Page 107. The King of Persia (Shāh 'Ajam).—The term 'Ajam includes all who cannot speak Arabic, or who do not speak it with elegance. Among the Arabs it applies to all people not of Arab descent, and carries the same idea as Bar­barians with the Greeks, Gentiles with the Hebrews. Hence Persia is called 'Ajamistān, the land of the stranger, or bar­barian. And so two famous Arabian poems are distinguished respectively by the nationalities of their authors: Lāmiyyatu-'l-'Arab , by the Arabian brigand-poet Shanfará, and Lāmiyyātu-'l-'Ajam , by Et Tugrā'ī, a native of Isfahān: that is, the L-Poem (from its rhyming in lam, or L) of the Arab, and the L-Poem of the Foreigner.

Page 108. “Not having any child,” &c.—The desire of offspring, and especially of male children, seems to have always been very strong among Asiatics of all classes, and by Jews the want of children was considered sufficient ground for divorce, as the following beautiful rabbinical story will show: A man, it is related, brought his wife before Rabbi Simon, expressing his desire to be divorced, since he had been married over ten years without being blessed with children. The Rabbi at first endeavoured to dissuade the man from his purpose, but finding him resolute, he gravely addressed the pair thus: “My chil­dren, when you were married did ye not make a feast and enter­tain your friends? Well, since you are determined to be divorced, do likewise: go home, make a feast, entertain your friends, and on the following day come to me and I will comply with your wishes.” They returned home, and, in accordance with the good Rabbi's advice, the husband caused a splendid feast to be prepared, to which were invited their friends and relations. In the course of the entertainment, the husband, being gladdened with wine, said to his wife: “My beloved, we have lived many happy years together; it is only the want of children that makes me wish for a separation. To convince thee, however, that I still love thee, I give thee leave to take with thee out of my house whatever thou likest best.” “Be it so,” answered his wife. The wine-cup was freely plied by the guests, and all became merry, until at length many had fallen asleep, and amongst these was the master of the house, which his wife per­ceiving, she caused him to be carried to her father's house and put to bed. Having slept off the effects of his carouse, he awoke, and, finding himself in a strange house, exclaimed: “Where am I?—how came I here?” His wife, who had placed herself behind a curtain to await the issue of her little stratagem, came up to him, and told him that he had no cause for alarm, since he was in her father's house. “In thy father's house!” echoed the astonished husband—“how should I come hither?” “I will soon explain, my dear husband. Didst thou not tell me last night that I might take out of thy house whatever I most valued? Now, my beloved, believe me, amongst all thy treasures there is none I value so much as I do thyself.” The sequel may be readily imagined: overcome by such devotion, the husband affectionately embraced his wife, was reconciled to her, and they lived happily together ever after­wards.*—Throughout the East, indeed, the want of children is considered as a great disgrace. Readers of Oriental romances, such as those contained in Elf Layla wa Layla, or The Thou­sand and One Nights; Bahār-i Dānish, or the Spring of Knowledge, and Kissa-i Chehār Darvīsh, or Tale of the Four Dervishes, will easily call to mind the many stories of Khalīfs, Sultāns, Shāhs, Viziers, &c. being childless, and of the pious and even magical means they adopted to obtain the blessing of a son and heir.

Page 108. “In a dream.”—Muslims consider dreams as the predictions of future events. Good dreams are believed to be from God, and false ones from the Devil. “Whoever seeth me,” said the Prophet, “in his sleep, seeth me truly; for Satan cannot assume the similitude of my form.”—Lane's Thou­sand and One Nights, iii, p. 512, note.

Page 108. “Was addressed by an old man,” &c.—Accord­ing to Lescallier, “by a genie, resplendent with light.”

Page 109. “The top of a mountain, from which he shall fall, rolling in blood and clay.”—Lescallier's rendering goes on to say: “He shall yet escape the murderous teeth of that lion; and when he has attained his twentieth year, he shall give you a wound, and put you to death.”

Page 109. “One of his Viziers eminently skilled in astrology” —Lescallier adds, “assisted by many other astronomers.”—In Eastern courts an astronomer would be held in disrespect if he did not debase the truth of his science to the vain predictions of astrology (‘ilmu-’n-nujūn). Every professional astrologer hangs an astrolabe—which is not larger than the hollow of the hand—in a neat case, at his girdle. Some have an astrolabe two or three inches in diameter, which at a distance looks like a medal conferred on the wearer as a mark of honour, or as an order of merit.* “A very slight knowledge of astronomy,” says Sir John Malcolm, “is sufficient to allow a Persian student to profess the occult science of judicial astrology. If a person can take an altitude with an astrolabe, knows the names of the planets and their different mansions, and a few technical phrases, and understands the astrological almanacs that are annually published, he deems himself entitled to offer his ser­vices to all who wish to consult him; and that includes every person in Persia who has the means to reward his skill. Nothing is done by a man of any consequence or property without reference to the stars. If any measure is to be adopted, if a voyage or journey is to be commenced, if a new dress is to be put on—the lucky or unlucky moment must be discovered, and the almanac and astrologer are consulted. A person wishing to commence a journey will not allow a fortunate day to escape, even though he is not ready to set out. He leaves his own house at the propitious moment, and remains, till he can actually proceed, in some incommodious lodging in its vicinity, satisfied that, by quitting his house, he has secured all the benefit which the influence of good stars can afford him.”* When Sir John Malcolm entered Tehrān as British Ambassador, the King's astrologer so timed the progress of the cavalcade that the “Elchī's” charger should put his foot over the threshold of the gate at the precise lucky moment, which he had previously ascer­tained.

The Chaldeans were the first astrologers, and the so-called science was sedulously cultivated and in high estimation among the Hindūs, the Greeks, the Egyptians, and their Alexandrian disciples. Even the illustrious Tycho Brahe was devoted to astrology from his early youth until within a few years of his death, when he finally abandoned it as a fallacy. At first, and for a very long period afterwards, astrology was not separated into the two divisions or departments of natural astrology, or observations of the regular motions of the heavenly bodies (which is now termed astronomy), and judicial astrology, or the pre­tended science of foretelling events from observation of the relative positions of the planets. Isidore of Seville, it is said, was the first to distinguish between astronomy and astrology. The professors of judicial astrology in Europe pretended—as those in Asiatic countries still pretend—to be able to predict the destiny of any one who came to consult them, by a process called casting his horoscope, which was done by first ascertaining the precise hour of the person's birth, and the sign the sun was in at that time, and then drawing conclusions from observation of the conjunction and relative position of the planets towards each other. But European astrologers very frequently—prob­ably as a general rule—did not trouble themselves to “read the stars;” they were for the most part accomplished physiog-nomists, and it may be said that they usually contented them­selves with telling fortunes by faces rather than by the appearance of the heavenly bodies. There can be little doubt that, with the exception of a few deluded individuals who thoroughly believed in their own skill, those who professed a knowledge of astrology were arrant impostors—cunning knaves, who traded on the prevalent superstition and credulity of mankind in the days before science began to shed its pure light.

El-Hajjāj, a general under the Khalīf El-Walīd I, con­sulted, in his last illness, an astrologer, who predicted to him his approaching death. “I rely so completely on your know­ledge,” said El-Hajjāj to him, “that I wish to have you with me in the next world, and I shall therefore send you thither before me, in order that I may be able to employ your services from the time of my arrival.” He then ordered the soothsayer to be put to death, although the time fixed for this event by the planets had not yet arrived.—Abū-'l-Ma'shar, the oracle of astrology, left in writing, that he found the Christian religion, according to the indications of the stars, should last but fourteen hundred years—he has been belied by nearly five hundred years already.—Tiberias, when he was at Rhodes, wished to satisfy his curiosity with respect to judicial astrology. He sent, in suc­cession, for all those who pretended to foretell future events. One of his enfranchised slaves, of great stature and extraordi­nary strength, conducted them to him through the intricacies of the precipices. If Tiberius discovered that the astrologer was a cheat, the slave, upon a given signal, immediately cast him into the sea. At that time there was at Rhodes a man named Trasullus, who was deeply skilled in astrology, and of a cunning disposition. He was taken, in the same manner as the others, to this retired spot, assured Tiberius that he should be Emperor, and revealed to him many other events that should take place. Tiberius asked him if he knew his own destiny, and if he had consulted his own horoscope. Trasullus—who had had some suspicions when he did not see any of his companions return, and felt his fears increase on viewing the countenance of Tiberius, the man who had been his conductor (who did not quit him for a moment), the elevated place where he stood, and the precipice which lay beneath him—turned his eyes up to heaven, as if to consult the stars; he immediately appeared fear-stricken, turned pale, and exclaimed, in an apparent agony of terror, that he was menaced with death. Tiberius was full of joy and admiration on hearing this reply, ascribing to astrology what was only presence of mind and cunning, cheered the spirits of Trasullus, embraced him, and from that time regarded him as an oracle.—An astrologer foretold the death of a lady whom Louis XI passionately loved. She did, in fact, die, and the King imagined that the prediction of the astrologer was the cause of it. He sent for the man, intending to have him thrown out of the window as a punishment. “Tell me,” said the King, “thou who pretendest to be so clever and learned a man, what thy own fate will be?” The soothsayer, who sus­pected the intentions of the King, and knew his foible, replied: “Sire, I foresee that I shall die three days before your Majesty.” Louis believed him, and was careful of the astrologer's life.—An astrologer, fixing his eyes upon the Duke of Milan, said to him: “My Lord, arrange your affairs, for you have not long to live.” The Duke asked: “How dost thou know this?” “By my acquaintance with the stars,” answered the astrologer. “And pray, how long art thou to live?” “My planet promises me a long life.” “Well, thou shalt shortly discover that we ought not to trust the stars.” And the Duke ordered him to be hanged instantly.—Our own King Henry VIII asked an astrologer if he knew where he should pass the festivities at Christmas. The astrologer answered that he knew nothing on the subject. “Then,” said the King, “I am wiser than thou art; for I know that thou shalt pass them in the Tower of London;” and the unlucky astrologer was at once conducted thither.—William, Duke of Mantua, had in his stables a brood mare which gave birth to a mule. He immediately sent to the most famous astrologers in Italy the hour of the birth of this animal, requesting them to inform him what should be the fortune of a bastard that had been born in his palace; he took care, however, not to intimate that he was speaking of a mule. The soothsayers used their best endeavours to flatter the Prince, not doubting that the bastard belonged to himself. Some de­clared that it should be a general; others made it a bishop; some raised it to the rank of cardinal; and there were even some who elevated it to the papal chair!

It is truly marvellous that the same age which produced a Newton should also have seen flourish that arch-astrologer William Lilly (inimitably satirised by Butler under the name of Sidrophel,* whose preposterous predictions were credited even by persons of education. Swift may be said to have dealt the death-blow to astrology by his celebrated squib, entitled “Prediction for the year 1718, by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq.,” in which he ridiculed the prophetic almanac-makers of the day. Astrology having permeated all science and literature, it is not surprising that many of its peculiar terms should have become embodied in our language, as, for example, in the words con­sider and contemplate, disaster and disastrous; and we still speak of jovial, mercurial, and saturnine men.—Kepler, in the preface to his Rudolphine tables, observes that Astrology, though a fool, was the daughter of a wise mother, to whose support and life the foolish daughter was indispensable.*

Page 109. “In the meantime he caused a subterraneous dwelling to be constructed, to which he sent the boy, with a nurse.”—Sir William Ouseley has omitted to mention that the boy was born—on the following day, according to Lescallier. —Many instances of a father trying to belie the predictions of soothsayers occur in Eastern fiction, and also in classical and European legends. The story of Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, King of Argos, by Eurydice, who was confined in a brazen tower by her father, who had been told by an oracle that his daughter's son should put him to death, is well known. The underground dwelling of our present tale may be compared with that described in chapter 79 of the English Gesta Romanorum; also that in the Arabian Nights (Story of the Second Kalender); and in the Bāgh o Bahār (Tale of the Second Dervish), a young prince, in consequence of the prediction of astrologers that he is menaced with great danger until his fourteenth year, is confined in a vault, lined with felt, so that he should not behold the sun or moon. In Mr Ralston's Tibetan Tales, under the title of “The Fulfilled Prophecy,” the diviners declare that “a son should be born who should take the King's life and usurp the royal power, setting the diadem on his own head.” In the Norse story of “Rich Peter the Pedlar,”* a prediction that his daughter should one day wed a poor man's son is fulfilled in spite of many efforts to defeat it—a story which seems to have been adapted from the Gesta Romanorum, Tale xx of Swan's translation. And in the Netherlandish Legend of “St Julian the Ferryman,” it is predicted that Julian shall one day put his own father and mother to death; and although the unhappy youth flies into a far distant country, he cannot flee from his terrible destiny, for many years afterwards the prediction proves only too true.*

Page 110. “Keeper [of pen and ink] to the secretary” (dav dari).—The Orientals are great admirers of caligraphy. Jamshīd, the Pīshdādian king, in respect to scribes and writers, thus expressed himself: “As the monarch's sword establishes the foundation of his kingdom, so the tongue of the scribe's pen transacts the concerns of the faith:

“The sharp-edged sword and pen are twins; the reigning monarch,
By reliance on these two supporters, elevates his neck on high.”

And the Persian Vizier Nizām declared that his cap and inkhorn, the badges of his office, were connected by the divine decree with the throne and diadem of the Sultan (Gibbon, ch. lvii). It is worthy of remark that Mīrzā placed before a person's name means “a man of the pen;” but if it follow, it means Shāh-Zāda, a prince. For different styles of writing see A.F.S. Herbin's Essai de Calligraphie Orientale, Paris, 1803, 4to; Chardin's Voyages en Perse, et autres lieux de l'Orient, t. ii, ch. iv, pp. 107-110; and Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. i, ch. ix. (See also second Note, page 202.)

Page 113. “His hair stand on end.”—Thus Job, iv, 15: “The hair of my flesh stood up;” and Homer, speaking of Priam, when terrified at the appearance of Mercury: “His hair stood upright on his bending limbs;” and the Ghost, ad­dressing H amlet, i, 4:

Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.

Page 114. “Assembled all the people by proclamation”— that they might take warning from the young man's fate. But the Persians require no invitation to scenes of this nature. “The curiosity,” says Dr. Chodzko,* “which gathers crowds of people to witness the execution of culprits in Europe is very feeble in comparison with what can be seen in Asia on similar occasions. There many of those present are not only fond of looking at, but even take an active part in tormenting the condemned, though they never saw him before, or have any motive of revenge. To stab the poor dying wretch with a knife, or at least to spit in his face, is an innocent pleasure, which even the women do not refuse themselves. Those who are moved by revenge are still more savage. Riza Kūlī Khān, the governor of Yezd, having expelled from that town one of the sons of the Shāh (in 1830), was afterwards taken prisoner and sent to Tehrān. The Shāh gave the culprit up to the offended prince, who, after promising to pardon and forget all, invited him to supper in the harem, and there stabbed him with his own hands. His wives, and the maid-servants of the harem, cut to pieces the body, weltering in blood, with scissors, and pricked and tortured him till he gave up his last breath!—I can see no reason for this but their brutalising education. A child begins by wringing off the heads of living sparrows. When he grows up they buy him a little sword, and exercise the boy in cutting in two halves, first living fowls, then lambs, sheep, and so on. Grown-up people consider it as a very fashionable pastime to snatch a ram from the flock, order two of their servants to hold it by the head and feet, and placing a bundle of straw underneath, in order to prevent the sword from striking against the ground, to cut the bleating animal to pieces while it is alive. The most famous of such swordsmen in Persia was Sulaymān Mīrza, son of Fatah 'Alī Shāh. He has often, in the presence of the Shāh and numerous witnesses, with one blow of his huge scimitar cut in two an ass, and severed the head of a camel from its neck.”

In Lescallier's version, for the King of Persia we have the King of Arabia.—In Cazotte's rendering, under the title of “The Sultan Hebraim [Ibrahīm] and his Son, or The Pre­destined,” is found a considerably amplified but very inte­resting version of this story. After the young prince has been discovered and carried away from the underground palace by a huntsman (not the King's secretary, but “a man of rank and fortune”), the incidents are totally different from those of our version. Abaquir—the young prince—is carefully brought up by his master, and in course of time becomes accomplished in all the exercises befitting a noble youth. One day he accompanies his master to the chase, when they are suddenly attacked by robbers, who slay the elder of the hunters, and having severely wounded Abaquir, leave him for dead. Recovering after a long period of insensibility, he rises and walks onwards through the forest, till he meets with a dervish, who takes him to his cave and treats him with kindness and hospitality. This dervish proves to be a wicked magician, who prevails upon Abaquir to descend into the bowels of a mountain to bring up precious stones, which the false dervish having drawn safely up, the poor youth is then cruelly aban­doned to his fate. From this cavern Abaquir escapes, and after a long journey he reaches a city, where a kind-hearted man receives him into his house, and he remains with him some time. Weary at length of inaction, he resolves to go out to hunt, and meets with a party of robbers, whose real avocation he does not know, and joins them—the robbers binding him to fidelity by a solemn oath. Too late he discovers the true character of his companions, but is compelled to accompany them on their plundering expeditions. The daring outrages perpetrated by this gang of robbers become so notorious that the Sultan Hebraim marches against them at the head of some chosen troops. The robbers are utterly defeated, but the Sultan him­self is grievously wounded. On returning to his capital he sends for his astrologers, and angrily asks them whether in their predictions they had foreseen that he should die by the hand of a robber. They affirm that what the stars had predicted could not prove false, and suggest that the Sultan should ascertain who it was, among the robbers, that wounded him, and then inquire into his birth and history. Abaquir, his own son, is the robber who inflicted the fatal wound; and after he has given the best account he could of his early years, and shown the scars of the lion's claws on his breast, the Sultan submits to the decree of Fate, and dies shortly after declaring Abaquir his successor.—In Habicht's Arabian text (which agrees with Cazotte in nearly all the details) it is stated that the King went once every month to the opening of the underground dwelling, let down a rope, and drew up his son, embraced and kissed and played with him awhile, then let him down again.