goodness and forgiveness with a well-nigh diabolical malignity, and we find the same extremes in Abú Sír the noble-minded Barber and the hideously inhuman Abú Kír. The excursion to Mauritania is artfully managed and gives a novelty to the mise-en-scène. Gharíb and Ajíb (vi. 207, vii. 91) belongs to the cycle of Antar and King Omar bin Nu’man: its exaggerations make it a fine type of Oriental Chauvinism, pitting the superhuman virtues, valour, nobility and success of all that is Moslem, against the scum of the earth which is non-Moslem. Like the exploits of Friar John of the Chopping-knives (Rabelais i. c. 27) it suggests ridicule cast on impossible battles and tales of giants, paynims and paladins. The long romance is followed by thirteen historiettes all apparently historical: compare “Hind, daughter of Al-Nu’man” (vol. viii. 7–145) and “Isaac of Mosul 155and the Devil” (vol. vii. 136–139) with Al-Mas’udi v. 365 and vi. 340. They end in two long detective-tales like those which M. Gaboriau has popularised, the Rogueries of Dalilah and the Adventures of Mercury Ali, based upon the principle, “One thief wots another.” The former, who has appeared before (vol. ii. 329), seems to have been a noted character: Al-Mas’udi says (viii. 175) “in a word this Shaykh (Al-’Ukáb) outrivalled in his rogueries and the ingenuities of his wiles Dállah (Dalilah?) the Crafty and other tricksters and coney-catchers, ancient and modern.”

The Tale of Ardashir (vol. vii. 209–264) lacks originality: we are now entering upon a series of pictures which are replicas of those preceding. This is not the case with that charming Undine, Julnár the Sea-born (vol. vii. 264–308) which, like Abdullah of the Land and Abdullah of the Sea (vol. ix. Night cmxl.), describes the vie intime of mermen and merwomen. Somewhat resembling Swift’s inimitable creations, the Houyhnhnms for instance, they prove, amongst other things, that those who dwell in a denser element can justly blame and severely criticise the contradictory and unreasonable prejudices and predilections of mankind. Sayf al-Mulúk (vol. viii. Night dcclviii.), the romantic tale of two lovers, shows by its introduction that it was originally an independent work and it is known to have existed in Persia during the eleventh century: this novella has found its way into every Moslem language of the East even into Sindi, which calls the hero “Sayfal.” Here we again meet the Old Man of the Sea or rather the Shaykh of the Seaboard and make acquaintance with a Jinn whose soul is outside his body: thus he resembles Hermotimos of Klazamunæ in Apollonius, whose spirit left his mortal frame à discretion. The author, philanthropically remarking (vol. viii. 4) “Knowest thou not that a single mortal is better, in Allah’s sight, than a thousand Jinn?” brings the wooing to a happy end which leaves a pleasant savour upon the mental palate.

Hasan of Bassorah (vol. viii. 7–145) is a Master Shoetie on a 156large scale like Sindbad, but his voyages and travels extend into the supernatural and fantastic rather than the natural world. Though long the tale is by no means wearisome and the characters are drawn with a fine firm hand. The hero with his hen-like persistency of purpose, his weeping, fainting and versifying is interesting enough and proves that “Love can find out the way.” The charming adopted sister, the model of what the feminine friend should be; the silly little wife who never knows that she is happy till she loses happiness; the violent and hardhearted queen with all the cruelty of a good woman, and the manners and customs of Amazon-land are outlined with a life-like vivacity. Khalífah the next tale (vol. viii. 145–184) is valuable as a study of Eastern life, showing how the fisherman emerges from the squalor of his surroundings and becomes one of the Caliph’s favourite cup-companions. Ali Nur al-Din (vol. viii. 264) and King Jali’ad (vol. ix., Night dcccxciv.) have been noticed elsewhere and there is little to say of the concluding stories which bear the evident impress of a more modern date.

Dr. Johnson thus sums up his notice of The Tempest. “Whatever might have been the intention of their author, these tales are made instrumental to the production of many characters, diversified with boundless invention, and preserved with profound skill in nature, extensive knowledge of opinions, and accurate observation of life. Here are exhibited princes, courtiers and sailors, all speaking in their real characters. There is the agency of airy spirits and of earthy goblin, the operations of magic, the tumults of a storm, the adventures of a desert island, the native effusion of untaught affection, the punishment of guilt, and the final happiness of those for whom our passions and reason are equally interested.”

We can fairly say this much and far more for our Tales. Viewed as a tout ensemble in full and complete form, they are a drama of Eastern life, and a Dance of Death made sublime by 157faith and the highest emotions, by the certainty of expiation and the fulness of atoning equity, where virtue is victorious, vice is vanquished and the ways of Allah are justified to man. They are a panorama which remains ken-speckle upon the mental retina. They form a phantasmagoria in which archangels and angels, devils and goblins, men of air, of fire, of water, naturally mingle with men of earth; where flying horses and talking fishes are utterly realistic: where King and Prince meet fisherman and pauper, lamia and cannibal; where citizen jostles Badawi, eunuch meets knight; the Kazi hob-nobs with the thief; the pure and pious sit down to the same tray with the bawd and the pimp; where the professional religionist, the learned Koranist and the strictest moralist consort with the wicked magician, the scoffer and the debauchee-poet like Abu Nowas; where the courtier jests with the boor and where the sweep is bedded with the noble lady. And the characters are “finished and quickened by a few touches swift and sure as the glance of sunbeams.” The work is a kaleidoscope where everything falls into picture; gorgeous palaces and pavilions; grisly underground caves and deadly wolds; gardens fairer than those of the Hesperid; seas dashing with clashing billows upon enchanted mountains; valleys of the Shadow of Death; air-voyages and promenades in the abysses of ocean; the duello, the battle and the siege; the wooing of maidens and the marriage-rite. All the splendour and squalor, the beauty and baseness, the glamour and grotesqueness, the magic and the mournfulness, the bravery and the baseness of Oriental life are here: its pictures of the three great Arab passions, love, war and fancy, entitle it to be called “Blood, Musk and Hashish.”[293] And still more, the genius of the story-teller quickens the dry bones of history, and by adding Fiction to Fact revives the dead past: the 158Caliphs and the Caliphate return to Baghdad and Cairo, whilst Asmodeus kindly removes the terrace-roof of every tenement and allows our curious glances to take in the whole interior. This is perhaps the best proof of their power. Finally, the picture-gallery opens with a series of weird and striking adventures and shows as a tail-piece, an idyllic scene of love and wedlock in halls before reeking with lust and blood.

I have noticed in my Foreword that the two main characteristics of The Nights are Pathos and Humour, alternating with highly artistic contrast, and carefully calculated to provoke tears and smiles in the coffee-house audience which paid for them. The sentimental portion mostly breathes a tender passion and a simple sadness: such are the Badawi’s dying farewell (vol. i. 75); the lady’s broken heart on account of her lover’s hand being cut off (vol. i. 277); the Wazir’s death, the mourner’s song and the “tongue of the case” (vol. ii. 10); the murder of Princess Abrízah with the babe sucking its dead mother’s breast (vol. ii. 128); and, generally, the last moments of good Moslems (e.g. vol. v. 167), which are described with inimitable terseness and naïveté. The sad and the gay mingle in the character of the good Hammamstoker who becomes Roi Crotte; and the melancholy deepens in the Tale of the Mad Lover (vol. v. 138); the Blacksmith who could handle fire without hurt (vol. v. 271); the Devotee Prince (vol. v. 111) and the whole Tale of Azízah (vol. ii. 298), whose angelic love is set off by the sensuality and selfishness of her more fortunate rivals. A new note of absolutely tragic dignity seems to be struck in the Sweep and the Noble Lady (vol. iv. 125), showing the piquancy of sentiment which can be evolved from the common and the unclean. The pretty conceit of the Lute (vol. v. 244) is afterwards carried out in the Song (vol. viii. 281), which is a masterpiece of originality[294] and (in the Arabic) of exquisite 159tenderness and poetic melancholy, the wail over the past and the vain longing for reunion. And the very depths of melancholy, of majestic pathos and of true sublimity are reached in Many-columned Iram (vol. iv. 113) and the City of Brass (vol. vi. 83): the metrical part of the latter shows a luxury of woe; it is one long wail of despair which echoes long and loud in the hearer’s heart.

In my Foreword I have compared the humorous vein of the comic tales with our northern “wut,” chiefly for the dryness and slyness which pervade it. But it differs in degree as much as the pathos varies. The staple article is Cairene “chaff,” a peculiar banter possibly inherited from their pagan forefathers: instances of this are found in the Cock and Dog (vol. i. 22), the Eunuch’s address to the Cook (vol. i. 244), the Wazir’s exclamation, “Too little pepper!” (vol. i. 246), the self-communing of Judar (vol. vi. 219), the Hashish-eater in Ali Shár (vol. iv. 213), the scene between the brother-Wazirs (vol. i. 197), the treatment of the Gobbo (vol. i. 221, 228), the Water of Zemzem (vol. i. 284), and the Eunuchs Bukhayt and Kafur[295] (vol. ii. 49, 51). At times it becomes a masterpiece of fun, of rollicking Rabelaisian humour underlaid by the caustic mother-wit of Sancho Panza, as in the orgie of the Ladies of Baghdad (vol. i. 92, 93); the Holy Ointment applied to the beard of Luka the Knight—“unxerunt regem Salomonem” (vol. ii. 222); and Ja’afar and the Old Badawi (vol. v. 98), with its reminiscence of “chaffy” King Amasis. This reaches its acme in the description of ugly old age (vol. v. 3); in The Three Wishes, the wickedest of satires on the alter sexus (vi. 180); in Ali the Persian (vol. iv. 139); in the Lady and her Five Suitors (vol. vi. 172), which corresponds and contrasts with the dully told Story of Upakosa and her Four Lovers of the Kathá (p. 17); and in The Man of Al-Yaman (vol. iv. 245) where we find the true Falstaffian touch. But there is 160sterling wit, sweet and bright, expressed without any artifice of words, in the immortal Barber’s tales of his brothers, especially the second, the fifth and the sixth (vol. i. 324, 325 and 343). Finally, wherever the honest and independent old debauchee Abu Nowas makes his appearance the fun becomes fescennine and milesian.

B.—The Manner of The Nights.

And now, after considering the matter, I will glance at the language and style of The Nights. The first point to remark is the peculiarly happy framework of the Recueil, which I cannot but suspect set an example to the Decamerone and its host of successors.[296] The admirable Introduction, a perfect mise-en-scène, gives the amplest raison d’être of the work, which thus has all the unity required for a great romantic recueil. We perceive this when reading the contemporary Hindu work the Kathá Sarit Ságara,[297] which is at once so like and so unlike The Nights: here 161the preamble is insufficient; the whole is clumsy for want of a thread upon which the many independent tales and fables should 162be strung[298]; and the consequent disorder and confusion tell upon the reader, who cannot remember the sequence without taking notes.

As was said in my Foreword “without the Nights no Arabian Nights!” and now, so far from holding the pauses “an intolerable interruption to the narrative,” I attach additional importance to these pleasant and restful breaks introduced into long and intricate stories. Indeed beginning again I should adopt the plan of the Cal. Edit. opening and ending every division with a dialogue between the sisters. Upon this point, however, opinions will differ and the critic will remind me that the consensus of the MSS. would be wanting: The Bresl. Edit. in many places merely interjects the number of the night without interrupting the tale; the MS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale used by Galland contains only cclxxxii and the Frenchman ceases to use the division after the ccxxxvith Night and in some editions after the cxcviith.[299] A fragmentary MS., according to Scott whose friend J. Anderson found it in Bengal, breaks away after Night xxix; and in the Wortley Montagu, the Sultan relents at an early opportunity, the stories, as in Galland, continuing only as an amusement. I have been careful to preserve the balanced sentences with which the tales open; the tautology and the prose-rhyme serving to attract attention, e.g., “In days of yore and in times long gone before there was a King,” etc.; in England where we strive not to waste words this 163becomes “Once upon a time.” The closings also are artfully calculated, by striking a minor chord after the rush and hurry of the incidents, to suggest repose: “And they led the most pleasurable of lives and the most delectable, till there came to them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies and they became as though they had never been”. Place this by the side of Boccaccio’s favourite formulæ:—Egli conquistò poi la Scozia, e funne re coronato (ii, 3); Et onorevolmente visse infino àlla fine (ii, 4),; Molte volte goderono del loro amore: Iddio faccia noi goder del nostro (iii, 6): E cosi nella sua grossezza si rimase e ancor vi si sta (vi, 8). We have further docked this tail into: “And they lived happily ever after.”

I cannot take up the Nights, in their present condition, without feeling that the work has been written down from the Ráwi or Nakkál,[300] the conteur or professional story-teller, also called Kassás and Maddáh, corresponding with the Hindu Bhat or Bard. To these men my learned friend Baron A. von Kremer would attribute the Mu’allakát vulgarly called the Suspended Poems, as being “indited from the relation of the Ráwi.” Hence in our text the frequent interruption of the formula Kál’ al-Ráwi = quotes the reciter; dice Turpino. Moreover, The Nights read in many places like a hand-book or guide for the professional, who would learn them by heart; here and there introducing his “gag” and “patter.” To this “business” possibly we may attribute much of the ribaldry which starts up in unexpected places: it was meant simply to provoke a laugh. How old the custom is and how unchangeable is Eastern life is shown, a correspondent suggests, by the Book of Esther which might form part of The Alf Laylah. 164“On that night (we read in Chap. vi. 1) could not the King sleep, and he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles; and they were read before the King.” The Ráwi would declaim the recitative somewhat in conversational style; he would intone the Saj’a or prose-rhyme and he would chant to the twanging of the Rabáb, a one-stringed viol, the poetical parts. Dr. Scott[301] borrows from the historian of Aleppo a life-like picture of the Story-teller. “He recites walking to and fro in the middle of the coffee-room, stopping only now and then, when the expression requires some emphatical attitude. He is commonly heard with great attention; and not unfrequently in the midst of some interesting adventure, when the expectation of his audience is raised to the highest pitch, he breaks off abruptly and makes his escape, leaving both his hero or heroine and his audience in the utmost embarrassment. Those who happen to be near the door endeavour to detain him, insisting upon the story being finished before he departs; but he always makes his retreat good[302]; and the auditors suspending their curiosity are induced to return at the same time next day to hear the sequel. He has no sooner made his exit than the company in separate parties fall to disputing about the characters of the drama or the event of an unfinished adventure. The controversy by degrees becomes serious and opposite opinions are maintained with no less warmth than if the fall of the city depended upon the decision.”

At Tangier, where a murder in a “coffee-house” had closed these hovels, pending a sufficient payment to the Pasha; and 165where, during the hard winter of 1885–86, the poorer classes were compelled to puff their Kayf (Bhang, cannabis indica) and sip their black coffee in the muddy streets under a rainy sky, I found the Ráwi active on Sundays and Thursdays, the market-days. The favourite place was the “Soko de barra,” or large bazar, outside the town whose condition is that of Suez and Bayrut half a century ago. It is a foul slope; now slippery with viscous mud, then powdery with fetid dust, dotted with graves and decaying tombs, unclean booths, gargottes and tattered tents, and frequented by women, mere bundles of unclean rags, and by men wearing the haik or burnús, a Franciscan frock, tending their squatting camels and chaffering over cattle for Gibraltar beef-eaters. Here the market-people form ring about the reciter, a stalwart man affecting little raiment besides a broad waist-belt into which his lower chiffons are tucked, and noticeable only for his shock hair, wild eyes, broad grin and generally disreputable aspect. He usually handles a short stick; and, when drummer and piper are absent, he carries a tiny tom-tom shaped like an hour-glass, upon which he taps the periods. This Scealuidhe, as the Irish call him, opens the drama with extempore prayer, proving that he and the audience are good Moslems: he speaks slowly and with emphasis, varying the diction with breaks of animation, abundant action and the most comical grimace: he advances, retires and wheels about, illustrating every point with pantomime; and his features, voice and gestures are so expressive that even Europeans who cannot understand a word of Arabic divine the meaning of his tale. The audience stands breathless and motionless surprising strangers[303] by the ingenuousness and freshness of feeling hidden under their hard and savage exterior. The performance usually ends with the embryo actor going round for alms and flourishing in air every silver bit, the 166usual honorarium being a few “f’lús,” that marvellous money of Barbary, big coppers worth one-twelfth of a penny. All the tales I heard were purely local, but Fakhri Bey, a young Osmanli domiciled for some time in Fez and Mequinez, assured me that The Nights are still recited there.

Many travellers, including Dr. Russell, have complained that they failed to find a complete MS. copy of The Nights. Evidently they never heard of the popular superstition which declares that no one can read through them without dying—it is only fair that my patrons should know this. Yacoub Artín Pasha declares that the superstition dates from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and he explains it in two ways. Firstly, it is a facetious exaggeration, meaning that no one has leisure or patience to wade through the long repertory. Secondly, the work is condemned as futile. When Egypt produced savants and legists like Ibn al-Hajar, Al-’Ayni, and Al-Kastalláni, to mention no others, the taste of the country inclined to dry factual studies and positive science; nor, indeed, has this taste wholly died out: there are not a few who, like Khayri Pasha, contend that the mathematic is more useful even for legal studies than history and geography, and at Cairo the chief of the Educational Department has always been an engineer, i.e., a mathematician. The Olema declared war against all “futilities,” in which they included not only stories but also what is politely entitled Authentic History. From this to the fatal effect of such lecture is only a step. Society, however, cannot rest without light literature; so the novel-reading class was thrown back upon writings which had all the indelicacy and few of the merits of The Nights.

Turkey is the only Moslem country which has dared to produce a regular drama[304] and to arouse the energies of such brilliant 167writers as Muníf Pasha, statesman and scholar; Ekrem Bey, literato and professor; Kemál Bey held by some to be the greatest writer in modern Osmanli-land and Abd al-Hakk Hamíd Bey, first Secretary of the London Embassy. The theatre began in its ruder form by taking subjects bodily from The Nights; then it annexed its plays as we do—the Novel having ousted the Drama—from the French; and lastly it took courage to be original. Many years ago I saw Harun al-Rashid and the Three Kalandars, with deer-skins and all their properties de rigueur, in the courtyard of Government House, Damascus, declaiming to the extreme astonishment and delight of the audience. It requires only to glance at The Nights for seeing how much histrionic matter they contain.

In considering the style of The Nights we must bear in mind that the work has never been edited according to our ideas of the process. Consequently there is no just reason for translating the whole verbatim et literatim, as has been done by Torrens, Lane and Payne in his “Tales from the Arabic.”[305] This conscientious 168treatment is required for versions of an author like Camoens whose works were carefully corrected and arranged by a competent littérateur, but it is not merited by The Nights as they now are. The Macnaghten, the Bulak and the Bayrut texts, though printed from MSS. identical in order, often differ in minor matters. Many friends have asked me to undertake the work: but, even if lightened by the aid of Shaykhs, Munshis and copyists, the labour would be severe, tedious and thankless: better leave the holes open than patch them with fancy work or with heterogeneous matter. The learned, indeed, as Lane tells us (i. 74; iii. 740), being thoroughly dissatisfied with the plain and popular, the ordinary and “vulgar” note of the language, have attempted to refine and improve it and have more than once threatened to remodel it, that is, to make it odious. This would be to dress up Robert Burns in plumes borrowed from Dryden and Pope.

The first defect of the texts is in the distribution and arrangement of the matter, as I have noticed in the case of Sindbad the Seaman (vol. vi. 77). Moreover, many of the earlier Nights are overlong and not a few of the others are overshort: this, however, has the prime recommendation of variety. Even the vagaries of editor and scribe will not account for all the incoherences, disorder and inconsequence, and for the vain iterations which suggest that the author has forgotten what he said. In places there are dead allusions to persons and tales which are left dark, e.g. vol. i. pp. 43, 57, 61, etc. The digressions are abrupt and useless, leading nowhere, while sundry pages are wearisome for excess of prolixity or hardly intelligible for extreme conciseness. The perpetual recurrence of mean colloquialisms and of words and idioms peculiar to Egypt and Syria[306] also takes from the 169pleasure of the perusal. Yet we cannot deny that it has its use: this unadorned language of familiar conversation in its day, adapted for the understanding of the people, is best fitted for the Rawi’s craft in the camp and caravan, the Harem, the bazar and the coffee-house. Moreover, as has been well said, The Nights is the only written half-way house between the literary and colloquial Arabic which is accessible to all, and thus it becomes necessary to the students who would qualify themselves for service in Moslem lands from Mauritania to Mesopotamia. It freely uses Turkish words like “Khátún” and Persian terms as “Sháhbandar,” thus requiring for translation not only a somewhat archaic touch, but also a vocabulary borrowed from various sources: otherwise the effect would not be reproduced. In places, however, the style rises to the highly ornate 170approaching the pompous; e.g. the Wazirial addresses in the tale of King Jali’ad. The battle-scenes, mostly admirable (vol. v. 365), are told with the conciseness of a despatch and the vividness of an artist; the two combining to form perfect “word-pictures.” Of the Badí’a or euphuistic style, “parleying euphuism,” and of Al-Saj’a, the prose rhyme, I shall speak in a future page.

The characteristics of the whole are naïveté and simplicity, clearness and a singular concision. The gorgeousness is in the imagery not in the language; the words are weak while the sense, as in the classical Scandínavian books, is strong; and here the Arabic differs diametrically from the florid exuberance and turgid amplifications of the Persian story-teller, which sound so hollow and unreal by the side of a chaster model. It abounds in formulæ such as repetitions of religious phrases which are unchangeable. There are certain stock comparisons, as Lokman’s wisdom, Joseph’s beauty, Jacob’s grief, Job’s patience, David’s music, and Maryam the Virgin’s chastity. The eyebrow is a Nún; the eye a Sád, the mouth a Mím. A hero is more prudent than the crow, a better guide than the Katá grouse, more generous than the cock, warier than the crane, braver than the lion, more aggressive than the panther, finer-sighted than the horse, craftier than the fox, greedier than the gazelle, more vigilant than the dog, and thriftier than the ant. The cup-boy is a sun rising from the dark underworld symbolised by his collar; his cheek-mole is a crumb of ambergris, his nose is a scymitar grided at the curve; his lower lip is a jujube; his teeth are the Pleiades, or hailstones; his browlocks are scorpions; his young hair on the upper lip is an emerald; his side beard is a swarm of ants or a Lám (l-letter) enclosing the roses or anemones of his cheek. The cup-girl is a moon who rivals the sheen of the sun; her forehead is a pearl set off by the jet of her “idiot-fringe;” her eyelashes scorn the sharp sword; and her glances are arrows shot from the bow of 171the eyebrows. A mistress necessarily belongs, though living in the next street, to the Wady Liwá and to a hostile clan of Badawin whose blades are ever thirsting for the lover’s blood and whose malignant tongues aim only at the “defilement of separation.” Youth is upright as an Alif, or slender and bending as a branch of the Bán-tree which we should call a willow-wand,[307] while Age, crabbed and crooked, bends groundwards vainly seeking in the dust his lost juvenility. As Baron de Slane says of these stock comparisons (Ibn Khall. i. xxxvi.), “The figurative language of Moslem poets is often difficult to be understood. The narcissus is the eye; the feeble stem of that plant bends languidly under its flower, and thus recalls to mind the languor of the eyes. Pearls signify both tears and teeth; the latter are sometimes called hailstones, from their whiteness and moisture; the lips are cornelians or rubies; the gums, a pomegranate flower; the dark foliage of the myrtle is synonymous with the black hair of the beloved, or with the first down on the cheeks of puberty. The down itself is called the izâr, or head-stall of the bridle, and the curve of the izar is compared to the letters lâm (ل) and nûn (ن).[308] Ringlets trace on the cheek or neck the letter Wâw (و); they are called Scorpions (as the Greek σκορπίος), either from their dark colour or their agitated movements; the eye is a sword; the eyelids scabbards; the whiteness of the complexion, camphor; and a mole or beauty-spot, musk, which term denotes also dark hair. A mole is sometimes compared also to an ant creeping on the cheek towards the honey of the mouth; a handsome face is both a full moon and day; black hair is night; the waist is a willow-branch or a lance; the water of the face is self-respect: a 172poet sells the water of his face[309] when he bestows mercenary praises on a rich patron.”

This does not sound promising: yet, as has been said of Arab music, the persistent repetition of the same notes in the minor key is by no means monotonous and ends with haunting the ear, occupying the thought and touching the soul. Like the distant frog-concert and chirp of the cicada, the creak of the water-wheel and the stroke of hammers upon the anvil from afar, the murmur of the fountain, the sough of the wind and the plash of the wavelet, they occupy the sensorium with a soothing effect, forming a barbaric music full of sweetness and peaceful pleasure.


§ IV.

I here propose to treat of the Social Condition which The Nights discloses, of Al-Islam at the earlier period of its development, concerning the position of women and about the pornology of the great Saga-book.


A splendid and glorious life was that of Baghdad in the days of the mighty Caliph,[310] when the Capital had towered to the zenith of grandeur and was already trembling and tottering to the fall. The centre of human civilization, which was then confined to Greece and Arabia, and the metropolis of an Empire exceeding in extent the widest limits of Rome, it was essentially a city of pleasure, a Paris of the ixth century. The “Palace of Peace” (Dár al-Salám), worthy successor of Babylon and Nineveh, which had outrivalled Damascus, the “Smile of the Prophet,” and Kufah, the successor of Hira and the magnificent creation of Caliph Omar, possessed unrivalled advantages of site and climate. The Tigris-Euphrates Valley, where the fabled Garden of Eden has been placed, in early ages succeeded the Nile-Valley as a great centre of human development; and the prerogative of a central and commanding position still promises it, even in the present state of decay and desolation under the 174unspeakable Turk, a magnificent future,[311] when railways and canals shall connect it with Europe. The city of palaces and government offices, hotels and pavilions, mosques and colleges, kiosks and squares, bazars and markets, pleasure grounds and orchards, adorned with all the graceful charms which Saracenic architecture had borrowed from the Byzantines, lay couched upon the banks of the Dijlah-Hiddekel under a sky of marvellous purity and in a climate which makes mere life a “Kayf”—the luxury of tranquil enjoyment. It was surrounded by far-extending suburbs, like Rusáfah on the Eastern side and villages like Baturanjah, dear to the votaries of pleasure; and with the roar of a gigantic capital mingled the hum of prayer, the trilling of birds, the thrilling of harp and lute, the shrilling of pipes, the witching strains of the professional Almah, and the minstrel’s lay.

The population of Baghdad must have been enormous when the smallest number of her sons who fell victims to Huláku Khan in 1258 was estimated at eight hundred thousand, while other authorities more than double the terrible “butcher’s bill.” Her policy and polity were unique. A well-regulated routine of tribute and taxation, personally inspected by the Caliph; a network of waterways, canaux d’arrosage; a noble system of highways, provided with viaducts, bridges and caravanserais, and a postal service of mounted couriers enabled it to collect as in a reservoir the wealth of the outer world. The facilities for education were upon the most extended scale; large sums, from private as well as public sources, were allotted to Mosques, each of which, by the admirable rule of Al-Islam, was expected to contain a school: these establishments were richly endowed 175and stocked with professors collected from every land between Khorasan and Marocco[312]; and immense libraries[313] attracted the learned of all nations. It was a golden age for poets and panegyrists, koranists and literati, preachers and rhetoricians, physicians and scientists who, besides receiving high salaries and fabulous presents, were treated with all the honours of Chinese Mandarins; and, like these, the humblest Moslem—fisherman or artizan—could aspire through knowledge or savoir faire to the highest offices of the Empire. The effect was a grafting of Egyptian, and old Mesopotamian, of Persian and Græco-Latin fruits, by long Time deteriorated, upon the strong young stock of Arab genius; and the result, as usual after such imping, was a shoot of exceptional luxuriance and vitality. The educational establishments devoted themselves to the three main objects recognized by the Moslem world, Theology, Civil Law and Belles Lettres; and a multitude of trained Councillors enabled the ruling powers to establish and enlarge that complicated machinery of government, at once concentrated and decentralized, a despotism often fatal to the wealthy great but never neglecting the interests of the humbler lieges, which forms the beau idéal of Oriental administration. Under the Chancellors of the empire the Kazis administered law and order, justice and equity; and from their decisions the poorest subject, Moslem or miscreant, could claim with the general approval of the lieges, access and appeal to the Caliph who, as Imám or Antistes of the Faith was High President of a Court of Cassation.

Under wise administration Agriculture and Commerce, the twin 176pillars of national prosperity, necessarily flourished. A scientific canalisation, with irrigation-works inherited from the ancients, made the Mesopotamian Valley a rival of Kemi the Black Land, and rendered cultivation a certainty of profit, not a mere speculation as it must ever be to those who perforce rely upon the fickle rains of Heaven. The remains of extensive mines prove that this source of public wealth was not neglected; navigation laws encouraged transit and traffic; and ordinances for the fisheries aimed at developing a branch of industry which is still backward even during the xixth century. Most substantial encouragement was given to trade and commerce, to manufactures and handicrafts, by the flood of gold which poured in from all parts of earth; by the presence of a splendid and luxurious court, and by the call for new arts and industries which such a civilization would necessitate. The crafts were distributed into guilds and syndicates under their respective chiefs, whom the government did not “govern too much”: these Shahbandars, Mukaddams and Nakíbs regulated the several trades, rewarded the industrious, punished the fraudulent and were personally answerable, as we still see at Cairo, for the conduct of their constituents. Public order, the sine quâ non of stability and progress, was preserved first, by the satisfaction of the lieges who, despite their characteristic turbulence, had few if any grievances; and, secondly, by a well-directed and efficient police, an engine of state-craft which in the West seems most difficult to perfect. In the East, however, the Wali or Chief Commissioner can reckon more or less upon the unsalaried assistance of society: the cities are divided into quarters shut off one from other by night, and every Moslem is expected, by his law and religion, to keep watch upon his neighbours, to report their delinquencies and, if necessary, himself to carry out the penal code. But in difficult cases the guardians of the peace were assisted by a body of private detectives, women as well as men: these were called Tawwábún 177= the Penitents, because like our Bow-street runners, they had given up an even less respectable calling. Their adventures still delight the vulgar, as did the Newgate Calendar of past generations; and to this class we owe the Tales of Calamity Ahmad, Dalilah the Wily One, Saladin with the three Chiefs of Police (vol. iv. 271), and Al-Malik al-Záhir with the Sixteen Constables (Bresl. Edit. xi. pp. 321–99). Here and in many other places we also see the origin of that “picaresque” literature which arose in Spain and overran Europe; and which begat Le Moyen de Parvenir.[314]

I need say no more on this heading, the civilisation of Baghdad contrasting with the barbarism of Europe then Germanic, The Nights itself being the best expositor. On the other hand the action of the state-religion upon the state, the condition of Al-Islam during the reign of Al-Rashid, its declension from the primitive creed and its relation to Christianity and Christendom, require a somewhat extended notice. In offering the following observations it is only fair to declare my standpoints.

1. All forms of “faith,” that is, belief in things unseen, not subject to the senses and therefore unknown and (in our present stage of development) unknowable, are temporary and transitory; no religion hitherto promulgated amongst men shows any prospect of being final or otherwise than finite.

2. Religious ideas, which are necessarily limited, may all be traced home to the old seat of science and art, creeds and polity in the Nile-valley and to this day they retain the clearest signs of their origin.

3. All so-called “revealed” religions consist mainly of three portions, a cosmogony more or less mythical, a history more or less falsified and a moral code more or less pure.

178Al-Islam, it has been said, is essentially a fighting faith and never shows to full advantage save in the field. The exceeding luxury of a wealthy capital, the debauchery and variety of vices which would spring up therein, naturally as weeds in a rich fallow, and the cosmopolitan views which suggest themselves in a meeting-place of nations, were sore trials to the primitive simplicity of the “Religion of Resignation”—the saving faith. Harun and his cousin-wife, as has been shown, were orthodox and even fanatical; but the Barmecides were strongly suspected of heretical leanings; and while the many-headed showed itself, as usual, violent, and ready to do battle about an Azan-call, the learned, who sooner or later leaven the masses, were profoundly dissatisfied with the dryness and barrenness of Mohammed’s creed, so acceptable to the vulgar, and were devising a series of schisms and innovations.

In the Tale of Tawaddud (vol. v. 189) the reader has seen a fairly extended catechism of the Creed (Dín), the ceremonial observances (Mazhab) and the apostolic practices (Sunnat) of the Shafi’í school which, with minor modifications, applies to the other three orthodox. Europe has by this time clean forgotten some tricks of her former bigotry, such as “Mawmet” (an idol!) and “Mahommerie” (mummery[315]), a place of Moslem worship: educated men no longer speak with Ockley of the “great impostor Mahomet,” nor believe with the learned and violent Dr. Prideaux that he was foolish and wicked enough to dispossess “certain poor orphans, the sons of an inferior artificer” (the Banú Najjár!). A host of books has attempted, though hardly with success, to 179enlighten popular ignorance upon a crucial point; namely, that the Founder of Al-Islam, like the Founder of Christianity, never pretended to establish a new religion. His claims, indeed, were limited to purging the “School of Nazareth” of the dross of ages and of the manifold abuses with which long use had infected its early constitution: hence to the unprejudiced observer his reformation seems to have brought it nearer the primitive and original doctrine than any subsequent attempts, especially the Judaizing tendencies of the so-called “Protestant” churches. The Meccan Apostle preached that the Hanafíyyah or orthodox belief, which he subsequently named Al-Islam, was first taught by Allah, in all its purity and perfection, to Adam and consigned to certain inspired volumes now lost; and that this primal Holy Writ received additions in the days of his descendants Shís (Seth) and Idris (Enoch?), the founder of the Sabian (not “Sabæan”) faith. Here, therefore, Al-Islam at once avoided the deplorable assumption of the Hebrews and the Christians,—an error which has been so injurious to their science and their progress,—of placing their “first man” in circa B.C. 4000 or somewhat subsequent to the building of the Pyramids: the Pre-Adamite[316] races and dynasties of the Moslems remove a great stumbling-block and square with the anthropological views of the present day. In process of time, when the Adamite religion demanded a restoration and a supplement, its pristine virtue was revived, restored and further developed by the books communicated to Abraham, whose dispensation thus takes the place of the Hebrew Noah and his Noachidæ. In due time the Torah, or Pentateuch, superseded and abrogated the Abrahamic dispensation; the “Zabúr” of David (a book not 180confined to the Psalms) reformed the Torah; the Injíl or Evangel reformed the Zabur and was itself purified, quickened and perfected by the Koran which means κατ’ἐξοχήν the Reading or the Recital. Hence Locke, with many others, held Moslems to be unorthodox, that is anti-Trinitarian Christians who believe in the immaculate Conception, in the Ascension and in the divine mission of Jesus; and when Priestley affirmed that “Jesus was sent from God,” all Moslems do the same. Thus they are, in the main point of doctrine connected with the Deity, simply Arians as opposed to Athanasians. History proves that the former was the earlier faith which, though formally condemned in A.D. 325 by Constantine’s Council of Nice,[317] overspread the Orient beginning with Eastern Europe, where Ulphilas converted the Goths; which extended into Africa with the Vandals, claimed a victim or martyr as late as in the sixteenth century[318] and has by no means died out in this our day.

The Talmud had been completed a full century before Mohammed’s time and the Evangel had been translated into Arabic; moreover travel and converse with his Jewish and Christian friends and companions must have convinced the Meccan apostle that Christianity was calling as loudly for reform as Judaism had done.[319] An exaggerated Trinitarianism or rather 181Tritheism, a “Fourth Person” and Saint-worship had virtually dethroned the Deity; whilst Mariolatry had made the faith a religio muliebris, and superstition had drawn from its horrid fecundity an incredible number of heresies and monstrous absurdities. Even ecclesiastic writers draw the gloomiest pictures of the Christian Church in the fourth and seventh centuries, and one declares that the “Kingdom of Heaven had become a Hell.” Egypt, distracted by the blood-thirsty religious wars of Copt and Greek, had been covered with hermitages by a gens æterna of semi-maniacal superstition. Syria, ever “feracious of heresies,” had allowed many of her finest tracts to be monopolised by monkeries and nunneries.[320] After many a tentative measure Mohammed seems to have built his edifice upon two bases, the unity of the Godhead and the priesthood of the paterfamilias. He abolished for ever the “sacerdos alter Christus” whose existence, as some one acutely said, is the best proof of Christianity, and whom all know to be its weakest point. The Moslem family, however humble, was to be the model in miniature of the State, and every father in Al-Islam was made priest and pontiff in his own house, able unaided to marry himself, to circumcise (to baptise as it were) his children, to instruct them in the law 182and canonically to bury himself (vol. viii. 22). Ritual, properly so called, there was none; congregational prayers were merely those of the individual en masse and the only admitted approach to a sacerdotal order were the Olema or scholars learned in the legistic and the Mullah or schoolmaster. By thus abolishing the priesthood Mohammed reconciled ancient with modern wisdom. “Scito dominum,” said Cato, “pro totâ familiâ rem divinam facere”: “No priest at a birth, no priest at a marriage, no priest at a death,” is the aspiration of the present Rationalistic School.

The Meccan apostle wisely retained the compulsory sacrament of circumcision and the ceremonial ablutions of the Mosaic law; and the five daily prayers not only diverted man’s thoughts from the world but tended to keep his body pure. These two institutions had been practised throughout life by the Founder of Christianity; but the followers who had never even seen him, abolished them for purposes evidently political and propagandist. By ignoring the truth that cleanliness is next to godliness they paved the way for such saints as Simon Stylites and Sabba who, like the lowest Hindu orders of ascetics, made filth a concominant and an evidence of piety: even now English Catholic girls are at times forbidden by Italian priests a frequent use of the bath as a signpost to the sin of “luxury.” Mohammed would have accepted the morals contained in the Sermon on the Mount much more readily than did the Jews from whom its matter was borrowed.[321] He did something to abolish the use of wine, which in the East means only its abuse; and he denounced games of chance, well knowing that the excitable races of sub-tropical climates cannot play with patience, fairness or moderation. He set aside certain sums for charity to be paid by every Believer and he was the first to establish a poor-rate (Zakát): thus he avoided the shame and scandal of mendicancy which, beginning in the Catholic countries 183of Southern Europe, extends to Syria and as far East as Christianity is found. By these and other measures of the same import he made the ideal Moslem’s life physically clean, moderate and temperate.

But Mohammed the “master mind of the age,” had, we must own, a “genuine prophetic power, a sinking of self in the Divine, not distinguishable in kind from the inspiration of the Hebrew prophets,” especially in that puritanical and pharisaic narrowness which, with characteristic simplicity, can see no good outside its own petty pale. He had insight as well as outsight, and the two taught him that personal and external reformation were mean matters compared with elevating the inner man. In the “purer Faith,” which he was commissioned to abrogate and to quicken, he found two vital defects equally fatal to its energy and to its longevity. These were (and are) its egoism and its degradation of humanity. Thus it cannot be a “pleroma”: it needs a Higher Law.[322] As Judaism promised the good Jew all manner of temporal blessings, issue, riches, wealth, honour, power, length of days, so Christianity offered the good Christian, as a bribe to lead a godly life, personal salvation and a future state of happiness, in fact, the Kingdom of Heaven, with an alternative threat of Hell. It never rose to the height of the Hindu Brahmans and Lao-Tse (the “Ancient Teacher”); of Zeno the Stoic and his disciples the noble Pharisees[323] who believed and preached that Virtue is its own reward. It never dared to say, “Do good for Good’s sake[324];” 184even now it does not declare with Cicero, “The sum of all is that what is right, should be sought for its own sake, because it is right, and not because it is enacted.” It does not even now venture to say with Philo Judæus, “The good man seeks the day for the sake of the day, and the light for the light’s sake; and he labours to acquire what is good for the sake of the good itself, and not of anything else.” So far for the egotism, naïve and unconscious, of Christianity, whose burden is, “Do good to escape Hell and gain Heaven.”

A no less defect in the “School of Galilee” is its low view of human nature. Adopting as sober and authentic history an Osirian-Hebrew myth which Philo and a host of Rabbis explain away, each after his own fashion, Christianity dwells, lovingly as it were, upon the “Fall” of man[325] and seems to revel in the contemptible condition to which “original sin” condemned him; thus grovelling before God ad majorem Dei gloriam. To such a point was and is this carried that the Synod of Dort declared, Infantes infidelium morientes in infantiâ reprobatos esse statuimus; nay, many of the orthodox still hold a Christian babe dying unbaptised to be unfit for a higher existence, and some have even created a “limbo” expressly to domicile the innocents “of 185whom is the kingdom of Heaven.” Here, if any where, the cloven foot shows itself and teaches us that the only solid stratum underlying priestcraft is one composed of £ s. d.

And I never can now believe it, my Lord! (Bishop) we come to this earth
Ready damned, with the seeds of evil sown quite so thick at our birth,

sings Edwin Arnold.[326] We ask, can infatuation or hypocrisy—for it must be the one or the other—go farther? But the Adamical myth is opposed to all our modern studies. The deeper we dig into the Earth’s “crust,” the lower are the specimens of human remains which occur; and hitherto not a single “find” has come to revive the faded glories of

Adam the goodliest man of men since born (!)
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Thus Christianity, admitting, like Judaism, its own saints and santons, utterly ignores the progress of humanity, perhaps the only belief in which the wise man can take unmingled satisfaction. Both have proposed an originally perfect being with hyacinthine locks, from whose type all the subsequent humans are degradations physical and moral. We on the other hand hold, from the evidence of our senses, that early man was a savage very little superior to the brute; that during man’s millions of years upon earth there has been a gradual advance towards perfection, at times irregular and even retrograde, but in the main progressive; and that a comparison of man in the xixth century with the caveman[327] affords us the means of measuring past progress and of calculating the future of humanity.

186Mahommed was far from rising to the moral heights of the ancient sages: he did nothing to abate the egotism of Christianity; he even exaggerated the pleasures of its Heaven and the horrors of its Hell. On the other hand he did much to exalt human nature. He passed over the “Fall” with a light hand; he made man superior to the angels: he encouraged his fellow-creatures to be great and good by dwelling upon their nobler not their meaner side; he acknowledged, even in this world, the perfectability of mankind, including womankind, and in proposing the loftiest ideal he acted unconsciously upon the grand dictum of chivalry—Honneur oblige.[328] His prophets were mostly faultless men; and, if the “Pure of Allah” sinned, he “sinned against himself.” Lastly, he made Allah predetermine the career and fortunes, not only of empires, but of every created being; thus inculcating sympathy and tolerance of others, which is true humanity, and a proud resignation to evil as to good fortune. This is the doctrine which teaches the vulgar Moslem a dignity observed even by the “blind traveller,” and which enables him to display a moderation, a fortitude, and a self-command rare enough amongst the followers of the “purer creed.”

Christian historians explain variously the portentous rise of Al-Islam and its marvellous spread over vast regions, not only of pagans and idolators but of Christians. Prideaux disingenuously suggests that it “seems to have been purposely raised up by God, to be a scourge to the Christian church for not living in accordance with their most holy religion.” The popular excuse is by the free use of the sword; this, however, is mere ignorance: in Mohammed’s day and early Al-Islam only actual fighters were slain[329]: the rest were allowed to pay the Jizyah, or capitation-tax, 187and to become tributaries, enjoying almost all the privileges of Moslems. But even had forcible conversion been most systematically practised, it would have afforded an insufficient explanation of the phenomenal rise of an empire which covered more ground in eighty years than Rome had gained in eight hundred. During so short a time the grand revival of Monotheism had consolidated into a mighty nation, despite their eternal blood-feuds, the scattered Arab tribes; a six-years’ campaign had conquered Syria, and a lustre or two utterly overthrew Persia, humbled the Græco-Roman, subdued Egypt and extended the Faith along northern Africa as far as the Atlantic. Within three generations the Copts of Nile-land had formally cast out Christianity, and the same was the case with Syria, the cradle of the Nazarene, and Mesopotamia, one of his strongholds, although both were backed by all the remaining power of the Byzantine empire. Northwestern Africa, which had rejected the idolatro-philosophic system of pagan and imperial Rome, and had accepted, after lukewarm fashion, the Arian Christianity imported by the Vandals, and the “Nicene mystery of the Trinity,” hailed with enthusiasm the doctrines of the Koran and has never ceased to be most zealous in its Islam. And while Mohammedanism speedily reduced the limits of Christendom by one-third, while throughout the Arabian, Saracenic and Turkish invasions whole Christian peoples embraced the monotheistic faith, there are hardly any instances of defection from the new creed and, with the exception of Spain and Sicily, it has never been suppressed in any land where once it took root. Even now, when Mohammedanism no longer wields the sword, it is spreading over wide regions in China, in the Indian Archipelago, and especially in Western and Central Africa, propagated only by self-educated individuals, trading travellers, while Christianity 188makes no progress and cannot exist on the Dark Continent without strong support from Government. Nor can we explain this honourable reception by the “licentiousness” ignorantly attributed to Al-Islam, one of the most severely moral of institutions; or by the allurements of polygamy and concubinage, slavery,[330] and a “wholly sensual Paradise” devoted to eating, drinking[331] and the pleasures of the sixth sense. The true and simple explanation is that this grand Reformation of Christianity was urgently wanted when it appeared, that it suited the people better than the creed which it superseded and that it has not ceased to be sufficient for their requirements, social, sexual and vital. As the practical Orientalist, Dr. Leitner, well observes from his own experience, “The Mohammedan religion can adapt itself better than any other and has adapted itself to circumstances and to the needs of the various races which profess it, in accordance with the spirit of the age.”[332] Hence, I add, its wide diffusion and its impregnable position. “The dead hand, stiff and motionless” is a forcible simile for the present condition of Al-Islam; but it results from limited and imperfect observation and it fails in the sine quâ non of similes and metaphors, a foundation of fact.

I cannot quit this subject without a passing reference to an admirably written passage in Mr. Palgrave’s travels[333] which is 189essentially unfair to Al-Islam. The author has had ample opportunities of comparing creeds: of Jewish blood and born a Protestant, he became a Catholic and a Jesuit (Père Michel Cohen)[334] in a Syrian convent; he crossed Arabia as a good Moslem and he finally returned to his premier amour, Anglicanism. But his picturesque depreciation of Mohammedanism, which has found due appreciation in more than one popular volume,[335] is a notable specimen of special pleading, of the ad captandum in its modern and least honest form. The writer begins by assuming the arid and barren Wahhabi-ism, which he had personally studied, as a fair expression of the Saving Faith. What should we say to a Moslem traveller who would make the Calvinism of the sourest Covenanter, model, genuine and ancient Christianity? What would sensible Moslems say to these propositions of Professor Maccovius and the Synod of Dort:—Good works are an obstacle to salvation. God does by no means will the salvation of all men: he does will sin and he destines men to sin, as sin? What would they think of the Inadmissible Grace, the Perseverance of the Elect, the Supralapsarian and the Sublapsarian and, finally, of a Deity the author of man’s existence, temptation and fall, who deliberately pre-ordains sin and ruin? “Father Cohen” carries out into the regions of the extreme his strictures on the one grand vitalising idea of Al-Islam, “There is no god but God”;[336] and his deduction concerning the Pantheism of Force sounds unreal and unsound, compared with the sensible remarks upon the same subject by 190Dr. Badger[337] who sees the abstruseness of the doctrine and does not care to include it in hard and fast lines or to subject it to mere logical analysis. Upon the subject of “predestination” Mr. Palgrave quotes, not from the Koran, but from the Ahádís or Traditional Sayings of the Apostle; but what importance attaches to a legend in the Mischnah, or Oral Law, of the Hebrews utterly ignored by the Written Law? He joins the many in complaining that even the mention of “the love of God” is absent from Mohammed’s theology, burking the fact that it never occurs in the Jewish scriptures and that the genius of Arabic, like Hebrew, does not admit the expression: worse still, he keeps from his reader such Koranic passages as, to quote no other, “Allah loveth you and will forgive your sins” (iii. 29). He pities Allah for having “no son, companion or counsellor” and, of course, he must equally commiserate Jehovah. Finally his views of the lifelessness of Al-Islam are directly opposed to the opinions of Dr. Leitner and the experience of all who have lived in Moslem lands. Such are the ingenious but not ingenuous distortions of fact, the fine instances of the pathetic fallacy, and the noteworthy illustrations of the falsehood of extremes, which have engendered “Mohammedanism a Relapse: the worst form of Monotheism,”[338] 191and which have been eagerly seized upon and further deformed by the authors of popular books, that is, volumes written by those who know little for those who know less.

In Al-Rashid’s day a mighty change had passed over the primitive simplicity of Al-Islam, the change to which faiths and creeds, like races and empires and all things sublunary, are subject. The proximity of Persia and the close intercourse with the Græco-Romans had polished and greatly modified the physiognomy of the rugged old belief: all manner of metaphysical subtleties had cropped up, with the usual disintegrating effect, and some of these threatened even the unity of the Godhead. Musaylimah and Karmat had left traces of their handiwork: the Mutazilites (separatists or secessors) actively propagated their doctrine of a created and temporal Koran. The Khárijí or Ibázi, who rejects and reviles Abú Turáb (Caliph Ali), contended passionately with the Shí’ah who reviles and rejects the other three “Successors;” and these sectarians, favoured by the learned, and by the Abbasides in their jealous hatred of the Ommiades, went to the extreme length of the Ali-Iláhi—the God-makers of Ali—whilst the Dahrí and the Zindík, the Mundanist and the Agnostic, proposed to sweep away the whole edifice. The neo-Platonism and Gnosticism which had not essentially affected Christendom,[339] found in Al-Islam a rich fallow and gained strength and luxuriance by the solid materialism and conservatism of its basis. Such were a few of the distracting and resolving influences which Time had brought to bear upon the True Believer and which, after some half a dozen generations, had separated the several schisms by a wider breach than that which yawns between Orthodox, Romanist 192and Lutheran. Nor was this scandal in Al-Islam abated until the Tartar sword applied to it the sharpest remedy.


The next point I propose to consider is the position of womanhood in The Nights, so curiously at variance with the stock ideas concerning the Moslem home and domestic policy still prevalent, not only in England, but throughout Europe. Many readers of these volumes have remarked to me with much astonishment that they find the female characters more remarkable for decision, action and manliness than the male; and are wonderstruck by their masterful attitude and by the supreme influence they exercise upon public and private life.

I have glanced at the subject of the sex in Al-Islam to such an extent throughout my notes that little remains here to be added. Women, all the world over, are what men make them; and the main charm of Amazonian fiction is to see how they live and move and have their being without any masculine guidance. But it is the old ever-new fable

“Who drew the Lion vanquished? ’Twas a man!”

The books of the Ancients, written in that stage of civilisation, when the sexes are at civil war, make women even more than in real life the creatures of their masters: hence from the dawn of literature to the present day the sex has been the subject of disappointed abuse and eulogy almost as unmerited. Ecclesiastes, perhaps the strangest specimen of an “inspired volume” the world has yet produced, boldly declares “One (upright) man among a thousand I have found; but a woman among all have I not found” (vol. vii. 28), thus confirming the pessimism of Petronius:—

Femina nulla bona est, et si bona contigit ulla
Nescio quo fato res mala facta bona est.

193In the Psalms again (xxx. 15) we have the old sneer at the three insatiables, Hell, Earth and the Parts feminine (os vulvæ); and Rabbinical learning has embroidered these and other texts, producing a truly hideous caricature. A Hadis attributed to Mohammed runs, “They (women) lack wits and faith. When Eve was created Satan rejoiced saying:—Thou art half of my host, the trustee of my secret and my shaft wherewith I shoot and miss not!” Another tells us, “I stood at the gate of Heaven, and lo! most of its inmates were poor, and I stood at the gate of Hell, and lo! most of its inmates were women.”[340] “Take care of the glass-phials!” cried the Prophet to a camel-guide singing with a sweet voice. Yet the Meccan apostle made, as has been seen, his own household produce two perfections. The blatant popular voice follows with such “dictes” as, “Women are made of nectar and poison”; “Women have long hair and short wits” and so forth. Nor are the Hindus behind hand. Woman has fickleness implanted in her by Nature like the flashings of lightning (Kathá s.s. i. 147); she is valueless as a straw to the heroic mind (169); she is hard as adamant in sin and soft as flour in fear (170) and, like the fly, she quits camphor to settle on compost (ii. 17). “What dependence is there in the crowing of a hen?” (women’s opinions) says the Hindi proverb; also “A virgin with grey hairs!” (i.e. a monster) and, “Wherever wendeth a fairy face a devil wendeth with her.” The same superficial view of holding woman to be lesser (and very inferior) man is taken generally by the classics; and Euripides distinguished himself by misogyny, although he drew the beautiful character of Alcestis. Simonides, more merciful than Ecclesiastes, after naming his swine-women, dog-women, cat-women, etc., ends the decade with the admirable bee-woman thus making ten per cent. honest. In mediæval or 194Germanic Europe the doctrine of the Virgin mother gave the sex a status unknown to the ancients except in Egypt, where Isis was the help-mate and completion of Osiris, in modern parlance “The Woman clothed with the Sun.” The kindly and courtly Palmerin of England, in whose pages “gentlemen may find their choice of sweet inventions and gentlewomen be satisfied with courtly expectations,” suddenly blurts out, “But in truth women are never satisfied by reason, being governed by accident or appetite” (chapt. xlix).

The Nights, as might be expected from the emotional East, exaggerate these views. Women are mostly “Sectaries of the god Wünsch”; beings of impulse, blown about by every gust of passion; stable only in instability; constant only in inconstancy. The false ascetic, the perfidious and murderous crone and the old hag-procuress who pimps like Umm Kulsum[341], for mere pleasure, in the luxury of sin, are drawn with an experienced and loving hand. Yet not the less do we meet with examples of the dutiful daughter, the model lover matronly in her affection, the devoted wife, the perfect mother, the saintly devotee, the learned preacher, Univira the chaste widow and the self-sacrificing heroic woman. If we find (vol. iii. 216) the sex described as:—

An offal cast by kites where’er they list,

and the studied insults of vol. iii. 318, we also come upon an admirable sketch of conjugal happiness (vol. vii. ? 43); and, to mention no other, Shahryar’s attestation to Shahrazad’s excellence 195in the last charming pages of The Nights.[342] It is the same with the Kathá whose praise and dispraise are equally enthusiastic; e.g., “Women of good family are guarded by their own virtue, the sole efficient chamberlain; but the Lord himself can hardly guard the unchaste. Who can stem a furious stream and a frantic woman?” (i. 328). “Excessive love in woman is your only hero for daring” (i. 339). “Thus fair ones, naturally feeble, bring about a series of evil actions which engender discernment and aversion to the world; but here and there you will find a virtuous woman who adorneth a glorious house as the streak of the moon arrayeth the breadth of the Heavens” (i. 346). “So you see, King, honourable matrons are devoted to their husbands and ’tis not the case that women are always bad” (ii. 624). And there is true wisdom in that even balance of feminine qualities advocated by our Hindu-Hindi class-book the Toti-námeh or Parrot volume. The perfect woman has seven requisites. She must not always be merry (1) nor sad (2); she must not always be talking (3) nor silently musing (4); she must not always be adorning herself (5) nor neglecting her person (6); and, (7) at all times she must be moderate and self-possessed.

The legal status of womankind in Al-Islam is exceptionally high, a fact of which Europe has often been assured, although the truth has not even yet penetrated into the popular brain. Nearly a century ago one Mirza Abú Tálib Khán, an Amildár or revenue collector, after living two years in London, wrote an “apology” for, or rather a vindication of, his countrywomen 196which is still worth reading and quoting.[343] Nations are but superficial judges of one another: where customs differ they often remark only the salient distinctive points which, when examined, prove to be of minor importance. Europeans seeing and hearing that women in the East are “cloistered” as the Grecian matron was wont ἔνδον μένειν and οἰκουρεῖν; that wives may not walk out with their husbands and cannot accompany them to “balls and parties”; moreover, that they are always liable, like the ancient Hebrew, to the mortification of the “sister-wife,” have most ignorantly determined that they are mere serviles and that their lives are not worth living. Indeed, a learned lady, Miss Martineau, once visiting a Harem went into ectasies of pity and sorrow because the poor things knew nothing of—say trigonometry and the use of the globes. Sonnini thought otherwise, and my experience, like that of all old dwellers in the East, is directly opposed to this conclusion.

I have noted (Night cmlxii.) that Mohammed, in the fifth year of his reign,[344] after his ill-advised and scandalous marriage[345] with 197his foster-daughter Zaynab, established the Hijáb or veiling of women. It was probably an exaggeration of local usage: a modified separation of the sexes, which extended and still extends even to the Badawi, must long have been customary in Arabian cities, and its object was to deliver the sexes from temptation, as the Koran says (xxxii. 32), “purer will this (practice) be for your hearts and their hearts.”[346] The women, who delight in restrictions which tend to their honour, accepted it willingly and still affect it; they do not desire a liberty or rather a licence which they have learned to regard as inconsistent with their time-honoured notions of feminine decorum and delicacy, and they would think very meanly of a husband who permitted them to be exposed, like hetairæ, to the public gaze.[347] As Zubayr Pasha, exiled to Gibraltar for another’s treason, said to my friend, Colonel Buckle, after visiting quarters evidently laid out by a jealous husband, “We Arabs think that when a man has a precious jewel, ’tis wiser to lock it up in a box than to leave it about for anyone to take.” The Eastern adopts the instinctive, the Western prefers the rational method. The former jealously guards his treasure, surrounds it with all precautions, fends off from it all risks and if the treasure go astray, kills it. The latter, after placing it en evidence upon an eminence in ball dress with back and bosom bared to the gaze 198of society, a bundle of charms exposed to every possible seduction, allows it to take its own way, and if it be misled, he kills or tries to kill the misleader. It is a fiery trial; and the few who safely pass through it may claim a higher standpoint in the moral world than those who have never been sorely tried. But the crucial question is whether Christian Europe has done wisely in offering such temptations.

The second and main objection to Moslem custom is the marriage-system which begins with a girl being wedded to a man whom she knows only by hearsay. This was the habit of our forbears not many generations ago, and it still prevails amongst noble houses in Southern Europe, where a lengthened study of it leaves me doubtful whether the “love-marriage,” as it is called, or wedlock with an utter stranger, evidently the two extremes, is likely to prove the happier. The “sister-wife” is or would be a sore trial to monogamic races like those of Northern Europe, where Caia, all but the equal of Caius in most points mental and physical and superior in some, not unfrequently proves herself the “man of the family,” the “only man in the boat.” But in the East, where the sex is far more delicate, where a girl is brought up in polygamy, where religious reasons separate her from her husband, during pregnancy and lactation, for three successive years; and where often enough like the Mormon damsel she would hesitate to “nigger it with a one-wife-man,” the case assumes a very different aspect and the load, if burden it be, falls comparatively light. Lastly, the “patriarchal household” is mostly confined to the grandee and the richard, whilst Holy Law and public opinion, neither of which can openly be disregarded, assign command of the household to the equal or first wife and jealously guard the rights and privileges of the others.

Mirza Abu Talib “the Persian Prince”[348] offers six reasons why 199“the liberty of the Asiatic women appears less than that of the Europeans,” ending with,

I’ll fondly place on either eye
The man that can to this reply.

He then lays down eight points in which the Moslem wife has greatly the advantage over her Christian sisterhood; and we may take his first as a specimen. Custom, not contrary to law, invests the Mohammedan mother with despotic government of the homestead, slaves, servants and children, especially the latter: she alone directs their early education, their choice of faith, their marriage and their establishment in life; and in case of divorce she takes the daughters, the sons going to the sire. She has also liberty to leave her home, not only for one or two nights, but for a week or a fortnight, without consulting her husband; and whilst she visits a strange household, the master and all males above fifteen are forbidden the Harem. But the main point in favour of the Moslem wife is her being a “legal sharer”: inheritance is secured to her by Koranic law; she must be dowered by the bridegroom to legalise marriage and all she gains is secured to her; whereas in England a “Married Woman’s Property Act” was completed only in 1882 after many centuries of the grossest abuses.

Lastly, Moslems and Easterns in general study and intelligently study the art and mystery of satisfying the physical woman. In my Foreword I have noticed among barbarians the system of “making men”[349] that is, of teaching lads first arrived at puberty the nice conduct of the instrumentum paratum plantandis civibus; a branch of the knowledge-tree which our modern education 200grossly neglects, thereby entailing untold miseries upon individuals, families and generations. The mock virtue, the most immodest modesty of England and of the United States in the xixth century, pronounces the subject foul and fulsome: “Society” sickens at all details; and hence it is said abroad that the English have the finest women in Europe and least know how to use them. Throughout the East such studies are aided by a long series of volumes, many of them written by learned physiologists, by men of social standing and by religious dignitaries high in office. The Egyptians especially delight in aphrodisiac literature treating, as the Turks say, de la partie au-dessous de la taille; and from fifteen hundred to two thousand copies of a new work, usually lithographed in cheap form, readily sell off. The pudibund Lane makes allusion to and quotes (A. N. i. 216) one of the most outspoken, a 4to of 464 pages, called the Halbat al-Kumayt or “Race-Course of the Bay Horse,” a poetical and horsey term for grape-wine. Attributed by D’Herbelot to the Kazi Shams al-Din Mohammed, it is wholly upon the subject of wassail and women till the last few pages, when his reverence exclaims:—“This much, O reader, I have recounted, the better thou mayst know what to avoid;” and so forth, ending with condemning all he had praised.[350] Even the divine and historian Jalál al-Dín al-Siyuti is credited with having written, though the authorship is much disputed, a work entitled, “Kitáb al-Ízáh fi ’ilm al-Nikáh” = The Book of Exposition in the Science of Coition: my copy, a lithograph of 33 pages, undated, but evidently Cairene, begins with exclaiming “Alhamdolillah—Laud to the Lord who adorned the virginal bosom with breasts and who made the thighs of women anvils for the spear-handles of men!” To the same amiable theologian are also ascribed the “Kitáb Nawázir al-Ayk fi al-Nayk” = Green 201Splendours of the Copse in Copulation, an abstract of the Kitáb al-Wisháh fí fawáid al-Nikáh = Book of the Zone on Coitionboon. Of the abundance of pornographic literature we may judge from a list of the following seven works given in the second page of the “Kitáb Rujú’a al-Shaykh ila Sabáh fi ’l-Kuwwat al-Báh”[351] = Book of Age-rejuvenescence in the power of Concupiscence: it is the work of Ahmad bin Sulayman, surnamed Ibn Kamál Pasha.

1. Kitáb al-Báh by Al-Nahli.

2. Kitáb al-’Ars wa al-’Aráis (Book of the Bridal and the Brides) by Al-Jáhiz.

3. Kitáb al-Kiyán (Maiden’s Book) by Ibn Hájib al-Nu’mán.

4. Kitáb al-Ízáh fí asrár al-Nikáh (Book of the Exposition on the Mysteries of married Fruition).

5. Kitáb Jámi’ al-Lizzah (The Compendium of Pleasure) by Ibn Samsamáni.

6. Kitáb Barján (Yarján?) wa Janáhib (??)[352]

7. Kitáb al-Munákahah wa al-Mufátahah fí Asnáf al-Jimá’ wa Álátih (Book of Carnal Copulation and the Initiation into the modes of Coition and its Instrumentation), by Aziz al-Din al-Masíhí.[353]

202To these I may add the Lizzat al-Nisá (Pleasures of Women), a text-book in Arabic, Persian and Hindostani: it is a translation and a very poor attempt, omitting much from, and adding naught to, the famous Sanskrit work Ananga-Ranga (Stage of the Bodiless One i.e. Cupido) or Hindu Art of Love (Ars Amoris Indica).[354] I have copies of it in Sanskrit and Maráthi, Guzrati and Hindostani: the latter is an unpaged 8vo of p. 66, including eight pages of most grotesque illustrations showing the various Ásan (the Figuræ Veneris or positions of copulation), which seem to be the triumphs of contortionists. These pamphlets lithographed in Bombay are broad cast over the land.[355]

It must not be supposed that such literature is purely and simply aphrodisiacal. The learned Sprenger, a physician as well as an Arabist, says (Al-Mas’údi p. 384) of a tractate by the celebrated Rhazes in the Leyden Library “The number of curious observations, the correct and practical ideas and the novelty of the notions of Eastern nations on these subjects, which are contained in this book, render it one of the most important productions of the medical literature of the Arabs.” I can conscientiously recommend to the Anthropologist a study of the “Kutub al-Báh.”



Here it will be advisable to supplement what was said in my Foreword (p. xv.) concerning the turpiloquium of The Nights. Readers who have perused the ten volumes will probably agree with me that the naïve indecencies of the text are rather gaudisserie than prurience; and, when delivered with mirth and humour, they are rather the “excrements of wit” than designed for debauching the mind. Crude and indelicate with infantile plainness; even gross and, at times, “nasty” in their terrible frankness, they cannot be accused of corrupting suggestiveness or subtle insinuation of vicious sentiment. Theirs is a coarseness of language, not of idea; they are indecent, not depraved; and the pure and perfect naturalness of their nudity seems almost to purify it, showing that the matter is rather of manners than of morals. Such throughout the East is the language of every man, woman and child, from prince to peasant, from matron to prostitute: all are as the naïve French traveller said of the Japanese; “si grossiers qu’ils ne sçavent nommer les choses que par leur nom.” This primitive stage of language sufficed to draw from Lane and Burckhardt strictures upon the “most immodest freedom of conversation in Egypt,” where, as all the world over, there are three several stages for names of things and acts sensual. First we have the mot cru, the popular term, soon followed by the technical and scientific, and, lastly, the literary or figurative nomenclature, which is often much more immoral because more attractive, suggestive and seductive than the “raw word.” And let me observe that the highest civilization is now returning to the language of nature. In La Glu of M. J. Richepin, a triumph of the realistic school, we find such “archaic” expressions as la petée, putain, foutue à la six-quatre-dix; une facétieuse pétarade; tu t’es foutue de, etc. 204Eh vilain bougre! and so forth.[356] To those critics who complain of these raw vulgarisms and puerile indecencies in The Nights I can reply only by quoting the words said to have been said by Dr. Johnson to the lady who complained of the naughty words in his dictionary—“You must have been looking for them, Madam!”

But I repeat (p. xvi.) there is another element in The Nights and that is one of absolute obscenity utterly repugnant to English readers, even the least prudish. It is chiefly connected with what our neighbours call Le vice contre nature—as if anything can be contrary to nature which includes all things.[357] Upon this subject I must offer details, as it does not enter into my plan to ignore any theme which is interesting to the Orientalist and the Anthropologist. And they, methinks, do abundant harm who, for shame or disgust, would suppress the very mention of such matters: in order to combat a great and growing evil deadly to the birth-rate—the main-stay of national prosperity—the first requisite is careful study. As Albert Bollstoedt, Bishop of Ratisbon, rightly says:—Quia malum non evitatum nisi cognitum, ideo necesse est cognoscere immundiciem coitus et multa alia quæ docentur in isto libro. Equally true are Professor Mantegazza’s words:[358] Cacher les plaies du cœur humain au nom de la pudeur, ce n’est au contraire qu’hypocrisie ou peur. The late Mr. Grote had reason to lament that when describing such institutions as the far-famed ἱερὸς λόχος of Thebes, the Sacred Band annihilated at Chaeroneia, 205he was compelled to a reticence which permitted him to touch only the surface of the subject. This was inevitable under the present rule of Cant[359] in a book intended for the public: but the same does not apply to my version of The Nights, and now I proceed to discuss the matter sérieusement, honnêtement, historiquement; to show it in decent nudity not in suggestive fig-leaf or feuille de vigne.


The “execrabilis familia pathicorum” first came before me by a chance of earlier life. In 1845, when Sir Charles Napier had conquered and annexed Sind, despite a fraction (mostly venal) which sought favour with the now defunct “Court of Directors to the Honourable East India Company,” the veteran began to consider his conquest with a curious eye. It was reported to him that Karáchi, a townlet of some two thousand souls and distant not more than a mile from camp, supported no less than three lupanars or bordels, in which not women but boys and eunuchs, the former demanding nearly a double price,[360] lay for hire. Being then the only British officer who could speak Sindi, I was asked indirectly to make enquiries and to report upon the subject; and I undertook the task on express condition that my report should not be forwarded to the Bombay Government, from 206whom supporters of the Conqueror’s policy could expect scant favour, mercy or justice. Accompanied by a Munshi, Mirza Mohammed Hosayn of Shiraz, and habited as a merchant, Mirza Abdullah the Bushiri[361] passed many an evening in the townlet, visited all the porneia and obtained the fullest details which were duly despatched to Government House. But the “Devil’s Brother” presently quitted Sind leaving in his office my unfortunate official: this found its way with sundry other reports[362] to Bombay and produced the expected result. A friend in the Secretariat informed me that my summary dismissal from the service had been formally proposed by one of Sir Charles Napier’s successors, whose decease compels me parcere sepulto. But this excess of outraged modesty was not allowed.

Subsequent enquiries in many and distant countries enabled me to arrive at the following conclusions:—

1. There exists what I shall call a “Sotadic Zone,” bounded westwards by the northern shores of the Mediterranean (N. Lat. 43°) and by the southern (N. Lat. 30°). Thus the depth would be 780 to 800 miles including meridional France, the Iberian Peninsula, Italy and Greece, with the coast-regions of Africa from Marocco to Egypt.

2. Running eastward the Sotadic Zone narrows, embracing Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Chaldæa, Afghanistan, Sind, the Punjab and Kashmir.

3. In Indo-China the belt begins to broaden, enfolding China, Japan and Turkistan.

4. It then embraces the South Sea Islands and the New World 207where, at the time of its discovery, Sotadic love was, with some exceptions, an established racial institution.

5. Within the Sotadic Zone the Vice is popular and endemic, held at the worst to be a mere peccadillo, whilst the races to the North and South of the limits here defined practise it only sporadically amid the opprobrium of their fellows who, as a rule, are physically incapable of performing the operation and look upon it with the liveliest disgust.

Before entering into topographical details concerning Pederasty, which I hold to be geographical and climatic, not racial, I must offer a few considerations of its cause and origin. We must not forget that the love of boys has its noble sentimental side. The Platonists and pupils of the Academy, followed by the Sufis or Moslem Gnostics, held such affection, pure as ardent, to be the beau idéal which united in man’s soul the creature with the Creator. Professing to regard youths as the most cleanly and beautiful objects in this phenomenal world, they declared that by loving and extolling the chef-d’œuvre, corporeal and intellectual, of the Demiurgus, disinterestedly and without any admixture of carnal sensuality, they are paying the most fervent adoration to the Causa causans. They add that such affection, passing as it does the love of women, is far less selfish than fondness for and admiration of the other sex which, however innocent, always suggest sexuality[363]; and Easterns add that the devotion of the moth to the taper is purer and more fervent than the Bulbul’s love for the Rose. Amongst the Greeks of the best ages the system of boy-favourites was advocated on considerations of morals and politics. The lover undertook the education of the beloved through precept and example, while the two were conjoined 208by a tie stricter than the fraternal. Hieronymus the Peripatetic strongly advocated it because the vigorous disposition of youths and the confidence engendered by their association often led to the overthrow of tyrannies. Socrates declared that “a most valiant army might be composed of boys and their lovers; for that of all men they would be most ashamed to desert one another.” And even Virgil, despite the foul flavour of Formosum pastor Corydon, could write:—

Nisus amore pio pueri.

The only physical cause for the practice which suggests itself to me and that must be owned to be purely conjectural, is that within the Sotadic Zone there is a blending of the masculine and feminine temperaments, a crasis which elsewhere occurs only sporadically. Hence the male féminisme whereby the man becomes patiens as well as agens, and the woman a tribade, a votary of mascula Sappho,[364] Queen of Frictrices or Rubbers.[365] Prof. 209Mantegazza claims to have discovered the cause of this pathological love, this perversion of the erotic sense, one of the marvellous list of amorous vagaries which deserve, not prosecution but the pitiful care of the physician and the study of the psychologist. According to him the nerves of the rectum and the genitalia, in all cases closely connected, are abnormally so in the pathic who obtains, by intromission, the venereal orgasm which is usually sought through the sexual organs. So amongst women there are tribads who can procure no pleasure except by foreign objects introduced a posteriori. Hence his threefold distribution of sodomy; (1) Peripheric or anatomical, caused by an unusual distribution of the nerves and their hyperæsthesia; (2) Luxurious, when love a tergo is preferred on account of the narrowness of the passage; and (3) the Psychical. But this is evidently superficial: the question is what causes this neuropathy, this abnormal distribution and condition of the nerves.[366]

210As Prince Bismarck finds a moral difference between the male and female races of history, so I suspect a mixed physical temperament effected by the manifold subtle influences massed together in the word climate. Something of the kind is necessary to explain the fact of this pathological love extending over the greater portion of the habitable world, without any apparent connection of race or media, from the polished Greek to the cannibal Tupi of the Brazil. Walt Whitman speaks of the ashen grey faces of onanists: the faded colours, the puffy features and the unwholesome complexion of the professed pederast with his peculiar cachetic expression, indescribable but once seen never forgotten, stamp the breed, and Dr. G. Adolph is justified in declaring “Alle Gewohnneits-paederasten erkennen sich einander schnell, oft met einen Blick.” This has nothing in common with the féminisme which betrays itself in the pathic by womanly gait, regard and gesture: it is a something sui generis; and the same may be said of the colour and look of the young priest who honestly refrains from women and their substitutes. Dr. Tardieu, in his well-known work, “Étude Médico-légale sur les Attentats aux Mœurs,” and Dr. Adolph note a peculiar infundibuliform disposition of the “After” and a smoothness and want of folds even before any abuse has taken place, together with special forms of the male organs in confirmed pederasts. But these observations have been rejected by Caspar, Hoffman, Brouardel and Dr. J. H. Henry Coutagne (Notes sur la Sodomie, Lyon, 1880), and it is a medical question whose discussion would here be out of place.

The origin of pederasty is lost in the night of ages; but its historique has been carefully traced by many writers, especially Virey,[367] Rosenbaum[368] and M. H. E. Meier.[369] The ancient Greeks 211who, like the modern Germans, invented nothing but were great improvers of what other races invented, attributed the formal apostolate of Sotadism to Orpheus, whose stigmata were worn by the Thracian women;

—Omnemque refugerat Orpheus
Fœmineam venerem;—
Ille etiam Thracum populis fuit auctor, amorem
In teneres transferre mares: citraque juventam
Ætatis breve ver, et primos carpere flores.
Ovid, Met. x. 79–85.

Euripides proposed Laïus father of Oedipus as the inaugurator, whereas Timæus declared that the fashion of making favourites of boys was introduced into Greece from Crete, for Malthusian reasons said Aristotle (Pol. ii. 10) attributing it to Minos. Herodotus, however, knew far better, having discovered (ii. c. 80) that the Orphic and Bacchic rites were originally Egyptian. But the Father of History was a traveller and an annalist rather than an archæologist and he tripped in the following passage (i. c. 135), “As soon as they (the Persians) hear of any luxury, they instantly make it their own, and hence, among other matters, they have learned from the Hellenes a passion for boys” (“unnatural lust” says modest Rawlinson). Plutarch (De Malig. Herod. xiii.)[370] asserts with much more probability that the Persians used eunuch boys according to the Mos Græciæ, long before they had seen the Grecian main.

In the Holy Books of the Hellenes, Homer and Hesiod, dealing with the heroic ages, there is no trace of pederasty, although, in a long subsequent generation, Lucian suspected 212Achilles and Patroclus as he did Orestes and Pylades, Theseus and Pirithous. Homer’s praises of beauty are reserved for the feminines, especially his favourite Helen. But the Dorians of Crete seem to have commended the abuse to Athens and Sparta and subsequently imported it into Tarentum, Agrigentum and other colonies. Ephorus in Strabo (x. 4 § 21) gives a curious account of the violent abduction of beloved boys (παρασταθέντες) by the lover (ἐραστής); of the obligations of the ravisher (φιλήτωρ) to the favourite (κλεινός)[371] and of the “marriage-ceremonies” which lasted two months. See also Plato Laws i. c. 8. Servius (Ad Æneid. x. 325) informs us “De Cretensibus accepimus, quod in amore puerorum intemperantes fuerunt, quod postea in Laconas et in totam Græciam translatum est.” The Cretans and afterwards their apt pupils the Chalcidians held it disreputable for a beautiful boy to lack a lover. Hence Zeus the national Doric god of Crete loved Ganymede[372]; Apollo, another Dorian deity, loved Hyacinth, and Hercules, a Doric hero who grew to be a sun-god, loved Hylas and a host of others: thus Crete sanctified the practice by the examples of the gods and demigods. But when legislation came, the subject had qualified itself for legal limitation and as such was undertaken by Lycurgus and Solon, according to Xenophon (Lac. ii. 13), who draws a broad distinction between the honest love of boys and dishonest (αἴχιστος) 213lust. They both approved of pure pederastía, like that of Harmodius and Aristogiton; but forbade it with serviles because degrading to a free man. Hence the love of boys was spoken of like that of women (Plato: Phædrus; Repub. VI. c. 19 and Xenophon, Synop. iv. 10) e.g., “There was once a boy, or rather a youth, of exceeding beauty and he had very many lovers”—this is the language of Hafiz and Sa’adi. Æschylus, Sophocles and Euripides were allowed to introduce it upon the stage, for “many men were as fond of having boys for their favourites as women for their mistresses; and this was a frequent fashion in many well-regulated cities of Greece.” Poets like Alcæus, Anacreon, Agathon and Pindar affected it and Theognis sang of a “beautiful boy in the flower of his youth.” The statesmen Aristides and Themistocles quarrelled over Stesileus of Teos; and Pisistratus loved Charmus who first built an altar to Puerile Eros, while Charmus loved Hippias son of Pisistratus. Demosthenes the Orator took into keeping a youth called Cnosion greatly to the indignation of his wife. Xenophon loved Clinias and Autolycus; Aristotle, Hermeas, Theodectes[373] and others; Empedocles, Pausanias; Epicurus, Pytocles; Aristippus, Eutichydes and Zeno with his Stoics had a philosophic disregard for women, affecting only pederastía. A man in Athenæus (iv. c. 40) left in his will that certain youths he had loved should fight like gladiators at his funeral; and Charicles in Lucian abuses Callicratidas for his love of “sterile pleasures.” Lastly there was the notable affair of Alcibiades and Socrates, the “sanctus pæderasta[374] being violemment soupçonné when under the 214mantle:—non semper sine plagâ ab eo surrexit. Athenæus (v. c. 13) declares that Plato represents Socrates as absolutely intoxicated with his passion for Alcibiades.[375] The ancients seem to have held the connection impure, or Juvenal would not have written—

Inter Socraticos notissima fossa cinædos,

followed by Firmicus (vii. 14) who speaks of “Socratici pædicones.” It is the modern fashion to doubt the pederasty of the master of Hellenic Sophrosyne, the “Christian before Christianity;” but such a world-wide term as Socratic love can hardly be explained by the lucus-a-non-lucendo theory. We are overapt to apply our nineteenth century prejudices and prepossessions to the morality of the ancient Greeks who would have specimen’d such squeamishness in Attic salt.

The Spartans, according to Agnon the Academic (confirmed by 215Plato, Plutarch and Cicero), treated boys and girls in the same way before marriage: hence Juvenal (xi. 173) uses “Lacedæmonius” for a pathic and other writers apply it to a tribade. After the Peloponnesian War, which ended in B.C. 404, the use became merged in the abuse. Yet some purity must have survived, even amongst the Bœotians who produced the famous Narcissus,[376] described by Ovid (Met. iii. 339):—

Multi illum juvenes, multæ cupiere puellæ;
Nulli illum juvenes, nullæ tetigere puellæ:[377]

for Epaminondas, whose name is mentioned with three beloveds, established the Holy Regiment composed of mutual lovers, testifying the majesty of Eros and preferring to a discreditable life a glorious death. Philip’s reflections on the fatal field of Chaeroneia form their fittest epitaph. At last the Athenians, according to Æschines, officially punished Sodomy with death; but the threat did not abolish bordels of boys, like those of Karáchi; the Porneia and Pornoboskeia, where slaves and pueri venales “stood,” as the term was, near the Pnyx, the city walls and a certain tower, also about Lycabettus (Æsch. contra Tim.); and paid a fixed tax to the state. The pleasures of society in civilised Greece seem to have been sought chiefly in the heresies of love—Hetairesis[378] and Sotadism.

216It is calculated that the French of the sixteenth century had four hundred names for the parts genital and three hundred for their use in coition. The Greek vocabulary is not less copious and some of its pederastic terms, of which Meier gives nearly a hundred, and its nomenclature of pathologic love are curious and picturesque enough to merit quotation.

To live the life of Abron (the Argive) i.e. that of a πάσχων, pathic or passive lover.

The Agathonian song.

Aischrourgía = dishonest love, also called Akolasía, Akrasía, Arrenokoitía, etc.

Alcinoan youths, or “non-conformists,”

In cute curandâ plus æquo operata Juventus.

Alegomenos, the “unspeakable,” as the pederast was termed by the Council of Ancyra: also the Agrios, Apolaustus and Akolastos.

Androgyne, of whom Ansonius wrote (Epig. lxviii. 15):—

Ecce ego sum factus femina de puero.

Badas and badízein = clunes torquens: also Bátalos = a catamite.

Catapygos, Katapygosyne = puerarius and catadactylium from Dactylion, the ring, used in the sense of Nerissa’s, but applied to the corollarium puerile.

Cinædus (Kínaidos), the active lover (ποιῶν) derived either from his kinetics or quasi κύων αἴδως = dog-modest. Also Spatalocinædus (lasciviâ fluens) = a fair Ganymede.

Chalcidissare (Khalkidizein), from Chalcis in Eubœa, a city 217famed for love à posteriori; mostly applied to le léchement des testicules by children.

Clazomenæ = the buttocks, also a sotadic disease, so called from the Ionian city devoted to Aversa Venus; also used of a pathic,

—et tergo femina pube vir est.

Embasicoetas, prop. a link-boy at marriages, also a “night-cap” drunk before bed and lastly an effeminate; one who perambulavit omnium cubilia (Catullus). See Encolpius’ pun upon the Embasicete in Satyricon, cap. iv.

Epipedesis, the carnal assault.

Geiton lit. “neighbour” the beloved of Encolpius, which has produced the Fr. Giton = Bardache, Ital. bardascia from the Arab. Baradaj, a captive, a slave; the augm. form is Polygeiton.

Hippias (tyranny of) when the patient (woman or boy) mounts the agent. Aristoph. Vesp. 502. So also Kelitizein = peccare superne or equum agitare supernum of Horace.

Mokhthería, depravity with boys.

Paidika, whence pædicare (act) and pædicari (pass): so in the Latin poet:—

PEnelopes primam DIdonis prima sequatur,
Et primam CAni, syllaba prima REmi.

Pathikos, Pathicus, a passive, like Malakos (malacus, mollis, facilis), Malchio, Trimalchio (Petronius), Malta, Maltha and in Hor. (Sat. ii. 25)

Malthinus tunicis demissis ambulat.

Praxis = the malpractice.

Pygisma = buttockry, because most actives end within the nates, being too much excited for further intromission.

Phœnicissare (φοινικίζειν) = cunnilingere in tempore menstruum, quia hoc vitium in Phœnicia generata solebat (Thes. Erot. Ling. Latinæ); also irrumer en miel.

Phicidissare, denotat actum per canes commissum quando 218lambunt cunnos vel testiculos (Suetonius): also applied to pollution of childhood.

Samorium flores (Erasmus, Prov. xxiii.) alluding to the androgynic prostitutions of Samos.

Siphniassare (σιφνιάζειν, from Siphnos, hod. Sifanto Island) = digito podicem fodere ad pruriginem restinguendam, says Erasmus (see Mirabeau’s Erotika Biblion, Anoscopie).

Thrypsis = the rubbing.

Pederastía had in Greece, I have shown, its noble and ideal side: Rome, however, borrowed her malpractices, like her religion and polity, from those ultra-material Etruscans and debauched with a brazen face. Even under the Republic Plautus (Casin. ii. 21) makes one of his characters exclaim, in the utmost sang-froid, “Ultro te, amator, apage te a dorso meo!” With increased luxury the evil grew and Livy notices (xxxix. 13), at the Bacchanalia, plura virorum inter sese quam fœminarum stupra. There were individual protests; for instance, S. Q. Fabius Maximus Servilianus (Consul U.C. 612) punished his son for dubia castitas; and a private soldier, C. Plotius, killed his military Tribune, Q. Luscius, for unchaste proposals. The Lex Scantinia (Scatinia?), popularly derived from Scantinius the Tribune and of doubtful date (B.C. 226?), attempted to abate the scandal by fine and the Lex Julia by death; but they were trifling obstacles to the flood of infamy which surged in with the Empire. No class seems then to have disdained these “sterile pleasures:” l’on n’attachoit point alors à cette espèce d’amour une note d’infamie, comme en païs de chrétienté, says Bayle under “Anacreon.” The great Cæsar, the Cinædus calvus of Catullus, was the husband of all the wives and the wife of all the husbands in Rome (Suetonius, cap. lii.); and his soldiers sang in his praise Gallias Cæsar subegit, Nicomedes Cæsarem (Suet. cies. xlix.); whence his sobriquet “Fornix Birthynicus.” Of Augustus the people chaunted

Videsne ut Cinædus orbem digito temperet?

219Tiberius, with his pisciculi and greges exoletorum, invented the Symplegma or nexus of Sellarii, agentes et patientes, in which the spinthriæ (lit. women’s bracelets) were connected in a chain by the bond of flesh[379] (Seneca Quæst. Nat.). Of this refinement, which in the earlier part of the nineteenth century was renewed by sundry Englishmen at Naples, Ausonius wrote (Epig. cxix. 1),

Tres uno in lecto: stuprum duo perpetiuntur;

And Martial had said (xii. 43)

Quo symplegmate quinque copulentur;
Qua plures teneantur a catena; etc.

Ausonius recounts of Caligula he so lost patience that he forcibly entered the priest M. Lepidus, before the sacrifice was completed. The beautiful Nero was formally married to Pythagoras (or Doryphoros) and afterwards took to wife Sporus who was first subjected to castration of a peculiar fashion; he was then named Sabina after the deceased spouse and claimed queenly honours. The “Othonis et Trajani pathici” were famed; the great Hadrian openly loved Antinoüs and the wild debaucheries of Heliogabalus seem only to have amused, instead of disgusting, the Romans.

Uranopolis allowed public lupanaria where adults and meritorii pueri, who began their career as early as seven years, stood for hire: the inmates of these cauponæ wore sleeved tunics and dalmatics like women. As in modern Egypt pathic boys, we learn from Catullus, haunted the public baths. Debauchees had signals like freemasons whereby they recognised one another. The Greek Skematízein was made by closing the hand to represent the scrotum and raising the middle finger as if to feel whether a hen had eggs, tâter si les poulettes ont l’œuf: hence the Athenians called it 220Catapygon or sodomite and the Romans digitus impudicus or infamis, the “medical finger[380]” of Rabelais and the Chiromantists. Another sign was to scratch the head with the minimus—digitulo caput scabere (Juv. ix. 133).[381] The prostitution of boys was first forbidden by Domitian; but Saint Paul, a Greek, had formally expressed his abomination of Le Vice (Rom. i. 26; i. Cor. vi. 8); and we may agree with Grotius (de Verit. li. c. 13) that early Christianity did much to suppress it. At last the Emperor Theodosius punished it with fire as a profanation, because sacrosanctum esse debetur hospitium virilis animæ.

In the pagan days of imperial Rome her literature makes no difference between boy and girl. Horace naïvely says (Sat. ii. 118):—

Ancilla aut verna est præsto puer;

and with Hamlet, but in a dishonest sense:—

—Man delights me not
Nor woman neither.

Similarly the Spaniard Martial, who is a mine of such pederastic allusions (xi. 46):—

Sive puer arrisit, sive puella tibi.

That marvellous Satyricon which unites the wit of Molière[382] with 221the debaucheries of Piron, whilst the writer has been described, like Rabelais, as purissimus in impuritate, is a kind of Triumph of Pederasty. Geiton the hero, a handsome curly-pated hobbledehoy of seventeen, with his câlinerie and wheedling tongue, is courted like one of the sequor sexus: his lovers are inordinately jealous of him and his desertion leaves deep scars upon the heart. But no dialogue between man and wife in extremis could be more pathetic than that in the scene where shipwreck is imminent. Elsewhere every one seems to attempt his neighbour: a man alte succinctus assails Ascyltos; Lycus, the Tarentine skipper, would force Encolpius and so forth: yet we have the neat and finished touch (cap. vii.):—“The lamentation was very fine (the dying man having manumitted his slaves) albeit his wife wept not as though she loved him. How were it had he not behaved to her so well?

Erotic Latin glossaries[383] give some ninety words connected with Pederasty and some, which “speak with Roman simplicity,” are peculiarly expressive. “Aversa Venus” alludes to women being treated as boys: hence Martial, translated by Piron, addresses Mistress Martial (x. 44):—

Teque puta, cunnos, uxor, habere duos.

The capillatus or comatus is also called calamistratus, the darling curled with crisping-irons; and he is an Effeminatus i.e. qui muliebria patitur; or a Delicatus, slave or eunuch for the use of the Draucus, Puerarius (boy-lover) or Dominus (Mart. xi. 71). The 222Divisor is so called from his practice Hillas dividere or cædere, something like Martial’s cacare mentulam or Juvenal’s Hesternæ occurrere cænæ. Facere vicibus (Juv. vii. 238), incestare se invicem or mutuum facere (Plaut. Trin. ii. 437), is described as “a puerile vice,” in which the two take turns to be active and passive: they are also called Gemelli and Fratres = compares in pædicatione. Illicita libido is = præpostera seu postica Venus, and is expressed by the picturesque phrase indicare (seu incurvare) aliquem. Depilatus, divellere pilos, glaber, lævis and nates pervellere are allusions to the Sotadic toilette. The fine distinction between demittere and dejicere caput are worthy of a glossary, while Pathica puella, puera, putus, pullipremo, pusio, pygiaca sacra, quadrupes, scarabæus and smerdalius explain themselves.

From Rome the practice extended far and wide to her colonies especially the Provincia now called Provence. Athenæus (xii. 26) charges the people of Massilia with “acting like women out of luxury”; and he cites the saying “May you sail to Massilia!” as if it were another Corinth. Indeed the whole Keltic race is charged with Le Vice by Aristotle (Pol. ii. 66), Strabo, (iv. 199) and Diodorus Siculus (v. 32). Roman civilisation carried pederasty also to Northern Africa, where it took firm root, while the negro and negroid races to the South ignore the erotic perversion, except where imported by foreigners into such kingdoms as Bornu and Haussa. In old Mauritania, now Marocco,[384] the Moors proper are 223notable sodomites; Moslems, even of saintly houses, are permitted openly to keep catamites, nor do their disciples think worse of their sanctity for such license: in one case the English wife failed to banish from the home “that horrid boy.”

Yet pederasty is forbidden by the Koran. In chapter iv. 20 we read; “And if two (men) among you commit the crime, then punish them both,” the penalty being some hurt or damage by public reproach, insult or scourging. There are four distinct references to Lot and the Sodomites in chapters vii. 78; xi. 77–84; xxvi. 160–174 and xxix. 28–35. In the first the prophet commissioned to the people says, “Proceed ye to a fulsome act wherein no creature hath foregone ye? Verily ye come to men in lieu of women lustfully.” We have then an account of the rain which made an end of the wicked and this judgment on the Cities of the Plain is repeated with more detail in the second reference. Here the angels, generally supposed to be three, Gabriel, Michael and Raphael, appeared to Lot as beautiful youths, a sore temptation to the sinners and the godly man’s arm was straitened concerning his visitors because he felt unable to protect them from the erotic vagaries of his fellow townsmen. He therefore shut his doors and from behind them argued the matter: presently the riotous assembly attempted to climb the wall when Gabriel, seeing the distress of his host, smote them on the face with one of his wings and blinded them so that all moved off crying for aid and saying that Lot had magicians in his house. Hereupon the “cities” which, if they ever existed, must have been Fellah villages, were uplifted: Gabriel thrust his wing under them and raised them so high that the inhabitants of the lower heaven (the lunar sphere) could hear the dogs barking and the cocks crowing. Then came the rain of stones: these were clay pellets baked in hell-fire, streaked white and red, or having some mark to distinguish them from the ordinary and each bearing the name of its destination 224like the missiles which destroyed the host of Abrahat al-Ashram.[385] Lastly the “Cities” were turned upside down and cast upon earth. These circumstantial unfacts are repeated at full length in the other two chapters; but rather as an instance of Allah’s power than as a warning against pederasty, which Mohammed seems to have regarded with philosophic indifference. The general opinion of his followers is that it should be punished like fornication unless the offenders made a public act of penitence. But here, as in adultery, the law is somewhat too clement and will not convict unless four credible witnesses swear to have seen rem in re. I have noticed (vol. i. 211) the vicious opinion that the Ghilmán or Wuldán, the beautiful boys of Paradise, the counterparts of the Houris, will be lawful catamites to the True Believers in a future state of happiness: the idea is nowhere countenanced in Al-Islam; and, although I have often heard debauchees refer to it, the learned look upon the assertion as scandalous.

As in Marocco so the Vice prevails throughout the old regencies of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli and all the cities of the South Mediterranean seaboard, whilst it is unknown to the Nubians, the Berbers and the wilder tribes dwelling inland. Proceeding Eastward we reach Egypt, that classical region of all abominations which, marvellous to relate, flourished in closest contact with men leading the purest of lives, models of moderation and morality, of religion and virtue. Amongst the ancient Copts Le Vice was part and portion of the Ritual and was represented by two male partridges alternately copulating (Interp. in Priapi Carm. xvii). The evil would have gained strength by the invasion of Cambyses (B.C. 524), whose armies, after the victory over Psammenitus, settled in the Nile-Valley, and held it, despite sundry revolts, for some hundred and ninety years. During these six generations 225the Iranians left their mark upon Lower Egypt and especially, as the late Rogers Bey proved, upon the Fayyum the most ancient Delta of the Nile.[386] Nor would the evil be diminished by the Hellenes who, under Alexander the Great, “liberator and saviour of Egypt” (B.C. 332), extinguished the native dynasties: the love of the Macedonian for Bagoas the Eunuch being a matter of history. From that time and under the rule of the Ptolemies the morality gradually decayed; the Canopic orgies extended into private life and the debauchery of the men was equalled only by the depravity of the women. Neither Christianity nor Al-Islam could effect a change for the better; and social morality seems to have been at its worst during the past century when Sonnini travelled (A.D. 1717). The French officer, who is thoroughly trustworthy, draws the darkest picture of the widely-spread criminality, especially of the bestiality and the sodomy (chapt. xv.) which formed the “delight of the Egyptians.” During the Napoleonic conquest Jaubert in his letter to General Bruix (p. 19) says, “Les Arabes et les Mamelouks ont traité quelques-uns de nos prisonniers comme Socrate traitait, dit-on, Alcibiade. Il fallait périr ou y passer.” Old Anglo-Egyptians still chuckle over the tale of Sa’id Pasha and M. de Ruyssenaer, the high-dried and highly respectable Consul-General for the Netherlands, who was solemnly advised to make the experiment, active and passive, before offering his opinion upon the subject. In the present age extensive intercourse with Europeans has produced not a reformation but a certain reticence amongst the upper classes: they are as vicious as ever, but they do not care for displaying their vices to the eyes of mocking strangers.

Syria and Palestine, another ancient focus of abominations, 226borrowed from Egypt and exaggerated the worship of Androgynic and hermaphroditic deities. Plutarch (De Iside) notes that the old Nilotes held the moon to be of “male-female sex,” the men sacrificing to Luna and the women to Lunus.[387] Isis also was a hermaphrodite, the idea being that Æther or Air (the lower heavens) was the menstruum of generative nature; and Damascius explained the tenet by the all-fruitful and prolific powers of the atmosphere. Hence the fragment attributed to Orpheus, the song of Jupiter (Air)—

All things from Jove descend
Jove was a male, Jove was a deathless bride;
For men call Air, of two-fold sex, the Jove.

Julius Firmicus relates that “The Assyrians and part of the Africans” (along the Mediterranean seaboard?) “hold Air to be the chief element and adore its fanciful figure (imaginata figura), consecrated under the name of Juno or the Virgin Venus. * * * Their companies of priests cannot duly serve her unless they effeminate their faces, smooth their skins and disgrace their masculine sex by feminine ornaments. You may see men in their very temples amid general groans enduring miserable dalliance and becoming passives like women (viros muliebria pati) and they expose, with boasting and ostentation, the pollution of the impure and immodest body.” Here we find the religious significance of eunuchry. It was practised as a religious rite by the Tympanotribas or Gallus,[388] the castrated votary of Rhea or Bona Mater, in Phrygia called Cybele, self-mutilated but not in memory of Atys; and by a host of other creeds: even Christianity, as 227sundry texts show,[389] could not altogether cast out the old possession. Here too we have an explanation of Sotadic love in its second stage, when it became, like cannibalism, a matter of superstition. Assuming a nature-implanted tendency, we see that like human sacrifice it was held to be the most acceptable offering to the God-goddess in the Orgia or sacred ceremonies, a something set apart for peculiar worship. Hence in Rome as in Egypt the temples of Isis (Inachidos limina, Isiacæ sacraria Lunæ) were centres of sodomy and the religious practice was adopted by the grand priestly castes from Mesopotamia to Mexico and Peru.

We find the earliest written notices of the Vice in the mythical destruction of the Pentapolis (Gen. xix.), Sodom, Gomorrah (= ’Ámirah, the cultivated country), Adama, Zeboïm and Zoar or Bela. The legend has been amply embroidered by the Rabbis who make the Sodomites do everything à l’envers: e.g. if a man were wounded he was fined for bloodshed and was compelled to fee the offender; and if one cut off the ear of a neighbour’s ass he was condemned to keep the animal till the ear grew again. The Jewish doctors declare the people to have been a race of sharpers with rogues for magistrates, and thus they justify the judgment which they read literally. But the traveller cannot accept it. I have carefully examined the lands at the North and 228at the South of that most beautiful lake, the so-called Dead Sea, whose tranquil loveliness, backed by the grand plateau of Moab, is an object of admiration to all save patients suffering from the strange disease “Holy Land on the Brain.”[390] But I found no traces of craters in the neighbourhood, no signs of vulcanism, no remains of “meteoric stones”: the asphalt which named the water is a mineralised vegetable washed out of the limestones, and the sulphur and salt are brought down by the Jordan into a lake without issue. I must therefore look upon the history as a myth which may have served a double purpose. The first would be to deter the Jew from the Malthusian practices of his pagan predecessors, upon whom obloquy was thus cast, so far resembling the scandalous and absurd legend which explained the names of the children of Lot by Pheiné and Thamma as “Moab” (Mu-ab) the water or semen of the father, and “Ammon” as mother’s son, that is, bastard. The fable would also account for the abnormal fissure containing the lower Jordan and the Dead Sea, which the late Sir R. I. Murchison used wrong-headedly to call a “Volcano of Depression”: this geological feature, that cuts off the river-basin from its natural outlet the Gulf of Eloth (Akabah), must date from myriads of years before there were “Cities of the Plains.” But the main object of the ancient lawgiver, Osarsiph, Moses or the Moseidæ, was doubtless to discountenance a perversion prejudicial to the increase of population. And he speaks with no uncertain voice, Whoso lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death (Exod. xxii. 19): If a man lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them (Levit. xx. 13; where v.v. 15–16 threaten with death man and woman who lie with beasts). Again, There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel (Deut. xxii. 5).

229The old commentators on the Sodom-myth are most unsatisfactory e.g. Parkhurst, s.v. Kadesh. “From hence we may observe the peculiar propriety of this punishment of Sodom and of the neighbouring cities. By their sodomitical impurities they meant to acknowledge the Heavens as the cause of fruitfulness independently upon, and in opposition to Jehovah[391]; therefore Jehovah, by raining upon them not genial showers but brimstone from heaven, not only destroyed the inhabitants, but also changed all that country, which was before as the garden of God, into brimstone and salt that is not sown nor beareth, neither any grass groweth therein.” It must be owned that to this Pentapolis was dealt very hard measure for religiously and diligently practising a popular rite which a host of cities even in the present day, as Naples and Shiraz, to mention no others, affect for simple luxury and affect with impunity. The myth may probably reduce itself to very small proportions, a few Fellah villages destroyed by a storm, like that which drove Brennus from Delphi.

The Hebrews entering Syria found it religionised by Assyria and Babylonia, whence Accadian Ishtar had passed west and had become Ashtoreth, Ashtaroth or Ashirah,[392] the Anaitis of Armenia, the Phœnician Astarte and the Greek Aphrodite, the great Moon-goddess,[393] who is queen of Heaven and Love. In another phase she was Venus Mylitta = the Procreatrix, in Chaldaic Mauludatá 230and in Arabic Moawallidah, she who bringeth forth. She was worshipped by men habited as women and vice versâ; for which reason in the Torah (Deut. xx. 5) the sexes are forbidden to change dress. The male prostitutes were called Kadesh the holy, the women being Kadeshah, and doubtless gave themselves up to great excesses. Eusebius (De bit. Const. iii. c. 55) describes a school of impurity at Aphac, where women and “men who were not men” practised all manner of abominations in honour of the Demon (Venus). Here the Phrygian symbolism of Kybele and Attis (Atys) had become the Syrian Ba’al Tammuz and Astarte, and the Grecian Dionæa and Adonis, the anthropomorphic forms of the two greater lights. The site, Apheca, now Wady al-Afik on the route from Bayrut to the Cedars, is a glen of wild and wondrous beauty, fitting frame-work for the loves of goddess and demigod: and the ruins of the temple destroyed by Constantine contrast with Nature’s work, the glorious fountain, splendidior vitro, which feeds the River Ibrahim and still at times Adonis runs purple to the sea.[394]

The Phœnicians spread this androgynic worship over Greece. We find the consecrated servants and votaries of Corinthian Aphrodite called Hierodouli (Strabo viii. 6), who aided the ten thousand courtesans in gracing the Venus-temple: from this excessive luxury arose the proverb popularised by Horace. One 231of the head-quarters of the cult was Cyprus where, as Servius relates (Ad Æn. ii. 632), stood the simulacre of a bearded Aphrodite with feminine body and costume, sceptered and mitred like a man. The sexes when worshipping it exchanged habits and here the virginity was offered in sacrifice: Herodotus (i. c. 199) describes this defloration at Babylon but sees only the shameful part of the custom which was a mere consecration of a tribal rite. Everywhere girls before marriage belong either to the father or to the clan and thus the maiden paid the debt due to the public before becoming private property as a wife. The same usage prevailed in ancient Armenia and in parts of Ethiopia; and Herodotus tells us that a practice very much like the Babylonian “is found also in certain parts of the Island of Cyprus:” it is noticed by Justin (xviii. c. 5) and probably it explains the “Succoth Benoth” or Damsels’ booths which the Babylonians transplanted to the cities of Samaria.[395] The Jews seem very successfully to have copied the abominations of their pagan neighbours, even in the matter of the “dog.”[396] In the reign of wicked Rehoboam (B.C. 975) “There were also sodomites in the land and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings xiv. 20). The scandal was abated by zealous King Asa (B.C. 958) whose grandmother[397] was high-priestess of Priapus (princeps in sacris Priapi): he “took 232away the sodomites out of the land” (1 Kings xv. 12). Yet the prophets were loud in their complaints, especially the so-called Isaiah (B.C. 760), “except the Lord of Hosts had left to us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom” (i. 9); and strong measures were required from good King Josiah (B.C. 641) who amongst other things, “brake down the houses of the sodomites that were by the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the grove” (2 Kings xxiii. 7). The bordels of boys (pueris alienis adhæseverunt) appear to have been near the Temple.

Syria has not forgotten her old “praxis.” At Damascus I found some noteworthy cases amongst the religious of the great Amawi Mosque. As for the Druses we have Burckhardt’s authority (Travels in Syria, etc., p. 202) “unnatural propensities are very common amongst them.”

The Sotadic Zone covers the whole of Asia Minor and Mesopotamia now occupied by the “unspeakable Turk,” a race of born pederasts; and in the former region we first notice a peculiarity of the feminine figure, the mammæ inclinatæ, jacentes et pannosæ, which prevails over all this part of the belt. Whilst the women to the North and South have, with local exceptions, the mammæ stantes of the European virgin,[398] those of Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and Kashmir lose all the fine curves of the bosom, sometimes even before the first child; and after it the hemispheres take the form of bags. This cannot result from climate only; the women of Marathá-land, inhabiting a damper and hotter region than Kashmir, are noted for fine firm breasts even after parturition. Le Vice of course prevails more in the cities and towns of Asiatic Turkey than in the villages; yet even these are infected; while the nomad Turcomans contrast badly in this 233point with the Gypsies, those Badawin of India. The Kurd population is of Iranian origin, which means that the evil is deeply rooted: I have noted in The Nights that the great and glorious Saladin was a habitual pederast. The Armenians, as their national character is, will prostitute themselves for gain but prefer women to boys: Georgia supplied Turkey with catamites whilst Circassia sent concubines. In Mesopotamia the barbarous invader has almost obliterated the ancient civilisation which is ante-dated only by the Nilotic: the mysteries of old Babylon nowhere survive save in certain obscure tribes like the Mandæans, the Devil-worshippers and the Alí-iláhi. Entering Persia we find the reverse of Armenia; and, despite Herodotus, I believe that Iran borrowed her pathologic love from the peoples of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley and not from the then insignificant Greeks. But whatever may be its origin, the corruption is now bred in the bone. It begins in boyhood and many Persians account for it by paternal severity. Youths arrived at puberty find none of the facilities with which Europe supplies fornication. Onanism[399] is to a certain extent discouraged by circumcision, and meddling with the father’s slave-girls and concubines would be risking cruel punishment if not death. Hence they use each other by turns, a “puerile practice” known as Alish-Takish, the Lat. facere vicibus or mutuum facere. Temperament, media, and atavism recommend the custom to the general; and after marrying and begetting heirs, Paterfamilias returns to the Ganymede. Hence all the odes of Hafiz are addressed to youths, as proved by such Arabic exclamations as ’Afáka ’llah = Allah assain thee (masculine)[400]: the object is often fanciful but it would be held 234coarse and immodest to address an imaginary girl.[401] An illustration of the penchant is told at Shiraz concerning a certain Mujtahid, the head of the Shi’ah creed, corresponding with a prince-archbishop in Europe. A friend once said to him, “There is a question I would fain address to your Eminence but I lack the daring to do so.” “Ask and fear not,” replied the Divine. “It is this, O Mujtahid! Figure thee in a garden of roses and hyacinths with the evening breeze waving the cypress-heads, a fair youth of twenty sitting by thy side and the assurance of perfect privacy. What, prithee, would be the result?” The holy man bowed the chin of doubt upon the collar of meditation; and, too honest to lie, presently whispered, “Allah defend me from such temptation of Satan!” Yet even in Persia men have not been wanting who have done their utmost to uproot the Vice: in the same Shiraz they speak of a father who, finding his son in flagrant delict, put him to death like Brutus or Lynch of Galway. Such isolated cases, however, can effect nothing. Chardin tells us that houses of male prostitution were common in Persia whilst those of women were unknown: the same is the case in the present day and the boys are prepared with extreme care by diet, baths, depilation, unguents and a host of artists in cosmetics.[402] Le Vice is looked upon at most as a peccadillo and its mention crops up in every jest-book. When the Isfahan man mocked Shaykh Sa’adi by comparing the bald pates of Shirazian elders to the bottom of a lotá, a brass cup with a wide-necked opening used in the Hammam, the witty poet turned its aperture upwards and thereto likened the well-abused podex of an Isfahani youth. Another favourite piece of Shirazian “chaff” is to declare that 235when an Isfahan father would set up his son in business he provides him with a pound of rice, meaning that he can sell the result as compost for the kitchen-garden, and with the price buy another meal: hence the saying Khakh-i-pái káhú = the soil at the lettuce-root. The Isfahanis retort with the name of a station or halting-place between the two cities where, under pretence of making travellers stow away their riding-gear, many a Shirázi had been raped: hence “Zín o takaltú tú bi-bar” = carry within saddle and saddle-cloth! A favourite Persian punishment for strangers caught in the Harem or Gynæceum is to strip and throw them and expose them to the embraces of the grooms and negro-slaves. I once asked a Shirazi how penetration was possible if the patient resisted with all the force of the sphincter muscle: he smiled and said, “Ah, we Persians know a trick to get over that; we apply a sharpened tent-peg to the crupper-bone (os coccygis) and knock till he opens.” A well-known missionary to the East during the last generation was subjected to this gross insult by one of the Persian Prince-governors, whom he had infuriated by his conversion-mania: in his memoirs he alludes to it by mentioning his “dishonoured person;” but English readers cannot comprehend the full significance of the confession. About the same time Shaykh Nasr, Governor of Bushire, a man famed for facetious blackguardism, used to invite European youngsters serving in the Bombay Marine and ply them with liquor till they were insensible. Next morning the middies mostly complained that the champagne had caused a curious irritation and soreness in la parte-poste. The same Eastern “Scrogin” would ask his guests if they had ever seen a man-cannon (Ádami-top); and, on their replying in the negative, a grey-beard slave was dragged in blaspheming and struggling with all his strength. He was presently placed on all fours and firmly held by the extremities; his bag-trousers were let down and a dozen peppercorns were inserted ano suo: the target was a sheet of paper held at a reasonable distance; the 236match was applied by a pinch of cayenne in the nostrils; the sneeze started the grapeshot and the number of hits on the butt decided the bets. We can hardly wonder at the loose conduct of Persian women perpetually mortified by marital pederasty. During the unhappy campaign of 1856–57 in which, with the exception of a few brilliant skirmishes, we gained no glory, Sir James Outram and the Bombay army showing how badly they could work, there was a formal outburst of the Harems; and even women of princely birth could not be kept out of the officers’ quarters.

The cities of Afghanistan and Sind are thoroughly saturated with Persian vice, and the people sing

Kadr-i-kus Aughán dánad, kadr-i-kunrá Kábuli:
The worth of coynte the Afghan knows: Cabul prefers the other chose![403]

The Afghans are commercial travellers on a large scale and each caravan is accompanied by a number of boys and lads almost in woman’s attire with kohl’d eyes and rouged cheeks, long tresses and henna’d fingers and toes, riding luxuriously in Kajáwas or camel-panniers: they are called Kúch-i safari, or travelling wives, and the husbands trudge patiently by their sides. In Afghanistan also a frantic debauchery broke out amongst the women when they found incubi who were not pederasts; and the scandal was not the most insignificant cause of the general rising at Cabul (Nov. 1841), and the slaughter of Macnaghten, Burnes and other British officers.

Resuming our way Eastward we find the Sikhs and the Moslems of the Panjab much addicted to Le Vice, although the Himalayan tribes to the north and those lying south, the Rájputs and Marathás, ignore it. The same may be said of the Kashmirians 237who add another Kappa to the tria Kakista, Kappadocians, Kretans, and Kilicians: the proverb says,

Agar kaht-i-mardum uftad, az ín sih jins kam gírí;
Eki Afghán, dovvum Sindí,[404] siyyum badjins-i-Kashmírí:
Though of men there be famine yet shun these three—
Afghan, Sindi and rascally Kashmírí.

M. Louis Daville describes the infamies of Lahore and Lakhnau where he found men dressed as women, with flowing locks under crowns of flowers, imitating the feminine walk and gestures, voice and fashion of speech, and ogling their admirers with all the coquetry of bayadères. Victor Jacquemont’s Journal de Voyage describes the pederasty of Ranjít Singh, the “Lion of the Panjáb,” and his pathic Guláb Singh whom the English inflicted upon Cashmir as ruler by way of paying for his treason. Yet the Hindus, I repeat, hold pederasty in abhorrence and are as much scandalised by being called Gánd-márá (anus-beater) or Gándú (anuser) as Englishmen would be. During the years 1843–44 my regiment, almost all Hindu Sepoys of the Bombay Presidency, was stationed at a purgatory called Bandar Ghárrá,[405] a sandy flat with a scatter of verdigris-green milk-bush some forty miles north of Karáchi the head-quarters. The dirty heap of mud-and-mat hovels, which represented the adjacent native village, could not supply a single woman; yet only one case of pederasty came to light and that after a tragical fashion some years afterwards. A young Brahman had connection with a soldier comrade of low caste and this had continued till, in an unhappy hour, the Pariah patient ventured to become the agent. The latter, in Arab. Al-Fá’il = the “doer,” is not an object of contempt like Al-Mafúl = the “done”; and the high-caste 238sepoy, stung by remorse and revenge, loaded his musket and deliberately shot his paramour. He was hanged by court martial at Hyderabad and, when his last wishes were asked he begged in vain to be suspended by the feet; the idea being that his soul, polluted by exiting “below the waist,” would be doomed to endless transmigrations through the lowest forms of life.

Beyond India, I have stated, the Sotadic Zone begins to broaden out embracing all China, Turkistan and Japan. The Chinese, as far as we know them in the great cities, are omnivorous and omnifutuentes: they are the chosen people of debauchery and their systematic bestiality with ducks, goats, and other animals is equalled only by their pederasty. Kæmpfer and Orlof Torée (Voyage en Chine) notice the public houses for boys and youths in China and Japan. Mirabeau (L’Anandryne) describes the tribadism of their women in hammocks. When Pekin was plundered the Harems contained a number of balls a little larger than the old musket-bullet, made of thin silver with a loose pellet of brass inside somewhat like a grelot[406]: these articles were placed by the women between the labia and an up-and-down movement on the bed gave a pleasant titillation when nothing better was to be procured. They have every artifice of luxury, aphrodisiacs, erotic perfumes and singular applications. Such are the pills which, dissolved in water and applied to the glans penis, cause it to throb and swell: so according to Amerigo Vespucci American women could artificially increase the size of their husbands’ parts.[407] The Chinese bracelet of caoutchouc studded with points now takes the place 239of the Herisson, or Annulus hirsutus,[408] which was bound between the glans and prepuce. Of the penis succedaneus, that imitation of the Arbor vitæ or Soter Kosmou, which the Latins called phallus and fascinum,[409] the French godemiché and the Italians passatempo and diletto (whence our “dildo”), every kind abounds, varying from a stuffed “French letter” to a cone of ribbed horn which looks like an instrument of torture. For the use of men they have the “merkin,”[410] a heart-shaped article of thin skin stuffed with cotton and slit with an artificial vagina: two tapes at the top and one below lash it to the back of a chair. The erotic literature of the Chinese and Japanese is highly developed and their illustrations are often facetious as well as obscene. All are familiar with that of the strong man who by a blow with his enormous phallus shivers a copper pot; and the ludicrous contrast of the huge-membered wights who land in the Isle of Women and presently escape from it, wrinkled and shrivelled, true Domine Dolittles. Of Turkistan we know little, but what we know confirms my statement. Mr. Schuyler in his Turkistan (i. 132) offers an illustration of a “Batchah” (Pers. bachcheh = catamite), “or singing-boy surrounded by his admirers.” Of the Tartars Master Purchas laconically says (v. 419), “They are addicted to Sodomie or Buggerie.” The learned casuist Dr. Thomas Sanchez the Spaniard had (says Mirabeau in Kadhésch) to decide a difficult question concerning the sinfulness of a peculiar erotic perversion. The Jesuits brought home from Manilla a tailed man whose moveable prolongation of the os 240coccygis measured from 7 to 10 inches: he had placed himself between two women, enjoying one naturally while the other used his tail as a penis succedaneus. The verdict was incomplete sodomy and simple fornication. For the islands north of Japan, the “Sodomitical Sea,” and the “nayle of tynne” thrust through the prepuce to prevent sodomy, see Lib. ii. chap. 4 of Master Thomas Caudish’s Circumnavigation, and vol. vi. of Pinkerton’s Geography translated by Walckenaer.

Passing over to America we find that the Sotadic Zone contains the whole hemisphere from Behring’s Straits to Magellan’s. This prevalence of “mollities” astonishes the anthropologist, who is apt to consider pederasty the growth of luxury and the especial product of great and civilised cities, unnecessary and therefore unknown to simple savagery where the births of both sexes are about equal and female infanticide is not practised. In many parts of the New World this perversion was accompanied by another depravity of taste—confirmed cannibalism.[411] The forests and campos abounded in game from the deer to the pheasant-like penelope, and the seas and rivers produced an unfailing supply of excellent fish and shell-fish[412]; yet the Brazilian Tupis preferred the meat of man to every other food.

A glance at Mr. Bancroft[413] proves the abnormal development of sodomy amongst the savages and barbarians of the New World. Even his half-frozen Hyperboreans “possess all the passions which are supposed to develop most freely under a milder temperature” (i. 58). “The voluptuousness and polygamy of the North American Indians, under a temperature of almost perpetual 241winter is far greater than that of the most sensual tropical nations” (Martin’s Brit. Colonies iii. 524). I can quote only a few of the most remarkable instances. Of the Koniagas of Kadiak Island and the Thinkleets we read (i. 81–82), “The most repugnant of all their practices is that of male concubinage. A Kadiak mother will select her handsomest and most promising boy, and dress and rear him as a girl, teaching him only domestic duties, keeping him at women’s work, associating him with women and girls, in order to render his effeminacy complete. Arriving at the age of ten or fifteen years, he is married to some wealthy man who regards such a companion as a great acquisition. These male concubines are called Achnutschik or Schopans” (the authorities quoted being Holmberg, Langsdorff, Billing, Choris, Lisiansky and Marchand). The same is the case in Nutka Sound and the Aleutian Islands, where “male concubinage obtains throughout, but not to the same extent as amongst the Koniagas.” The objects of “unnatural” affection have their beards carefully plucked out as soon as the face-hair begins to grow, and their chins are tattooed like those of the women. In California the first missionaries found the same practice, the youths being called Joya (Bancroft, i. 415 and authorities Palon, Crespi, Boscana, Mofras, Torquemada, Duflot and Fages). The Comanches unite incest with sodomy (i. 515). “In New Mexico according to Arlegui, Ribas, and other authors, male concubinage prevails to a great extent, these loathsome semblances of humanity, whom to call beastly were a slander upon beasts, dress themselves in the clothes and perform the functions of women, the use of weapons being denied them” (i. 585). Pederasty was systematically practised by the peoples of Cueba, Careta, and other parts of Central America. The Caciques and some of the headmen kept harems of youths who, as soon as destined for the unclean office, were dressed as women. They went by the name of Camayoas, and were hated and detested by the goodwives (i. 773–74). Of the Nahua nations Father Pierre de Gand (alias 242de Musa) writes, “Un certain nombre de prêtres n’avaient point de femmes, sed eorum loco pueros quibus abutebantur. Ce péché était si commun dans ce pays que, jeunes ou vieux, tous étaient infectés; ils y étaient si adonnés que mêmes les enfants de six ans s’y livraient” (Ternaux-Campans, Voyages, Série i. Tom. x. p. 197). Among the Mayas of Yucatan Las Casas declares that the great prevalence of “unnatural” lust made parents anxious to see their progeny wedded as soon as possible (Kingsborough’s Mex. Ant. viii. 135). In Vera Paz a god, called by some Chin and by others Cavial and Maran, taught it by committing the act with another god. Some fathers gave their sons a boy to use as a woman, and if any other approached this pathic he was treated as an adulterer. In Yucatan images were found by Bernal Diaz proving the sodomitical propensities of the people (Bancroft v. 198). De Pauw (Recherches Philosophiques sur les Américains, London, 1771) has much to say about the subject in Mexico generally: in the northern provinces men married youths who, dressed like women, were forbidden to carry arms. According to Gomara there were at Tamalipas houses of male prostitution; and from Diaz and others we gather that the pecado nefando was the rule. Both in Mexico and in Peru it might have caused, if it did not justify, the cruelties of the Conquistadores. Pederasty was also general throughout Nicaragua, and the early explorers found it amongst the indigenes of Panama.

We have authentic details concerning Le Vice in Peru and its adjacent lands, beginning with Cieza de Leon, who must be read in the original or in the translated extracts of Purchas (vol. v. 942, etc.), not in the cruelly castrated form preferred by the Council of the Hakluyt Society. Speaking of the New Granada Indians he tells us that “at Old Port (Porto Viejo) and Puna, the Deuill so farre prevayled in their beastly Deuotions that there were Boyes consecrated to serue in the Temple; and at the times of their Sacrifices and Solemne Feasts, the Lords and principal men 243abused them to that detestable filthinesse;” i.e. performed their peculiar worship. Generally in the hill-countries the Devil, under the show of holiness, had introduced the practice; for every temple or chief house of adoration kept one or two men or more which were attired like women, even from the time of their childhood, and spake like them, imitating them in everything; with these, under pretext of holiness and religion, their principal men on principal days had commerce. Speaking of the arrival of the Giants[414] at Point Santa Elena, Cieza says (chap. lii.), they were detested by the natives, because in using their women they killed them, and their men also in another way. All the natives declare that God brought upon them a punishment proportioned to the enormity of their offence. When they were engaged together in their accursed intercourse, a fearful and terrible fire came down from Heaven with a great noise, out of the midst of which there issued a shining Angel with a glittering sword, wherewith at one blow they were all killed and the fire consumed them.[415] There remained a few bones and skulls which God allowed to bide unconsumed by the fire, as a memorial of this punishment. In the Hakluyt Society’s bowdlerisation we read of the Tumbez Islanders being “very vicious, many of them committing the abominable offence” (p. 24); also, “If by the advice of the Devil any Indian commit the abominable crime, it is thought little of and they call him a woman.” In chapters lii. and lviii. we find exceptions. The Indians of Huancabamba, “although so near the peoples of Puerto Viejo and Guayaquil, do not commit the abominable sin;” and the Serranos, or island mountaineers, as sorcerers and magicians inferior to the coast peoples, were not so much addicted to sodomy.

244The Royal Commentaries of the Yncas show that the evil was of a comparatively modern growth. In the early period of Peruvian history the people considered the crime “unspeakable:” if a Cuzco Indian, not of Yncarial blood, angrily addressed the term pederast to another, he was held infamous for many days. One of the generals having reported to the Ynca Ccapacc Yupanqui that there were some sodomites, not in all the valleys, but one here and one there, “nor was it a habit of all the inhabitants but only of certain persons who practised it privately,” the ruler ordered that the criminals should be publicly burnt alive and their houses, crops and trees destroyed: moreover, to show his abomination, he commanded that the whole village should so be treated if one man fell into this habit (Lib. iii. cap. 13). Elsewhere we learn, “There were sodomites in some provinces, though not openly nor universally, but some particular men and in secret. In some parts they had them in their temples, because the Devil persuaded them that the Gods took great delight in such people, and thus the Devil acted as a traitor to remove the veil of shame that the Gentiles felt for this crime and to accustom them to commit it in public and in common.”

During the times of the Conquistadores male concubinage had become the rule throughout Peru. At Cuzco, we are told by Nuno de Guzman in 1530, “The last which was taken, and which fought most couragiously, was a man in the habite of a woman, which confessed that from a childe he had gotten his liuing by that filthinesse, for which I caused him to be burned.” V. F. Lopez[416] draws a frightful picture of pathologic love in Peru. Under the reigns which followed that of Inti-Kapak (Ccapacc) Amauri, the country was attacked by invaders of a giant race coming from the sea: they practised pederasty after a fashion so shameless that the conquered tribes were compelled to fly (p. 271). 245Under the pre-Yncarial Amauta, or priestly dynasty, Peru had lapsed into savagery and the kings of Cuzco preserved only the name. “Toutes ces hontes et toutes ces misères provenaient de deux vices infâmes, la bestialité et la sodomie. Les femmes surtout étaient offensées de voir la nature frustrée de tous ses droits. Elles pleuraient ensemble en leurs réunions sur le misérable état dans lequel elles étaient tombées, sur le mépris avec lequel elles étaient traitées. * * * * Le monde était renversé, les hommes s’aimaient et étaient jaloux les uns des autres. * * * Elles cherchaient, mais en vain, les moyens de remédier au mal; elles employaient des herbes et des recettes diaboliques qui leur ramenaient bien quelques individus, mais ne pouvaient arrêter les progrès incessants du vice. Cet état de choses constitua un véritable moyen âge, qui dura jusqu’à l’établissement du gouvernement des Incas” (p. 277).

When Sinchi Roko (the xcvth of Montesinos and the xcist of Garcilazo) became Ynca, he found morals at the lowest ebb. “Ni la prudence de l’Inca, ni les lois sévères qu’il avait promulguées n’avaient pu extirper entièrement le péché contre nature. Il reprit avec une nouvelle violence, et les femmes en furent si jalouses qu’un grand nombre d’elles tuèrent leurs maris. Les devins et les sorciers passaient leurs journées à fabriquer, avec certaines herbes, des compositions magiques qui rendaient fous ceux qui en mangeaient, et les femmes en faisaient prendre, soit dans les aliments, soit dans la chicha, à ceux dont elles étaient jalouses” (p. 291).

I have remarked that the Tupi races of the Brazil were infamous for cannibalism and sodomy; nor could the latter be only racial as proved by the fact that colonists of pure Lusitanian blood followed in the path of the savages. Sr. Antonio Augusto da Costa Aguiar[417] is outspoken upon this point. “A crime which in 246England leads to the gallows, and which is the very measure of abject depravity, passes with impunity amongst us by the participating in it of almost all or of many (de quasi todos, ou de muitos). Ah! if the wrath of Heaven were to fall by way of punishing such crimes (delictos), more than one city of this Empire, more than a dozen, would pass into the category of the Sodoms and Gomorrahs” (p. 30). Till late years pederasty in the Brazil was looked upon as a peccadillo; the European immigrants following the practice of the wild men who were naked but not, as Columbus said, “clothed in innocence.” One of Her Majesty’s Consuls used to tell a tale of the hilarity provoked in a “fashionable” assembly by the open declaration of a young gentleman that his mulatto-“patient” had suddenly turned upon him, insisting upon becoming agent. Now, however, under the influences of improved education and respect for the public opinion of Europe, pathologic love amongst the Luso-Brazilians has been reduced to the normal limits.

Outside the Sotadic Zone, I have said, Le Vice is sporadic, not endemic: yet the physical and moral effect of great cities where puberty, they say, is induced earlier than in country sites, has been the same in most lands, causing modesty to decay and pederasty to flourish. The Badawi Arab is wholly pure of Le Vice; yet San’á the capital of Al-Yaman and other centres of population have long been and still are thoroughly infected. History tells us of Zú Shanátir, tyrant of “Arabia Felix,” in A.D. 478, who used to entice young men into his palace and cause them after use to be cast out of the windows: this unkindly ruler was at last poinarded by the youth Zerash, known from his long ringlets as “Zú Nowás.” The negro race is mostly untainted by sodomy and tribadism. Yet Joan dos Sanctos[418] found in Cacongo of West Africa certain “Chibudi, which are men attyred like women and 247behaue themselves womanly, ashamed to be called men; are also married to men, and esteem that vnnaturale damnation an honor.” Madagascar also delighted in dancing and singing boys dressed as girls. In the Empire of Dahomey I noted a corps of prostitutes kept for the use of the Amazon-soldieresses.

North of the Sotadic Zone we find local but notable instances. Master Christopher Burrough[419] describes on the western side of the Volga “a very fine stone castle, called by the name Oueak, and adioyning to the same a Towne called by the Russes, Sodom, * * * which was swallowed into the earth by the iustice of God, for the wickednesse of the people.” Again: although as a rule Christianity has steadily opposed pathologic love both in writing and preaching, there have been remarkable exceptions. Perhaps the most curious idea was that of certain medical writers in the middle ages: “Usus et amplexus pueri, bene temperatus, salutaris medicina” (Tardieu). Bayle notices (under “Vayer”) the infamous book of Giovanni della Casa, Archbishop of Benevento, “De laudibus Sodomiæ,”[420] vulgarly known as “Capitolo del Forno.” The same writer refers (under “Sixte iv”) to the report that the Dominican Order, which systematically decried Le Vice, had presented a request to the Cardinal di Santa Lucia that sodomy might be lawful during three months per annum, June to August; and that the Cardinal had underwritten the petition “Be it done as they demand.” Hence the Fæda Venus of Battista Mantovano. Bayle rejects the history for a curious reason, venery being colder in summer than in winter, and quotes the proverb “Aux mois qui n’ont pas d’ R, peu embrasser et bien boire.” But in the case of a celibate priesthood such scandals are inevitable: witness the famous Jesuit epitaph Ci-gît un Jésuite, etc.

In our modern capitals, London, Berlin and Paris for instance, 248the Vice seems subject to periodical outbreaks. For many years, also, England sent her pederasts to Italy, and especially to Naples whence originated the term “Il vizio Inglese.” It would be invidious to detail the scandals which of late years have startled the public in London and Dublin: for these the curious will consult the police reports. Berlin, despite her strong flavour of Phariseeism, Puritanism and Chauvinism in religion, manners and morals, is not a whit better than her neighbours. Dr. Gaspar,[421] a well-known authority on the subject, adduces many interesting cases especially an old Count Cajus and his six accomplices. Amongst his many correspondents one suggested to him that not only Plato and Julius Cæsar but also Winckelmann and Platen (?) belonged to the Society; and he had found it flourishing in Palermo, the Louvre, the Scottish Highlands and St. Petersburg, to name only a few places. Frederick the Great is said to have addressed these words to his nephew, “Je puis vous assurer, par mon expérience personnelle, que ce plaisir est peu agréable à cultiver.” This suggests the popular anecdote of Voltaire and the Englishman who agreed upon an “experience” and found it far from satisfactory. A few days afterwards the latter informed the Sage of Ferney that he had tried it again and provoked the exclamation, “Once a philospher: twice a sodomite!” The last revival of the kind in Germany is a society at Frankfort and its neighbourhood, self-styled Les Cravates Noires in opposition, I suppose, to Les Cravates Blanches of A. Belot.

Paris is by no means more depraved than Berlin and London; but, whilst the latter hushes up the scandal, Frenchmen do not: hence we see a more copious account of it submitted to the public. For France of the xviith century consult the “Histoire de la Prostitution chez tous les Peuples du Monde,” and “La France 249devenue Italienne,” a treatise which generally follows “L’Histoire Amoureuse des Gaules” by Bussy, Comte de Rabutin.[422] The head-quarters of male prostitution were then in the Champ Flory, i.e., Champ de Flore, the privileged rendezvous of low courtesans. In the xviiith century, “quand le Français à tête folle,” as Voltaire sings, invented the term “Péché philosophique,” there was a temporary recrudescence; and, after the death of Pidauzet de Mairobert (March, 1779), his “Apologie de la Secte Anandryne” was published in L’Espion Anglais. In those days the Allée des Veuves in the Champs Elysees had a “fief reservé des Ebugors”[423]—“veuve” in the language of Sodom being the maîtresse en titre, the favourite youth.

At the decisive moment of monarchical decomposition Mirabeau[424] declares that pederasty was reglementée and adds, Le goût des pédérastes, quoique moins en vogue que du temps de Henri III. (the French Heliogabalus), sous le règne desquel les hommes se provoquaient mutuellement[425] sous les portiques du Louvre, fait des progrès considérables. On sait que cette ville (Paris) est un 250chef-d’œuvre de police; en conséquence, il y a des lieux publics autorisés à cet effet. Les jeunes gens qui se destinent à la profession, sont soigneusement enclassés; car les systèmes réglementaires s’étendent jusques-là. On les examine; ceux qui peuvent être agents et patients, qui sont beaux, vermeils, bien faits, potelés, sont réservés pour les grands seigneurs, ou se font payer très-cher par les évêques et les financiers. Ceux qui sont privés de leurs testicules, ou en termes de l’art (car notre langue est plus chaste que nos mœurs), qui n’ont pas le poids du tisserand, mais qui donnent et reçoivent, forment la seconde classe; ils sont encore chers, parceque les femmes en usent tandis qu’ils servent aux hommes. Ceux qui ne sont plus susceptibles d’érection tant ils sont usés, quoiqu’ils aient tous ces organes nécessaires au plaisir, s’inscrivent comme patiens purs, et composent la troisième classe: mais celle qui préside à ces plaisirs, vérifie leur impuissance. Pour cet effet, on les place tout nus sur un matelas ouvert par la moitié inférieure; deux filles les caressent de leur mieux, pendant qu’une troisième frappe doucement avec des orties naissantes le siège des désirs vénériens. Après un quart d’heure de cet essai, on leur introduit dans l’anus un poivre long rouge qui cause une irritation considérable; on pose sur les échauboulures produites par les orties, de la moutarde fine de Caudebec, et l’on passe le gland au camphre. Ceux qui résistent à ces épreuves et ne donnent aucun signe d’érection, servent comme patiens à un tiers de paie seulement.[426]

The Restoration and the Empire made the police more vigilant in matters of politics than of morals. The favourite club, which had its mot de passe, was in the Rue Doyenne, old quarter St. Thomas des Louvre; and the house was a hôtel of the xviith century. Two street-doors, on the right for the male gynæceum and the left for the female, opened at 4 p.m. in winter and 8 p.m. in summer. 251A decoy-lad, charmingly dressed in women’s clothes, with big haunches and small waist, promenaded outside; and this continued till 1826 when the police put down the house.

Under Louis Philippe, the conquest of Algiers had evil results, according to the Marquis de Boissy. He complained without ambages of mœurs Arabes in French regiments, and declared that the result of the African wars was an éffrayable débordement pédérastique, even as the vérole resulted from the Italian campaigns of that age of passion, the xvith century. From the military the fléau spread to civilian society and the Vice took such expansion and intensity that it may be said to have been democratised in cities and large towns; at least so we gather from the Dossier des Agissements des Pédérastes. A general gathering of “La Sainte Congrégation des glorieux Pédérastes” was held in the old Petite Rue des Marais where, after the theatre, many resorted under pretext of making water. They ranged themselves along the walls of a vast garden and exposed their podices: bourgeois, richards and nobles came with full purses, touched the part which most attracted them and were duly followed by it. At the Allée des Veuves the crowd was dangerous from 7 to 8 p.m.: no policeman or ronde de nuit dared venture in it; cords were stretched from tree to tree and armed guards drove away strangers amongst whom, they say, was once Victor Hugo. This nuisance was at length suppressed by the municipal administration.

The Empire did not improve morals. Balls of sodomites were held at No. 8 Place de la Madeleine where, on Jan. 2, ’64, some one hundred and fifty men met, all so well dressed as women that even the landlord did not recognise them. There was also a club for sotadic debauchery called the Cent Gardes and the Dragons de l’Impératrice.[427] They copied the imperial toilette and kept it in 252the general wardrobe: hence “faire l’Impératrice” meant to be used carnally. The site, a splendid hotel in the Alleé des Veuves, was discovered by the Procureur-Général who registered all the names; but, as these belonged to not a few senators and dignitaries, the Emperor wisely quashed proceedings. The club was broken up on July 16, ’64. During the same year La Petite Revue, edited by M. Loredan Larchy, son of the General, printed an article, “Les échappés de Sodome”: it discusses the letter of M. Castagnary to the Progrès de Lyons and declares that the Vice had been adopted by plusieurs corps de troupes. For its latest developments as regards the chantage of the tantes (pathics), the reader will consult the last issues of Dr. Tardieu’s well-known Études.[428] He declares that the servant-class is most infected; and that the Vice is commonest between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five.

The pederasty of The Nights may briefly be distributed into three categories. The first is the funny form, as the unseemly practical joke of masterful Queen Budúr (vol. iii. 300–306) and the not less hardi jest of the slave-princess Zumurrud (vol. iv. 226). The second is in the grimmest and most earnest phase of the 253perversion, for instance where Abu Nowas[429] debauches the three youths (vol. v. 64–69); whilst in the third form it is wisely and learnedly discussed, to be severely blamed, by the Shaykhah or Reverend Woman (vol. v. 154).

To conclude this part of my subject, the éclaircissement des obscénités. Many readers will regret the absence from The Nights of that modesty which distinguishes “Amadis de Gaul;” whose author when leaving a man and a maid together says, “And nothing shall be here related; for these and suchlike things which are conformable neither to good conscience nor nature, man ought in reason lightly to pass over, holding them in slight esteem as they deserve.” Nor have we less respect for Palmerin of England who after a risqué scene declares, “Herein is no offence offered to the wise by wanton speeches, or encouragement to the loose by lascivious matter.” But these are not oriental ideas and we must e’en take the Eastern as we find him. He still holds “Naturalia non sunt turpia,” together with “Mundis omnia munda”; and, as Bacon assures us the mixture of a lie doth add to pleasure, so the Arab enjoys the startling and lively contrast of extreme virtue and horrible vice placed in juxtaposition.

Those who have read through these ten volumes will agree with me that the proportion of offensive matter bears a very small ratio to the mass of the work. In an age saturated with cant and hypocrisy, here and there a venal pen will mourn over the “Pornography” of The Nights, dwell upon the “Ethics of Dirt” and the “Garbage of the Brothel;” and will lament the “wanton dissemination (!) of ancient and filthy fiction.” This self-constituted 254Censor morum reads Aristophanes and Plato, Horace and Virgil, perhaps even Martial and Petronius, because “veiled in the decent obscurity of a learned language;” he allows men Latinè loqui; but he is scandalised at stumbling-blocks much less important in plain English. To be consistent he must begin by bowdlerising not only the classics, with which boys’ and youths’ minds and memories are soaked and saturated at schools and colleges, but also Boccaccio and Chaucer, Shakespeare and Rabelais; Burton, Sterne, Swift and a long list of works which are yearly reprinted and republished without a word of protest. Lastly, why does not this inconsistent puritan purge the Old Testament of its allusions to human ordure and the pudenda; to carnal copulation and impudent whoredom, to adultery and fornication, to onanism, sodomy and bestiality? But this he will not do, the whited sepulchre! To the interested critic of the Edinburgh Review (No. 335 of July, 1886), I return my warmest thanks for his direct and deliberate falsehoods:—lies are one-legged and short-lived, and venom evaporates.[430] It appears to me that when I show to such men, so “respectable” and so impure, a landscape of magnificent prospects whose vistas are adorned with every charm of nature and art, they point their unclean noses at a little heap of muck here and there lying in a field-corner.


§ V

A.—The Saj’a.

According to promise in my Foreword (p. xiv.), I here proceed to offer a few observations concerning the Saj’a or rhymed prose and the Shi’r, or measured sentence, that is, the verse of The Nights. The former has in composition, metrical or unmetrical, three distinct forms. Saj’a mutawázi (parallel), the most common, is when the ending words of sentences agree in measure, assonance and final letter, in fact our full rhyme: next is Saj’a mutarraf (the affluent), when the periods, hemistichs or couplets end in words whose terminal letters correspond, although differing in measure and number; and thirdly, Saj’a muwázanah (equilibrium) is applied to the balance which affects words corresponding in measure but differing in final letters.[431]

Al-Saj’a, the fine style or style fleuri, also termed Al-Badí’a, or euphuism, is the basis of all Arabic euphony. The whole of the Koran is written in it; and the same is the case with the Makámát of Al-Hariri and the prime master-pieces of rhetorical composition: without it no translation of the Holy Book can be satisfactory or final, and where it is not the Assemblies become the prose of prose. Thus universally used the assonance has necessarily been abused, and its excess has given rise to the saying “Al-Saj’a faj’a”—prose rhyme’s a pest. English translators have, unwisely 256I think, agreed in rejecting it, while Germans have not. Mr. Preston assures us that “rhyming prose is extremely ungraceful in English and introduces an air of flippancy”: this was certainly not the case with Friedrich Rückert’s version of the great original, and I see no reason why it should be so or become so in our tongue. Torrens (Pref. p. vii.) declares that “the effect of the irregular sentence with the iteration of a jingling rhyme is not pleasant in our language:” he therefore systematically neglects it and gives his style the semblance of being “scamped” with the object of saving study and trouble. Mr. Payne (ix. 379) deems it an “excrescence born of the excessive facilities for rhyme afforded by the language,” and of Eastern delight in antithesis of all kinds whether of sound or of thought; and, aiming elaborately at grace of style, he omits it wholly, even in the proverbs.

The weight of authority was against me but my plan compelled me to disregard it. The dilemma was simply either to use the Saj’a or to follow Mr. Payne’s method and “arrange the disjecta membra of the original in their natural order;” that is to remodel the text. Intending to produce a faithful copy of the Arabic, I was compelled to adopt the former and still hold it to be the better alternative. Moreover I question Mr. Payne’s dictum (ix. 383) that “the Seja-form is utterly foreign to the genius of English prose and that its preservation would be fatal to all vigour and harmony of style.” The English translator of Palmerin of England, Anthony Munday, attempted it in places with great success as I have before noted (vol. viii. 60); and my late friend Edward Eastwick made artistic use of it in his Gulistan. Had I rejected the “Cadence of the cooing-dove” because un-English, I should have adopted the balanced periods of the Anglican marriage service[432] or the essentially English system of alliteration, 257requiring some such artful aid to distinguish from the vulgar recitative style the elevated and classical tirades in The Nights. My attempt has found with reviewers more favour than I expected; and a kindly critic writes of it, “These melodious fragments, these little eddies of song set like gems in the prose, have a charming effect on the ear. They come as dulcet surprises and mostly recur in highly-wrought situations, or they are used to convey a vivid sense of something exquisite in nature or art. Their introduction seems due to whim or caprice, but really it arises from a profound study of the situation, as if the Tale-teller felt suddenly compelled to break into the rhythmic strain.”

B.—The Verse.

The Shi’r or metrical part of The Nights is considerable, amounting to not less than ten thousand lines and these I could not but render in rhyme or rather in monorhyme. This portion has been a bugbear to translators. De Sacy noticed the difficulty of the task (p. 283). Lane held the poetry untranslatable because abounding in the figure Tajnís, our paronomasia or paragram, of which there are seven distinct varieties,[433] not to speak of other rhetorical flourishes. He therefore omitted the greater part of the verse as tedious and, through the loss of measure and rhyme, “generally intolerable to the reader.” He proved his position by the bald literalism of the passages which he rendered in truly prosaic prose and succeeded in changing the facies and presentment of the work. For the Shi’r, like the Saj’a, is not introduced arbitrarily; and its unequal distribution throughout The Nights may 258be accounted for by rule of art. Some tales, like Omar bin al-Nu’man and Tawaddud, contain very little because the theme is historical or realistic; whilst in stories of love and courtship, as that of Rose-in-hood, the proportion may rise to one-fifth of the whole. And this is true to nature. Love, as Addison said, makes even the mechanic (the British mechanic!) poetical, and Joe Hume of material memory once fought a duel about a fair object of dispute.

Before discussing the verse of The Nights it may be advisable to enlarge a little upon the prosody of the Arabs. We know nothing of the origin of their poetry, which is lost in the depths of antiquity, and the oldest bards of whom we have any remains belong to the famous epoch of the war Al-Basús, which would place them about A.D. 500. Moreover, when the Muse of Arabia first shows she is not only fully developed and mature, she has lost all her first youth, her beauté du diable, and she is assuming the characteristics of an age beyond “middle age.” No one can study the earliest poetry without perceiving that it results from the cultivation of centuries and that it has already assumed that artificial type and conventional process of treatment which presages inevitable decay. Its noblest period is included in the century preceding the Apostolate of Mohammed and the oldest of that epoch is the prince of Arab songsters, Imr al-Kays, “The Wandering King.” The Christian Fathers characteristically termed poetry Vinum Dæmonorum. The stricter Moslems called their bards “enemies of Allah;” and when the Prophet, who hated verse and could not even quote it correctly, was asked who was the best poet of the Peninsula he answered that the “Man of Al-Kays,” i.e. the worshipper of the Priapus-idol, would usher them all into Hell. Here he only echoed the general verdict of his countrymen who loved poetry and, as a rule, despised poets. The earliest complete pieces of any volume and substance saved from the wreck of old Arabic literature and familiar in our day are the seven Kasídahs (purpose-odes or tendence-elegies) which are popularly known as 259the Gilded or the Suspended Poems; and in all of these we find, with an elaboration of material and formal art which can go no further, a subject-matter of trite imagery and stock ideas which suggest a long ascending line of model ancestors and predecessors.

Scholars are agreed upon the fact that many of the earliest and best Arab poets were, as Mohammed boasted himself, unalphabetic[434] or rather could neither read nor write. They addressed the ear and the mind, not the eye. They “spoke verse,” learning it by rote and dictating it to the Ráwi, and this reciter again transmitted it to the musician whose pipe or zither accompanied the minstrel’s song. In fact the general practice of writing began only at the end of the first century after The Flight.

The rude and primitive measure of Arab song, upon which the most complicated system of metres subsequently arose, was called Al-Rajaz, literally “the trembling,” because it reminded the highly imaginative hearer of a pregnant she-camel’s weak and tottering steps. This was the carol of the camel-driver, the lover’s lay and the warrior’s chaunt of the heroic ages; and its simple, unconstrained flow adapted it well for extempore effusions. Its merits and demerits have been extensively discussed amongst Arab grammarians and many, noticing that it was not originally divided into hemistichs, make an essential difference between the Shá’ir who speaks poetry and the Rájiz who speaks Rajaz. It consisted, to describe it technically, of iambic dipodia (⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), 260the first three syllables being optionally long or short. It can generally be read like our iambs and, being familiar, is pleasant to the English ear. The dipodia are repeated either twice or thrice; in the former case Rajaz is held by some authorities, as Al-Akhfash (Sa’íd ibn Másadah), to be mere prose. Although Labíd and Antar composed in iambics, the first Kásídah or regular poem in Rajaz was by Al-Aghlab al-Ajibi temp. Mohammed: the Alfíyah-grammar of Ibn Málik is in Rajaz Muzdawij, the hemistichs rhyming and the assonance being confined to the couplet. Al-Hariri also affects Rajaz in the third and fifth Assemblies. So far Arabic metre is true to Nature: in impassioned speech the movement of language is iambic: we say “I will, I will,” not “I will.”

For many generations the Sons of the Desert were satisfied with Nature’s teaching; the fine perceptions and the nicely trained ear of the bard needing no aid from art. But in time came the inevitable prosodist under the formidable name of Abu Abd al-Rahmán al-Khalíl, i. Ahmad, i. Amrú, i. Tamím al-Faráhidi (of the Faráhid sept), al-Azdi (of the Azd clan), al-Yahmadi (of the Yahmad tribe), popularly known as Al-Khalíl ibn Ahmad al-Basri, of Bassorah, where he died æt. 68, scanning verses they say, in A.H. 170 (= 786–87). Ibn Khallikán relates (i. 493) on the authority of Hamzah al-Isfaháni how this “father of Arabic grammar and discoverer of the rules of prosody” invented the science as he walked past a coppersmith’s shop on hearing the strokes of a hammer upon a metal basin: “two objects devoid of any quality which could serve as a proof and an illustration of anything else than their own form and shape and incapable of leading to any other knowledge than that of their own nature.”[435] 261According to others he was passing through the Fullers’ Bazar at Basrah when his ear was struck by the Dak-dak (دق دق) and the Dakak-dakak (دقق دقق) of the workmen. In these two onomatopoetics we trace the expression which characterises the Arab tongue: all syllables are composed of consonant and vowel, the latter long or short as Bā and Bă; or of a vowelled consonant followed by a consonant as Bal, Bau (بو).

The grammarian, true to the traditions of his craft which looks for all poetry to the Badawi,[436] adopted for metrical details the language of the Desert. The distich, which amongst Arabs is looked upon as one line, he named “Bayt,” nighting-place, tent or house; and the hemistich Misrá’ah, the one leaf of a folding door. To this “scenic” simile all the parts of the verse were more or less adapted. The metres, our feet, were called “Arkán,” the stakes and stays of the tent; the syllables were “Usúl” or roots divided into three kinds: the first or “Sabab” (the tent-rope) is composed of two letters, a vowelled and a quiescent consonant as “Lam.”[437] The “Watad” or tent-peg of three letters is of two varieties; the Majmú’, or united, a foot in which the two first consonants are moved by vowels and the last is jazmated or made quiescent by apocope as “Lakad;” and the Mafrúk, or disunited, when the two moved consonants 262are separated by one jazmated, as “Kabla.” And lastly the “Fásilah” or intervening space, applied to the main pole of the tent, consists of four letters.

The metres were called Buhúr or “seas” (plur. of Bahr), also meaning the space within the tent-walls, the equivoque alluding to pearls and other treasures of the deep. Al-Khalil, the systematiser, found in general use only five Dáirah (circles, classes or groups of metre); and he characterised the harmonious and stately measures, all built upon the original Rajaz, as Al-Tawíl (the long)[438], Al-Kámil (the complete), Al-Wáfir (the copious), Al-Basít (the extended) and Al-Khafíf (the light).[439] These embrace all the Mu’allakát and the Hamásah, the great Anthology of Abú Tammám; but the crave for variety and the extension of foreign intercourse had multiplied wants and Al-Khalil deduced, from the original five Dáirah, fifteen, to which Al-Akhfash (ob. A.D. 830) added a sixteenth, Al-Khabab. The Persians extended the number to nineteen: the first four were peculiarly Arab; the fourteenth, the fifteenth and seventeenth peculiarly Persian and all the rest were Arab and Persian.[440]

Arabic metre so far resembles that of Greece and Rome that the value of syllables depends upon the “quantity” or position of their consonants, not upon accent as in English and the Neo-Latin tongues. Al-Khalil was doubtless familiar with the classic prosody of Europe but he rejected it as unsuited to the genius of Arabic and like a true Eastern Gelehrte he adopted a process devised by himself. Instead of scansion by pyrrhics and spondees, iambs and trochees, anapaests and similar simplifications he invented a system of weights (“wuzún”). Of these there are 263nine[441] memorial words used as quantitive signs, all built upon the root “fa’l” which has rendered such notable service to Arabic and Hebrew[442] grammar and varying from the simple “fa’ál,” in Persian “fa’úl,” (⏓ ‑) to the complicated “Mutafá’ilun” (⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), anapaest + iamb. Thus the prosodist would scan the Shahnámeh of Firdausi as

Fa’úlun, fa’úlun, fa’úlun, fa’úl.
⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |⏒ ‑

These weights also show another peculiarity of Arabic verse. In English we have few if any spondees: the Arabic contains about three longs to one short; hence its gravity, stateliness and dignity. But these longs again are peculiar, and sometimes strike the European ear as shorts, thus adding a difficulty for those who would represent Oriental metres by western feet, ictus and accent. German Arabists can register an occasional success in such attempts: Englishmen none. My late friend Professor Palmer of Cambridge tried the tour de force of dancing on one leg instead of two and notably failed: Mr. Lyall also strove to imitate Arabic metre and produced only prose bewitched.[443] Mr. Payne appears 264to me to have wasted trouble in “observing the exterior form of the stanza, the movement of the rhyme and (as far as possible) the identity in number of the syllables composing the beits.” There is only one part of his admirable version concerning which I have heard competent readers complain; and that is the metrical, because here and there it sounds strange to their ears.

I have already stated my conviction that there are two and only two ways of translating Arabic poetry into English. One is to represent it by good heroic or lyric verse as did Sir William Jones; the other is to render it after French fashion, by measured and balanced Prose, the little sister of Poetry. It is thus and thus only that we can preserve the peculiar cachet of the original. This old-world Oriental song is spirit-stirring as a “blast of that dread horn,” albeit the words be thin. It is heady as the “Golden Wine” of Libanus, to the tongue water and brandy to the brain—the clean contrary of our nineteenth century effusions. Technically speaking, it can be vehicled only by the verse of the old English ballad or by the prose of the Book of Job. And Badawi poetry is a perfect expositor of Badawi life, especially in the good and gladsome old Pagan days ere Al-Islam, like the creed which it abolished, overcast the minds of men with its dull grey pall of realistic superstition. They combined to form a marvellous picture—those contrasts of splendour and squalor amongst the sons of the sand. Under airs pure as æther, golden and ultramarine above and melting over the horizon into a diaphanous green which suggested a reflection of Kaf, that unseen mountain-wall of emerald, the so-called Desert changed face twice a year; now brown and dry as summer-dust; then green as Hope, beautified with infinite verdure and broad sheetings of rain-water. The vernal and autumnal shiftings of camp, disruptions of homesteads and partings of kith and kin, friends and lovers, made the life many-sided as it was vigorous and noble, the outcome of hardy 265frames, strong minds and spirits breathing the very essence of liberty and independence. The day began with the dawn-drink, “generous wine bought with shining ore,” poured into the crystal goblet from the leather bottle swinging before the cooling breeze. The rest was spent in the practice of weapons; in the favourite arrow-game known as Al-Maysar, gambling which at least had the merit of feeding the poor; in racing for which the Badawin had a mania, and in the chase, the foray and the fray which formed the serious business of his life. And how picturesque the hunting scenes; the greyhound, like the mare, of purest blood; the falcon cast at francolin and coney; the gazelle standing at gaze; the desert ass scudding over the ground-waves; the wild cows or bovine antelopes browsing with their calves and the ostrich-chickens flocking round the parent bird! The Musámarah or night-talk round the camp-fire was enlivened by the lute-girl and the gleeman, whom the austere Prophet described as “roving distraught in every vale” and whose motto in Horatian vein was, “To-day we shall drink, to-morrow be sober; wine this day, that day work.” Regularly once a year, during the three peaceful months when war and even blood revenge were held sacrilegious, the tribes met at Ukádh (Ocaz) and other fairsteads, where they held high festival and the bards strave in song and prided themselves upon doing honour to women and to the successful warriors of their tribe. Brief, the object of Arab life was to be—to be free, to be brave, to be wise; while the endeavours of other peoples was and is to have—to have wealth, to have knowledge, to have a name; and while moderns make their “epitome of life” to be, to do and to suffer. Lastly the Arab’s end was honourable as his life was stirring: few Badawin had the crowning misfortune of dying “the straw-death.”

The poetical forms in The Nights are as follows:—The Misrá’ah or hemistich is half the “Bayt” which, for want of a better word I have rendered couplet: this, however, though formally separated 266in MSS. is looked upon as one line, one verse; hence a word can be divided, the former part pertaining to the first and the latter to the second moiety of the distich. As the Arabs ignore blank verse, when we come upon a rhymeless couplet we know that it is an extract from a longer composition in monorhyme. The Kit’ah is a fragment, either an occasional piece or more frequently a portion of a Ghazal (ode) or Kasídah (elegy), other than the Matlá, the initial Bayt with rhyming distichs. The Ghazal and Kasídah differ mainly in length: the former is popularly limited to eighteen couplets: the latter begins at fifteen and is of indefinite number. Both are built upon monorhyme, which appears twice in the first couplet and ends all the others, e.g., aa + ba + ca, etc.; nor may the same assonance be repeated, unless at least seven couplets intervene. In the best poets, as in the old classic verse of France, the sense must be completed in one couplet and not run on to a second; and, as the parts cohere very loosely, separate quotation can generally be made without injuring their proper effect. A favourite form is the Rubá’í or quatrain, made familiar to English ears by Mr. Fitzgerald’s masterly adaptation of Omar-i-Khayyám: the movement is generally aa + ba; but it also appears as ab + cb, in which case it is a Kit’ah or fragment. The Murabbá, tetrastichs or four-fold song, occurs once only in The Nights (vol. i. 98); it is a succession of double Bayts or of four-lined stanzas rhyming aa + bc + dc + ec: in strict form the first three hemistichs rhyme with one another only, independently of the rest of the poem, and the fourth with that of every other stanza, e.g., aa + ab + cb + db. The Mukhammas, cinquains or pentastichs (Night cmlxiv.), represents a stanza of two distichs and a hemistich in monorhyme, the fifth line being the “bob” or burden: each succeeding stanza affects a new rhyme, except in the fifth line, e.g., aaaab + ccccb + ddddb and so forth. The Muwwál is a simple popular song in four to six lines; specimens of it are given in the Egyptian grammar of my friend the late Dr. 267Wilhelm Spitta.[444] The Muwashshah, or ornamented verse, has two main divisions: one applies to our acrostics in which the initials form a word or words; the other is a kind of Musaddas, or sex-tines, which occurs once only in The Nights (cmlxxxvii.) It consists of three couplets or six-line strophes: all the hemistichs of the first are in monorhyme; in the second and following stanzas the three first hemistichs take a new rhyme, but the fourth resumes the assonance of the first set and is followed by the third couplet of No. 1, serving as bob or refrain, e.g., aaaaaa + bbbaaa + cccaaa and so forth. It is the most complicated of all the measures and is held to be of Morisco or Hispano-Moorish origin.

Mr. Lane (Lex.) lays down, on the lines of Ibn Khallikan (i. 476, etc.) and other representative literati, as our sole authorities for pure Arabic, the precedence in following order. First of all ranks the Jáhili (Ignoramus) of The Ignorance, the Ἀραβίας ἄρειον ἔθνος: these pagans left hemistichs, couplets, pieces and elegies which once composed a large corpus and which is now mostly forgotten. Hammád al-Ráwiyah, the Reciter, a man of Persian descent (ob. A.H. 160 = 777) who first collected the Mu’allakát, once recited by rote in a séance before Caliph Al-Walid two thousand poems of præ-Mohammedan bards.[445] After the Jáhili stands the Mukhadram or Muhadrim, the “Spurious,” because half Pagan half Moslem, who flourished either immediately before or soon after the preaching of Mohammed. The Islámi or full-blooded Moslem at the end of the first century A.H. (= 720) began the process of corruption in language; and, lastly, he was followed 268by the Muwallad of the second century who fused Arabic with non-Arabic and in whom purity of diction disappeared.

I have noticed (1 § A.) that the versical portion of The Nights may be distributed into three categories. First are the olden poems which are held classical by all modern Arabs; then comes the mediæval poetry, the effusions of that brilliant throng which adorned the splendid Court of Harun al-Rashid and which ended with Al-Haríri (ob. A.H. 516); and, lastly, are the various pièces de circonstance suggested to editors or scribes by the occasion. It is not my object to enter upon the historical part of the subject: a mere sketch would have neither value nor interest whilst a finished picture would lead too far: I must be contented to notice a few of the most famous names.

Of the præ-islamites we have Ádi bin Zayd al-Ibadi the “celebrated poet” of Ibn Kkallikán (i. 188); Nábighat (the full-grown) al-Zubyáni who flourished at the Court of Al-Nu’man in A.D. 580–602, and whose poem is compared with the “Suspendeds,”[446] and Al-Mutalammis the “pertinacious” satirist, friend and intimate with Tarafah of the “Prize Poem.” About Mohammed’s day we find Imr al-Kays “with whom poetry began,” to end with Zú al-Rummah; Amrú bin Mádi Karab al-Zubaydi, Labíd; Ka’b ibn Zuhayr, the father one of the Mu’allakah-poets, and the son author of the Burdah or Mantle-poem (see vol. iv. 115), and Abbás bin Mirdás who lampooned the Prophet and had “his tongue cut out” i.e. received a double share of booty from Ali. In the days of Caliph Omar we have Alkamah bin Olátha followed by Jamíl bin Ma’mar of the Banu Ozrah (ob. A.H. 82), who loved Azzá. Then came Al-Kuthayyir (the dwarf, ironicè), the lover of Buthaynah, “who was so lean that birds might be cut to bits with her bones:” the latter was also a poetess (Ibn Khall. i. 87), like Hind bint al-Nu’man who made herself so disagreeable to Al-Hajjáj 269(ob. A.H. 95). Jarír al-Khatafah, the noblest of the Islami poets in the first century, is noticed at full length by Ibn Khallikan (i. 294) together with his rival in poetry and debauchery, Abú Firás Hammám or Homaym bin Ghalib al-Farazdak, the Tamími, the Ommiade poet “without whose verse half Arabic would be lost[447]:” he exchanged satires with Jarír and died forty days before him (A.H. 110). Another contemporary, forming the poetical triumvirate of the period, was the debauched Christian poet Al-Akhtal al-Taghlibi. They were followed by Al-Ahwas al-Ansári whose witty lampoons banished him to Dahlak Island in the Red Sea (ob. A.H. 179 = 795); by Bashshár ibn Burd and by Yúnus ibn Habib (ob. A.H. 182).

The well-known names of the Harun-cycle are Al-Asma’i, rhetorician and poet, whose epic with Antar for hero is not forgotten (ob. A.H. 216); Isaac of Mosul (Ishak bin Ibrahim of Persian origin); Al-’Utbi “the Poet” (ob. A.H. 228); Abu al-Abbás al-Rakáshi; Abu al-Atahiyah, the lover of Otbah; Muslim bin al-Walíd al-Ansari; Abú Tammám of Tay, compiler of the Hamásah (ob. A.H. 230), “a Muwallad of the first class” (says Ibn Khallikan i. 392); the famous or infamous Abu Nowás; Abu Mus’ab (Ahmad ibn Ali) who died in A.H. 242; the satirist Dibil al-Khuzáí (ob. A.H. 246) and a host of others quos nunc perscribere longum est. They were followed by Al-Bohtori “the Poet” (ob. A.H. 286); the royal author Abdullah ibn al-Mu’tazz (ob. A.H. 315); Ibn Abbád the Sahib (ob. A.H. 334); Mansúr al-Halláj the martyred Sufi; the Sahib ibn Abbad; Abu Faras al-Hamdáni (ob. A.H. 357); Al-Námi (ob. A.H. 399) who had many encounters with that model Chauvinist Al-Mutanabbi, nicknamed Al-Mutanabbih (the “wide-awake”), killed A.H. 354; Al-Manázi of Manazjird (ob. A.H. 427); Al-Tughrai author of the 270Lámiyat al-’Ajam (ob. A.H. 375); Al-Haríri the model rhetorician (ob. A.H. 516); Al-Hájiri al-Irbili, of Arbela (ob. A.H. 632); Bahá al-Din al-Sinjari, (ob. A.H. 622); Al-Kátib or the Scribe (ob. A.H. 656); Abdun al-Andalúsi the Spaniard (our xiith century) and about the same time Al-Náwaji, author of the Halbat al-Kumayt or “Race-course of the Bay-horse”—poetical slang for wine.[448]

Of the third category, the pièces d’occasion, little need be said: I may refer readers to my notes on the doggrels in vol. ii. 34, 35, 56, 179, 182, 186 and 261; in vol. v. 55 and in vol. viii. 50.

Having a mortal aversion to the details of Arabic prosody I have persuaded my friend Dr. Steingass, to undertake in the following pages the subject as far as concerns the poetry of The Nights. He has been kind enough to collaborate with me from the beginning, and to his minute lexicographical knowledge I am deeply indebted for discovering not a few blemishes which would have been “nuts to the critic.” The learned Arabist’s notes will be highly interesting to students: mine (§ V.) are intended to give a superficial and popular idea of the Arab’s verse-mechanism.

“The principle of Arabic Prosody” (called ’Arúz, pattern standard, or ’Ilm al-’Arúz, science of the ’Arúz), in so far 271resembles that of classical poetry, as it chiefly rests on metrical weight, not on accent, or in other words a verse is measured by short and long quantities, while the accent only regulates its rhythm. In Greek and Latin, however, the quantity of the syllables depends on their vowels, which may be either naturally short or long, or become long by position, i.e. if followed by two or more consonants. We all remember from our school-days what a fine string of rules had to be committed to and kept in memory, before we were able to scan a Latin or Greek verse, without breaking its neck by tripping over false quantities. In Arabic, on the other hand, the answer to the question, what is metrically long or short, is exceedingly simple, and flows with stringent cogency from the nature of the Arabic Alphabet. This, strictly speaking, knows only consonants (Harf, pl. Hurúf). The vowels which are required, in order to articulate the consonants, were at first not represented in writing at all. They had to be supplied by the reader, and are not improperly called “motions” (Harakát), because they move or lead on as it were, one letter to another. They are three in number, a (Fathah), i (Kasrah), u (Zammah), originally sounded as the corresponding English vowels in bat, bit and butt respectively, but in certain cases modifying their pronunciation under the influence of a neighbouring consonant. When the necessity made itself felt to represent them in writing, especially for the sake of fixing the correct reading of the Koran, they were rendered by additional signs, placed above or beneath the consonant, after which they are pronounced, in a similar way as it is done in some systems of English shorthand. A consonant followed by a short vowel is called a “moved letter” (Muharrakah); a consonant without such vowel is called “resting” or “quiescent” (Sákinah), and can stand only at the end of a syllable or word.

And now we are able to formulate the one simple rule, which determines the prosodical quantity in Arabic: any moved letter, 272as ta, li, mu, is counted short; any moved letter followed by a quiescent one, as taf, lun, mus, i.e. any closed syllable beginning and terminating with a consonant and having a short vowel between, forms a long quantity. This is certainly a relief in comparison with the numerous rules of classical Prosody, proved by not a few exceptions, which for instance in Dr. Smith’s elementary Latin Grammar fill eight closely printed pages.

Before I proceed to show how from the prosodical unities, the moved and the quiescent letter, first the metrical elements, then the feet and lastly the metres are built up, it will be necessary to obviate a few misunderstandings, to which our mode of transliterating Arabic into the Roman character might give rise.

The line:

“Love in my heart they lit and went their ways,” (vol. i. 232)

runs in Arabic:

“Akámú al-wajda fí kalbí wa sárú.” (Mac. Ed. i. 179).

Here, according to our ideas, the word akámú would begin with a short vowel a, and contain two long vowels á and ú; according to Arabic views neither is the case. The word begins with “Alif,” and its second syllable ká closes in Alif after Fathah (a), in the same way, as the third syllable mú closes in the letter Wáw (w) after Zammah (u).

The question, therefore, arises, what is “Alif.” It is the first of the twenty-eight Arabic letters, and has through the medium of the Greek Alpha nominally entered into our alphabet, where it now plays rather a misleading part. Curiously enough, however, Greek itself has preserved for us the key to the real nature of the letter. In Ἀλφα the initial a is preceded by the so-called spiritus lenis (᾿), a sign which must be placed in front or at the top of any vowel beginning a Greek word, and which represents that slight aspiration or soft breathing almost involuntarily uttered, when we try to pronounce a vowel by itself. We need not go far to find 273how deeply rooted this tendency is and to what exaggerations it will sometimes lead. Witness the gentleman, who after mentioning that he had been visiting his “favourite haunts” on the scenes of his early life, was sympathetically asked, how the dear old ladies were. This spiritus lenis is the silent h of the French “homme” and the English “honour,” corresponding exactly to the Arabic Hamzah, whose mere prop the Alif is, when it stands at the beginning of a word: a native Arabic Dictionary does not begin with Báb al-Alif (Gate or Chapter of the Alif), but with Báb al-Hamzah. What the Greeks call Alpha and have transmitted to us as a name for the vowel a, is in fact nothing else but the Arabic Hamzah-Alif (أ), moved by Fathah, i.e. bearing the sign َ for a at the top (أَ), just as it might have the sign Zammah (ُ) superscribed to express u (أُ), or the sign Kasrah (ِ) subjoined to represent i (إِ). In each case the Hamzah-Alif, although scarcely audible to our ear, is the real letter and might fitly be rendered in transliteration by the above-mentioned silent h, wherever we make an Arabic word begin with a vowel not preceded by any other sign. This latter restriction refers to the sign ’, which in Sir Richard Burton’s translation of The Nights, as frequently in books published in this country, is used to represent the Arabic letter ع in whose very name ’Ayn it occurs. The ’Ayn is “described as produced by a smart compression of the upper part of the windpipe and forcible emission of breath,” imparting a guttural tinge to a following or preceding vowel-sound; but it is by no means a mere guttural vowel, as Professor Palmer styles it. For Europeans, who do not belong to the Israelitic dispensation, as well as for Turks and Persians, its exact pronunciation is most difficult, if not impossible to acquire.

In reading Arabic from transliteration for the purpose of scanning poetry, we have therefore in the first instance to keep in mind that no Arabic word or syllable can begin with a vowel. 274Where our mode of rendering Arabic in the Roman character would make this appear to be the case, either Hamzah (silent h), or ’Ayn (represented by the sign ’) is the real initial, and the only element to be taken in account as a letter. It follows as a self-evident corollary that wherever a single consonant stands between two vowels, it never closes the previous syllable, but always opens the next one. Our word “Akámú,” for instance, can only be divided into the syllables: A (properly Ha)-ká-mú, never into Ak-á-mú or Ak-ám-ú.

It has been stated above that the syllable ká is closed by the letter Alif after Fathah, in the same way as the syllable mú is closed by the letter Wáw, and I may add now, as the word fí is closed by the letter Yá (y). To make this perfectly clear, I must repeat that the Arabic Alphabet, as it was originally written, deals only with consonants. The signs for the short vowel-sounds were added later for a special purpose, and are generally not represented even in printed books, e.g. in the various editions of The Nights, where only quotations from the Koran or poetical passages are provided with the vowel-points. But among those consonants there are three, called weak letters (Hurúf al-’illah), which have a particular organic affinity to these vowel-sounds: the guttural Hamzah, which is akin to a, the palatal Yá, which is related to i, and the labial Wáw, which is homogeneous with u. Where any of the weak letters follows a vowel of its own class, either at the end of a word or being itself followed by another consonant, it draws out or lengthens the preceding vowel and is in this sense called a letter of prolongation (Harf al-Madd). Thus, bearing in mind that the Hamzah is in reality a silent h, the syllable ká might be written kah, similarly to the German word “sah,” where the h is not pronounced either, but imparts a lengthened sound to the a. In like manner mú and fí are written in Arabic muw and fiy respectively, and form long quantities not because they contain a vowel long by nature, but because their initial 275“Muharrakah” is followed by a “Sákinah,” exactly as in the previously mentioned syllables taf, lun, mus.[449] In the Roman transliteration, Akámú forms a word of five letters, two of which are consonants, and three vowels; in Arabic it represents the combination H(a)k(a)hm(u)w, consisting also of five letters but all consonants, the intervening vowels being expressed in writing either merely by superadded external signs, or more frequently not at all. Metrically it represents one short and two long quantities (⏑ ‑ ‑), forming in Latin a trisyllabic foot, called Bacchíus, and in Arabic a quinqueliteral “Rukn” (pillar) or “Juz” (part, portion), the technical designation for which we shall introduce presently.

There is one important remark more to be made with regard to the Hamzah: at the beginning of a word it is either conjunctive, Hamzat al-Wasl, or disjunctive, Hamzat al Kat’. The difference is best illustrated by reference to the French so-called aspirated h, as compared with the above mentioned silent h. If the latter, as initial of a noun, is preceded by the article, the article loses its vowel, and, ignoring the silent h altogether, is read with the following noun almost as one word: le homme becomes l’homme (pronounced lomme) as le ami becomes l’ami. This resembles very closely the Arabic Hamzah Wasl. If, on the other hand, a French word begins with an aspirated h, as for instance héros, the article does not drop its vowel before the noun, nor is the h sounded as in the English word “hero,” but the effect of the aspirate is simply to keep the two vowel sounds apart, so as to pronounce le éros with a slight hiatus between, and this is exactly what happens in the case of the Arabic Hamzah Kat’.

With regard to the Wasl, however, Arabic goes a step further 276than French. In the French example, quoted above, we have seen it is the silent h and the preceding vowel, which are eliminated; in Arabic both the Hamzah and its own Harakah, i.e. the short vowel following it, are supplanted by their antecedent. Another example will make this clear. The most common instance of the Hamzah Wasl is the article al (for h(a)l = the Hebrew hal), where it is moved by Fathah. But it has this sound only at the beginning of a sentence or speech, as in “Al-hamdu” at the head of the Fatihah, or in “Alláhu” at the beginning of the third Surah. If the two words stand in grammatical connection, as in the sentence “Praise be to God,” we cannot say “Al-Hamdu li-Alláhi,” but the junction (Wasl) between the dative particle li and the noun which it governs must take place. According to the French principle, this junction would be effected at the cost of the preceding element and li Alláhi would become l’Alláhí; in Arabic, on the contrary, the kasrated l of the particle takes the place of the following fathated Hamzah and we read li ’lláhi instead. Proceeding in the Fatihah we meet with the verse “Iyyáka na’budu wa iyyáka nasta’ínu,” Thee do we worship and of Thee do we ask aid. Here the Hamzah of iyyáka (properly hiyyáka with silent h) is disjunctive, and therefore its pronunciation remains the same at the beginning and in the middle of the sentence, or to put it differently, instead of coalescing with the preceding wa into wa’yyáka, the two words are kept separate, by the Hamzah reading wa iyyáka, just as it was the case with the French Le héros.

If the conjunctive Hamzah is preceded by a quiescent letter, this takes generally Kasrah: “Tálat al-Laylah,” the night was longsome, would become Tálati ’l-Laylah. If, however, the quiescent letter is one of prolongation, it mostly drops out altogether, and the Harakah of the next preceding letter becomes the connecting vowel between the two words, which in our 277parlance would mean, that the end-vowel of the first word is shortened before the elided initial of the second. Thus “fí al-bayti,” in the house, which in Arabic is written f(i)y h(a)lb(a)yt(i) and which we transliterate fí ’l-bayti, is in poetry read fil-bayti, where we must remember, that the syllable fil, in spite of its short vowel, represents a long quantity, because it consists of a moved letter followed by a quiescent one. Fíl would be overlong and could, according to Arabic prosody, stand only in certain cases at the end of a verse, i.e. in pause, where a natural tendency prevails to prolong a sound.

The attentive reader will now be able to fix the prosodical value of the line quoted above with unerring security. For metrical purposes it syllabifies into: A-ká-mul-vaj-da fí kal-bí wa sá-rú, containing three short and eight long quantities. The initial unaccented a is short, for the same reason why the syllables da and wa are so, that is, because it corresponds to an Arabic letter, the Hamzah or silent h, moved by Fathah. The syllables ká, fí, bí, sá, rú, are long for the same reason, why the syllables mul, waj, kal are so, that is, because the accent in the transliteration corresponds to a quiescent Arabic letter, following a moved one. The same simple criterion applies to the whole list, in which I give in alphabetical order the first lines and the metre of all the poetical pieces contained in the Mac. edition, and which will be found at the end of this volume.

The prosodical unities, then, in Arabic are the moved and the quiescent letter, and we are now going to show how they combine into metrical elements, feet, and metres.

i. The metrical elements (Usúl) are:

1. The Sabab,[450] which consists of two letters and is either khafíf (light) or sakíl (heavy). A moved letter followed by a 278quiescent, i.e. a closed syllable, like the aforementioned taf, lun, mus, to which we may now add fá = fah, ’í = ’iy, ’ú = ’uw, form a Sabab khafíf, corresponding to the classical long quantity (). Two moved letters in succession, like muta, ’ala, constitute a Sabab sakíl, for which the classical name would be Pyrrhic (⏑ ⏑). As in Latin and Greek, they are equal in weight and can frequently interchange, that is to say, the Sabab khafíf can be evolved into a sakíl by moving its second Harf, or the latter contracted into the former, by making its second letter quiescent.

2. The Watad, consisting of three letters, one of which is quiescent. If the quiescent follows the two moved ones, the Watad is called majmú’ (collected or joined), as fa’ú (= fa’uw), mafá (= mafah), ’ilun, and it corresponds to the classical Iambus (⏑ ‑). If, on the contrary, the quiescent intervenes or separates between the two moved letters, as in fá’i (= fah’i), látu (= lahtu), taf’i, the Watad is called mafrúk (separated), and has its classical equivalent in the Trochee (‑ ⏑).

3. The Fásilah,[451] containing four letters, i.e. three moved ones followed by a quiescent, and which, in fact, is only a shorter name for a Sabab sakíl followed by a Sabab khafíf, as muta + fá, or ’ala + tun, both of the measure of the classical Anapaest (⏑ ‑ ⏑).

ii. These three elements, the Sabab, Watad and Fásilah, combine further into feet Arkán, pl. of Rukn, or Ajzá, pl. of Juz, two words explained supra p. 275. The technical terms by which the feet are named, are derivatives of the root fa’l, to do, which as the student will remember, serves in Arabic 279Grammar to form the Auzán or weights, in accordance with which words are derived from roots. It consists of the three letters Fá (f), ’Ayn (’), Lám (l), and, like any other Arabic root, cannot strictly speaking be pronounced, for the introduction of any vowel-sound would make it cease to be a root and change it into an individual word. The above fa’l, for instance, where the initial Fá is moved by Fathah (a), is the Infinitive or verbal noun, “to do,” “doing.” If the ’Ayn also is moved by Fathah, we obtain fa’al, meaning in colloquial Arabic “he did” (the classical or literary form would be fa’ala). Pronouncing the first letter with Zammah (u), the second with Kasrah (i), i.e., fu’il, we say “it was done” (classically fu’ila). Many more forms are derived by prefixing, inserting or subjoining certain additional letters called Hurúf al-Ziyádah (letters of increase) to the original radicals: fá’il, for instance, with an Alif of prolongation in the first syllable, means “doer;” maf’úl (= maf’uwl), where the quiescent Fá is preceded by a fathated Mím (m), and the zammated ’Ayn followed by a lengthening Waw, means “done”; Mufá’alah, where in addition to a prefixed and inserted letter, the feminine termination ah is subjoined after the Lám means “to do a thing reciprocally.” Since these and similar changes are with unvarying regularity applicable to all roots, the grammarians use the derivatives of Fa’l as model-forms for the corresponding derivations of any other root, whose letters are in this case called its Fá, ’Ayn and Lám. From a root, e.g., which has Káf (k) for its first letter or Fá, Tá (t) for its second letter or ’Ayn, and Bá (b) for its third letter or Lám

fa’l would be katb = to write, writing;
fa’al would be katab = he wrote;
fu’il would be kutib = it was written;
fá’il would be kátib = writer, scribe;
maf’úl would be maktúb = written, letter;
280mufá’alah would be mukátabah = to write reciprocally, correspondence.

The advantage of this system is evident. It enables the student, who has once grasped the original meaning of a root, to form scores of words himself, and in his readings, to understand hundreds, nay thousands, of words, without recourse to the Dictionary, as soon as he has learned to distinguish their radical letters from the letters of increase, and recognises in them a familiar root. We cannot wonder, therefore, that the inventor of Arabic Prosody, readily availed himself of the same plan for his own ends. The Taf’íl, as it is here called, that is the representation of the metrical feet by current derivatives of fa’l, has in this case, of course, nothing to do with the etymological meaning of those typical forms. But it proves none the less useful in another direction: in simply naming a particular foot it shows at the same time its prosodical measure and character, as will now be explained in detail.

We have seen supra p. 275 that the word Akámú consists of a short syllable followed by two long ones (⏑ ‑ ‑), and consequently forms a foot, which the classics would call Bacchíus. In Latin there is no connection between this name and the metrical value of the foot: we must learn both by heart. But if we are told that its Taf’íl in Arabic is Fa’úlun, we understand at once that it is composed of the Watad majmú’ fa’ú (⏑ ‑) and the Sabab khafíf lun (), and as the Watad contains three, the Sabab two letters, it forms a quinqueliteral foot or Juz khamásí.

In combining into feet, the Watad has the precedence over the Sabab and the Fásilah, and again the Watad majmú’ over the Watad mafrúk. Hence the Prosodists distinguish between Ajzá aslíyah or primary feet (from Asl, root), in which this precedence is observed, and Ájzá far’íyah or secondary feet (from Far’ = branch), in which it is reversed. The former are four in number:—

2811. Fa’ú.lun, consisting, as we have just seen of a Watad majmú’ followed by a Sabab khafíf, = the Latin Bacchíus (⏑ ‑ ‑).

2. Mafá.’í.lun, i.e. Watad majmú’ followed by two Sabab khafíf = the Latin Epitritus primus (⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑).

3. Mufá.’alatun, i.e. Watad majmú’ followed by Fásilah = the Latin Iambus followed by Anapaest (⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑).

4. Fá’i.lá.tun, i.e. Watad mafrúk followed by two Sabab khafíf = the Latin Epitritus secundus (‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑).

The number of the secondary feet increases to six, for as No. 2 and 4 contain two Sabab, they “branch out” into two derived feet each, according to both Sabab or only one changing place with regard to the Watad. They are:

5. Fá.’ilun, i.e. Sabab khafíf followed by Watad majmú’, = the Latin Creticus (‑ ⏑ ‑). The primary Fa’ú.lun becomes by transposition Lun.fa’ú. To bring this into conformity with a current derivative of fa’l, the initial Sabab must be made to contain the first letter of the root, and the Watad the two remaining ones in their proper order. Fá is therefore substituted for lun, and ’ilun for fa’ú, forming together the above Fá.’ilun. By similar substitutions, which it would be tedious to specify in each separate case, Mafá.’í.lun becomes:

6. Mus.taf.’ilun, for ’Í.lun.mafá, i.e. two Sabab khafíf, followed by Watad majmú’ = the Latin Epitritus tertius (‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), or:

7. Fá.’ilá.tun, for Lun.mafá.’í, i.e. Watad majmú’ between two Sabab khafíf = the Latin Epitritus secundus (‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑).

8. Mutafá.’ilun (for ’Alatun.mufá, the reversed Mufá.’alatun) i.e. Fásilah followed by Watad majmú’ = the Latin Anapaest succeeded by Iambus (⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑). The last two secondary feet are transpositions of No. 4, Fá’.i lá.tun, namely:

9. Maf.’ú.látu, for Lá.tun.fá’i, i.e. two Sabab khafíf, followed by Watad mafrúk = the Latin Epitritus quartus (‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑).

28210. Mus.taf’i.lun, for Tun.fá’i.lá, i.e. Watad mafrúk between two Sabab khafíf = the Latin Epitritus tertius (‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑).[452]

The “branch”-foot Fá.’ilun (No. 5), like its “root” Fa’úlun (No. 1), is quinqueliteral. All other feet, primary or secondary, consist necessarily of seven letters, as they contain a triliteral Watad (see supra i. 2) with either two biliteral Sabab khafíf (i. 1,) or a quadriliteral Fásilah (i. 3). They are, therefore, called Sabá’í = seven lettered.

iii. The same principle of the Watad taking precedence over Sabab and Fásilah, rules the arrangement of the Arabic metres, which are divided into five circles (Dawáir, pl. of Dáirah) so called for reasons presently to be explained. The first is named:

A. Dáirat al-Mukhtalif, circle of “the varied” metre, because it is composed of feet of various length, the five-lettered Fa’úlun (supra ii. 1) and the seven-lettered Mafá’ílun (ii. 2) with their secondaries Fá’ilun, Mustaf.’ilun and Fá.’ilátun (ii. 5–7), and it comprises three Buhúr or metres (pl. of Bahr, sea), the Tawíl, Madíd and Basít.

1. Al-Tawíl, consisting of twice

Fa’ú.lun Mafá.’ílun Fa’ú.lun Mafá.’ílun,

the classical scheme for which would be

⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ |

If we transfer the Watad Fa’ú from the beginning of the line to the end, it would read:

Lun.mafá’í Lun.fa’ú Lun.mafá’í Lun.fa’ú which, after the substitutions indicated above (ii. 7 and 5) becomes:

2832. Al-Madíd, consisting of twice

Fá.’ilátun Fá.’ilun Fá.’ilátun Fá.’ilun,

which may be represented by the classical scheme

‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

If again, returning to the Tawíl, we make the break after the Watad of the second foot we obtain the line:

’Ílun.fa’ú Lun.mafá ’Ílun.fa’u Lun.mafá, and as metrically ’Ílun.fa’ú (two Sabab followed by Watad) and Lun.mafá (one Sabab followed by Watad) are = ’Ílun.mafá and Lun.fa’ú respectively, their Taf’il is effected by the same substitutions as in ii. 5 and 6, and they become:

3. Basít, consisting of twice

Mustaf.’ilun Fá.’ilun Mustaf.’ilun Fá.’ilun,

in conformity with the classical scheme:

‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

Thus one metre evolves from another by a kind of rotation, which suggested to the Prosodists an ingenious device of representing them by circles (hence the name Dáirah), round the circumference of which on the outside the complete Taf’íl of the original metre is written, while each moved letter is faced by a small loop, each quiescent by a small vertical stroke[453] inside the circle. Then, in the case of this present Dáirat al-Mukhtalif for instance, the loop corresponding to the initial f of the first Fa’úlun is marked as the beginning of the Tawíl, that corresponding to its l (of the Sabab lun) as the beginning of the Madid, and that corresponding to the ’Ayn of the next Mafá’ílun as the beginning of the Basít. The same process applies to all the following circles, but our limited space compels us simply to enumerate them, together with their Buhúr, without further reference to the mode of their evolution.


B. Dairat al-Mútalif, circle of “the agreeing” metre, so called because all its feet agree in length, consisting of seven letters each. It contains:

1. Al-Wáfir, composed of twice

Mufá.’alatun Mufá.’alatun Mufá’alatun (ii. 3).
= ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |

where the Iambus in each foot precedes the Anapaest, and its reversal:

2. Al-Kámil, consisting of twice

Mutafá.’ilun Mutafá.’ilun Mutafá.’ilun (ii. 8)
= ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

where the Anapaest takes the first place in every foot.

C. Dáirat al-Mujtalab, circle of “the brought on” metre, so called because its seven-lettered feet are brought on from the first circle.

2851. Al-Hazaj, consisting of twice

Mafá.’ílun Mafá.’ílun Mafá.’ílun (ii. 2)
= ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ |

2. Al-Rajaz, consisting of twice

Mustaf.’ilun Mustaf.’ilun Mustaf.’ilun,

and, in this full form, almost identical with the Iambic Trimeter of the Greek Drama:

‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

3. Al-Ramal, consisting of twice

Fá.’ilátun Fá.’ilátun Fá.’ilátun,

the trochaic counterpart of the preceding metre

= ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |

D. Dáirat al-Mushtabih, circle of “the intricate” metre, so called from its intricate nature, primary mingling with secondary feet, and one foot of the same verse containing a Watad majmú’, another a Watad mafrúk, i.e. the iambic rhythm alternating with the trochaic and vice versa. Its Buhúr are:

1. Al-Sarí’, twice

Mustaf.’ilun Mustaf.’ilun Maf’ú.látu (ii. 6 and 9)
= ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑

2. Al-Munsarih, twice

Mustaf.’ilun Mafú.látu Mustaf.’ilun (ii. 6. 9. 6)
= ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

3. Al-Khafíf, twice

Fá.’ílátun Mustaf’i.lun Fá.’ílátun (ii. 7. 10. 7)
= ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |

4. Al-Muzári’, twice

Mafá.’ílun Fá’i.látun Mafá.’ílun (ii. 2. 4. 2)
= ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ |

5. Al-Muktazib, twice

Maf’ú.látu Mustaf.’ilun Maf’ú.látu (ii. 9. 6. 9)
= ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ |

2866. Al-Mujtass, twice

Mustaf’i.lun Fá.’ilátun Mustaf’i.lun (ii. 10. 7. 10)
= ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

E. Dáirat al-Muttafik, circle of “the concordant” metre, so called for the same reason why circle B is called “the agreeing,” i.e. because the feet all harmonise in length, being here, however quinqueliteral, not seven-lettered as in the Mútalif. Al-Khalíl, the inventor of the ’Ilm al-’Arúz, assigns to it only one metre:

1. Al-Mutakárib, twice

Fa’úlun Fa’úlun Fa’úlun Fa’úlun (ii. 1)
= ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |

Later Prosodists added:

2. Al-Mutadárak, twice

Fá’ilun Fá’ilun Fá’ilun Fá’ilun (ii. 5)
= ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |

The feet and metres as given above, are however to a certain extent merely theoretical; in practice the former admit of numerous licenses and the latter of variations brought about by modification or partial suppression of the feet final in a verse. An Arabic poem (Kasídah, or if numbering less than ten couplets, Kat’ah) consists of Bayts or couplets, bound together by a continuous rhyme, which connects the first two lines and is repeated at the end of every second line throughout the poem. The last foot of every odd line is called ’Arúz (fem. in contradistinction of Arúz in the sense of Prosody which is masc.) pl. A’áiriz, that of every even line is called Zarb, pl. Azrub, and the remaining feet may be termed Hashw (stuffing), although in stricter parlance a further distinction is made between the first foot of every odd and even line as well.

Now with regard to the Hashw on the one hand, and the ’Aruz and Zarb on the other, the changes which the normal feet undergo, are of two kinds: Zuháf (deviation) and ’Illah (defect). Zuháf 287applies, as a rule, occasionally and optionally to the second letter of a Sabab in those feet which compose the Hashw or body-part of a verse, making a long syllable short by suppressing its quiescent final, or contracting two short quantities in a long one, by rendering quiescent a moved letter which stands second in a Sabab sakíl. In Mustaf’ilun (ii. 6. = ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), for instance, the s of the first syllable, or the f of the second, or both may be dropped and it will become accordingly Mutaf’ilun, by substitution Mafá’ilun, (⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑) or Musta’ilun, by substitution, Mufta’ilun (‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑), or Muta’ilun, by substitution Fa’ilatun (⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑).[454] This means that wherever the foot Mustaf.’ilun occurs in the Hashw of a poem, we can represent it by the scheme ⏓ ⏓ ⏑ ‑ i.e. the Epitritus tertius can, by poetical license change into Diiambus, Choriambus or Paeon quartus. In Mufá’alatun (ii. 3. = ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑) and Mutafá’ilun (ii. 8. = ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), again, the Sabab ’ala and muta may become khafíf by suppression of their final Harakah and thus turn into Mufá’altun, by substitution Mafá’ílun (ii. 2. = ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑), and Mutfá’ilun, by substitution Mustaf’ilun (ii. 6. = ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ as above). In other words the two feet correspond to the schemes _ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ _ and ⏑ ‑ ⏑ _ _, where a Spondee can take the place of the Anapaest after or before the Iambus respectively.

’Illah, the second way of modifying the primitive or normal feet, applies to both Sabab and Watad, but only in the ’Aruz and Zarb of a couplet, being at the same time constant and obligatory. Besides the changes already mentioned, it consists in adding one or two letters to a Sabab or Watad, or curtailing them more or less, even to cutting them off altogether. We cannot here exhaust this matter any more than those touched upon until now, but must be satisfied with an example or two, to show the proceeding in general and indicate its object.

288We have seen that the metre Basít consists of the two lines:

Mustaf.’ilun Fá.’ilun Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun
Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun.

This complete form, however, is not in use amongst Arab poets. If by the Zuháf Khabn, here acting as ’Illah, the Alif in the final Fá’ilun is suppressed, changing it into Fa’ilun (⏑ ⏑ ‑), it becomes the first ’Aruz, called makhbúnah, of the Basít, the first Zarb of which is obtained by submitting the final Fá’ilun of the second line to the same process. A second Zarb results, if in Fá’ilun the final n of the Watad ’ilun is cut off and the preceding l made quiescent by the ’Illah Kat’ thus giving Fá’il and by substitution Fa’lun (‑ ‑). Thus the formula becomes:—

Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun Mustaf’ilun   Fa’ilun
Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun Mustaf’ilun { Fa’ilun

As in the Hashw, i.e. the first three feet of each line, the Khabn can likewise be applied to the medial Fá’ilun, and for Mustaf’ilun the poetical licenses, explained above, may be introduced, this first ’Arúz or Class of the Basít with its two Zarb or subdivisions will be represented by the scheme

⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑  
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑
⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ { ⏑ ⏑ ‑
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑

that is to say in the first subdivision of this form of the Basít both lines of each couplet end with an Anapaest and every second line of the other subdivision terminates in a Spondee.

The Basít has four more A’áriz, three called majzúah, because each line is shortened by a Juz or foot, one called mashtúrah (halved), because the number of feet is reduced from four to two, and we may here notice that the former kind of lessening the number of feet is frequent with the hexametrical circles (B. C. D.), while the latter kind can naturally only occur in those circles, whose couplet forms an octameter (A. E.). Besides being 289majzúah, the second ’Aruz is sahíhah (perfect) consisting of the normal foot Mustaf’ilun. It has three Azrub: 1. Mustaf’ilán (‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑, with an overlong final syllable, see supra p. 277), produced by the ’Illah Tazyíl, i.e. addition of a quiescent letter at the end (Mustaf’ilunn, by substitution Mustaf’ilán); 2. Mustaf’ilun, like the ’Aruz; 3. Maf’úlun (‑ ‑ ‑), produced by the ’Illah Kat’ (see the preceding page; Mustaf’ilun, by dropping the final n and making the l quiescent becomes Mustaf’il and by substitution Maf’úlun). Hence the formula is:

Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun Mustaf’ilun
  { Mustaf’ilán
Mustaf’ilun Fá’ilun Mustaf’ilun

which, with its allowable licenses, may be represented by the scheme:

⏑ ⏑  
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
      { ⏑ ⏑
      ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
      ‑ ‑ ‑

The above will suffice to illustrate the general method of the Prosodists, and we must refer the reader for the remaining classes and subdivisions of the Basít as well as the other metres to more special treatises on the subject, to which this Essay is intended merely as an introduction, with a view to facilitate the first steps of the student in an important, but I fear somewhat neglected field of Arabic learning.

If we now turn to the poetical pieces contained in The Nights, we find that out of the fifteen metres, known to al-Khalíl, or the sixteen of later Prosodists, instances of thirteen occur in the Mac. N. edition, but in vastly different proportions. The total number amounts to 1,385 pieces (some, however, repeated several times), out of which 1,128 belong to the first two circles, leaving only 257 for the remaining three. The same disproportionality 290obtains with regard to the metres of each circle. The Mukhtalif is represented by 331 instances of Tawíl and 330 of Basít against 3 of Madíd; the Mutalif by 321 instances of Kámil against 143 of Wáfir; the Mujtalab by 32 instances of Ramal and 30 of Rajaz against 1 of Hazaj; the Mushtabih by 72 instances of Khafíf and 52 of Sarí’ against 18 of Munsarih and 15 of Mujtass; and lastly the Muttafik by 37 instances of Mutakárib. Neither the Mutadárak (E. 2), nor the Muzári’ and Muktazib (D. 4. 5) are met with.

Finally it remains for me to quote a couplet of each metre, showing how to scan them, and what relation they bear to the theoretical formulas exhibited on p. 282 to p. 286.

It is characteristic for the preponderance of the Tawíl over all the other metres, that the first four lines, with which my alphabetical list begins, are written in it. One of these belongs to a poem which has for its author Bahá al-Dín Zuhayr (born A.D. 1186 at Mekkah or in its vicinity, ob. 1249 at Cairo), and is to be found in full in Professor Palmer’s edition of his works, p. 164. Sir Richard Burton translates the first Bayt (vol. i. 290):

An I quit Cairo and her pleasances ✿ Where can I hope to find so gladsome ways?

Professor Palmer renders it:

Must I leave Egypt where such joys abound?
What place can ever charm me so again

In Arabic it scans:

⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
A-arhalu ’an Misrin wa tíbi na’ímihi[455]
⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑
Fa-ayyu makánin ba’dahá li-ya sháiku.

291In referring to iii. A. I. p. 282, it will be seen that in the Hashw Fa’úlun (⏑ ‑ ‑) has become Fa’úlu (⏑ ‑ ⏑) by a Zuháf called Kabz (suppression of the fifth letter of a foot if it is quiescent), and that in the ’Arúz and Zarb Mafá’ílun (⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑) has changed into Mafá’ilun (⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑) by the same Zuháf acting as ’Illah. The latter alteration shows the couplet to be of the second Zarb of the first ’Arúz of the Tawíl. If the second line did terminate in Mafá’ílun, as in the original scheme, it would be the first Zarb of the same ’Arúz; if it did end in Fa’úlun (⏑ ‑ ‑) or Mafá’íl (⏑ ‑ ‑) it would represent the third or fourth subdivision of this first class respectively. The Tawíl has one other ’Arúz, Fa’úlun, with a twofold Zarb, either Fa’úlun also, or Mafá’ilun.

The first instance of the Basít occurring in The Nights are the lines translated vol. i. p. 25:

Containeth Time a twain of days, this of blessing, that of bane ✿ And holdeth Life a twain of halves, this of pleasure, that of pain.

In Arabic (Mac. N. i. 11):

‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Al-Dahru yaumáni zá amnun wa zá hazaru
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Wa ’l-’Ayshu shatráni zá safwun wa zá kadaru.

Turning back to p. 283, where the A’áríz and Azrub of the Basít are shown, the student will have no difficulty to recognise the Bayt as one belonging to the first Zarb of the first ’Arúz.

As an example of the Madíd we quote the original of the lines (vol. v. 131):—

I had a heart, and with it lived my life ✿ ’Twas seared with fire and burnt with loving-lowe.

They read in Arabic:—

‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Kána lí kalbun a’íshu bihi
‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ |
Fa’ktawà bi’l-nári wa’htarak.

If we compare this with the formula (iii. A. 2 p. 283), we find that 292either line of the couplet is shortened by a foot; it is, therefore, majzú. The first ’Arúz of this abbreviated metre is Fá’ilátun (‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑), and is called sahíhah (perfect) because it consists of the normal third foot. In the second ’Arúz Fá’ilátun loses its end syllable tun by the ’Illah Hafz (suppression of a final Sabab khafíf), and becomes Fá’ilá (‑ ⏑ ‑), for which Fá’ilun is substituted. Shortening the first syllable of Fá’ilun, i.e. eliminating the Alif by Khabn, we obtain the third ’Arúz Fa’ilun (⏑ ⏑ ‑) as that of the present lines, which has two Azrub: Fa’ilun, like the ’Arúz, and Fa’lun (‑ ‑), here, again by Khabn, further reduced to Fa’al (⏑ ‑).

Ishak of Mosul, who improvises the piece, calls it “so difficult and so rare, that it went nigh to deaden the quick and to quicken the dead;” indeed, the native poets consider the metre Madíd as the most difficult of all, and it is scarcely ever attempted by later writers. This accounts for its rare occurrence in The Nights, where only two more instances are to be found, Mac. N. ii. 244 and iii. 404.

The second and third circle will best be spoken of together, as the Wáfir and Kámil have a natural affinity to the Hazaj and Rajaz. Let us revert to the line:—

⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Akámú ’l-wajda fí kalbí wa sárú.

Translated, as it were, into the language of the Prosodists it will be:—

Mafá’ílun[456] ’Mafá’ílun Fa’úlun,

and this, standing by itself, might prima facie be taken for a line of the Hazaj (iii. C. 1), with the third Mafá’ílun shortened by Hafz (see above) into Mafá’í for which Fa’úlun would be substituted. 293We have seen (p. 287) that and how the foot Mufá’alatun can change into Mafá’ílun, and if in any poem which otherwise would belong to the metre Hazaj, the former measure appears even in one foot only along with the latter, it is considered to be the original measure, and the poem counts no longer as Hazaj but as Wáfir. In the piece now under consideration, it is the second Bayt where the characteristic foot of the Wáfir first appears:—

⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Naat ’anní’l-rubú’u wa sákiníhá
⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Wa kad ba’uda ’l-mazáru fa-lá mazáru.

Anglicè (vol. iii. 296):—

Far lies the camp and those who camp therein; ✿ Far is her tent-shrine where I ne’er shall tent.

It must, however, be remarked that the Hazaj is not in use as a hexameter, but only with an ’Arúz majzúah or shortened by one foot. Hence it is only in the second ’Arúz of the Wáfir, which is likewise majzúah, that the ambiguity as to the real nature of the metre can arise[457]; and the isolated couplet:—

⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Yarídu ’l-mar-u an yu’tà munáhu
⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Wa yabà ’lláhu illá má yurídu
Man wills his wish to him accorded be, ✿ But Allah naught accords save what he wills (vol. iv. 157),

being hexametrical, forms undoubtedly part of a poem in Wáfir although it does not contain the foot Mufá’alatun at all. Thus 294the solitary instance of Hazaj in The Nights is Abú Nuwás’ abomination, beginning with:—

⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ |
Fa-lá tas’au ilà ghayrí
⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ |
Fa-’indí ma’dinu ’l-khayri (Mac. N. ii. 377).
Steer ye your steps to none but me ✿ Who have a mine of luxury (vol. v. 65).

If in the second ’Arúz of the Wáfir Maf’áílun (⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑) is further shortened to Mafá’ilun (⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑), the metre resembles the second ’Arúz of Rajaz, where, as we have seen, the latter foot can, by license, take the place of the normal Mustaf’ilun (‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑).

The Kámil bears a similar relation to the Rajaz, as the Wáfir bears to the Hazaj. By way of illustration we quote from Mac. N. ii. 8 the first two Bayts of a little poem taken from the 23rd Assembly of Al-Hariri:—

‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Yá khátiba ’l-dunyá ’l-daniyyati innahá
⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ‑ |
Sharaku ’l-radà wa karáratu ’l-akdári
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Dárun matà má azhakat fí yaumihá
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ‑ |
Abkat ghadan bu’dan lahá min dári.

In Sir Richard Burton’s translation (vol. iii. 319):—

O thou who woo’st a World unworthy, learn ✿ ’Tis house of evils, ’tis Perdition’s net:
A house where whoso laughs this day shall weep ✿ The next; then perish house of fume and fret.

The ’Arúz of the first couplet is Mutafá’ilun, assigning the piece to the first or perfect (sahíhah) class of the Kámil. In the Hashw of the opening line and in that of the whole second Bayt this normal Mutafá’ilun has, by license, become Mustaf’ilun, and the same change has taken place in the ’Arúz of the second couplet; for it is a peculiarity which this metre shares with a few others, to 295allow certain alterations of the kind Zuháf in the ’Arúz and Zarb as well as in the Hashw. This class has three subdivisions: the Zarb of the first is Mutafá’ilun, like the ’Arúz; the Zarb of the second is Fa’alátun (⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑), a substitution for Mutafá’il which latter is obtained from Mutafá’ilun by suppressing the final n and rendering the l quiescent; the Zarb of the third is Fa’lun (‑ ‑) for Mútfá, derived from Mutafá’ilun by cutting off the Watad ’ilun and dropping the medial a of the remaining Mutafá.

If we make the ’Ayn of the second Zarb Fa’alátun also quiescent by the permitted Zuháf Izmár, it changes into Fa’látun, by substitution Maf’úlun (‑ ‑ ‑) which terminates the rhyming lines of the foregoing quotation. Consequently the two couplets taken together, belong to the second Zarb of the first ’Arúz of the Kámil, and the metre of the poem with its licenses may be represented by the scheme:

⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑  
⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑  

Taken isolated, on the other hand, the second Bayt might be of the metre Rajaz, whose first ’Arúz Mustaf’ilun has two Azrub: one equal to the Arúz, the other Maf’úlun as above, but here substituted for Mustaf’il after applying the ’Illah Kat’ (see p. 288) to Mustaf’ilun. If this were the metre of the poem throughout, the scheme with the licenses peculiar to the Rajaz would be:

⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑  
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑  
⏑ ⏑ ⏑ ⏑  
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ ‑ ‑  

The pith of Al-Hariri’s Assembly is that the knight errant, not to say the arrant wight of the Romance, Abú Sayd of Sarúj, accuses before the Wáli of Baghdad his pretended pupil, in reality his son, to have appropriated a poem of his by lopping off two 296feet of every Bayt. If this is done in the quoted lines, they read:

‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Yá khátiba ’l-dunyá ’l-daniy
⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Yati innahá sharaku ’l-radà
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Dárun matà má azhakat
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Fí yaumihá abkat ghadá,

with a different rhyme and of a different variation of metre. The amputated piece belongs to the fourth Zarb of the third ’Aruz of Kámil, and its second couplet tallies with the second subdivision of the second class of Rajaz.

The Rajaz, a iambic metre pure and simple, is the most popular, because the easiest, in which even the Prophet was caught napping sometimes, at the dangerous risk of following the perilous leadership of Imru ’l-Kays. It is the metre of improvisation, of ditties, and of numerous didactic poems. In the latter case, when the composition is called Urjúzah, the two lines of every Bayt rhyme, and each Bayt has a rhyme of its own. This is the form in which for instance, Ibn Málik’s Alfíyah is written, as well as the remarkable grammatical work of the modern native scholar, Nasíf al-Yazijí, of which a notice will be found in Chenery’s Introduction to his Translation of Al-Hariri.

While the Hazaj and Rajaz connect the third circle with the first and second, the Ramal forms the link between the third and fourth Dáirah. Its measure Fá’ilátun (‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑) and the reversal of it, Maf’úlátu (‑ ‑ ‑ ⏑), affect the trochaic rhythm, as opposed to the iambic of the two first-named metres. The iambic movement has a ring of gladness about it, the trochaic a wail of sadness: the former resembles a nimble pedestrian, striding apace with an elastic step and a cheerful heart; the latter is like a man toiling along on the desert path, where his foot is ever and anon 297sliding back in the burning sand (Raml, whence probably the name of the metre). Both combined in regular alternation, impart an agitated character to the verse, admirably fit to express the conflicting emotions of a passion-stirred mind.

Examples of these more or less plaintive and pathetic metres are numerous in the Tale of Uns al-Wujúd and the Wazir’s Daughter, which, being throughout a story of love, as has been noted, vol. v. 33, abounds in verse, and, in particular, contains ten out of the thirty-two instances of Ramal occurring in The Nights. We quote:

Ramal, first Zarb of the first ’Arúz (Mac. N. ii. 361):

‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Inna li ’l-bulbuli sautan fí ’l-sahar
‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Ashghala ’l-’áshika ’an husni ’l-watar
The Bulbul’s note, whenas dawn is nigh ✿ Tells the lover from strains of strings to fly (vol. v. 48).

Sarí’, second Zarb of the first ’Arúz (Mac. N. ii. 359):

⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Wa fákhitin kad kála fí nauhihi
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ |
Yá Dáiman shukran ’alà balwatí
I heard a ringdove chanting soft and plaintively, ✿ “I thank Thee, O Eternal, for this misery” (vol. v. 47).

Khafíf, full or perfect form (sahíh), both in Zarb and ’Arúz (Mac. N. ii. 356):

‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Yá li-man ashtakí ’l-gharáma ’llazí bí
⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Wa shujúní wa furkatí ’an habíbí
O to whom now of my desire complaining sore shall I ✿ Bewail my parting from my fere compellèd thus to fly (vol. v. 44).

Mujtass, the only ’Arúz (majzúah sahíhah, i.e. shortened by one foot and perfect) with equal Zarb (Mac. N. ii. 367):

298‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ⏑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Ruddú ’alayya habíbí
‑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ‑ |
Lá hajatan lí bi-málin
To me restore my dear ✿ I want not wealth untold (vol. v. 55).

As an instance of the Munsarih, I give the second occurring in The Nights, because it affords me an opportunity to show the student how useful a knowledge of the laws of Prosody frequently proves for ascertaining the correct reading of a text. Mac. N. i. 33 we find the line:

‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Arba’atun má ’jtama’at kattu izá.

This would be Rajaz with the license Mufta’ilun for Mustaf’ilun. But the following lines of the fragment evince, that the metre is Munsarih; hence, a clerical error must lurk somewhere in the second foot. In fact, on page 833 of the same volume, we find the piece repeated, and here the first couplet reads

‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Arba’atun má ’jtama’na kattu siwà
⏑ ‑ ⏑ ‑ | ‑ ⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ‑ ⏑ ⏑ ‑ |
Alà azá mujhatí wa safki damí
Four things which ne’er conjoin unless it be ✿ To storm my vitals and to shed my blood (vol. iii. 237).

The Mutakárib, the last of the metres employed in The Nights, has gained a truly historical importance by the part which it plays in Persian literature. In the form of trimetrical double-lines, with a several rhyme for each couplet, it has become the “Nibelungen-” stanza of the Persian epos: Firdausí’s immortal “Book of Kings” and Nizámi’s Iskander-námah are written in it, not to mention a host of Masnawis in which Sufic mysticism combats Mohammedan orthodoxy. On account of its warlike and heroical character, therefore, I choose for an example the knightly Jamrakán’s challenge to the single fight in which he conquers his scarcely less valiant adversary Kaurajan, Mac. N. iii. 296:

299⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑
Aná ’l-Jamrakánu kawiyyn ’l-janáni
⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑
Jamí’u ’l-fawárisi takhshà kitálí.

Here the third syllable of the second foot in each line is shortened by license, and the final Kasrah of the first line, standing in pause, is long, the metre being the full form of the Mutakárib as exhibited p. 286, iii. E. i. If we suppress the Kasrah of al-Janáni, which is also allowable in pause, and make the second line to rhyme with the first, saying, for instance:

⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ⏑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑
Aná ’l-Jamrakánu kawiyyu ’l-janán
⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑ ‑ | ⏑ ‑
La-yakshà kitálí shijá’u ’l-zamán,

we obtain the powerful and melodious metre in which the Sháhnámah sings of Rustam’s lofty deeds, of the tender love of Rúdabah and the tragic downfall of Siyawush.

Shall I confess that in writing the foregoing pages it has been my ambition to become a conqueror, in a modest way, myself: to conquer, I mean, the prejudice frequently entertained, and shared even by my accomplished countryman, Rückert, that Arabic Prosody is a clumsy and repulsive doctrine. I have tried to show that it springs naturally from the character of the language, and, intimately connected, as it is, with the grammatical system of the Arabs, it appears to me quite worthy of the acumen of a people, to whom, amongst other things, we owe the invention of Algebra, the stepping-stone of our whole modern system of Mathematics. I cannot refrain, therefore, from concluding with a little anecdote anent al-Khalíl, which Ibn Khallikán tells in the following words. His son went one day into the room where his father was, and on finding him scanning a piece of poetry by the rules of prosody, he ran out and told the people that his father had lost his wits. 300They went in immediately and related to al-Khalíl what they had heard, on which he addressed his son in these terms:

“Had you known what I was saying, you would have excused me, and had you known what you said, I should have blamed you. But you did not understand me, so you blamed me, and I knew that you were ignorant, so I pardoned you.”


Here end, to my sorrow, the labours of a quarter-century and here I must perforce say with the “poets’ Poet,”

“Behold! I see the haven nigh at hand,
To which I mean my wearie course to bend;
Vere the main shete, and bear up with the land
The which afore is fairly to be ken’d.”

Nothing of importance now indeed remains for me but briefly to estimate the character of my work and to take cordial leave of my readers, thanking them for the interest they have accorded to these volumes and for enabling me thus successfully to complete the decade.

Without pudor malus or over-diffidence I would claim to have fulfilled the promise contained in my Foreword. The anthropological notes and notelets, which not only illustrate and read between the lines of the text, but assist the student of Moslem life and of Arabo-Egyptian manners, customs and language in a multitude of matters shunned by books, form a repertory of Eastern knowledge in its esoteric phase, sexual as well as social.

To assert that such lore is unnecessary is to state, as every 301traveller knows, an “absurdum.” Few phenomena are more startling than the vision of a venerable infant, who has lived half his long life in the midst of the wildest anthropological vagaries and monstrosities, and yet who absolutely ignores all that India or Burmah enacts under his very eyes. This is crass ignorance, not the naive innocence of Saint Francis who, seeing a man and a maid in a dark corner, raised his hands to Heaven and thanked the Lord that there was still in the world so much of Christian Charity.

Against such lack of knowledge my notes are a protest; and I may claim success despite the difficulty of the task. A traveller familiar with Syria and Palestine, Herr Landberg, writes, “La plume refuserait son service, la langue serait insuffisante, si celui qui connaît la vie de tous les jours des Orientaux, surtout des classes élevées, voulait la devoiler. L’Europe est bien loin d’en avoir la moindre idée.”

In this matter I have done my best, at a time too when the hapless English traveller is expected to write like a young lady for young ladies, and never to notice what underlies the most superficial stratum. And I also maintain that the free treatment of topics usually taboo’d and held to be “alekta”—unknown and unfitted for publicity—will be a national benefit to an “Empire of Opinion,” whose very basis and buttresses are a thorough knowledge by the rulers of the ruled. Men have been crowned with gold in the Capitol for lesser services rendered to the Respublica.

That the work contains errors, shortcomings and many a lapsus, I am the first and foremost to declare. Yet in justice to myself I must also notice that the maculæ are few and far between; even the most unfriendly and interested critics have failed to point out an abnormal number of slips. And before pronouncing the “Vos plaudite!” or, as Easterns more politely say, “I implore that my poor name may be raised aloft on the tongue of praise, 302let me invoke the fair field and courteous favour which the Persian poet expected from his readers.

‏بپوش گر بخطای رسی و طعنه مزن که هيج بشر خالی از خطا نبود‎
(Veil it, an fault thou find, nor jibe nor jeer:—
None may be found of faults and failings clear!)
Athenæum Club, September 30, ’86.




I make no apology for the number and extent of bibliographical and other lists given in this Appendix: they may cumber the book but they are necessary to complete my design. This has been to supply throughout the ten volumes the young Arabist and student of Orientalism and Anthropology with such assistance as I can render him; and it is my conviction that if with the aid of this version he will master the original text of the “Thousand Nights and a Night,” he will find himself at home amongst educated men in Egypt and Syria, Najd and Mesopotamia and be able to converse with them like a gentleman; not, as too often happens in Anglo-India, like a “Ghoráwálá” (groom). With this object he will learn by heart what instinct and inclination suggest of the proverbs and instances, the verses, the jeux d’esprit and especially the Koranic citations scattered about the text; and my indices will enable him to hunt up the tale or the verses which he may require for quotation even when writing an ordinary letter to a “native” correspondent. Thus he will be spared the wasted labour of wading through volumes in order to pick up a line.

The following is the list of Indices:—

Appendix I.

I. Index to the Tales in the ten Volumes.

II. Alphabetical Table of the Notes (Anthropological, etc.) prepared by F. Steingass, Ph.D.

III. Alphabetical Table of First Lines (metrical portion) in English and Arabic, prepared by Dr. Steingass.

IV. Tables of Contents of the various Arabic texts.

A. The Unfinished Calcutta Edition (1814–18).

B. The Breslau Text (1825–43) from Mr. Payne’s Version.

C. The Macnaghten or Turner-Macan Text (A.D. 1839–42), and the Bulak Edition (A.H. 1251 = A.D. 1835–36), from Mr. Payne’s Version.

D. The same with Mr. Lane’s and my Version.

Appendix II.

Contributions to the Bibliography of the Thousand and One Nights, and their Imitations, with a Table shewing the contents of the principal editions and translations of the Nights. By W. F. Kirby, Author of “Ed-Dimiryaht, an Oriental Romance;” “The New Arabian Nights,” &c.


Appendix I.


N.B.—The Roman numerals denote the volume, the Arabic the page.


Prepared by F. Steingass, Ph.D.