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Flowers from a Persian Garden and Other Papers
by W. A. Clouston
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Of this last class is the popular Persian work, Tuti Nama, (Tales of a Parrot, or Parrot-Book), of which I purpose furnishing some account, as it has not yet been completely translated into English. This work was composed, according to Pertsch, in A.D. 1329, by a Persian named Nakhshabi, after an older Persian version, now lost, which was made from a Sanskrit work, also no longer extant, but of which the modern representative is the Suka Saptati, or Seventy Tales of a Parrot.[41] The frame, or leading story, of the Persian Parrot-Book is to the following effect:

[41] Ziyau-'d-Din Nakhshabi, so called from Nakhshab, or Nasaf, the modern Kashi, a town situated between Samarkand and the Oxus, led a secluded life in Bada'um, and died, as stated by 'Abdal-Hakk, A.H. 751 (A.D. 1350-1).—Dr. Rieu's Catalogue of Persian MSS. in the British Museum.—In 1792 the Rev. B. Gerrans published an English translation of twelve of the fifty-two tales comprised in the Tuti Nama, but the work is now best known in Persia and India from an abridgment made by Kadiri in the last century, which was printed, with a translation, at London in 1801.

A merchant who had a very beautiful wife informs her one day that he has resolved to travel into foreign countries in order to increase his wealth by trade. His wife endeavours to persuade him to remain at home in peace and security instead of imperiling his life among strangers. But he expatiates on the evils of poverty and the advantages of wealth: "A man without riches is fatherless, and a home without money is deserted. He that is in want of cash is a nonentity, and wanders in the land unknown. It is, therefore, everybody's duty to procure as much money as possible; for gold is the delight of our lives—it is the bright live-coal of our hearts—the yellow links which fasten the coat of mail—the gentle stimulative of the world—the complete coining die of the globe—the traveller who speaks all languages, and is welcome in every city—the splendid bride unveiled—the defender, register, and mirror of jehandars. The man who has dirhams [Scottice, 'siller'—Fr. 'l'argent'] is handsome; the sun never shines on the inauspicious man without money."[42] Before leaving home the merchant purchased at great cost in the bazaar a wonderful parrot, that could discourse eloquently and intelligently, and also a sharak, a species of nightingale, which, according to Gerrans, "imitates the human voice in so surprising a manner that, if you do not see the bird, you cannot help being deceived"; and, having put them into the same cage, he charged his spouse that whenever she had any matter of importance to transact she should first obtain the sanction of both birds.

[42] "He that has money in the scales," says Saadi, "has strength in his arms, and he who has not the command of money is destitute of friends in the world."—Hundreds of similar sarcastic observations on the power of wealth might be cited from the Hindu writers, such as: "He who has riches has friends; he who has riches has relations; he who has riches is even a sage!" The following verses in praise of money are, I think, worth reproducing, if only for their whimsical arrangement:

Honey, Our Money We find in the end Both relation and friend; 'Tis a helpmate for better, for worse. Neither father nor mother, Nor sister nor brother, Nor uncles nor aunts, Nor dozens Of cousins, Are like a friend in the purse. Still regard the main chance; 'Tis the clink Of the chink Is the music to make the heart dance.

The merchant having protracted his absence many months (Vatsyayana, in his Kama Sutra, says that the man who is given to much travelling does not deserve to be married), and, his wife chancing to be on the roof of her house one day when a young foreign prince of handsome appearance passed by with his attendants, she immediately fell in love with him—"the battle-axe of prudence dropped from her hand; the vessel of continence became a sport to the waves of confusion; while the avenues leading to the fortress of reason remained unguarded, the sugar-cane of incontinence triumphantly raised its head above the rose-tree of patience." The prince had also observed the lady, as she stood on the terrace of her house, and was instantly enamoured of her. He sends an old woman (always the obliging—"for a consideration"—go-between of Eastern lovers) to solicit an interview with the lady at his own palace in the evening, and, after much persuasion, she consents. Arraying her beauteous person in the finest apparel, she proceeds to the cage, and first consults the sharak as to the propriety of her purpose. The sharak forbids her to go, and is at once rewarded by having her head wrung off. She then represents her case to the parrot, who, having witnessed the fate of his companion, prudently resolves to temporise with the amorous dame; so he "quenched the fire of her indignation with the water of flattery, and began a tale conformable to her temperament, which he took care to protract till the morning." In this manner does the prudent parrot prevent the lady's intended intrigue by relating, night after night, till the merchant returns home from his travels, one or more fascinating tales, which he does not bring to an end till it is too late for the assignation.[43]

[43] In a Telugu MS., entitled Patti Vrutti Mahima (the Value of Chaste Wives), the minister of Chandra Pratapa assumes the form of a bird owing to a curse pronounced against him by Siva, and is sold to a merchant named Dhanadatta, whose son, Kuveradatta, is vicious. The bird by moral lessons reformed him for a time. They went to a town called Pushpamayuri, where the king's son saw the wife of Kuveradatta when he was absent from home. An illicit amour was about to begin, when the bird interposed by relating tales of chaste wives, and detained the wanton lady at home till her husband returned.

The order of the parrot's tales is not the same in all texts; in Kadiri's abridgment there are few of the Nights which correspond with those of the India Office MS. No. 2573, which may, perhaps, be partly accounted for by the circumstance that Kadiri has given only 35 of the 52 tales that are in the original text. For the general reader, however, the sequence of the tales is a minor consideration; and I shall content myself with giving abstracts of some of the best stories, irrespective of their order in any text, and complete translations of two or three others. It so happens that the Third Night is the same in Kadiri and the India Office MS. No. 2573, which comprises the complete text; and the story the eloquent bird relates on that night may be entitled

The Stolen Images.

A goldsmith and a carpenter, travelling in company, steal from a Hindu temple some golden images, which, when they arrive in the neighbourhood of their own city, they bury beneath a tree. The goldsmith goes secretly one night and carries away the images, and next morning, when both go together to share the spoil, the goldsmith accuses the carpenter of having played him false. But the carpenter was a shrewd fellow, and so he makes a figure resembling the goldsmith, dresses it in clothes similar to what he usually wore, and procures a couple of bear's cubs, which he teaches to take their food from the skirts and sleeves of the effigy. Thus the cubs conceived a great affection for the figure of the goldsmith. He then contrives to steal the goldsmith's two sons, and, when the father comes to seek them at his house, he pretends they have been changed into young bears. The goldsmith brings his case before the kazi; the cubs are brought into court, and no sooner do they discover the goldsmith than they run up and fondle him. Upon this the judge decides in favour of the carpenter, to whom the goldsmith confesses his guilt, and offers to give up all the gold if he restore his children, which he does accordingly.[44]

[44] Many Asiatic stories relate to the concealing of treasure—generally at the foot of a tree, to mark the spot—by two or more companions, and its being secretly stolen by one of them. The device of the carpenter in the foregoing tale of abducting the rascally goldsmith's two sons, and so on, finds an analogue in the Panchatantra, the celebrated Sanskrit collection of fables (Book I, Fab. 21, of Benfey's German translation), where we read that a young man, who had spent the wealth left to him by his father, had only a heavy iron balance remaining of all his possessions, and depositing it with a merchant went to another country. When he returned, after some time, he went to the merchant and demanded back his balance. The merchant told him it had been eaten by rats; adding: "The iron of which it was composed was particularly sweet, and so the rats ate it." The young man, knowing that the merchant spoke falsely, formed a plan for the recovery of his balance. One day he took the merchant's young son, unknown to his father, to bathe, and left him in the care of a friend. When the merchant missed his son he accused the young man of having stolen him, and summoned him to appear in the king's judgment-hall. In answer to the merchant's accusation, the young man asserted that a kite had carried away the boy; and when the officers of the court declared this to be impossible, he said: "In a country where an iron balance was eaten by rats, a kite might well carry off an elephant, much more a boy." The merchant, having lost his cause, returned the balance to the young man and received back his boy.

The Sixth Tale of the Parrot, according to the India Office MS., relates to

The Woman Carved out of Wood.

Four men—a goldsmith, a carpenter, a tailor, and a dervish—travelling together, one night halted in a desert place, and it was agreed they should watch turn about until daybreak. The carpenter takes the first watch, and to amuse himself he carves the figure of a woman out of a log of wood. When it came to the goldsmith's turn to watch, finding the beautiful female figure, he resolved also to exhibit his art, and accordingly made a set of ornaments of gold and silver, which he placed on the neck, arms, and ankles. During the third watch the tailor made a suit of clothes becoming a bride, and put them on the figure. Lastly, the dervish, when it came to his turn to watch, beholding the captivating female form, prayed that it might be endowed with life, and immediately the effigy became animated. In the morning all four fell in love with the charming damsel, each claiming her for himself; the carpenter, because he had carved her with his own hands; the goldsmith, because he had adorned her with gems; the tailor, because he had suitably clothed her; and the dervish, because he had, by his intercession, endowed her with life. While they were thus disputing, a man came to the spot, to whom they referred the case. On seeing the woman, he exclaimed: "This is my own wife, whom you have stolen from me," and compelled them to come before the kutwal, who, on viewing her beauty, in his turn claimed her as the wife of his brother, who had been waylaid and murdered in the desert. The kutwal took them all, with the woman, before the kazi, who declared that she was his slave, who had absconded from his house with a large sum of money. An old man who was present suggested that they should all seven appeal to the Tree of Decision, and thither they went accordingly; but no sooner had they stated their several claims than the trunk of the tree split open, the woman ran into the cleft, and on its reuniting she was no more to be seen. A voice proceeded from the tree, saying: "Everything returns to its first principles"; and the seven suitors of the woman were overwhelmed with shame.[45]

[45] So, too, Boethius, in his De Consolatione Philosophiae, says, according to Chaucer's translation: "All thynges seken ayen to hir [i.e. their] propre course, and all thynges rejoysen on hir retournynge agayne to hir nature."—A tale current in Oude, and given in Indian Notes and Queries for Sept. 1887, is an illustration of the maxim that "everything returns to its first principles": A certain prince chose his friends out of the lowest class, and naturally imbibed their principles and habits. When the death of his father placed him on the throne, he soon made his former associates his courtiers, and exacted the most servile homage from the nobles. The old vazir, however, despised the young king and would render none. This so exasperated him that he called his counsellors together to advise the most excruciating of tortures for the old man. Said one: "Let him be flayed alive and let shoes be made of his skin." The vazir ejaculated on this but one word, "Origin." Said the next: "Let him be hacked into pieces and his limbs cast to the dogs." The vazir said, "Origin." Another advised: "Let him be forthwith executed, and his house be levelled to the ground." Once more the vazir simply said, "Origin." Then the king turned to the rest, who declared each according to his opinion, the vazir noticing each with the same word. At last a young man, who had not spoken hitherto, was asked. "May it please your Majesty," said he, "if you ask my opinion, it is this: Here is an aged man, and honourable from his years, family, and position; moreover, he served in the king your father's court, and nursed you as a boy. It were well, considering all these matters, to pay him respect, and render his old age comfortable." Again the vazir uttered the word "Origin." The king now demanded what he meant by it. "Simply this, your Majesty," responded the vazir: "You have here the sons of shoemakers, butchers, executioners, and so forth, and each has expressed himself according to his father's trade. There is but one noble-born among them, and he has made himself conspicuous by speaking according to the manner of his race." The king was ashamed, and released the vazir.—A parallel to this is found in the Turkish Qirq Vezir Tarikhi, or History of the Forty Vezirs (Lady's 4th Story): according to Mr. Gibb's translation, "All things return to their origin."

I am strongly of opinion that the foregoing story is of Buddhistic extraction; but however this may be, it is not a bad specimen of Eastern humour, nor is the following, which the eloquent bird tells the lady another night:

Of the Man whose Mare was kicked by a Merchant's Horse.

A merchant had a vicious horse that kicked a mare, which he had warned the owner not to tie near his animal. The man carried the merchant before the kazi, and stated his complaint. The kazi inquired of the merchant what he had to say in his own defence; but he pretended to be dumb, answering not a word to the judge's interrogatives. Upon this the kazi remarked to the plaintiff that since the merchant was dumb he could not be to blame for the accident. "How do you know he is dumb?" said the owner of the mare. "At the time I wished to fasten my mare near his horse he said, 'Don't!' yet now he feigns himself dumb." The kazi observed that if he was duly warned against the accident he had himself to blame, and so dismissed the case.



II

THE EMPEROR'S DREAM—THE GOLDEN APPARITION—THE FOUR TREASURE-SEEKERS.

We are not without instances in European popular fictions of two young persons dreaming of each other and falling in love, although they had never met or known of each other's existence. A notable example is the story of the Two Dreams in the famous History of the Seven Wise Masters. Incidents of this kind are very common in Oriental stories: the romance of Kamarupa (of Indian origin, but now chiefly known through the Persian version) is based upon a dream which the hero has of a certain beautiful princess, with whom he falls in love, and he sets forth with his companions to find her, should it be at the uttermost ends of the earth. It so happens that the damsel also dreams of him, and, when they do meet, they need no introduction to each other. The Indian romance of Vasayadatta has a similar plot. But the royal dreamer and lover in the following story, told by the Parrot on the 39th Night, according to the India Office MS. No. 2573, adopted a plan for the discovery of the beauteous object of his vision more conformable to his own ease:

The Emperor's Dream.

An emperor of China dreamt of a very beautiful damsel whom he had never seen or heard of, and, being sorely pierced with the darts of love for the creature of his dreaming fancy, he could find no peace of mind. One of his vazirs, who was an excellent portrait painter, receiving from the emperor a minute description of the lady's features, drew the face, and the imperial lover acknowledged the likeness to be very exact. The vazir then went abroad with the portrait, to see whether any one could identify it with the fair original. After many disappointments he met with an old hermit, who at once recognised it as the portrait of the princess of Rum,[46] who, he informed the vazir, had an unconquerable aversion against men ever since she beheld, in her garden, a peacock basely desert his mate and their young ones, when the tree on which their nest was built had been struck by lightning. She believed that all men were quite as selfish as that peacock, and was resolved never to marry. Returning to his imperial master with these most interesting particulars regarding the object of his affection, he next undertakes to conquer the strange and unnatural aversion of the princess. Taking with him the emperor's portrait and other pictures, he procures access to the princess of Rum; shows her, first, the portrait of the emperor of China, and then pictures of animals in the royal menagerie, among others that of a deer, concerning which he relates a story to the effect that the emperor, sitting one day in his summer-house, saw a deer, his doe, and their fawn on the bank of the river, when suddenly the waters overflowed the banks, and the doe, in terror for her life, fled away, while the deer bravely remained with the fawn and was drowned. This story, so closely resembling her own, struck the fair princess with wonder and admiration, and she at once gave her consent to be united to the emperor of China; and we may suppose that "they continued together in joy and happiness until they were overtaken by the terminater of delights and the separator of companions."

[46] Originally, Rumelia (Rum Eyli) was only implied by the word Rum, but in course of time it was employed to designate the whole Turkish empire.

* * * * *

There can be little or no doubt, I think, that in this tale we find the original of the frame, or leading story, of the Persian Tales, ascribed to a dervish named Mukhlis, of Isfahan, and written after the Arabian Nights, as it is believed, in which the nurse of the Princess has to relate almost as many stories to overcome her aversion against men (the result of an incident similar to that witnessed by the Lady of Rum) as the renowned Sheherazade had to tell her lord, who entertained—for a very different reason—a bitter dislike of women.

* * * * *

I now present a story unabridged, translated by Gerrans in the latter part of the last century. It is assuredly of Buddhistic origin:

The Golden Apparition.

In the extreme boundaries of Khurasan there once lived, according to general report, a merchant named Abdal-Malik, whose warehouses were crowded with rich merchandise, and whose coffers overflowed with money. The scions of genius ripened into maturity under the sunshine of his liberality; the sons of indigence fattened on the bread of his hospitality; and the parched traveller amply slaked his thirst in the river of his generosity. One day, as he meditated on the favours which his Creator had so luxuriantly showered upon him, he testified his gratitude by the following resolution: "Long have I traded in the theatre of the world, much have I received, and little have I bestowed. This wealth was entrusted to my care, with no other design or intention but to enable me to assist the unfortunate and indigent. Before, therefore, the Angel of Death shall come to demand the spoil of my mortality, it is my last wish and sole intention to expiate my sins and follies by voluntary oblations of this she-camel [alluding to the Muslim Feast of the Camel] in the last month of her pregnancy, and to proclaim to all men, by this late breakfasting [alluding to the Feast of Ramadan, when food is only permitted after sunset], my past mortification."

In the tranquil hour of midnight an apparition stood before him, in the habit of a fakir. The merchant cried: "What art thou?" It answered: "I am the apparition of thy good fortune and the genius of thy future happiness. When thou, with such unbounded generosity, didst bequeath all thy wealth to the poor, I determined not to pass by thy door unnoticed, but to endow thee with an inexhaustible treasure, conformable to the greatness of thy capacious soul. To accomplish which I will, every morning, in this shape, appear to thee; thou shalt strike me a few blows on the head, when I shall instantly fall low at thy feet, transformed into an image of gold. From this freely take as much as thou shalt have occasion for; and every member or joint that shall be separated from the image shall be instantly replaced by another of the same precious metal."[47]

[47] If the members severed from the golden image were to be instantly replaced by others, what need was there for the daily appearance of the "fakir," as promised?—But n'importe!

At daybreak the demon of avarice had conducted Hajm, the covetous, to the durbar of Abdal-Malik, the generous. Soon after his arrival the apparition presented itself. Abdal-Malik immediately arose, and after striking it several blows on the head it fell down before him, and was changed into an image of gold. As much as sufficed for the necessities of the day he took for himself, and gave a much larger portion to his visitor. Hajm was overjoyed at the present, and concluded from what he had seen that he or any other person who should treat a fakir in the same manner could convert him into gold, and consequently that by beating a number he might multiply his golden images. Heated with this fond imagination, he quickly returned to his house and gave the necessary orders for a most sumptuous entertainment, to which he invited all the fakirs in the province.

When the keen appetite was assuaged, and the exhilarating sherbet began to enliven the convivial meeting, Hajm seized a ponderous club, and with it regaled his guests till he broke their heads, and the crimson torrent stained the carpet of hospitality. The fakirs elevating the shriek of sore distress, the kutwal's guard came to their assistance, and soon a multitude of people assembled, who, after binding the offender with the strong cord of captivity, carried him, together with the fakirs, before the governor of the city. He demanded to know the reason why he had so inhospitably and cruelly behaved to these harmless people. The confounded Hajm replied: "As I was yesterday in the house of Abdal-Malik, a fakir suddenly appeared. The merchant struck him some blows on the head, and he fell prostrate before him, transformed into a golden image. Imagining that any other person could, by a similar behaviour, force any fakir to undergo the like metamorphosis, I invited these men to a banquet, and regaled them with some blows of my cudgel to compel them to a similar transformation; but the demon of avarice has deceived me, and the fascinating temptation of gold has involved me in a labyrinth of ills."

The governor at once sent for Abdal-Malik, and, demanding a solution of Hajm's mysterious tale, was thus answered by the charitable merchant: "The unfortunate Hajm is my neighbour. Some days ago he began to exhibit symptoms of a disordered imagination and distracted brain, and during these violent paroxysms of insanity he related some ridiculous fable of me and the rest of my neighbours. No better specimen can be adduced than the extravagant action of which he now stands accused, and the absurd tale by which he attempts to apologise for the commission of it. That madness may no longer usurp the palace of reason, to revel upon the ruins of his mind, deliver him to the sons of ingenuity, the preservers and restorers of health; let them purify his blood by sparing diet, abridge him of his daily potations, and by the force of medicinal beverage recall him from the precipice of ruin." This advice was warmly applauded by the governor, who, after Hajm had been compelled to ask pardon of the fakirs for the ill-treatment they had received, was soundly bastinadoed before the tribunal, and carried to the hospital for madness.

That each man has his "genius" of good or evil fortune is an essentially Buddhistic idea. The same story occurs, in a different form, in the Hitopadesa, or Friendly Counsel, an ancient Sanskrit collection of apologues, and an abridgment of the Panchatantra, or Five Chapters, where it forms Fable 10 of Book III: In the city of Ayodhya (Oude) there was a soldier named Churamani, who, being anxious for money, for a long time with pain of body worshipped the deity, the jewel of whose diadem is the lunar crescent. Being at length purified from his sins, in his sleep he had a vision in which, through the favour of the deity, he was directed by the lord of the Yakshas [Kuvera, the god of wealth] to do as follows: "Early in the morning, having been shaved, thou must stand, club in hand, concealed behind the door of the house; and the beggar whom thou seest come into the court thou wilt put to death without mercy by blows of thy staff. Instantly the beggar will become a pot full of gold, by which thou wilt be comfortable for the rest of thy life." These instructions being followed, it came to pass accordingly; but the barber who had been brought to shave him, having witnessed it all, said to himself, "O is this the mode of gaining a treasure? Why, then, may not I also do the same?" From that day forward the barber in like manner, with club in hand, day after day awaited the coming of the beggar. One day a beggar being so caught was attacked by him and killed with the stick, for which offence the barber himself was beaten by the king's officers, and died.—In the Panchatantra, in place of a soldier, a banker who had lost all his wealth determines to put an end to his life, when he dreams that the personification of Kuvera, the god of riches, appears before him in the form of a Jaina mendicant—a conclusive proof of the Buddhistic origin of the story.—A trunkless head performs the same part in the Russian folk-tale of the Stepmother's Daughter, on which Mr. Ralston remarks that, "according to Buddhist belief the treasure which has belonged to anyone in a former existence may come to him in the form of a man, who, when killed, is turned to gold."[48]

[48] Ralston's Russian Folk-Tales, p. 224, note.

* * * * *

There is an analogous story to this of the Golden Apparition in an entertaining little book entitled, The Orientalist; or, Letters of a Rabbi, by James Noble, published at Edinburgh in 1831, of which the following is the outline:

An old Dervish falls ill in the house of a poor widow, who tends him with great care, and when he recovers his health he offers to take charge of her only son, Abdallah. The good woman gladly consents, and the Dervish sets out accompanied by his young ward, having intimated to his mother that they must perform a journey which would last about two years. One day they arrived at a solitary place, and the Dervish said to Abdallah: "My son, we are now at the end of our journey. I shall employ my prayers to obtain from Allah that the earth shall open and make an entrance wide enough to permit thee to descend into a place where thou shalt find one of the greatest treasures that the earth contains. Hast thou courage to descend into the vault?" Abdallah assured him that he might depend on his fidelity; and then the Dervish lighted a small fire, into which he cast a perfume: he read and prayed for some minutes, after which the earth opened, and he said to the young man: "Thou mayest now enter. Remember that it is in thy power to do me a great service; and that this is perhaps the only opportunity thou shalt ever have of testifying to me that thou art not ungrateful. Do not let thyself be dazzled by the riches that thou shalt find there: think only of seizing upon an iron candlestick with twelve branches, which thou shalt find close to the door. That is absolutely necessary to me: come up with it at once." Abdallah descended, and, neglecting the advice of the Dervish, filled his vest and sleeves with the gold and jewels which he found heaped up in the vault, whereupon the opening by which he had entered closed of itself. He had, however, sufficient presence of mind to seize the iron candlestick, and endeavoured to find some other means of escape from the vault. At length he discovers a narrow passage, which he follows until he reaches the surface of the earth, and looking for the Dervish saw him not, but to his surprise found that he was close to his mother's house. On showing his wealth to his mother, it all suddenly vanished. But the candlestick remained. He lighted one of the branches, upon which a dervish appeared, and after turning round an hour he threw down an asper (about three farthings in value) and vanished. Next night he put a lighted candle in each of the branches, when twelve dervishes appeared, and having continued their gyrations for an hour each threw down an asper and vanished. In this way did Abdallah and his mother contrive to live for a time, till at length he resolved to carry the candlestick to the good Dervish, hoping to obtain from him the treasure which he had seen in the vault. He remembered his name and city, and on reaching his dwelling found the Dervish living in a magnificent palace, with fifty porters at the gate. The Dervish thus addressed Abdallah: "Thou art an ungrateful wretch! Hadst thou known the value of the candlestick thou wouldst never have brought it to me. I will show thee its true use." Then the Dervish placed a light in each branch, whereupon twelve dervishes appeared and began to whirl, but on his giving each a blow with a stick, in an instant they were changed into twelve heaps of sequins, diamonds, and other precious stones. Ungrateful as Abdallah had shown himself, yet the Dervish gave him two camels laden with gold, and a slave, telling him that he must depart the next morning. During the night Abdallah stole the candlestick and placed it at the bottom of his sacks. At daybreak he took leave of the generous Dervish and set off. When about half a day's journey from his own city he sold the slave, that there should be no witness to his former poverty, and bought another in his stead. Arriving home, he carefully placed his loads of treasure in a private chamber, and then put a light in each branch of the candlestick; and when the twelve dervishes appeared, he dealt each of them a blow with a stick. But he had not observed that the good Dervish employed his left hand, and he had naturally used his right, in consequence of which the twelve dervishes drew each from under their robes a heavy club and beat him till he was nearly dead, and then vanished, as did also the treasure, the camels, the slave, and the wonder-working candlestick![49]

[49] The same story is given by the Comte de Caylus—but, like Noble, without stating where the original is to be found—in his Contes Orientaux, first published in 1745, under the title of "Histoire de Dervich Abounadar." These entertaining tales are reproduced in Le Cabinet des Fees, ed. 1786, tome xxv.—It will be observed that the first part of the story bears a close resemblance to that of our childhood's favourite, the Arabian tale of "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," of which many analogues and variants, both European and Asiatic, are cited in the first volume of my Popular Tales and Fictions, 1887;—see also a supplementary note by me on Aladdin's Lamp in Notes and Queries, Jan. 5, 1889, p. 1.

* * * * *

A warning against avarice is intended to be conveyed in the tale, or rather apologue, or perhaps we should consider it as a sort of allegory, related by the sagacious bird on the 47th Night, according to the India Office MS., but the 16th Night of Kadiri's abridgment. It is to the following effect, and may be entitled

The Four Treasure-Seekers.

Once on a time four intimate friends, who made a common fund of all their possessions, and had long enjoyed the wealth of their industrious ancestors, at length lost all their goods and money, and, barely saving their lives, quitted together the place of their nativity. In the course of their travels they meet a wise Brahman, to whom they relate the history of their misfortunes. He gives each of them a pearl, which he places on their heads, telling them, whenever the pearl drops from the head of any of them, to examine the spot, and share equally what they find there. After walking some distance the pearl drops from the head of one of the companions, and on examining the place he discovers a copper mine, the produce of which he offers to share with the others, but they refuse, and, leaving him, continue their journey. By-and-by the pearl drops from the head of another of the friends, and a silver mine is found; but the two others, believing that better things were in store farther on, left him to his treasure, and proceeded on their way till the pearl of the third companion dropped, and they found in the place a rich gold mine. In vain does he endeavour to persuade his companion to be content with the wealth here obtainable: he disdainfully refuses, saying that, since copper, silver, and gold had been found, fortune had evidently reserved something infinitely better for him; and so he quitted his friend and went on, till he reached a narrow valley destitute of water; the air like that of Jehennan;[50] the surface of the earth like infernal fire; no animal or bird was to be seen; and chilling blasts alternated with sulphurous exhalations. Here the fourth pearl dropped and the owner discovered a mine of diamonds and other gems, but the ground was covered with snakes, cockatrices, and the most venomous serpents. On seeing this he determines to return and share the produce of the third companion's gold mine; but when he comes to the spot he can find no trace of the mine or of the owner. Proceeding next to the silver mine, he finds it is exhausted, and his friend who owned it has gone; so he will now content himself with copper; but, alas! his first friend had died the day before his arrival, and strangers were now in possession of the mine, who laughed at his pretensions, and even beat him for his impertinence. Sad at heart, he journeys on to where he and his companions had met the Brahman, but he had long since departed to a far distant country; and thus, through his obstinacy and avarice, he was overwhelmed with poverty and disgrace—without money and without friends.

[50] That is, hell. Properly, it is Je-Hinnon, near Jerusalem, which seems to have been in ancient times the cremation ground for human corpses.

* * * * *

This story of the Four Treasure-seekers forms the third of Book V of the Panchatantra, where the fourth companion, instead of finding a diamond mine guarded by serpents, etc., discovers a man with a wheel upon his head, and on his asking this man where he could procure water, who he was, and why he stood with the wheel on his head, straightway the wheel is transferred to his own head, as had been the case of the former victim who had asked the same questions of his predecessor. The third man, who had found the gold mine, wondering that his companion tarried so long, sets off in search of him, and, finding him with the wheel on his head, asks why he stood thus. The fourth acquaints him of the property of the wheel, and then relates a number of stories to show that those who want common sense will surely come to grief.

It is more than probable that several of the tales and apologues in the Panchatantra were derived from Buddhist sources; and the incident of a man with a wheel on his head is found in the Chinese-Sanskrit work entitled Fu-pen-hing-tsi-king, which Wassiljew translates 'Biography of Sakyamuni and his Companions,' and of which Dr. Beal has published an abridged English translation under the title of the Romantic History of Buddha. In this work (p. 342 ff.) a merchant, who had struck his mother because she would not sanction his going on a trading voyage, in the course of his wanderings discovers a man "on whose head there was placed an iron wheel, this wheel was red with heat, and glowing as from a furnace, terrible to behold. Seeing this terrible sight, Maitri exclaimed: 'Who are you? Why do you carry that terrible wheel on your head?' On this the wretched man replied: 'Dear sir, is it possible you know me not? I am a merchant chief called Gorinda.' Then Maitri asked him and said: 'Pray, then, tell me, what dreadful crime have you committed in former days that you are constrained to wear that fiery wheel on your head.' Then Gorinda answered: 'In former days I was angry with and struck my mother as she lay on the ground, and for this reason I am condemned to wear this fiery iron wheel around my head.' At this time Maitri, self-accused, began to cry out and lament; he was filled with remorse on recollection of his own conduct, and exclaimed in agony: 'Now am I caught like a deer in the snare.' Then a certain Yaksha, who kept guard over that city, whose name was Viruka, suddenly came to the spot, and removing the fiery wheel from off the head of Gorinda, he placed it on the head of Maitri. Then the wretched man cried out in his agony and said: 'O what have I done to merit this torment?' to which the Yaksha replied: 'You, wretched man, dared to strike your mother on the head as she lay on the ground; now, therefore, on your head you shall wear this fiery wheel; through 60,000 years your punishment shall last: be assured of this, through all these years you shall wear this wheel.'"



III

THE SINGING ASS: THE FOOLISH THIEVES: THE FAGGOT-MAKER AND THE MAGIC BOWL.

Some of the Parrot's recitals have other tales sphered within them, so to say—a plan which must be familiar to all readers of the Arabian Nights. In the following amusing tale, which is perhaps the best of the whole series (it is the 41st of the India Office MS. No. 2573, and the 31st in Kadiri's version), there are two subordinate stories:

The Singing Ass.

At a certain period of time, as ancient historians inform us, an ass and an elk were so fond of each other's company that they were never seen separate. If the plains were deficient in pasture, they repaired to the meadows; or, if famine pervaded the valleys, they overleaped the garden-fence, and, like friends, divided the spoil.

One night, during the season of verdure, about the gay termination of spring, after they had rioted in the cup of plenty, and lay rolling on a green carpet of spinach, the cup of the silly ass began to overflow with the froth of conceit, and he thus expressed his unseasonable intentions:

"O comrade of the branching antlers, what a mirth-inspiring night is this! How joyous are the heart-attracting moments of spring! Fragrance distils from every tree; the garden breathes otto of roses, and the whole atmosphere is pregnant with musk. In the umbrageous gloom of the waving cypress the turtles are exchanging their vows, and the bird of a thousand songs [i.e., the nightingale] sips nectar from the lips of the rose: nothing is wanting to complete the joys of spring but one of my melodious songs. When the warm blood of youth shall cease to give animation to these elegant limbs of mine, what relish shall I have for pleasure? And when the lamp of my life is extinguished, the spring will return in vain."

Nakhshabi, music at every season is delightful, and a song sweetly murmured captivates the senses.

The musician who charms our ears will most assuredly find the road of success to our hearts.[51]

[51] The italicised passages which occur in this tale are verses in the original Persian text.

The elk answered: "Sagacious, long-eared associate, what an unseasonable proposal is this? Rather let us converse together about pack-saddles and sacks; tell me a story about straw, beans, or hay-lofts, unmerciful drivers, and heavy burdens."

What business has the Ass to meddle with music?

What occasion has Long-ears to attempt to sing?

"You ought also to recollect," continued the elk, "that we are thieves, and that we came into this garden to plunder. Consider what an enormous quantity of beets, lettuces, parsley, and radishes we have eaten, and what a fine bed of spinach we are spoiling! 'Nothing can be more disgusting than a bird that sings out of season' is a proverb which is as current among the sons of wisdom as a bill of exchange among merchants, and as valuable as an unpierced pearl. If you are so infatuated as to permit the enchanting melody of your voice to draw you into this inextricable labyrinth, the gardener will instantly awake, rouse his whole caravan of workmen, hasten to this garden and convert our music into mourning; so that our history will be like that of the house-breakers."

The Prince of Folly, expressing a wish to know how that was, received the following information:

The Foolish Thieves.

In one of the cities of Hindustan some thieves broke into a house, and after collecting the most valuable movables sat down in a corner to bind them up. In this corner was a large two-eared earthen vessel, brimful of the wine of seduction, which sublime to their mouths they advanced and long-breathed potations exhausted, crying: "Everything is good in its turn; the hours of business are past—come on with the gift which fortune bestows; let us mitigate the toils of the night and smooth the forehead of care." As they approached the bottom of the flagon, the vanguard of intoxication began to storm the castle of reason; wild uproar, tumult, and their auxiliaries commanded by a sirdar of nonsense, soon after scaled the walls, and the songs of folly vociferously proclaimed that the sultan of discretion was driven from his post, and confusion had taken possession of the garrison. The noise awakened the master of the mansion, who was first overwhelmed with surprise, but soon recollecting himself, he seized his trusty scimitar, and expeditiously roused his servants, who forthwith attacked the sons of disorder, and with very little pains or risk extended them on the pavement of death.

Nakhshabi, everything is good in its season.

Let each perform his part in the world, that the world may go round.

He who drinks at an unseasonable hour ought not to complain of the vintner.

* * * * *

Here Long-ears superciliously answered: "Pusillanimous companion, I am the blossom of the city and the luminary of the people; my presence gives life to the plains, and my harmony cultivates the desert. If, when in vulgar prose I express the unpremeditated idea, every ear is filled with delight, and the fleeting soul, through ecstacy, flutters on the trembling lips—what must be the effect of my songs?"

The elk rejoined: "The ear must be deprived of sensation, the heart void of blood, and formed of the coarsest clay must be he who can attend your lays with indifference. But condescend, for once, to listen to advice, and postpone this music, in which you are so great a proficient, and suppress not only the song, but the sweet murmuring in your throat, prelusive to your singing, and shrink not up your graceful nostrils, nor extent the extremities of your jaws, lest you should have as much reason to repent of your singing as the faggot-maker had of his dancing." The ass demanding how that came to pass, the elk made answer as follows:

The Faggot-maker and the Magic Bowl.

As a faggot-maker was one day at work in a wood, he saw four peris [or fairies] sitting near him, with a magnificent bowl before them, which supplied them with all they wanted. If they had occasion for food of the choicest taste, wines of the most delicious flavour, garments the most valuable and convenient, or perfumes of the most odoriferous exhalation—in short, whatever necessity could require, luxury demand, or avarice wish for—they had nothing more to do but put their hands into the bowl and pull out whatever they desired. The day following, the poor faggot-maker being at work in the same place, the peris again appeared, and invited him to be one of their party. The proposal was cheerfully accepted, and impressing his wife and children with the seal of forgetfulness, he remained some days in their company. Recollecting himself, however, at last, he thus addressed his white-robed entertainers:

"I am a poor faggot-maker, father of a numerous family; to drive famine from my cot, I every evening return with my faggots; but my cares for my wife and fireside have been for some time past obliterated by the cup of your generosity. If my petition gain admission to the durbar of your enlightened auditory, I will return to give them the salaam of health, and inquire into the situation of their affairs."

The peris graciously nodded acquiescence, adding: "The favours you have received from us are trifling, and we cannot dismiss you empty-handed. Make choice, therefore, of whatever you please, and the fervour of your most unbounded desire shall be slaked in the stream of our munificence."

The wood-cutter replied: "I have but one wish to gratify, and that is so unjust and so unreasonable that I dread the very thought of naming it, since nothing but the bowl before us will satisfy my ambitious heart."

The peris, bursting into laughter, answered: "We shall suffer not the least inconvenience by the loss of it, for, by virtue of a talisman which we possess, we could make a thousand in a twinkling. But, in order to make it as great a treasure to you as it has been to us, guard it with the utmost care, for it will break by the most trifling blow, and be sure never to make use of it but when you really want it."

The faggot-maker, overcome with joy, said: "I will pay the most profound attention to this inexhaustible treasure; and to preserve it from breaking I will exert every faculty of my soul." Upon saying this he received the bowl, with which he returned on the wings of rapture, and for some days enjoyed his good fortune better than might be expected. The necessaries and comforts of life were provided for his family, his creditors were paid, alms distributed to the poor, the brittle bowl of plenty was guarded with discretion, and everything around him was arranged for the reception of his friends, who assembled in such crowds that his cottage overflowed. The faggot-maker, who was one of those choice elevated spirits whose money never rusts in their possession, finding his habitation inadequate for the entertainment of his guests, built another, more spacious and magnificent, to which he invited the whole city, and placed the magic bowl in the middle of the grand saloon, and every time he made a dip pulled out whatever was wished for. Though the views of his visitors were various, contentment was visibly inscribed on every forehead: the hungry were filled with the bread of plenty; the aqueducts overflowed with the wine of Shiraz; the effeminate were satiated with musky odours, and the thirst of avarice was quenched by the bowl of abundance. The wondering spectators exclaimed: "This is no bowl, but a boundless ocean of mystery! It is not what it appears to be, a piece of furniture, but an inexhaustible magazine of treasure!"

After the faggot-maker had thus paraded his good fortune and circulated the wine-cup with very great rapidity, he stood up and began to dance, and, to show his dexterity in the art, placed the brittle bowl on his left shoulder, which every time he turned round he struck with his hand, crying: "O soul-exhilarating goblet, thou art the origin of my ease and affluence—the spring of my pomp and equipage—the engineer who has lifted me from the dust of indigence to the towering battlements of glory! Thou art the nimble berid [running foot-man] of my winged wishes, and the regulator of all my actions! To thee am I indebted for all the splendour that surrounds me! Thou art the source of my currency, and art the author of our present festival!"

With these and similar foolish tales he entertained his company, as the genius of nonsense dictated, making the most ridiculous grimaces, rolling his eyes like a fakir in a fit of devotion, and capering like one distracted, till the bowl, by a sudden slip of his foot, fell from his shoulder on the pavement of ruin, and was broken into a hundred pieces. At the same instant, all that he had in the house, and whatever he had circulated in the city, suddenly vanished;—the banquet of exultation was quickly converted into mourning, and he who a little before danced for joy now beat his breast for sorrow, blamed to no purpose the rigour of his inauspicious fortune, and execrated the hour of his birth. Thus a jewel fell into the hands of an unworthy person, who was unacquainted with its value; and an inestimable gem was entrusted to an indigent wretch, who, by his ignorance and ostentation, converted it to his own destruction.

* * * * *

"Melodious bulbul of the long-eared race," continued the elk, "as the wood-cutter's dancing was an unpardonable folly which met with the chastisement it deserved, so I fearfully anticipate that your unseasonable singing will become your exemplary punishment."

His ass-ship listened thus far with reluctance to the admonition of his friend, without intending to profit by it; but arose from the carpet of spinach, eyed his companion with a mortifying glance of contempt, pricked up his long snaky ears, and began to put himself into a musical posture. The nimble, small-hoofed elk, perceiving this, said to himself: "Since he has stretched out his neck and prepared his pitch-pipe, he will not remain long without singing." So he left the vegetable banquet, leaped over the garden wall, and fled to a place of security. The ass was no sooner alone than he commenced a most loud and horrible braying, which instantly awoke the gardeners, who, with the noose of an insidious halter, to the trunk of a tree fast bound the affrighted musician, where they belaboured him with their cudgels till they broke every bone in his body, and converted his skin to a book, in which, in letters of gold, a munshi [learned man] of luminous pen, with the choicest flowers of the garden of rhetoric, and for the benefit of the numerous fraternity of asses, inscribed this instructive history.

* * * * *

Magical articles such as the wonderful wishing-bowl of our unlucky friend the Faggot-maker figure very frequently in the folk-tales of almost every country, assuming many different forms: a table-cloth, a pair of saddle-bags, a purse, a flask, etc.; but since a comprehensive account of those highly-gifted objects—alas, that they should no longer exist!—is furnished in the early chapters of my Popular Tales and Fictions, I presume I need not go over the same wide field again.—In the Katha Sarit Sagara (Ocean of the Streams of Story), a very large collection of tales and apologues, composed, in Sanskrit, by Somadeva, in the 12th century, after a much older work, the Vrihat Katha (or Great Story), the tale of the Faggot-maker occurs as a separate recital. It is there an inexhaustible pitcher which he receives from four yakshas—supernatural beings, who correspond to some extent with the peris of Muslim mythology—and he is duly warned that should it be broken it departs at once. For a time he concealed the secret from his relations until one day, when he was intoxicated, they asked him how it came about that he had given up carrying burdens, and had abundance of all kinds of dainties, eatable and drinkable. "He was too much puffed up with pride to tell them plainly, but, taking the wish-granting pitcher on his shoulder, he began to dance; and, as he was dancing, the inexhaustible pitcher slipped from his shoulder, as his feet tripped with over-abundance of intoxication, and, falling on the ground, was broken in pieces. And immediately it was mended again, and reverted to its original possessor; but Subadatta was reduced to his former condition, and filled with despondency." In a note to this story, Mr. Tawney remarks that in Bartsch's Meklenburg Tales a man possesses himself of an inexhaustible beer-can, but as soon as he tells how he got it the beer disappears.—The story of the Foolish Thieves noisily carousing in the house they had just plundered occurs also in Saadi's Gulistan and several other Eastern story-books.

In Kadiri's abridgment of the Parrot-Book, the Elk is taken prisoner as well as his companion the Ass, and the two subordinate stories, of the Foolish Thieves and of the Faggot-maker, are omitted. They are also omitted in the version of the Singing Ass found in the Panchatantra (B. v, F. 7), where a jackal, not an elk, is the companion of the ass, and when he perceives the latter about to "sing" he says: "Let me get to the door of the garden, where I may see the gardener as he approaches, and then sing away as long as you please." The gardener beats the ass till he is weary, and then fastens a clog to the animal's leg and ties him to a post. After great exertion, the ass contrives to get free from the post and hobbles away with the clog still on his leg. The jackal meets his old comrade and exclaims: "Bravo, uncle! You would sing your song, though I did all I could to dissuade you, and now see what a fine ornament you have received as recompense for your performance." This form of the story reappears in the Tantrakhyana, a collection of tales, in Sanskrit, discovered by Prof. Cecil Bendall in 1884, of which he has given an interesting account in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, vol. xx, pp. 465-501, including the original text of a number of the stories.—In Ralston's Tibetan Tales, translated from Schiefner's German rendering of stories from the Kah-gyur (No. xxxii), the story is also found, with a bull in place of a jackal. An ass meets the bull one evening and proposes they should go together and feast themselves to their hearts' content in the king's bean-field, to which the bull replies: "O nephew, as you are wont to let your voice resound, we should run great risk." Said the ass: "O uncle, let us go; I will not raise my voice." Having entered the bean-field together, the ass uttered no sound until he had eaten his fill. Then quoth he: "Uncle, shall I not sing a little?" The bull responded: "Wait an instant until I have gone away, and then do just as you please." So the bull runs away, and the ass lifts up his melodious voice, upon which the king's servants came and seized him, cut off his long ears, fastened a pestle on his neck, and drove him out of the field.—There can be no question, I think, as to the superiority, in point of humour, of Nakhshabi's version in Tuti Nama, as given above.



IV

THE COVETOUS GOLDSMITH—THE KING WHO DIED OF LOVE—THE DISCOVERY OF MUSIC—THE SEVEN REQUISITES OF A PERFECT WOMAN.

To quit, for the present at least, the regions of fable and magic, and return to tales of common life: the 30th recital in Kadiri's abridged text is of

The Goldsmith who lost his Life through his Covetousness.

A soldier finds a purse of gold on the highway, and entrusts it to the keeping of a goldsmith (how frequently do goldsmiths figure in these stories—and never to the credit of the craft!), but when he comes to demand it back the other denies all knowledge of it. The soldier cites him before the kazi, but he still persists in denying that he had ever received any money from the complainant. The kazi was, however, convinced of the truth of the soldier's story, so he goes to the house of the goldsmith, and privately causes two of his own attendants to be locked up in a large chest that was in one of the rooms. He then confines the goldsmith and his wife in the same room. During the night the concealed men hear the goldsmith inform his wife where he had hidden the soldier's money; and next morning, when the kazi comes again and is told by his men what they had heard the goldsmith say to his wife about the money, he causes search to be made, and, finding it, hangs the goldsmith on the spot.

* * * * *

Kazis are often represented in Persian stories as being very shrewd and ingenious in convicting the most expert rogues, but this device for discovering the goldsmith's criminality is certainly one of the cleverest examples.

* * * * *

On the 36th Night of MS. (26th of Kadiri) the loquacious bird relates the story of

The King who died of Love for a Merchant's beautiful Daughter.

A merchant had a daughter, the fame of whose beauty drew many suitors for her hand, but he rejected them all; and when she was of proper age he wrote a letter to the king, describing her charms and accomplishments, and respectfully offering her to him in marriage. The king, already in love with the damsel from this account of her beauty, sends his four vazirs to the merchant's house to ascertain whether she was really as charming as her father had represented her to be. They find that she far surpassed the power of words to describe; but, considering amongst themselves that should the king take this bewitching girl to wife, he would become so entangled in the meshes of love as totally to neglect the affairs of the state, they underrate her beauty to the king, who then gives up all thought of her. But it chanced one day that the king himself beheld the damsel on the terrace of her house, and, perceiving that his vazirs had deceived him, he sternly reprimanded them, at the same time expressing his fixed resolution of marrying the girl. The vazirs frankly confessed that their reason for misrepresenting the merchant's daughter to him was their fear lest, possessing such a charming bride, he should forget his duty to the state; upon which the king, struck with their anxiety for his true interests, resolved to deny himself the happiness of marrying the girl. But he could not suppress his affection for her: he fell sick, and soon after died, the victim of love.

* * * * *

This story forms the 17th of the Twenty-five Tales of a Demon (Vetala Panchavinsati), according to the Sanskrit version found in the Katha Sarit Sagara; but its great antiquity is proved by the circumstance that it is found in a Buddhistic work dating probably 200 years before our era—namely, Buddhaghosha's Parables. "Dying for love," says Richardson, "is considered amongst us as a mere poetical figure, and we can certainly support the reality by few examples; but in Eastern countries it seems to be something more, many words in the Arabic and Persian languages which express love implying also melancholy; madness, and death." Shakspeare affirms that "men have died, and worms have eaten them, but not for love." There is, however, one notable instance of this on record, in the story (as related by Warton, in his History of English Poetry) of the gallant troubadour Geoffrey Rudel, who died for love—and love, too, from hearsay description of the beauty of the Countess of Tripoli.

* * * * *

On the 14th Night the Parrot entertains the Lady with a very curious account of

The Discovery of Music.

Some attribute, says the learned and eloquent feathered sage (according to Gerrans), the discovery to the sounds made by a large stone against the frame of an oil-press; and others to the noise of meat when roasting; but the sages of Hind [India] are of opinion that it originated from the following accident: As a learned Brahman was travelling to the court of an illustrious raja he rested about the middle of the day under the shade of a mulberry tree, on the top of which he beheld a mischievous monkey climbing from bough to bough, till, by a sudden slip, he fell upon a sharp-pointed shoot, which instantly ripped up his belly and left his entrails suspended in the tree, while the unlucky animal fell, breathless, on the dust of death. Some time after this, as the Brahman was returning, he accidentally sat down in the same place, and, recollecting the circumstance, looked up, and saw that the entrails were dried, and yielded a harmonious sound every time the wind gently impelled them against the branches. Charmed at the singularity of the adventure, he took them down, and after binding them to the two ends of his walking-stick, touched them with a small twig, by which he discovered that the sound was much improved. When he got home he fastened the staff to another piece of wood, which was hollow, and by the addition of a bow, strung with part of his own beard, converted it to a complete instrument. In succeeding ages the science received considerable improvements. After the addition of a bridge, purer notes were extracted; and the different students, pursuing the bent of their inclinations, constructed instruments of various forms, according to their individual fancies; and to this whimsical accident we are indebted for the tuneful ney and the heart-exhilarating rabab, and, in short, all the other instruments of wind and strings.

Having thus discoursed upon the discovery of music, the Parrot proceeds to detail

The Seven Requisites of a Perfect Woman.

1 She ought not to be always merry.

2 She ought not to be always sad.

3 She ought not to be always talking.

4 She ought not to be always thinking.

5 She ought not to be constantly dressing.

6 She ought not to be always unadorned.

7 She is a perfect woman who, at all times, possesses herself; can be cheerful without levity, grave without austerity; knows when to elevate the tongue of persuasion, and when to impress her lips with the signet of silence; never converts trifling ceremonies into intolerable burdens; always dresses becoming to her rank and age; is modest without prudery, religious without an alloy of superstition; can hear the one sex praised without envy, and converse with the other without permitting the torch of inconstancy to kindle the unhallowed fire in her breast; considers her husband as the most accomplished of mortals, and thinks all the sons of Adam besides unworthy of a transient glance from the corner of her half-shut eyes.

Such are the requisites of a perfect woman, and how thankful we should be that we have so many in this highly-favoured land who possess them all! These maxims are assuredly of Indian origin—no Persian could ever have conceived such virtues as being attainable by women.



V

THE PRINCESS OF ROME AND HER SON—THE KING AND HIS SEVEN VAZIRS.

The story told by the Parrot on the 50th Night is very singular, and presents, no doubt, a faithful picture of Oriental manners and customs. In the original text it is entitled

Story of the Daughter of the Kaysar of Rome, and her trouble by reason of her Son.

In former times there was a great king, whose army was numerous and whose treasury was full to overflowing; but, having no enemy to contend with, he neglected to pay his soldiers, in consequence of which they were in a state of destitution and discontent. At length one day the soldiers went to the prime vazir and made their condition known to him. The vazir promised that he would speedily devise a plan by which they should have employment and money. Next morning he presented himself before the king, and said that it was widely reported that the kaysar of Rome had a daughter unsurpassed for beauty—one who was fit only for such a great monarch as his Majesty—and suggested that it would be advantageous if an alliance were formed between two such potentates. The notion pleased the king well, and he forthwith despatched to Rome an ambassador with rich gifts, and requested the kaysar to grant him his daughter in marriage. But the kaysar waxed wroth at this, and refused to give his daughter to the king. When the ambassador returned thus unsuccessful, the king, enraged at being made of no account, resolved to make war upon the kaysar, and, opening the doors of his treasury, he distributed much money among his troops, and then, "with a woe-bringing lust, and a blood-drinking army, he trampled Rome and the Romans in the dust." And when the kaysar was become powerless, he sent his daughter to the king, who married her according to the law of Islam.

Now that princess had a son by a former husband, and the kaysar had said to her before she departed: "Beware that thou mention not thy son, for my love for his society is great, and I cannot part with him." But the princess was sick at heart for the absence of her son, and she was ever pondering how she should speak to the king about him, and in what manner she might contrive to bring him to her. It happened one day the king gave her a string of pearls and a casket of jewels. She said: "With my father is a slave well skilled in the science of jewels." The king replied: "If I should ask that slave of thy father, would he give him to me?" "Nay," said she; "for he holds him in the place of a son. But, if the king desire him, I will send a merchant to Rome, and I myself will give him a token, and with pleasant wiles and fair speeches will bring him hither." Then the king sent for a clever merchant who knew Arabic eloquently and the language of Rome, and gave him goods for trading, and sent him to Rome with the object of procuring that slave. But the daughter of the kaysar said privately to the merchant: "That slave is my son; I have, for a good reason, said to the king that he is a slave; so thou must bring him as a slave, and let it be thy duty to take care of him." In due course the merchant brought the youth to the king's service; and when the king saw his fair face, and discovered in him many pleasing and varied accomplishments, he treated him with distinction and favour, and conferred on the merchant a robe of honour and gifts. His mother saw him from afar, and was pleased with receiving a salutation from him.

One day (the text proceeds) the king had gone to the chase, and the palace remained void of rivals; so the mother called in her son, kissed his fair face, and told him the tale of her great sorrow. A chamberlain became aware of the secret, and another suspicion fell upon him, and he said to himself: "The harem of the king is the sanctuary of security and the palace of protection. If I speak not of this, I shall be guilty of treachery, and shall have wrought unfaithfulness." When the king returned from the chase, the chamberlain related to him what he had seen, and the king was angry and said: "This woman has deceived me with words and deeds, and has brought hither her desire by craft and cunning. This conjecture must be true, else why did she play such a trick, and why did she hatch such a plot, and why did she send the merchant?" The king, enraged, went into the harem. The queen saw from his countenance that the occurrence of the night before had become known to him, and she said: "Be it not that I see the king angry." He said: "How should I not be angry? Thou, by craft, and trickery, and intrigue, and plotting, hast brought thy desire from Rome—what wantonness is this that thou hast done?" Then he thought to slay her, but he forbore, because of his great love for her. But he ordered the chamberlain to carry the youth to some obscure place, and straightway sever his head from his body. When the poor mother saw this she well-nigh fell on her face, and her soul was near leaving her body. But she knew that sorrow would not avail, and she restrained herself.

And when the chamberlain took the youth into his own house, he said to him: "O youth, know you not that the harem of the king is the sanctuary of security? What great treachery is this that thou hast perpetrated?" The youth replied: "That queen is my mother, and I am her true son. Because of her natural delicacy, she said not to the king that she had a son by another husband. And when yearning came over her, she contrived to bring me here from Rome; and while the king was engaged in the chase maternal love stirred, and she called me to her and embraced me." On hearing this, the chamberlain said to himself: "What is passing in his mother's breast? What I have not done I can yet do, and it were better that I preserve this youth some days, for such a rose may not be wounded through idle words, and such a bough may not be broken by a single breath. For some day the truth of this matter will be disclosed, and it will become known to the king, when repentance may be of no avail." Another day he went before the king, and said: "That which was commanded have I fulfilled." On hearing this the king's wrath was to some extent removed, but his trust in the kaysar's daughter was departed; while she, poor creature, was grieved and dazed at the loss of her son.

Now in the palace harem there was an old woman, who said to the queen: "How is it that I find thee sorrowful?" And the queen told the whole story, concealing nothing. The old woman was a heroine in the field of craft, and she answered: "Keep thy mind at ease: I will devise a stratagem by which the heart of the king will be pleased with thee, and every grief he has will vanish from his heart." The queen said, that if she did so she should be amply rewarded. One day the old woman, seeing the king alone, said to him: "Why is thy former aspect altered, and why are traces of care and anxiety visible on thy countenance?" The king then told her all. The old woman said: "I have an amulet of the charms of Solomon, in the Syriac language, in the the writing of the jinn [genii]. When the queen is asleep do thou place it on her breast, and, whatever it may be, she will tell all the truth of it. But take care, fall thou not asleep, but listen well to what she says." The king wondered at this, and said: "Give me that amulet, that the truth of this matter may be learned." So the old woman gave him the amulet, and then went to the queen and explained what she had done, and said: "Do thou feign to be asleep, and relate the whole of the story faithfully."

When a watch of the night was past, the king laid the amulet upon his wife's breast, and she thus began: "By a former husband I had a son, and when my father gave me to this king, I was ashamed to say I had a tall son. When my yearning passed all bounds, I brought him here by an artifice. One day that the king was gone to the chase, I called him into the house, when, after the way of mothers, I took him in my arms and kissed him. This reached the king's ears, and he unwittingly gave it another construction, and cut off the head of that innocent boy, and withdrew from me his own heart. Alike is my son lost to me and the king angry." When the king heard these words he kissed her and exclaimed: "O my life, what an error is this thou hast committed? Thou hast brought calumny upon thyself, and hast given such a son to the winds, and hast made me ashamed!" Straightway he called the chamberlain and said: "That boy whom thou hast killed is the son of my beloved and the darling of my beauty! Where is his grave, that we may make there a guest-house?" The chamberlain said: "That youth is yet alive. When the king commanded his death I was about to kill him, but he said: 'That queen is my mother; through modesty before the king she revealed not the secret that she had a tall son. Kill me not; it may be that some day the truth will become known, and repentance profits not, and regret is useless.'" The king commanded them to bring the youth, so they brought him straightway. And when the mother saw the face of her son, she thanked God and praised the Most High, and became one of the Muslims, and from the sect of unbelievers came into the faith of Islam. And the king favoured the chamberlain in the highest degree, and they passed the rest of their lives in comfort and ease.

* * * * *

This tale is also found in the Persian Bakhtyar Nama (or the Ten Vazirs), the precise date of which has not been ascertained, but a MS. Turki (Uygur) version of it, preserved in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, bears to have been written in 1434; the Persian text must therefore have been composed before that date. In the text translated by Sir William Ouseley, in place of the daughter of the kaysar of Rome it is the daughter of the king of Irak whom the king of Abyssinia marries, after subduing the power of her father; and, so far from a present of jewels to her being the occasion of her mentioning her son, in the condition of a slave, it is said that one day the king behaved harshly to her, and spoke disrespectfully of her father, upon which she boasted that her father had in his service a youth of great beauty and possessed of every accomplishment, which excited the king's desire to have him brought to his court; and the merchant smuggled the youth out of the country of Irak concealed in a chest, placed on the back of a camel. In Lescallier's French translation it is said that the youth was the fruit of a liaison of the princess, unknown to her father; that his education was secretly entrusted to certain servants; and that the princess afterwards contrived to introduce the boy to her father, who was so charmed with his beauty, grace of manner, and accomplishments, that he at once took him into his service. Thus widely do manuscripts of the same Eastern work vary!

The King and his Seven Vazirs.

On the Eighth Night the Parrot relates, in a very abridged form, the story of the prince who was falsely accused by one of his father's women of having made love to her, and who was saved by the tales which the royal counsellors related to the king in turn during seven consecutive days. The original of this romance is the Book of Sindibad, so named after the prince's tutor, Sindibad the sage: the Arabic version is known under the title of the Seven Vazirs; the Hebrew, Mishle Sandabar; the Greek, Syntipas; and the Syriac, Sindban; and its European modifications, the Seven Wise Masters. In the Parrot-Book the first to the sixth vazirs each relate one story only, and the damsel has no stories (all other Eastern versions give two to each of the seven, and six to the queen); the seventh vazir simply appears on the seventh day and makes clear the innocence of the prince. This version, however, though imperfect, is yet of some value in making a comparative study of the several texts.



VI

THE TREE OF LIFE—LEGEND OF RAJA RASALU—CONCLUSION.

Many others of the Parrot's stories might be cited, but we shall merely glance at one more, as it calls up a very ancient and wide-spread legend:

The Tree of Life.

A prince, who is very ill, sends a parrot of great sagacity to procure him some of the fruit of the Tree of Life. When at length the parrot returns with the life-giving fruit, the prince scruples to eat it, upon which the wise bird relates the legend of Solomon and the Water of Immortality: how that monarch declined to purchase immunity from death on consideration that he should survive all his friends and female favourites. The prince, however, having suspicions regarding the genuineness of the fruit, sends some trusty messengers to "bring the first apple that fell from the Tree of Existence." But it happened that a black serpent had poisoned it by seizing it in his mouth and then letting it drop again. When the messengers return with the fruit, the prince tries its effect on an old pir (holy man), who at once falls down dead. Upon seeing this the prince doomed the parrot to death, but the sagacious bird suggested that, before the prince should execute him for treason, he should himself go to the Tree of Life, and make another experiment with its fruit. He does so, and on returning home gives part of the fruit to an old woman, "who, from age and infirmity had not stirred abroad for many years," and she had no sooner tasted it than she was changed into a blooming beauty of eighteen!—Happy, happy old woman!

* * * * *

A different version of the legend occurs in a Canarese collection, entitled Katha Manjari, which is worthy of reproduction, since it may possibly be an earlier form than that in the Persian Parrot-Book: A certain king had a magpie that flew one day to heaven with another magpie. When it was there it took away some mango-seed, and, having returned, gave it into the hands of the king, saying: "If you cause this to be planted and grow, whoever eats of its fruit old age will forsake him and youth return." The king was much pleased, and caused it to be sown in his favourite garden, and carefully watched it. After some time, buds having shown themselves in it became flowers, then young fruit, then it was grown; and when it was full of ripe fruit, the king ordered it to be cut and brought, and that he might test it gave it to an old man. But on that fruit there had fallen poison from a serpent, as it was carried through the air by a kite, therefore he immediately withered and died. The king, having seen this, was much afraid, and exclaimed: "Is not this bird attempting to kill me?" Having said this, with anger he seized the magpie, and swung it round and killed it. Afterwards in that village the tree had the name of the Poisonous Mango. While things were thus, a washerman, taking the part of his wife in a quarrel with his aged mother, struck the latter, who was so angry at her son that she resolved to die [in order that the blame of her death should fall on him]; and having gone to the poisonous mango-tree in the garden, she cut off a fruit and ate it; and immediately she was more blooming than a girl of sixteen. This wonder she published everywhere. The king became acquainted with it, and having called her and seen her, caused the fruit to be given to other old people. Having seen what was thus done by the wonderful virtue of the mango, the king exclaimed: "Alas! is the affectionate magpie killed which gave me this divine tree? How guilty am I!" and he pierced himself with his sword and died. Therefore (moralises the story-teller) those who do anything without thought are easily ruined.[52]

[52] There is a very similar story in the Tamil Alakesa Katha, a tale of a King and his Four Ministers, but the conclusion is different: the raja permits all his subjects to partake of the youth-bestowing fruit;—I wonder whether they are yet alive! A translation of the romance of the King and his Four Ministers—the first that has been made into English—will be found in my Group of Eastern Romances and Stories, 1889.

The incident of fruit or food being poisoned by a serpent is of frequent occurrence in Eastern stories; thus, in the Book of Sindibad a man sends his slave-girl to fetch milk, with which to feast some guests. As she was returning with it in an open vessel a stork flew over her, carrying a snake in its beak; the snake dropped some of its poison into the milk, and all the guests who partook of it immediately fell down and died.—The Water of Life and the Tree of Life are the subjects of many European as well as Asiatic folk-tales. Muslims have a tradition that Alexander the Great despatched the prophet Al-Khizar (who is often confounded with Moses and Elias in legends) to procure him some of the Water of Life. The prophet, after a long and perilous journey, at length reached this Spring of Everlasting Youth, and, having taken a hearty draught of its waters, the stream suddenly disappeared—and has, we may suppose, never been rediscovered. Al-Khizar, they say, still lives, and occasionally appears to persons whom he desires especially to favour, and always clothed in a green robe, the emblem of perennial youth. In Arabic, Khizar signifies green.

* * * * *

The faithful and sagacious Parrot having entertained the lady during fifty-two successive nights, and thereby prevented her from prosecuting her intended intrigue, on the following day the merchant returned, and, missing the sharak from the cage, inquired its fate of the Parrot, who straight-way acquainted him of all that had taken place in his absence, and, according to Kadiri's abridged text, he put his wife to death, which was certainly very unjust, since the lady's offence was only in design, not in fact.[53]

[53] In one Telugu version, entitled Toti Nama Cat'halu, the lady kills the bird after hearing all its tales; and in another the husband, on returning home and learning of his wife's intended intrigue, cuts off her head and becomes a devotee.

* * * * *

It will be observed that the frame of the Tuti Nama somewhat resembles the story, in the Arabian Nights, of the Merchant, his Wife, and the Parrot, which properly belongs to, and occurs in, all the versions of the Book of Sindibad, and also in the Seven Wise Masters; in the latter a magpie takes the place of the parrot. In my Popular Tales and Fictions I have pointed out the close analogy which the frame of the Parrot-Book bears to a Panjabi legend of the renowned hero Raja Rasalu. In the Tuti Nama the merchant leaves a parrot and a sharak to watch over his wife's conduct in his absence, charging her to obtain their consent before she enters upon any undertaking of moment; and on her consulting the sharak as to the propriety of her assignation with the young prince, the bird refuses consent, whereupon the enraged dame kills it on the spot; but the parrot, by pursuing a middle course, saves his life and his master's honour. In the Panjabi legend Raja Rasalu, who was very frequently from home on hunting excursions, left behind him a parrot and a maina (hill starling), to act as spies upon his young wife, the Rani Kokla. One day while Rasalu was from home she was visited by the handsome Raja Hodi, who climbed to her balcony by a rope (this incident is the subject of many paintings in fresco on the panels of palaces and temples in India), when the maina exclaimed, "What wickedness is this?" upon which the raja went to the cage, took out the maina, and dashed it to the ground, so that it died. But the parrot, taking warning, said, "The steed of Rasalu is swift, what if he should surprise you? Let me out of my cage, and I will fly over the palace, and will inform you the instant he appears in sight"; and so she released the parrot. In the sequel, the parrot betrays the rani, and Rasalu kills Raja Hodi and causes his heart to be served to the rani for supper.[54]

[54] Captain R. C. Temple's Legends of the Panjab, vol. i, p. 52 ff.; and "Four Legends of Raja Rasalu," by the Rev. C. Swynnerton, in the Folk-Lore Journal, 1883, p. 141 ff.

* * * * *

The parrot is a very favourite character in Indian fictions, a circumstance originating, very possibly, in the Hindu belief in metempsychosis, or transmigration of souls after death into other animal forms, and also from the remarkable facility with which that bird imitates the human voice. In the Katha Sarit Sagara stories of wise parrots are of frequent occurrence; sometimes they figure as mere birds, but at other times as men who had been re-born in that form. In the third of the Twenty-Five Tales of a Demon (Sanskrit version), a king has a parrot, "possessed of god-like intellect, knowing all the shastras, having been born in that condition owing to a curse"; and his queen has a hen-maina "remarkable for knowledge." They are placed in the same cage; and "one day the parrot became enamoured of the maina, and said to her: 'Marry me, fair one, as we sleep, perch, and feed in the same cage.' But the maina answered him: 'I do not desire intimate union with a male, for all males are wicked and ungrateful.' The parrot answered: 'It is not true that males are wicked, but females are wicked and cruel-hearted.' And so a dispute arose between them. The two birds then made a bargain that, if the parrot won, he should have the maina for wife, and if the maina won, the parrot should be her slave, and they came before the prince to get a true judgment." Each relates a story—the one to show that men are all wicked and ungrateful, the other, that women are wicked and cruel-hearted.

It must be confessed that the frame of the Tuti Nama is of a very flimsy description: nothing could be more absurd, surely, than to represent the lady as decorating herself fifty-two nights in succession in order to have an interview with a young prince, and being detained each night by the Parrot's tales, which, moreover, have none of them the least bearing upon the condition and purpose of the lady; unlike the Telugu story-book, having a somewhat similar frame (see ante, p. 127, note), in which the tales related by the bird are about chaste wives. But the frames of all Eastern story-books are more or less slight and of small account. The value of the Tuti Nama consists in the aid which the subordinate tales furnish in tracing the genealogy of popular fictions, and in this respect the importance of the work can hardly be over-rated.



ADDITIONAL NOTE.

THE MAGIC BOWL, pp. 152-156; 157, 158.

In our tale of the Faggot-maker, the fairies warn him to guard the Magic Bowl with the utmost care, "for it will break by the most trifling blow," and he is to use it only when absolutely necessary; and in the notes of variants appended, reference is made (p. 158) to a Meklenburg story where the beer in an inexhaustible can disappears the moment its possessor reveals the secret. The gifts made by fairies and other superhuman beings have indeed generally some condition attached (most commonly, perhaps, that they are not to be examined until the recipients have reached home), as is shown pretty conclusively by my friend Mr. E. Sidney Hartland in a most interesting paper on "Fairy Births and Human Midwives," which enriches the pages of the Archaeological Review for December, 1889, and at the close of which he cites, from Poestion's Lapplaendische Maerchen, p. 119, a curious example, which may be fairly regarded as an analogue of the tale of the Poor Faggot-maker—"far cry" though it be from India to Swedish Lappmark:

"A peasant who had one day been unlucky at the chase was returning disgusted, when he met a fine gentleman, who begged him to come and cure his wife. The peasant protested in vain that he was no doctor. The other would take no denial, insisting that it was no matter, for if he would only put his hands on the lady she would be healed. Accordingly, the stranger led him to the very top of a mountain where was perched a castle he had never seen before. On entering, he found the walls were mirrors, the roof overhead of silver, the carpets of gold-embroidered silk, and the furniture of the purest gold and jewels. The stranger took him into a room where lay the loveliest of princesses on a golden bed, screaming with pain. As soon as she saw the peasant, she begged him to come and put his hands upon her. Almost stupified with astonishment, he hesitated to lay his coarse hands upon so fair a dame. But at length he yielded, and in a moment her pain ceased, and she was made whole. She stood up and thanked him, begging him to tarry awhile and eat with them. This, however, he declined to do, for he feared that if he tasted the food which was offered him he must remain there.

"The stranger whom he had followed then took a leathern purse, filled it with small round pieces of wood, and gave it to the peasant with these words: 'So long as thou art in possession of this purse, money will never fail thee. But if thou shouldst ever see me again, beware of speaking to me; for if thou speak thy luck will depart.' When the man got home he found the purse filled with dollars; and by virtue of its magical property he became the richest man in the parish. As soon as he found the purse always full, whatever he took out of it, he began to live in a spendthrift manner, and frequented the alehouse. One evening as he sat there he beheld the stranger, with a bottle in his hand, going round and gathering the drops which the guests shook from time to time out of their glasses. The rich peasant was surprised that one who had given him so much did not seem able to buy himself a single dram, but was reduced to this means of getting a drink. Thereupon he went up to him and said: 'Thou hast shown me more kindness than any other man ever did, and willingly I will treat thee to a little.' The words were scarce out of his mouth when he received such a blow on his head that he fell stunned to the ground; and when again he came to himself the stranger and his purse were both gone. From that day forward he became poorer and poorer, until he was reduced to absolute beggary."

Among other examples adduced by Mr. Hartland is a Bohemian legend in which "the Frau von Hahnen receives for her services to a water-nix three pieces of gold, with the injunction to take care of them, and never to let them go out of the hands of her own lineage, else the whole family would fall into poverty. She bequeathed the treasures to her three sons; but the youngest son took a wife who with a light heart gave the fairy gold away. Misery, of course, resulted from her folly, and the race of Hahnen speedily came to an end."—But those who are interested in the study of comparative folk-lore would do well to read for themselves the whole paper, which is assuredly by far the most (if not indeed the only) comprehensive attempt that has yet been made in our language to treat scientifically the subject of fairy gifts to human beings.



RABBINICAL LEGENDS, TALES, FABLES, AND APHORISMS.



I

INTRODUCTORY.

In the Talmud are embodied those rules and institutions—interpretations of the civil and canonical laws contained in the Old Testament—which were transmitted orally to succeeding generations of the Jewish priesthood until the general dispersion of the Hebrew race. According to the Rabbis, Moses received the oral as well as the written law at Mount Sinai, and it was by him communicated to Joshua, from whom it was transmitted through forty successive Receivers. So long as the Temple stood, it was deemed not only unnecessary, but absolutely unlawful, to commit these ancient and carefully-preserved traditions to writing; but after the second destruction of Jerusalem, under Hadrian, when the Jewish people were scattered over the world, the system of oral transmission of these traditions from generation to generation became impracticable, and, to prevent their being lost, they were formed into a permanent record about A.D. 190, by Rabbi Jehudah the Holy, who called his work Mishna, or the Secondary Laws. About a hundred years later a commentary on it was written by Rabbi Jochonan, called Gemara, or the Completion, and these two works joined together are known as the (Jerusalem) Talmud, or Directory. But this commentary being written in an obscure style, and omitting many traditions known farther east, another was begun by Rabbi Asche, who died A.D. 427, and completed by his disciples and followers about the year 500, which together with the Mishna formed the Babylonian Talmud. Both versions were first printed at Venice in the 16th century—the Jerusalem Talmud, in one folio volume, about the year 1523; and the Babylonian Talmud, in twelve folio volumes, 1520-30. In the 12th century Moses Maimonides, a Spanish Rabbi, made an epitome, or digest, of all the laws and institutions of the Talmud. Such, in brief, is the origin and history of this famed compilation, which has been aptly described as an extraordinary monument of human industry, human wisdom, and human folly.

By far the greater portion of the Talmud is devoted to the ceremonial law, as preserved by oral tradition in the manner above explained; but it also comprises innumerable sayings or aphorisms of celebrated Rabbis, together with narratives of the most varied character—legends regarding Biblical personages, moral tales, fables, parables, and facetious stories. Of the rabbinical legends, many are extremely puerile and absurd, and may rank with the extravagant and incredible monkish legends of mediaeval times; some, however, are characterised by a richness of humour which one would hardly expect to meet with in such a work; while not a few of the parables, fables, and tales are strikingly beautiful, and will favourably compare with the same class of fictions composed by the ancient sages of Hindustan.

It is a singular circumstance, and significant as well as singular, that while the Hebrew Talmud was, as Dr. Barclay remarks, "periodically banned and often publicly burned, from the age of the Emperor Justinian till the time of Pope Clement VIII," several of the best stories in the Gesta Romanorum, a collection of moral tales (or tales "moralised") which were read in Christian churches throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, are derived mediately or immediately from this great storehouse of rabbinical learning.[55]

[55] In midsummer, 1244, twenty waggon loads of copies of the Talmud were burnt in France. This was in consequence of, and four years after, a public dispute between a certain Donin (afterwards called Nicolaus), a converted Jew, with Rabbi Yehiel, of Paris, on the contents of the Talmud.—See Journal of Philology, vol. xvi, p. 133.—In the year 1569, the famous Jewish library in Cremona was plundered, and 12,000 copies of the Talmud and other Jewish works were committed to the flames.—The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, LL.D., London, 1875, p. 14.

The traducers of the Talmud, among other false assertions, have represented the Rabbis as holding their own work as more important than even the Old Testament itself, and as fostering among the Jewish people a spirit of intolerance towards all persons outside the pale of the Hebrew religion. In proof of the first assertion they cite the following passage from the Talmud: "The Bible is like water, the Mishna, like wine, the Gemara, spiced wine; the Law, like salt, the Mishna, pepper, the Gemara, balmy spice." But surely only a very shallow mind could conceive from these similitudes that the Rabbis rated the importance of the Bible as less than that of the Talmud; yet an English Church clergyman, in an article published in a popular periodical a few years since, reproduced this passage in proof of rabbinical presumption—evidently in ignorance of the peculiar style of Oriental metaphor. What is actually taught by the Rabbis in the passage in question, regarding the comparative merits of the Bible and the Talmud, is this: The Bible is like water, the Law is like salt; now, water and salt are indispensable to mankind. The Mishna is like wine and pepper—luxuries, not necessaries of life; while the Gemara is like spiced wine and balmy spices—still more refined luxuries, but not necessaries, like water and salt.

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