« PreviousContinue »
5. (p*f$) But thou, O Hope! with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure?
Still it whisper'd promised pleasure,
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close;
I 6. And longer had she sung, but, with a frown,
Revenge impatient rose: He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down; (PA) And, with a withering look,
The war-denouncing trumpet took, (@f5) And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe;
And ever and anon he beat
The doubling drum with furious heat; (p883) And though, sometimes, each dreary pause between,
Dejected Pity, at his side,
Her soul-subduing voice applied, (pf) Yet still he kept his wild, unalter'd mien,
While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting from
7. Thy numbers, Jealousy, to naught were fix'd,
Sad proof of thy distressful state;
Of differing themes the veering song was mix'd; (p8f9) And now it courted Love, (p?f",) now, raving, call’d
8. With eyes upraised, as one inspired, (Pof 27.9) Pale Melancholy sat retired,
And from her wild, sequester'd seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
And, dashing soft from rocks around,
Round a holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace and lonely musing,
9. But, oh, how alter'd was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue, (para) Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemm’d with morning dew,
And Sport leap'd up, and seized his beechen spear. 1
10. Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:
First to the lively pipe his hands address’d;
Whose sweet, entrancing voice he loved the best.
They saw in Tempe's vale her native maids,
Amid the festal-sounding shades,
And he amid his frolic play
As if he would the charming air repay,
THE MAN THAT WANTED BUT ONE THING; THE MAN THAT WANTED EVERY THING; AND THE MAN THAT WANTED NOTHING.
BY J. K. PAULDING.
1. EVERYBODY, young and old, children and gray-beards has heard of the renowned Haroun-al-Raschid, the hero of Eastern history and Eastern romance, and the most illustrious of the califs of Bagdad,--that famous city on which the light of learning
nd science shone long ere it dawned on the benighted regions of Europe, which has since succeeded to the diadem that once glittered on the brow of Asia. Though, as the successor of the Prophet, he exercised a despotic sway over the lives and fortunes of his subjects, yet did he not, like the Eastern despots of more modern times, shut himself up within the walls of his palace, hearing nothing but the adulation of his dependants, seeing nothing but the shadows which surrounded him, and knowing nothing but what he received through the medium of interested deception or malignant falsehood.
2. That he might see with his own eyes and hear with his own ears, he was accustomed to go about through the streets of Bagdad by night, in disguise, accompanied by Giafar the Bar mecide, his grand vizier, and Mezrour, his executioner,-one to give him his counsel, the other to fulfil his commands promptly, on all occasions. If he saw any commotion among the people, he mixed with them and learned its cause; and if, in passing : house, he heard the moanings of distress or the complaints of suffering, he entered for the purpose of administering relief.
3. Thus he made himself acquainted with the condition of his subjects, and often heard those salutary truths, which never reached his ears through the walls of his palace, or from the lips of the slaves that surrounded him. On one of these occasions, as Al-Raschid was thus perambulating the streets at night, in disguise, accompanied by his vizier and his executioner, in passing a splendid mansion he overheard, through the lattice of a window, the complaints of some one who seemed in the deepest distress; and, silently approaching, he looked into an apartment exhibiting all the signs of wealth and luxury.
4. On a sofa of satin, embroidered with gold and sparkling with brilliant gems, he beheld a man richly dressed, in whom he recognised his favorite boon companion, Bedreddin, on whom he had showered wealth and honors with more than Eastern prodigality. He was stretched out on the sofa, slapping his forehead, tearing his beard, and moaning piteously, as if in the extremity of suffering. At length, starting up on his feet, he exclaimed, in tones of despair, “O Allah! I beseech thee to relieve me from my misery, and take away my life.”
5. The. Commander of the Faithful, who loved Bedreddin, pitied his sorrows, and, being desirous to know their cause, that he might relieve them, knocked at the door, which was opened by a black slave, who, on being informed that they were strangers in want of food and rest, at once admitted them, and informed his master, who called them into his presence and bade them welcome. A plentiful feast was spread before them, at which the master of the house sat down with his guests, but of which he did not partake, but looked on, sighing bitterly all the while.
6. The Commander of the Faithful at length ventured to ask him what caused his distress, and why he refrained from partaking in the feast with his guests, in proof that they were welcome. “ Has Allah afflicted thee with disease, that thou canst not enjoy the blessings he has bestowed? Thou art surrounded by all the splendor that wealth can procure; thy dwelling is a palace, and its apartments are adorned with all the luxuries which captivate the eye, or administer to the gratification of the senses. Why is it then, O my brother, that thou art miserable ?”
7. “True, O stranger!" replied Bedreddin. “I have all these. I have health of body; I am rich enough to purchase all that wealth can bestow; and, if I required more wealth and honors, I am the favorite companion of the Commander of the Faithful, on whose head lies the blessing of Allah, and of whom I have only to ask, to obtain all I desire, save one thing only."
8. “And what is that?”' asked the calif. " Alas! I adore the beautiful Zuleima, whose face is like the full moon, whose eyes are brighter and softer than those of the gazelle, and whose mouth is like the seal of Solomon. But she loves another; and all my wealth and honors are as nothing. The want of one thing renders the possession of every other of no value. I am the most wretched of men: my life is a burden, and my death would be a blessing."
9. “By the beard of the Prophet,” cried the calif, “thy case is a hard one. But Allah is great and powerful, and will, I trust, either deliver thee from thy burden or give thee strength to bear it.” Then, thanking Bedreddin for his hospitality, the Commander of the Faithful departed with his companions.
10. Taking their way toward that part of the city inhabited by the poorer classes of people, the calif stumbled over something, in the obscurity of night, and was nigh falling to the ground. At the same moment a voice cried out, “ Allah, preserve me! Am I not wretched enough already, that I must be trodden under foot by a wandering beggar like myself, in the darkness of night?”
11. Mezrour, the executioner, indignant at this insult to the Commander of the Faithful, was preparing to cut off his head, when Al-Raschid interposed, and inquired of the beggar his name, and why he was sleeping there, in the streets, at that hour of the night.
12. “Mashallah," replied he, “I sleep in the street because I have nowhere else to sleep; and, if I were to lie on a satin sofa, my pains and infirmities would rob me of rest. Whether on divans of silk or in the dirt, all is one to me; for neither by day nor by night do I know any rest. If I close my eyes for a
moment, my dreams are of nothing but feasting; and I awake only to feel more bitterly the pangs of hunger and disease.”
13. “Hast thou no home to shelter thee, no friends or kindred to relieve thy necessities, or administer to thy infirmities?'' “No,” replied the beggar : “my house was consumed by fire; my kindred are all dead, and my friends have deserted me. Alas! stranger, I am in want of every thing, --health, food, clothing, home, kindred, and friends. I am the most wretched of mankind, and death alone can relieve me.” “Of one thing, at least, I can relieve thee," said the calif, giving him his purse. “Go and provide thyself food and shelter, and may Allah restore thy health!"
14. The beggar took the purse, but, instead of calling down blessings on the head of his benefactor, exclaimed, “Of what use is money? it cannot cure disease.” And the calif again went on his way with Giafar, his vizier, and Mezrour, his executioner. Passing from the abodes of want and misery, they at length reached a splendid palace; and, seeing lights glimmering from the windows, the calif approached, and, looking through the silken curtains, beheld a man walking backward and forward, with languid step, as if oppressed with a load of cares.
15. At length, casting himself down on a sofa, he stretched out his limbs, and, yawning desperately, exclaimed, “O Allah! what shall I do? what will become of me? I am weary of life: it is nothing but a cheat, promising what it never purposes, and affording only hopes that end in disappointment, or, if realized, only in disgust.
16. The curiosity of the calif being awakened to know the cause of his despair, he ordered Mezrour to knock at the door, which being opened, they pleaded the privilege of strangers to enter for rest and refreshments. Again, in accordance with the precepts of the Koran and the customs of the East, the strangers were admitted to the presence of the lord of the palace, who received them with welcome, and directed refreshments to be brought. But, though he treated his guests with kindness, he neither sat down with them, nor asked any questions, nor joined in their discourse, walking back and forth languidly, and seeming oppressed with a heavy burden of sorrows.
17. At length the calif approached him reverently, and said, “Thou seemest sorrowful, O my brother! If thy suffering is of the body, I am a physician, and peradventure can afford thee relief; for I have traveled into distant lands, and collected very choice remedies for human infirmity.” “My sufferings are not of the body, but of the mind,” answered the other.
“ Hast thou lost the beloved of thy heart, the friend of thy bosom, or