THE course to be observed by men in general in their intercourse with kings and persons in authority is this. They should entertain for them in the heart, affection, — on the tongue, eulogy and praise; they should attend upon the ministers of such persons with obsequious service; and as long as the orders they receive from them are not at variance with those of God, they must exert them­selves as far as possible to carry these into effect; whether as to do or to leave undone. The fiscal dues of tribute and the like they should discharge with cheerfulness, never even in thought desiring to withhold such; never admitting the minutest neglect, apparent or concealed,* of that reverence which is their due, and being prepared, in case of exigence, to sacrifice life and property for their sakes; seeing that on their sublime destinies the maintenance of religion and the prosperity of family and home is staked.*

Persons not actually numbered among their attendants ought never to allow themselves to aim at a closer proximity. For the companionship of princes has been compared to entering into a conflagration, or associating with a tiger. In truth, it is an arduous matter to observe the proprieties of attendance upon kings; neither has every one the power to discipline himself thereto. Certain elders of the faith have declared that none could walk the way of religion who had not lived in attendance upon, and in connexion with, earthly potentates: since, agreeably to the saying “The Sultan is the shadow of God,”* to observe the duties of a presence-chamber will form a man’s spirit to observe those of religion.

For him who is already advanced in their regard, let him occupy himself in the business entrusted to him, and not officiously press into other depart­ments. In his attendance he should be persevering, in such wise that whenever summoned he may be ready to proceed to the presence; and yet he must beware of urging his services, for that engenders distaste. Whatever they do he must be ready to commend, and this with sincerity, not in adulation. For nothing passes but has some bright side: this he is to bring forward and make the ground of his eulogy.

For him who has risen to the dignity of advising, he should make his remarks in the most general and polite form. For even according to the Institute, individuals have no title to use reproach or vehemence towards kings, whether in urging them to right or restraining them from wrong:* their office extending no farther than to general advice and exhortation of a courteous sort. Thus, in his book of Miracles, the Almighty says to Moses and Aaron with regard to Pharaoh, “Speak to him in soft phrases: perchance he may remember, or per­chance he may apprehend!

If he is a vizier or minister, and any proceeding of theirs occur repugnant to expedience, in the first instance let him go along with it, and concur in it, and afterwards let him get it out of their inclinations by some humorous remark. Writers observe that kings and potentates are like a torrent flowing from a mountain’s brow. He perishes who seeks to turn it aside in an instant. But he who lets it alone in its outbreak, and gradually encroaches on one of its margins, may turn it easily enough with a little earth and rubbish. Their secrets he should on no account allow himself to divulge:* the method of preventing which is to conceal their outward par­ticulars, forasmuch as may be reconciled with attention to their orders, and then, this habit being well established, the concealment of their secrets will become easy. For inward matters may be deduced from outward ones, by reason of that con­nexion and complication which universally prevails in all human affairs. He must always bear in mind that the feelings of kings are very lofty, and there­fore that all other orders ought to remain in sub­mission towards them.* Faults or omissions he must never impute to them in any affair, or to any degree, how near so ever the place they may have raised him to. And whenever an uncertainty pre­vails whether an error attaches to them or to him, he must take it solely on himself; preserving their dignity unsullied by the least blemish or imper­fection. That done, he may afterwards take occasion to exonerate his proceedings in their esteem. His endeavour to please them cannot be too great. He must put his own interests entirely out of sight: For in clientelage no progress can be made till the interest of self is entirely disregarded; and in pur­suance of this principle, on all occasions which involve either his interests or theirs, let theirs be all he aims at, and then along with theirs he will be promoting his own likewise.

For the purpose of obtaining any object he may have in view, he should approach them with agreeable devices, and not by importunity and super-solicitation. Of all things he must eschew covetousness, and strive after content. For the world turns to him that looks another way, and to him who wooes its countenance it only shows its back. Or as we have it among the dicta, “Abandon the world, and it will be eager to come to you;” and in the Touriat we are told the Almighty gave his world these directions: “O world, be servant unto him that is servant unto me, not unto him that is servant unto you.” The sources of emolument and wealth he is to reserve for his masters, and through them only to acquire any for himself. Let him have no designs upon their private property, as he would live secure from the degradation of being called to account, as he would amplify his own profit, as he would stand in their esteem and approbation. His bearing towards them should show as if, at their slightest signal, he were ready to sacrifice all his treasures and possessions. For if he evince reluctance, according to the saying “Men are eager after that which is withheld,” he does but provoke their covetings. It is a maxim with the wise, “The interdicted is the coveted, and the freely given is the soon abandoned.”* Rank and riches he should desire for their aggrandizement, and not for his own; and of all things he must avoid participating in any particular of dress or equipage which is appropriated to their use; or else the breach of etiquette may lead to his being deprived both of privilege and life. In no matter, however trifling, must he arrogate an independent seeming. Be the circumstances what they may, to acquiesce in his superior’s orders must be the symbol of his conduct.* It is written in the book of Solomon, (peace be with him!) that he addressed his soul as follows: “O my soul, despise not kings, but submit to all their sayings, and in no case be urged to utter in their presence aught involving censure either of thyself or others. For if it regard thyself, thou art brought within the scope of the temporal king’s displeasure; and if it regard others, thou becomest food for the displeasure of the King Eternal.”* Ibn Mukanna says, in his work on Manners, “If the king call thee brother, call thou him my Lord; and the closer thy familiarity becomes, the greater the reverence thou must pay him.* Yet when thy intimacy is well estab­lished, thou must not overload thy speech with terms of flattery and obsequiousness; for that betokens fear and alienation. Neither say to him in any case, Such is my right or the due of my previous service; rather will he hold thy previous service to carry forward his existing claims: so that the past lives only by the present. That right whose end is broken from its beginning, kings, and indeed all men, are ready to forget.”

There is no more dangerous undertaking than the viziership of kings. The vizier’s only safeguard is in his integrity. He that is marked for this high office must not be hurt at vituperation or abuse, nor allow it to press for a moment on his mind. If he finds his detractors busy with their intrigues, he must not be disturbed at it, nor show them any marks of antipathy and malice; for that would infallibly confirm their machinations. If the matter comes to verbal recrimination, let him not overpass the outworks of his stateliness; let his answers be always cool, for “With the cool is victory.”

Among other etiquette of royal and noble society one point is this, never to dispute in their presence; and when they put a question to another, never to prevent his answer by our own. This, in fact, is to prove at once the folly of the speaker, and his gross disregard both of questioner and questioned. Sup­posing the questioner to say, “It is not of you I ask,” he has no answer to make, but must bear the shame of his own inconsiderateness. If their ques­tion be addressed to the company at large, he is not to be emulously hasty in reply; for, besides being disagreeable to all, they are likely to find fault with the opinion. If he waits till others answer, and the merits of the subject are ascertained, and, after that, should the discussion be prolonged, gives his own opinion, he will show his breeding and his wit together.*

Over those who are more nearly favoured than himself he must never seek to be preferred; nor hold his feelings hurt at finding another and less deserving person surpass him in rank and favour. For the most elevated individual may have a natural affinity towards another of the lowliest order. This affinity it is which gives rise to all affection,* and to acquire it [when not created to us] is beyond the range of possibility. It is useless, therefore, to distress himself on any such account. And then, it may chance that such person has prior claims, with which the other is unacquainted; in which case a difference with him would alienate the king’s regard. In a word, he is to pass altogether away from his own liking, and make his wishes conform with those of the king. For, as has already been sufficiently explained,* until two persons become as one, the bond of affection can never be cemented; but as soon as either of the two ceases to stand upon his claims, discrepance, nay, severance, is removed, and their common interests adjust them­selves in the sacred form of unity.