The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 1

The Tale of the Ensorcelled Prince

translated by

Richard F. Burton


KNOW THEN, O my lord, that whilome my sire was King of this city, and his name was Mahmud, entitled Lord of the Black Islands, and owner of what are now these four mountains. He ruled three score and ten years, after which he went to the mercy of the Lord and I reigned as Sultan in his stead. I took to wife my cousin, the daughter of my paternal uncle,1 and she loved me with such abounding love that whenever I was absent she ate not and she drank not until she saw me again. She cohabited with me for five years till a certain day when she went forth to the Hammam bath; and I bade the cook hasten to get ready all requisites for our supper. And I entered this palace and lay down on the bed where I was wont to sleep and bade two damsels to fan my face, one sitting by my head and the other at my feet. But I was troubled and made restless by my wife’s absence and could not sleep; for although my eyes were closed my mind and thoughts were wide awake. Presently I heard the slave girl at my head say to her at my feet, “O Mas’údah, how miserable is our master and how wasted in his youth and oh! the pity of his being so be trayed by our mistress, the accursed whore!’’2 The other replied, “Yes indeed: Allah curse all faithless women and adulterous; but the like of our master, with his fair gifts, deserveth something better than this harlot who lieth abroad every night.” Then quoth she who sat by my head, “Is our lord dumb or fit only for bubbling that he questioneth her not!” and quoth the other, “Fie on thee! doth our lord know her ways or doth she allow him his choice? Nay, more, doth she not drug every night the cup she giveth him to drink before sleep time, and put Bhang3 into it? So he sleepeth and wotteth not whither she goeth, nor what she doeth; but we know that after giving him the drugged wine, she donneth her richest raiment and perfumeth herself and then she fareth out from him to be away till break of day; then she cometh to him, and burneth a pastile under his nose and he awaketh from his deathlike sleep.” When I heard the slave girl’s words, the light became black before my sight and I thought night would never-fall. Presently the daughter of my uncle came from the baths; and they set the table for us and we ate and sat together a fair half hour quaffing our wine as was ever our wont. Then she called for the particular wine I used to drink before sleeping and reached me the cup; but, seeming to drink it according to my wont, I poured the contents into my bosom; and, lying down, let her hear that I was asleep. Then, behold, she cried, “Sleep out the night, and never wake again: by Allah, I loathe thee and I loathe thy whole body, and my soul turneth in disgust from cohabiting with thee; and I see not the moment when Allah shall snatch away thy life!” Then she rose and donned her fairest dress and perfumed her person and slung my sword over her shoulder; and, opening the gates of the palace, went her ill way. I rose and followed her as she left the palace and she threaded the streets until she came to the city gate, where she spoke words I understood not, and the padlocks dropped of themselves as if broken and the gate leaves opened. She went forth (and I after her without her noticing aught) till she came at last to the outlying mounds4 and a reed fence built about a round roofed hut of mud bricks. As she entered the door, I climbed upon the roof which commanded a view of the interior, and lo! my fair cousin had gone in to a hideous negro slave with his upper lip like the cover of a pot, and his lower like an open pot; lips which might sweep up sand from the gravel-floor of the cot. He was to boot a leper and a paralytic, lying upon a strew of sugar cane trash and wrapped in an old blanket and the foulest rags and tatters. She kissed the earth before him, and he raised his head so as to see her and said, “Woe to thee! what call hadst thou to stay away all this time? Here have been with me sundry of the black brethren, who drank their wine and each had his young lady, and I was not content to drink because of thine absence.” Then she, “O my lord, my heart’s love and coolth of my eyes5 knowest thou not that I am married to my cousin whose very look I loathe, and hate myself when in his company? And did not I fear for thy sake, I would not let a single sun arise before making his city a ruined heap wherein raven should croak and howlet hoot, and jackal and wolf harbour and loot; nay I had removed its very stones to the back side of Mount Kaf.”6 Rejoined the slave, Thou liest, damn thee! Now I swear an oath by the velour and honour of blackamoor men (and deem not our manliness to be; the poor manliness of white men), from today forth if thou stay away till this hour, I will not keep company with thee nor will I glue my body with thy body and strum and belly bump Dost play fast and loose with us, thou cracked pot, that we may satisfy thy dirty lusts? stinkard! bitch! vilest of the vile whites!” When I heard his words, and saw with my own eyes what passed between these two wretches, the world waxed dark be fore my face and my soul knew not in what place it was. But , my wife humbly stood up weeping before and wheedling the slave, and saying, O my beloved, and very fruit of my heart, there is none left to cheer me but thy dear self; and, if thou cast me off who shall take me in, O my beloved, O light of my eyes?” And she ceased not weeping and abasing herself to him until he deigned be reconciled with her. Then was she right glad and stood up and doffed her clothes, even to her petticoat trousers, and said, 0 my master what hast thou here for thy handmaiden to eat? Uncover the basin,” he grumbled, “and thou shalt find t the bottom the broiled bones of some rats we dined on, pick at them, and then go to that slop pot where thou shalt find some leavings of beer7 which thou mayest drink.” So she ate and drank and washed her hands, and went and lay down by the side of the slave, upon the cane trash and, stripping herself stark naked, she crept in with him under his foul coverlet and his rags and tatters. When I saw my wife, my cousin, the daughter of my uncle, do this deed8 I clean lost my wits, and climbing down from the roof, I entered and took the sword which she had with her and drew it, determined to cut down the twain. I first struck at the slave’s neck and thought that the death decree had fallen on him:”——And Shahrázád perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

 

When it was the Eighth Night,

She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the young ensorcelled Prince said to the King, “When I smote the slave with intent to strike off his head, I thought that I had slain him; for he groaned a loud hissing groan, but I had cut only the skin and flesh of the gullet and the two arteries! It awoke the daughter of my uncle, so I sheathed the sword and fared forth for the city; and, entering the palace, lay upon my bed and slept till morning when my wife aroused me and I saw that she had cut off her hair and had donned mourning garments. Quoth she:—O son of my uncle, blame me not for what I do; it hath just reached me that my mother is dead, and my father hath been killed in holy war, and of my brothers one hath lost his life by a snake sting and the other by falling down some precipice; and I can and should do naught save weep and lament. When I heard her words I refrained from all reproach and said only:—Do as thou list; I certainly will not thwart thee. She continued sorrowing, weeping and wailing one whole year from the beginning of its circle to the end, and when it was finished she said to me.—I wish to build me in thy palace a tomb with a cupola, which I will set apart for my mourning and will name the House of Lamentations.9 Quoth I again:—Do as thou list! Then she builded for herself a cenotaph wherein to mourn, and set on its centre a dome under which showed a tomb like a Santon’s sepulchre. Thither she carried the slave and lodged him; but he was exceeding weak by reason of his wound, and unable to do her love service; he could only drink wine and from the day of his hurt he spake not a word, yet he lived on because his appointed hour10 was not come. Every day, morning and evening, my wife went to him and wept and wailed over him and gave him wine and strong soups, and left not off doing after this manner a second year; and I bore with her patiently and paid no heed to her. One day, however, I went in to her unawares; and I found her weeping and beating her face and crying:—Why art thou absent from my sight, O my heart’s delight? Speak to me, O my life; talk with me, O my love? Then she recited these verses:—

For your love my patience fails and albeit you forget
            ⚪ I may not, nor to other love my heart can make reply:
Bear my body, bear my soul wheresoever you may fare
            ⚪ And where you pitch the camp let my body buried lie:
Cry my name above my grave, and an answer shall return
            ⚪ The moaning of my bones responsive to your cry.11

Then she recited, weeping bitterly the while:—

The day of my delight is the day when draw you near
            ⚪ And the day of mine affright is the day you turn away:
Though I tremble through the night in my bitter dread of death
            ⚪ When I hold you in my arms I am free from all affray

Once more she began reciting:—

Though a morn I may awake with all happiness in hand
            ⚪ Though the world all be mine and like Kisra-kings12 I reign;
To me they had the worth of the winglet of the gnat
            ⚪ When I fail to see thy form, when I look for thee in vain

When she had ended for a time her words and her weeping I said to her—O my cousin, let this thy mourning suffice, for in pouring forth tears there is little profit! Thwart me not, answered she, in aught I do, or I will lay violent hands on myself! So I held my peace and left her to go her own way; and she ceased not to cry and keen and indulge her affliction for yet another year. At the end of the third year I waxed aweary of this lonesome mourning, and one day I happened to enter the cenotaph when vexed and angry with some matter which had thwarted me, and suddenly I heard her say:—O my lord, I never hear thee vouch safe a single word to me! Why dost thou not answer me, O my master? and she began reciting:—

O thou tomb! O, thou tomb! be his beauty set in shade?
            ⚪ Hast thou darkened that countenance all sheeny as the noon?
O thou tomb! neither earth nor yet heaven art to me
            ⚪ Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined my sun and moon?

When I heard such verses as these rage was heaped upon my rage I cried out:—Well away! how long is this sorrow to last? and I began repeating:—

O thou tomb! O thou tomb! be his horrors set in blight?
            ⚪ Hast thou darkened his countenance that sickeneth the soul?
O thou tomb! neither cess-pool nor pipkin art to me
            ⚪ Then how cometh it in thee are conjoined soil and coal?

When she heard my words she sprang to her feet crying.—Fie upon thee, thou cur! all this is of thy doings; thou hast wounded my hearts darling and thereby worked me sore woe and thou hast wasted his youth so that these three years he hath lain abed more dead than alive! In my wrath I cried:—O thou foulest of harlots and filthiest of whores ever futtered by negro slaves who are hired to have at thee!13 Yes indeed it was I who did this good deed; and snatching up my sword I drew it and made at her to cut her down. But she laughed my words and mine intent to scorn crying: To heel, hound that thou art! Alas14 for the past which shall no more come to pass nor shall any one avail the dead to raise. Allah hath indeed now given into my hand him who did to me this thing, a deed that hath burned my heart with a fire which died not and a flame which might not be quenched! Then she stood up; and, pronouncing some words to me unintelligible, she said:—By virtue of my egromancy become thou half stone and half man; whereupon I became what thou seest, unable to rise or to sit, and neither dead nor alive. Moreover she ensorcelled the city with all its streets and garths, and she turned by her gramarye the four islands into four mountains around the tarn whereof thou questionest me; and the citizens, who were of four different faiths, Moslem, Nazarene, Jew and Magian, she transformed by her enchantments into fishes; the Moslems are the white, the Magians red, the Christians blue and the Jews yellow.15 And every day she tortureth me and scourgeth me with an hundred stripes, each of which draweth floods of blood and cutteth the skin of my shoulders to strips; and lastly she clotheth my upper half with a hair cloth and then throweth over them these robes.” Hereupon the young man again shed tears and began reciting:—

In patience, O my God, I endure my lot and fate;
            ⚪ I will bear at will of Thee whatsoever be my state:
They oppress me; they torture me; they make my life a woe
            ⚪ Yet haply Heaven’s happiness shall compensate my strait:
Yea, straitened is my life by the bane and hate o’ foes
            ⚪ But Mustafá and Murtazá16 shall ope me Heaven’s gate.

After this the Sultan turned towards the young Prince and said, “O youth, thou hast removed one grief only to add another grief; but now, O my friend, where is she; and where is the mausoleum wherein lieth the wounded slave?” “The slave lieth under yon dome,” quoth the young man, “and she sitteth in the chamber fronting yonder door. And every day at sunrise she cometh forth, and first strippeth me, and whippeth me with an hundred strokes of the leathern scourge, and I weep and shriek; but there is no power of motion in my lower limbs to keep her off me. After ending her tormenting me she visiteth the slave, bringing him wine and boiled meats. And to morrow at an early hour she will be here.” Quoth the King, “By Allah, O youth, I will as suredly do thee a good deed which the world shall not willingly let die, and an act of derring do which shall be chronicled long after I am dead and gone by.” Then the King sat him by the side of the young Prince and talked till nightfall, when he lay down and slept; but, as soon as the false dawn17 showed, he arose and doffing his outer garments18 bared his blade and hastened to the place wherein lay the slave. Then was he ware of lighted candles and lamps, and the perfume of incenses and unguents, and directed by these, he made for the slave and struck him one stroke killing him on the spot: after which he lifted him on his back and threw him into a well that was in the palace. Presentry he returned and, donning the slave’s gear, lay down at length within the mausoleum with the drawn sword laid close to and along his side. After an hour or so the accursed witch came; and, first going to her husband, she stripped off his clothes and, taking a whip, flogged him cruelly while he cried out, “Ah! enough for me the case I am in! take pity on me, O my cousin!’ But she replied, “Didst thou take pity on me and spare the life of my true love on whom I doated?” Then she drew the cilice over his raw and bleeding skin and threw the robe upon all and went down to the slave with a goblet of wine and a bowl of meat broth in her hands. She entered under the dome weeping and wailing, “Well-away!” and crying, “O my lord! speak a word to me! O my master! talk awhile with me!” and began to recite these couplets.—

How long this harshness, this unlove, shall bide?
            ⚪ Suffice thee not tear floods thou hast espied?
Thou dost prolong our parting purposely
            ⚪ And if wouldst please my foe, thou’rt satisfied!

Then she wept again and said, “O my lord! speak to me, talk with me!” The King lowered his voice and, twisting his tongue, spoke after the fashion of the blackamoors and said “’lack! ’lack! there be no Ma’esty and there be no Might save in Allauh, the Gloriose, the Great!” Now when she heard these words she shouted for joy, and fell to the ground fainting; and when her senses returned she asked, “O my lord, can it be true that thou hast power of speech?” and the King making his voice small and faint answered, “O my cuss! dost thou deserve that I talk to thee and speak with thee?” “Why and wherefore?” rejoined she; and he replied “The why is that all the livelong day thou tormentest thy hubby; and he keeps calling on ’eaven for aid until sleep is strange to me even from evenin’ till mawnin’, and he prays and damns, cussing us two, me and thee, causing me disquiet and much bother: were this not so, I should long ago have got my health; and it is this which prevents my answering thee.” Quoth she, “With thy leave I will release him from what spell is on him;” and quoth the King, “Release him and let’s have some rest!” She cried, “To hear is to obey;” and, going from the cenotaph to the palace, she took a metal bowl and filled it with water and spake over it certain words which made the contents bubble and boil as a cauldron seetheth over the fire. With this she sprinkled her husband saying, “By virtue of the dread words I have spoken, if thou becamest thus by my spells, come forth out of that form into shine own former form.” And lo and behold! the young man shook and trembled; then he rose to his feet and, rejoicing at his deliverance, cried aloud, “I testify that there is no god but the God, and in very truth Mohammed is His Apostle, whom Allah bless and keep!” Then she said to him, “Go forth and return not hither, for if thou do I will surely slay thee;” screaming these words in his face. So he went from between her hands; and she returned to the dome and, going down to the sepulchre, she said, “O my lord, come forth to me that I may look upon thee and thy goodliness!” The King replied in faint low words, “What19 thing hast thou done? Thou hast rid me of the branch but not of the root.” She asked, “O my darling! O my negroling! what is the root?” And he answered, “Fie on thee, O my cuss! The people of this city and of the four islands every night when it’s half passed lift their heads from the tank in which thou hast turned them to fishes and cry to Heaven and call down its anger on me and thee; and this is the reason why my body’s baulked from health. Go at once and set them free then come to me and take my hand, and raise me up, for a little strength is already back in me.” When she heard the King’s words (and she still supposed him to be the slave) she cried joyously, O my master, on my head and on my eyes be thy commend, Bismillah20!’’ So she sprang to her feet and, full of joy and gladness, ran down to the tarn and took a little of its water n the palm of her hand——And Shahrázád perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.

 

When it Was the Ninth Night,

She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the young woman, the sorceress, took in hand some of the tarn water and spake over it words not to be understood, the fishes lifted their heads and stood up on the instant like men, the spell on the people of the city having been removed. What was the lake again became a crowded capital; the bazars were thronged with folk who bought and sold; each citizen was occupied with his own calling and the four hills became islands as they were whilome. Then the young woman, that wicked sorceress, returned to the King and (still thinking he was the negro) said to him, O my love! stretch forth thy honoured hand that I may assist thee to rise.” “Nearer to me,” quoth the King in a faint and feigned tone. She came close as to embrace him when he took up the sword lying hid by his side and smote her across the breast, so that the point showed gleaming behind her back. Then he smote her a second time and cut her in twain and cast her to the ground in two halves. After which he fared forth and found the young man, now freed from the spell, awaiting him and gave him joy of his happy release while the Prince kissed his hand with abundant thanks. Quoth the King, “Wilt thou abide in this city or go with me to my capital?” Quoth the youth, “O King of the age, wottest thou not what journey is between thee and thy city?” “Two days and a half,” answered he, whereupon said the other, “An thou be sleeping, O King, awake! Between thee and thy city is a year’s march for a well girt walker, and thou haddest not come hither in two days and a half save that the city was under enchantment. And I, O King, will never part from thee; no, not even for the twinkling of an eye.” The King rejoiced at his words and said, “Thanks be to Allah who hath bestowed thee upon me! From this hour thou art my son and my only son, for that in all my life I have never been blessed with issue.” Thereupon they embraced and joyed with exceeding great joy; and, reaching the palace, the Prince who had been spell bound informed his lords and his grandees that he was about to visit the Holy Places as a pilgrim, and bade them get ready all things necessary for the occasion. The preparations lasted ten days, after which he set out with the Sultan, whose heart burned in yearning for his city whence he had been absent a whole twelvemonth. They journeyed with an escort of Mamelukes21 carrying all manners of precious gifts and rarities, nor stinted they wayfaring day and night for a full year until they approached the Sultan’s capital, and sent on messengers to announce their coming. Then the Wazir and the whole army came out to meet him in joy and gladness, for they had given up all hope of ever seeing their King; and the troops kissed the ground before him and wished him joy of his safety. He entered and took seat upon his throne and the Minister came before him and, when acquainted with all that had be fallen the young Prince, he congratulated him on his narrow escape. When order was restored throughout the land the King gave largesse to many of his people, and said to the Wazir, “Hither the Fisherman who brought us the fishes!” So he sent for the man who had been the first cause of the city and the citizens being delivered from enchantment and, when he came in to the presence, the Sultan bestowed upon him a dress of honour, and questioned him of his condition and whether he had children. The Fisherman gave him to know that he had two daughters and a son, so the King sent for them and, taking one daughter to wife, gave the other to the young Prince and made the son his head treasurer. Furthermore he invested his Wazir with the Sultanate of the City in the Black Islands whilome belonging to the young Prince, and dispatched with him the escort of fifty armed slaves together with dresses of honour for all the Emirs and Grandees. The Wazir kissed hands and fared forth on his way; while the Sultan and the Prince abode at home in all the solace and the delight of life; and the Fisherman became the richest man of his age, and his daughters wived with Kings, until death came to them. And yet, O King! this is not more wondrous than the story of

THE PORTER AND THE THREE LADIES OF BAGHDAD.


1.    An Arab holds that he has a right to marry his first cousin, the daughter of his father’s brother, and if any win her from him a death and a blood-feud may result. It was the same in a modified form amongst the Jews and in both races the consanguineous marriage was not attended by the evil results (idiotcy, congenital deafness, etc.) observed in mixed races like the English and the Anglo-American. When a Badawi speaks of “the daughter of my uncle” he means wife; and the former is the dearer title, as a wife can be divorced, but blood is thicker than water.    [back]

2.    Arab. “Kahbah;” the coarsest possible term. Hence the unhappy “Cava” of Don Roderick the Goth, which simply means The Whore.    [back]

3.    The Arab “Banj” and Hindú “Bhang” (which I use as most familiar) both derive from the old Coptic “Nibanj” meaning a preparation of hemp (Cannabis sativa seu Indica); and here it is easy to recognise the Homeric “Nepenthe.” Al-Kazwini explains the term by “garden hemp (Kinnab bostáni or Sháhdánaj). On the other hand not a few apply the word to the henbane (hyoscyamus niger) so much used in mediæval Europe. The Kámús evidently means henbane distinguishing it from Hashish al haráfísh” = rascals’ grass, i.e. the herb Pantagruelion. The “Alfáz Adwiya” (French translation) explains “Tabannuj” by “Endormir quelqu’un en lui faisant avaler de la jusquiame.” In modern parlance Tabannuj is = our anæsthetic administered before an operation, a deadener of pain like myrrh and a number of other drugs. For this purpose hemp is always used (at least I never heard of henbane); and various preparations of the drug are sold at an especial bazar in Cairo. See the “powder of marvellous virtue” in Boccaccio, iii., 8; and iv., 10. Of these intoxicants, properly so termed, I shall have something to say in a future page.

The use of Bhang doubtless dates from the dawn of civilisation, whose earliest social pleasures would be inebriants. Herodotus (iv. c. 75) shows the Scythians burning the seeds (leaves and capsules) in worship and becoming drunken with the fumes, as do the S. African Bushmen of the present day. This would be the earliest form of smoking: it is still doubtful whether the pipe was used or not. Galen also mentions intoxication by hemp. Amongst Moslems, the Persians adopted the drink as an ecstatic, and about our thirteenth century Egypt, which began the practice, introduced a number of preparations to be noticed in the course of The Nights.    [back]

4.    The rubbish heaps which outlie Eastern cities, some (near Cairo) are over a hundred feet high.    [back]

5.    Arab. “Kurrat al-ayn;” coolness of eyes as opposed to a hot eye (“sakhin”) one red with tears. The term is true and picturesque so I translate it literally. All coolness is pleasant to dwellers in burning lands: thus in Al-Hariri Abu Zayd says of Bassorah, “I found there whatever could fill the eye with coolness.” And a “cool booty” (or prize) is one which has been secured without plunging into the flames of war, or imply a pleasant prize.    [back]

6.    Popularly rendered Caucasus (see Night cdxcvi): it corresponds so far with the Hindu “Udaya” that the sun rises behind it; and the “false dawn” is caused by a hole or gap. It is also the Persian Alborz, the Indian Meru (Sumeru), the Greek Olympus and the Rhiphæan Range (Veliki Camenypoys) or great starry girdle of the world, etc.    [back]

7.    Arab. “Mizr” or “Mizar;” vulg. Búzah; hence the medical Lat. Buza, the Russian Buza (millet beer), our booze, the O. Dutch “buyzen” and the German “busen.” This is the old ποτὸϛ ϴεῑοϛ of negro and negroid Africa, the beer of Osiris, of which dried remains have been found in jars amongst Egyptian tombs. In Equatorial Africa it known as Pombe; on the Upper Nile “Merissa” or “Mirisi” and amongst the Kafirs (Caffers) “Tshuala,” “Oala” or “Boyala:” I have also heard of “Buswa” in Central Africa which may be the origin of “Buzah.” In the West it became ζῠθοϛ, (Romaic πίῤῥα), Xythum and cerevisia or cervisia, the humor ex hordeo, long before the days of King Gambrinus. Central Africans drink it in immense quantities: in Unyamwezi the standing bedsteads, covered with bark-slabs, are all made sloping so as to drain off the liquor. A chief lives wholly on beef and Pombe which is thick as gruel below. Hops are unknown: the grain, mostly Holcus, is made to germinate, then pounded, boiled and left to ferment. In Egypt the drink is affected chiefly by Berbers, Nubians and slaves from the Upper Nile, but it is a superior article and more like that of Europe than the “Pombe.” I have given an account of the manufacture in The Lake Regions of Central Africa, vol. ii., p. 286. There are other preparations, Umm-bulbul (mother nightingale), Dinzáyah and Súbiyah, for which I must refer to the Shaykh El-Tounsy.    [back]

8.    There is a terrible truth in this satire, which reminds us of the noble dame who preferred to her handsome husband the palefrenier laid, ord et infâme of Queen Margaret of Navarre (Heptameron No. xx.). We have all known women who sacrificed everything despite themselves, as it were, for the most worthless of men. The world stares and scoffs and blames and understands nothing. There is for every woman one man and one only in whose slavery she is “ready to sweep the floor.” Fate is mostly opposed to her meeting him but, when she does, adieu husband and children, honour and religion, life and “soul.” Moreover Nature (human) commands the union of contrasts, such as fair and foul, dark and light, tall and short; otherwise mankind would be like the canines, a race of extremes, dwarf as toy-terriers, giants like mastiffs, bald as Chinese “remedy dogs,” or hairy as Newfoundlands. The famous Wilkes said only a half truth when he backed himself, with an hours start, against the handsomest man in England; his uncommon and remarkable ugliness (he was, as the Italians say, un ȯel brutto) was the highest recommendation in the eyes of very beautiful women.    [back]

9.    Every Moslem burial-ground has a place of the kind where honourable women may sit and weep unseen by the multitude. These visits are enjoined by the Apostle:—Frequent the cemetery, ’twill make you think of futurity! Also:—Whoever visiteth the graves of his parents (or one of them) every Friday, he shall be written a pious son, even though he might have been in the world, before that, a disobedient. (Pilgrimage, ii., 71.) The buildings resemble our European “mortuary chapels.” Said, Pasha of Egypt, was kind enough to erect one on the island off Suez, for the “use of English ladies who would like shelter whilst weeping and wailing for their dead.” But I never heard that any of the ladles went there.    [back]

10.    Arab. “Ajal”=the period of life, the appointed time of death: the word is of constant recurrence and is also applied to sudden death. See Lane’s Dictionary, s.v.    [back]

11.    “The dying Badawi to his tribe” (and lover) appears to me highly pathetic. The wild people love to be buried upon hill slopes whence they can look down upon the camp; and they still call out the names of kinsmen and friends as they pass by the grave-yards. A similar piece occurs in Wetzstein (p. 27, “Reisebericht ueber Hauran,” etc.):—

O bear with you my bones where the camel bears his load
            ⚪ And bury me before you, if buried I must be;
And let me not be burled ’neath the burden of the vine
            ⚪ But high upon the hill whence your sight I ever see!
As you pass along my grave cry aloud and name your names
            ⚪ The crying of your names shall revive the bones of me:
I have fasted through my life with my friends, and in my death,
            ⚪ I will feast when we meet, on that day of joy and glee.
    [back]

12.    The Akásirah (plur. of Kasrá=Chosroës) is here a title of the four great dynasties of Persian Kings. 1. The Peshdadian or Assyrian race, proto-historics for whom dates fail, 2. The Káyánián (Medes and Persians) who ended with the Alexandrian invasion in B.C. 331. 3. The Ashkánián (Parthenians or Arsacides) who ruled till A.D. 202; and 4. The Sassanides which have already been mentioned. But strictly speaking “Kisri” and “Kasra” are titles applied only to the latter dynasty and especially to the great King Anushirwan. They must not be confounded with “Khusrau” (P. N. Cyrus, Ahasuerus? Chosroës?), and yet the three seem to have combined in “Cæsar,” Kaysar and Czar. For details especially connected with Zoroaster see vol. I, p. 380 of the Dabistan or School of Manners, translated by David Shea and Anthony Troyer, Paris, 1843. The book is most valuable, but the proper names are so carelessly and incorrectly printed that the student is led into perpetual error.    [back]

13.    The words are the very lowest and coarsest; but the scene is true to Arab life.    [back]

14.    Arab.”Hayhát:” the word, written in a variety of ways is onomatopoetic, like our “heigh-ho!” it sometimes means “far from me (or you) be it!” but in popular usage it is simply “Alas.”    [back]

15.    Lane (i., 134) finds a date for the book in this passage. The Soldan of Egypt, Mohammed ibn Kala’ún, in the early eighth century (Hijrah = our fourteenth), issued a sumptuary law compelling Christians and Jews to wear indigo-blue and saffron-yellow turbans, the white being reserved for Moslems. But the custom was much older and Mandeville (chaps. ix.) describes it in A.D. 1322 when it had become the rule. And it still endures; although abolished in the cities it is the rule for Christians, at least in the country parts of Egypt and Syria. I may here remark that such detached passages as these are absolutely useless for chronology: they may be simply the additions of editors or mere copyists.    [back]

16.    The ancient “Mustapha” = the Chosen (prophet, i.e. Mohammed), also titled Al-Mujtaba, the Accepted (Pilgrimage, ii., 309). “Murtaza”=the Elect, i.e. the Caliph Ali is the older “Mortada” or “Mortadi” of Ockley and his day, meaning “one pleasing to (or acceptable to) Allah.” Still older writers corrupted it to “Mortis Ali” and readers supposed this to be the Caliph’s name.    [back]

17.    The gleam (zodiacal light) preceding the true dawn; the Persians call the former Subh-i-kázib (false or lying dawn) opposed to Subh-i-sádik (true dawn) and suppose that it is caused by the sun shining through a hole in the world-encircling Mount Kaf.    [back]

18.    So the Heb. “Arún” = naked, means wearing the lower robe only; = our “in his shirt.”    [back]

19.    Here we have the vulgar Egyptian colloquialism “Aysh” (—Ayyu shayyin) for the classical “Má” = what.    [back]

20.    “In the name of Allah!” here said before taking action.    [back]

21.    Arab. “Mamlúk” (plur. Mamálik) lit. a chattel; and in The Nights a white slave trained to arms. The “Mameluke Beys” of Egypt were locally called the “Ghuzz,” I use the convenient word in its old popular sense;

’Tis sung, there’s a valiant Mameluke
In foreign lands ycleped (Sir Luke)—
HUDIBRAS.

And hence, probably, Molière’s “Mamamouchi”; and the modern French use “Mamalue.” See Savary’s Letters, No. xl.    [back]


The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 1 - Contents    |     The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad


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