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“ reply less effectual than leaving him in his ignorance; had I argued with "" him and brought proofs against him, he would then have commenced read"oing the works of al-Jahiz, and that, Abů ’l-Kasim! would have made a man " of him; for they teach us to reason first, and instruct us in literature next;
"66 and I did not think that fellow worthy of such an advantage.' Towards the 512 close of his life, al-Jahiz had an attack of palsy, and one of his sides was so much
inflamed, that he had to rub it with sandal-ointment and camphor, whilst the latter was so cold and benumbed that, were it seized with pincers, it had been insensible. During his illness he used to say: “ Maladies of a contrary nature “have conspired against my body; if I eat any thing cold, it seizes on my feet, “ and if I eat any thing hot, it seizes on my head.” He would say again : “My left side is paralysed to such a degree that, if it were torn with pincers, I “ should not be aware of it; and my right side is so affected with gout, that “if a fly walked on it, it would give me pain. I am afflicted also with gravel, “ which prevents me from passing urine ; but what bears hardest on me is the “ weight of ninety-six years." He would then repeat these verses :
Didst thou, who art an aged man, hope to be as thou wast in the days of thy youth? Thou deceivest thyself; a threadbare garment is not like one that is new.
The following anecdote was related by a member of the Barmek family : “ Having been appointed governor of Sind, I remained there for a considerable “ time, till I learned that I had been removed from office. Having gained thirty " thousand dinars during my administration, and fearing, if my successor ar“ rived suddenly, that he would learn where the money was deposited and try
to seize it, I had it melted down into ten thousand plum -shaped masses,) each “ of them weighing three mithkûls (8). My successor arrived soon after, on “ which I took ship and arrived at Basra. Being informed that Al-Jahiz was “in that city, laid up with the palsy, I felt desirous of seeing him before he " died; and I therefore went to find him. On arriving at his house, which was “but a small one, I knocked at the door, and a female slave of a tawny conplexion came out and asked me what I wanted. "I am from a foreign
country,' said I, and wish to have the pleasure of seeing the shaikh'. She “ then went to inform him of my desire, and I heard him utter these words :
Say to him : What would you have with a body bent to one side, a mouth
driveling, and a complexion faded?' On this I told the girl that I should “ insist on seeing him, and he said, on being informed of my determination : “ « This is some man passing through Basra, who, hearing that I was unwell, has “« said to himself : I should like to get a sight of him before he dies, so that I
may say : I have seen al-Jâhiz'. He then consented to receive me, and, “ entering his room, I saluted him. He answered me most politely, and said : "" Who are you? may God exalt you.' I informed him of my name and family,
on which he replied : May God have mercy on your ancestors and forefathers, “! the generous and beneficent! their days were as gardens in the path of time, "• and many were those whom they restored to prosperity! May the divine “favour and blessing be upon them!' In return, I offered up an invocation “ for his own welfare, and said : I request of you to recite me some of your “ ' poetry, on which he pronounced the following verses :
Though now some have outstripped me, how often in former times did I advance * leisurely, and yet outstrip all rivals. But here is time with its vicissitudes, ruining 'what was firm and renewing what was ruined.'
“ I then rose up to retire, but, as I was entering the court of the house, he “ called out : Tell me, sir! did you ever see a palsied man derive advantage "" from plums? —No,' said I.—'I ask you the question,' replied he, “because “plums such as you have would do me good; send some to me!' I told him “ that I would, and left the house, wondering in myself how he could have “ discovered a secret which I had concealed so carefully. I then sent him one “ hundred of those plums.”— Abû 'l-Hasan al-Barmaki said : “ Al-Jahiz re“ cited to me these lines :
. We had once friends, but they are now departed and passed away; they were not * suffered to live for ever! They all passed about the cup of death; the friend is dead, .and so is the foe.'
Al-Jahiz died at Basra in the month of Muharram, A. H. 255 (Dec.-Jan. A. D. 868-9); aged upwards of ninety years.-Laithi means descended from Laith Ibn 843 Bakr Ibn Abd Manat Ibn Kinana Ibn Khuzaima.
(1) See vol. I. p. 186, note (4). (2) The autograph has wol; the later MSS. and Hajji Khalifa give the same reading as the printed text.
(3) Muhammad Ibn Ibrabim Ibn Musâb was governor of the province of Fars. In A. H. 236 (A. D. 830-1) his nephew Muhammad Ibn Ishak Ibn Ibrahim, made a complaint against him to al-Mutawakkil, and obtained permission to treat him as he pleased. Ibn Isbak immediately proceeded to Fars and removed his uncle from the government, which he conferred on his cousin al-Husain Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Musàb. He then placed his uncle in confinement and let him die of thirst.-(Ibn al-Athir.)
(4) The Katol, a canal on the east side of the Tigris, branched off from it two parasangs lower down than Sarr man råa. It passed through Jarjârâi and then returned into the Tigris.
(8) Al-Jå hiz means to say that he saw her in profile only.
AMR IBN MASADA.
Abû 'l-Fadl Amr Ibn Masada Ibn Said Ibn Sûl, the kâtib, was one of al-Màmùn's vizirs. The Khatib (vol. I. p. 75) mentions, in his llistory of Baghdad, that he was an uncle's son to Ibrahim Ibn al-Abbâs as-Súli (vol. I. p. 22). As a kâtib, Amr Ibn Masada acquired great distinction by an elegant style, pregnant with meaning and concise, clear in purport and precise in thought. When al-Fadl Ibn Sahl, the brother of al-Hasan Ibn Sabl, held the post of vizir under al-Màmûn, he acquired such predominant influence that no one could find means of speaking to that prince; but, when he was put to death, the persons who were afterwards vizirs obtained the opportunity of offering their respects to their sovereign. These were Ahmad Ibn Abi Khalid al-Ahwal (vol. I. p. 20), Amr Ibn Masâda and Abû Abbâd (1). Al-Màmûn ordered him, one day, to write to one of the provincial agents a letter of recommendation for a person whom he wished to be well received, and the following note was drawn up by him in consequence : “ This,
my letter to thee, is that of a person relying on him to whom he writes, and “ interested for him in whose favour he writes. So, between (my) reliance (on thee) and (my) interest (for him), the bearer will not lose his pains. Adieu!" Some
say that this note was composed by al-Hasan Ibn Wahb, but the general and, at the same time, the right opinion is, that Ibn Masåda was the author. The following anecdote was related by Amr Ibn Masåda : “I was writing
answers to memorials in the presence of Jaafar Ibn Yahya the Barmekide, “ when one of the pages presented him a paper containing a request for an " increase of salary. He handed the letter to me, telling me to answer it, “ and I wrote as follows : “ Small and lasting (pensions) are better than large and “ « transitory (ones).' Having perused it, he clapped me on the back and said :-*** What a vizir is contained in your skin!'” The style of Amr Ibn Masada was replete with fine ideas. He died A. H. 217 (A. D. 832-3) at a place called Adana, but al-Jihshiàri (vol. II. p.137) states, in his book of vizirs, that he died in the month of the latter Rabi, A. H. 215 (June, A. D. 830).-On his death, alMàmùn received a memorial in which it was stated that he had left a fortune of eighty millions of dirhims (2) (and that he must have therefore defrauded the state), but the khalif wrote on the back of it : “ This is but little for one who was at“ tached to our service so long; may his sons enjoy, with the blessing of God, “ what he has left, and may le guide them in its management.” Al-Masúdi mentions, in his Murûj ad-Dahab, that, when Ibn Masåda died, (the government made an inventory of his property, which had never been the case with any other vizir.--Adana is the name of a town on the coast of Syria, near Tarsùs; its castle was erected A. H. 144 (A. D. 761-2).-Having written thus far, I discovered a very elegant epistle of his, addressed to a person of high rank who was greatly displeased at his mother's contracting a second marriage; on perusing it, he felt quite consoled, and was delivered from his affliction. It is so beautiful a production that I am induced to insert it here : “ Praise be to God who hath “ removed from us the veil of passion, and guided us to the concealing of our
disgrace! who, by declaring certain things lawful, has confounded our jea“lous pride, and forbidden us to hinder mothers from marrying again, as he “ hath forbidden us to bury daughters alive! thus reducing disdainful minds “ from haughtiness — haughtiness such as that which prevailed in pagan times. “ He then held out an ample recompense to him who awaits with resignation the “ accomplishment of his decrees, and promised a vast treasure to him who bears “ with patience the trials which he sends him. May He who hath opened thy “ heart to piety, increased thy patience under afflictions, and inspired thee with
resignation to his will and submission to his judgments, grant thee to enjoy “ the blessing of that grace by which he disposed thee to fulfil thy duty to a pa- 544
rent, one who has the highest of claims upon thee. May He, whose glory should “ ever be extolled, grant that this mortification of thy pride and this grief which “ thou strivest to suppress, be counted as titles to an increase of recompense and “ to an augmentation of treasure in the world to come)! To thy present anger “ at her conduct may He join thy future sorrow at her burial, so that the stroke “ of affliction may be complete and thy reward perfect! May God permit that “ the bitterness which thy Lordship felt at her marriage be united to the patience “ with which thou shalt endure her loss; and may He soon replace, for thy sake, “ this nuptial couch by the bier! May God whose glory should ever be extolled,
grant that the satisfaction thou mayest feel at her death be unattended by his
displeasure, and that the gifts which He may bestow thee on taking her to him“ self be unmixed with future probations! The judgments of God—may his
glory be exalted and his name hallowed!—hold their course in spite of human “ will; but He, may he be exalted! choseth for his servants, the true believers, " that which is best for them in this transitory world and more lasting for them " in the other life. May God, in taking her to himself, chose what is best for “ her and most profitable, and make the tomb her fit abode. Adieu!”
Adieu!” This letter is attributed by some to al-Fadl Ibn al-Amid, whose life we shall give later; and it recals to my mind two verses which were composed by the Sůhib Ibn Abbâd (vol. I. p. 212) on a person who got a new husband for his mother; they are as follows :
I blamed him for allowing his mother to marry, but he answered: “I have done a “thing lawful.”—“True," I replied; “what you have done is lawful, but you have
given away the cracked pitcher (3).”
Amr Ibn Masåda wrote to one of his friends the following letter of recommendation in favour of a person to whom he was greatly attached : “ The bearer of “ my letter to you is Salim. Adieu!" In this he alluded to a verse wherein a poet says :
They withhold me from Salim and I repel them; his very skin is sálim (in safely) between my eyes and my nose.
That is : (this person is so dear to me that, if it were possible,) I should place him in that spot. The following lines were given, by Muhammad Ibn Dawûd Ibn al