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too long to be related.--As-Shâghûri was born at Bảnyås, somewhat later than A. H. 530 (A.D. 1135-6).-In one of his pieces he says :
Why should I be active and stirring, since tranquillity is happiness? Yet I do not disapprove the search of fortune; but I see the worthless wretch placed by his vices above the honest man whose advancement is impeded by his virtues.
He left a second diwen of verses, a small collection, and consisting exclusively of couplets. I saw a copy of it at Damascus and extracted from it the following:
The rose in thy cheek is brilliant and blooming; the magic in thy eyes is complete and copious; the lover who adores thee is absent-minded and sleeps not; he hopes and fears, complains and is grateful (8).
He died on the morning of the 22nd of Muharram, A. H. 615(April, A. D. 1218), and was interred in the cemetery outside the Lesser Gate (al-Båb as-Saghir, at Damascus).— Shagari means belonging to as-Shagûr, a habitation in the vicinity of Damascus.— Az-Zabadâni is a village between Damascus and Baalbek, abounding with trees and well watered; I saw it repeatedly and consider it a most beautiful and delightful spot.
(1) He means perfection of style to suit the taste of that age. The piece is a mere tissue of quibbles.
(2) This is an allusion toʻthe mode then employed of cleaning cotton. In modern times the operation is performed by a machine called a gin.
(3) Imád ad-din means the army commanded by Salâh ad-din, which endeavoured, vainly however, to prevent the Crusaders under Richard Cæur de Lion from besieging and capturing the city of Acre.
(4) Resident agent, or Shohna; see vol. I. page 172, note (4).
AL-FADL IBN YAHYA AL-BARMAKI.
Abû ’l-Abbâs al-Fadl was the son of Yahya Ibn Khålid Ibn Barmak or Bermek al-Barmaki (the Barmekide). He surpassed in generosity all the members of the family, beneficent as they were, nay even his brother Jaafar (vol.I. p. 301) who, however, was his superior as a letter-writter and a kåtib. Al-Fadl acted as vizir to Harûn ar-Rashid previously to his brother Jaafar's appointment, and the khalif, who wished to confer that post on the latter, said to their father Yahya : “Dear father;"—for he used to call him father_“I wish to transport to Jaafar 870 the signet which is now held by my brother al-Fadl.”—He used to call al-Fadl his brother, because they were born nearly at the same time, and his mother al-Khaizurân had given the breast to al-Fadl whilst al-Fadl's mother, Zubaida, who was a mulatto girl from Medina, had given hers to ar-Rashid. They were therefore foster-brothers (1). Alluding to this circumstance, Marwân Ibn Abi Hafsa said in a eulogium on al-Fadl :
A single advantage is quite sufficient for thy glory; the noblest of free women nourished thee and the khalif with the same breast. Thou art an honour to Yahya in every solemn assembly, as Yahya is an honour to Khalid.
Ar-Rashid then said to Yahya : “ I am ashamed to write that order to al-Fadl; • do it for me.” Yahya in consequence wrote these words to his son al-Fadl : “ The Commander of the faithful has ordered that the signet should be passed “ from thy right hand to thy left." In reply to this, al-Fadl wrote as follows: “ I have heard the Commander of the faithful's words respecting my brother, “ and I obey them. No favour is lost for me which goes from me to Jaafar, and
no rank has been taken from me when he receives it.” On hearing this answer, Jaafar exclaimed: “What an admirable being is my brother! how noble “ his soul! how clearly the marks of his excellence appear! how great the gift of
intelligence he possesses ! how vast his abilities in the just expressing of his
thoughts (2)!”—Ar-Rashid confided his son Muhammad (al-Amin) to the special care of al-Fadl, and his other son, al-Mâmûn, to that of Jaafar. -- Al-Fadl being afterwards entrusted by him with the administration of Khorâsân, proceeded to that province and remained in it for some time. Ar-Rashid then received a letter
from the post-master (3) of Khorâsân, stating that al-Fadl Ibn Yahya was so much occupied with hunting and the enjoyment of pleasures that he neglected the affairs of the people.
Having perused the contents of this dispatch, he handed it to Yahya, who was sitting in his presence (to transact business), and said : “ Dear “ father; read that letter and write to al-Fadl what may turn him from those “ courses.” Yahya then wrote on the back of the letter : “God keep thee, my “ dear son, and grant thee to enjoy the pleasures of life! the Commander of the “faithful has learned with displeasure that thy passion for hunting and thy
continual parties of pleasure make thee neglect the affairs of the people. “ Return to a conduct more becoming to thee; for he who returns to what is
becoming or to what is dishonourable becomes publicly known by that line “ which he adopts.
Adieu !” At the foot of the letter he inscribed the following lines :
Pass the day in the pursuit of honours and bear with patience the absence of thy beloved. But when the darkness approaches and veils our vices, pass the night to thy satisfaction, for night is the clever man's day. How many the men whom you think devotees, that play strange pranks in the face of the night! It lets down the veils of darkness around them, and they spend their hours in pastime and enjoyments till morning. The fool exposes his pleasures to public gaze, and all his watchful foes denounce the scandal.
Ar-Rashid, who was looking on whilst Yahya wrote this letter, exclaimed when it was finished : “ Father, thou hast hit the mark!” From the moment al-Fadl received it, he passed all his days in the mosque, till he was removed from his post.- One of his deeds is thus related : When the government of Khoråsàn was conferred on him, he entered the city of Balkh, which was the native place of the family and contained the fire-temple called an-Nûbehår. The Magians
adored this element, and his ancestor Barmek had been the servant (or priest) of 571 that temple (4). Al-Fadl now wished to destroy the edifice, but the solidity of its
construction resisting his efforts; he could succeed in ruining a portion of it only, and therein he built a mosque.—Al-Jihshiâri (5) mentions, in his History of the Vizirs, that, in the year 176 (A. D. 792-3), ar-Rashid conferred on Jaafar Ibn Yahya the government of all the western provinces, from al-Anbår to Ifrikiya, and invested al-Fadl with the administration of all the eastern provinces from Sharwan (6) to the farthest extremity of the country of the Turks. Jaafar fixed his residence in Egypt and appointed deputies to govern the provinces placed under his care, and, in the year 178, al Fadl proceeded to his post.
On arriving in Khorâsân, he put an end to the rule of injustice, founded mosques, constructed cisterns, erected ribâts (7), burned the registers of the arreared taxes, increased the pay of the troops, and, in the following year, spent ten millions (8) of dirhems on the military leaders, the kâtibs, and the persons who went to visit him. Having appointed deputies to administer the provinces, he returned to Irâk towards the close of the year, and was received with the highest honours by ar-Rashid and the assembled people. This prince even commanded the poets and the khatibs to extol the merits of al-Fadl, so that his eulogists increased manifold. Amongst the number was Ishak Ibn Ibrahim al-Mausili (vol. I. p. 183), who composed a piece containing these verses :
Were I known to excellence (fadl), to Fadl the son of Yahya, he would assist me in my adversity. He is truly a man; illustrious by bis deeds and fortunate in his undertakings, he risks all to purchase glory.
Abû 'l-Haul al-Himyari made a satire on al-Fadl, but afterwards went to ask him a favour. Al-Fadl then said to him : “Shame on thee! with what sort of a “ face canst thou come into my presence?”—“With the same," replied the other, “ with which I shall appear before Almighty God, and certainly I have committed “ worse faults against him than against thee.” On hearing this, al-Fadl laughed and made him a present. One of his sayings was : “ The joy of him who is pro“mised a favour is not equal to mine in granting one.” A person having observed to him one day that his generous character would be perfect were he not so abrupt in his manner, he made this reply : “ I learned generosity and abruptness of “ manner from Omâra Ibn Hamza (9).” Being then asked on what occasion, he related as follows : “My father was administering the revenue in a province of “Persia, when he lost an immense sum by a bankruptcy. Being then carried a “ prisoner to Baghdad, he was called upon to account for the money (as it belonged “ to the state), and had to deliver up all his personal property. Three millions of “ dirhems, which still remained due, were urgently required, and, as he could de“ vise no means to procure them, he remained in utter despair. There was only
one man, as he knew, capable of assisting him, but that was Omára Ibn Hamza, “ and a profound enmity subsisted between them. He at length said to me one “ day, and I was then a boy : Go to Omara and make him my salutations; then
"6 • inform him of the misery to which I am reduced, and request of him this “ • sum as a loan till such time as God may enable me to repay it!'_' Thou " • knowest,' said I, “your mutual feelings towards each other; why then " • should I go on such a message to thy enemy. I am certain that if he were " • able to bring thee to ruin, he would do it!'_Thou must go to him ;' " said my father, "God may subdue him and open his heart to pity.'— To this I “ could make no reply, and I set out reluctantly, now advancing and then rece
ding, till I at length arrived at Omåra's house. Having obtained permission “ to go in, I found him at the farthest extremity of his hall of state, reclining
on soft cushions, his hair perfumed with civet (10) and his beard with musk, " and with his face turned towards the wall.”_Omâra's absence of mind was so great that he never sat in any other way.—“I stood at the foot of the hall “ and offered him my salutation, but he did not return it; I then saluted him “ in the name of my father, and told him my business. He remained silent " for a time and at length said : “We shall see about it.' On this I retired, “ bitterly repenting to have directed my steps towards him, and convinced “ that he meant to refuse my application; I uttered complaints against my “ father for exposing me uselessly to such humiliation, and my anger against “ Omâra was so great that I even resolved not to go back to him. I staid
away about an hour, but, having got cool, I returned and found a number 66 of loaded mules at the door. Having asked what they were, I was in“ formed that Omâra was just sending them off to us with the money. I " then went home to my father and, not to diminish the value of the favour “ thus conferred, I abstained from mentioning what had passed between Omâra
A short time after, my father was reinstated in his post, and having soon gained great wealth, he gave me the amount of the debt, telling me to take 66 it to Omâra. On arriving, I went in and found him as before : I saluted him, “ but he made no reply; and I then offered him my father's salutation, thanked “ him for his kindness to us and informed him that I had brought the money. “ On hearing these words, he exclaimed, in a passion : “ Was I then thy father's
banker, scoundrel? be off and be damned to thee! and keep the money.' I immediately withdrew and returned the money to my father, who was as much “ astonished as myself at the singularity of Omâra's character. He then said to “me : By Allah! my son, I cannot consent to let thee have it all; so take one
66 and me.