Page 56. “The King of Yemen.”—As the Kings of Egypt were named Pharaoh, those of the Sassanian dynasty of Persia, Khusrū, those of Abyssinia, Negashi, so were the Kings of Yemen distinguished by the title of Tobba, from being the paramount sovereign of a number of tribes or followers (tābi'īn). Some of the ancient Kings, having considerably enlarged their dominions by conquest, became proverbial for great power.

Yemen (or Arabia Felix) in the time of Strabo was divided into five kingdoms (l. 16, p. 112), and has been successively subdued by the Abyssinians, the Persians, the Sultans of Egpyt, and the Turks.—On the west Yemen has the Red Sea; on the south the Straits of Babu-'l-Mandab and the Indian Ocean; on the east Hadramaut, and the north Nejed and the Hijāz. The inhabitants plume themselves on their country being “the birth-place of the sciences and religion” (Biladu-'l-‘Ulm o Biladu-’d-Dīn).—Niebuhr, par. ii, p. 247.

Page 56. “A certain slave named Abraha.”—Influenced, probably, by a malevolent feeling towards the Mushriks (those who attribute partners to God—Christians), the Muslim author —or, more likely, translator and adapter—gives the name of Abraha to an Ethiopian slave, disparaging, as it were, the historical fame of Abraha Ebnu-'s-Sabā, the 46th King of Yemen, surnamed Sahibu-'l-Fīl (Lord of the Elephant), an Ethiopian by birth, and of the Christian religion, who in paynim times built a magnificent church in the citadel of Grandam, at Sanaā, with the design of inducing pilgrims to resort thither, instead of to the Ka'ba at Mecca. (See Kur'ān cv, and Sale's note.)

Page 56. “The arrow cut off one of his ears.”—According to Lescallier, only a piece of his ear.

Page 56. “The King's first impulse,” &c.—In Lescallier's French rendering this passage is to the following effect: “The King of Yemen at once ordered that Abraha should be seized and beheaded. Abraha said to the King: ‘Your Majesty knows that I am not blamable in this unfortunate affair; I shot the arrow intending to wound the deer. If you pardon me this time, you, in your turn, will be pardoned when you sin.’ The King of Yemen, having heard these words, received him favour­ably, pardoned him, and cancelled the order which he had given. Abraha was overjoyed at this, and they re-entered the town together.

Page 57. “They then returned to the city”—i.e. Sanaā in Yemen, so called to distinguish it from another Sanaā, a village of Damascus, anciently called Azāl, from its founder. The city is supposed to have acquired its name from the Ethiopians, who conquered the country, and on beholding its beauty, exclaimed: “This is Sana!” which in Ethiopic means, “com­modious,” “comfortable.”—At an elevation of 4000 feet above the sea-level, near the source of the river Shāb, it is celebrated for its trees and waters, and compared by ‘Abu-’l-Feda to Damascus. The city is walled, as also the suburb, Birū-'l-Azāb. At present it is a large mercantile town, the residence of an Imām. A handsome bridge is thrown over the principal street, down which flows a stream of water, and all the private dwell­ings of the higher classes have glass windows, beautifully stained, and are furnished with fountains. At the eastern and western extremities is a castle, having each a palace, built of hewn stone, covered with gray-coloured plaster. Situated in the heart of the coffee country, the principal trade is in that useful berry, which is rarely used for home consumption, the common beverage being keshr, an infusion of the husk. About twenty mosques, elaborately decorated, and with gilt domes, adorn the city; and the public baths, numerous and good, are the favourite resort of the merchants, who meet to discuss the state of trade, and to listen to the news of the day, over a cup of keshr and the indispensable hūkka.

Page 57. “Was driven on the coast of Zangībār (or Zanzi­bar).”—Probably the ancient island of Menuthias, southward of the Sea of Babu-'l-Mandab. This is the island of the “Zonūj” mentioned in the Arabian Nights, and they are also called “zinj” “zenj”—an Ethiopian nation of the country known to us as Zangībār. (See Lane's 1001 Nights: “Abū Muhammad the Lazy,” chap. xiv, text, p. 413, note 5.)—Zengī signifies “black,” and bār, country or territory: Zangībār, “the country of blacks.”

Page 57. The reader can hardly fail to observe very con­siderable indistinctness (to say the least) in the narrative of the incidents which immediately follow the return of the King of Yemen and his slave Abraha to the capital. We are told, “they then returned to the city; and after some time had elapsed, having gone on board a vessel,” &c.; from which it may be naturally supposed that Abraha and the King were still in company, although no mention is made of Abraha when the vessel went to pieces. He turns up, however, very oddly, at page 59: “It happened that Abraha, who had been the King of Yemen's slave, was standing near this wall, but his former master did not recognise him, as they had been separated for some time, Abraha having found means to return to Zangībār, his native country.” These last words, in italics, seem to represent a passage, which the translator has strangely omitted in its proper place, explaining the cause of the King of Yemen's undertaking a voyage by sea. The following is a translation of the events which occurred after “they returned to the city” (p. 57), accord­ing to the lithographed text:

A few days having elapsed, the King continued to be satisfied with Abraha.—To return to the story.* Ever since Abraha had been absent from his father, messengers had been despatched in every direction, and they had pursued [to] such [an extent] research and inquiry, that it became known to them that Abraha was in Yemen, and in the service of the King. The Shāh of Zangībār was overjoyed, and took counsel of the Vizier, saying, “What is the prudent plan [or proper policy—tadbīr] in this affair?” The Vizier replied: “If the report should reach the King of Yemen that he [Abraha] is the son of the Shāh of Zangibār, the affair would be difficult.” In a word, this con­versation resulted in this resolve, that they should send an intelligent person to bring back Abraha. This individual having turned his face towards Yemen, arrived in the capital. He employed considerable exertions in search of Abraha. When he happened to meet with him, and the Khōja* explained the cause of his coming to Yemen, they both agreed to sally forth at once from the city; and as soon as they were outside they set their faces in the direction of Zangībār. Abraha had arrived only a short time near his father, when the King of Yemen was informed of the departure of Abraha, and he became morosely pensive, and could take no rest. One day he commanded they should equip vessels, [as] he wished to pass over the sea for the purpose of being free from anxiety [or, of enjoying social inter­course]. When he was aboard the ship, and at some distance from land, a hurricane sprang up suddenly, and shivered the vessel to pieces. A portion of a plank was thrown against the King of Yemen. Six days and nights he floated over the surface of the sea, until he was cast ashore on the territory of Zangistān;* [certain] pearl-divers saw him; they approached near him; they spoke a few words to him; he gave no response —he was senseless. They sprinkled over his throat [and neck] a quantity of oil of balsam; he opened his eyes, and his speech came back to him. He asked them: “What territory is this?” The divers replied: “This territory is Zangistān.” He then asked: “How far is it to the capital?” They answered: “Four parasangs.”* The King of Yemen proceeded onwards, until the hour of evening prayer, when he entered the city.

Manuscripts of the Bakhtyār Nāma vary so much in detail that probably no two are exactly the same. Those used by M. Lescallier would appear to have been more diffuse than the lithographed text of 1839. According to his rendering, after the King of Zangībār's messenger had been some time in Yemen, “he chose a fitting occasion and place to see Abraha, and converse with him. He spoke to him of his country, of his father, and of the love which he had for his dear son, like that which Jacob bore to his beloved son, Joseph.* Abraha, hearing news of his country and his father, felt his sensibility re-awaken; his eyes shed gentle tears, like the showers of spring, and he spoke these words, interrupted by sobs: ‘Whence come you, my dear sir? How and for what purpose are you arrived in this country?’ The messenger then confided to him the secret reason of his journey,* undertaken for the sole purpose of bringing him back to his father. Abraha asked him urgently to take him away from that town. The messenger, who was a very intelligent and clever man, took his measures and time so well that he carried off Abraha, and made him start with him for that capital, and they arrived without accident at Zangībār. As soon as they were near the outskirts of the capital of Zangībār, the King, being informed of the arrival of his son, sent some people to meet him, and caused him to be escorted with pomp, and he received him with demonstrations of the greatest joy.”

According to M. Cazotte's rendering (King Bohetzad, &c.) of this story, under the rather misleading title of “Baharkan, or the Intemperate Man,” Abraha was not a slave but an officer, and his name was Tirkan. “He was,” we read, “a young prince who had fled from his father's court in order to escape the punishment of a fault which he had committed. After having wandered unknown from country to country, he at length settled at the Court of King Baharkan, where he obtained employment. He still remained there some time after the accident which had befallen him [to wit, the accident to the King's ear]. But his father, having discovered the place of his retreat, sent him his pardon, and conjured him to return to him. He did this in such affectionate and paternal terms that Tirkan, trusting in his father's goodness, immediately departed. His hopes were not deceived, and he was re-established in all his rights.” The sequel agrees for the most part with that of the Persian text; only we are told that the King's object in going over sea was pearl-fishing for amusement.

Page 57. “Sheltered himself under the shade (sāyabān) of a merchant's house.”—Sāyabān, a canopy; an umbrella; a shade formed by foliage, or any other projection. Against the front of shops in Eastern countries is a raised bench, or rather a stone or brick platform (mastaba), two feet from the ground, upon which the tradesman sits, and a little above it is a covering (sakīfat) of matting; and sometimes planks supported by beams, affording shelter and shade. (See Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. ii, pp. 9, 10.)

Page 58. “He was sent to prison”—Lescallier's rendering adds, “where he passed his time praising God, and submitting to His will.”

Page 59. “He gave public audience to persons of all ranks” khāss o 'amin—noble and plebeian.

Page 59. “If I succeed in hitting that crow (properly, raven),” &c.—The superstitious belief in divination from the flight, motions, and positions of birds (ez-zijr, el-īyafa), which prevailed so much among the Arabs at the time when the Prophet began his great mission, although it is denounced by the Kur'ān, prevails even now in the East, where the raven is called the “Father of Omens” (Abū-Zājir), and the “Bird of Separation” (ghurabi-'l-bain); its appearance betokening a change of circumstances, which for the King of Yemen denoted liberty from a state of slavery. According to an author cited by Bochart (Hier. i, p. 20), Noah sent forth from the ark a raven, to observe whether the water had abated, and it did not return, hence it is called “the bird of separation.” In the Gulistān, iv, 12, an execrable voice is compared to the croak of the Raven of Separation, or, as some render the passage, “the raven of ill omen” (see Lane's Arabic Lexicon, vol. i). Ravens in many countries have been considered as birds of ill omen. Thus, in Dryden's Virgil:

The hoarse raven on the blasted bough,
By croaking to the left, presaged the coming blow;

and in Gay's Fables (xxxvii, 27, 28):

That raven on yon left-hand oak,
Curse on his ill-betiding croak.

Page 59. “The law of retaliation, which would not award a head for an ear.”—In accordance with the text of the Kur'ān, v, 49: “We have therein commanded them that they should give life for life, and eye for eye, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth; and that wounds should also be punished by retaliation,” &c. (compare Exod. xxi, 24; Levit. xxiv, 20; Deut. xix, 21). For unintentional mutilation the Muhammadan law permits the payment of half the price of blood, as for homicide; for a member of which there are two, from the rich man 500 dīnars (£250), from the less opulent 6000 direms (£150). The de­linquent in the present instance, being penniless, the King of Zangībār had no choice but to exact “ear for ear.” (Sale's Kur'ān, Prel. Disc., sec. vi; Mills' History of Muhammedan-ism , ed. 1817, pp. 319, 320.)