Dábishlím said respectfully to the perfect sage, the Bráhman of profound mind, ‘I have heard the story of one whose heart was not tranquilized by the caresses of an enemy whose feelings had been wounded; and who, when he saw the signs of hostility and marks of rancor remaining, was not to be shaken from the path of caution, though his foe did his utmost to conciliate him. Now the fires of eager desire have been kindled within me, and so long as a shower from the fountain of the Ninth Precept does not reach my consumed heart, the burning impatience of my mind will not be allayed. I entertain a confident hope that you will narrate a story which shall compre­hend the subject of the clemency of kings and their indulgence, and that you will recount whether, when a king, after the infliction of severe punishment on his attendants, beholds in them the evident tokens of crime and transgression, he ought again to shew them favor or not? Also, whether or not it would be in accordance with prudence to place confidence in such persons, by restoring to them their offices?’ Bídpáí, with a pleasing voice and in an exhilarating style, replied, ‘If kings close up the door of forgive­ness and clemency, and in whatever quarter they discover a slight offence, command the offender to be chastised, their attendants will lose all unmixed confidence in them, and not rely on them farther. And from this state of things two calamities will arise—first, all affairs will be paralysed and conducted with remissness; and secondly, offenders will be deprived of the sweet taste of clemency and the favor of indulgence. Moreover one of the greatest princes has said, ‘If people knew what gratification the palate of my soul finds in forgiveness they would bring no other offering to my heart than errors and offences.

Did the offender know what bliss to me
Arises from the pardon of a sin,
He’d ever err intentionally,
And with excuses some new crime begin.’

There is no ornament more becoming to the state of princes than clemency, and no more brilliant evidence to the perfection of the worth of the noble among the sons of Adam than pardon and indulgence. And the import of the miraculously-gifted saying of His Highness the Prince of Mankind (On him be the choicest benedictions and blessings!) viz., ‘Ha! I will teach you, who is the strongest of you,—he who governs himself when in anger,’—graciously points out that one may discover the power of a man by his quenching the flame of wrath, and that the proofs of manliness and magnanimity may be learned by the capacity to swallow down the distasteful beverage of anger.

Think not that manly virtue is in courage and in strength alone:
Do thou thy anger overcome, and I will thee as perfect own.

And the most admirable quality of kings is to make high-minded reason their guide in all that befalls them, and at no time to suffer their character to be deficient in graciousness and due severity. But their indulgence ought to be of such a nature as not to verge towards weakness; and their severity should be such as to be clear from the reproach of cruelty, so that their rule may be adorned with the two characteristics of beauty and grandeur, and the axis of the state may revolve on the display of terror and the good tidings of hope. Thus neither will the attached despair of a kindness which will be void of limit, nor will the rebellious set foot in the world of audacity through fear of punishment.

Imperial Jamshíd swayed his people’s mind,
While mingled hopes and fears their thoughts confined.

And the sages of the true religion (May God reward them with good!) have said that God Most High hath given His people virtuous qualities by the admonitions of the Ḳur’án and the instructions of that holy book, and hath given them a longing for approved customs and laudable habits. Thus all, whoever they may be, to whom infinite happiness lends aid and assistance, and eternal wisdom supplies support and countenance, will make the man­dates of the Ḳur’án the point of adoration of their hearts and the sanctuary of their souls; and they will ever, with heart and soul, turn towards the honored shrine of this temple of security and peace. And of the number of the said admonitions is a verse which comprehends all the truths of this assertion above made, and its word is most high, ‘Who bridle their anger, and forgive men; for God loveth the beneficent.’* And one of the leaders of religion has, with the tongue of verity, explained this verse in the following manner: To restrain anger is, not to go to excess in punishment; and forgive­ness is, to obliterate the trace of aversion from the page of the heart; and beneficence is, to return a second time to a friend that has offended and made his excuse; and the sum and substance of the verse is to base one’s proceedings on kindness and gentleness, and to observe carefully in all matters politeness and benignity. For it has been handed down among true traditions, that if benevolence could be represented in a bodily shape the splendor of its beauty would so glitter and shine that no eye would be able to endure the sight of it, and no one would ever have beheld a more graceful form, or a more comely appearance. And an eminent personage, in a single couplet of the following stanza, expresses all this.

‘When God has given thee o’er a culprit sway,
Forgive and bind him so to be thy slave.
Their own bad actions do the guilty slay,
The scent of pardon lifts them from the grave.
Could we in outward shape sweet mercy see,
Than sun or Jupiter more bright she’d be.’

And should this matter be duly pondered, it will undoubtedly be discerned that the dignity of man is increased by the excellence of a forgiving and beneficent disposition. Wherefore our best efforts should be directed to the cultivation of these two qualities. Moreover, it is not hidden [from our knowledge] that man cannot be devoid of faults and negligence, and offences and failings. If, then, every offence brings out a manifestation of severity, and every crime developes a corresponding punishment, a general injury will be occasioned, which will spread through the departments of finance and government.

To grasp the sword with wild impetuous haste
Causes remorseful gnawing of the hand,
Forbid it that a kingly crown be placed
On heads that cannot their own wrath command.

Again, it behoves a king to estimate the extent of the friendship, and the sincerity of the counsels, and the merits and ability of the person who has exposed himself to aspersions; in order that, if he be of the number of those who can aid in the counsels of the state, or from whose advice assistance may be anticipated in the events which time brings about; the king may then exert himself to restore his own confidence in him, and take speedy measures to encourage and promote him. Let him regard this course, therefore, as free from danger and doubt; and restore his heart, by conciliation and entreaty, to its wonted tranquillity. For there is no limit to state emergencies, and it is also certain that kings stand in need of efficacious advisers and trustworthy officers, who deserve to be entrusted with secrets, and possess aptitude for discretionary powers in the affairs of government. Wherefore it befits the regal position to promote those parties who are adorned with perfect understanding, and hortatory powers and merit, and abstinence from what is forbidden, and are graced with rectitude and uprightness, and piety and honesty; and who are distinguished from their fellows by gratitude and good advice, and loyalty and attach­ment. And as a means thereto, they ought to learn what office suits each, and to what department each should fittingly be attached; and to appoint each individual to some business, according to his capacity and the extent of his judgment and valor, and in proportion to his understanding and ability. And if in any one, together with merit, be found a fault, of that, too, kings should not be neglectful; for no creature can be found faultless. And they have said,

Seek not a faultless friend lest thou shouldst all unfriended live.

And in this particular, caution is requisite to such an extent, that if any one should embarrass matters which he is called upon to superintend, he should he removed from the government; and if another, by his very abilities, should disturb his department, he, too, should be avoided. For though this is a state of things which is impossible, that abilities should prejudice anything, nevertheless, the above injunction has been given in order that it may be known that to obtain one’s object, even men of ability and merit may be discarded; whence it will be the more expedient to elongate oneself from people fatuous and prone to error. Consequently, from the right understanding of this subject, and the recognition of these points, it becomes the duty of kings that they should execute the diligent exploration of the matters, and inquire into the employments, which they commit to the care of their officers and superintendents, so that they may be minutely* conversant with the affairs of finance and government. And in this, two important advantages are discernible. One is that it will be thence known who of the superintendents are cherishers of the subjects, and who are their oppressors. Thus the king must take care to caress those who are tender towards the people, and support them in that course; and obliterate from the book of employment his name who cares not for those under him, and enter it in the register of disgrace.

Thy folk to pious men entrusted be,
For he builds up the state, who rules himself.
The nation’s tyrant—thy worst foe is he,
Who grinds thy subjects to increase thy pelf.
’Tis wrong that he a nation should enthrall,
Against whose hand men lift their hands in prayer;
Evil will ne’er the virtuous man befall,
But evil-doers their own lives ensnare.

And further, when this idea has been impressed on the minds of all, that the king keeps the rewards of the actions of well-doers at hand in the best possible way, and thinks it incumbent on him to punish traitors in proportion to their guilt: then the good, being inspired with hope, will not be remiss and supine towards acting rightly; and mischievous persons, becoming alarmed and terrified, will not act with audacity and fearlessness as regards sedition and wrong-dealing to others. Now the tale of the Lion and the Jackal is a story suited to these premises.’ The King asked, ‘How was that?’