The End of the Affair of the Damsel, who was taken in her own Device, and punished by the word of the Prince.*

Only a page of this chapter remains. The Damsel is made to sit on her knees opposite the Prince, who is in the same posture, before the king's throne. The Prince says: “O king of the world, I have no witness except God! This violence did not proceed from me, for one must needs be ashamed thereof. God knows that his slave (himself) is good;—seek not good from those who know not God.” The king treated that sinner (the damsel) with contempt: “This is the time of question and answer. Why hast thou blackened thy own face?* Why hast thou done evil against this innocent one? Had he ever done (aught wrong) to thee? Had he injured thee or thine? Thou hast made thyself an example in the world till the judg­ment day. See what thy deeds have brought to pass! See now, how just is thy retribution! As thou hast mingled the diamond with the draught, drink thou it first, for thou hast poured it out. Drink up the dregs, for it is thy turn. Why should the master of the feast act wrongfully? Seek not that for thyself which thou seekest not for others, for none who does evil sees good.” The damsel perspired like the (dew-sprent) rose for shame. She wept over her plight, and said: “Now have I no choice therein;—not once, but a hundred times, have I done it. Order that they tear out my lily-tongue,* if thy slave (herself) has been free and bold.”]*

* * * * *

The commencement of the next chapter is wanting. Sindibād has been making some remarks on the impossibility of avoiding destiny. The king then compliments him on the success with which he had educated the prince. “If I formerly had confidence in your wisdom and virtue,” said his Majesty, “it is now increased a hundredfold. You are aware what happy results you have produced, and what accom­plishments you have imparted to my son. In return for your exertions in giving life to this ancient house, I will place your own family in affluence and indepen­dence.” He then bestowed munificent gifts on the philosopher.

His Majesty next inquired: “Whence did you acquire all this wisdom and excellence, and at whose house did you light your taper?”—Mark how wise an answer the philosopher returned: “Reason, sire, was my instructor,” said he. “He who takes reason for his guide will conduct his affairs to a successful issue; for it is a drop from the ocean of God's grace—a key to open—an unerring guide to conduct. I have plucked a rose from the garden of the intelligent; I have profited by the wisdom of the wise.* Never was there one like Farīdūn in wisdom, on whom may there be every moment a thousand benedictions! That wise, just, and pious monarch thus addressed the prince who was to succeed him: ‘Inscribe on the walls of my palace these counsels, fraught with wisdom, that my words may remain for ever as my memorial after me.’

Counsels which were inscribed around the Hall
of the happy Faridun

If thou possessest wisdom and understanding, lend not thine ear, as far as thou canst avoid it, to a tale-bearer. Such a person has no merit, unless it be this, that he carries a lie from Khatā to China. Grant not such a one a second audience; admit him not to a confidential interview.

Be not careless of an ill-disposed enemy; for negli­gence is not excusable under any circumstances, and whilst thou art engaged with other affairs, he is plotting how to injure thee.

Take not compassion on snake or serpent; for the one is a torment, the other a calamity.

If thou hast a friend sincere and accordant, make him thy constant associate.

Take not counsel with any save the wise; turn not from such a straight path.

Beware of the ignorant man and his conversation, schemes, and writing. Beware of the domestic enemy, whose reliance is on his ignorance and folly.

Leave not thorns in the highway, lest perchance thy own foot be wounded unaware.

The person whom thou hast not known all his life —to whom thou hast not given thy confidence— whose companion thou hast not been in travel (for in travel a man is exposed to perils)—to whom thou hast given nothing, and from whom thou hast received nothing—place not reliance on that person, if thou art wise.

A demon whom thou knowest is better than a hūrī whom thou knowest not.

Beware of speaking, except on occasions when thy speaking may be useful.

So speak, that when thou speakest again, thy words may be the same—nay, better.

“How can there be [adds Sindibād] better counsels than those which have the warrant of Farīdūn?”

The king next interrogated the philosopher on the affairs of the world. “Accomplished sage,” said he, “who is deserving of sovereignty, and whom does the diadem become?”

“The answer,” replied the sage, “is clear as the sun. He deserves to wear a crown, he is worthy of dominion, who knows the worth and dignity of every one, and who pays to each the respect due to him. Entrust not important affairs to the mean man, for he will be impotent under the mighty load.”

Again the king asked: “Of monarchs, say, who is the most to be approved?—of the virtues of monarchs, which is the most laudable?”

“He,” replied the sage, “who examines an affair in all its bearings, who acts with prudence, and who is neither precipitate nor dilatory.”

Various other questions were then put by his Majesty, and answered to his satisfaction by Sindibād; after which he asks the prince to produce some such pearls of advice as those which his tutor had strung. The prince complies, and delivers a series of moral, pru­dential, and religious maxims, which serve to show that he had improved wonderfully under the tuition of Sindibād, but with which the reader will perhaps dispense. Suffice it to say, that the king was struck with admiration at the wisdom of his son; and being now in his seventieth year, reflected thus:

“How long,” said he to himself, “shall the wine-pitcher, the wine, the drum, and the lute engross thee? By thy arm and might didst thou seize the royal crown. Thou hast amassed treasures in abund­ance by shedding the blood of the weak, not by the hand of toil. Thou hast taken from him who had nothing, and bestowed on him who left behind him. Neither was he from whom those treasures were ex­torted guilty, nor he who received them deserving. Then what wisdom was there first in taking from such a one, and next in bestowing on the other?

“But thou shalt be seized and receive the penalty of thy misdeeds in that day when every act shall be brought to light. What profit has resulted to thee from this life of seventy years? Go, make blind the eye of thy desire; prepare thy coffin, and benefit at least him who digs thy grave. Long enough have thy thoughts of Rūm, and thy projects on Khatā, engaged thee; go now, prepare thy provision for the journey of eternity. How long wilt thou continue the tormentor of the free-born? How long wilt thou devour the liver of the unfortunate?

“Perhaps thou believest not in a resurrection; per­chance thou reckest not of a day of judgment? This delusion proceeds from the clamour of the drum and the bell: but wait until the blowing of the trump, and it will be dispelled. Employ the time that remains to thee in devotion; go, retire to a corner, and be at peace: henceforward seek distinction only as a recluse. Content thee with a barley loaf, and eat not the barley and the wheat of the poor. The time has now arrived to repent of thy misdeeds. Thank God that thou hast a worthy successor in thy son—that darling of thy heart —that pearl of thee, the oyster-shell. In knowledge he is far thy superior; in vigour and energy more powerful. Thy day and night are over: it is now his day. The tree which time has dried up, I should marvel were it to bear fruit. When the branches of the willow are decayed, who looks to it for shade? What can be better for thee than that thy son should succeed thee, and preserve thy name upon the earth?”

He thus spoke, and went, with faltering steps, into the corner of retirement. For a week he beheld not the face of man; gave his courtiers no audience, and assigned not to his vazīrs their various duties, but re­mained alternately engaged in prayer and praise.

The King has a Dream, sends for his Vazirs and Officers of State, bestows in their presence the sovereignty on his Son, and goes into retirement.

WHEN the king awoke from that dream, and was roused from that high intoxication, he comprehended the good and the evil of life, and, on an auspicious day, summoned around his throne the ministers of religion, the nobles, vazīrs, and the generals of his army, and seated beside him on the throne his son and the sage Sindibād. Looking towards his left hand, where was his chief vazīr, he said:

“O worthy and experienced man! the world remains eternally to no one; but the Lord of the world remains, and he alone. In this life of seventy-five years, I have experienced but trouble, and sorrow, and suffering; and should I have yet seventy-five years more to live, would not that time also come to a close? My vision is dull; what was once strong is now weak. When the old man's form is bent like a bow, do not suppose that there is any better course for him than retirement. When the hand that should wield the sword trembles, why should you talk of sword or hanger? Shall I tell you what gray hairs are? They are the heralds of misfortune—the messengers that bid cease to hope.*

“Whether I am a king or an athlete, I am not higher in rank than Kay-Khusrau.* who resigned the sovereignty to Luhrāsp, and his knowledge in affairs to Jāmāsp. The time has arrived for me to retire: when age and its infirmities have come on, the crown and throne yield no pleasure. My sovereignty came to me from my father;* I now entrust it, as a deposit, to my son. You know that he is the centre of my hopes. If he be good, you have educated him; if evil, you have made him so.”

He then called his son to him, kissed his face, and, taking him by the hand, pressed him for a while in his embrace; after which, removing the crown from his head, he placed it on his son's, seated him on the throne, and came down from it, while the crowd con­gratulated him with tears in their eyes.

“This,” said he, “is the memorial of his father: this son is my refuge, and my dispeller of grief. To him do I resign my kingdom, hoping that you will reward me by your loyalty to him, and that you will not allow a stranger to occupy the place of this house.”*

His son being accepted by the people, the aged king caused an oratory to be built for himself, closed the door against the interruptions of worldly business, and sat down in tranquillity and retirement. Happy fortune! happy end! happy king! happy reign! Henceforward he had no concern but devotion and the duties of religion.

Go,* learn from him how to govern—how to cherish thy subjects. Turn not away from the counsels of the wise, but listen to the discourse of venerable worthies.

The Author's Concluding Remarks.

To me, too, the time of retirement has arrived: I, too, must totter to my corner. If he left to his son a kingdom, and betook himself to solitude, I likewise, for my dear and virtuous son, have left this renowned book, more valuable than treasure and wealth; a book by which, as long as Persian shall exist, as long as earth shall be beneath and heaven above, his name shall be perpetuated, whose end be happy! May the king not withdraw from him his favour; that king whose fortune may it be young, whose life long!

O God! withdraw not thy guidance from me: deprive me not of thy grace at last! My toilsome journey is accomplished: this new work has attained completion!