Page 97. “The history of Abū Temām, and the envy of the envious.”—The Muslim, in his daily prayers, says: “I fly for refuge unto the Lord of the Daybreak; that He may deliver me from the mischief of the envious, when he envieth.”—Kur'an cxiii. 5.

Page 97. Abū Temām.—Abū—literally, “Father”—has often the sense of “endowed with,” or “possessed of,” and forms the figure called “metonymy.” Thus, Abū Bakr, “father of the maid”—Muhammad's father-in-law and successor; Abū Hurayrat, “father of the kitten,” one of Muhammad's com­panions, so nicknamed by the Prophet, on account of his having a pet cat.—Abū Temām signifies, “possessed of integrity.”

Page 98. “Any one possessed of above five direms”—equiva­lent to “any one who had a sixpence.”—It is related of Mūlī Isma'īl, Emperor of Morocco (who died in 1714), that when any of his subjects grew rich, in order to keep him from being dangerous to the state, he used to send for his goods and chattels. His governors of towns and provinces formed them­selves on the example of their dread monarch, practised rapine, violence, extortion, and all the art of despotic government, that they might the better send him their yearly presents: for the greatest of his viceroys was in danger of being recalled or hanged if he did not remit the bulk of his plunder to his sovereign. That he might make a right use of these treasures, he took care to bury them under ground, by the hands of his most trusty slaves, and then cut their throats, as the most effectual method of securing secrecy. The following story will illustrate his notions of property: Being upon the road, amidst his life-guards, a little before the Ram feast, he met one of his kāzīs at the head of his servants, who were driving a great flock of sheep to market. The Emperor asked whose they were. The kāzī, with a pro­found submission, answered: “They are mine, O Isma'īl, son of El-Sherīf.” “Thine! thou wretch!” exclaimed Mūlī Isma'īl; “I thought I had been the only proprietor in this country.” Upon which he ran him through the body with his lance, and piously distributed the sheep among his guards for the celebra­tion of the feast. His determination of justice between man and man will evince the blessings of his administration: A kāzī complaining to him of a wife (whom he had received from his Majesty's hands, and therefore could not divorce her), that she used to pull him by the beard, the Emperor ordered his beard to be plucked out by the roots, that he might not be liable to any more such affronts. A farmer, having accused some of his guards of having robbed him of a drove of oxen, the Emperor shot the offenders; but afterwards demanding reparation of the accuser for the loss of so many brave fellows, and finding him insolent, he compounded the matter with him by taking away his life.—One good thing he was celebrated for in the course of his long reign, the clearing of the roads of robbers, with which they used to be infested; but his method was to flay man, woman, and child that lived within a certain distance of the district where a robbery was committed.

Page 99. “The erection of bridges, caravanserais, and mosques.”—It is doubtful whether “caravanserais” be the correct rendering of the word ribāt. It may denote one of the dome-shaped buildings (kubba), having an oratory annexed, and an institution endowed for the maintenance of students (tālibān-i-'ilm), who are to pass their lives in reading and devotion.—Sa'dī, in his Bustān, b. i, says: “No one hath come into the world for continuance, save him who leaveth behind him a good name; nor hath any one died who hath left as an inheritance a bridge, a mosque, a hostel, or an hospital. Whoever hath left no such memorial behind him, his existence has been but that of a tree which never bore fruit; and whoever hath departed and left no mark, his name after his death will never be lauded.” The “erection of mosques” may remind the reader of a passage in Hamlet, iii, 2: “There's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year; but, by'r Lady, he must build churches then.”

Page 99. “His advice was followed in all matters of im­portance.”—The text says: “he appointed him Grand Vizier” (wazīr-i a'zam).

Page 99. “This King had Ten Viziers, who conceived a mortal hatred against Abū Temām,” &c.—See Note, pp. 137-9. —So too in Norse and other European Folk - Tales, envious courtiers endeavour to ruin or destroy a King's favourite by inciting the monarch to set him to perform some difficult and dangerous exploit, in which, however, he always succeeds.

Page 100. “Princess of Turkistān.”—Turān, Turkomania (or Transoxiana), is the country which lies beyond the Jihūn, or Oxus. Under the names of Irān and Turān the Eastern his­torians comprehend all the higher Asia, excepting India and China; and sometimes they imply “the whole world.” The Tātār nations in general have fine countenances, with large black eyes. Of all the towns in Turkistān, Chighil is the most famous for handsome men, expert archers, and beautiful maidens:

The ringlets of the idols of Chighil
Are altogether the abode of the soul, and the dwelling of the heart.”*
Page 100. “When the King heard the extravagant praises of her beauty he became enamoured.”—See Note pp. 157-8.

Page 101. “When the King of Turkistān heard of Abū Temām's arrival, he sent proper officers to receive and compli­ment him.”—See third note, p. 131.—In Lescallier's version the interview between the King and Abū Temām is related in more detail, to the following effect:

Abū Temām, after presenting his credentials and paying his respects to the King, informed him of the subject of his embassy. “The request which the King your master makes for my daughter,” said the King of Turkistān, “is for me a source of joy and happiness. But as it is to be feared that my daughter is unworthy of the King your master, I desire you to enter my harem to see her and to hear her speak, and to assure yourself if she is capable of pleasing the sovereign who sends you. I will prepare my daughter to receive you.” Abū Temām, who was full of cleverness and discretion, replied to the King with the greatest politeness: “God forbid, your Majesty, that my eyes should behold the Princess, or my ears should dare to hear her voice! If she were not in all respects worthy of the King my master, the Divine will would not have inspired him with the desire of possessing her, nor enslaved his heart to her perfec­tions. My King did not send me with such instructions.” Abū Temām had no sooner spoken these words than the King of Turkistān clasped him in his arms with affection, and cried: “I regard thee as a father, for thou freest my existence from a great burthen.” “O great King!” replied Abū Temām, “since my happy star made me enter the service of my sovereign, I have never experienced anything save benefits, kindness, and peculiar favours. What is the difficulty that I can solve for your Majesty? Let him command me.” “I was even now,” said the King, “busy with the project of thy death, and thou hast happily escaped the severity of my sharp sword. I shall tell thee the motive which urged me to put thee to death, and how thou hast been delivered from that danger. All the ambassadors who have come from different princes to ask my daughter have received the same proposal which I made to thee, to enter my harem, to judge of the beauty and perfections of the Princess; and they all went in. I regarded the prudence and wisdom of these sovereigns according to those of their ambassadors, and to punish their audacity I put them all to death. This year four hundred ambassadors have been beheaded. I preserve their heads in the room which thou wilt see.” Then the King drew from his girdle a key, with which he opened the door of that room, and showed to Abū Temām the four hundred heads of ambassadors. He afterwards added: “The prudence which thou hast shown has saved thy life. It has given me a good opinion of thy sovereign, and I will grant him my daughter.”

Lescallier's texts were probably in error in stating that the four hundred ambassadors had all been put to death within a year. The lithographed text, like that of Sir William Ouseley, gives us to understand that the envoys had been beheaded in the course of years. In Habicht's Arabian text the King is repre­sented as saying: “‘Come and look into this well;’ and Abū Temām beheld a well filled with the heads of the sons of Adam.”

Page 103. “The Ten Viziers finding … their own importance and dignity reduced,” &c.—How true to human nature, and how applicable to the case of Abū Temām as well as to that of our young hero Bakhtyār, is the “saying of the sage,” as cited in the Anvār-i Suhailī (ii, 3): “Whoever is unceas­ingly zealous in the service of the King quickly reaches the rank of admission to his favour, and whoever has become the intimate of the Sultan, all the friends and foes of the monarch become his enemies: the friends, through envy of his post and dignity; and the foes, by reason of his advising the King sin­cerely in matters of state and religion.”

Page 103. “Whose office was to rub the King's feet.”—The Arabs (says Lane) are very fond of having their feet, and espe­cially the soles, slowly rubbed with the hand; and this opera­tion, which is one of the services commonly required of a wife or a female slave, is a usual mode of waking a person; as it is also of lulling a person to sleep. Thus, in the story of Maaroof (Lane's Arabian Nights, iii, 721), “the damsel then proceeded to rub and press gently the soles of his feet until sleep overcame him.”

Page 105. “The King drew his scimitar, and cut off his head.”—Surely, an instance of “haste and precipitancy”—with a vengeance! This despot did not even acquaint his victim of the crime of which the lads had accused him. It had been probably otherwise with Abū Temām had his royal master shaped his conduct in “affairs of moment” after that of another king, of whom we read, in the Anvār-i Suhailī (xiii, 3), that in order to moderate his anger, and judge cases like a king, a recluse gave him three letters, which he was to place in the hands of a faithful and confidential officer, who was to be per­mitted to read one of them to the King when he beheld symp­toms of anger in his countenance, and should that not suffice to soothe his mind, the officer was to read the second letter, and the third, if the second did not tame his rebellious spirit. The contents of the three letters were to this effect: (1) While thou still retainest the power, do not place the reins of choice in the grasp of thy passions, for they will plunge thee into the whirl­pool of everlasting destruction. (2) In the time of wrath be merciful to those in thy power, in order that in the hour of retribution thy superiors may be merciful to thee. (3) In issuing thy commands do not overstep the bounds of the law, and under no circumstances abandon what is just.

Page 106. “Their houses levelled with the ground.”—When a city was solemnly destroyed by the Romans, the plough was drawn along where the walls had stood. Thus Horace (Ode i, 16): “Rage has been the final cause … that an insolent army has driven the hostile ploughshare over their walls.” Thus also we read in the sacred writings (Micah iii, 12): “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field;” and likewise of salt being sown on the ground where cities stood (see Judges ix, 45), indicating the last insult of a triumphant enemy. In allusion to the usual practice of absolute Eastern monarchs wreaking their vengeance not only on an offending minister, but also on his wife and family, Sa'dī, in his Bustān, b. i, directs a king, in dealing with a criminal, to slay him, if the law pronounce its decree; “but if thou hast those who belong to his family, them forgive, and extend to them thy mercy: the iniquitous man it was who committed the crime;—what was the offence of his helpless wife and children?”

In Cazotte's rendering of this story, under the corrupted title of Abou Talmant, for a King of Turkistān is substituted a King of Cochin-China. The plot for destroying the prudent minister by means of the prattle of two young slaves in the King's hearing is considerably amplified: the malicious viziers having taught them to repeat some harem gossip while the King was reposing, but not asleep, which, proving to be true, prepared him to believe the false story of the Queen's love for Abū Temām. The King's discovery of his favourite's innocence is differently related;— instead of his overhearing the two pages quarrel over the division of the money, a day or two after Abū Temām had been put to death, as in the Persian version—the King immediately returns to his private chamber, and seeing the pieces of gold scattered on the floor, sends for the pages, and compels them to tell the truth regarding their possession of so much money. He then causes the two Viziers to be beheaded.