Damnah said, ‘Two friends, one of whom was named Sálim, and the other Ghánim,* were journeying on a road, and, in company with one another, traversed the halting-places and stages. It happened that they passed along the skirt of a mountain, whose peak kept rein-and-rein with the bay courser of the sky, and whose waist was girt so as to keep stirrup-to-stirrup with the surface of the celestial girdle;* and at the foot of the mountain there was a fountain of water, in clearness like the cheek of fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked [beauties], and in sweetness like the speech of sugar-lipped, sweet-spoken [fair ones]. In front of this fountain a large reservoir had been made, and around it umbrageous trees interlaced their tops.

Here branches of sweet shrubs their odours gave,
And here tall trees (their graceful) foliage wave.
The hyacinth the cypress-foot attends,
The violet before the lily bends.

In short those two comrades arrived from the terrible wilderness at that ter­mination of their day’s journey, and seeing it to be a pleasant spot, and an exhilarating resting-place, stopped there for their accustomed repose; and after resting themselves, passed along in every direction on all sides of the reservoir and fountain and looked about them on every side. All at once they saw—on the margin of the reservoir, on the side whence the water came—a white stone, and on it written, in emerald characters—such that, save with the pen of omnipotence and on the page of wisdom characters like them could not be traced—these words, ‘O traveler! who* hast honored this spot by alighting here, know that we have provided entertainment for our guests after the best manner, and prepared the tables of advantage in the most excellent fashion; but the condition is that thou shouldst plunge over-head into this fountain, and without dread of the danger of the eddy, or of the terrors of the vortex, get to shore as best thou canst; and at the foot of the mountain we have placed a lion carved out of stone, which thou must raise on thy shoulder, and without hesitation or delay, must convey thyself in one run to the top of the mountain, nor desist from thy undertaking from fear of the ravenous beasts that may cross thy path, nor of the sharpness of the heart-transfixing thorns which may lay hold of thy skirt; for when the course is finished the tree of desire will bear fruit.’

No halt is reached until the journey ’s done.
Through mortal agonies our will we gain.
And though the universal world attain
The splendours of success; e’en then not one
Beam would him gild, who gives himself no pain.

After acquainting himself with the purport of this inscription, Ghánim turned to Sálim with these words, ‘O brother! come on, in order that we may traverse this arena of danger with the steps of toil, and may display every endeavour that is possible to learn the particulars* of this talisman.’

Either, successful, on high heaven to tread;
Or, with a valiant aim, lay down our head.

Sálim said, ‘O friend beloved, from a mere legend, whose writer is unknown, and of the truth of which we are ignorant, to embark in a prodigious peril; and on the idea of an imaginary advantage and a supposed benefit, to precipi­tate oneself into a great danger is a proof of fatuity. No sensible man takes certain poison along with a questionable antidote, nor does any reason­able person willingly undergo ready-money labour for pleasure on credit.

A wise man thinks a moment’s pain outweighs
An age of ease and countless happy days.’*

Ghánim replied, ‘O kind friend! the love of ease is the forerunner of igno­miny and disgrace, and the undertaking of danger the token of fortune and honor.

Those easy souls, who venture nought,
Ne’er their hearts gladden with success.
Who fear the revel’s after-thought,—
With vinous aches and throbbings fraught—
Ne’er drain the bowl of happiness.

The will of the high-spirited man stoops not to a corner and an allowance of food, nor, till he obtains a lofty situation, does he desist from the pursuit. One cannot gather the rose of pleasure without the thorn of toil, nor open the door of one’s wish without the key of labour, and as for me, resolution will seize the reins and carry me to the top of the mountain, and I shall have no dread of the whiripool of calamity, nor of the endurance of the load of hardship.

Should toil in the search befall us, well it may be so,
When we long for Makka’s temple, gladly through the wastes we go.’

Sálim rejoined, ‘Granted that for the perfume of the spring of good-fortune one may put up with the disorder of the autumn of adversity, nevertheless to advance in a path which has no end, and to float on in an ocean whose shore is not visible, is far removed from the path of discretion; and it behoves every one who commences an undertaking, to examine its issue as well as he knows its beginning; and, casting his glance from the commence­ment of the affair to the end, to weigh the loss and gain of it, in order that he may not undergo vain toil, and not give to the wind of annihilation the ready money of his precious life.

Till thou hast first made sure thy stepping-place,
Step thou not onward in pursuit of aught,
And in each matter that thou dost embrace,
Be first a crevice for escapement sought.

It may be that they have written this inscription for a joke, and inscribed these characters for mockery and sport, and this fountain may be a whirlpool, such that it is impossible to reach the bank by swimming; and, if escape from it be attained, it is probable that the weight of the stone lion may be so great that one cannot lift it on one’s shoulder, and were that, too, effected, it is possible that one could not reach the top of the mountain in a single run, and if all this be accomplished, it is quite unknown what the result may be, In fine, I go not along with thee in this business, and, moreover, dissuade thee from advancing farther in the matter.’ Ghánim said, ‘Cease these words, since I will not turn back from my intention for any man’s words, nor will break the resolution I have formed, for all the doubts that the ‘imps of men or genii’ can suggest; and I know that thou hast not the strength to accompany me, and will not agree to bear me company. Well, then, look on at the spectacle, and aid with thy prayers and good wishes.

No power hast thou to drain the cup, I ween;
Come, view at least the gay carousing scene.’

Sálim perceived that he was a man of an unchangeable impulse in his undertakings, and said, ‘O brother! I see that thou wilt not be restrained by my advice, and that thou wilt not abandon this thing which ought not to be done; and I cannot bear to look on at this affair, nor can I find amuse­ment in a thing which does not suit my feelings and is not approved by my heart. I see my best course to be this—

I from this whirlpool must my things remove.*

He then placed the baggage he had, on his beast, and bade his friend farewell, and set forward on his journey. Ghánim, having washed his heart of his life, came to the brink of the fountain, and said,

,I’ll dive down into this wide-flowing sea,
Or there to sink, or bring back pearls with me.’

Then binding firmly round his waist the skirt of resolution, he stepped into the fountain.

No fountain that—but there an ocean flowed
That the false semblance of a fountain shewed.

Ghánim saw that that fountain was a dangerous whirlpool, but keeping a stout heart, by swimming boldly, reached the shore of delivery; and having come to the edge of the water and recovered himself, he by strength and might, lifted the stone lion on his back, and voluntarily submitting to a thousand kinds of labour, brought himself in one run to the top of the mountain, and on that side of the mountain he saw a great city with an agreeable climate and a heart-expanding country.

In goodness it with Eden might compare,
And was like Iram’s garden—fresh and fair.

Ghánim having halted on the summit of the mountain, was looking towards the city, when suddenly, from that lion of stone, a terrible sound issued, such that the mountain and plain shook, and that noise having reached the city, many persons came out from the right and left, and turning their faces towards the mountain, advanced towards Ghánim. Ghánim looked on with a wondering gaze, and was astonished at the multitudes of people, when, all of a sudden, a company of grandees and nobles came and performed the ceremonies of salutation, and offered the praises due to him, and having seated him, with the greatest respect, on a fleet courser, conveyed him towards the city, and after washing his head and body with rose-water and camphor, arrayed him in royal robes, and, with all honor and reverence, delivered into his able hands the rein of the sovereignty of that country. Upon Ghánim’s inquiring into the nature of these circumstances, he was answered in the following manner, ‘In the fountain that thou sawest, wise men have framed a talisman and fashioned that stone lion with every kind of care and consideration with regard to the rising of the degrees and the aspects of the fixed stars and planets, and whensoever a respected person resolves to cross the fountain, and lift up the lion and ascend to the summit of the mountain, this circumstance will undoubtedly coincide with the decease of the monarch of this city. Thereupon the lion utters a sound, and the noise thereof having reached the city, the people come forth, and having raised this man to the sovereignty, pass their lives tranquilly under the shelter of his justice until the time when his turn, too, arrives.

When one departs another takes his place.

And when, by command of God, the sun of the existence of the ruler of this country sets in the horizon of death, simultaneously therewith, the star of the grandeur of that fortunate person exhibits its ascension from the summit of this mountain: and long ages have passed since this rule has been established after this same custom that has been mentioned; and thou art to-day the king of this city and the ruler of this age.

The realm is thine—command whate’er thou wilt.

Ghánim perceived that the endurance of all those toils was through the requirement of fortune.

When fortune comes to lend her willing aid,
She makes all issue as it should be made.

And I have introduced this example in order that thou mayest know that the draught of delight and enjoyment is not without the sting of annoyance and trouble; and to whomsoever the desire of exaltation arises, he will not be trampled down by any base person, nor be content with a low rank or a mean station; and I, until I obtain the dignity of the Lion’s confidence, and am admitted into the number of those who stand nearest to his presence, will not lay my head on the pillow of repose, nor stretch out my feet on the couch of relaxation.’ Kalílah said, ‘Whence hast thou been able to grasp the key of this door? and how hast thou conceived the idea of entering into this affair?’ Damnah said, ‘At this crisis, when alarm and uncertainty has found way to the Lion, I mean to put myself in his way, and it is probable that, by imbibing the cordial of my advice, he may recover his cheerfulness, and by this means my propinquity and rank in his presence will be increased.’ Kalílah said, ‘How will thou obtain propinquity and access to the Lion? and even should it be so, thou hast not been used to the services of kings, and knowest not the customs and ceremonies [to be observed] in their atten­dance. In a short time, therefore, thou wilt lose what thou hast acquired, and thou wilt not again be able to apply any remedy for this.’ Damnah rejoined, ‘When a man is wise and able, the undertaking matters of impor­tance has nothing injurious for him, and any one who has confidence in his own abilities, will acquit himself satisfactorily of every business upon which he enters. And another thing is this, if fortune manifests herself, she will shew the way to all that is required: as it has come down to us in history that the sum of the prosperity of a tradesman having been exalted, he obtained the royal dignity, and his renown and fame spread throughout the world. One of the ancient kings wrote him a letter to this effect, ‘Thy craft was carpentry, and thou knowest the business of a carpenter well—from whom hast thou learned government and judgment in the transaction of affairs?’ He wrote for answer, ‘He who bestowed fortune upon me, has not omitted a single particle of instruction in the management of the world.’

When I from wisdom’s opened scroll am taught,
I, thus instructed, do the thing I ought.
The man whose taper fortune deigns to light,
Gathers all fit materials to do right.

Kalílah said, ‘Kings do not distinguish all men of merit by their favours, but mark by their especial and royal notice their own near connections who have obtained propinquity in their service by inheritance or desert, and since thou hast neither hereditary claims upon the lion, nor self-acquired pretentions, it is probable that thou wilt remain excluded from his notice, and it may be the cause of something that will accord with the wishes of thy foes.’ Dam­nah said, ‘Every one who has obtained a lofty rank in the service of the king has done so by degrees, and that station has not shewed itself without their toil and exertion and the influence of the King’s favorable notice; and I too seek the same thing, and go about for the same end, and have reconciled to myself the endurance of many fatigues, and the tasting of many unpalatable draughts, and I know that whoever attends the court of princes must choose five things. First, he must quench the flame of anger with the water of mildness. Secondly, he must cautiously avoid the suggestions of the tempter, lust. Thirdly, he must not allow deceitful greediness, and mischief-exciting covetousness, to get the better of the guide, reason. Fourthly, he must base his actions on truth and moderation. Fifthly, the accidents and contingencies that may occur, these he must encounter with gentleness and courteous bearing: and whoever is endowed with these qualities, undoubtedly his wish will be accomplished most successfully.’ Kalílah replied, ‘Supposing that thou gainest access to the King; by what means art thou to obtain his approbation? and by what art will thou arrive at rank and promotion?’ Damnah said, ‘If close intercourse with his majesty be attained, I will adopt five qualities. First, I will perform his service in perfect sincerity. Secondly, I will shape my spirit in conformity to him. Thirdly, I will represent all his actions and words to advantage. Fourthly, when he commences an affair, which is allied to good policy, and in which I discover the weal of the realm, I will exhibit it to his eyes and feelings in the most attractive light, and bring under his observation its utilities and advantages, that his exultation at the goodness of his judgment, and the soundness of his plans, may be increased. Fifthly, if he should embark in a matter which might have a disastrous issue, and an unpleasant termination, so that injurious consequences may result to the kingdom, I will unfold to him, in eloquent language, and with great gentleness, the mischief of it, and make him aware of the evils that will issue from it, and as soon as the king perceives my merits, he will distinguish me by his approbation and favor, and will be ever inclined to my society, and eager for my advice, since no talent can be hid, and no man of talent will fail to participate in the marks of encouragement of support.

Talent, like musk, can hidden ne’er remain;
Its scent will sudden spread the world around.
Go, study then accomplishments to gain
That from thy excellence the wide domain
Of earth may with discourse of thee resound.

Kalílah said, ‘Since it appears that thy mind is bent on this, and that thy resolution with regard to the accomplishment of this matter is firmly fixed, be well on thy guard, for attendance on kings is a thing full of danger, and an affair replete with difficulties: and the wise have said that there are three things on which none would venture save a blockhead who has never inhaled the fragrance of reason. First, the service of a king; secondly, the tasting [what may be] poison with doubt* [as to the result]; thirdly, the divulging one’s secrets to women. And sages have compared kings to a lofty mountain; since, although mines of precious jewels are there, still there also is the abode of tigers and snakes and other noxious animals, and both the ascent is difficult, and the abiding there arduous; and they have also said that the society of a monarch resembles the sea, and the trader who chooses to travel by sea, either acquires much gain, or is overtaken in the whirlpool of destruction.’

Upon the sea, ’tis true, is boundless gain;
Wouldst thou be safe, upon the shore remain.*

Damnah said, ‘All that thou hast said has been well-intentioned, and I know that a king is like a consuming fire; the danger of a person increases in proportion to his proximity to it.

Withdraw thyself from a king’s company,
As thou wouldst keep, from fire, fuel dry.

However, whoso dreads danger will not arrive at a high station.

From danger greatness springs—the merchant ne’er
Gains forty for his ten*whom risks deter.

And there are three things which no one without high spirit can undertake—the public service of a king; a voyage by sea; and the encountering foes; and I do not find myself to be mean-spirited, why then should I dread the king’s service?’

Since such the powerful arm of my emprise;
In my own sleeve, all that I wish for, lies.
Wouldst thou rank high amid the noblest men?
Strive with the spirit thou possessest, then,
In short, all that thou wouldest lay hands upon,
Hast thou a lofty spirit, may be won.

Kalílah said, ‘Although I am opposed to this project, and deprecate this intention, nevertheless, since thy judgment is so decided in this matter, and thy mind so set on this scheme—may it be fortunate!

Behold thy path! go happily in peace!

Damnah departed and made his salutation to the Lion. The Lion inquired, ‘What person is this?’ They replied, ‘The son of such an one, who for a long time was an attendant at the royal court.’ The Lion exclaimed, ‘Aye! I recollect him.’ He then called him before him and said, ‘Where dost thou live?’ Damnah answered, ‘After the custom of my father, I have now become an attendant in the heaven-resembling court, and have made it the shrine of my wants, and the K’abah* of my wishes, and am in waiting that if an affair of importance should occur, and the august order should be issued, I may satisfactorily accomplish it by my sagacity, and may engage in it with clear discernment. And as in the management of various matters of weight, there is occasion for the Pillars of the state, and the ministers of his Majesty, so it is probable that at the courts of princes an event may occur, which may be brought to a close by the aid of those of inferior degree.

The fly too, like the peacock, here may aid.

In a matter which may be effected by the weak needle, the proud* javelin may prove inefficacious, and an affair which a poor penknife may accomplish, in that, the highly-tempered scymitar may prove at a loss. And no servant, though he may be of little estimation and mean position, is devoid of use for removing detriment and eliciting good, since even the dry stick which lies despised in the road, may possibly, some day, become serviceable; and though it be good for nothing else, yet it may chance that they may make a tooth-pick of it, or by means of it, may cleanse the ear of wax.’

If from me thou a nose-gay canst not make,
As fuel for the pot thou may’st me take.

When the Lion heard the speech of Damnah, he was astonished at his eloquence and fluency of speech, and turning to his courtiers, said, ‘Though a wise man should be of small reputation, yet his understanding and wisdom will, involuntarily, make his talents known to the nation, like the flame of fire, which, though he that kindles it may wish should burn downwards, will, to a certainty, raise its head aloft.

If one sincerely loves, the sign
Of true love on his face will shine.’

Damnah was pleased at these words, and perceived that his fascinations had made an impression on the Lion, and that his artifice was completely successful. He loosed the tongue of advice, and said, ‘It is incumbent on all the royal attendants and household, according to their understanding and knowledge, to ponder well every matter which may befall the king, and to represent whatever may occur to the mind of each, nor ever abandon the path of good advice, in order that the sovereign may thoroughly know his followers and dependants, and having become acquainted with the extent of the judgment and prudence and sincerity and discretion of each, may both derive advantage from their respective services, and may also reward each in proportion to his deserts; for so long as the grain lies hidden by the curtain of the earth, no one takes trouble in cultivating it, and when it draws back the veil of mould from its face, and raises its head in its gay robe of green, from the collar of the ground, and is perceived to be a fruit-bearing tree and a useful plant; then assuredly [men] will foster it and profit by its fruits: and in all matters, the source [of advancement] is the encouragement of kings. Whomsoever, among men of merit, they distinguish by their favorable notice, from him they will derive benefit in proportion to the encouragement they bestow.

I’m like the thorn, like earth am I—tulip and rose shall grow
From me, if thou, my cloud and sun, will only favor shew.’

The Lion asked, ‘How must men of understanding be encouraged? and by what means can one reap fruit from them?’ Damnah replied, ‘The main point in this matter is that the king should look to worth, not birth; and if a party of incapables should allege the services of their ancestors and progenitors, that he should pay no regard to them, for a man should make good his pedigree by his abilities, not by his father.

Let thy own worth elate thee—do not base
Pretensions on thy long-descended race;
Do not, O shallow one! by dead men live,
But, by thine own renown, the dead revive:
The empty vaunt of buried sires disown;
O youth! rejoice not, dog-like, in a bone.

Though a rat be a partner in the same abode with men, yet by reason of the annoyance and injury which results from it, they think it right to exert themselves for its destruction; while the hawk, which is wild and strange—since advantage may be anticipated from it—they allure with every sort of kindness, and bring him up on the wrist of favor, indulgently and proudly.* Wherefore it behoves a king not to distinguish between friends and strangers, but to seek out men of ability and learning, and not to suffer precedence to be given to men who are remiss in business and wanting in talent, over persons of eminence and merit; since to bestow the office of wise men on fools, is like fastening ornaments for the head on the feet, and placing that which ought to deck the feet on the head; and wherever men of talent are depressed and ignorant, and fatuous persons get possession of the reins of power, the utmost confusion will find its way into the affairs of that country, and the disgrace of that circumstance will attach to the fortune of the king and his subjects.

Tell the Phœnix its bright shadow o’er that country ne’er to throw
Where the raven has the ascendant, and the parrot sinks below.’

When Damnah had finished speaking, the Lion showed him the utmost favor, and admitted him into the number of his particular favorites, and having taken a liking to his conversation, based his most important actions upon his counsel and advice. Damnah, too, taking the path of good sense, and intelligence and understanding and sagacity, became, in a short time, the confidante of the royal cabinet, and the man relied upon and referred to for advice and suggestions of improvement in the affairs of state. One day, having found a fortunate occasion and a convenient time, he asked for a private audience, and said, ‘A long time has now passed during which the king has remained stationary in one place, and has relinquished the gratification of exercise and the pleasures of the chace. I wish to know the cause of this and to speak on this matter to the best of my ability.’ The Lion wished to conceal from him the alarm he felt, when, meantime, Shanzabah bellowed aloud, and his voice agitated the Lion so much, that the reins of self-possession passed from his grasp. He was compelled to disclose his secret to Damnah, and said, ‘The cause of my fear is this sound that thou hearest, and I know not whose voice it is, but I suspect that his strength and build is in proportion to his voice. If his form be such,* it is no good for me to remain in this place.’ Damnah replied, ‘Has the king any other thing upon his mind besides this voice?’—‘No!’ said the Lion. ‘Then,’ rejoined Damnah, ‘it is not right, for such a trifle, to expatriate yourself and to depart from your own familiar residence. What dependence is there [to be placed] in a voice? and what weight [ought to be attached] to a cry that any one should remove for that? and it beseems a king to be firmly planted like a rock, so as not to be shaken by every wind nor to be dislodged by every outcry.

That no tempest may dislodge thee, plant thy foot firm, like a rock!*

And the ancients have said that regard should not be paid to every loud noise and powerful body; for not every external form furnishes sure information of the internal meaning, nor is every outward semblance a token of what lies within. A reed, though it be thick, is broken with a slender stick, and a heron, though of large stature, is overcome by the talons of a hawk of com­paratively slim build; and whoever makes account of largeness of bulk, meets with what that Fox met with. The Lion asked; ‘How was that?’