THIS story seems to have been written down from recollection of some of the incidents in the Persian Romance which purports to recount the adventures of the renowned Hatim et-Ta'í, the generous Arab chief—a work of uncertain authorship or date. It was probably written about the end of the 17th or beginning of the 18th century, as the MS. copy used by Dr. Duncan Forbes for his English translation, published in 1830, which he procured in 1824, he considered to be at least a hundred years old. The opening of our version—if indeed such it may be styled—is absurdly inconsistent with all that is traditionally recorded of Hatim. This is how the incident of Hatim and the Darvesh is related in a Persian story-book, according to Dr. Jonathan Scott's rendering in his Tales, Anecdotes, and Letters from the Arabic and Persian, published in 1800, p. 251:

Hatim had a large storehouse having 70 entrances, at each of which he used to bestow alms on the poor. After his death his brother, who succeeded him, wished to imitate his great example, but his mother dissuaded him from such an attempt, saying: “My son, it is not in thy nature.” He would not attend to her advice, upon which she one day, having disguised herself as a mendicant, came to one of the doors, where her son relieved her; she went to another door and was relieved once more; she then went to a third door, when her son said: “I have given thee twice already, and yet thou importunest me again.” “Did I not tell thee, my son,” said the mother, discovering herself, “that thou couldst not equal the liberality of thy brother? I tried him as I have tried thee, and he relieved me at each of the 70 doors without asking me a question; but I knew thy nature and his. When I suckled thee, and one nipple was in thy mouth, thou didst always hold thy hand upon the other, but thy brother the contrary.”

It is quite ludicrous to represent Hatim as setting out for China to see a lady who was declared by a wandering darvesh to be far more liberal than himself. From the following abstract of the Romance—which begins where our story ends—it will be seen that Hatim was actuated by nobler motives in undertaking his several adventures. The opening of the romance is repro­duced almost in full from Forbes' translation.