Page 45. According to the lithographed text: “The Fourth Vizier presented himself before the King and said: ‘Of all the admirable qualities [becoming] a King forbearance is the most praiseworthy, and occasions general tranquillity; but inasmuch as the forbearance [towards] Bakhtyār exceeds all bounds, it brings evil repute to the King and kingdom, just as the [moderate] tasting of meat is legitimate, but to eat to excess produces violent fever.’”

Page 45. “Let him not be precipitate in putting me to death.”—The text goes on to say: “For precipitation in the end leads only to repentance. Through impatience a man falls from sovereignty, but whoever practises patience obtains it, and is free from calamity. If the King would permit, just as his servant has described [the career of] the Impatient Bihzād, he would also, at the service of the King, make known Abū Saber's patience, and thus shed light on the illumined mind of the King, [showing] how by patience extensive dominion accrues to a human being.” The King said: “Abū Saber, who was he? And practising what degree of patience, and in what manner, did he acquire dominion and sovereignty? Relate.”

Page 46. Abū Saber (Sabr), literally, “Father of Patience.” —This story offers a striking example of the practice of patience, a virtue enjoined by the Kur'ān (ii, 148): “O true believers, beg assistance with patience (bi-'s-sabri) and prayer, for God is with the patient (inna-'llāha ma‘a-’s-sabirīn).”—Travellers in the East are daily reminded of this text: you engage camels; at the time appointed, they are not ready; you seek, and find the owner smoking in a coffee-shop; to your remonstrances he replies: “Have patience, Efendī—inna-'llāha ma‘a-’s-sabirīn.” An Egyptian friend visits you while you are still agitated, and his only words are: Sabr kun—inna-'llāha ma‘a-’s-sabirīn: Have patience—God is with the patient. In a flutter of indignation you bring your complaint before my Lord Judge (Māvlāna Kazī), who summons and expostulates with the offender, and then, with a smile, assures you, inna-'llāha ma‘a-’s-sabirīn! —Persian authors are profuse in their praise of patience. Sa'dī (Gulistān, i, 27) illustrates the double meaning of Sabr, which signifies the “aloe” as well as “patience:”

Rest not sour because of the turns of Fortune, for Patience [or the Aloe],
Although it is bitter, bringeth forth sweet fruit.

And in the same excellent work (iii, 1) he says: “The treasure chosen by Lukmān was patience; without patience there is no such thing as wisdom.”

Page 46. “A tax-gatherer”—'Amil—is inferior to an Amīn, who regulates the revenues of a district, and to a Zamin-dār, a landed proprietor.

Page 46. “Extorted (Kharāj) tribute from the poor peasants.”—Kharāj-guzār, “a tribute-paying subject,” differs from dhimī (zimmiy), who pays an annual tribute, and is entitled to the protection of the Muslims and to most of the civil rights which they enjoy; but he has also—in Egypt, at least—to pay the income-tax in common with Muslims. (See Lane's Modern Egyptians.)

Page 46. “With cruelty and injustice,” &c.—“Most of the governors of provinces and districts,” says Lane (Modern Egypt.), “carry their oppression far beyond the limits to which they are authorised to proceed by the Pasha; and even the Shaikh of a village, in executing the commands of his superiors, abuses his lawful power: bribes and the ties of relationship and marriage influence him and them; and by lessening the oppression of some, who are more able to bear it, greatly increase that of others.” The peasants of Egypt only pay taxes after a severe bastinading: “the more easily the peasant pays, the more he is made to pay;” they are “proud of the stripes they receive for withholding their contributions; and are often heard to boast of the number of blows which were inflicted upon them before they would give up their money… It may be hardly necessary to add, that few of them engage with assiduity in the labours of agriculture, unless compelled to do so by their superiors.”

Page 47. “He replied, that patience was his only remedy.” —The lithographed text thus proceeds:

The peasants retired void of hope, and remained [quiet] in the village until the day when the King of the territory came in that direction for the chase. The peasants hastened out of the village, and raised a cry [of lamentation], saying: “We are peasants, the tributaries and well-wishers of his Majesty. At the time when the collector, entering this village, executed his duties cruelly towards us, and had no mercy upon us poor people, a party of evil-doers slew the tax-gatherer and fled. This news reaching the ears of the King, he commanded the village to be laid waste, and we, the guiltless, were set aside. After his we were in misery and affliction, and could do but little seed-sowing and harvest. Three years afterwards a lion formed his lair in the neighbouring district of the village, and he killed many children and camels; and from dread of the lion we were unable to go out of doors, and were reduced to [a state of] star­vation and nakedness.” Thus did they speak, and, with lamentations and groans, shed tears. Pity for them came over [the mind of] the King, who asked: “Why, at the time of the murder of the collector, did you not come before me, and represent your own state of affairs, and beg me to forbear from the command to lay your village waste?” The peasants replied: “In the village there is a man who is our chief; whatever affair we undertake, we confer with him, [that] he may devise the proper course [to pursue]. We told him of this state of affairs, and he was not one with us, and he did not think it advisable we should come into the presence of the King.” At these words the King became angry, and commanded they should expel this man from the village.

Page 48.—“Abū Saber recommended patience.”—According to the lithographed text: Have patience (sabr kun); since by patience that which was obscure becomes manifest, [even as] a lamp lights up [darkness].

Page 48. “She contrived to write upon the ground with blood.”—Of what service blood could be in tracing letters in the sand is not very obvious: the lithographed text simply says, that “when she perceived there was no remedy, she wrote on the ground: ‘A robber has carried me off!’”

Page 49. “Every stranger … was by his command seized and compelled to work,” &c.—No doubt many of the magnificent palaces and other edifices in Eastern countries, like the famous Pyramids near Cairo, were thus raised by forced labour. Mūlī Isma'īl, emperor of Morocco, who died, after a long reign, in 1714, was a great lover of architecture and employed many people on his buildings; if he did not approve of the plan or the performance, it was usual for him to show the delicacy of his taste by demolishing the whole structure and putting to death all who had a hand in it.

Page 50. “Providence would relieve him from the oppression under which he suffered.”—Abū Saber said: “Be patient, since the Almighty (may He be honoured and glorified!) is a friend of the patient, and quickly will release thee from this oppression.” —Here, it will be observed, Abū Saber refers to the text from the Kur'ān quoted in the third note to this chapter, as above, “God is with the patient.”

Page 51. “Supporting his head on the knees of patience, implored the protection of the Almighty.”—Abū Saber may be supposed to have assumed an attitude of prayer (reka), by an inclination of the body, so that the hands rested on the knees, saying (tawakkal bar Khudā), “put thy trust in God,” Kur'ān xxxvii, 3; and recalling to mind: “whoso … persevereth with patience shall at length find relief.”—Kur'ān xii, 90.

Page 51. “It was resolved that they should go to the prison, and propose three questions to the criminals confined there; and that whoever gave the best answers should be chosen King.”— This will probably strike most readers as a rather curious, not to say hap-hazard, mode of electing a King; yet it goes, I think, to prove the antiquity of the original story; and, moreover, if the “questions” were of such a subtle nature as to require superior sagacity for their solution, it may have been perhaps as good a way of choosing a sovereign as many that have been adopted either in ancient or modern times. The circumstance that the test-questions were proposed to prisoners may seem still more absurd; but the late King is represented as very tyrannical and impious, “one who did not fear God, an infidel;” and the chiefs of the city were doubtless aware that the prisoners were not really criminals, but the innocent victims of a wicked tyrant. It is very tantalising that neither in the lithographed text nor in those texts which Lescallier made use of for his French transla­tion, nor in Sir William Ouseley's, are the questions and Abū Saber's answers given. One is naturally curious to know whether they were of the nature of ingenious riddles or subtle questions involving profound moral truths. The practice (apparently a very ancient one) of proposing to certain kinds of candidates and accused persons, riddles or “hard questions” to expound or answer is common to the popular fictions of Europe as well as of Asia. In more than one of the Arabian Tales a lady chooses for her husband him who answers her “questions.” In the Scottish ballad of “Roslin's Daughter” the lady proposes a number of riddles or questions to her lover, which he must answer before she will “gang to his bed.” In Mr Ralston's extremely entertaining and valuable Russian Folk-Tales, on the other hand, a Princess makes it her rule, that “any one whose riddles she cannot guess, him must she marry; but any one whose riddles she can guess, him she may put to death.” In Chapter 70 of Swan's translation of the Gesta Romanorum, a collection of Latin stories, largely derived from Eastern sources, very popular in the Middle Ages, a King's daughter vows that she will never marry except the man who answers three questions. In the old English version of the Gesta, edited by Sir Frederick Madden, Chapter 19, a certain good and righteous knight is falsely accused of some crime, and the Emperor gives him the option of answering six questions or forfeiting his life. The same story, with variations of local colouring, &c., is found in the 4th novel of Sacchetti, one of the early Italian novelists; in Tyl Eulenspiegel, the celebrated German folk-book; and in our old English ballad of “King John and the Abbot of Canterbury.” In an Indian work of fiction, said to have been written in the 7th century, Dasa Kumara Charita (Adventures of Ten Princes),* Mitragupta meets with a terrible Rakshasa—a species of demon in human form—who threatens to devour him if he cannot answer four questions. These, with Mitragupta's answers, are as fol­lows: (1) What is cruel? Ans. A wicked woman's heart. (2) What is most to the advantage of a householder? Ans. Good qualities in a wife. (3) What is love? Ans. Imagination. (4) What best accomplishes difficult things? Ans. Cunning. Mitragupta then relates four stories in illustration of his answers. In the Persian romance of Hatim Ta'ī—the author of which has been greatly indebted to Hindū fiction for his materials—a young lady, named Husn Bānū, makes it the condition of her bestowing her hand on any of her numerous suitors, that he shall answer seven questions—or rather, perform seven difficult and dangerous tasks in order to solve her questions.—In the 14th of Mr Ralston's Tibetan Tales,* the Dumb Cripple, who does not wish to succeed to the throne, is permitted to renounce the world on condition of his answering three questions.—And Voltaire, in his Zadig — imitating this feature of Oriental romance, as he did others—represents a contention for the throne of Babylon, first by a tournament, and finally by the champions attempting to solve a number of enigmas.

Whether it was ever a custom in any Eastern land to choose a King from among prisoners to whom certain difficult questions were proposed, is itself a “difficult question.” But it is remark­able that in legendary Indian stories, both those preserved in writing and by oral tradition, mention is frequently made of the election of a King by the elephant of the deceased monarch. For instance: in Sivandhi Sthala Purana, a legendary account of the famous temple at Trinchinopoli, of which a palm-leaf manuscript is described by Dr. H. H. Wilson, in his Catalogue of the Mackenzie Collection, it is related that a certain King having mortally offended a holy Muni, his capital and all the inhabitants were, in consequence of an imprecation pronounced on him by the enraged saint, buried beneath a shower of dust. “Only the Queen escaped, and in her flight she was delivered of a male child. After some interval, the chiefs of the Chola kingdom, proceeding to elect a King, determined, by advice of the Muni [the same whose curse had worked the mischief afore­said], to crown whomsoever the late monarch's elephant should pitch upon. Being turned loose for that purpose, the elephant discovered and brought to Trisira-mālī the child of his former master, who accordingly became the Chola King.”* —And in the Manipuri Story of the Two Brothers, Turi and Basanta (translated by G. H. Damant, in the Indian Antiquary, 1875), Turi, in the course of his wanderings, is chosen King in a similar manner by an elephant, who meets the youth in the forest, takes him up, and brings him to the palace, where he is immediately set upon the throne.—A very singular custom in the election of a Khān seems to have been once observed by the Kalmuks, if we may credit the Relations of Ssidi Kür,* a Tartar version of the Sanskrit Vetála Panchavinsati, or 25 Tales of a Demon: A sacred figure, of dough or paste, usually in the shape of a pyramid, called a baling, was thrown high into the air, and the person upon whose head it fell was proclaimed Khān.—Still more curious, and savouring somewhat of the supernatural;—in Mr Ralston's Tibetan Tales, a king called Ananda, being attacked by illness, considered which of his five sons he should invest with the sovereign power. His four elder sons were rash, rude, and hot-tempered; his youngest, Prince Adarsamukha, was the most suitable; but Ananda's kinsmen would probably reproach him should he pass over the elder sons, and give his crown to the youngest. Then said he to his ministers: “Give ear, O chieftains! After my death ye are to test each of the princes in turn. Him among them whom the jewel-shoes fit when they are tried on; under whom the throne remains steadfast when he is upon it; on whom the diadem rests unshaken when it is placed upon his head; whom the women recognise; and who guesses the six objects to be divined by his insight, namely: the inner treasure, the outer treasure, the inner and outer treasure, the treasure of the tree-top, the treasure of the hill-top, and the treasure of the river-shore: him by whom all these conditions are fulfilled shall ye invest with the sove­reign power.” As is almost invariably the case in the folk­tales of all countries, the youngest son is the successful com­petitor.—In the good old times, when kings and chiefs were chosen for their physical strength and prowess in battle, one can see some propriety in rival candidates for the supreme power settling their claims by a hand-to-hand contest; but surely only in such countries as China and Japan could we conceive it possible for a dispute of this kind to be settled by proxy. Mr Mitford, in his Tales of Old Japan (vol. i, 203, 204), tells us: “In the year 858 the throne of Japan was wrestled for. The Emperor Buntoker had two sons, called Koréshito and Korétaka, both of whom aspired to the throne. Their claims were decided in a wrestling match, in which one Yoshirô was the champion of Koréshito, and Natora the champion of Korétaka. Natora having been defeated, Koréshito ascended his father's throne, under the style of Siewa.”

Page 52. “The robber he immediately recognised, but was silent.”—In keeping with the Persian saying: sina pur jūsh o lab khamūsh, “troubled breast and silent lip.”

Page 52. “We are freeborn, we are the sons of a Mussul-mān—Slaves, among the Muslims, are either captives in war (saqāyā) or by purchase (mavālāt). One of the fundamental points of the Muhammadan religion consists in the ransom of slaves: “Alms should buy the freedom of slaves” — Kurān ix, 60.

Page 53. “The merchant's money to be deposited in the public treasury.”—This, if correctly rendered, would have been an act of gross injustice, not at all in accordance with the character of Abū Saber; since the merchant had been guilty of nothing unlawful in purchasing the boys, whom he did not know were freeborn and the sons of a Muslim. The litho­graphed text says: “He sent the robber to prison, and re-imbursed the merchant from the public treasury;”—and Lescallier (p. 96): “Il ordonna au voleur de restituer au marchand l'argent qu'il en avait recu, et le fit arrêter et jeter en prison.”

Page 53. “Because she wore a veil (sitr).”—Muslim women are prescribed by their religion to conceal from all men whatever may be attractive in their appearance, and the men are not permitted to see any unveiled women save their wives, or slaves, and those women with whom they are prohibited by law from marrying—see Kur'ān xxiv, 31. “The curse of God,” said the Prophet, “is on the seer and the seen.” Lane, in his Modern Egyptians, gives a very minute description, with numerous engravings, of the veils worn by Muslim women, and remarks that “the veil is of very remote antiquity”—see Genesis xxiv, 65, and Isaiah iii, 23.

Page 53. “Would not consent to perform the duties of a wife.”—When a wife disobeys her husband's lawful commands, he may take her (or two Muslim witnesses) before the Kāzī. Should the complaint preferred be just and proved, a certificate is written, declaring her nashiza, rebellious, and the husband is then quite free from the obligation of lodging, clothing, and maintaining her.

Page 53. “This man was not her husband.”—The 4th sura of the Kur'ān (v. 20 et seq.) treats of lawful and unlawful marriages. “Ye are all forbidden to take to wife free women who are married” (v. 22); that is, says Sale, whether they be Muslim women or not, unless they be legally divorced from their husbands.—This incident, if the story be fictitious (but it probably had some foundation in fact), is very ingeniously conceived: Abū Saber's happiness is rendered complete by the recovery of his wife, with such a credential of her purity!

The Arabian version of this story, according to Cazotte's French rendering (and Habicht's German translation agrees with it in this respect), gives a very different account of the circumstances of Abū Saber's elevation to the supreme power. Abū Saber, it seems, had been cast by the wicked King into a deep, dry well in the palace-yard. Now it happened that this impious and cruel King “had a brother whom he had always concealed from every eye, in a secret part of the palace; but suspicion and uneasiness made him afraid lest he should one day be carried off and placed upon the throne. Some time before he had privately let him down into this well. This unhappy victim of politics soon sank under so many distresses: he died; but this event was not known, although the other parts of the secret had transpired. The grandees of the realm, and the whole nation, shocked at a capricious cruelty which exposed them all to the same danger, rose, with one accord, against the tyrant, and assassinated him. The adventure of Abū Saber had been long since forgotten. One of the officers of the palace reported that the King went every day to carry bread to a man who was in the well, and to converse with him.* This idea led their thoughts to the brother who had been so cruelly used by the tyrant. They ran to the well, went down into it, and found there Abū Saber, whom they took for the presumptive heir to the crown. Without giving him time to speak, or to make himself known, they conducted him to a bath; and he was soon clothed in the royal purple, and placed upon the throne.”