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in black robes, they chaunted matins; around their waists were belts, and on their heads, crowns of hair (7). The light of the new moon had nearly betrayed us, when she appeared, thin as a paring of the nail. I shall not say what passed; question me not, but think the best.
Here is another pretty piece not to be found in his collected poetical works, but which all those who first transmitted his poems by oral tradition agree
in considering as his :
A nymph arrayed in a short tunic hastened towards the carousers, bearing a cornelian (red wine) in a white pearl (a porcelain cup). The bright moon in the heavens seemed like a coin of gold thrown on a carpet of azure velvet. How often did this maiden cheer me with her society, in nights untroubled by the dread of jealous spies. Another too was there with a slender waist, and tongue-tied by the effects of wine; she could only converse by nods and signs. I pushed her with my hand and said: “Awake, thou “who art the joy of our friendly and convivial band.” And she answered with a voice enfeebled by inebriation, and interrupted like that of one who stammers: “I understand “thy words, but the juice of the purple (fruit) has overcome me. Leave me till morn“ing that I may recover, and then, master, treat thy slave as thou wilt (8).”
By the same on boiled wine (9),—a piece which proves that its author was a Hanefite :
My friends! the purple liquor is now fit for drinking; for it I have renounced my piety, and (grave divines have said) “ It is praiseworthy to renounce former habits.” Give here the wine in its robe of glass, like a ruby set round with brilliants; the water forms on its surface bubbles of silver rising in circlets which break and form again. It has the quality of preserving me from the flames of hell (10), and that is a great merit; deny it who can!
Ibn al-Motazz was of a deep tawny complexion and long-faced, with a beard dved black. I read in a compilation of anecdotes that he used to say: “ There 363 “ were four poets whose works bore a character opposite to that of their au"thors: the poems of Abû ’l-Atâhiya were noted for their spirit of piety, yet “ he himself was an atheist; those of Abû Nuwàs were on an infamous sub
ject, yet he was more passionate for females than a baboon; Abû Hukaima “the kåtib's poetry was considered as a proof of his impotence, yet he was “ really more salacious than a goat; and the verses of Muhammad Ibn Hazim
were in praise of contentment, yet he was greedier than a dog.” But I was told an anecdote of Ibn Håzim which proves the contrary of what Ibn al-Motazz said respecting him, and shows that his character accorded with his writings : He was living, it seems, in the neighbourhood of Said Ibn Humaid at-Tusi, the
kâtib, and made a satire on him in consequence of some affair that passed between them : Said, on learning the contents of this poem, overlooked the affront, though sufficiently powerful to punish the author of it. Some time after, Ibn Hazim was reduced to poverty and removed from that neighbourhood; this came to the ears of Said, who immediately sent to him a present of ten thousand dirhims, some trunks of clothes, a horse with his harness, a male and a female slave, accompanied with a letter worded in these terms: “A man of “ instruction can be led by a whim of his imagination to describe a subject “ under a false aspect, and his talent may induce him to depict it in other co“ lours than its own; of such a nature must certainly be that satire which, it “is reported, you have composed on me. I have now just heard of the state “ to which you are reduced and of the poverty from which you suffer; a mis“ fortune which is by no means a disgrace to one who, like you, is gifted with
a noble spirit and a lofty soul. Let us be now partners in what we both possess and share equally what we have. So I here offer you something which,
though small, may serve as an opening to greater favours which are to follow." However, Ibn Hàzim sent the whole back with these lines :
You have treated me as al-Muhallab treated al-Farazdak when he overwhelmed him with his unbounded generosity. You sent riches (11) to tempt me, but you shall not effect your project; I swear by the Lord of that which is double and that which is sin, gle! (12 I will never accept the favours of a man whom I have covered with everlasting ignominy.
This is a proof that Ibn Hàzim was really contented with his lot, and that he could support poverty with patience and resignation (13).— Abû Othman Said Ibn Humaid was a kâtib, a poet, and a writer of epistles ; gifted with a sweet style and possessing superior abilities in his profession. He was also a skilful plagiarist; so much so, that a wit said: “If Said's prose and verse were ordereu “ to return to their real authors, he would be left without a line of his own.' He claimed to be descended from the kings of Persia, and composed a work called the Taswiya (equalization), in which he vindicated the Persians from the depreciation in which they were held by the Arabs. His epistles form also a volume, and his poetical works another of small size.—Matira is a village near Sarra-manrâa.—The Abdân, after whom the convent is so called, was brother to the vizir Sàid Ibn Makhlad (14): he frequently visited that establishment, to pass some time there, and it was by his means that it had been erected; for this reason it was called the Convent of Abdûn (Dair Abdûn). It is hard by al-Matira. Another Dair Abdûn is situated near Jazirat Ibn Omar (15), from which it is only separated by the Tigris; it is now in ruins, but was formerly much visited by the inhabitants of that city in their country-parties.—The verse of Ibn al-Motazz, The light of the moon had nearly betrayed us, etc. (16), contains an idea borrowed from Amr Ibn Omaiya, who thus describes the new moon :
The daughter of the clouds of night descends towards the horizon, (in shape) like the nail-cutting pared off a little finger.
(1) Mūnis was also lord chamberlain to the khalif and possessed immense influence.
(2) Abu Said Sinan Ibn Thâbit Ibn Kurra al-Harrâni (a Sabean by religion and a native of Harran) was the chief physician of the khalif al-Muktadir, and he afterwards served al-Kâhir in the same capacity. This prince always consulted him and placed the highest confidence in his talents. He invited him to become a Moslim, and after a long resistance, Sinan was forced to compliance by the threats of the khalif and the apprehension inspired by bis violent character. Some time afterwards, perceiving in al-Kâhir's conduct a change which foreboded nothing good, he fled to Khorasan, and after a residence in that country, he returned to Baghdad, where he died in the Moslim religion, A.H. 331 (A.D. 942–3). In the reign of al-Muktadir, be had risen to be the rdis, or chief of the physicians; and in the year 309, that prince gave orders that none should be allowed to practise without a certificate of capacity from Sinân. In consequence of this decree, upwards of eight hundred and sixty persons, from Baghdad alone, applied to him for certificates; but the other physicians attached to the court, and those whose reputation was already established by extensive practice, were dispensed from that obligation. In the year 306 (A. D. 918-9), al-Muktadir founded an hospital, at Sinan's request, near the Damascus Gate (Bab as-Sham), and granted to it a monthly sum of two hundred dinars. In the same year the hospital called Bimaristán as-Saiyi la was founded also at his desire ; six hundred dinars a month were allotted for its support, and the administration of the establishment was confided to the celebrated astronomer Yûsuf Ibn Yahya. Sinan Ibn Thàbit composed a treatise on the history of the old Syrian kings; an explanation of the principles of the Sabean religion; some treatises on mathematics and astronomy; and a number of medical works besides. Fuller details respecting him will be found in the Tarikh al-Hukama and the work of Ibn Abi Osaibià.
(3) The author furnishes more information on this head in the life of the vizir Ali Ibn al-Furât, and the event is noticed by all historians.
(4) Literally: Eloquence is the attaining to the idea without a long journey of words. (5) Literally: Have swept over us the trains of their suspicions.
(6) I have here rendered the Arabic pun by an English one nearly equivalent. If and unless are classed by the Arabian grammarians among what they call particles (harf), a term by which they designate all the parts of speech which are neither nouns nor verbs. “ The only particle which occurred to thee,” says Ibn Bassàm, “was the particle of correction wittäin.” Ath-Thaalibi employs this expression in his Yatima when speaking of the poet Abu Faras Ibn Hamdån, “who,” says he,“ received the lesson of adversity (literally the misfortune of correction) and “ was taken prisoner by the Greeks.” In this case, the first word should be pronounced hirfa ; but Ibn Bassåm pronounced it harfa, to effect a verbal quibble. This expression sometimes, as in verse quoted by Ibn Khallikân, signifies an untimely death, which is always a moral lesson for others.
(7) Here, in the Arabic, follow four lines, which, for reasons already given, I have not translated.
(9) It appears from the treatises on the Hanefite system of jurisprudence, that must, or the unfermented juice of the grape, may be lawfully drunk, provided that it be reduced by boiling to less than two-thirds of its original volume.
(10) Had this sort of wine not existed, the poet would have drunk wine prepared by fermentation, and have thus committed a mortal sin.
11) In the printed Arabic text, read Jigwyl.
(14) It is probable that the author meant to say al-Hasan Ibn Maklad, who was one of the khalif al-Motamid's vizirs.—(MS. No. 895, fol. 232 v.)
(15) Jazirat Ibn Omar, or Djezireh, is situated on the west bank of the Tigris, and lies to the north of Mosul, in the province of Nisibin.
(16) See page 43.
ABU MUHAMMAD IBN TABATABA.
Abú Muhammad Abd Allah Ibn Ahmad Ibn Ali Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Ibrahim Tabàtabà Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahîm Ibn al-Hasan Ibn al-Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Abi
Tålib, a native of Hijaz but an inhabitant of Egypt, in which country he died, 366 was a sharif noted for the purity of his life, the nobleness of his character, his
vast possessions in lands and tenements, the brilliant style in which he lived, the number of his slaves, the greatness of his retinue, the ease which he enjoyed, and the comforts with which he was surrounded. There was always a man in the hall of his house occupied from morning till night in pounding almonds for sweetmeats; these his master sent as presents to different persons in the city, such as al-Kâfûr al-Ikhshidi and others of inferior rank; the man himself received two pieces of gold every month for his pains. Those presents were taken to some daily, to others every Friday or every month; but to Kåfør were brought every second day two vases filled with sweetmeats and a cake besides, all folded up in a handkerchief and carefully sealed. This raised the envy of a great man at court, who observed to Kåfør that the sweetmeats were
certainly good, but that the cake did not appear to him to be an offering suited to a person of his rank. On this, Kåfür wrote to the sharif, requesting him to forward the sweetmeats as usual, but to dispense him from accepting the cake. Ibn Tabâtabå, perceiving from this that some envious person wished his ruin, immediately mounted his horse and rode off to Kâfùr ; when they were together, he told him that he had not sent the cake through a feeling of pride or haughtiness, but that it was kneaded and baked by a young maiden of the family of Hasan (1), and that it was she who offered it to him out of purely religious motives ; however, if he wished, it should be discontinued. By no means,” replied Kåfùr ; “let it be brought to me as usual, and for the future I shall eat of “no other.” From that time, the cake and the sweetmeats continued to be sent regularly as before. After the death of Kåfûr, Egypt was reduced under the domination of al-Moizz Abû Tamim Maad al-Obaidi by his general Jawhar, him of whom we have spoken (in vol. I. page 340); and at a later period, al-Moizz came there himself from the province of Ifrikiya. His pretensions to be a descendant of Ali had been already contested, and on his approach to Old Cairo, the people of the city went forth to meet him, accompanied by a band of sharifs ; and Ibn Tabatabå, who was one of the number, asked him from whom he drew his descent. To this question al-Moizz replied: “We shall hold a sitting to which “all of you shall be convened, and there we shall expose to you the entire chain “ of our genealogy.” Being at length established in the castle of Cairo, he gave a public audience as he had promised, and having taken his seat, he asked if any of their chiefs were still alive? “No,” replied they, “not one of any consequence survives.”
He then drew his sword half way out of the scabbard and exclaimed: “This is my genealogy! and here,” said he, scattering a great quantity of gold among them, “here are the proofs of my nobility!” On this they all acknowledged him for their lord and master (2).—Ibn Tabàtabâ treated the intendants of his domains with great attention and kindness; he went on horseback to visit them and his friends, giving them every mark of politeness and sitting with them for a considerable time before retiring. Great numbers owed their wealth to his generosity; indeed the whole tenour of his conduct was most praiseworthy. He was born A. H. 286 (A. D. 899), and he died at Cairo on the 4th of Rajab, A. H. 348 (September, A. D. 959). Funeral prayers were said over his body in the Musalla of the Festival (3), and an innumerable multitude