Again the august king of kings turned to the illustrious sage, and in a style sweetly eloquent,

Said, eulogizing him, ‘O matchless sage!
Ne’er was thy equal witnessed by this age.

Thou hast narrated the story of one who having turned from the profession and language of his forefathers, betook himself to a thing unsuited to his condition and unconformable to his habits; and for whom, after that the object of his desire had been hid from the eye of his intention, return to his original business became impossible.

He yields up this, and that eludes his hands.

Now relate what are the most admirable qualities in kings, and which are most closely connected with the welfare of the State, and the continuance of fortune, and stability of affairs, and the conciliation of hearts? And I have seen in the Twelfth Precept that it behoves monarchs to make mildness the ornament of their career, and patience the principal of their dealings. Yet I am in doubt whether mildness be a preferable quality for kings, or generosity or valor? Do thou, with thy sagacity which solves difficulties, undo the knot of the string of this problem, and with thy judgment, which points out the right, elucidate in the best possible way the mystery of this question?’

When the sage teacher heard this question, he
The door of wisdom’s treasury set wide,
And said, ‘O Khusrau! sway and fortune be
Ever, as now, with thy command allied!

Know that the most praiseworthy characteristic and approved quality, whence both the person of kings will inspire awe and be most respected, and whence, too, as well soldiers as other subjects, will be made to feel content, is mildness and good-nature. And from the verse, ‘If thou hadst been severe and hard-hearted, they had surely separated themselves from about thee,’* and from the words, tending to virtue, of the Sulṭán of the throne of prophecy and the felicitous lord of the empire of glory (On him be the choicest benedictions of those who pray!) it is to be understood that happiness in this world and what we hope for in the next are the consequents of mildness and good-nature. Thus it is said,*Of the happiness of man is excellence of disposition, and the meek man is all but becoming a prophet.’ And as to these three qualities, of which the king is enamoured, it is better that he should know to which to give the preference. All three are requisite, but valor is not always required, and in a whole life there may be but once a necessity for its display. But generosity and mildness are always wanted; wherefore these too are better than valor. Again, the advantages of generosity are restricted to a certain class; and it is only a particular body of individuals who can share in the benefits of the royal bounty. On the other hand, small and great stand in need of mildness, and the blessings of good temper extend to high and low, the civilian and the soldier. Wherefore it follows, as a matter of course, that mildness is superior to the other virtue.

He is, in truth, the best of human race,
Who aye maintains a mild and kindly mood.
Man’s goodness is not in the charms of face;
The temper’s sweetness is his fount of good.

And a sage has said, ‘Were there between me and all mankind but a single hair, and all of them unanimously tried to break it, it would be impossible that it should break; because if they left it slack I would tighten it, and if they pulled it tight I would slacken it. In other words, the perfection of my mildness and scope of my forgiving nature are of such extent that I can live at peace with all mankind, and can put up with the vulgar and the learned, the innocent and the criminal.

While he pursues his selfish ends, his cords around me rest;
If he will not obey my will, I’ll follow his behest.’

And be it known, that gravity and composure are a more graceful ornament of kings, and meekness and endurance a better decoration for the rulers of the world [than generosity or courage], because the commands of princes are absolute as to the life and goods and landed property of mankind, and their directions to do or not to do a thing prevail without restriction over the lowest and the highest, and the mean and the great. Wherefore, if their dispositions are not adorned with mildness and conscientiousness, it is possible that by a single harsh act they may estrange the minds of a whole nation, and by a rash and precipitate deed chafe and displease the whole world, and thus many lives and possessions will fall into the place of destruction and alienation.

Each order given by a reigning king,
Should after long reflection be expressed;
For it may be that endless woes will spring,
From a command he paused not to digest.

And if a king wash from the face of the age the dust of want with the water of generosity, or consume with the fire of valor the harvest of the life of the hostile; yet, if he have no share of the stock of mildness, he will, by a single act of tyranny, make turbid the fountain of bountifulness, and by one violent deed raise up a thousand mortal enemies. While, on the other hand, if he fall short in the matter of generosity, and be slack in the field of courage, he may still conciliate his people and his armies by courtesy and blandness, and by his mildness and amiability, and by these qualities bind men to loyalty and chain them to his service;

’T is best thy face be smiling as the rose,
That through all parts thy name spread fragrantly.
Mankind will look with favor upon those
Who gild the world with their humanity.

And together with mildness, a king must have a share, also, of dignified composure, for mildness without firmness is not devoid of fault. Thus if one endure many annoyances; and manifest, in the most extreme degree, the quality of patience, if it conclude in precipitancy and terminate in rash and inconsiderate action, all those instances of long-suffering will be wasted, and he will be unsuccessful.

Be thou in the path of patience ever stable as a rock,
He who shows the most composure will be freest, too, from shock.

It behoves a king, too, at the time of showing mildness, not to suffer himself to be swayed by his inclinations; and at the time of anger not to allow himself to listen to the tempter; for rage is a torch of the devil’s fire, and a branch, the fruit of which is chagrin and repentance. Mildness is one of the qualities of the prophets; and rage a canine passion and one of the temptations of the evil one. It is agreed, too, among men of profound wisdom and those possessed of true piety, that until a person has got the mastery over anger, he cannot reach the rank of the just. It is also written in the remarkable sayings of the wise, that they made representation to an eminent personage, saying, ‘Express in one word the various branches of a good moral nature, that it may be the easier to grasp it.’ He responded, ‘To forsake anger comprehends all virtuous qualities and excellent disposi­tions, and to allow wrath its free course, includes all reprehensible acts and disgraceful deeds.

Anger and spite to brutes and beasts belong,
Class then the wrathful with the bestial throng.
Thy anger springs from hell—is a part so
Of that dread whole, and of mankind’s arch-foe.
Art thou a portion then of hell?—Beware!
For parts to wholes, by nature’s laws, repair.

And moreover it must be known that the requirement that a king has of a vazír who is able to give him perfect advice, and of a prudent and eminent counsellor, is in order that, if the pride of power and the haughtiness of regal sway should lead him aside from the path of mildness and clemency, his right-counselling vazír, having brought him back by advice to the path of rectitude, may cause him to tread firmly in the road of calmness and com­posure; and having by the antidote of admonition destroyed the tendency to swerve from justice, may bestow on him the quality of stability in the way of safety; that by the bestowal of the grace of the Creator, and the happy influence of mildness and composure, and the loyalty of the counsels and purity of the intentions of his fortune-bringing vazír, he may be successful and triumphant in all his affairs: and that in whatever direction he may turn, victory and conquest may be his companions and attendants, and fortune and success his aiders and assistants. And if on some occasion he should issue his commands in any affair in accordance with his passions, and in obedience to his deceitful lusts, and deliver a decree without reflection and sure thought, and not according to foresight and prudence, then by the clear judgment of such a faithful minister the evil of his injustice may be alleviated; and the remedy of the confusion, and reparation of the error may not remain in the area of impossibility, as was the case in the contest of the King of Hindústán with his tribe.’ The world-adorning king asked, ‘How was that?’