The Project Gutenberg eBook of Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 02

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Title: Library of the World's Best Literature, Ancient and Modern — Volume 02

Editor: Charles Dudley Warner

Hamilton Wright Mabie

Lucia Isabella Gilbert Runkle

George H. Warner

Release date: June 30, 2004 [eBook #12788]
Most recently updated: March 30, 2023

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Charlie Kirschner and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team.









Connoisseur Edition





Professor of Hebrew,



Professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School of



Professor of History and Political Science,



Professor of Literature,



President of the



Late Professor of the Germanic and Scandinavian Languages and Literatures,



Director of the Lick Observatory, and Astronomer



Professor of the Romance Languages,



Dean of the Department of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of English and History,



Professor of Greek and Latin Literature,



United States Commissioner of Education,



Professor of Literature in the




HENRI FRÉDÉRIC AMIEL--Continued -- 1821-1881


Wagner's Music

Secret of Remaining Young

Results of Equality

View-Points of History

Introspection and Schopenhauer

Music and the Imagination

Love and the Sexes

Fundamentals of Religion

Dangers from Decay of Earnestness

Woman's ideal the Community's Fate

French Self-Consciousness

Frivolous Art

Critical Ideals

The Best Art

The True Critic

Spring--Universal Religion

Introspective Meditations

Destiny (just before death)

ANACREON -- B.C. 562?-477



The Epicure


The Grasshopper

The Swallow

The Poet's Choice


A Lover's Sigh

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (by Benjamin W. Wells) -- 1805-1875

The Steadfast Tin Soldier

The Teapot

The Ugly Duckling

What the Moon Saw

The Lovers

The Snow Queen

The Nightingale

The Market Place ('The Story of My Life')

Andersen Jubilee at Odense ('The Story of My Life')

'Miserere' in the Sixtine Chapel ('The Improvisatore')

ANEURIN -- Sixth Century

The Slaying of Owain

The Fate of Hoel, Son of the Great Cian

The Giant Gwrveling Falls at Last


From 'Beowulf'

Deor's Lament

From 'The Wanderer'

The Seafarer

The Fortunes of Men

From 'Judith'

The Fight at Maldon

Cædmon's Inspiration

From the 'Chronicle'


The Drowned Boy ('The Triumph of Death')

To an Impromptu of Chopin (same)


ANTAR (by Edward S. Holden) -- About 550-615

The Valor of Antar

LUCIUS APULEIUS -- Second Century

The Tale of Aristomenes, the Commercial Traveler ('The Metamorphoses')

The Awakening of Cupid (same)

THOMAS AQUINAS (by Edwin A. Pace) -- 1226-1274

On the Value of Our Concepts of the Deity ('Summa Theologica')

How Can the Absolute Be a Cause? ('Quæstiones Disputatæ')

On the Production of Living Things (same)

THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (by Richard Gottheil)

From 'The Story of the City of Brass' (Lane's Translation)

From 'The History of King Omar Ben Ennuman, and His Sons Sherkan and Zoulmekan' (Payne's Translation)

From 'Sindbad the Seaman and Sindbad the Landsman' (Burton's Translation)

Conclusion of 'The Thousand Nights and a Night' (Burton's Translation)

ARABIC LITERATURE (by Richard Gottheil)

Imr-al-Kais: Description of a Mountain Storm

Zuhéir: Lament for the Destruction of his Former Home

Tarafah ibn al-'Abd: Rebuke to a Mischief-Maker

Labîd: Lament for the Afflictions of his Tribe

Antar: A Fair Lady

Duraid, son of as-Simmah: The Death of 'Abdallâh

Ash-Shanfarà of Azd: A Picture of Womanhood

'Umar ibn Rabí'a: Zeynab at the Ka'bah

'Umar ibn Rabí'a: The Unveiled Maid

Al-Nâbighah: Eulogy of the Men of Ghassân

Nusaib: The Slave-Mother Sold

Al-Find: Vengeance

Ibrahim, Son of Kunaif: Patience

Abu Sakhr: A Lost Love

Abu l'Ata of Sind: An Address to the Beloved

Ja'far ibn 'Ulbah: A Foray

Katari ibn al-Fujâ'ah: Fatality

Al-Fadi ibn al-Abbas: Implacability

Hittân ibn al-Mu'allà: Parental Affection

Sa'd, son of Malik: A Tribesman's Valor

From Sale's Koran:--Chapter xxxv.: "The Creator";

Chapter lv.: "The Merciful";

Chapter lxxxiv.: "The Rending in Sunder"

Al-Hariri: His Prayer

Al-Hariri: The Words of Hareth ibn Hammam

The Caliph Omar Bin Abd Al-Aziz and the Poets (From 'Supplemental Nights': Burton's Translation)

DOMINIQUE FRANÇOIS ARAGO (by Edward S. Holden) -- 1786-1853


JOHN ARBUTHNOT -- 1667-1735

The True Characters of John Bull, Nic. Frog, and Hocus ('The History of John Bull')

Reconciliation of John and his Sister Peg (same)

Of the Rudiments of Martin's Learning ('Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus')


The Victory of Orpheus ('The Life and Death of Jason')

LUDOVICO ARIOSTO (by L. Oscar Kuhns) -- 1474-1533

The Friendship of Medoro and Cloridane ('Orlando Furioso')

The Saving of Medoro (same)

The Madness of Orlando (same)

ARISTOPHANES (by Paul Shorey) -- B.C. 448-390?

Origin of the Peloponnesian War ('The Acharnians')

The Poet's Apology (same)

Appeal of the Chorus ('The Knights')

Cloud Chorus ('The Clouds')

A Rainy Day on the Farm ('The Peace')

The Harvest (same)

Grand Chorus of Birds ('The Birds')

Call to the Nightingale (same)

The Building of Cloud-Cuckoo-Town (same)

Chorus of Women ('Thesmophoriazusæ')

Chorus of Mystæ in Hades ('The Frogs')

A Parody of Euripides' Lyric Verse ('The Frogs')

The Prologues of Euripides (same)

ARISTOTLE (by Thomas Davidson) -- B.C. 384-322

Nature of the Soul ('On the Soul')

On the Difference between History and Poetry ('Poetics')

On Philosophy (Cicero's 'Nature of the Gods')

On Essences ('Metaphysics')

On Community of Studies ('Politics')

Hymn to Virtue

JÓN ARNASON -- 1819-1888

From 'Icelandic Legends':

The Merman

The Fisherman of Götur

The Magic Scythe

The Man-Servant and the Water-Elves

The Crossways


What is the German's Fatherland?

The Song of the Field-Marshal

Patriotic Song


Youth of Buddha ('The Light of Asia')

The Pure Sacrifice of Buddha (same)

Faithfulness of Yudhisthira ('The Great Journey')

He and She

After Death ('Pearls of the Faith')

Solomon and the Ant (same)

The Afternoon (same)

The Trumpet (same)

Envoi to 'The Light of Asia'

Grishma; or the Season of Heat (Translated from Kalidasa)

MATTHEW ARNOLD (by George Edward Woodberry) -- 1822-1888

Intelligence and Genius ('Essays in Criticism')

Sweetness and Light ('Culture and Anarchy')

Oxford ('Essays in Criticism')

To A Friend

Youth and Calm

Isolation--To Marguerite

Stanzas in Memory of the Author of 'Obermann' (1849)

Memorial Verses (1850)

The Sick King in Bokhara

Dover Beach


Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse

A Summer Night

The Better Part

The Last Word


From Geoffrey of Monmouth's 'Historia Britonum'

The Holy Grail (Malory's 'Morte d'Arthur')


Gudbrand of the Mountain-Side

The Widow's Son

ROGER ASCHAM -- 1515-1568

On Gentleness in Education ('The Schoolmaster')

On Study and Exercise ('Toxophilus')

ATHENÆUS -- Third Century B.C.

Why the Nile Overflows ('Deipnosophistæ')

How to Preserve the Health (same)

An Account of Some Great Eaters (same)

The Love of Animals for Man (same)


The Genius of the North

The Lily of the Valley

Svanhvit's Colloquy ('The Islands of the Blest')

The Mermaid

AUCASSIN AND NICOLETTE (by Frederick Morris Warren) -- Twelfth Century

'Tis of Aucassin and Nicolette


A Dangerous Adventure ('The American Ornithological Biography')


The First Mass ('Ivo the Gentleman')

The Peasant-Nurse and the Prince ('On the Heights')



The Gutenberg Bible (Colored Plate) Frontispiece
Lyly's "Euphues" (Fac-simile) 485
Hans Christian Andersen (Portrait) 500
"Haroun al Raschid" (Photogravure) 622
Dominique François Arago (Portrait) 704
Ludovico Ariosto (Portrait) 742
Aristotle (Portrait) 788
Matthew Arnold (Portrait) 844
"Lancelot Bids Adieu to Elaine" (Photogravure) 890
John James Audubon (Portrait) 956


Lucius Apuleius
Thomas Aquinas
John Arbuthnot
Ernst Moritz Arndt
Roger Ascham
Berthold Auerbach

HENRI FRÉDÉRIC AMIEL--(Continued from Volume I)

to the storms of air and sea; and while the soul of Mozart seems to dwell on the ethereal peaks of Olympus, that of Beethoven climbs shuddering the storm-beaten sides of a Sinai. Blessed be they both! Each represents a moment of the ideal life, each does us good. Our love is due to both.

Self-interest is but the survival of the animal in us. Humanity only begins for man with self-surrender.

MAY 27TH, 1857.--Wagner's is a powerful mind endowed with strong poetical sensitiveness. His work is even more poetical than musical. The suppression of the lyrical element, and therefore of melody, is with him a systematic parti pris. No more duos or trios; monologue and the aria are alike done away with. There remains only declamation, the recitative, and the choruses. In order to avoid the conventional in singing, Wagner falls into another convention,--that of not singing at all. He subordinates the voice to articulate speech, and for fear lest the muse should take flight he clips her wings; so that his works are rather symphonic dramas than operas. The voice is brought down to the rank of an instrument, put on a level with the violins, the hautboys, and the drums, and treated instrumentally. Man is deposed from his superior position, and the centre of gravity of the work passes into the baton of the conductor. It is music depersonalized,--neo-Hegelian music,--music multiple instead of individual. If this is so, it is indeed the music of the future,--the music of the socialist democracy replacing the art which is aristocratic, heroic, or subjective.

DECEMBER 4TH, 1863.--The whole secret of remaining young in spite of years, and even of gray hairs, is to cherish enthusiasm in one's self, by poetry, by contemplation, by charity,--that is, in fewer words, by the maintenance of harmony in the soul.

APRIL 12TH, 1858.--The era of equality means the triumph of mediocrity. It is disappointing, but inevitable; for it is one of time's revenges.... Art no doubt will lose, but justice will gain. Is not universal leveling down the law of nature?... The world is striving with all its force for the destruction of what it has itself brought forth!

MARCH 1ST, 1869.--From the point of view of the ideal, humanity is triste and ugly. But if we compare it with its probable origins, we see that the human race has not altogether wasted its time. Hence there are three possible views of history: the view of the pessimist, who starts from the ideal; the view of the optimist, who compares the past with the present; and the view of the hero-worshiper, who sees that all progress whatever has cost oceans of blood and tears.

AUGUST 31ST, 1869.--I have finished Schopenhauer. My mind has been a tumult of opposing systems,--Stoicism, Quietism, Buddhism, Christianity. Shall I never be at peace with myself? If impersonality is a good, why am I not consistent in the pursuit of it? and if it is a temptation, why return to it, after having judged and conquered it?

Is happiness anything more than a conventional fiction? The deepest reason for my state of doubt is that the supreme end and aim of life seems to me a mere lure and deception. The individual is an eternal dupe, who never obtains what he seeks, and who is forever deceived by hope. My instinct is in harmony with the pessimism of Buddha and of Schopenhauer. It is a doubt which never leaves me, even in my moments of religious fervor. Nature is indeed for me a Maïa; and I look at her, as it were, with the eyes of an artist. My intelligence remains skeptical. What, then, do I believe in? I do not know. And what is it I hope for? It would be difficult to say. Folly! I believe in goodness, and I hope that good will prevail. Deep within this ironical and disappointed being of mine there is a child hidden--a frank, sad, simple creature, who believes in the ideal, in love, in holiness, and all heavenly superstitions. A whole millennium of idyls sleeps in my heart; I am a pseudo-skeptic, a pseudo-scoffer.

"Borne dans sa nature, infini dans ses voeux,

L'homme est un dieu tombé qui se souvient des cieux."

MARCH 17TH, 1870.--This morning the music of a brass band which had stopped under my windows moved me almost to tears. It exercised an indefinable, nostalgic power over me; it set me dreaming of another world, of infinite passion and supreme happiness. Such impressions are the echoes of Paradise in the soul; memories of ideal spheres whose sad sweetness ravishes and intoxicates the heart. O Plato! O Pythagoras! ages ago you heard these harmonies, surprised these moments of inward ecstasy,--knew these divine transports! If music thus carries us to heaven, it is because music is harmony, harmony is perfection, perfection is our dream, and our dream is heaven.

APRIL 1ST, 1870.--I am inclined to believe that for a woman love is the supreme authority,--that which judges the rest and decides what is good or evil. For a man, love is subordinate to right. It is a great passion, but it is not the source of order, the synonym of reason, the criterion of excellence. It would seem, then, that a woman places her ideal in the perfection of love, and a man in the perfection of justice.

JUNE 5TH, 1870.--The efficacy of religion lies precisely in that which is not rational, philosophic, nor eternal; its efficacy lies in the unforeseen, the miraculous, the extraordinary. Thus religion attracts more devotion in proportion as it demands more faith,--that is to say, as it becomes more incredible to the profane mind. The philosopher aspires to explain away all mysteries, to dissolve them into light. It is mystery, on the other hand, which the religious instinct demands and pursues: it is mystery which constitutes the essence of worship, the power of proselytism. When the cross became the "foolishness" of the cross, it took possession of the masses. And in our own day, those who wish to get rid of the supernatural, to enlighten religion, to economize faith, find themselves deserted, like poets who should declaim against poetry, or women who should decry love. Faith consists in the acceptance of the incomprehensible, and even in the pursuit of the impossible, and is self-intoxicated with its own sacrifices, its own repeated extravagances.

It is the forgetfulness of this psychological law which stultifies the so-called liberal Christianity. It is the realization of it which constitutes the strength of Catholicism.

Apparently, no positive religion can survive the supernatural element which is the reason for its existence. Natural religion seems to be the tomb of all historic cults. All concrete religions die eventually in the pure air of philosophy. So long then as the life of nations is in need of religion as a motive and sanction of morality, as food for faith, hope, and charity, so long will the masses turn away from pure reason and naked truth, so long will they adore mystery, so long--and rightly so--will they rest in faith, the only region where the ideal presents itself to them in an attractive form.

OCTOBER 26TH, 1870.--If ignorance and passion are the foes of popular morality, it must be confessed that moral indifference is the malady of the cultivated classes. The modern separation of enlightenment and virtue, of thought and conscience, of the intellectual aristocracy from the honest and vulgar crowd, is the greatest danger that can threaten liberty. When any society produces an increasing number of literary exquisites, of satirists, skeptics, and beaux esprits, some chemical disorganization of fabric may be inferred. Take, for example, the century of Augustus and that of Louis XV. Our cynics and railers are mere egotists, who stand aloof from the common duty, and in their indolent remoteness are of no service to society against any ill which may attack it. Their cultivation consists in having got rid of feeling. And thus they fall farther and farther away from true humanity, and approach nearer to the demoniacal nature. What was it that Mephistopheles lacked? Not intelligence, certainly, but goodness.

DECEMBER 11TH, 1875.--The ideal which the wife and mother makes for herself, the manner in which she understands duty and life, contain the fate of the community. Her faith becomes the star of the conjugal ship, and her love the animating principle that fashions the future of all belonging to her. Woman is the salvation or destruction of the family. She carries its destinies in the folds of her mantle.

JANUARY 22D, 1875.--The thirst for truth is not a French passion. In everything appearance is preferred to reality, the outside to the inside, the fashion to the material, that which shines to that which profits, opinion to conscience. That is to say, the Frenchman's centre of gravity is always outside him,--he is always thinking of others, playing to the gallery. To him individuals are so many zeros: the unit which turns them into a number must be added from outside; it may be royalty, the writer of the day, the favorite newspaper, or any other temporary master of fashion.--All this is probably the result of an exaggerated sociability, which weakens the soul's forces of resistance, destroys its capacity for investigation and personal conviction, and kills in it the worship of the ideal.

DECEMBER 9TH, 1877.--The modern haunters of Parnassus carve urns of agate and of onyx; but inside the urns what is there?--Ashes. Their work lacks feeling, seriousness, sincerity, and pathos--in a word, soul and moral life. I cannot bring myself to sympathize with such a way of understanding poetry. The talent shown is astonishing, but stuff and matter are wanting. It is an effort of the imagination to stand alone--substitute for everything else. We find metaphors, rhymes, music, color, but not man, not humanity. Poetry of this factitious kind may beguile one at twenty, but what can one make of it at fifty? It reminds me of Pergamos, of Alexandria, of all the epochs of decadence when beauty of form hid poverty of thought and exhaustion of feeling. I strongly share the repugnance which this poetical school arouses in simple people. It is as though it only cared to please the world-worn, the over-subtle, the corrupted, while it ignores all normal healthy life, virtuous habits, pure affections, steady labor, honesty, and duty. It is an affectation, and because it is an affectation the school is struck with sterility. The reader desires in the poem something better than a juggler in rhyme, or a conjurer in verse; he looks 'to find in him a painter of life, a being who thinks, loves, and has a conscience, who feels passion and repentance.

The true critic strives for a clear vision of things as they are--for justice and fairness; his effort is to get free from himself, so that he may in no way disfigure that which he wishes to understand or reproduce. His superiority to the common herd lies in this effort, even when its success is only partial. He distrusts his own senses, he sifts his own impressions, by returning upon them from different sides and at different times, by comparing, moderating, shading, distinguishing, and so endeavoring to approach more and more nearly to the formula which represents the maximum of truth.

The art which is grand and yet simple is that which presupposes the greatest elevation both in artist and in public.

MAY 19TH, 1878.--Criticism is above all a gift, an intuition, a matter of tact and flair; it cannot be taught or demonstrated,--it is an art. Critical genius means an aptitude for discerning truth under appearances or in disguises which conceal it; for discovering it in spite of the errors of testimony, the frauds of tradition, the dust of time, the loss or alteration of texts. It is the sagacity of the hunter whom nothing deceives for long, and whom no ruse can throw off the trail. It is the talent of the Juge d'Instruction who knows how to interrogate circumstances, and to extract an unknown secret from a thousand falsehoods. The true critic can understand everything, but he will be the dupe of nothing, and to no convention will he sacrifice his duty, which is to find out and proclaim truth. Competent learning, general cultivation, absolute probity, accuracy of general view, human sympathy, and technical capacity,--how many things are necessary to the critic, without reckoning grace, delicacy, savoir vivre, and the gift of happy phrasemaking!

MAY 22D, 1879 (Ascension Day).--Wonderful and delicious weather. Soft, caressing sunlight,--the air a limpid blue,--twitterings of birds; even the distant voices of the city have something young and springlike in them. It is indeed a new birth. The ascension of the Savior of men is symbolized by the expansion, this heavenward yearning of nature.... I feel myself born again; all the windows of the soul are clear. Forms, lines, tints, reflections, sounds, contrasts, and harmonies, the general play and interchange of things,--it is all enchanting!

In my courtyard the ivy is green again, the chestnut-tree is full of leaf, the Persian lilac beside the little fountain is flushed with red and just about to flower; through the wide openings to the right and left of the old College of Calvin I see the Salève above the trees of St. Antoine, the Voirons above the hill of Cologny; while the three flights of steps which, from landing to landing, lead between two high walls from the Rue Verdaine to the terrace of the Tranchées, recall to one's imagination some old city of the south, a glimpse of Perugia or of Malaga.

All the bells are ringing. It is the hour of worship. A historical and religious impression mingles with the picturesque, the musical, the poetical impressions of the scene. All the peoples of Christendom--all the churches scattered over the globe--are celebrating at this moment the glory of the Crucified.

And what are those many nations doing who have other prophets, and honor the Divinity in other ways--the Jews, the Mussulmans, the Buddhists, the Vishnuists, the Guebers? They have other sacred days, other rites, other solemnities, other beliefs. But all have some religion, some ideal end for life--all aim at raising man above the sorrows and smallnesses of the present, and of the individual existence. All have faith in something greater than themselves, all pray, all bow, all adore; all see beyond nature, Spirit, and beyond evil, Good. All bear witness to the Invisible. Here we have the link which binds all peoples together. All men are equally creatures of sorrow and desire, of hope and fear. All long to recover some lost harmony with the great order of things, and to feel themselves approved and blessed by the Author of the universe. All know what suffering is, and yearn for happiness. All know what sin is, and feel the need of pardon.

Christianity, reduced to its original simplicity, is the reconciliation of the sinner with God, by means of the certainty that God loves in spite of everything, and that he chastises because he loves. Christianity furnished a new motive and a new strength for the achievement of moral perfection. It made holiness attractive by giving to it the air of filial gratitude.

JULY 28TH, 1880.--This afternoon I have had a walk in the sunshine, and have just come back rejoicing in a renewed communion with nature. The waters of the Rhone and the Arve, the murmur of the river, the austerity of its banks, the brilliancy of the foliage, the play of the leaves, the splendor of the July sunlight, the rich fertility of the fields, the lucidity of the distant mountains, the whiteness of the glaciers under the azure serenity of the sky, the sparkle and foam of the mingling rivers, the leafy masses of the La Bâtie woods,--all and everything delighted me. It seemed to me as though the years of strength had come back to me. I was overwhelmed with sensations. I was surprised and grateful. The universal life carried me on its breast; the summer's caress went to my heart. Once more my eyes beheld the vast horizons, the soaring peaks, the blue lakes, the winding valleys, and all the free outlets of old days. And yet there was no painful sense of longing. The scene left upon me an indefinable impression, which was neither hope, nor desire, nor regret, but rather a sense of emotion, of passionate impulse, mingled with admiration and anxiety. I am conscious at once of joy and of want; beyond what I possess I see the impossible and the unattainable; I gauge my own wealth and poverty: in a word, I am and I am not--my inner state is one of contradiction, because it is one of transition.

APRIL 1OTH, 1881 [he died May 11th].--What dupes we are of our own desires!... Destiny has two ways of crushing us--by refusing our wishes and by fulfilling them. But he who only wills what God wills escapes both catastrophes. "All things work together for his good."


(B.C. 562?-477)

f the life of this lyric poet we have little exact knowledge. We know that he was an Ionian Greek, and therefore by racial type a luxury-loving, music-loving Greek, born in the city of Teos on the coast of Asia Minor. The year was probably B.C. 562. With a few fellow-citizens, it is supposed that he fled to Thrace and founded Abdera when Cyrus the Great, or his general Harpagus, was conquering the Greek cities of the coast. Abdera, however, was too new to afford luxurious living, and the singing Ionian soon found his way to more genial Samos, whither the fortunes of the world then seemed converging. Polycrates was "tyrant," in the old Greek sense of irresponsible ruler; but withal so large-minded and far-sighted a man that we may use a trite comparison and say that under him his island was, to the rest of Greece, as Florence in the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent was to the rest of Italy, or Athens in the time of Pericles to the other Hellenic States. Anacreon became his tutor, and may have been of his council; for Herodotus says that when Oroetes went to see Polycrates he found him in the men's apartment with Anacreon the Teian. Another historian says that he tempered the stern will of the ruler. Still another relates that Polycrates once presented him with five talents, but that the poet returned the sum after two nights made sleepless from thinking what he would do with his riches, saying "it was not worth the care it cost."


After the murder of Polycrates, Hipparchus, who ruled at Athens, sent a trireme to fetch the poet. Like his father Pisistratus, Hipparchus endeavored to further the cause of letters by calling poets to his court. Simonides of Ceos was there; and Lasus of Hermione, the teacher of Pindar; with many rhapsodists or minstrels, who edited the poems of Homer and chanted his lays at the Panathenæa, or high festival of Athena, which the people celebrated every year with devout and magnificent show. Amid this brilliant company Anacreon lived and sang until Hipparchus fell (514) by the famous conspiracy of Harmodius and Aristogeiton. He then returned to his native Teos, and according to a legend, died there at the age of eighty-five, choked by a grape-seed.

Anacreon was a lyrist of the first order. Plato's poet says of him in the 'Symposium,' "When I hear the verses of Sappho or Anacreon, I set down my cup for very shame of my own performance." He composed in Greek somewhat, to use a very free comparison, as Herrick did in English, expressing the unrefined passion and excesses which he saw, just as the Devonshire parson preserved the spirit of the country festivals of Old England in his vivid verse.

To Anacreon music and poetry were inseparable. The poet of his time recited his lines with lyre in hand, striking upon it in the measure he thought best suited to his song. Doubtless the poems of Anacreon were delivered in this way. His themes were simple,--wine, love, and the glorification of youth and poetry; but his imagination and poetic invention so animated every theme that it is the perfect rendering which we see, not the simplicity of the commonplace idea. His delicacy preserves him from grossness, and his grace from wantonness. In this respect his poems are a fair illustration of the Greek sense of self-limitation, which guided the art instincts of that people and made them the creators of permanent canons of taste.

Anacreon had no politics, no earnest interest in the affairs of life, no morals in the large meaning of that word, no aims reaching further than the merriment and grace of the moment. Loving luxury and leisure, he was the follower of a pleasure-loving court. His cares are that the bowl is empty, that age is joyless, that women tell him he is growing gray. He is closely paralleled in this by one side of Béranger; but the Frenchman's soul had a passionately earnest half which the Greek entirely lacked. Nor is there ever any outbreak of the deep yearning, the underlying melancholy, which pervades and now and then interrupts, like a skeleton at the feast, the gayest verses of Omar Khayyam.

His metres, like his matter, are simple and easy. So imitators, perhaps as brilliant as the master, have sprung up and produced a mass of songs; and at this time it remains in doubt whether any complete poem of Anacreon remains untouched. For this reason the collection is commonly termed 'Anacreontics'. Some of the poems are referred to the school of Gaza and the fourth century after Christ, and some to the secular teachings and refinement of the monks of the Middle Ages. Since the discovery and publication of the text by Henry Stephens, in 1554, poets have indulged their lighter fancies in such songs, and a small literature of delicate trifles now exists under the name of 'Anacreontics' in Italian, German, and English. Bergk's recension of the poems appeared in 1878. The standard translations, or rather imitations in English, are those of Cowley and Moore. The Irish poet was not unlike in nature to the ancient Ionian. Moore's fine voice in the London drawing-rooms echoes at times the note of Anacreon in the men's quarters of Polycrates or the symposia of Hipparchus. The joy of feasting and music, the color of wine, and the scent of roses, alike inspire the songs of each.


The thirsty earth soaks up the rain,
And drinks, and gapes for drink again,
The plants suck in the earth, and are
With constant drinking fresh and fair;
The sea itself (which one would think
Should have but little need of drink)
Drinks twice ten thousand rivers up,
So filled that they o'erflow the cup.
The busy Sun (and one would guess
By 's drunken fiery face no less)
Drinks up the sea, and, when he's done,
The Moon and Stars drink up the Sun:
They drink and dance by their own light;
They drink and revel all the night.
Nothing in nature's sober found,
But an eternal health goes round.
Fill up the bowl then, fill it high,
Fill all the glasses there; for why
Should every creature drink but I?
Why, man of morals, tell me why?

--Cowley's Translation.


Oft am I by the women told,
Poor Anacreon, thou grow'st old!
Look how thy hairs are falling all;
Poor Anacreon, how they fall!
Whether I grow old or no,
By th' effects I do not know;
This I know, without being told,
'Tis time to live, if I grow old;
'Tis time short pleasures now to take,
Of little life the best to make,
And manage wisely the last stake.

Cowley's Translation.



Fill the bowl with rosy wine!
Around our temples roses twine!
And let us cheerfully awhile,
Like the wine and roses, smile.
Crowned with roses, we contemn
Gyges' wealthy diadem.
To-day is ours, what do we fear?
To-day is ours; we have it here:
Let's treat it kindly, that it may
Wish, at least, with us to stay.
Let's banish business, banish sorrow;
To the gods belongs to-morrow.


Underneath this myrtle shade,
On flowery beds supinely laid,
With odorous oils my head o'erflowing,
And around it roses growing,
What should I do but drink away
The heat and troubles of the day?
In this more than kingly state
Love himself shall on me wait.
Fill to me, Love, nay fill it up;
And, mingled, cast into the cup
Wit, and mirth, and noble fires,
Vigorous health, and gay desires.
The wheel of life no less will stay
In a smooth than rugged way:
Since it equally doth flee,
Let the motion pleasant be.
Why do we precious ointments show'r?
Noble wines why do we pour?
Beauteous flowers why do we spread,
Upon the monuments of the dead?
Nothing they but dust can show,
Or bones that hasten to be so.
Crown me with roses while I live,
Now your wines and ointments give
After death I nothing crave;
Let me alive my pleasures have,
All are Stoics in the grave.

Cowley's Translation.


A mighty pain to love it is,
And 'tis a pain that pain to miss;
But, of all pains, the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.
Virtue now, nor noble blood,
Nor wit by love is understood;
Gold alone does passion move,
Gold monopolizes love;
A curse on her, and on the man
Who this traffic first began!
A curse on him who found the ore!
A curse on him who digged the store!
A curse on him who did refine it!
A curse on him who first did coin it!
A curse, all curses else above,
On him who used it first in love!
Gold begets in brethren hate;
Gold in families debate;
Gold does friendship separate;
Gold does civil wars create.
These the smallest harms of it!
Gold, alas! does love beget.

Cowley's Translation.


Happy Insect! what can be
In happiness compared to thee?
Fed with nourishment divine,
The dewy Morning's gentle wine!
Nature waits upon thee still,
And thy verdant cup does fill;
'Tis filled wherever thou dost tread,
Nature's self's thy Ganymede.
Thou dost drink, and dance, and sing;
Happier than the happiest king!
All the fields which thou dost see,
All the plants, belong to thee;
All that summer hours produce,
Fertile made with early juice.
Man for thee does sow and plow;
Farmer he, and landlord thou!
Thou dost innocently joy;
Nor does thy luxury destroy;
The shepherd gladly heareth thee,
More harmonious than he.
Thee country hinds with gladness hear,
Prophet of the ripened year!
Thee Phoebus loves, and does inspire;
Phoebus is himself thy sire.
To thee, of all things upon Earth,
Life's no longer than thy mirth.
Happy insect, happy thou!
Dost neither age nor winter know;
But, when thou'st drunk, and danced, and sung
Thy fill, the flowery leaves among,
(Voluptuous, and wise withal,
Epicurean animal!)
Sated with thy summer feast,
Thou retir'st to endless rest.

Cowley's Translation,


Foolish prater, what dost thou
So early at my window do,
With thy tuneless serenade?
Well 't had been had Tereus made
Thee as dumb as Philomel;
There his knife had done but well.
In thy undiscovered nest
Thou dost all the winter rest,
And dreamest o'er thy summer joys,
Free from the stormy season's noise:
Free from th' ill thou'st done to me;
Who disturbs or seeks out thee?
Hadst thou all the charming notes
Of the wood's poetic throats,
All thou art could never pay
What thou hast ta'en from me away.
Cruel bird! thou'st ta'en away
A dream out of my arms to-day;
A dream that ne'er must equaled be
By all that waking eyes may see.
Thou, this damage to repair,
Nothing half so sweet or fair,
Nothing half so good, canst bring,
Though men say thou bring'st the Spring.

Cowley's Translation.


If hoarded gold possessed a power
To lengthen life's too fleeting hour,
And purchase from the hand of death
A little span, a moment's breath,
How I would love the precious ore!
And every day should swell my store;
That when the fates would send their minion,
To waft me off on shadowy pinion,
I might some hours of life obtain,
And bribe him back to hell again.
But since we ne'er can charm away
The mandate of that awful day,
Why do we vainly weep at fate,
And sigh for life's uncertain date?
The light of gold can ne'er illume
The dreary midnight of the tomb!
And why should I then pant for treasures?
Mine be the brilliant round of pleasures;
The goblet rich, the hoard of friends,
Whose flowing souls the goblet blends!

Moore's Translation.


I care not for the idle state
Of Persia's king, the rich, the great!
I envy not the monarch's throne,
Nor wish the treasured gold my own.
But oh! be mine the rosy braid,
The fervor of my brows to shade;
Be mine the odors, richly sighing,
Amid my hoary tresses flying.
To-day I'll haste to quaff my wine,
As if to-morrow ne'er should shine;
But if to-morrow comes, why then--
I'll haste to quaff my wine again.
And thus while all our days are bright,
Nor time has dimmed their bloomy light,
Let us the festal hours beguile
With mantling cup and cordial smile;
And shed from every bowl of wine
The richest drop on Bacchus's shrine!
For Death may come, with brow unpleasant,
May come when least we wish him present,
And beckon to the sable shore,
And grimly bid us--drink no more!

Moore's Translation.


The Phrygian rock that braves the storm
Was once a weeping matron's form;
And Procne, hapless, frantic maid,
Is now a swallow in the shade.
Oh that a mirror's form were mine,
To sparkle with that smile divine;
And like my heart I then should be,
Reflecting thee, and only thee!
Or could I be the robe which holds
That graceful form within its folds;
Or, turned into a fountain, lave
Thy beauties in my circling wave;
Or, better still, the zone that lies
Warm to thy breast, and feels its sighs!
Or like those envious pearls that show
So faintly round that neck of snow!
Yes, I would be a happy gem,
Like them to hang, to fade like them.
What more would thy Anacreon be?
Oh, anything that touches thee,
Nay, sandals for those airy feet--
Thus to be pressed by thee were sweet!

Moore's Translation.




he place of Hans Christian Andersen in literature is that of the "Children's Poet," though his best poetry is prose. He was born in the ancient Danish city of Odense, on April 2d, 1805, of poor and shiftless parents. He had little regular instruction, and few childish associates. His youthful imagination was first stimulated by La Fontaine's 'Fables' and the 'Arabian Nights,' and he showed very early a dramatic instinct, trying to act and even to imitate Shakespeare, though, as he says, "hardly able to spell a single word correctly." It was therefore natural that the visit of a dramatic company to Odense, in 1818, should fire his fancy to seek his theatrical fortune in Copenhagen; whither he went in September, 1819, with fifteen dollars in his pocket and a letter of introduction to a danseuse at the Royal Theatre, who not unnaturally took her strange visitor for a lunatic, and showed him the door. For four years he labored diligently, suffered acutely, and produced nothing of value; though he gained some influential friends, who persuaded the king to grant him a scholarship for three years, that he might prepare for the university.

Though he was neither a brilliant nor a docile pupil, he did not exhaust the generous patience of his friends, who in 1829 enabled him to publish by subscription his first book, 'A Journey on Foot from Holm Canal to the East Point of Amager' a fantastic arabesque, partly plagiarized and partly parodied from the German romanticists, but with a naïveté that might have disarmed criticism.

In 1831 there followed a volume of poems, the sentimental and rather mawkish 'Fantasies and Sketches,' product of a journey in Jutland and of a silly love affair. This book was so harshly criticized that he resolved to seek a refuge and new literary inspiration in a tour to Germany; for all through his life, traveling was Andersen's stimulus and distraction, so that he compares himself, later, to a pendulum "bound to go backward and forward, tic, toc, tic, toc, till the clock stops, and down I lie."

This German tour inspired his first worthy book, 'Silhouettes,' with some really admirable pages of description. His success encouraged him to attempt the drama again, where he failed once more, and betook himself for relief to Paris and Italy, with a brief stay in the Jura Mountains, which is delightfully described in his novel, 'O.T.'

Italy had on him much the same clarifying effect that it had on Goethe; and his next book, the novel 'Improvisatore' (1835), achieved and deserved a European recognition. Within ten years the book was translated into six languages. It bears the mark of its date in its romantic sentiments. There is indeed no firm character-drawing, here or in any of his novels; but the book still claims attention for its exquisite descriptions of Italian life and scenery.

The year 1835 saw also Andersen's first essay in the 'Wonder Stories' which were to give him his lasting title to grateful remembrance. He did not think highly of this work at the time, though his little volume contained the now-classic 'Tinderbox,' and 'Big Claus and Little Claus.' Indeed, he always chafed a little at the modest fame of a writer for children; but he continued for thirty-seven years to publish those graceful fancies, which in their little domain still hold the first rank, and certainly gave the freest scope to Andersen's qualities, while they masked his faults and limitations.

He turned again from this "sleight of hand with Fancy's golden apples," to the novel, in the 'O.T.' (1836), which marks no advance on the 'Improvisatore'; and in the next year he published his best romance, 'Only a Fiddler,' which is still charming for its autobiographical touches, its genuine humor, and its deep pathos. At the time, this book assured his European reputation; though it has less interest for us to-day than the 'Tales,' or the 'Picture Book without Pictures' (1840), where, perhaps more than anywhere else in his work, the child speaks with all the naïveté of his nature.

A journey to the East was reflected in 'A Poet's Bazaar' (1842); and these years contain also his last unsuccessful dramatic efforts, 'The King Dreams' and 'The New Lying-in Room.' In 1843 he was in Paris, in 1844 in Germany, and in the next year he extended his wanderings to Italy and England, where Mary Howitt's translations had assured him a welcome. Ten years later he revisited England as the guest of Dickens at Gadshill.

The failure of an epic, 'Ahasuerus' (1847), and of a novel, 'The Two Baronesses' (1849), made him turn with more interest to wonder tales and fairy dramas, which won a considerable success; and when the political troubles of 1848 directed his wanderings toward Sweden, he made from them 'I Sverrig' (In Sweden: 1849), his most exquisite book of travels. As Europe grew peaceful again he resumed his indefatigable wanderings, visiting Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Bohemia, and England; printing between 1852 and 1862 nine little volumes of stories, the mediocre but successful 'In Spain' (1860), and his last novel, 'To Be or Not To Be' (1857), which reflects the religious speculations of his later years.

He was now in comparatively easy circumstances, and passed the last fifteen years of his life unharassed by criticism, and surrounded with the 'honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,' that should accompany old age. It was not until 1866 that he made himself a home; and even at sixty-one he said the idea 'positively frightened him--he knew he should run away from it as soon as ever the first warm sunbeam struck him, like any other bird of passage.'

In 1869 he celebrated his literary jubilee. In 1872 he finished his last 'Stories.' That year he met with an accident in Innsbruck from which he never recovered. Kind friends eased his invalid years; and so general was the grief at his illness that the children of the United States collected a sum of money for his supposed necessities, which at his request took the form of books for his library. A few months later, after a brief and painless illness, he died, August 1st, 1875. His admirers had already erected a statue in his honor, and the State gave him a magnificent funeral; but his most enduring monument is that which his 'Wonder Tales' are still building all around the world.

The character of Andersen is full of curious contrasts. Like the French fabulist, La Fontaine, he was a child all his life, and often a spoiled child; yet he joined to childlike simplicity no small share of worldly wisdom. Constant travel made him a shrewd observer of detail, but his self-absorption kept him from sympathy with the broad political aspirations of his generation.

In the judgment of his friends and critics, his autobiographical 'Story of My Life' is strangely unjust, and he never understood the limitations of his genius. He was not fond of children, nor personally attractive to them, though his letters to them are charming.

In personal appearance he was limp, ungainly, awkward, and odd, with long lean limbs, broad flat hands, and feet of striking size. His eyes were small and deep-set, his nose very large, his neck very long; but he masked his defects by studied care in dress, and always fancied he looked distinguished, delighting to display his numerous decorations on his evening dress in complacent profusion.

On Andersen's style there is a remarkably acute study by his fellow-countryman Brandes, in 'Kritiker og Portraite' (Critiques and Portraits), and a useful comment in Boyesen's 'Scandinavian Literature.' When not perverted by his translators, it is perhaps better suited than any other to the comprehension of children. His syntax and rhetoric are often faulty; and in the 'Tales' he does not hesitate to take liberties even with German, if he can but catch the vivid, darting imagery of juvenile fancy, the "ohs" and "ahs" of the nursery, its changing intonations, its fears, its smiles, its personal appeals, and its venerable devices to spur attention and kindle sympathy. Action, or imitation, takes the place of description. We hear the trumpeter's taratantara and "the pattering rain on the leaves, rum dum dum, rum dum dum," The soldier "comes marching along, left, right, left, right." No one puts himself so wholly in the child's place and looks at nature so wholly with his eyes as Andersen. "If you hold one of those burdock leaves before your little body it's just like an apron, and if you put it on your head it's almost as good as an umbrella, it's so big." Or he tells you that when the sun shone on the flax, and the clouds watered it, "it was just as nice for it as it is for the little children to be washed and then get a kiss from mother: that makes them prettier; of course it does." And here, as Brandes remarks, every right-minded mamma stops and kisses the child, and their hearts are warmer for that day's tale.

The starting-point of this art is personification. To the child's fancy the doll is as much alive as the cat, the broom as the bird, and even the letters in the copy-book can stretch themselves. On this foundation he builds myths that tease by a certain semblance of rationality,--elegiac, more often sentimental, but at their best, like normal children, without strained pathos or forced sympathy.

Such personification has obvious dramatic and lyric elements; but Andersen lacked the technique of poetic and dramatic art, and marred his prose descriptions, both in novels and books of travel, by an intrusive egotism and lyric exaggeration. No doubt, therefore, the most permanent part of his work is that which popular instinct has selected, the 'Picture Book without Pictures,' the 'Tales and Stories'; and among these, those will last longest that have least of the lyric and most of the dramatic element.

Nearly all of Andersen's books are translated in ten uniform but unnumbered volumes, published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company. Of the numerous translations of the 'Tales,' Mary Howitt's (1846) and Sommer's (1893) are the best, though far from faultless.

The 'Life of Hans Christian Andersen' by R. Nisbet Bain (New York, 1895) is esteemed the best.


From 'Collected Fairy Tales,' newly translated

There were once twenty-five tin soldiers, who were all brothers, for they were cast out of one old tin spoon. They held their muskets, and their faces were turned to the enemy; red and blue, ever so fine, were the uniforms. The first thing they heard in this world, when the cover was taken from the box where they lay, were the words, "Tin soldiers!" A little boy shouted it, and clapped his hands. He had got them because it was his birthday, and now he set them up on the table. Each soldier was just like the other, only one was a little different. He had but one leg, for he had been cast last, and there was not enough tin. But he stood on his one leg just as firm as the others on two, so he was just the one to be famous.

On the table where they were set up stood a lot of other playthings; but what caught your eye was a pretty castle of paper. Through the little windows you could see right into the halls. Little trees stood in front, around a bit of looking-glass which was meant for a lake. Wax swans swam on it and were reflected in it. That was all very pretty, but still the prettiest thing was a little girl who stood right in the castle gate. She was cut out of paper too, but she had a silk dress, and a little narrow blue ribbon across her shoulders, on which was a sparkling star as big as her whole face. The little girl lifted her arms gracefully in the air, for she was a dancer; and then she lifted one leg so high that the tin soldier could not find it at all, and thought that she had only one leg, just like himself.

"That would be the wife for me," thought he, "but she is too fine for me. She lives in a castle, and I have only a box, which I have to share with twenty-four. That is no house for her. But I will see whether I can make her acquaintance." Then he lay down at full length behind a snuff-box which was on the table. From there he could watch the trig little lady who kept standing on one leg without losing her balance. When evening came, the other tin soldiers were all put in their box, and the people in the house went to bed. Then the playthings began to play, first at "visiting," then at "war" and at "dancing." The tin soldiers rattled in their box, for they would have liked to join in it, but they could not get the cover off. The nutcracker turned somersaults, and the pencil scrawled over the slate. There was such a racket that the canary-bird woke up and began to sing, and that in verses. The only ones that did not stir were the tin soldier and the little dancer. She stood straight on tiptoe and stretched up both arms; he was just as steadfast on his one leg. He did not take his eyes from her a moment.

Now it struck twelve, and bang! up went the cover of the snuff-box, but it wasn't tobacco in it: no, but a little black Troll. It was a trick box.

"Tin soldier!" said the Troll, "will you stare your eyes out?" But the tin soldier made believe he did not hear. "You wait till morning!" said the Troll.

When morning came, and the children got up, the tin soldier was put on the window ledge; and whether it was the Troll, or a gust of wind, all at once the window flew open and the tin soldier fell head first from the third story. That was an awful fall. He stretched his leg straight up, and stuck with his bayonet and cap right between the paving-stones.

The maid and the little boy came right down to hunt for him, but they couldn't see him, though they came so near that they almost trod on him. If the tin soldier had called "Here I am," they surely would have found him; but since he was in uniform he did not think it proper to call aloud.

Now it began to rain. The drops chased one another. It was a regular shower. When that was over, two street boys came along.

"Hallo!" said one, "There's a tin soldier. He must be off and sail."

Then they made a boat out of a newspaper, put the tin soldier in it, and made him sail down the gutter. Both boys ran beside it, and clapped their hands. Preserve us! What waves there were in the gutter, and what a current! It must have rained torrents. The paper boat rocked up and down, and sometimes it whirled around so that the tin soldier shivered. But he remained steadfast, did not lose color, looked straight ahead and held his musket firm.

All at once the boat plunged under a long gutter-bridge. It was as dark there as it had been in his box.

"Where am I going now?" thought he. "Yes, yes, that is the Troll's fault. Oh! if the little lady were only in the boat, I would not care if it were twice as dark."

At that instant there came a great water-rat who lived under the gutter-bridge.

"Have you a pass?" said the rat. "Show me your pass."

But the tin soldier kept still, and only held his musket the firmer. The boat rushed on, and the rat behind. Oh! how he gnashed his teeth, and called to the sticks and straws:--

"Stop him! Stop him! He has not paid toll. He has showed no pass."

But the current got stronger and stronger. Before he got to the end of the bridge the tin soldier could see daylight, but he heard also a rushing noise that might frighten a brave man's heart. Just think! at the end of the bridge the gutter emptied into a great canal, which for him was as dangerous as for us to sail down a great waterfall.

He was so near it already that he could not stop. The boat went down. The poor tin soldier held himself as straight as he could. No one should say of him that he had ever blinked his eyes. The boat whirled three or four times and filled with water. It had to sink. The tin soldier stood up to his neck in water, and deeper, deeper sank the boat. The paper grew weaker and weaker. Now the waves went over the soldier's head. Then he thought of the pretty little dancer whom he never was to see again, and there rang in the tin soldier's ears:--

"Farewell, warrior! farewell!

Death shalt thou stiffer."

Now the paper burst in two, and the tin soldier fell through,--but in that minute he was swallowed by a big fish.

Oh! wasn't it dark in there. It was worse even than under the gutter-bridge, and besides, so cramped. But the tin soldier was steadfast, and lay at full length, musket in hand.

The fish rushed around and made the most fearful jumps. At last he was quite still, and something went through him like a lightning flash. Then a bright light rushed in, and somebody called aloud, "The tin soldier!" The fish had been caught, brought to market, sold, and been taken to the kitchen, where the maid had slit it up with a big knife. She caught the soldier around the body and carried him into the parlor, where everybody wanted to see such a remarkable man who had traveled about in a fish's belly. But the tin soldier was not a bit proud. They put him on the table, and there--well! what strange things do happen in the world--the tin soldier was in the very same room that he had been in before. He saw the same children, and the same playthings were on the table, the splendid castle with the pretty little dancer; she was still standing on one leg, and had the other high in the air. She was steadfast, too. That touched the tin soldier so that he could almost have wept tin tears, but that would not have been proper. He looked at her and she looked at him, but they said nothing at all.

Suddenly one of the little boys seized the tin soldier and threw him right into the tile-stove, although he had no reason to. It was surely the Troll in the box who was to blame.

The tin soldier stood in full light and felt a fearful heat; but whether that came from the real fire, or from his glowing love, he could not tell. All the color had faded from him; but whether this had happened on the journey, or whether it came from care, no one could say. He looked at the little girl and she looked at him. He felt that he was melting, but still he stood steadfast, musket in hand. Then a door opened. A whiff of air caught the dancer, and she flew like a sylph right into the tile-stove to the tin soldier, blazed up in flame, and was gone. Then the tin soldier melted to a lump, and when the maid next day took out the ashes, she found him as a little tin heart. But of the dancer only the star was left, and that was burnt coal-black.


From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

There was a proud Teapot, proud of being porcelain, proud of its long spout, proud of its broad handle. It had something before and behind--the spout before, the handle behind--and that was what it talked about. But it did not talk of its lid--that was cracked, it was riveted, it had faults; and one does not talk about one's faults--there are plenty of others to do that. The cups, the cream-pot, the sugar-bowl, the whole tea-service would be reminded much more of the lid's weakness, and talk about that, than of the sound handle and the remarkable spout. The Teapot knew it.

"I know you," it said within itself, "I know well enough, too, my fault; and I am well aware that in that very thing is seen my humility, my modesty. We all have faults, but then one also has a talent. The cups get a handle, the sugar-bowl a lid; I get both, and one thing besides in front which they never got,--I get a spout, and that makes me a queen on the tea-table. The sugar-bowl and cream-pot are good-looking serving maids; but I am the one who gives, yes, the one high in council. I spread abroad a blessing among thirsty mankind. In my insides the Chinese leaves are worked up in the boiling, tasteless water."

All this said the Teapot in its fresh young life. It stood on the table that was spread for tea, it was lifted by a very delicate hand; but the very delicate hand was awkward, the Teapot fell. The spout snapped off, the handle snapped off; the lid was no worse to speak of--the worst had been spoken of that. The Teapot lay in a swoon on the floor, while the boiling water ran out of it. It was a horrid shame, but the worst was that they jeered at it; they jeered at it, and not at the awkward hand.

"I never shall lose the memory of that!" said the Teapot, when it afterward talked to itself of the course of its life. "I was called an invalid, and placed in a corner, and the day after was given away to a woman who begged victuals. I fell into poverty, and stood dumb both outside and in; but there, as I stood, began my better life. One is one thing and becomes quite another. Earth was placed in me: for a Teapot that is the same as being buried, but in the earth was placed a flower bulb. Who placed it there, who gave it, I know not; given it was, and it took the place of the Chinese leaves and the boiling water, the broken handle and spout. And the bulb lay in the earth, the bulb lay in me, it became my heart, my living heart, such as I never before had. There was life in me, power and might. My pulses beat, the bulb put forth sprouts, it was the springing up of thoughts and feelings; they burst forth in flower. I saw it, I bore it, I forgot myself in its delight. Blessed is it to forget one's self in another. The bulb gave me no thanks, it did not think of me--it was admired and praised. I was so glad at that: how happy must it have been! One day I heard it said that it ought to have a better pot. I was thumped on my back--that was rather hard to bear; but the flower was put in a better pot--and I was thrown away in the yard, where I lie as an old crock. But I have the memory: that I can never lose."


From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


It was glorious in the country. It was summer; the cornfields were yellow, the oats were green, the hay had been put up in stacks in the green meadows; and the stork went about on his long red legs, and chattered Egyptian, for this was the language he had learned from his mother. All around the fields and meadows were great woods, and in the midst of these woods deep lakes. Yes, it was right glorious in the country.

In the midst of the sunshine there lay an old farm, with deep canals about it; and from the wall down to the water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could stand upright under the tallest of them. It was just as wild there as in the deepest wood, and here sat a Duck upon her nest. She had to hatch her ducklings, but she was almost tired out before the little ones came; and she seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked better to swim about in the canals than to run up to sit under a burdock and gabble with her.

At last one egg-shell after another burst open. "Pip! pip!" each cried, and in all the eggs there were little things that stuck out their heads.

"Quack! quack!" said the Duck, and they all came quacking out as fast as they could, looking all around them under the green leaves; and the mother let them look as much as they liked, for green is good for the eye.

"How wide the world is!" said all the young ones; for they certainly had much more room now than when they were inside the eggs.

"D'ye think this is all the world?" said the mother. "That stretches far across the other side of the garden, quite into the parson's field; but I have never been there yet. I hope you are all together," and she stood up. "No, I have not all. The largest egg still lies there. How long is that to last? I am really tired of it." And so she sat down again.

"Well, how goes it?" asked an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.

"It lasts a long time with this one egg," said the Duck who sat there. "It will not open. Now, only look at the others! They are the prettiest little ducks I ever saw. They are all like their father: the rogue, he never comes to see me."

"Let me see the egg which will not burst," said the old Duck. "You may be sure it is a turkey's egg. I was once cheated in that way, and had much care and trouble with the young ones, for they are afraid of the water. Must I say it to you? I could not make them go in. I quacked, and I clacked, but it was no use. Let me see the egg. Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie there, and do you teach the other children to swim."

"I think I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck. "I've sat so long now that I can sit a few days more."

"Just as you please," said the old Duck; and she went away.

At last the great egg burst. "Pip! pip!" said the little one, and crept forth. He was so big and ugly. The Duck looked at him.

"It's a very large Duckling," said she. "None of the others looks like that: it really must be a turkey chick! Well, we shall soon find out. Into the water shall he go, even if I have to push him in."


The next day it was bright, beautiful weather; the sun shone on all the green burdocks. The Mother-Duck, with all her family, went down to the canal. Splash! she jumped into the water. "Quack! quack!" she said, and one duckling after another plumped in. The water closed over their heads, but they came up in an instant, and swam off finely; their legs went of themselves, and they were all in the water; even the ugly gray Duckling swam with them.

"No, it's not a turkey," said she: "look how well he uses his legs, how straight he holds himself. It is my own child! On the whole he's quite pretty, when one looks at him rightly. Quack! quack! come now with me, and I'll lead you out into the world, and present you in the duck-yard; but keep close to me all the time, so that no one may tread on you, and look out for the cats."

And so they came into the duck-yard. There was a terrible row going on in there, for two families were fighting about an eel's head, and so the cat got it.

"See, that's the way it goes in the world!" said the Mother-Duck; and she whetted her beak, for she too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your legs," she said. "See that you can bustle about, and bend your necks before the old Duck yonder. She's the grandest of all here; she's of Spanish blood--that's why she's so fat; and do you see? she has a red rag around her leg; that's something very, very fine, and the greatest mark of honor a duck can have: it means that one does not want to lose her, and that she's known by the animals and by men too. Hurry! hurry!--don't turn in your toes, a well brought-up duck turns it's toes quite out, just like father and mother,--so! Now bend your necks and say 'Quack!'"

And they did so; but the other ducks round about looked at them, and said quite boldly,--"Look there! now we're to have this crowd too! as if there were not enough of us already! And--fie!--how that Duckling yonder looks: we won't stand that!" And at once one Duck flew at him, and bit him in the neck.

"Let him alone," said the mother: "he is not doing anything to any one."

"Yes, but he's too large and odd," said the Duck who had bitten him, "and so he must be put down."

"Those are pretty children the mother has," said the old Duck with the rag round her leg. "They're all pretty but that one; that is rather unlucky. I wish she could have that one over again."

"That cannot be done, my lady," said the Mother-Duck. "He is not pretty, but he has a really good temper, and swims as well as any of the others; yes, I may even say it, a little better. I think he will grow up pretty, perhaps in time he will grow a little smaller; he lay too long in the egg, and therefore he has not quite the right shape." And she pinched him in the neck, and smoothed his feathers. "Besides, he is a drake," she said, "and so it does not matter much. I think he will be very strong: he makes his way already."

"The other ducklings are graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make yourself at home; and if you find an eel's head, you may bring it to me."

And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling who had crept last out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and made fun of, as much by the ducks as by the chickens.

"He is too big!" they all said. And the turkey-cock, who had been born with spurs, and so thought he was an emperor, blew himself up, like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon him; then he gobbled and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know where he dared stand or walk; he was quite unhappy because he looked ugly, and was the sport of the whole duck-yard.

So it went on the first day; and then it grew worse and worse. The poor Duckling was hunted about by every one; even his brothers and sisters were quite angry with him, and said, "If the cat would only catch you, you ugly creature!" And the ducks bit him, and the chickens beat him, and the girl who had to feed the poultry kicked at him with her foot.


Then he ran and flew over the fence, and the little birds in the bushes flew up in fear.

"That is because I am so ugly!" thought the Duckling; and he shut his eyes, but flew on further; and so he came out into the great moor, where the wild ducks lived. Here he lay the whole night long, he was so tired and sad.

Toward morning the wild ducks flew up, and looked at their new mate.

"What sort of a one are you?" they asked; and the Duckling turned about to each, and bowed as well as he could. "You are really very ugly!" said the Wild Ducks. "But that is all the same to us, so long as you do not marry into our family."

Poor thing! he certainly did not think of marrying, and only dared ask leave to lie among the reeds and drink some of the swamp water.

There he lay two whole days; then came thither two wild geese, or, more truly, two wild ganders. It was not long since each had crept out of an egg, and that's why they were so saucy.

"Listen, comrade," said one of them. "You're so ugly that I like you. Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Near here is another moor, where are a few sweet lovely wild geese, all unmarried, and all able to say 'Quack!' You've a chance of making your fortune, ugly as you are."

"Piff! paff!" sounded through the air; and both the ganders fell down dead in the reeds, and the water became blood-red. "Piff! paff!" it sounded again, and the whole flock of wild geese flew up from the reeds. And then there was another report. A great hunt was going on. The gunners lay around in the moor, and some were even sitting up in the branches of the trees, which spread far over the reeds. The blue smoke rose like clouds in among the dark trees, and hung over the water; and the hunting dogs came--splash, splash!--into the mud, and the rushes and reeds bent down on every side. That was a fright for the poor Duckling! He turned his head to put it under his wing; and at that very moment a frightful great dog stood close by the Duckling. His tongue hung far out of his mouth, and his eyes glared horribly. He put his nose close to the Duckling, showed his sharp teeth, and--splash, splash!--on he went without seizing it.

"Oh, Heaven be thanked!" sighed the Duckling. "I am so ugly that even the dog does not like to bite me!"

And so he lay quite quiet, while the shots rattled through the reeds and gun after gun was fired. At last, late in the day, all was still: but the poor little thing did not dare to rise up; he waited several hours still before he looked around, and then hurried away out of the moor as fast as he could. He ran on over field and meadow; there was a storm, so that he had hard work to get away.


Towards evening the Duckling came to a peasant's poor little hut: it was so tumbled down that it did not itself know on which side it should fall; and that's why it stood up. The storm whistled around the Duckling in such a way that he had to sit down to keep from blowing away; and the wind blew worse and worse. Then he noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way, and the door hung so slanting that he could slip through the crack into the room; and that is what he did.

Here lived an old woman, with her Cat and her Hen. And the Cat, whom she called Sonnie, could arch his back and purr; he could even give out sparks--but for that, one had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The Hen had quite small, short legs, and therefore she was called Chickabiddy Shortshanks; she laid good eggs, and the woman loved her as her own child.

In the morning they noticed at once the strange Duckling, and the Cat began to purr and the Hen to cluck.

"What's this?" said the woman, and looked all around; but she could not see well, and therefore she thought the Duckling was a fat duck that had strayed. "This is a rare prize!" she said. "Now I shall have duck's eggs. I hope it is not a drake. We must try that."

And so the Duckling was taken on trial for three weeks, but no eggs came. And the Cat was master of the house, and the Hen was the lady, and always said "We and the world!" for they thought they were half the world, and by far the better half. It seemed to the Duckling that one might have another mind, but the Hen would not allow it.

"Can you lay eggs?"


"Then will you hold your tongue!"

And the Cat said, "Can you curve your back, and purr, and give out sparks?"


"Then you will please have no opinion of your own when sensible folks are speaking!"

And the Duckling sat in a corner and was in low spirits; then he began to think of the fresh air and the sunshine; and he was seized with such a strange longing to swim on the water, that he could not help telling the Hen of it.

"What are you thinking of?" cried the Hen. "You have nothing to do, that's why you have these fancies. Lay eggs, or purr, and they will pass over."

"But it is so charming to swim in the water," said the Duckling, "so nice to feel it go over one's head, and to dive down to the bottom!"

"Yes, that's a fine thing, truly," said the Hen. "You are clean gone crazy. Ask the Cat about it,--he's the cleverest thing I know,--ask him if he likes to swim in the water, or to dive down: I won't speak about myself. Ask our mistress herself, the old woman; no one in the world knows more than she. Do you think she wants to swim, and let the water close above her head?"

"You don't understand me," said the Duckling.

"We don't understand you! Then pray who is to understand you? You surely don't pretend to be cleverer than the Cat and the woman--I won't say anything of myself. Don't make a fool of yourself, child, and thank your Maker for all the good you have. Are you not come into a warm room, and have you not folks about you from whom you can learn something? But you are a goose, and it is not pleasant to have you about. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell you things you won't like, and by that one may always know one's true friends! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr, and to give out sparks!"

"I think I will go out into the wide world," said the Duckling.

"Yes, do go," replied the Hen.

And so the Duckling went away. He swam on the water, and dived, but he was shunned by every creature because he was so ugly.


Now came the fall of the year. The leaves in the wood turned yellow and brown; the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snow-flakes, and on the fence stood the raven, crying "Croak! croak!" for mere cold; yes, one could freeze fast if one thought about it. The poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening--the sun was just going down in fine style--there came a whole flock of great handsome birds out of the bushes; they were shining white, with long, supple necks; they were swans. They uttered a very strange cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that cold region to warmer lands, to fair open lakes. They mounted so high, so high! and the ugly Duckling had such a strange feeling as he saw them! He turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards them, and uttered a cry, so high, so strange, that he was frightened as he heard it.

Oh! he could not forget those beautiful, happy birds; and as soon as he could see them no longer, he dived down to the very bottom, and when he came up again, he was quite beside himself. He did not know what the birds were, nor where they were flying to; but he loved them more than he had ever loved any one. He did not envy them at all. How could he think of wishing to have such loveliness as they had? He would have been glad if only the ducks would have let him be among them--the poor, ugly creature!

And the winter grew so cold, so cold! The Duckling had to swim about in the water, to keep it from freezing over; but every night the hole in which he swam about became smaller and smaller. It froze so hard that the icy cover sounded; and the Duckling had to use his legs all the time to keep the hole from freezing tight. At last he became worn out, and lay quite still, and thus froze fast in the ice.

Early in the morning a peasant came by, and found him there; he took his wooden shoe, broke the ice to pieces, and carried the Duckling home to his wife. Then the Duckling came to himself again. The children wanted to play with him; but he thought they wanted to hurt him, and in his terror he flew up into the milk-pan, so that the milk spilled over into the room. The woman screamed and shook her hand in the air, at which the Duckling flew down into the tub where they kept the butter, and then into the meal-barrel and out again. How he looked then! The woman screamed, and struck at him with the fire tongs; the children tumbled over one another as they tried to catch the Duckling; and they laughed and they screamed!--well was it that the door stood open, and the poor creature was able to slip out between the bushes into the newly-fallen snow--there he lay quite worn out.

But it would be too sad if I were to tell all the misery and care which the Duckling had to bear in the hard winter. He lay out on the moor among the reeds, when the sun began to shine again and the larks to sing; it was a beautiful spring.

Then all at once the Duckling could flap his wings: they beat the air more strongly than before, and bore him stoutly away; and before he well knew it, he found himself in a great garden, where the elder-trees stood in flower, and bent their long green branches down to the winding canal, and the lilacs smelt sweet. Oh, here it was beautiful, fresh, and springlike! and from the thicket came three glorious white swans; they rustled their wings, and sat lightly on the water. The Duckling knew the splendid creatures, and felt a strange sadness.

"I will fly away to them, to the royal birds! and they will beat me, because I, that am so ugly, dare to come near them. But it is all the same. Better to be killed by them than to be chased by ducks, and beaten by fowls, and pushed about by the girl who takes care of the poultry yard, and to suffer hunger in winter!" And he flew out into the water, and swam toward the beautiful swans: these looked at him, and came sailing down upon him with outspread wings. "Kill me!" said the poor creature, and bent his head down upon the water, and waited for death. But what saw he in the clear water? He saw below him his own image; and lo! it was no longer a clumsy dark-gray bird, ugly and hateful to look at, but--a swan!

It matters nothing if one is born in a duck-yard, if one has only lain in a swan's egg.

He felt quite glad at all the need and hard times he had borne; now he could joy in his good luck in all the brightness that was round him. And the great swans swam round him and stroked him with their beaks.

Into the garden came little children, who threw bread and corn into the water; and the youngest cried, "There is a new one!" and the other children shouted, "Yes, a new one has come!" And they clapped their hands and danced about, and ran to their father and mother; and bread and cake were thrown into the water; and they all said, "The new one is the most beautiful of all! so young and so handsome!" and the old swans bowed their heads before him.

Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings, for he did not know what to do; he was so happy, and yet not at all proud, for a good heart is never proud. He thought how he had been driven about and mocked and despised; and now he heard them all saying that he was the most beautiful of all beautiful birds. And the lilacs bent their branches straight down into the water before him, and the sun shone warm and mild. Then his wings rustled, he lifted his slender neck, and cried from the depths of his heart:--

"I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the Ugly Duckling."


Hear what the Moon told me:--

"I have seen a cadet promoted to be an officer, and dressing himself for the first time in his gorgeous uniform; I have seen young girls in bridal attire, and the prince's young bride in her wedding dress: but I never saw such bliss as that of a little four-year-old girl whom I watched this evening. She had got a new blue dress, and a new pink hat. The finery was just put on, and all were calling for light, for the moonbeams that came through the window were not bright enough. They wanted very different lights from that. There stood the little girl, stiff as a doll, keeping her arms anxiously off her dress, and her fingers stretched wide apart. Oh! what happiness beamed from her eyes, from her whole face. 'To-morrow you may go to walk in the dress,' said the mother; and the little one looked up at her hat and down again at her dress, and smiled blissfully. 'Mother,' she cried, 'what will the little dogs think when they see me in all these fine clothes?'"


From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

The Top and the Ball lay in a drawer among some other toys; and so the Top said to the Ball:--"Shall we not be lovers, since we live together in the same drawer?"

But the Ball, which had a coat of morocco leather, and thought herself as good as any fine lady, had nothing to say to such a thing. The next day came the little boy who owned the toys: he painted the Top red and yellow, and drove a brass nail into it; and the Top looked splendidly when he turned round.

"Look at me!" he cried to the Ball. "What do you say now? Shall we not be lovers? We go so nicely together? You jump and I dance! No one could be happier than we two should be."

"Indeed! Do you think so?" said the Ball. "Perhaps you do not know that my papa and my mamma were morocco slippers, and that I have a cork inside me?"

"Yes, but I am made of mahogany," said the Top; "and the mayor himself turned me. He has a turning-lathe of his own, and it amuses him greatly."

"Can I depend on that?" asked the Ball.

"May I never be whipped again if it is not true!" replied the Top.

"You talk well for yourself," said the Ball, "but I cannot do what you ask. I am as good as half engaged to a swallow: every time I leap up into the air he sticks his head out of the nest and says, 'Will you? will you?' And now I have silently said 'Yes,' and that is as good as being half engaged; but I promise I will never forget you."

"Much good that will do!" said the Top.

And they spoke no more to each other.

Next day the Ball was taken out. The Top saw how she flew high into the air, like a bird; at last one could no longer see her. Each time she came back again, but always gave a high leap when she touched the earth; and that came about either from her longing, or because she had a cork in her body. The ninth time the Ball stayed away and did not come back again; and the boy looked and looked, but she was gone.

"I know very well where she is!" sighed the Top. "She is in the Swallow's nest, and has married the Swallow!"

The more the Top thought of this, the more he longed for the Ball. Just because he could not get her, he fell more in love with her. That she had taken some one else, that was another thing. So the Top danced around and hummed, but always thought of the Ball, which grew more and more lovely in his fancy. Thus many years went by,--and now it was an old love.

And the Top was no longer young. But one day he was gilt all over; never had he looked so handsome; he was now a golden Top, and sprang till he hummed again. Yes, that was something! But all at once he sprang too high, and--he was gone!

They looked and looked, even in the cellar, but he was not to be found.

Where was he?

He had jumped into the dust-box, where all kinds of things were lying: cabbage stalks, sweepings, and gravel that had fallen down from the roof.

"Here's a nice place to lie in! The gilding will soon leave me here. And what a rabble I've come amongst!"

And then he looked askance at a long cabbage stalk that was much too near him, and at a curious round thing like an old apple; but it was not an apple--it was an old Ball, which had lain for years in the roof-gutter and was soaked through with water.

"Thank goodness, here comes one of us, with whom one can talk!" said the little Ball, and looked at the gilt Top. "I am really morocco, sewn by a girl's hands, and have a cork inside me; but no one would think it to look at me. I was very near marrying a swallow, but I fell into the gutter on the roof, and have laid there full five years, and am quite soaked through. That's a long time, you may believe me, for a young girl."

But the Top said nothing. He thought of his old love; and the more he heard, the clearer it became to him that this was she. Then came the servant-girl, and wanted to empty the dust-box. "Aha, there's a gilt top!" she cried. And so the Top was brought again to notice and honor, but nothing was heard of the Ball. And the Top spoke no more of his old love: for that dies away when the beloved has lain for five years in a gutter and got soaked through; yes, one does not know her again when one meets her in the dust-box.


From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


Gerda was obliged to rest herself again, when just over against where she sat, a large Crow hopped over the white snow. He had sat there a long while, looking at her and shaking his head; and now he said, "Caw! caw! Good day! good day!" He could not say it better; but he meant well by the little girl, and asked her where she was going all alone out in the wide world. The word "alone" Gerda understood quite well, and felt how much lay in it; so she told the Crow her whole history, and asked if he had not seen Kay.

The Crow nodded very gravely, and said, "It may be--it may be!"

"What--do you really think so?" cried the little girl; and she nearly squeezed the Crow to death, so much did she kiss him.

"Gently, gently," said the Crow. "I think I know; I think that it may be little Kay. But now he has quite forgotten you for the Princess."

"Does he live with a princess?" asked Gerda.

"Yes,--listen," said the Crow; "but it is hard for me to speak your language. If you understand the Crow language, I can tell you better."

"No, I have not learnt it," said Gerda; "but my grandmother understands it. I wish I had learnt it."

"No matter," said the Crow: "I will tell you as well as I can; but it will be bad enough." And then he told all he knew.

"In the kingdom where we now are, there lives a princess, who is vastly clever; for she has read all the newspapers in the whole world, and has forgotten them again,--so clever is she. Some time ago, they say, she was sitting on her throne,--which is no great fun, after all,--when she began humming an old tune, and it was just 'Oh, why should I not be married?' 'Come, now, there is something in that,' said she, and so then she was bound to marry; but she would have a husband who knew how to give an answer when he was spoken to,--not one who was good for nothing but to stand and be looked at, for that is very tiresome. She then had all the ladies of the court drummed together; and when they heard what she meant to do, all were well pleased, and said, 'We are quite glad to hear it: it is the very thing we were thinking of.' You may believe every word I say," said the Crow, "for I have a tame sweetheart that hops about in the palace quite freely, and she told me all.

"The newspapers at once came out with a border of hearts and the initials of the Princess; and you could read in them that every good-looking young man was free to come to the palace and speak to the Princess; and he who spoke in such wise as showed he felt himself at home there, and talked best, that one the Princess would choose for her husband.

"Yes--yes," said the Crow, "you may believe it; it is as true as I am sitting here. People came in crowds; there was a crush and a hurry, but no one had good luck either on the first or second day. They could all talk well enough when they were out in the street; but as soon as they came inside the palace gates, and saw the guard richly dressed in silver, and the lackeys in gold, on the staircase, and the large lighted halls, then they were dumb; and when they stood before the throne on which the Princess was sitting, all they could do was to repeat the last word she had said, and she didn't care to hear that again. It was just as if the people within were under a charm, and had fallen into a trance till they came out again into the street; for then--oh, then they could chatter enough. There was a whole row of them from the town gates to the palace. I was there myself to look on," said the Crow. "They grew hungry and thirsty; but from the palace they got not so much as a glass of water. Some of the cleverest, it is true, had taken bread and butter with them; but none shared it with his neighbor, for each thought, 'Let him look hungry, and then the Princess won't have him.'"

"But Kay--little Kay," asked Gerda, "when did he come? Was he among the number?"

"Give me time! give me time! we are coming to him. It was on the third day, when a little personage, without horse or carriage, came marching right boldly up to the palace; his eyes shone like yours, he had beautiful long hair, but his clothes were very shabby."

"That was Kay," cried Gerda, with a voice of delight. "Oh, now I've found him!" and she clapped her hands.

"He had a little knapsack at his back," said the Crow.

"No, that was certainly his sled," said Gerda; "for he went away with his sled."

"That may be," said the Crow; "I did not see him close to; but I know from my tame sweetheart that when he came into the courtyard of the palace, and saw the body-guard in silver, and the lackeys on the staircase in gold, he was not in the least cast down; he nodded and said to them, 'It must be very tiresome to stand on the stairs; for my part, I shall go in.' The halls were bright with lights. Court people and fine folks were walking about on bare feet; it was all very solemn. His boots creaked, too, very loudly; but still he was not at all afraid."

"That's Kay, for certain," said Gerda. "I know he had on new boots; I have heard them creaking in grandmamma's room."

"Yes, they creaked," said the Crow. "And on he went boldly up to the Princess, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning-wheel. All the ladies of the court stood about, with their maids and their maids' maids, and all the gentlemen with their servants and their servants' servants, who kept a boy; and the nearer they stood to the door, the prouder they looked. The boy of the servants' servants, who always goes in slippers, hardly looked at one, so very proudly did he stand in the doorway."

"It must have been terrible," said little Gerda. "And did Kay get the Princess?"

"Were I not a Crow, I should have taken the Princess myself, although I am engaged. It is said he spoke as well as I speak when I talk crow language; this I learned from my tame sweetheart. He was bold and nicely behaved; he had not come to woo the Princess, but only to hear her wisdom. She pleased him and he pleased her."

"Yes, yes, for certain that was Kay," said Gerda. "He was so clever; he could do sums with fractions. Oh, won't you take me to the palace?"

"That is very easily said," answered the Crow. "But how are we to manage it? I'll speak to my tame sweetheart about it; she can tell us what to do; for so much I must tell you, such a little girl as you are will never get leave to go in the common way."

"Oh, yes, I shall," said Gerda: "when Kay hears that I am here, he will come out at once to fetch me."

"Wait for me here on these steps," said the Crow. He wagged his head and flew away.

When it grew dark the Crow came back. "Caw! caw!" said he. "I bring you a great many good wishes from her; and here is a bit of bread for you. She took it out of the kitchen, where there is bread enough, and you are hungry, no doubt. It is not possible for you to enter the palace, for you are barefoot; the guards in silver and the lackeys in gold would not allow it: but do not cry, you shall come in still. My sweetheart knows a little back stair that leads to the chamber, and she knows where she can get the key of it."

And they went into the garden by the broad path, where one leaf was falling after the other; and when the lights in the palace were all put out, one after the other, the Crow led little Gerda to the back door, which stood ajar.

Oh, how Gerda's heart beat with doubt and longing! It was just as if she had been about to do something wrong; and yet she only wanted to know if little Kay was there. Yes, he must be there. She called to mind his clear eyes and his long hair so vividly, she could quite see him as he used to laugh when they were sitting under the roses at home. He would surely be glad to see her--to hear what a long way she had come for his sake; to know how unhappy all at home were when he did not come back. Oh, what a fright and what a joy it was!

Now they were on the stairs. A single lamp was burning there; and on the floor stood the tame Crow, turning her head on every side and looking at Gerda, who bowed as her grandmother had taught her to do.

"My intended has told me so much good of you, my dear young lady," said the tame Crow. "Your Life, as they call it, is very affecting. If you will take the lamp, I will go before. We will go straight on, for we shall meet no one."

"I think there is somebody just behind us," said Gerda; and it rushed past her. It was like shadows on the wall: horses with flowing manes and thin legs, huntsmen, ladies and gentlemen on horseback.

"They are only dreams," said the Crow. "They come to fetch the thoughts of the fine folk to the chase; 'tis well, for now you can see them asleep all the better. But let me find, when you come to have honor and fame, that you possess a grateful heart."

"Tut! that's not worth talking about," said the Crow from the woods.

Now they came into the first hall, which was of rose-colored satin, with painted flowers on the wall. Here the dreams were rushing past, but they hurried by so quickly that Gerda could not see the fine people. One hall was more showy than the other--well might people be abashed; and at last they came into the bed-chamber.

The ceiling of the room was like a great palm-tree, with leaves of glass, of costly glass; and in the middle of the floor, from a thick golden stalk, hung two beds, each of which was shaped like a lily. One was white, and in this lay the Princess: the other was red, and it was here that Gerda was to look for little Kay. She bent back one of the red leaves, and saw a brown neck--oh, that was Kay! She called him quite loud by name, held the lamp toward him--the dreams rushed again on horseback into the chamber--he awoke, turned his head, and--it was not little Kay!

The Prince was only like him about the neck; but he was young and handsome. And out of the white lily leaves the Princess peeped too, and asked what was the matter. Then little Gerda cried and told her whole history, and all that the Crows had done for her.

"Poor little thing!" said the Prince and the Princess, and they praised the Crows very much, and told them they were not at all angry with them, but they were not to do so again. However, they should have a reward.

"Will you fly about at liberty?" asked the Princess; "or would you like to have a steady place as court Crows with all the broken bits from the kitchen?"

And both the Crows nodded, and begged for a steady place; for they thought of their old age, and said "it was a good thing to have something for the old folks," as the saying is.

And the Prince got up and let Gerda sleep in his bed, and more than this he could not do. She folded her little hands, and thought, "How good men and animals are!" and then she shut her eyes and slept soundly. All the dreams came flying in again, and they now looked like the angels; they drew a little sled, on which Kay sat and nodded his head: but the whole was only a dream, and so it was all gone as soon as she awoke.

The next day she was dressed from top to toe in silk and velvet. They offered to let her stay at the palace, and lead a happy life; but she begged only to have a little carriage with a horse in front, and for a small pair of shoes; then, she said, she would again go forth in the wide world and look for Kay.

And she got both shoes and a muff; she was dressed very nicely, too; and when she was about to set off, a new carriage stopped before the door. It was of pure gold, and the arms of the Prince and Princess shone like a star upon it; the coachman, the footmen, and the outriders, for outriders were there too, all wore golden crowns. The Prince and Princess helped her into the carriage themselves, and wished her good luck. The Crow of the woods, who was now married, went with her for the first three miles. He sat beside Gerda, for he could not bear riding backward; the other Crow stood in the doorway, and flapped her wings; she could not go with Gerda, because she suffered from headache since she had had a steady place, and ate so much. The carriage was lined inside with sugar-plums, and in the seats were fruits and cookies.

"Good-by! good-by!" cried Prince and Princess; and little Gerda wept, and the Crows wept. Thus passed the first miles; and then the Crow said good-by, and this was the worst good-by of all. He flew into a tree, and beat his black wings as long as he could see the carriage, that shone from afar like the clear sunlight.


From 'Riverside Literature Series': 1891, by Houghton, Mifflin & Co.


In China, you must know, the Emperor is a Chinaman, and all whom he has about him are Chinamen too. It happened a good many years ago, but that's just why it's worth while to hear the story before it is forgotten.

The Emperor's palace was the most splendid in the world. It was made wholly of fine porcelain, very costly, but so brittle and so hard to handle that one had to take care how one touched it. In the garden were to be seen the most wonderful flowers, and to the prettiest of them silver bells were tied, which tinkled, so that nobody should pass by without noticing the flowers.

Yes, everything in the Emperor's garden was nicely set out, and it reached so far that the gardener himself did not know where the end was. If a man went on and on, he came into a glorious forest with high trees and deep lakes. The wood went straight down to the sea, which was blue and deep; great ships could sail to and fro beneath the branches of the trees; and in the trees lived a Nightingale, which sang so finely that even the poor Fisherman, who had many other things to do, stopped still and listened, when he had gone out at night to throw out his nets, and heard the Nightingale.

"How beautiful that is!" he said; but he had to attend to his work, and so he forgot the bird. But the next night, when the bird sang again, and the Fisherman heard it, he said as before, "How beautiful that is!"

From all the countries of the world travelers came to the city of the Emperor, and admired it, and the palace, and the garden; but when they heard the Nightingale, they all said, "That is the best of all!"

And the travelers told of it when they came home; and the learned men wrote many books about the town, the palace, and the garden. But they did not forget the Nightingale; that was spoken of most of all; and all those who were poets wrote great poems about the Nightingale in the wood by the deep lake.

The books went all over the world, and a few of them once came to the Emperor. He sat in his golden chair, and read, and read; every moment he nodded his head, for it pleased him to hear the fine things that were said about the city, the palace, and the garden. "But the Nightingale is the best of all!"--it stood written there.

"What's that?" exclaimed the Emperor. "The Nightingale? I don't know that at all! Is there such a bird in my empire, and in my garden to boot? I've never heard of that. One has to read about such things."

Hereupon he called his Cavalier, who was so grand that if any one lower in rank than he dared to speak to him, or to ask him any question, he answered nothing but "P!"--and that meant nothing.

"There is said to be a strange bird here called a Nightingale!" said the Emperor. "They say it is the best thing in all my great empire. Why has no one ever told me anything about it?"

"I have never heard it named," replied the Cavalier. "It has never been presented at court."

"I command that it shall come here this evening, and sing before me," said the Emperor. "All the world knows what I have, and I do not know it myself!"

"I have never heard it mentioned," said the Cavalier. "I will seek for it. I will find it."

But where was it to be found? The Cavalier ran up and down all the stairs, through halls and passages, but no one among all those whom he met had heard talk of the Nightingale. And the Cavalier ran back to the Emperor, and said that it must be a fable made up by those who write books.

"Your Imperial Majesty must not believe what is written. It is fiction, and something that they call the black art."

"But the book in which I read this," said the Emperor, "was sent to me by the high and mighty Emperor of Japan, and so it cannot be a falsehood. I will hear the Nightingale! It must be here this evening! It has my high favor; and if it does not come, all the court shall be trampled upon after it has supped!"

"Tsing-pe!" said the Cavalier; and again he ran up and down all the stairs, and through all the halls and passages, and half the court ran with him, for the courtiers did not like being trampled upon. There was a great inquiry after the wonderful Nightingale, which all the world knew, but not the people at court.

At last they met with a poor little girl in the kitchen. She said:--

"The Nightingale? I know it well; yes, how it can sing! Every evening I get leave to carry my poor sick mother the scraps from the table. She lives down by the beach, and when I get back and am tired, and rest in the wood, then I hear the Nightingale sing. And then the tears come into my eyes, and it is just as if my mother kissed me!"

"Little Kitchen-girl," said the Cavalier, "I will get you a fixed place in the kitchen, with leave to see the Emperor dine, if you will lead us to the Nightingale, for it is promised for this evening."

So they all went out into the wood where the Nightingale was wont to sing; half the court went out. When they were on the way, a cow began to low.

"Oh!" cried the court pages, "now we have it! That shows a great power in so small a creature! We have certainly heard it before."

"No, those are cows mooing!" said the little Kitchen-girl. "We are a long way from the place yet."

Now the frogs began to croak in the marsh.

"Glorious!" said the Chinese Court Preacher. "Now I hear it--it sounds just like little church bells."

"No, those are frogs!" said the little Kitchen-maid. "But now I think we shall soon hear it."

And then the Nightingale began to sing.

"That is it!" exclaimed the little Girl. "Listen, listen! and yonder it sits."

And she pointed to a little gray bird up in the boughs.

"Is it possible?" cried the Cavalier. "I should never have thought it looked like that! How simple it looks! It must certainly have lost its color at seeing so many famous people around."

"Little Nightingale!" called the little Kitchen-maid, quite loudly, "our gracious Emperor wishes you to sing before him."

"With the greatest pleasure!" replied the Nightingale, and sang so that it was a joy to hear it.

"It sounds just like glass bells!" said the Cavalier. "And look at its little throat, how it's working! It's wonderful that we should never have heard it before. That bird will be a great success at court."

"Shall I sing once more before the Emperor?" asked the Nightingale, for it thought the Emperor was present.

"My excellent little Nightingale," said the Cavalier, "I have great pleasure in inviting you to a court festival this evening, when you shall charm his Imperial Majesty with your beautiful singing."

"My song sounds best in the greenwood!" replied the Nightingale; still it came willingly when it heard what the Emperor wished.

In the palace there was a great brushing up. The walls and the floor, which were of porcelain, shone with many thousand golden lamps. The most glorious flowers, which could ring clearly, had been placed in the halls. There was a running to and fro, and a draught of air, but all the bells rang so exactly together that one could not hear any noise.

In the midst of the great hall, where the Emperor sat, a golden perch had been placed, on which the Nightingale was to sit. The whole court was there, and the little Cook-maid had leave to stand behind the door, as she had now received the title of a real cook-maid. All were in full dress, and all looked at the little gray bird, to which the Emperor nodded.

And the Nightingale sang so gloriously that the tears came into the Emperor's eyes, and the tears ran down over his cheeks; and then the Nightingale sang still more sweetly; that went straight to the heart. The Emperor was happy, and he said the Nightingale should have his golden slipper to wear round its neck. But the Nightingale thanked him, it had already got reward enough.

"I have seen tears in the Emperor's eyes--that is the real treasure to me. An Emperor's tears have a strange power. I am paid enough!" Then it sang again with a sweet, glorious voice.

"That's the most lovely way of making love I ever saw!" said the ladies who stood round about, and then they took water in their mouths to gurgle when any one spoke to them. They thought they should be nightingales too. And the lackeys and maids let it be known that they were pleased too; and that was saying a good deal, for they are the hardest of all to please. In short, the Nightingale made a real hit.

It was now to remain at court, to have its own cage, with freedom to go out twice every day and once at night. It had twelve servants, and they all had a silken string tied to the bird's leg which they held very tight. There was really no pleasure in going out.

The whole city spoke of the wonderful bird, and when two people met, one said nothing but "Nightin," and the other said "gale"; and then they sighed, and understood one another. Eleven storekeepers' children were named after the bird, but not one of them could sing a note.


One day a large parcel came to the Emperor, on which was written "The Nightingale."

"Here we have a new book about this famous bird," said the Emperor.

But it was not a book: it was a little work of art, that lay in a box; a toy nightingale, which was to sing like a live one, but it was all covered with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. So soon as the toy bird was wound up, he could sing one of the pieces that the real one sang, and then his tail moved up and down, and shone with silver and gold. Round his neck hung a little ribbon, and on that was written, "The Emperor of Japan's Nightingale is poor beside that of the Emperor in China."

"That is capital!" said they all, and he who had brought the toy bird at once got the title Imperial Head-Nightingale-Bringer.

"Now they must sing together: what a duet that will be!"

And so they had to sing together; but it did not sound very well, for the real Nightingale sang in its own way, and the toy bird sang waltzes.

"That's not its fault," said the Play-master: "it's quite perfect, and very much in my style."

Now the toy bird was to sing alone. It made just as much of a hit as the real one, and then it was so much more fine to look at--it shone like bracelets and breastpins.

Three-and-thirty times over did it sing the same piece, and yet was not tired. The people would gladly have heard it again, but the Emperor said that the living Nightingale ought to sing a little something. But where was it? No one had noticed that it had flown away, out of the open window, back to its green woods.

"But what is become of it?" asked the Emperor.

Then all the courtiers scolded, and thought the Nightingale was a very thankless creature.

"We have the best bird, after all," said they.

And so the toy bird had to sing again, and this was the thirty-fourth time they had listened to the same piece. For all that, they did not know it quite by heart, for it was so very difficult. And the Play-master praised the bird highly; yes, he declared that it was better than the real Nightingale, not only in its feathers and its many beautiful diamonds, but inside as well.

"For you see, ladies and gentlemen, and above all, your Imperial Majesty, with the real Nightingale one can never make sure what is coming, but in this toy bird everything is settled. It is just so, and not any other way. One can explain it; one can open it, and can show how much thought went to making it, where the waltzes come from, how they go, and how one follows another."

"Those are quite our own ideas," they all said. And the Play-master got leave to show the bird to the people on the next Sunday. The people were to hear it sing too, said the Emperor; and they did hear it, and were as much pleased as if they had all had tea, for that's quite the Chinese fashion; and they all said "Oh!" and held their forefingers up in the air and nodded. But the poor Fisherman, who had heard the real Nightingale, said:--

"It sounds pretty enough, and it's a little like, but there's something wanting, though I know not what!"

The real Nightingale was exiled from the land and empire.

The toy bird had its place on a silken cushion close to the Emperor's bed. All the presents it had received, gold and precious stones, were ranged about it. In title it had come to be High Imperial After-Dinner-Singer, and in rank it was Number One on the left hand; for the Emperor reckoned that side the most important on which the heart is placed, and even in an Emperor the heart is on the left side. And the Play-master wrote a work of five-and-twenty volumes about the toy bird: it was so learned and so long, full of the most difficult Chinese words, that all the people said they had read it and understood it, or else they would have been thought stupid, and would have had their bodies trampled on.

So a whole year went by. The Emperor, the court, and all the other Chinese knew every little twitter in the toy bird's song by heart. But just for that reason it pleased them best--they could sing with it themselves, and they did so. The street boys sang, "Tsi-tsi-tsi-glug-glug!" and the Emperor himself sang it too. Yes, that was certainly famous.

But one evening, when the toy bird was singing its best, and the Emperor lay in bed and heard it, something inside the bird said, "Svup!" Something cracked. "Whir-r-r!" All the wheels ran round, and then the music stopped.

The Emperor jumped at once out of bed, and had his own doctor called; but what could he do? Then they sent for a watchmaker, and after a good deal of talking and looking, he got the bird into some sort of order; but he said that it must be looked after a good deal, for the barrels were worn, and he could not put new ones in in such a manner that the music would go. There was a great to-do; only once in a year did they dare to let the bird sing, and that was almost too much. But then the Play-master made a little speech, full of heavy words, and said this was just as good as before--and so, of course, it was as good as before.


Five years had gone by, and a real grief came upon the whole nation. The Chinese were really fond of their Emperor, and now he was sick, and could not, it was said, live much longer. Already a new Emperor had been chosen, and the people stood out in the street and asked the Cavalier how their old Emperor did.

"P!" said he, and shook his head.

Cold and pale lay the Emperor in his great, gorgeous bed; the whole court thought him dead, and each one ran to pay respect to the new ruler. The chamberlains ran out to talk it over, and the ladies'-maids had a great coffee party. All about, in all the halls and passages, cloth had been laid down so that no one could be heard go by, and therefore it was quiet there, quite quiet. But the Emperor was not dead yet: stiff and pale he lay on the gorgeous bed with the long velvet curtains and the heavy gold tassels; high up, a window stood open, and the moon shone in upon the Emperor and the toy bird.

The poor Emperor could scarcely breathe; it was just as if something lay upon his breast. He opened his eyes, and then he saw that it was Death who sat upon his breast, and had put on his golden crown, and held in one hand the Emperor's sword, and in the other his beautiful banner. And all around, from among the folds of the splendid velvet curtains, strange heads peered forth; a few very ugly, the rest quite lovely and mild. These were all the Emperor's bad and good deeds, that stood before him now that Death sat upon his heart.

"Do you remember this?" whispered one to the other, "Do you remember that?" and then they told him so much that the sweat ran from his forehead.

"I did not know that!" said the Emperor. "Music! music! the great Chinese drum!" he cried, "so that I need not hear all they say!"

And they kept on, and Death nodded like a Chinaman to all they said.

"Music! music!" cried the Emperor. "You little precious golden bird, sing, sing! I have given you gold and costly presents; I have even hung my golden slipper around your neck--now, sing!"

But the bird stood still,--no one was there to wind him up, and he could not sing without that; but Death kept on staring at the Emperor with his great hollow eyes, and it was quiet, fearfully quiet.

Then there sounded close by the window the most lovely song. It was the little live Nightingale, that sat outside on a spray. It had heard of the Emperor's need, and had come to sing to him of trust and hope. And as it sang the spectres grew paler and paler; the blood ran more and more quickly through the Emperor's weak limbs, and Death himself listened, and said:--

"Go on, little Nightingale, go on!"

"But will you give me that splendid golden sword? Will you give me that rich banner? Will you give me the Emperor's crown?"

And Death gave up each of these treasures for a song. And the Nightingale sang on and on; it sang of the quiet churchyard where the white roses grow, where the elder-blossom smells sweet, and where the fresh grass is wet with the tears of mourners. Then Death felt a longing to see his garden, and floated out at the window in the form of a cold, white mist.

"Thanks! thanks!" said the Emperor. "You heavenly little bird! I know you well. I drove you from my land and empire, and yet you have charmed away the evil faces from my bed, and driven Death from my heart! How can I pay you?"

"You have paid me!" replied the Nightingale. "I drew tears from your eyes, the first time I sang--I shall never forget that. Those are the jewels that make a singer's heart glad. But now sleep and grow fresh and strong again. I will sing you something."

And it sang, and the Emperor fell into a sweet sleep. Ah! how mild and refreshing that sleep was! The sun shone upon him through the windows, when he awoke strong and sound. Not one of his servants had yet come back, for they all thought that he was dead; but the Nightingale still sat beside him and sang.

"You must always stay with me," said the Emperor. "You shall sing as you please; and I'll break the toy bird into a thousand pieces."

"Not so," replied the Nightingale. "It did well as long as it could; keep it as you have done till now. I cannot build my nest in the palace to dwell in it, but let me come when I feel the wish; then I will sit in the evening on the spray yonder by the window, and sing for you, so that you may be glad and thoughtful at once. I will sing of those who are happy and of those who suffer. I will sing of good and of evil that remain hidden round about you. The little singing bird flies far around, to the poor fisherman, to the peasant's roof, to every one who dwells far away from you and from your court. I love your heart more than your crown, and yet the crown has an air of sanctity about it. I will come and sing to you--but one thing you must promise me."

"Everything!" said the Emperor; and he stood there in his royal robes, which he had put on himself, and pressed the sword which was heavy with gold to his heart.

"One thing I beg of you: tell no one that you have a little bird who tells you everything. Then all will go well."

And the Nightingale flew away.

The servants came in to look on their dead Emperor, and--yes, there he stood, and the Emperor said, "Good-morning!"


From 'The Story of My Life'

If the reader was a child who lived in Odense, he would just need to say the words "St. Knud's Fair," and it would rise before him in the brightest colors, lighted by the beams of childish fancy.... Somewhere near the middle of the town, five streets meet and make a little square.... There the town crier, in striped homespun, with a yellow bandoleer, beat his drum and proclaimed from a scroll the splendid things to be seen in the town.

"He beats a good drum," said the chamberlain.

"It would delight Spontini and Rossini to hear the fellow," said William. "Really, Odense at New Year would just suit these composers. The drums and fifes are in their glory. They drum the New Year in. Seven or eight little drummers, or fifers, go from door to door, with troops of children and old women, and they beat the drum-taps and the reveille. That fetches the pennies. Then when the New Year is well drummed in the city, they go into the country and drum for meat and porridge. The drumming in of the New Year lasts until Lent."

"And then we have new sports," said the chamberlain. "The fishers come from Stege with a full band, and on their shoulders a boat with all sorts of flags.... Then they lay a board between two boats, and on this two of the youngest and spryest wrestle till one falls into the water.... But all the fun's gone now. When I was young, there was different sport going. That was a sight! the corporation procession with the banners and the harlequin atop, and at Shrovetide, when the butchers led about an ox decked with ribbons and carnival twigs, with a boy on his back with wings and a little shirt.... All that's past now, people are got so fine. St. Knud's Fair is not what it used to be."

"Well, I'm glad it isn't," said William; "but let us go into the market and look at the Jutlanders, who are sitting with their pottery amidst the hay."

Just as the various professions in the Middle Ages had each its quarter, so here the shoemakers had ranged their tables side by side, and behind them stood the skillful workman in his long coat, and with his well-brushed felt hat in his hand. Where the shoemakers' quarter ended, the hatters' began, and there one was in the midst of the great market where tents and booths formed many parallel streets. The milliners, the goldsmiths, the pastry cooks, with booths of canvas and wood, were the chief attractions. Ribbons and handkerchiefs fluttered. Noise and bustle was everywhere. The girls from the same village always went in rows, seven or eight inseparables, with hands fast clasped. It was impossible to break the chain; and if you tried to pass through, the whole band wound itself into a clump. Behind the booth was a great space with wooden shoes, pottery, turners' and saddlers' wares. Rude and rough toys were spread on tables. Around them children were trying little trumpets, or moving about the playthings. Country girls twirled and twisted the work-boxes and themselves many a time before making their bargain. The air was thick and heavy with odors that were spiced with the smell of honey-cake.

On Fair day, St. Knud's Church and all its tombs are open to the public. From whatever side you look at this fine old building it has something imposing, with its high tower and spire. The interior produces the same, perhaps a greater, effect. But its full impression is not felt on entering it, nor until you get to the main aisle. There all is grand, beautiful, light. The whole interior is bright with gilding. Up in the high vaulted roof there shine, since old time, a multitude of golden stars. On both sides, high up above the side aisles, are great gothic windows from which the light streams down. The side aisles are painted with oil portraits, whole families, women and children, all in clerical dress, with long gowns and deep ruffs. Usually the figures are ranged by ages, the eldest first and then down to the very smallest.

They all stand with folded hands, and look piously down before them, till their colors have gradually faded away in dust.


From 'The Story of My Life'

I heard on the morning of December 6th [1867] that the town was decorated, that all the schools had a holiday, because it was my festival. I felt myself as humble, meek, and poor as though I stood before my God. Every weakness or error or sin, in thought, word, and deed, was revealed to me. All stood out strangely clear in my soul, as though it were doomsday--and it was my festival. God knows how humble I felt when men exalted and honored me so.

Then came the first telegram from the Student Club. I saw that they shared and did not envy my joy. Then came a dispatch from a private club of students in Copenhagen, and from the Artisans' Club of Slagelse. You will remember that I went to school in that town, and was therefore attached to it. Soon followed messages from sympathetic friends in Aarhuus, in Stege; telegram on telegram from all around. One of these was read aloud by Privy Councillor Koch. It was from the king. The assembly burst out in applause. Every cloud and shadow in my soul vanished!

How happy I was! And yet man must not exalt himself. I was to feel that I was only a poor child of humanity, bound by the frailty of earth. I suffered from a dreadful toothache, which was increased unbearably by the heat and excitement. Yet at evening I read a Wonder Story for the little friends. Then the deputation came from the town corporations, with torches and waving banners through the street, to the guild-hall. And now the prophecy was to be fulfilled that the old woman gave when I left home as a boy. Odense was to be illuminated for me. I stepped to the open window. All was aglow with torchlight, the square was filled with people. Songs swelled up to me. I was overcome, emotionally. Physically racked with pain, I could not enjoy this crowning fruit of my life, the toothache was so intolerable. The ice-cold air that blew against me fanned the pain to an awful intensity, and, instead of enjoying the bliss of these never-to-be-repeated moments, I looked at the printed song to see how many verses had to be sung before I could step away from the torture which the cold air sent through my teeth. It was the acme of suffering. As the glow of the piled-up torches subsided, my pain subsided too. How thankful I was, though! Gentle eyes were fastened upon me all around. All wanted to speak with me, to press my hand. Tired out, I reached the bishop's house and sought rest. But I got no sleep till toward morning, so filled and overflowing was I.


From 'The Improvisatore': Translation by Mary Howitt

On Wednesday afternoon began the Miserere in the Sixtine Chapel. My soul longed for music; in the world of melody I could find sympathy and consolation. The throng was great, even within the chapel--the foremost division was already filled with ladies. Magnificent boxes, hung with velvet and golden draperies for royal personages and foreigners from various courts, were here erected so high that they looked out beyond the richly carved railing which separated the ladies from the interior of the chapel. The papal Swiss Guards stood in their bright festal array. The officers wore light armor, and in their helmets a waving plume.... The old cardinals entered in their magnificent scarlet velvet cloaks, with their white ermine capes, and seated themselves side by side in a great half-circle within the barrier, while the priests who had carried their trains seated themselves at their feet. By the little side door of the altar the holy father now entered, in his scarlet mantle and silver tiara. He ascended his throne. Bishops swung the vessels of incense around him, while young priests, in scarlet vestments, knelt, with lighted torches in their hands, before him and the high altar.

The reading of the lessons began. But it was impossible to keep the eyes fixed on the lifeless letters of the Missal--they raised themselves, with the thoughts, to the vast universe which Michael Angelo has breathed forth in colors upon the ceiling and the walls. I contemplated his mighty sibyls and wondrously glorious prophets,--every one of them a subject for a painting. My eyes drank in the magnificent processions, the beautiful groups of angels; they were not, to me, painted pictures;--all stood living before me. The rich tree of knowledge, from which Eve gave the fruit to Adam; the Almighty God, who floated over the waters,--not borne up by angels, as the older masters had represented him--no, the company of angels rested upon him and his fluttering garments. It is true, I had seen these pictures before, but never as now had they seized upon me. My excited state of mind, the crowd of people, perhaps even the lyric of my thoughts, made me wonderfully alive to poetical impressions; and many a poet's heart has felt as mine did!

The bold foreshortenings, the determinate force with which every figure steps forward, is amazing, and carries one quite away! It is a spiritual Sermon on the Mount, in color and form. Like Raphael, we stand in astonishment before the power of Michael Angelo. Every prophet is a Moses, like that which he formed in marble. What giant forms are those which seize upon our eye and our thoughts as we enter! But when intoxicated with this view, let us turn our eyes to the background of the chapel, whose whole wall is a high altar of art and thought. The great chaotic picture, from the floor to the roof, shows itself there like a jewel, of which all the rest is only the setting. We see there the Last Judgment.

Christ stands in judgment upon the clouds, and his Mother and the Apostles stretch forth their hands beseechingly for the poor human race. The dead raise the gravestones under which they have lain; blessed spirits adoring, float upward to God, while the abyss seizes its victims. Here one of the ascending spirits seeks to save his condemned brother, whom the abyss already embraces in its snaky folds. The children of despair strike their clenched fists upon their brows, and sink into the depths! In bold foreshortenings, float and tumble whole legions between heaven and earth. The sympathy of the angels, the expression of lovers who meet, the child that at the sound of the trumpet clings to the mother's breast, are so natural and beautiful that one believes one's self to be among those who are waiting for judgment. Michael Angelo has expressed in colors what Dante saw and has sung to the generations of the earth.

The descending sun at that moment threw his last beams in through the uppermost window. Christ, and the blessed around him, were strongly lighted up; while the lower part, where the dead arose, and the demons thrust their boat laden with the damned from the shore, were almost in darkness.

Just as the sun went down the last lesson was ended, the last light which now remained was extinguished, and the whole picture world vanished in the gloom from before me; but in that same moment burst forth music and singing. That which color had bodily revealed arose now in sound; the day of judgment, with its despair and its exultation, resounded above us.

The father of the church, stripped of his papal pomp, stood before the altar, and prayed to the holy cross; and upon the wings of the trumpet resounded the trembling choir, 'Populus meus quid feci tibi?' Soft angel-tones rose above the deep song, tones which ascended not from a human breast: it was not a man's nor a woman's; it belonged to the world of spirits; it was like the weeping of angels dissolved in melody.


(Sixth Century A.D.)

mong the triad of singers--Llywarch, prince and bard, Aneurin, warrior and bard, and Taliessin, bard only--who were among the followers of the heroic British chief Urien, when he bravely but unsuccessfully resisted the invasion of the victorious Angles and Saxons, Aneurin was famous both as poet and warrior. He sang of the long struggle that eventually was to turn Briton into England, and celebrated in his 'Gododin' ninety of the fallen Cymric chiefs. The notes of his life are scanty, and are drawn chiefly from his allusion to himself in his poem. He was the son of Cwm Cawlwyd, a chief of the tribe of Gododin. He seems to have been educated at St. Cadoc's College at Llancarvan, and afterwards entered the bardic order. As appears from the 'Gododin,' he was present at the battle of Cattræth both as bard and as priest. He fled, but was taken prisoner. In his poem he refers to the hardships he endured in his captivity. After his release he returned to Llancarvan, Wales, and in his old age he went north to live with his brother in Galloway. Here he was murdered; his death is referred to as one of the "three accursed hatchet-strokes of the isle of Britain." His friendship with Taliessin is commemorated by both bards.

The 'Gododin' is at once the longest and the most important composition in early Welsh literature. It has been variously interpreted, but is thought to celebrate the battle of Cattræth. This battle was fought in 570 between the Britons, who had formed a league to defend their country, and their Teutonic invaders. It "began on a Tuesday, lasted for a week, and ended with great slaughter of the Britons, who fought desperately till they perished on the field." Three hundred and sixty chieftains were slain; only three escaped by flight, among whom was Aneurin, who afterwards commemorated the slaughter in the 'Gododin,' a lament for the dead. Ninety-seven of the stanzas remain. In various measures of alliterative and assonant verse they sing the praises of ninety of the fallen chiefs, usually giving one stanza to each hero. One of these stanzas is known to readers of Gray, who translated it under the name of 'The Death of Hoel.'

Again the 'Gododin' is assumed to be, like many early epic poems whose origin is wrapped in mystery, not the commemoration of one single, particular event, but a collection of lays composed at various times, which compresses into one battle the long and disastrous period of the Anglo-Saxon invasion, ending in the subjugation of the Britons.

But whatever its history, the 'Gododin' is one of the finest monuments of Cymric literature. "In the brevity of the narrative, the careless boldness of the actors as they present themselves, the condensed energy of the action, and the fierce exultation of the slaughter, together with the recurring elegiac note, this poem (or poems if it be the work of two authors) has some of the highest epic qualities. The ideas and manners are in harmony with the age and the country to which it is referred."

Like all early songs, the poem was handed down through centuries by oral tradition. It is now preserved in the 'Book of Aneurin,' a small quarto manuscript of nineteen leaves of vellum, of the end of the thirteenth century.

The 'Gododin' has been published with an English translation and notes by the Rev. J. Williams (1852); and by the Cymmrodorion Society, with a translation by Thomas Stevens, in 1885. Interesting information covering it may be found in Skene's 'Four Ancient Books of Wales' (1866), and in the article 'Celtic Literature' in this work.


[During the battle a conference was held, at which the British leaders demanded as a condition of peace that part of the land of Gododin be restored. In reply, the Saxons killed Owain, one of the greatest of the Cymric bards. Aneurin thus pictures him:--]

A man in thought, a boy in form,
He stoutly fought, and sought the storm
Of flashing war that thundered far.
His courser, lank and swift, thick-maned,
Bore on his flank, as on he strained,
The light-brown shield, as on he sped,
With golden spur, in cloak of fur,
His blue sword gleaming. Be there said
No word of mine that does not hold thee dear!
Before thy youth had tasted bridal cheer,
The red death was thy bride! The ravens feed
On thee yet straining to the front, to lead.
Owain, the friend I loved, is dead!
Woe is it that on him the ravens feed!


[From various expressions used by Aneurin in different parts of his great poem, it is evident that the warriors of whom he sang fortified themselves, before entering the field of battle, with unstinted libations of that favorite intoxicant of those days, sweet mead. He mentions the condition of the warriors as they started for the fray, and tells of Hoel's fate. This son of Cian had married the daughter of one of the Bryneish. His marriage caused no abatement of a feud existing between the tribes to which the husband and wife respectively belonged. He repudiated her family, disdained to take her away, and was sought and slain by her insulted father.]

The warriors marched to Cattræth, full of mead;
Drunken, but firm of array: great the shame,
But greater the valor no bard can defame.
The war-dogs fought fiercely, red swords seemed to bleed.
Flesh and soul, I had slain thee, myself, had I thought,
Son of Cian, my friend, that thy faith had been bought
By a bribe from the tribe of the Bryneish! But no;
He scorned to take dowry from hands of the foe,
And I, all unhurt, lost a friend in the fight,
Whom the wrath of a father felled down for the slight.


[The bard tells the story of Gwrveling's revelry, impulsive bravery,
and final slaughter of the foe before yielding to their prowess.]

Light of lights--the sun,

Leader of the day,

First to rise and run

His appointed way,

Crowned with many a ray,

Seeks the British sky;

Sees the flight's dismay,

Sees the Britons fly.

The horn in Eiddin's hall

Had sparkled with the wine,

And thither, at a call

To drink and be divine,

He went, to share the feast

Of reapers, wine and mead.

He drank, and so increased

His daring for wild deed.

The reapers sang of war

That lifts its shining wings,

Its shining wings of fire,

Its shields that flutter far.

The bards, too, sang of war,

Of plumed and crested war;

The song rose ever higher.

Not a shield

Escapes the shock,

To the field

They fiercely flock,--

There to fall.

But of all

Who struck on giant Gwrveling,

Whom he would he struck again,

All he struck in grave were lain,

Ere the bearers came to bring

To his grave stout Gwrveling.



he earliest recorded utterances of a race, whether in poetry or in prose, become to the representatives of this race in later days a treasure beyond price. The value of such monuments of the remote past is manifold. In them we first begin to become really acquainted with ancestors of the people of to-day, even though we may have read in the pages of earlier writers of alien descent much that is of great concurrent interest. Through the medium of the native saga, epic, and meagre chronicle, we see for the first time their real though dim outlines, moving in and out of the mists that obscure the dawn of history; and these outlines become more and more distinct as the literary remains of succeeding periods become more abundant and present more varied aspects of life. We come gradually to know what manner of men and women were these ancestors, what in peace and in war were their customs, what their family and social relations, their food and drink, their dress, their systems of law and government, their religion and morals, what were their art instincts, what were their ideals.

This is essential material for the construction of history in its complete sense. And this evidence, when subjected to judicious criticism, is trustworthy; for the ancient story-teller and poet reflects the customs and ideas and ideals of his own time, even though the combination of agencies and the preternatural proportions of the actors and their deeds belong to the imagination. The historian must know how to supplement and to give life and interest to the colorless succession of dates, names, and events of the chronicler, by means of these imaginative yet truth-bearing creations of the poet.

Remnants of ancient poetry and legend have again an immediate value in proportion as they exhibit a free play of fine imagination; that is, according as they possess the power of stirring to response the aesthetic feeling of subsequent ages,--as they possess the true poetic quality. This gift of imagination varies greatly among races as among individuals, and the earliest manifestations of it frequently throw a clear light upon apparently eccentric tendencies developed in a literature in later times.

For these reasons, added to a natural family pride in them, the early literary monuments of the Anglo-Saxons should be cherished by us as among the most valued possessions of the race.

The first Teutonic language to be reduced to writing was the Moeso-Gothic. Considerable portions of a translation of the Bible into that language, made by Bishop Ulfilas in the fourth century, still remain. But this cannot be called the beginning of a literature; for there is no trace of original creative impulse. The Gothic movement, too, seems to have ceased immediately after its beginning. It is elsewhere that we must seek for the rise of a real Teutonic literature. We shall not find it till after the lapse of several centuries; and we find it not among the tribes that remained in the fatherland, nor with those that had broken into and conquered parts of the Roman empire, only to be absorbed and to blend with other races into Romanic nations. The proud distinction belongs to the Low German tribes that had created an England in Britain.

The conquest of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons, begun in 449, seemed at first to promise only retrogression and the ruin of an existing civilization. These fierce barbarians found among the Celts of Britain a Roman culture, and the Christian religion exerting its influence for order and humanity. Their mission seemed to be to destroy both. In their original homes in the forests of northern Germany, they had come little if at all into contact with Roman civilization. At any rate, we may assume that they had felt no Roman influence capable of stemming their national and ethnical tendencies. We cannot yet solve the difficult problem of the extent of their mingling with the conquered Celts in Britain. In spite of learned opinions to the contrary, the evidence now available seems to point to only a small infusion of Celtic blood. The conquerors seem to have settled down to their new homes with all the heathenism and most of the barbarism they had brought from their old home, a Teutonic people still.

In these ruthless, plundering barbarians, whose very breath was battle, and who seemed for the time the very genius of disorder and ruin, there existed, nevertheless, potentialities of humanity, order, and enlightenment far exceeding those of the system they displaced. In all their barbarism there was a certain nobility; their courage was unflinching; the fidelity, even unto death, of thane to lord, repaid the open-handed generosity of lord to thane; they honored truth; and even after we allow for the exaggerated claims made for a chivalrous devotion that did not exist, we find that they held their women in higher respect than was usual even among many more enlightened peoples.

There are few more remarkable narratives in history than that of the facility and enthusiasm with which the Anglo-Saxons, a people conservative then as now to the degree of extreme obstinacy, accepted Christianity and the new learning which followed in the train of the new religion. After a few lapses into paganism in some localities, we find these people, who lately had swept Christian Britain with fire and sword, themselves became most zealous followers of Christ. Under the influence of the Roman missionaries who, under St. Augustine, had begun their work in the south in 597 among the Saxons and Jutes, and under the combined influence of Irish and Roman missionaries in the north and east among the Angles, theological and secular studies were pursued with avidity. By the end of the seventh century we find Anglo-Saxon missionaries, with St. Boniface at their head, carrying Christianity and enlightenment to the pagan German tribes on the Continent.

The torch had been passed to the Anglo-Saxon, and a new centre of learning, York,--the old Roman capital, now the chief city of the Northumbrian Angles,--became famous throughout Europe. Indeed, York seemed for a time the chief hope for preserving and advancing Christian culture; for the danger of a relapse into dense ignorance had become imminent in the rest of Europe. Bede, born about 673, a product of this Northumbrian culture, represented the highest learning of his day. He wrote a vast number of works in Latin, treating nearly all the branches of knowledge existing in his day. Alcuin, another Northumbrian, born about 735, was called by Charlemagne to be tutor for himself and his children, and to organize the educational system of his realm. Other great names might be added to show the extent and brilliancy of the new learning. It was more remarkable among the Angles; and only at a later day, when the great schools of the north had gone up in fire and smoke in the pitiless invasion of the Northmen, did the West Saxons become the leaders, almost the only representatives, of the literary impulse among the Anglo-Saxons.

It is significant that the first written English that we know of contains the first Christian English king's provision for peace and order in his kingdom. The laws of Athelbert, King of Kent, who died in 616, were written down early in the seventh century. This code, as it exists, is the oldest surviving monument of English prose. The laws of Ine, King of the West Saxons, were put into writing about 690. These collections can scarcely be said to have a literary value; but they are of the utmost importance as throwing light upon the early customs of our race, and the laws of Ine may be considered as the foundation of modern English law. Many of these laws were probably much older; but they were now first codified and systematically enforced. The language employed is direct, almost crabbed; but occasionally the Anglo-Saxon love of figure shows itself. To illustrate, I quote, after Brooke, from Earle's 'Anglo-Saxon Literature,' page 153:--

"In case any one burn a tree in a wood, and it came to light who did it, let him pay the full penalty, and give sixty shillings, because fire is a thief. If one fell in a wood ever so many trees, and it be found out afterwards, let him pay for three trees, each with thirty shillings. He is not required to pay for more of them, however many they may be, because the axe is a reporter, and not a thief." [The italicized sentences are evidently current sayings.]

But even these remains, important and interesting as they are, may not be called the beginning of a vernacular literature. It is among the Angles of Northumbria that we shall find the earliest native and truly literary awakening in England. Here we perceive the endeavor to do something more than merely to aid the memory of men in preserving necessary laws and records of important events. The imagination had become active. The impulse was felt to give expression to deep emotions, to sing the deeds and noble character of some hero embodying the loftiest ideals of the time and the race, to utter deep religious feeling. There was an effort to do this in a form showing harmony in theme and presentation. Here we find displayed a feeling for art, often crude, but still a true and native impulse. This activity produced or gave definite form to the earliest Anglo-Saxon poetry, a poetry often of a very high quality; perhaps never of the highest, but always of intense interest. We may claim even a greater distinction for the early fruit of Anglo-Saxon inspiration. Mr. Stopford Brooke says:--"With the exception of perhaps a few Welsh and Irish poems, it is the only vernacular poetry in Europe, outside of the classic tongues, which belongs to so early a time as the seventh and eighth centuries."

The oldest of these poems belong in all save their final form to the ancient days in Northern Germany. They bear evidence of transmission, with varying details, from gleeman to gleeman, till they were finally carried over to England and there edited, often with discordant interpolations and modifications, by Christian scribes. Tacitus tells us that at his time songs or poems were a marked feature in the life of the Germans; but we cannot trace the clue further. To these more ancient poems many others were added by Christian Northumbrian poets, and we find that a large body of poetry had grown up in the North before the movement was entirely arrested by the destroying Northmen. Not one of these poems, unless we except a few fragmentary verses, has come down to us in the Northumbrian dialect. Fortunately they had been transcribed by the less poetically gifted West Saxons into theirs, and it is in this form that we possess them.

This poetry shows in subject and in treatment very considerable range. We have a great poem, epic in character; poems partly narrative and partly descriptive; poems that may be classed as lyric or elegiac in character; a large body of verse containing a paraphrase of portions of the Bible; a collection of 'Riddles'; poems on animals, with morals; and others difficult to classify.

The regular verse-form was the alliterative, four-accent line, broken by a strongly marked cæsura into two half-lines, which were in early editions printed as short lines. The verse was occasionally extended to six accents. In the normal verse there were two alliterated words in the first half of the line, each of which received a strong accent; in the second half there was one accented word in alliteration with the alliterated words in the first half, and one other accented word not in alliteration. A great license was allowed as to the number of unaccented syllables, and as to their position in regard to the accented ones; and this lent great freedom and vigor to the verse. When well constructed and well read, it must have been very effective. There were of course many variations from the normal number, three, of alliterated words, as it would be impossible to find so many for every line.

Something of the quality of this verse-form may be felt in translations which aim at the same effect. Notice the result in the following from Professor Gummere's version of as election from 'Beowulf':--

"Then the warriors went, as the way was showed to them,

Under Heorot's roof; the hero stepped,

Hardy 'neath helm, till the hearth he neared."

In these verses it will be noted that the alliteration is complete in the first and third, and that in the second it is incomplete.

A marked feature of the Anglo-Saxon poetry is parallelism, or the repetition of an idea by means of new phrases or epithets, most frequently within the limits of a single sentence. This proceeds from the desire to emphasize attributes ascribed to the deity, or to some person or object prominent in the sentence. But while the added epithets have often a cumulative force, and are picturesque, yet it must be admitted that they sometimes do not justify their introduction. This may be best illustrated by an example. The following, in the translation of Earle, is Cædmon's first hymn, composed between 658 and 680, and the earliest piece of Anglo-Saxon poetry that we know to have had its origin in England:--

"Now shall we glorify the guardian of heaven's realm,

The Maker's might and the thought of his mind;

The work of the Glory-Father, how He of every wonder,

He, the Lord eternal, laid the foundation.

He shaped erst for the sons of men

Heaven, their roof, Holy Creator;

The middle world, He, mankind's sovereign,

Eternal captain, afterwards created,

The land for men, Lord Almighty."

Many of the figurative expressions are exceedingly vigorous and poetic; some to our taste not so much so. Note the epithets in "the lank wolf," "the wan raven," "bird greedy for slaughter," "the dewy-winged eagle," "dusky-coated," "crooked-beaked," "horny-beaked," "the maid, fair-cheeked," "curly-locked," "elf-bright." To the Anglo-Saxon poet, much that we call metaphorical was scarcely more than literal statement. As the object pictured itself to his responsive imagination, he expressed it with what was to him a direct realism. His lines are filled with a profusion of metaphors of every degree of effectiveness. To him the sea was "the water-street," "the swan-path," "the strife of the waves," "the whale-path"; the ship was "the foamy-necked floater," "the wave-farer," "the sea-wood," "the sea-horse"; the arrow was "the battle adder"; the battle was "spear-play," "sword-play"; the prince was "the ring-giver," "the gold-friend"; the throne was "the gift-stool"; the body, "the bone-house"; the mind, "the breast-hoard."

Indeed, as it has been pointed out by many writers, the metaphor is almost the only figure of the Anglo-Saxon poetry. The more developed simile belongs to a riper and more reflective culture, and is exceedingly rare in this early native product. It has been noted that 'Beowulf,' a poem of three thousand one hundred and eighty-four lines, contains only four or five simple similes, and only one that is fully carried out. "The ship glides away likest to a bird," "The monster's eyes gleam like fire," are simple examples cited by Ten Brink, who gives also the elaborate one, "The sword-hilt melted, likened to ice, when the Father looseneth the chain of frost, and unwindeth the wave-ropes." But even this simile is almost obliterated by the crowding metaphors.

Intensity, an almost abrupt directness, a lack of explanatory detail, are more general characteristics, though in greatly varying degrees. As some critic has well said, the Anglo-Saxon poet seems to presuppose a knowledge of his subject-matter by those he addresses. Such a style is capable of great swiftness of movement, and is well suited to rapid description and narrative; but at times roughness or meagreness results.

The prevailing tone is one of sadness. In the lyric poetry, this is so decided that all the Anglo-Saxon lyrics have been called elegies. This note seems to be the echo of the struggle with an inhospitable climate, dreary with rain, ice, hail, and snow; and of the uncertainties of life, and the certainty of death. Suffering was never far off, and everything was in the hands of Fate. This is true at least of the earlier poetry, and the note is rarely absent even in the Christian lyrics. A more cheerful strain is sometimes heard, as in the 'Riddles,' but it is rather the exception; and any alleged humor is scarcely more than a suspicion. Love and sentiment, in the modern sense, are not made the subject of Anglo-Saxon poetry, and this must mean that they did not enter into the Anglo-Saxon life with the same intensity as into modern life. The absence of this beautiful motive has, to some degree, its compensation in the exceeding moral purity of the whole literature. It is doubtful whether it has its equal in this respect.

Anglo-Saxon prose displays, as a general thing, a simple, direct, and clear style. There is, of course, a considerable difference between the prose of the earlier and that of the later period, and individual writers show peculiarities. It displays throughout a marked contrast with the poetic style, in its freedom from parallelisms in thought and phrase, from inversions, archaisms, and the almost excessive wealth of metaphor and epithet. In its early stages, there is apparent perhaps a poverty of resource, a lack of flexibility; but this charge cannot be sustained against the best prose of the later period. In the translations from the Latin it shows a certain stiffness, and becomes sometimes involved, in the too conscientious effort of the translator to follow the classic original.

No attempt will be made here to notice, or even to name, all the large number of literary works of the Anglo-Saxons. It must be sufficient to examine briefly a few of the most important and characteristic productions of this really remarkable and prolific movement.

The 'Song of Widsith, the Far Traveler,' is now generally conceded to be, in part at least, the oldest existing Anglo-Saxon poem. We do not know when it assumed its present form; but it is certain that it was after the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons, since it has interpolations from the Christian scribe. The poem seems to give evidence of being a growth from an original song by a wandering scôp, or poet, who claims to have visited the Gothic king Eormanric, "the grim violator of treaties," who died in 375 or 376. But other kings are mentioned who lived in the first half of the sixth century. It is probable, then, that it was begun in the fourth century, and having been added to by successive gleemen, as it was transmitted orally, was finally completed in the earlier part of the sixth. It was then carried over to England, and there first written down in Northumbria. It possesses great interest because of its antiquity, and because of the light it throws upon the life of the professional singer in those ancient times among the Teutons. It has a long list of kings and places, partly historical, partly mythical or not identified. The poem, though narrative and descriptive, is also lyrical. We find here the strain of elegiac sadness, of regretful retrospection, so generally present in Anglo-Saxon poetry of lyric character, and usually much more pronounced than in 'Widsith.'

'Beowulf' is, in many respects, the most important poetical monument of the Anglo-Saxons. The poem is undoubtedly of heathen origin, and the evidence that it was a gradual growth, the result of grouping several distinct songs around one central figure, seems unmistakable. We may trace it, in its earliest stages, to the ancient home of the Angles in North Germany. It was transplanted to England in the migration of the tribes, and was edited in the present form by some unknown Northumbrian poet. When this occurred we do not know certainly, but there seems good reason for assuming the end of the seventh or the beginning of the eighth century as the time.

The poem is epic in cast and epic in proportion. Although, judged by the Homeric standard, it falls short in many respects of the complete form, yet it may without violence be called an epic. The central figure, Beowulf, a nobly conceived hero, possessing immense strength, unflinching courage, a never-swerving sense of honor, magnanimity, and generosity, the friend and champion of the weak against evil however terrible, is the element of unity in the whole poem. It is in itself a great honor to the race that they were able to conceive as their ideal a hero so superior in all that constitutes true nobility to the Greek ideal, Achilles. It is true that the poem consists of two parts, connected by little more than the fact that they have the same hero at different times of life; that episodes are introduced that do not blend perfectly into the unity of the poem; and that there is a lack of repose and sometimes of lucidity. Yet there is a dignity and vigor, and a large consistency in the treatment of the theme, that is epic. Ten Brink says:--"The poet's intensity is not seldom imparted to the listener.... The portrayals of battles, although much less realistic than the Homeric descriptions, are yet at times superior to them, in so far as the demoniac rage of war elicits from the Germanic fancy a crowding affluence of vigorous scenes hastily projected in glittering lights of grim half gloom." In addition to its great poetic merit, 'Beowulf' is of the greatest importance to us on account of the many fine pictures of ancient Teutonic life it presents.

In the merest outline, the argument of 'Beowulf' is as follows:--Hrothgar, King of the Gar-Danes, has built a splendid hall, called Heorot. This is the scene of royal festivity until a monster from the fen, Grendel, breaks into it by night and devours thirty of the king's thanes. From that time the hall is desolate, for no one can cope with Grendel, and Hrothgar is in despair. Beowulf, the noble hero of the Geats, in Sweden, hears of the terrible calamity, and with fourteen companions sails across the sea to undertake the adventure. Hrothgar receives him joyfully, and after a splendid banquet gives Heorot into his charge. During the following night, Beowulf is attacked by Grendel; and after one of his companions has been slain, he tears out the arm of the monster, who escapes, mortally hurt, to his fen. On the morrow all is rejoicing; but when night falls, the monster's mother attacks Heorot, and kills Hrothgar's favorite thane. The next day, Beowulf pursues her to her den under the waters of the fen, and after a terrific combat slays her. The hero returns home to Sweden laden with gifts. This ends the main thread of the first incident. In the second incident, after an interval of fifty years, we find Beowulf an old man. He has been for many years king of the Geats. A fire-breathing dragon, the guardian of a great treasure, is devastating the land. The heroic old king, accompanied by a party of thanes, attacks the dragon. All the thanes save one are cowardly; but the old hero, with the aid of the faithful one, slays the dragon, not, however, till he is fatally injured. Then follow his death and picturesque burial.

In this sketch, stirring episodes, graphic descriptions, and fine effects are all sacrificed. The poem itself is a noble one and the English people may well be proud of preserving in it the first epic production of the Teutonic race.

The 'Fight at Finnsburg' is a fine fragment of epic cast. The Finn saga is at least as old as the Beowulf poem, since the gleeman at Hrothgar's banquet makes it his theme. From the fragment and the gleeman's song we perceive that the situation here is much more complex than is usual in Anglo-Saxon poems, and involves a tragic conflict of passion. Hildeburh's brother is slain through the treachery of her husband, Finn; her son, partaking of Finn's faithlessness, falls at the hands of her brother's men; in a subsequent counterplot, her husband is slain. Besides the extraordinary vigor of the narrative, the theme has special interest in that a woman is really the central figure, though not treated as a heroine.

A favorite theme in the older lyric poems is the complaint of some wandering scôp, driven from his home by the exigencies of those perilous times. Either the singer has been bereft of his patron by death, or he has been supplanted in his favor by some successful rival; and he passes in sorrowful review his former happiness, and contrasts it with his present misery. The oldest of these lyrics are of pagan origin, though usually with Christian additions.

In the 'Wanderer,' an unknown poet pictures the exile who has fled across the sea from his home. He is utterly lonely. He must lock his sorrow in his heart. In his dream he embraces and kisses his lord, and lays his head upon his knee, as of old. He awakes, and sees nothing but the gray sea, the snow and hail, and the birds dipping their wings in the waves. And so he reflects: the world is full of care; we are all in the hands of Fate. Then comes the Christian sentiment: happy is he who seeks comfort with his Father in heaven, with whom alone all things are enduring.

Another fine poem of this class, somewhat similar to the 'Wanderer,' is the 'Seafarer.' It is, however, distinct in detail and treatment, and has its own peculiar beauty. In the 'Fortunes of Men,' the poet treats the uncertainty of all things earthly, from the point of view of the parent forecasting the ill and the good the future may bring to his sons. 'Deor's Lament' possesses a genuine lyrical quality of high order. The singer has been displaced by a rival, and finds consolation in his grief from reciting the woes that others have endured, and reflects in each instance, "That was got over, and so this may be." Other poems on other subjects might be noticed here; as 'The Husband's Message,' where the love of husband for wife is the theme, and 'The Ruin,' which contains reflections suggested by a ruined city.

It is a remarkable fact that only two of these poets are known to us by name, Cædmon and Cynewulf. We find the story of the inspiration, work, and death of Cædmon, the earlier of these, told in the pages of Bede. The date of his birth is not given, but his death fell in 680. He was a Northumbrian, and was connected in a lay capacity with the great monastery of Whitby. He was uneducated, and not endowed in his earlier life with the gift of song. One night, after he had fled in mortification from a feast where all were required to improvise and sing, he received, as he slept, the divine inspiration. The next day he made known his new gift to the authorities of the monastery. After he had triumphantly made good his claims, he was admitted to holy orders, and began his work of paraphrasing into noble verse portions of the Scriptures that were read to him. Of the body of poetry that comes down to us under his name, we cannot be sure that any is his, unless we except the short passage given here. It is certainly the work of different poets, and varies in merit. The evidence seems conclusive that he was a poet of high order, that his influence was very great, and that many others wrote in his manner. The actors and the scenery of the Cædmonian poetry are entirely Anglo-Saxon, only the names and the outline of the narrative being biblical; and the spirit of battle that breathes in some passages is the same that we find in the heathen epic.

Cynewulf was most probably a Northumbrian, though this is sometimes questioned. The dates of his birth and death are unknown. It seems established, however, that his work belongs to the eighth century. A great deal of controversy has arisen over a number of poems that have been ascribed to him and denied to him with equal persistency. But we stand upon sure ground in regard to four poems, the 'Christ,' the 'Fates of the Apostles,' 'Juliana,' and 'Elene'; for he has signed them in runes. If the runic enigma in the first of the 'Riddles' has been correctly interpreted, then they, or portions of them, are his also. But about this there is much doubt. The 'Andreas' and the 'Dream of the Rood' may be mentioned as being of exceptional interest among the poems that are almost certainly his. In the latter, he tells, in a personal strain, the story of the appearance to him of the holy cross, and of his conversion and dedication of himself to the service of Christ. The 'Elene,' generally considered the finest of his poems, is the story of the miraculous finding of the holy cross by St. Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine. The poet has lent great charm to the tradition in his treatment. The poem sounds a triumphant note throughout, till we reach the epilogue, where the poet speaks in his own person and in a sadder tone.

The quality of Cynewulf's poetry is unequal; but when he is at his best, he is a great poet and a great artist. His personality appears in direct subjective utterance more plainly than does that of any other Anglo-Saxon poet.

While we must pass over many fine Anglo-Saxon poems without mention, there are two that must receive some notice. 'Judith' is an epic based upon the book of Judith in the 'Apocrypha.' Only about one-fourth of it has survived. The author is still unknown, in spite of many intelligent efforts to determine to whom the honor belongs. The dates assigned to it vary from the seventh to the tenth century; here, too, uncertainty prevails: but we are at least sure that it is one of the best of the Anglo-Saxon poems. It has been said that this work shows a more definite plan and more conscious art than any other Anglo-Saxon poem. Brooke finds it sometimes conventional in the form of expression, and denies it the highest rank for that reason. But he does not seem to sustain the charge. The two principal characters, the dauntless Judith and the brutal Holofernes, stand out with remarkable distinctness, and a fine dramatic quality has been noted by several critics. The epithets and metaphors, the description of the drunken debauch, and the swift, powerful narrative of the battle and the rout of the Assyrians, are in the best Anglo-Saxon epic strain. The poem is distinctly Christian; for the Hebrew heroine, with a naïve anachronism, prays thus: "God of Creation, Spirit of Consolation, Son of the Almighty, I pray for Thy mercy to me, greatly in need of it. Glory of the Trinity."

'The Battle of Maldon' is a ballad, containing an account of a fight between the Northmen and the East Saxons under the Aldorman, Byrhtnoth. The incident is mentioned in one MS. of the Chronicle under the date of 991; in another, under the date of 993. The poem is exceedingly graphic. The poet seems filled with intense feeling, and may have been a spectator, or may indeed have taken part in the struggle. He tells how the brave old Aldorman disdains to use the advantage of his position, which bade fair to give him victory. Like a boy, he cannot take a dare, but fatuously allows the enemy to begin the battle upon an equal footing with his own men. He pays for his noble folly with his life and the defeat of his army. The devotion of the Aldorman's hearth-companions, who refuse to survive their lord, and with brave words meet their death, is finely described. But not all are true; some, who have been especially favored, ignobly flee. These are treated with the racial contempt for cowards. The poem has survived in fragmentary form, and the name of the poet is not known.

As distinguished from all poetical remains of such literature, the surviving prose of the Anglo-Saxons, though extensive, and of the greatest interest and value, is less varied in subject and manner than their poetry. It admits of brief treatment. The earliest known specimens of Anglo-Saxon prose writing have been already mentioned. These do not constitute the beginning of a literature, yet, with the rest of the extensive collection of Anglo-Saxon laws that has survived, they are of the greatest importance to students. Earle quotes Dr. Reinhold Schmid as saying, "No other Germanic nation has bequeathed to us out of its earliest experience so rich a treasure of original legal documents as the Anglo-Saxon nation has,"--only another instance of the precocity of our ancestors.

To the West Saxons belongs nearly the whole of Anglo-Saxon prose. Whatever may have existed in Northumbria perished in the inroads of the Northmen, except such parts as may have been incorporated in West Saxon writings. It will be remembered, however, that the great Northumbrian prose writers had held to the Latin as their medium. The West Saxon prose literature may be said to begin in Alfred's reign.

The most important production that we have to consider is the famous Anglo-Saxon 'Chronicle.' It covers with more or less completeness the period from 449 to 1154. This was supplemented by fanciful genealogies leading back to Woden, or even to Adam. It is not known when the practice of jotting down in the native speech notices of contemporary events began, but probably in very early times. It is believed, however, that no intelligent effort to collect and present them with order and system was made until the middle of the ninth century. In the oldest of the seven MSS. in which it has come down to us, we have the 'Chronicle' to 891, as it was written down in Alfred's time and probably under his supervision.

The meagreness of the earliest entries and the crudeness of the language, together with occasional picturesque force, indicate that many of them were drawn from current song or tradition. The style and fullness of the entries differ greatly throughout, as might be expected, since the 'Chronicle' is the work of so many hands. From mere bare notices they vary to strong, full narrative and description. Indeed, the 'Chronicle' contains some of the most effective prose produced by the Anglo-Saxons; and in one instance, under the date 937, the annalist describes the battle of Brunanburh in a poem of considerable merit. But we know the name of no single contributor.

This 'Chronicle' is the oldest and most important work of the kind produced outside of the classical languages in Europe. It is meagre in places, and its entire trustworthiness has been questioned. But it and Bede's 'Ecclesiastical History,' supplemented by other Anglo-Saxon writings, constitute the basis of early English history; and this fact alone entitles it to the highest rank in importance among ancient documents.

A large body of Anglo-Saxon prose, nearly all of it translation or adaptation of Latin works, has come down to us under the name of King Alfred. A peculiar interest attaches to these works. They belong to a period when the history of England depended more than at any other time upon the ability and devotion of one man; and that man, the most heroic and the greatest of English kings, was himself the author of them.

When Alfred became king, in 871, his throne seemed tottering to its fall. Practically all the rest of England was at the feet of the ruthless Northmen, and soon Alfred himself was little better than a fugitive. But by his military skill, which was successful if not brilliant, and by his never-wavering devotion and English persistency, he at last freed the southern part of the island from his merciless and treacherous enemies, and laid the firm foundation of West Saxon supremacy. If Alfred had failed in any respect to be the great king that he was, English history would have been changed for all time.

Although Alfred had saved his kingdom, yet it was a kingdom almost in ruins. The hopeful advance of culture had been entirely arrested. The great centres of learning had been utterly destroyed in the north, and little remained intact in the south. And even worse than this was the demoralization of all classes, and an indisposition to renewed effort. There was, moreover, a great scarcity of books.

Alfred showed himself as great in peace as in war, and at once set to work to meet all those difficulties. To supply the books that were so urgently needed, he found time in the midst of his perplexing cares to translate from the Latin into the native speech such works as he thought would supply the most pressing want. This was the more necessary from the prevailing ignorance of Latin. It is likely that portions of the works that go under his name were produced under his supervision by carefully selected co-workers. But it is certain that in a large part of them we may see the work of the great Alfred's own hand.

He has used his own judgment in these translations, omitting whatever he did not think would be immediately helpful to his people, and making such additions as he thought might be of advantage. Just these additions have the greatest interest for us. He translated, for instance, Orosius's 'History'; a work in itself of inferior worth, but as an attempt at a universal history from the Christian point of view, he thought it best suited to the needs of his people. The Anglo-Saxon version contains most interesting additions of original matter by Alfred. They consist of accounts of the voyages of Ohtere, a Norwegian, who was the first, so far as we know, to sail around the North Cape and into the White Sea, and of Wulfstan, who explored parts of the coast of the Baltic. These narratives give us our first definite information about the lands and people of these regions, and appear to have been taken down by the king directly as related by the explorers. Alfred added to this 'History' also a description of Central Europe, which Morley calls "the only authentic record of the Germanic nations written by a contemporary so early as the ninth century."

In Gregory's 'Pastoral Care' we have Alfred's closest translation. It is a presentation of "the ideal Christian pastor" (Ten Brink), and was intended for the benefit of the lax Anglo-Saxon priests. Perhaps the work that appealed most strongly to Alfred himself was Boethius's 'Consolations of Philosophy'; and in his full translation and adaptation of this book we see the hand and the heart of the good king. We shall mention one other work of Alfred's, his translation of the already frequently mentioned 'Historia Ecclesiastica Anglorum' of the Venerable Bede. This great work Alfred, with good reason, considered to be of the greatest possible value to his people; and the king has given it additional value for us.

Alfred was not a great scholar. The wonder is that, in the troublous times of his youth, he had learned even the rudiments. The language in his translations, however, though not infrequently affected for the worse by the Latin idiom of the original, is in the main free from ornament of any kind, simple and direct, and reflects in its sincerity the noble character of the great king.

The period between the death of Alfred (901) and the end of the tenth century was deficient in works of literary value, except an entry here and there in the 'Chronicle.' "Alfric's is the last great name in the story of our literature before the Conquest," says Henry Morley. He began writing about the end of the tenth century, and we do not know when his work and his life ended. This gentle priest, as he appears to us through his writings, following Alfred's example, wrote not from personal ambition, but for the betterment of his fellow-men. His style is eminently lucid, fluent, forcible, and of graceful finish. Earle observes of it:--"The English of these Homilies is splendid; indeed, we may confidently say that here English appears fully qualified to be the medium of the highest learning." This is high praise, and should be well considered by those disposed to consider the Anglo-Saxon as a rude tongue, incapable of great development in itself, and only enabled by the Norman infusion to give expression to a deep and broad culture.

Alfric's works in Anglo-Saxon--for he wrote also in Latin--were very numerous, embracing two series of homilies, theological writings of many kinds, translations of portions of the Bible, an English (Anglo-Saxon) grammar, adapted from a Latin work, a Latin dictionary, and many other things of great use in their day and of great interest in ours.

The names of other writers and of other single works might well be added here. But enough has been said, perhaps, to show that a great and hopeful development of prose took place among the West Saxons. It must be admitted that the last years of the Anglo-Saxon nationality before the coming of the Normans show a decline in literary productiveness of a high order. The causes of this are to be found chiefly in the political and ecclesiastical history of the time. Wars with the Northmen, internal dissensions, religious controversies, the greater cultivation of Latin by the priesthood, all contributed to it. But hopeful signs of a new revival were not wanting. The language had steadily developed with the enlightenment of the people, and was fast becoming fit to meet any demands that might be made upon it, when the great catastrophe of the Norman Conquest came, and with it practically the end of the historical and distinctive Anglo-Saxon literature.


[The Spear-Danes intrust the dead body of King Scyld to the sea, in a splendidly adorned ship. He had come to them mysteriously, alone in a ship, when an infant.]

At the hour that was fated
Scyld then departed to the All-Father's keeping
War-like to wend him; away then they bare him
To the flood of the current, his fond-loving comrades.
As himself he had bidden, while the friend of the Scyldings
Word-sway wielded, and the well-lovèd land prince
Long did rule them. The ring-stemmèd vessel,
Bark of the atheling, lay there at anchor,
Icy in glimmer and eager for sailing;
The beloved leader laid they down there,
Giver of rings, on the breast of the vessel,
The famed by the mainmast. A many of jewels,
Of fretted embossings, from far-lands brought over,
Was placed near at hand then; and heard I not ever
That a folk ever furnished a float more superbly
With weapons of warfare, weeds for the battle,
Bills and burnies; on his bosom sparkled
Many a jewel that with him must travel
On the flush of the flood afar on the current.
And favors no fewer they furnished him soothly,
Excellent folk-gems, than others had given him
Lone on the main, the merest of infants:
And a gold-fashioned standard they stretched under heaven
High o'er his head, let the holm-currents bear him,
Seaward consigned him: sad was their spirit,
Their mood very mournful. Men are not able
Soothly to tell us, they in halls who reside,
Heroes under heaven, to what haven he hied.

They guard the wolf-coverts,

Lands inaccessible, wind-beaten nesses,
Fearfullest fen-deeps, where a flood from the mountains
'Neath mists of the nesses netherward rattles,
The stream under earth: not far is it henceward
Measured by mile-lengths the mere-water standeth,
Which forests hang over, with frost-whiting covered,
A firm-rooted forest, the floods overshadow.
There ever at night one an ill-meaning portent,
A fire-flood may see; 'mong children of men
None liveth so wise that wot of the bottom;
Though harassed by hounds the heath-stepper seek for,
Fly to the forest, firm-antlered he-deer,
Spurred from afar, his spirit he yieldeth,
His life on the shore, ere in he will venture
To cover his head. Uncanny the place is:
Thence upward ascendeth the surging of waters,
Wan to the welkin, when the wind is stirring
The weather unpleasing, till the air groweth gloomy,
Then the heavens lower.

[Beowulf has plunged into the water of the mere in pursuit of Grendel's mother, and is a whole day in reaching the bottom. He is seized by the monster and carried to her cavern, where the combat ensues.]

The earl then discovered he was down in some cavern
Where no water whatever anywise harmed him,
And the clutch of the current could come not anear him,
Since the roofed-hall prevented; brightness a-gleaming,
Fire-light he saw, flashing resplendent.
The good one saw then the sea-bottom's monster,
The mighty mere-woman: he made a great onset
With weapon-of-battle; his hand not desisted
From striking; the war-blade struck on her head then
A battle-song greedy. The stranger perceived then
The sword would not bite, her life would not injure,
But the falchion failed the folk-prince when straitened:
Erst had it often onsets encountered,
Oft cloven the helmet, the fated one's armor;
'Twas the first time that ever the excellent jewel
Had failed of its fame. Firm-mooded after,
Not heedless of valor, but mindful of glory
Was Higelac's kinsman; the hero-chief angry
Cast then his carved-sword covered with jewels
That it lay on the earth, hard and steel-pointed;
He hoped in his strength, his hand-grapple sturdy.
So any must act whenever he thinketh
To gain him in battle glory unending,
And is reckless of living. The lord of the War-Geats
(He shrank not from battle) seized by the shoulder
The mother of Grendel; then mighty in struggle
Swung he his enemy, since his anger was kindled,
That she fell to the floor. With furious grapple
She gave him requital early thereafter,
And stretched out to grab him; the strongest of warriors
Faint-mooded stumbled, till he fell in his traces,
Foot-going champion. Then she sat on the hall-guest
And wielded her war-knife wide-bladed, flashing,
For her son would take vengeance, her one only bairn,
His breast-armor woven bode on his shoulder;
It guarded his life, the entrance defended
'Gainst sword-point and edges. Ecgtheow's son there
Had fatally journeyed, champion of Geatmen,
In the arms of the ocean, had the armor not given,
Close-woven corselet, comfort and succor,
And had God Most Holy not awarded the victory,
All-knowing lord; easily did heaven's
Ruler most righteous arrange it with justice;
Uprose he erect ready for battle.
Then he saw 'mid the war-gems a weapon of victory,
An ancient giant-sword, of edges a-doughty,
Glory of warriors: of weapons 'twas choicest,
Only 'twas larger than any man else was
Able to bear to the battle-encounter,
The good and splendid work of the giants.
He grasped then the sword-hilt, knight of the Scyldings,
Bold and battle-grim, brandished his ring-sword.
Hopeless of living, hotly he smote her,
That the fiend-woman's neck firmly it grappled,
Broke through her bone-joints, the bill fully pierced her
Fate-cursed body, she fell to the ground then:
The hand-sword was bloody, the hero exulted.

[Fifty years have elapsed. The aged Beowulf has died from the injuries received in his struggle with the Fire Drake. His body is burned, and a barrow erected.]

A folk of the Geatmen got him then ready
A pile on the earth strong for the burning,
Behung with helmets, hero-knight's targets,
And bright-shining burnies, as he begged they should have them;
Then wailing war-heroes their world-famous chieftain,
Their liege-lord beloved, laid in the middle.
Soldiers began then to make on the barrow
The largest of dead fires: dark o'er the vapor
The smoke cloud ascended; the sad-roaring fire,
Mingled with weeping (the-wind-roar subsided)
Till the building of bone it had broken to pieces,
Hot in the heart. Heavy in spirit
They mood-sad lamented the men-leader's ruin....
The men of the Weders made accordingly
A hill on the height, high and extensive,
Of sea-going sailors to be seen from a distance,
And the brave one's beacon built where the fire was,
In ten days' space, with a wall surrounded it,
As wisest of world-folk could most worthily plan it.
They placed in the barrow rings and jewels,
All such ornaments as erst in the treasure
War-mooded men had won in possession:
The earnings of earlmen to earth they intrusted,
The gold to the dust, where yet it remaineth
As useless to mortals as in foregoing eras.
'Round the dead-mound rode then the doughty-in-battle,
Bairns of all twelve of the chiefs of the people,
More would they mourn, lament for their ruler,
Speak in measure, mention him with pleasure;
Weighed his worth, and his warlike achievements
Mightily commended, as 'tis meet one praise his
Liege lord in words and love him in spirit,
When forth from his body he fares to destruction.
So lamented mourning the men of the Geats,
Fond loving vassals, the fall of their lord,
Said he was gentlest of kings under heaven,
Mildest of men and most philanthropic,
Friendliest to folk-troops and fondest of honor.

By permission of John Leslie Hall, the Translator, and D.C. Heath & Co., Publishers.


Wayland often wandered in exile,
doughty earl, ills endur'd,
had for comrades care and longing,
winter-cold wandering; woe oft found
since Nithhad brought such need upon him,--
laming wound on a lordlier man.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!
In Beadohild's breast, her brothers' death
wrought no such ill as her own disgrace,
when she had openly understood
her maidhood vanished; she might no wise
think how the case could thrive at all.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!
We have heard enough of Hild's disgrace;
heroes of Geat were homeless made,
and sorrow stole their sleep away.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!
Theodoric held for thirty winters
Mæring's burg, as many have known.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!
We have also heard of Ermanric's
wolfish mind; wide was his sway
o'er the Gothic race,--a ruler grim.
Sat many a man in misery bound,
waited but woe, and wish'd amain
that ruin might fall on the royal house.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!
Sitteth one sighing, sunder'd from happiness;
all's dark within him; he deems forsooth
that his share of evils shall endless be.
Let such bethink him that thro' this world
mighty God sends many changes:
to earls a plenty honor he shows,
ease and bliss; to others, sorrow.

Now I will say of myself, and how
I was singer once to the sons of Heoden,
dear to my master, and Deor was my name.
Long were the winters my lord was kind,
happy my lot,--till Heorrenda now
by grace of singing has gained the land
which the "haven of heroes" erewhile gave me.
That pass'd over,--and this may, too!

Translation of F.B. Gummere in the Atlantic Monthly, February, 1891: by permission of Houghton, Mifflin and Company.


Oft-times the Wanderer waiteth God's mercy,

Sad and disconsolate though he may be,

Far o'er the watery track must he travel,

Long must he row o'er the rime-crusted sea--

Plod his lone exile-path--Fate is severe.

Mindful of slaughter, his kinsman friends' death,

Mindful of hardships, the wanderer saith:--

Oft must I lonely, when dawn doth appear,

Wail o'er my sorrow--since living is none

Whom I may whisper my heart's undertone.

Know I full well that in man it is noble

Fast in his bosom his sorrow to bind.

Weary at heart, yet his Fate is unyielding--

Help cometh not to his suffering mind.

Therefore do those who are thirsting for glory

Bind in their bosom each pain's biting smart.

Thus must I often, afar from my kinsmen,

Fasten in fetters my home-banished heart.

Now since the day when my dear prince departed

Wrapped in the gloom of his dark earthen grave,

I, a poor exile, have wandered in winter

Over the flood of the foam-frozen wave,

Seeking, sad-hearted, some giver of treasure,

Some one to cherish me friendless--some chief

Able to guide me with wisdom of counsel,

Willing to greet me and comfort my grief.

He who hath tried it, and he alone, knoweth

How harsh a comrade is comfortless Care

Unto the man who hath no dear protector,

Gold wrought with fingers nor treasure so fair.

Chill is his heart as he roameth in exile--

Thinketh of banquets his boyhood saw spread;

Friends and companions partook of his pleasures--

Knoweth he well that all friendless and lordless

Sorrow awaits him a long bitter while;--

Yet, when the spirits of Sorrow and Slumber

Fasten with fetters the orphaned exile,

Seemeth him then that he seeth in spirit,

Meeteth and greeteth his master once more,

Layeth his head on his lord's loving bosom,

Just as he did in the dear days of yore.

But he awaketh, forsaken and friendless,

Seeth before him the black billows rise,

Seabirds are bathing and spreading their feathers,

Hailsnow and hoar-frost are hiding the skies.

Then in his heart the more heavily wounded,

Longeth full sore for his loved one, his own,

Sad is the mind that remembereth kinsmen,

Greeting with gladness the days that are gone.

Seemeth him then on the waves of the ocean

Comrades are swimming,--well-nigh within reach,--

Yet from the spiritless lips of the swimmers

Cometh familiar no welcoming speech.

So is his sorrow renewed and made sharper

When the sad exile so often must send

Thoughts of his suffering spirit to wander

Wide o'er the waves where the rough billows blend.

So, lest the thought of my mind should be clouded,

Close must I prison my sadness of heart,

When I remember my bold comrade-kinsmen,

How from the mede-hall I saw them depart.

Thus is the earth with its splendor departing--

Day after day it is passing away,

Nor may a mortal have much of true wisdom

Till his world-life numbers many a day.

He who is wise, then, must learn to be patient--

Not too hot-hearted, too hasty of speech,

Neither too weak nor too bold in the battle,

Fearful, nor joyous, nor greedy to reach,

Neither too ready to boast till he knoweth--

Man must abide, when he vaunted his pride,

Till strong of mind he hath surely determined

Whether his purpose can be turned aside.

Surely the wise man may see like the desert

How the whole wealth of the world lieth waste,

How through the earth the lone walls are still standing,

Blown by the wind and despoiled and defaced.

Covered with frost, the proud dwellings are ruined,

Crumbled the wine-halls--the king lieth low,

Robbed of his pride--and his troop have all fallen

Proud by the wall--some, the spoil of the foe,

War took away--and some the fierce sea-fowl

Over the ocean--and some the wolf gray

Tore after death--and yet others the hero

Sad-faced has laid in earth-caverns away.

Thus at his will the eternal Creator

Famished the fields of the earth's ample fold--

Until her dwellers abandoned their feast-boards.

Void stood the work of the giants of old.

One who was viewing full wisely this wall-place,

Pondering deeply his dark, dreary life.

Spake then as follows, his past thus reviewing,

Years full of slaughter and struggle and strife:--

"Wither, alas, have my horses been carried?

Whither, alas, are my kinspeople gone?

Where is my giver of treasure and feasting?

Where are the joys of the hall I have known?

Ah, the bright cup--and the corseleted warrior--

Ah, the bright joy of a king's happy lot!

How the glad time has forever departed,

Swallowed in darkness, as though it were not!

Standeth, instead of the troop of young warriors,

Stained with the bodies of dragons, a wall--

The men were cut down in their pride by the spearpoints--

Blood-greedy weapons--but noble their fall.

Earth is enwrapped in the lowering tempest,

Fierce on the stone-cliff the storm rushes forth,

Cold winter-terror, the night shade is dark'ning,

Hail-storms are laden with death from the north.

All full of hardships is earthly existence--

Here the decrees of the Fates have their sway--

Fleeting is treasure and fleeting is friendship--

Here man is transient, here friends pass away.

Earth's widely stretching, extensive domain,

Desolate all--empty, idle, and vain."

In 'Modern Language Notes': Translation of W.R. Sims.


Sooth the song that I of myself can sing,
Telling of my travels; how in troublous days,
Hours of hardship oft I've borne!
With a bitter breast-care I have been abiding;
Many seats of sorrow in my ship have known!
Frightful was the whirl of waves when it was my part
Narrow watch at night to keep on my Vessel's prow
When it rushed the rocks along. By the rigid cold
Fast my feet were pinched, fettered by the frost,
By the chains of cold. Care was sighing then
Hot my heart around; hunger rent to shreds
Courage in me, me sea-wearied! This the man knows not,
He to whom it happens, happiest on earth,
How I, carked with care, in the ice-cold sea,
Overwent the winter on my wander-ways,
All forlorn of happiness, all bereft of loving kinsmen,
Hung about with icicles; flew the hail in showers.
Nothing heard I there save the howling of the sea,
And the ice-chilled billow, 'whiles the crying of the swan.
All the glee I got me was the gannet's scream,
And the swoughing of the seal, 'stead of mirth of men;
'Stead of the mead-drinking, moaning of the sea-mew.
There the storms smote on the crags, there the swallow of the sea
Answered to them, icy-plumed; and that answer oft the earn--
Wet his wings were--barked aloud.
None of all my kinsmen
Could this sorrow-laden soul stir to any joy.
Little then does he believe who life's pleasure owns,
While he tarries in the towns, and but trifling ills,
Proud and insolent with wine--how out-wearied I
Often must outstay on the ocean path!
Sombre grew the shade of night, and it snowed from northward,
Frost the field enchained, fell the hail on earth,
Coldest of all grains.
Wherefore now then crash together
Thoughts my soul within that I should myself adventure
The high streamings of the sea, and the sport of the salt waves!
For a passion of the mind every moment pricks me on
All my life to set a faring; so that far from hence,
I may seek the shore of the strange outlanders.
Yes, so haughty of his heart is no hero on the earth,
Nor so good in all his giving, nor so generous in youth,
Nor so daring in his deed, nor so dear unto his lord,
That he has not always yearning unto his sea-faring,
To whatever work his Lord may have will to make for him.
For the harp he has no heart, nor for having of the rings,
Nor in woman is his weal, in the world he's no delight,
Nor in anything whatever save the tossing o'er the waves!
Oh, forever he has longing who is urged towards the sea.
Trees rebloom with blossoms, burghs are fair again,
Winsome are the wide plains, and the world is gay--
All doth only challenge the impassioned heart
Of his courage to the voyage, whosoever thus bethinks him,
O'er the ocean billows, far away to go.
Every cuckoo calls a warning, with his chant of sorrow!
Sings the summer's watchman, sorrow is he boding,
Bitter in the bosom's hoard. This the brave man wots not of,
Not the warrior rich in welfare--what the wanderer endures,
Who his paths of banishment, widest places on the sea.
For behold, my thought hovers now above my heart;
O'er the surging flood of sea now my spirit flies,
O'er the homeland of the whale--hovers then afar
O'er the foldings of the earth! Now again it flies to me
Full of yearning, greedy! Yells that lonely flier;
Whets upon the Whale-way irresistibly my heart,
O'er the storming of the seas!

Translation of Stopford Brooke.


Full often it falls out, by fortune from God,
That a man and a maiden may marry in this world,
Find cheer in the child whom they cherish and care for,
Tenderly tend it, until the time comes,
Beyond the first years, when the young limbs increasing
Grown firm with life's fullness, are formed for their work.
Fond father and mother so guide it and feed it,
Give gifts to it, clothe it: God only can know
What lot to its latter days life has to bring.
To some that make music in life's morning hour
Pining days are appointed of plaint at the close.
One the wild wolf shall eat, hoary haunter of wastes:
His mother shall mourn the small strength of a man.
One shall sharp hunger slay; one shall the storm beat down;
One be destroyed by darts, one die in war.
One shall live losing the light of his eyes,
Feel blindly with fingers; and one, lame of foot,
With sinew-wound wearily wasteth away,
Musing and mourning, with death in his mind.
One, failing feathers, shall fall from the height
Of the tall forest tree; yet he trips as though flying,
Plays proudly in air till he reaches the point
Where the woodgrowth is weak; life then whirls in his brain,
Bereft of his reason he sinks to the root,
Falls flat on the ground, his life fleeting away.
Afoot on the far-ways, his food in his hand,
One shall go grieving, and great be his need,
Press dew on the paths of the perilous lands
Where the stranger may strike, where live none to sustain.
All shun the desolate for being sad.
One the great gallows shall have in its grasp,
Stained in dark agony, till the soul's stay,
The bone-house, is bloodily all broken up;
When the harsh raven hacks eyes from the head,
The sallow-coated, slits the soulless man.
Nor can he shield from shame, scare with his hands,
Off from their eager feast prowlers of air.
Lost is his life to him, left is no breath,
Bleached on the gallows-beam bides he his doom;
Cold death-mists close round him called the Accursed.

One shall die by the dagger, in wrath, drenched with ale,
Wild through wine, on the mead bench, too swift with his words;
Through the hand that brings beer, through the gay boon companion,
His mouth has no measure, his mood no restraint;
Too lightly his life shall the wretched one lose,
Undergo the great ill, be left empty of joy.
When they speak of him slain by the sweetness of mead,
His comrades shall call him one killed by himself.

Some have good hap, and some hard days of toil;
Some glad glow of youth, and some glory in war,
Strength in the strife; some sling the stone, some shoot.

One shall handle the harp, at the feet of his hero
Sit and win wealth from the will of his Lord;
Still quickly contriving the throb of the cords,
The nail nimbly makes music, awakes a glad noise,
While the heart of the harper throbs, hurried by zeal.

Translation of Henry Morley.


[The Assyrian officers, obeying the commands of Holofernes, come to the carouse.]

They then at the feast proceeded to sit,
The proud to the wine-drinking, all his comrades-in-ill,
Bold mailèd-warriors. There were lofty beakers
Oft borne along the benches, also were cups and flagons
Full to the hall-sitters borne. The fated partook of them,
Brave warriors-with-shields, though the mighty weened not of it,
Awful lord of earls. Then was Holofernes,
Gold-friend of men, full of wine-joy:
He laughed and clamored, shouted and dinned,
That children of men from afar might hear
How the strong-minded both stormed and yelled,
Moody and mead-drunken, often admonished
The sitters-on-benches to bear themselves well.
Thus did the hateful one during all day
His liege-men loyal keep plying with wine,
Stout-hearted giver of treasure, until they lay in a swoon.

[Holofernes has been slain by Judith. The Hebrews, encouraged by her, surprise the drunken and sleeping Assyrians.]

Then the band of the brave was quickly prepared,
Of the bold for battle; stepped out the valiant
Men and comrades, bore their banners,
Went forth to fight straight on their way
The heroes 'neath helmets from the holy city
At the dawn itself; shields made a din,
Loudly resounded. Thereat laughed the lank
Wolf in the wood, and the raven wan,
Fowl greedy for slaughter: both of them knew
That for them the warriors thought to provide
Their fill on the fated; and flew on their track
The dewy-winged eagle eager for prey,
The dusky-coated sang his war-song,
The crooked-beaked. Stepped forth the warriors,
The heroes for battle with boards protected,
With hollow shields, who awhile before
The foreign-folk's reproach endured,
The heathens' scorn; fiercely was that
At the ash-spear's play to them all repaid,
All the Assyrians, after the Hebrews
Under their banners had boldly advanced
To the army-camps. They bravely then
Forthright let fly showers of arrows,
Of battle-adders, out from the horn-bows,
Of strongly-made shafts; stormed they aloud,
The cruel warriors, sent forth their spears
Among the brave; the heroes were angry,
The dwellers-in-land, with the loathed race;
The stern-minded stepped, the stout-in-heart,
Rudely awakened their ancient foes
Weary from mead; with hands drew forth
The men from the sheaths the brightly-marked swords
Most choice in their edges, eagerly struck
Of the host of Assyrians the battle-warriors,
The hostile-minded; not one they spared
Of the army-folk, nor low nor high
Of living men, whom they might subdue.

By consent of Ginn & Co. Translation of Garnett.


[The Anglo-Saxons under Byrhtnoth are drawn up on one side of Panta stream, the Northmen on the other. The herald of the Northmen demands tribute. Byrhtnoth replies.]

Then stood on the stathe, stoutly did call,
The wikings' herald, with words he spake,
Who boastfully bore from the brine-farers
An errand to th' earl, where he stood on the shore:--
"To thee me did send the seamen snell,
Bade to thee say, thou must send to them quickly
Bracelets for safety; and 'tis better for you
That ye this spear-rush with tribute buy off
Than we in so fierce a fight engage.
We need not each spill, if ye speed to this:
We will for the pay a peace confirm.
If thou that redest, who art highest in rank,
If thou to the seamen at their own pleasure
Money for peace, and take peace from us,
We will with the treasure betake us to ship,
Fare on the flood, and peace with you confirm."
Byrhtnoth replied, his buckler uplifted,
Waved his slim spear, with words he spake,
Angry and firm gave answer to him:--
"Hear'st thou, seafarer, what saith this folk?
They will for tribute spear-shafts you pay,
Poisonous points and trusty swords,
Those weapons that you in battle avail not.
Herald of seamen, hark back again,
Say to thy people much sadder words:--
Here stands not unknown an earl with his band,
Who will defend this fatherland,
Æthelred's home, mine own liege lord's,
His folk and field; ye're fated to fall,
Ye heathen, in battle. Too base it me seems
That ye with our scats to ship may go
Unfought against, so far ye now hither
Into our country have come within;
Ye shall not so gently treasure obtain;
Shall spear and sword sooner beseem us,
Grim battle-play, ere tribute we give."

[The Northmen, unable to force a passage, ask to be allowed to cross and fight it out on an equal footing. Byrhtnoth allows this.]

"Now room is allowed you, come quickly to us,
Warriors to war; wot God alone
Who this battle-field may be able to keep."
Waded the war-wolves, for water they recked not,
The wikings' band west over Panta,
O'er the clear water carried their shields,
Boatmen to bank their bucklers bore.
There facing their foes ready were standing
Byrhtnoth with warriors: with shields he bade
The war-hedgel work, and the war-band hold
Fast 'gainst the foes. Then fight was nigh,
Glory in battle; the time was come
That fated men should there now fall.
Then outcry was raised, the ravens circled,
Eagle eager for prey; on earth was uproar.
Then they let from their fists the file-hardened spears,
The darts well-ground, fiercely fly forth:
The bows were busy, board point received,
Bitter the battle-rush, warriors fell down,
On either hand the youths lay dead.

By consent of Ginn & Co. Translation of Garnett.


He [Cædmon] had remained in the secular life until the time when he was of advanced age, and he had never learned any song. For that reason oftentimes, when it was decided at a feasting that all should sing in turn to the accompaniment of the harp for the sake of entertainment, he would arise for shame from the banquet when he saw the harp approaching him, and would go home to his house. When he on a certain occasion had done this, and had left the house of feasting, and had gone to the stable of the cattle, which had been intrusted to his care for that night; and when he there, after a reasonable time, had arranged his limbs for rest, he fell asleep. And a man stood by him in a dream, and hailed him, and greeted him, and called him by name, and said: "Cædmon, sing something for me." Then he answered and said: "I cannot sing; I went out from the feast and came hither because I could not sing." Again said the one who was speaking with him: "Nevertheless, thou canst sing for me." Said Cædmon, "What shall I sing?" Said he, "Sing to me of creation."

When Cædmon received this answer, then began he soon to sing in glorification of God the Creator, verses and words that he had never before heard.

Then he arose from sleep and he had fast in his memory all those things he had sung in his sleep; and to these words he soon added many other words of song of the same measure, worthy for God.

Then came he in the morning to the town-reeve, who was his aldorman, and told him of the gift he had received. And the reeve soon led him to the abbess, and made that known to her and told her. Then bade she assemble all the very learned men, and the learners, and bade him tell the dream in their presence, and sing the song, so that by the judgment of them all it might be determined what it was, and whence it had come. Then it was seen by them all, just as it was, that the heavenly gift had been given him by the Lord himself.

Alfred's 'Bede': Translation of Robert Sharp.


Selection from the entry for the year 897

Then Alfred, the King, ordered long ships built to oppose the war-ships of the enemy. They were very nearly twice as long as the others; some had sixty oars, some more. They were both swifter and steadier, and also higher than the others; they were shaped neither on the Frisian model nor on the Danish, but as it seemed to King Alfred that they would be most useful.

Then, at a certain time in that year, came six hostile ships to Wight, and did much damage, both in Devon and elsewhere on the seaboard. Then the King ordered that nine of the new ships should proceed thither. And his ships blockaded the mouth of the passage on the outer-sea against the enemy. Then the Danes came out with three ships against the King's ships; but three of the Danish ships lay above the mouth, high and dry aground; and the men were gone off upon the shore. Then the King's men took two of the three ships outside, at the mouth, and slew the crews; but one ship escaped. On this one all the men were slain except five; these escaped because the King's ship got aground. They were aground, moreover, very inconveniently, since three were situated upon the same side of the channel with the three stranded Danish ships, and all the others were upon the other side, so that there could be no communication between the two divisions. But when the water had ebbed many furlongs from the ships, then went the Danes from their three ships to the King's three ships that had been left dry upon the same side by the ebbing of the tide, and they fought together there. Then were slain Lucumon, the King's Reeve, Wulfheard the Frisian, and Æbbe the Frisian, and Æthelhere the Frisian, and Æthelferth the King's companion, and of all the men Frisians and English, sixty-two; and of the Danes, one hundred and twenty.

But the flood came to the Danish ships before the Christians could shove theirs out, and for that reason the Danes rowed off. They were, nevertheless, so grievously wounded that they could not row around the land of the South Saxons, and the sea cast up there two of the ships upon the shore. And the men from them were led to Winchester to the King, and he commanded them to be hanged there. But the men who were in the remaining ship came to East Anglia, sorely wounded.

Translation of Robert Sharp.



n Italian poet and novelist of early promise, who has become a somewhat unique figure in contemporary literature, Gabriele d'Annunzio is a native of the Abruzzi, born in the little village of Pescara, on the Adriatic coast. Its picturesque scenery has formed the background for more than one of his stories. At the age of fifteen, while still a student at Prato, he published his first volume of poems, 'Intermezzo di Rime' (Interludes of Verse): "grand, plastic verse, of an impeccable prosody," as he maintained in their defense, but so daringly erotic that their appearance created no small scandal. Other poems followed at intervals, notably 'Il Canto Nuovo' (The New Song: Rome, 1882), 'Isotteo e la Chimera' (Isotteo and the Chimera: Rome, 1890), 'Poema Paradisiaco' and 'Odi Navali' (Marine Odes: Milan, 1893), which leave no doubt of his high rank as poet. The novel, however, is his chosen vehicle of expression, and the one which gives fullest scope to his rich and versatile genius. His first long story, 'Il Piacere' (Pleasure), appeared in 1889. As the title implies, it was pervaded with a frank, almost complacent sensuality, which its author has since been inclined to deprecate. Nevertheless, the book received merited praise for its subtle portrayal of character and incident, and its exuberance of phraseology; and more than all, for the promise which it suggested. With the publication of 'L'Innocente,' the author for the first time showed a real seriousness of purpose. His views of life had meanwhile essentially altered:--"As was just," he confessed, "I began to pay for my errors, my disorders, my excesses: I began to suffer with the same intensity with which I had formerly enjoyed myself; sorrow had made of me a new man." Accordingly his later books, while still emphatically realistic, are chastened by an underlying tone of pessimism. Passion is no longer the keynote of life, but rather, as exemplified in 'Il Trionfo della Morte,' the prelude of death. Leaving Rome, where, "like the outpouring of the sewers, a flood of base desires invaded every square and cross-road, ever more putrid and more swollen," D'Annunzio retired to Francovilla-al-Mare, a few miles from his birthplace. There he lives in seclusion, esteemed by the simple-minded, honest, and somewhat fanatical peasantry, to whose quaint and primitive manners his books owe much of their distinctive atmosphere.

In Italy, D'Annunzio's career has been watched with growing interest. Until recently, however, he was scarcely known to the world at large, when a few poems, translated into French, brought his name into immediate prominence. Within a year three Paris journals acquired rights of translation from him, and he has since occupied the attention of such authoritative French critics as Henri Rabusson, René Doumic, Edouard Rod, Eugène-Melchior de Vogüé, and, most recently, Ferdinand Brunetière, all of whom seem to have a clearer appreciation of his quality than even his critics at home. At the same time there is a small but hostile minority among the French novelists, whose literary feelings are voiced by Léon Daudet in a vehement protest under the title 'Assez d'Étrangers' (Enough of Foreigners).

It is too soon to pass final judgment on D'Annunzio's style, which has been undergoing an obvious transition, not yet accomplished. Realist and psychologist, symbolist and mystic by turns, and first and always a poet, he has been compared successively to Bourget and Maupassant, Tolstoi and Dostoïevsky, Théophile Gautier and Catulle Mendès, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Baudelaire. Such complexity of style is the outcome of his cosmopolitan taste in literature, and his tendency to assimilate for future use whatever pleases him in each successive author. Shakespeare and Goethe, Keats and Heine, Plato and Zoroaster, figure among the names which throng his pages; while his unacknowledged and often unconscious indebtedness to writers of lesser magnitude,--notably the self-styled 'Sar' Joseph Peladan--has lately raised an outcry of plagiarism. Yet whatever leaves his pen, borrowed or original, has received the unmistakable imprint of his powerful individuality.

It is easy to trace the influences under which, successively, D'Annunzio has come. They are essentially French. He is a French writer in an Italian medium. His early short sketches, noteworthy chiefly for their morbid intensity, were modeled largely on Maupassant, whose frank, unblushing realism left a permanent imprint upon the style of his admirer, and whose later analytic tendency probably had an important share in turning his attention to the psychological school.

'Il Piacere,' though largely inspired by Paul Bourget, contains as large an element of 'Notre Coeur' and 'Bel-Ami' as of 'Le Disciple' and 'Coeur de Femme.' In this novel, Andrea Sperelli affords us the type of D'Annunzio's heroes, who, aside from differences due to age and environment, are all essentially the same,--somewhat weak, yet undeniably attractive; containing, all of them, "something of a Don Juan and a Cherubini," with the Don Juan element preponderating. The plot of 'Il Piacere' is not remarkable either for depth or for novelty, being the needlessly detailed record of Sperelli's relations with two married women, of totally opposite types.

'Giovanni Episcopo' is a brief, painful tragedy of low life, written under the influence of Russian evangelism, and full of reminiscences of Dostoïevsky's 'Crime and Punishment.' Giovanni is a poor clerk, of a weak, pusillanimous nature, completely dominated by a coarse, brutal companion, Giulio Wanzer, who makes him an abject slave, until a detected forgery compels Wanzer to flee the country. Episcopo then marries Ginevra, the pretty but unprincipled waitress at his pension, who speedily drags him down to the lowest depths of degradation, making him a mere nonentity in his own household, willing to live on the proceeds of her infamy. They have one child, a boy, Ciro, on whom Giovanni lavishes all his suppressed tenderness. After ten years of this martyrdom, the hated Wanzer reappears and installs himself as husband in the Episcopo household. Giovanni submits in helpless fury, till one day Wanzer beats Ginevra, and little Ciro intervenes to protect his mother. Wanzer turns on the child, and a spark of manhood is at last kindled in Giovanni's breast. He springs upon Wanzer, and with the pent-up rage of years stabs him.

'L'Innocente,' D'Annunzio's second long novel, also bears the stamp of Russian influence. It is a gruesome, repulsive story of domestic infidelity, in which he has handled the theory of pardon, the motive of numerous recent French novels, like Daudet's 'La Petite Paroisse' and Paul Marguerite's 'La Tourmente.'

In another extended work, 'Il Trionfo della Morte' (The Triumph of Death), D'Annunzio appears as a convert to Nietzsche's philosophy and to Wagnerianism. Ferdinand Brunetière has pronounced it unsurpassed by the naturalistic schools of England, France, or Russia. In brief, the hero, Giorgio Aurispa, a morbid sensualist, with an inherited tendency to suicide, is led by fate through a series of circumstances which keep the thought of death continually before him. They finally goad him on to fling himself from a cliff into the sea, dragging with him the woman he loves.

The 'Vergini della Rocca' (Maidens of the Crag), his last story, is more an idyllic poem than a novel. Claudio Cantelmo, sickened with the corruption of Rome, retires to his old home in the Abruzzi, where he meets the three sisters Massimilla, Anatolia, Violante: "names expressive as faces full of light and shade, and in which I seemed already to discover an infinity of grace, of passion, and of sorrow." It is inevitable that he should chose one of the three, but which? And in the dénouement the solution is only half implied.

D'Annunzio is now occupied with a new romance; and coming years will doubtless present him all the more distinctively as a writer of Italy on whom French inflences have been seed sowed in fertile ground. The place in contemporary Italian of such work as his is indisputably considerable.


From 'The Triumph of Death'

All of a sudden, Albadora, the septuagenarian Cybele, she who had given life to twenty-two sons and daughters, came toiling up the narrow lane into the court, and indicating the neighboring shore, where it skirted the promontory on the left, announced breathlessly:--

"Down yonder there has been a child drowned!"

Candia made the sign of the cross. Giorgio arose and ascended to the loggia, to observe the spot designated. Upon the sand, below the promontory, in close vicinity to the chain of rocks and the tunnel, he perceived a blotch of white, presumably the sheet which hid the little body. A group of people had gathered around it.

As Ippolita had gone to mass with Elena at the chapel of the Port, he yielded to his curiosity and said to his entertainers:--

"I am going down to see."

"Why?" asked Candia. "Why do you wish to put a pain in your heart?"

Hastening down the narrow lane, he descended by a short cut to the beach, and continued along the water. Reaching the spot, somewhat out of breath, he inquired:--

"What has happened?"

The assembled peasants saluted him and made way for him. One of them answered tranquilly:--

"The son of a mother has been drowned."

Another, clad in linen, who seemed to be standing guard over the corpse, bent down and drew aside the sheet.

The inert little body was revealed, extended upon the unyielding sand. It was a lad, eight or nine years old, fair and frail, with slender limbs. His head was supported on his few humble garments, rolled up in place of pillow,--the shirt, the blue trousers, the red sash, the cap of limp felt. His face was but slightly livid, with flat nose, prominent forehead, and long, long lashes; the mouth was half open, with thick lips which were turning blue, between which the widely spaced teeth gleamed white. His neck was slender, flaccid as a wilted stem, and seamed with tiny creases. The jointure of the arms at the shoulder looked feeble. The arms themselves were fragile, and covered with a down similar to the fine plumage which clothes the bodies of newly hatched birds. The whole outline of the ribs was distinctly visible; down the middle of the breast the skin was divided by a darker line; the navel stood out, like a knot. The feet, slightly bloated, had assumed the same sallow color as the little hands, which were callous and strewn with warts, with white nails beginning to turn livid. On the left arm, on the thighs near the groin, and further down, on the knees and along the legs, appeared reddish blotches of scurf. Every detail of this wretched little body assumed, in the eyes of Giorgio, an extraordinary significance, immobile as it was and fixed forever in the rigidity of death.

"How was he drowned? Where?" he questioned, lowering his voice.

The man dressed in linen gave, with some show of impatience, the account which he had probably had to repeat too many times already. He had a brutal countenance, square-cut, with bushy brows, and a large mouth, harsh and savage. Only a little while after leading the sheep back to their stalls, the lad, taking his breakfast along with him, had gone down, together with a comrade, to bathe. He had hardly set foot in the water, when he had fallen and was drowned. At the cries of his comrade, some one from the house overhead on the bluff had hurried down, and wading in up to the knees, had dragged him from the water half dead; they had turned him upside down to make him throw up the water, they had shaken him, but to no purpose. To indicate just how far the poor little fellow had gone in, the man picked up a pebble and threw it into the sea.

"There, only to there; at three yards from the shore!"

The sea lay at rest, breathing peacefully, close to the head of the dead child. But the sun blazed fiercely down upon the sand; and something pitiless, emanating from that sky of flame and from those stolid witnesses, seemed to pass over the pallid corpse.

"Why," asked Giorgio, "do you not place him in the shade, in one of the houses, on a bed?"

"He is not to be moved," declared the man on guard, "until they hold the inquest."

"At least carry him into the shade, down there, below the embankment!"

Stubbornly the man reiterated, "He is not to be moved."

There could be no sadder sight than that frail, lifeless little being, extended on the stones, and watched over by the impassive brute who repeated his account every time in the selfsame words, and every time made the selfsame gesture, throwing a pebble into the sea:--

"There; only to there."

A woman joined the group, a hook-nosed termagant, with gray eyes and sour lips, mother of the dead boy's comrade. She manifested plainly a mistrustful restlessness, as if she anticipated some accusation against her own son. She spoke with bitterness, and seemed almost to bear a grudge against the victim.

"It was his destiny. God had said to him, 'Go into the sea and end yourself.'"

She gesticulated with vehemence. "What did he go in for, if he did not know how to swim--?"

A young lad, a stranger in the district, the son of a mariner, repeated contemptuously, "Yes, what did he go in for? We, yes, who know how to swim--" ...

Other people joined the group, gazed with cold curiosity, then lingered or passed on. A crowd occupied the railroad embankment, another gathered on the crest of the promontory, as if at a spectacle. Children, seated or kneeling, played with pebbles, tossing them into the air and catching them, now on the back and now in the hollow of their hands. They all showed the same profound indifference to the presence of other people's troubles and of death.

Another woman joined the group on her way home from mass, wearing a dress of silk and all her gold ornaments. For her also the harassed custodian repeated his account, for her also he indicated the spot in the water. She was talkative.

"I am always saying to my children, 'Don't you go into the water, or I will kill you!' The sea is the sea. Who can save himself?"

She called to mind other instances of drowning; she called to mind the case of the drowned man with the head cut off, driven by the waves all the way to San Vito, and found among the rocks by a child.

"Here, among these rocks. He came and told us, 'There is a dead man there.' We thought he was joking. But we came and we found. He had no head. They had an inquest; he was buried in a ditch; then in the night he was dug up again. His flesh was all mangled and like jelly, but he still had his boots on. The judge said, 'See, they are better than mine!' So he must have been a rich man. And it turned out that he was a dealer in cattle. They had killed him and chopped off his head, and had thrown him into the Tronto."...

She continued to talk in her shrill voice, from time to time sucking in the superfluous saliva with a slight hissing sound.

"And the mother? When is the mother coming?"

At that name there arose exclamations of compassion from all the women who had gathered.

"The mother! There comes the mother, now!"

And all of them turned around, fancying that they saw her in the far distance, along the burning strand. Some of the women could give particulars about her. Her name was Riccangela; she was a widow with seven children. She had placed this one in a farmer's family, so that he might tend the sheep, and gain a morsel of bread.

One woman said, gazing down at the corpse, "Who knows how much pains the mother has taken in raising him!" Another said, "To keep the children from going hungry she has even had to ask charity."

Another told how, only a few months before, the unfortunate child had come very near strangling to death in a courtyard in a pool of water barely six inches deep. All the women repeated, "It was his destiny. He was bound to die that way."

And the suspense of waiting rendered them restless, anxious. "The mother! There comes the mother now!"

Feeling himself grow sick at heart, Giorgio exclaimed, "Can't you take him into the shade, or into a house, so that the mother will not see him here naked on the stones, under a sun like this?"

Stubbornly the man on guard objected:--"He is not to be touched. He is not to be moved--until the inquest is held."

The bystanders gazed in surprise at the stranger,--Candia's stranger. Their number was augmenting. A few occupied the embankment shaded with acacias; others crowned the promontory rising abruptly from the rocks. Here and there, on the monstrous bowlders, a tiny boat lay sparkling like gold at the foot of the detached crag, so lofty that it gave the effect of the ruins of some Cyclopean tower, confronting the immensity of the sea.

All at once, from above on the height, a voice announced, "There she is."

Other voices followed:--"The mother! The mother!"

All turned. Some stepped down from the embankment. Those on the promontory leaned far over. All became silent, in expectation. The man on guard drew the sheet once more over the corpse. In the midst of the silence, the sea barely seemed to draw its breath, the acacias barely rustled. And then through the silence they could hear her cries as she drew near.

The mother came along the strand, beneath the sun, crying aloud. She was clad in widow's mourning. She tottered along the sand, with bowed body, calling out, "O my son! My son!"

She raised her palms to heaven, and then struck them upon her knees, calling out, "My son!"

One of her older sons, with a red handkerchief bound around his neck, to hide some sore, followed her like one demented, dashing aside his tears with the back of his hand. She advanced along the strand, beating her knees, directing her steps toward the sheet. And as she called upon her dead, there issued from her mouth sounds scarcely human, but rather like the howling of some savage dog. As she drew near, she bent over lower and lower, she placed herself almost on all fours; till, reaching him, she threw herself with a howl upon the sheet.

She arose again. With hand rough and toil-stained, hand toughened by every variety of labor, she uncovered the body. She gazed upon it a few instants, motionless as though turned to stone. Then time and time again, shrilly, with all the power of her voice, she called as if trying to awaken him, "My son! My son! My son!"

Sobs suffocated her. Kneeling beside him, she beat her sides furiously with her fists. She turned her despairing eyes around upon the circle of strangers. During a pause in her paroxysms she seemed to recollect herself. And then she began to sing. She sang her sorrow in a rhythm which rose and fell continually, like the palpitation of a heart. It was the ancient monody which from time immemorial, in the land of the Abruzzi, the women have sung over the remains of their relatives. It was the melodious eloquence of sacred sorrow, which renewed spontaneously, in the profundity of her being, this hereditary rhythm in which the mothers of bygone ages had modulated their lamentations.

She sang on and on:--"Open your eyes, arise and walk, my son! How beautiful you are! How beautiful you are!"

She sang on:--"For a morsel of bread I have drowned you, my son! For a morsel of bread I have borne you to the slaughter! For that have I raised you!"

But the irate woman with the hooked nose interrupted her:--"It was not you who drowned him; it was Destiny. It was not you who took him to the slaughter. You had placed him in the midst of bread." And making a gesture toward the hill where the house stood which had sheltered the lad, she added, "They kept him there, like a pink at the ear."

The mother continued:--"O my son, who was it sent you; who was it sent you here, to drown?"

And the irate woman:--"Who was it sent him? It was our Lord. He said to him, 'Go into the water and end yourself.'"

As Giorgio was affirming in a low tone to one of the bystanders that if succored in time the child might have been saved, and that they had killed him by turning him upside down and holding him suspended by the feet, he felt the gaze of the mother fixed upon him. "Can't you do something for him, sir?" she prayed. "Can't you do something for him?"

And she prayed:--"O Madonna of the Miracles, work a miracle for him!"

Touching the head of the dead boy, she repeated:--"My son! my son! my son! arise and walk!"

On his knees in front of her was the brother of the dead boy; he was sobbing, but without grief, and from time to time he glanced around with a face that suddenly grew indifferent. Another brother, the oldest one, remained at a little distance, seated in the shade of a bowlder; and he was making a great show of grief, hiding his face in his hands. The women, striving to console the mother, were bending over her with gestures of compassion, and accompanying her monody with an occasional lament.

And she sang on:--"Why have I sent you forth from my house? Why have I sent you to your death? I have done everything to keep my children from hunger; everything, everything, except to be a woman with a price. And for a morsel of bread I have lost you! This was the way you were to die!"

Thereupon the woman with the hawk nose raised her petticoats in an impetus of wrath, entered the water up to her knees, and cried:--"Look! He came only to here. Look! The water is like oil. It is a sign that he was bound to die that way."

With two strides she regained the shore. "Look!" she repeated, pointing to the deep imprint in the sand made by the man who recovered the body. "Look!"

The mother looked in a dull way; but it seemed as if she neither saw nor comprehended. After her first wild outbursts of grief, there came over her brief pauses, amounting to an obscurement of consciousness. She would remain silent, she would touch her foot or her leg with a mechanical gesture. Then she would wipe away her tears with the black apron. She seemed to be quieting down. Then, all of a sudden, a fresh explosion would shake her from head to foot, and prostrate her upon the corpse.

"And I cannot take you away! I cannot take you in these arms to the church! My son! My son!"

She fondled him from head to foot, she caressed him softly. Her savage anguish was softened to an infinite tenderness. Her hand--the burnt and callous hand of a hard-working woman--became infinitely gentle as she touched the eyes, the mouth, the forehead of her son.

"How beautiful you are! How beautiful you are!"

She touched his lower lip, already turned blue; and as she pressed it slightly, a whitish froth issued from the mouth. From between his lashes she brushed away some speck, very carefully, as though fearful of hurting him.

"How beautiful you are, heart of your mamma!"

His lashes were long, very long, and fair. On his temples, on his cheeks was a light bloom, pale as gold.

"Do you not hear me? Rise and walk."

She took the little well-worn cap, limp as a rag. She gazed at it and kissed it, saying:--

"I am going to make myself a charm out of this, and wear it always on my breast."

She lifted the child; a quantity of water escaped from the mouth and trickled down upon the breast.

"O Madonna of the Miracles, perform a miracle!" she prayed, raising her eyes to heaven in a supreme supplication. Then she laid softly down again the little being who had been so dear to her, and took up the worn shirt, the red sash, the cap. She rolled them up together in a little bundle, and said:--

"This shall be my pillow; on these I shall rest my head, always, at night; on these I wish to die."

She placed these humble relics on the sand, beside the head of her child, and rested her temple on them, stretching herself out, as if on a bed.

Both of them, mother and son, now lay side by side, on the hard rocks, beneath the flaming sky, close to the homicidal sea. And now she began to croon the very lullaby which in the past had diffused pure sleep over his infant cradle.

She took up the red sash and said, "I want to dress him."

The cross-grained woman, who still held her ground, assented. "Let us dress him now."

And she herself took the garments from under the head of the dead boy; she felt in the jacket pocket and found a slice of bread and a fig.

"Do you see? They had given him his food just before,--just before. They cared for him like a pink at the ear."

The mother gazed upon the little shirt, all soiled and torn, over which her tears fell rapidly, and said, "Must I put that shirt on him?"

The other woman promptly raised her voice to some one of her family, above on the bluff:--"Quick, bring one of Nufrillo's new shirts!" The new shirt was brought. The mother flung herself down beside him.

"Get up, Riccangela, get up!" solicited the women around her.

She did not heed them. "Is my son to stay like that on the stones, and I not stay there too?--like that, on the stones, my own son?"

"Get up, Riccangela, come away."

She arose. She gazed once more with terrible intensity upon the little livid face of the dead. Once again she called with all the power of her voice, "My son! My son! My son!"

Then with her own hands she covered up with the sheet the unheeding remains.

And the women gathered around her, drew her a little to one side, under shadow of a bowlder; they forced her to sit down, they lamented with her.

Little by little the spectators melted away. There remained only a few of the women comforters; there remained the man clad in linen, the impassive custodian, who was awaiting the inquest.

The dog-day sun poured down upon the strand, and lent to the funeral sheet a dazzling whiteness. Amidst the heat the promontory raised its desolate aridity straight upward from the tortuous chain of rocks. The sea, immense and green, pursued its constant, even breathing. And it seemed as if the languid hour was destined never to come to an end.

Under shadow of the bowlder, opposite the white sheet, which was raised up by the rigid form of the corpse beneath, the mother continued her monody in the rhythm rendered sacred by all the sorrows, past and present, of her race. And it seemed as if her lamentation was destined never to come to an end.


When thou upon my breast art sleeping,

I hear across the midnight gray--

I hear the muffled note of weeping,

So near--so sad--so far away!

All night I hear the teardrops falling--

Each drop by drop--my heart must weep;

I hear the falling blood-drops--lonely,

Whilst thou dost sleep--whilst thou dost sleep.

From 'The Triumph of Death.'


India--whose enameled page unrolled

Like autumn's gilded pageant, 'neath a sun

That withers not for ancient kings undone

Or gods decaying in their shrines of gold--

Where were thy vaunted princes, that of old

Trod thee with thunder--of thy saints was none

To rouse thee when the onslaught was begun,

That shook the tinseled sceptre from thy hold?

Dead--though behind thy gloomy citadels

The fountains lave their baths of porphyry;

Dead--though the rose-trees of thy myriad dells

Breathe as of old their speechless ecstasy;

Dead--though within thy temples, courts, and cells,

Their countless lamps still supplicate for thee.

Translated by Thomas Walsh, for 'A Library of the World's Best Literature.'


(About 550-615)


rabia was opened to English readers first by Sale's translation of the 'Kuran,' in 1734; and by English versions of the 'Arabian Nights' from 1712 onward. The latter were derived from Galland's translation of the 'Thousand and One Nights,' which began to appear, in French, in 1704. Next to nothing was generally known of Oriental literature from that time until the end of the eighteenth century. The East India Company fostered the study of the classics of the extreme Orient; and the first Napoleon opened Egypt,--his savans marched in the centre of the invading squares.

The flagship of the English fleet which blockaded Napoleon's army carried an Austro-German diplomatist and scholar,--Baron von Hammer-Purgstall,--part of whose mission was to procure a complete manuscript of the 'Arabian Nights.' It was then supposed that these tales were the daily food of all Turks, Arabians, and Syrians. To the intense surprise of Von Hammer, he learned that they were never recited in the coffee-houses of Constantinople, and that they were not to be found at all outside of Egypt.

His dismay and disappointment were soon richly compensated, however, by the discovery of the Arabian romance of 'Antar,' the national classic, hitherto unknown in Europe, except for an enthusiastic notice which had fallen by chance into the hands of Sir William Jones. The entire work was soon collected. It is of interminable length in the original, being often found in thirty or forty manuscript volumes in quarto, in seventy or eighty in octavo. Portions of it have been translated into English, German, and French. English readers can consult it best in 'Antar,' a Bedouin romance, translated from the Arabic by Terrick Hamilton, in four volumes 8vo (London, 1820). Hamilton's translation, now rare, covers only a portion of the original; and a new translation, suitably abridged, is much needed.

The book purports to have been written more than a thousand years ago,--in the golden prime of the Caliph Harún-al-Rashid (786-809) and of his sons and successors, Amin (809-813) and Mamun (813-834),--by the famous As-Asmai (born 741, died about 830). It is in fact a later compilation, probably of the twelth century. (Baron von Hammer's MS. was engrossed in the year 1466.) Whatever the exact date may have been, it was probably not much later than A.D. 1200. The main outlines of Antar's life are historical. Many particulars are derived from historic accounts of the lives of other Arabian heroes (Duraid and others) and are transferred bodily to the biography of Antar. They date back to the sixth century. Most of the details must be imaginary, but they are skillfully contrived by a writer who knew the life of the desert Arab at first hand. The verses with which the volumes abound are in many cases undoubtedly Antar's. (They are printed in italics in what follows.) In any event, the book in its present form has been the delight of all Arabians for many centuries. Every wild Bedouin of the desert knew much of the tale by heart, and listened to its periods and to its poems with quivering interest. His more cultivated brothers of the cities possessed one or many of its volumes. Every coffee-house in Aleppo, Bagdad, or Constantinople had a narrator who, night after night, recited it to rapt audiences.

The unanimous opinion of the East has always placed the romance of 'Antar' at the summit of such literature. As one of their authors well says:--"'The Thousand and One Nights' is for the amusement of women and children; 'Antar' is a book for men. From it they learn lessons of eloquence, of magnanimity, of generosity, and of statecraft." Even the prophet Muhammad, well-known foe to poetry and to poets, instructed his disciples to relate to their children the traditions concerning Antar, "for these will steel their hearts harder than stone."

The book belongs among the great national classics, like the 'Shah-nameh' and the 'Nibelungen-Lied.' It has a direct relation to Western culture and opinion also. Antar was the father of knighthood. He was the preux-chevalier, the champion of the weak and oppressed, the protector of women, the impassioned lover-poet, the irresistible and magnanimous knight. European chivalry in a marked degree is the child of the chivalry of his time, which traveled along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and passed with the Moors into Spain (710). Another current flowed from Arabia to meet and to modify the Greeks of Constantinople and the early Crusaders; and still another passed from Persia into Palestine and Europe. These fertilized Provençal poetry, the French romance, the early Italian epic. The 'Shah-nameh' of Firdausi, that model of a heroic poem, was written early in the eleventh century. 'Antar' in its present form probably preceded the romances of chivalry so common in the twelfth century in Italy and France.

Antarah ben Shedad el Absi (Antar the Lion, the Son of Shedad of the tribe of Abs), the historic Antar, was born about the middle of the sixth century of our era, and died about the year 615, forty-five years after the birth of the prophet Muhammad, and seven years before the Hijra--the Flight to Medina--with which the Muhammadan era begins. His father was a noble Absian knight. The romance makes him the son of an Abyssinian slave, who is finally discovered to be a powerful princess. His skin was black. He was despised by his father and family and set to tend their camels. His extraordinary strength and valor and his remarkable poetic faculty soon made him a marked man, in a community in which personal valor failed of its full value if it were not celebrated in brilliant verse. His love for the beautiful Ibla (Ablah in the usual modern form), the daughter of his uncle, was proved in hundreds of encounters and battles; by many adventurous excursions in search of fame and booty; by thousands of verses in her honor.

The historic Antar is the author of one of the seven "suspended poems." The common explanation of this term is that these seven poems were judged, by the assemblage of all the Arabs, worthy to be written in golden letters (whence their name of the 'golden odes'), and to be hung on high in the sacred Kaabah at Mecca. Whether this be true, is not certain. They are at any rate accepted models of Arabic style. Antar was one of the seven greatest poets of his poetic race. These "suspended poems" can now be studied in the original and in translation, by the help of a little book published in London in 1894, 'The Seven Poems,' by Captain F.E. Johnson, R.A.

The Antar of the romance is constantly breaking into verse which is passionately admired by his followers. None of its beauties of form are preserved in the translation; and indeed, this is true of the prose forms also. It speaks volumes for the manly vigor of the original that it can be transferred to an alien tongue and yet preserve great qualities. To the Arab the work is a masterpiece both in form and content. Its prose is in balanced, rhythmic sentences ending in full or partial rhymes. This "cadence of the cooing dove" is pure music to an Eastern ear. If any reader is interested in Arabic verse, he can readily satisfy his curiosity. An introduction to the subject is given in the Terminal Essay of Sir Richard Burton's 'Arabian Nights' (Lady Burton's edition, Vol. vi., page 340). The same subject is treated briefly and very clearly in the introduction to Lyall's 'Ancient Arabian Poetry'--a book well worth consulting on other accounts.

The story itself appeals to the Oriental's deepest feelings, passions, ideals:--

"To realize the impetuous feelings of the Arab," says Von Hammer, "you must have heard these tales narrated to a circle of Bedouins crowded about the orator of the desert.... It is a veritable drama, in which the spectators are the actors as well. If the hero is threatened with imminent danger, they shudder and cry aloud, 'No, no, no; Allah forbid! that cannot be!' If he is in the midst of tumult and battle, mowing down rank after rank of the enemy with his sword, they seize their own weapons and rise to fly to his rescue. If he falls into the snares of treachery, their foreheads contract with angry indignation and they exclaim, 'The curse of Allah be on the traitor!' If the hero at last sinks under the superior forces of the enemy, a long and ardent sigh escapes from their breasts, with the farewell blessing, 'Allah's compassion be with him--may he rest in peace.'... Descriptions of the beauties of nature, especially of the spring, are received with exclamations. Nothing equals the delight which sparkles in every eye when the narrator draws a picture of feminine beauty."

The question as to the exact relation of the chivalry of Europe to the earlier chivalry of Arabia and of the East is a large one, and one which must be left to scholars. It is certain that Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney owe far more to Saladin than we commonly suppose. The tales of Boccaccio (1350) show that the Italians of that day still held the Arabs to be their teachers in chivalry, and at least their equals in art, science, and civilization; and the Italy of 1300 was a century in advance of the rest of Europe. In 1268 two brothers of the King of Castile, with 800 other Spanish gentlemen, were serving under the banners of the Muslim in Tunis. The knightly ideal of both Moors and Spaniards was to be

"Like steel among swords,
Like wax among ladies."

Hospitality, generosity, magnanimity, the protection of the weak, punctilious observance of the plighted faith, pride of birth and lineage, glory in personal valor--these were the knightly virtues common to Arab and Christian warriors. Antar and his knights, Ibla and her maidens, are the Oriental counterparts of Launcelot and Arthur, of Guinevere and Iseult.

The primary duty of the early Arab was blood-revenge. An insult to himself, or an injury to the tribe, must be wiped out with the blood of the offender. Hence arose the multitude of tribal feuds. It was Muhammad who first checked the private feud by fixing "the price of blood" to be paid by the aggressor or by his tribe. In the time of Antar revenge was the foremost duty. Ideals of excellence change as circumstances alter. Virtues go out of fashion (like the magnificence of Aristotle), or acquire an entirely new importance (as veracity, since England became a trading nation). Some day we may possess a natural history of the virtues.

The service of the loved one by the early Arab was a passion completely different from the vain gallantry of the mediæval knight of Europe. He sought for the complete possession of his chosen mistress, and was eager to earn it by multitudes of chivalric deeds; but he could not have understood the sentimentalities of the Troubadours. The systematic fantasies of the "Courts of Love" would have seemed cold follies to Arab chivalry--as indeed they are, though they have led to something better. In generosity, in magnanimity, the Arab knight far surpassed his European brother. Hospitality was a point of honor to both. As to the noble Arabs of those days, when any one demanded their protection, no one ever inquired what was the matter; for if he asked any questions, it would be said of him that he was afraid. The poets have thus described them in verse:--

"They rise when any one calls out to them, and
they haste before asking any questions;
they aid him against his enemies
that seek his life, and they return
honored to their families."

The Arab was the knight of the tent and the desert. His deeds were immediately known to his fellows; discussed and weighed in every household of his tribe. The Christian knight of the Middle Ages, living isolated in his stronghold, was less immediately affected by the opinions of his class. Tribal allegiance was developed in the first case, independence in the second.

Scholars tell us that the romance of 'Antar' is priceless for faithful pictures of the times before the advent of Muhammad, which are confirmed by all that remains of the poetry of "the days of ignorance." To the general reader its charm lies in its bold and simple stories of adventure; in its childlike enjoyment of the beauty of Nature; in its pictures of the elemental passions of ambition, pride, love, hate, revenge. Antar was a poet, a lover, a warrior, a born leader. From a keeper of camels he rose to be the protector of the tribe of Abs and the pattern of chivalry, by virtue of great natural powers and in the face of every obstacle. He won possession of his Ibla and gave her the dower of a queen, by adventures the like of which were never known before. There were no Ifrits or Genii to come to his aid, as in the 'Thousand Nights and a Night.' 'Antar' is the epic of success crowning human valor; the tales in the 'Arabian Nights,' at their best, are the fond fancies of the fatalist whose best endeavor is at the mercy of every capricious Jinni.

The 'Arabian Nights' contains one tale of the early Arabs,--the story of Gharib and his brother Ajib,--which repeats some of the exploits of Antar; a tale far inferior to the romance. The excellences of the 'Arabian Nights' are of another order. We must look for them in the pompous enchantments of the City of Brass, or in the tender constancy of Aziz and Azizah, or in the tale of Hasan of Bassorah, with its lovely study of the friendship of a foster-sister, and its wonderful presentment of the magic surroundings of the country of the Jann.

To select specimens from 'Antar' is like selecting from 'Robinson Crusoe.' In the romance, Antar's adventures go on and on, and the character of the hero develops before one's eyes. It may be that the leisure of the desert is needed fully to appreciate this master-work.


Now Antar was becoming a big boy, and grew up, and used to accompany his mother, Zebeeba, to the pastures, and he watched the cattle; and this he continued to do till he increased in stature. He used to walk and run about to harden himself, till at length his muscles were strengthened, his frame altogether more robust, his bones more firm and solid, and his speech correct. His days were passed in roaming about the mountain sides; and thus he continued till he attained his tenth year.

[He now kills a wolf which had attacked his father's flocks, and breaks into verse to celebrate his victory:--]

O thou wolf, eager for death, I have left thee wallowing in dust, and spoiled of life; thou wouldst have the run of my flocks, but I have left thee dyed with blood; thou wouldst disperse my sheep, and thou knowest I am a lion that never fears. This is the way I treat thee, thou dog of the desert. Hast thou ever before seen battle and wars?

[His next adventure brought him to the notice of the chief of the tribe,--King Zoheir. A slave of Prince Shas insulted a poor, feeble woman who was tending her sheep; on which Antar "dashed him against the ground. And his length and breadth were all one mass." This deed won for Antar the hatred of Prince Shas, the friendship of the gentle Prince Malik, and the praise of the king, their father. "This valiant fellow," said the king, "has defended the honor of women."]

From that day both King Zoheir and his son Malik conceived a great affection for Antar, and as Antar returned home, the women all collected around him to ask him what had happened; among them were his aunts and his cousin, whose name was Ibla. Now Ibla was younger than Antar, and a merry lass. She was lovely as the moon at its full; and perfectly beautiful and elegant.... One day he entered the house of his uncle Malik and found his aunt combing his cousin Ibla's hair, which flowed down her back, dark as the shades of night. Antar was quite surprised; he was greatly agitated, and could pay no attention to anything; he was anxious and thoughtful, and his anguish daily became more oppressive.

[Meeting her at a feast, he addressed her in verse:--]

The lovely virgin has struck my heart with the arrow of a glance, for which there is no cure. Sometimes she wishes for a feast in the sandhills, like a fawn whose eyes are full of magic. She moves; I should say it was the branch of the Tamarisk that waves its branches to the southern breeze. She approaches; I should say it was the frightened fawn, when a calamity alarms it in the waste.

When Ibla heard from Antar this description of her charms, she was in astonishment. But Antar continued in this state for days and nights, his love and anguish ever increasing.

[Antar resolves to be either tossed upon the spear-heads or numbered among the noble; and he wanders into the plain of lions.]

As soon as Antar found himself in it, he said to himself, Perhaps I shall now find a lion, and I will slay him. Then, behold a lion appeared in the middle of the valley; he stalked about and roared aloud; wide were his nostrils, and fire flashed from his eyes; the whole valley trembled at every gnash of his fangs--he was a calamity, and his claws more dreadful than the deadliest catastrophe--thunder pealed as he roared--vast was his strength, and his force dreadful--broad were his paws, and his head immense. Just at that moment Shedad and his brothers came up. They saw Antar address the lion, and heard the verses that he repeated; he sprang forward like a hailstorm, and hissed at him like a black serpent--he met the lion as he sprang and outroared his bellow; then, giving a dreadful shriek, he seized hold of his mouth with his hand, and wrenched it open to his shoulders, and he shouted aloud--the valley and the country round echoed back the war.

[Those who were watching were astonished at his prowess, and began to fear Antar. The horsemen now set off to attack the tribe of Temeem, leaving the slaves to guard the women.]

Antar was in transports on seeing Ibla appear with the other women. She was indeed like an amorous fawn; and when Antar was attending her, he was overwhelmed in the ocean of his love, and became the slave of her sable tresses. They sat down to eat, and the wine-cups went merrily round. It was the spring of the year, when the whole land shone in all its glory; the vines hung luxuriantly in the arbors; the flowers shed around ambrosial fragrance; every hillock sparkled in the beauty of its colors; the birds in responsive melody sang sweetly from each bush, and harmony issued from their throats; the ground was covered with flowers and herbs; while the nightingales filled the air with their softest notes.

[While the maidens were singing and sporting, lo! on a sudden appeared a cloud of dust walling the horizon, and a vast clamor arose. A troop of horses and their riders, some seventy in number, rushed forth to seize the women, and made them prisoners. Antar instantly rescues Ibla from her captors and engages the enemy.]

He rushed forward to meet them, and harder than flint was his heart, and in his attack was their fate and destiny. He returned home, taking with him five-and-twenty horses, and all the women and children. Now the hatred of Semeeah (his stepmother) was converted into love and tenderness, and he became dearer to her than sleep.

[He had thenceforward a powerful ally in her, a fervent friend in Prince Malik, a wily counselor in his brother Shiboob. And Antar made great progress in Ibla's heart, from the verses that he spoke in her praise; such verses as these:--]

I love thee with the love of a noble-born hero; and I am content with thy imaginary phantom. Thou art my sovereign in my very blood; and my mistress; and in thee is all my confidence.

[Antar's astonishing valor gained him the praise of the noble Absian knights, and he was emboldened to ask his father Shedad to acknowledge him for his son, that he might become a chief among the Arabs. Shedad, enraged, drew his sword and rushed upon Antar to kill him, but was prevented by Semeeah. Antar, in the greatest agony of spirit, was ashamed that the day should dawn on him after this refusal, or that he should remain any longer in the country. He mounted his horse, put on his armor, and traveled on till he was far from the tents, and he knew not whither he was going.]

Antar had proceeded some way, when lo! a knight rushed out from the ravines in the rocks, mounted on a dark-colored colt, beautiful and compact, and of a race much prized among the Arabs; his hoofs were as flat as the beaten coin; when he neighed he seemed as if about to speak, and his ears were like quills; his sire was Wasil and his dam Hemama. When Antar cast his eye upon the horse, and observed his speed and his paces, he felt that no horse could surpass him, so his whole heart and soul longed for him. And when the knight perceived that Antar was making toward him, he spurred his horse and it fled beneath him; for this was a renowned horseman called Harith, the son of Obad, and he was a valiant hero.

[By various devices Antar became possessed of the noble horse Abjer, whose equal no prince or emperor could boast of. His mettle was soon tried in an affray with the tribe of Maan, headed by the warrior Nakid, who was ferocious as a lion.]

When Nakid saw the battle of Antar, and how alone he stood against five thousand, and was making them drink of the cup of death and perdition, he was overwhelmed with astonishment at his deeds. "Thou valiant slave," he cried, "how powerful is thine arm--how strong thy wrist!" And he rushed down upon Antar. And Antar presented himself before him, for he was all anxiety to meet him. "O thou base-born!" cried Nakid. But Antar permitted him not to finish his speech, before he assaulted him with the assault of a lion, and roared at him; he was horrified and paralyzed at the sight of Antar. Antar attacked him, thus scared and petrified, and struck him with his sword on the head, and cleft him down the back; and he fell, cut in twain, from the horse, and he was split in two as if by a balance; and as Antar dealt the blow he cried out, "Oh, by Abs! oh, by Adnan! I am ever the lover of Ibla." No sooner did the tribe of Maan behold Antar's blow, than every one was seized with fear and dismay. The whole five thousand made an attack like the attack of a single man; but Antar received them as the parched ground receives the first of the rain. His eyeballs were fiery red, and foam issued from his lips; whenever he smote he cleft the head; every warrior he assailed, he annihilated; he tore a rider from the back of his horse, he heaved him on high, and whirling him in the air he struck down another with him, and the two instantly expired. "By thine eyes, Ibla," he cried, "to-day will I destroy all this race." Thus he proceeded until he terrified the warriors, and hurled them into woe and disgrace, hewing off their arms and their joints.

[At the moment of Antar's victory his friends arrive to see his triumph. On his way back with them he celebrates his love for Ibla in verses.]

When the breezes blow from Mount Saadi, their freshness calms the fire of my love and transports.... Her throat complains of the darkness of her necklaces. Alas! the effects of that throat and that necklace! Will fortune ever, O daughter of Malik, ever bless me with thy embrace, that would cure my heart of the sorrows of love? If my eye could see her baggage camels, and her family, I would rub my cheeks on the hoofs of her camels. I will kiss the earth where thou art; mayhap the fire of my love and ecstasy may be quenched.... I am the well-known Antar, the chief of his tribe, and I shall die; but when I am gone, histories shall tell of me.

[From that day forth Antar was named Abool-fawaris, that is to say, the father of horsemen. His sword, Dhami--the trenchant--was forged from a meteor that fell from the sky; it was two cubits long and two spans wide. If it were presented to Nushirvan, King of Persia, he would exalt the giver with favors; or if it were presented to the Emperor of Europe, one would be enriched with treasures of gold and silver.]

As soon as Gheidac saw the tribe of Abs, and Antar the destroyer of horsemen, his heart was overjoyed and he cried out, "This is a glorious morning; to-day will I take my revenge." So he assailed the tribe of Abs and Adnan, and his people attacked behind him like a cloud when it pours forth water and rains. And the Knight of Abs assaulted them likewise, anxious to try his sword, the famous Dhami. And Antar fought with Gheidac, and wearied him, and shouted at him, and filled him with horror; then assailed him so that stirrup grated stirrup; and he struck him on the head with Dhami. He cleft his visor and wadding, and his sword played away between the eyes, passing through his shoulders down to the back of the horse, even down to the ground; and he and his horse made four pieces; and to the strictest observer, it would appear that he had divided them with scales. And God prospered Antar in all that he did, so that he slew all he aimed at, and overthrew all he touched.

"Nobility," said Antar, "among liberal men, is the thrust of the spear, the blow of the sword, and patience beneath the battle-dust. I am the physician of the tribe of Abs in sickness, their protector in disgrace, the defender of their wives when they are in trouble, their horseman when they are in glory, and their sword when they rush to arms."

[This was Antar's speech to Monzar, King of the Arabs, when he was in search of Ibla's dowry. He found it in the land of Irak, where the magnificent Chosroe was ready to reward him even to the half of his kingdom, for his victory over the champion of the Emperor of Europe.]

"All this grandeur, and all these gifts," said Antar, "have no value to me, no charm in my eyes. Love of my native land is the fixed passion of my soul."

"Do not imagine," said Chosroe, "that we have been able duly to recompense you. What we have given you is perishable, as everything human is, but your praises and your poems will endure forever."

[Antar's wars made him a Nocturnal Calamity to the foes of his tribe. He was its protector and the champion of its women, "for Antar was particularly solicitous in the cause of women." His generosity knew no bounds. "Antar immediately presented the whole of the spoil to his father and his uncles; and all the tribe of Abs were astonished at his noble conduct and filial love." His hospitality was universal; his magnanimity without limit. "Do not bear malice, O Shiboob. Renounce it; for no good ever came of malice. Violence is infamous; its result is ever uncertain, and no one can act justly when actuated by hatred. Let my heart support every evil, and let my patience endure till I have subdued all my foes." Time after time he won new dowries for Ibla, even bringing the treasures of Persia to her feet. Treacheries without count divided him from his promised bride. Over and over again he rescued her from the hands of the enemy; and not only her, but her father and her hostile kinsmen.

At last (in the fourth volume, on the fourteen hundred and fifty-third page) Antar makes his wedding feasts.]

"I wish to make at Ibla's wedding five separate feasts; I will feed the birds and the beasts, the men and the women, the girls and the boys, and not a single person shall remain in the whole country but shall eat at Ibla's marriage festival."

Antar was at the summit of his happiness and delight, congratulating himself on his good fortune and perfect felicity, all trouble and anxiety being now banished from his heart. Praise be to God, the dispenser of all grief from the hearts of virtuous men.

[The three hundred and sixty tribes of the Arabs were invited to the feast, and on the eighth day the assembled chiefs presented their gifts--horses, armor, slaves, perfumes, gold, velvet, camels. The number of slaves Antar received that day was five-and-twenty hundred, to each of whom he gave a damsel, a horse, and weapons. And they all mounted when he rode out, and halted when he halted.]

Now when all the Arab chiefs had presented their offerings, each according to his circumstances, Antar rose, and called out to Mocriul-Wahsh:--"O Knight of Syria," said he, "let all the he and she camels, high-priced horses, and all the various rarities I have received this day, be a present from me to you. But the perfumes of ambergris, and fragrant musk, belong to my cousin Ibla; and the slaves shall form my army and troops." And the Arab chiefs marveled at his generosity....

And now Ibla was clothed in the most magnificent garments, and superb necklaces; they placed the coronet of Chosroe on her head, and tiaras round her forehead. They lighted brilliant and scented candles before her--the perfumes were scattered--the torches blazed--and Ibla came forth in state. All present gave a shout; while the malicious and ill-natured cried aloud, "What a pity that one so beautiful and fair should be wedded to one so black!"

[The selections are from Hamilton's translation. Two long episodes in 'Antar' are especially noteworthy: the famous horse race between the champions of the tribes of Abs and Fazarah (Vol. iv., Chapter 33), and the history of Khalid and Jaida (Vol. ii., Chapter 11).]


(Second Century A. D.)

ucius Apuleius, author of the brilliant Latin novel 'The Metamorphoses,' also called 'The [Golden] Ass,'--and more generally known under that title,--will be remembered when many greater writers shall have been forgotten. The downfall of Greek political freedom brought a period of intellectual development fertile in prose story-telling,--short fables and tales, novels philosophic and religious, historical and satiric, novels of love, novels of adventure. Yet, strange to say, while the instinct was prolific in the Hellenic domain of the Roman Empire, it was for the most part sterile in Italy, though Roman life was saturated with the influence of Greek culture. Its only two notable examples are Petronius Arbiter and Apuleius, both of whom belong to the first two centuries of the Christian epoch.


The suggestion of the plan of the novel familiarly known as 'The Golden Ass' was from a Greek source, Lucius of Patræ. The original version was still extant in the days of Photius, Patriarch of the Greek Church in the ninth century. Lucian, the Greek satirist, also utilized the same material in a condensed form in his 'Lucius, or the Ass.' But Apuleius greatly expanded the legend, introduced into it numerous episodes, and made it the background of a vivid picture of the manners and customs of a corrupt age. Yet underneath its lively portraiture there runs a current of mysticism at variance with the naïve rehearsal of the hero's adventures, and this has tempted critics to find a hidden meaning in the story. Bishop Warburton, in his 'Divine Legation of Moses,' professes to see in it a defense of Paganism at the expense of struggling Christianity. While this seems absurd, it is fairly evident that the mind of the author was busied with something more than the mere narration of rollicking adventure, more even than a satire on Roman life. The transformation of the hero into an ass, at the moment when he was plunging headlong into a licentious career, and the recovery of his manhood again through divine intervention, suggest a serious symbolism. The beautiful episode of 'Cupid and Psyche,' which would lend salt to a production far more corrupt, is also suggestive. Apuleius perfected this wild flower of ancient folk-lore into a perennial plant that has blossomed ever since along the paths of literature and art. The story has been accepted as a fitting embodiment of the struggle of the soul toward a higher perfection; yet, strange to say, the episode is narrated with as brutal a realism as if it were a satire of Lucian, and its style is belittled with petty affectations of rhetoric. It is the enduring beauty of the conception that has continued to fascinate. Hence we may say of 'The Golden Ass' in its entirety, that whether readers are interested in esoteric meanings to be divined, or in the author's vivid sketches of his own period, the novel has a charm which long centuries have failed to dim.

Apuleius was of African birth and of good family, his mother having come of Plutarch's blood. The second century of the Roman Empire, when he lived (he was born at Madaura about A. D. 139), was one of the most brilliant periods in history,--brilliant in its social gayety, in its intellectual activities, and in the splendor of its achievements. The stimulus of the age spurred men far in good and evil. Apuleius studied at Carthage, and afterward at Rome, both philosophy and religion, though this bias seems not to have dulled his taste for worldly pleasure. Poor in purse, he finally enriched himself by marrying a wealthy widow and inheriting her property. Her will was contested on the ground that this handsome and accomplished young literary man had exercised magic in winning his elderly bride! The successful defense of Apuleius before his judges--a most diverting composition, so jaunty and full of witty impertinences that it is evident he knew the hard-headed Roman judges would dismiss the prosecution as a farce--is still extant under the name of 'The Apology; or, Concerning Magic.' This in after days became oddly jumbled with the story of 'The Golden Ass' and its transformations, so that St. Augustine was inclined to believe Apuleius actually a species of professional wizard.

The plot of 'The Golden Ass' is very simple. Lucius of Madaura, a young man of property, sets out on his travels to sow his wild oats. He pursues this pleasant occupation with the greatest zeal according to the prevailing mode: he is no moralist. The partner of his first intrigue is the maid of a woman skilled in witchcraft. The curiosity of Lucius being greatly exercised about the sorceress and her magic, he importunes the girl to procure from her mistress a magic salve which will transform him at will into an owl. By mistake he receives the wrong salve; and instead of the bird metamorphosis which he had looked for, he undergoes an unlooked-for change into an ass. In this guise, and in the service of various masters, he has opportunities of observing the follies of men from a novel standpoint. His adventures are numerous, and he hears many strange stories, the latter being chronicled as episodes in the record of his experiences. At last the goddess Isis appears in a dream, and obligingly shows him the way to effect his second metamorphosis, by aid of the high priest of her temple, where certain mysteries are about to be celebrated. Lucius is freed from his disguise, and is initiated into the holy rites.

'The Golden Ass' is full of dramatic power and variety. The succession of incident, albeit grossly licentious at times, engages the interest without a moment's dullness. The main narrative, indeed, is no less entertaining than the episodes. The work became a model for story-writers of a much later period, even to the times of Fielding and Smollett. Boccaccio borrowed freely from it; at least one of the many humorous exploits of Cervantes's 'Don Quixote' can be attributed to an adventure of Lucius; while 'Gil Blas' abounds in reminiscences of the Latin novel. The student of folk-lore will easily detect in the tasks imposed by Venus on her unwelcome daughter-in-law, in the episode of 'Cupid and Psyche,' the possible original from which the like fairy tales of Europe drew many a suggestion. Probably Apuleius himself was indebted to still earlier Greek sources.

Scarcely any Latin production was more widely known and studied from the beginning of the Italian Renaissance to the middle of the seventeenth century. In its style, however, it is far from classic. It is full of archaisms and rhetorical conceits. In striving to say things finely, the author frequently failed to say them well. This fault, however, largely disappears in the translation; and whatever may be the literary defects of the novel, it offers rich compensation in the liveliness, humor, and variety of its substance.

In addition to 'The Golden Ass,' the extant writings of Apuleius include 'Florida' (an anthology from his own works), 'The God of Socrates,' 'The Philosophy of Plato,' and 'Concerning the World,' a treatise once attributed to Aristotle. The best modern edition of his complete works is that of Hildebrand (Leipzig, 1842); of the 'Metamorphoses,' that of Eyssenhardt (Berlin, 1869). There have been many translations into the modern languages. The best English versions are those of T. Taylor (London, 1822); of Sir G. Head, somewhat expurgated (London, 1851); and an unsigned translation published in the Bohn Library, which has been drawn on for this work, but greatly rewritten as too stiff and prolix, and in the conversations often wholly unnatural. A very pretty edition in French, with many illustrations, is that of Savalète (Paris, 1872).


From 'The Metamorphoses'

I am a native of Ægina, and I travel in Thessaly, Ætolia, and Boeotia to purchase honey of Hypata, cheese, and other articles used in cookery. Having heard that at Hypata, the principal city of Thessaly, fine-flavored new cheese was for sale cheap, I made the best of my way there to buy it all up. But as usual, happening to start left foot foremost, which is unlucky, all my hopes of profit came to nothing; for a fellow named Lupus, a merchant who does things on a big scale, had bought the whole of it the day before.

Weary with my hurried journey to no purpose, I was going early in the evening to the public baths, when to my surprise I espied an old companion of mine named Socrates. He was sitting on the ground, half covered with a rag-tag cloak, and looking like somebody else, he was so miserably wan and thin,--in fact, just like a street beggar; so that though he used to be my friend and close acquaintance, I had two minds about speaking to him.

"How now, friend Socrates!" said I: "what does this mean? Why are you tricked out like this? What crime have you been guilty of? Why, you look as though your family had given you up for dead and held your funeral long ago, the probate judge had appointed guardians for your children, and your wife, disfigured by her long mourning, having cried herself almost blind, was being worried by her parents to sit up and take notice of things, and look for a new marriage. Yet now, all of a sudden, here you come before us like a wretched ghost from the dead, to turn everything upside down.'"

"O Aristomenes!" said he, "it's clear that you don't know the slippery turns, the freaks, and the never-ending tricks of fortune."

As he said this, he hid his face, crimson with shame, in his one garment of patches and tatters. I could not bear such a miserable sight, and tried to raise him from the ground. But he kept saying with his head all covered up, "Let me alone! let me alone! let Fortune have her way with me!"

However, I finally persuaded him to go with me; and at the same time pulling off one of my own garments, I speedily clothed him, or at any rate covered him. I next took him to a bath, scrubbed and oiled him myself, and laboriously rubbed the matted dirt off him. Having done all I could, though tired out myself, I supported his feeble steps, and with great difficulty brought him to my inn. There I made him lie down on a bed, gave him plenty of food, braced him up with wine, and entertained him with the news of the day. Pretty soon our conversation took a merry turn; we cracked jokes, and grew noisy as we chattered. All of a sudden, heaving a bitter sigh from the bottom of his chest, and striking his forehead violently with his right hand, he said:--

"Miserable wretch that I am, to have got into such a predicament while having a good time at a gladiatorial show! As you know, I went to Macedonia on business; it took me ten months; I was on my way home with a very neat sum of money, and had nearly reached Larissa, which I included in my route in order to see the show I mentioned, when I was attacked by robbers in a lonely valley, and only escaped after losing everything I had. In my distress I betook myself to a certain woman named Meroë, who kept a tavern (and who, though rather old, was very good-looking), and told her about my long absence, my earnest desire to reach home, and my being robbed that very day. She treated me with the greatest kindness, gave me a good supper for nothing, and then let me make love to her. But from the very moment that I was such a fool as to dally with her, my mind seemed to desert me. I even gave her the clothes which the robbers in common decency had left me, and the little earnings I made there by working as cloakmaker so long as I was in good physical condition; until at length this kind friend, and bad luck together, reduced me to the state you just now found me in."

"By Pollux, then," said I, "you deserve to suffer the very worst misfortunes (if there be anything worse than the worst), for having preferred a wrinkled old reprobate to your home and children."

"Hush! hush!" said he, putting his forefinger on his lips, and looking round with a terror-stricken face to see if we were alone. "Beware of reviling a woman skilled in the black art, for fear of doing yourself a mischief."

"Say you so?" said I. "What kind of a woman is this innkeeper, so powerful and dreadful?"

"She is a sorceress," he replied, "and possessed of magic powers; she can draw down the heavens, make the earth heave, harden the running water, dissolve mountains, raise the shades of the dead, dethrone the gods, extinguish the stars, and set the very depths of Tartarus ablaze!"

"Come, come!" said I: "end this tragic talk, fold up your theatrical drop-scenes, and let us hear your story in every-day language."

"Should you like," said he, "to hear of one or two, yes, or a great many of her performances? Why, to make not only her fellow-countrymen, but the Indians, the Ethiopians, or even the Antipodeans, love her to distraction, are only the easy lessons of her art, as it were, and mere trifles. Listen to what she has done before many witnesses. By a single word she changed a lover into a beaver, because he had gone to another flame. She changed an innkeeper, a neighbor of hers she was envious of, into a frog; and now the old fellow, swimming about in a cask of his own wine, or buried in the dregs, croaks hoarsely to his old customers,--quite in the way of business. She changed another person, a lawyer from the Forum, into a ram, because he had conducted a suit against her; to this very day that ram is always butting about. Finally, however, public indignation was aroused by so many people coming to harm through her arts; and the very next day had been fixed upon to wreak a fearful vengeance on her, by stoning her to death. She frustrated the design by her enchantments. You remember how Medea, having got Creon to allow her just one day before her departure, burned his whole palace, with himself and his daughter in it, by means of flames issuing from a garland? Well, this sorceress, having performed certain deadly incantations in a ditch (she told me so herself in a drunken fit), confined everybody in the town each in his own house for two whole days, by a secret spell of the demons. The bars could not be wrenched off, nor the doors taken off the hinges, nor even a breach made in the walls. At last, by common consent, the people all swore they would not lift a hand against her, and would come to her defense if any one else did. She then liberated the whole city. But in the middle of the night she conveyed the author of the conspiracy, with all his house, close barred as it was,--the walls, the very ground, and even the foundations,--to another city a hundred miles off, on the top of a craggy mountain, and so without water. And as the houses of the inhabitants were built so close together that there was not room for the new-comer, she threw down the house before the gate of the city and took her departure."

"You narrate marvelous things," said I, "my good Socrates; and no less terrible than marvelous. In fact, you have excited no small anxiety (indeed I may say fear) in me too; not a mere grain of apprehension, but a piercing dread for fear this old hag should come to know our conversation in the same way, by the help of some demon. Let us get to bed without delay; and when we have rested ourselves by a little sleep, let us fly as far as we possibly can before daylight."

While I was still advising him thus, the worthy Socrates, overcome by more wine than he was used to and by his fatigue, had fallen asleep and was snoring loudly. I shut the door, drew the bolts, and placing my bed close against the hinges, tossed it up well and lay down on it. I lay awake some time through fear, but closed my eyes at last a little before midnight.

I had just fallen asleep, when suddenly the door was burst open with such violence that it was evidently not done by robbers; the hinges were absolutely broken and wrenched off, and it was thrown to the ground. The small bedstead, minus one foot and rotten, was also upset by the shock; and falling upon me, who had been rolled out on the floor, it completely covered and hid me. Then I perceived that certain emotions can be excited by exactly opposite causes; for as tears often come from joy, so, in spite of my terror, I could not help laughing to see myself turned from Aristomenes into a tortoise. As I lay on the floor, completely covered by the bed, and peeping out to see what was the matter, I saw two old women, one carrying a lighted lamp and the other a sponge and a drawn sword, plant themselves on either side of Socrates, who was fast asleep.

The one with the sword said to the other:--"This, sister Panthea, is my dear Endymion, my Ganymede, who by day and by night has laughed my youth to scorn. This is he who, despising my passion, not only defames me with abusive language, but is preparing also for flight; and I forsooth, deserted through the craft of this Ulysses, like another Calypso, am to be left to lament in eternal loneliness!"

Then extending her right hand, and pointing me out to her friend Panthea:--

"And there," said she, "is his worthy counselor, Aristomenes, who was the planner of this flight, and who now, half dead, is lying flat on the ground under the bedstead and looking at all that is going on, while he fancies that he is to tell scandalous stories of me with impunity. I'll take care, however, that some day, aye, and before long, too,--this very instant, in fact,--he shall repent of his recent chatter and his present curiosity."

On hearing this I felt myself streaming with cold perspiration, and my heart began to throb so violently that even the bedstead danced on my back.

"Well, sister," said the worthy Panthea, "shall we hack him to pieces at once, like the Bacchanals, or tie his limbs and mutilate him?"

To this Meroë replied,--and I saw from what was happening, as well as from what Socrates had told, how well the name fitted her,--"Rather let him live, if only to cover the body of this wretched creature with a little earth."

Then, moving Socrates's head to one side, she plunged the sword into his throat up to the hilt, catching the blood in a small leathern bottle so carefully that not a drop of it was to be seen. All this I saw with my own eyes. The worthy Meroë--in order, I suppose, not to omit any due observance in the sacrifice of the victim--then thrust her right hand through the wound, and drew forth the heart of my unhappy companion. His windpipe being severed, he emitted a sort of indistinct gurgling noise, and poured forth his breath with his bubbling blood. Panthea then stopped the gaping wound with a sponge, exclaiming, "Beware, O sea-born sponge, how thou dost pass through a river!"

When she had said this, they lifted my bed from the ground, and dashed over me a mass of filth.

Hardly had they passed over the threshold when the door resumed its former state. The hinges settled back on the panels, the posts returned to the bars, and the bolts flew back to their sockets again. I lay prostrate on the ground in a squalid plight, terrified, naked, cold, and drenched. Indeed, I was half dead, though still alive; and pursued a train of reflections like one already in the grave, or to say the least on the way to the cross, to which I was surely destined. "What," said I, "will become of me, when this man is found in the morning with his throat cut? If I tell the truth, who will believe a word of the story? 'You ought at least,' they will say, 'to have called for help, if as strong a man as you are could not withstand a woman! Is a man's throat to be cut before your eyes, and you keep silence? Why was it that you were not assassinated too? How did the villains come to spare you, a witness of the murder? They would naturally kill you, if only to put an end to all evidence of the crime. Since your escape from death was against reason, return to it.'"

I said these things to myself over and over again, while the night was fast verging toward day. It seemed best to me, therefore, to escape on the sly before daylight and pursue my journey, though I was all in a tremble. I took up my bundle, put the key in the door, and drew back the bolts. But this good and faithful door, which had opened of its own accord in the night, would not open now till I had tried the key again and again.

"Hallo, porter!" said I, "where are you? Open the gate, I want to be off before daybreak."

The porter, who was lying on the ground behind the door, only grunted, "Why do you want to begin a journey at this time of night? Don't you know the roads are infested by robbers? You may have a mind to meet your death,--perhaps your conscience stings you for some crime you have committed; but I haven't a head like a pumpkin, that I should die for your sake!"

"It isn't very far from daybreak," said I; "and besides, what can robbers take from a traveler in utter poverty? Don't you know, you fool, that a naked man can't be stripped by ten athletes?"

The drowsy porter turned over and answered;--"And how am I to know but what you have murdered that fellow-traveler of yours that you came here with last night, and are running away to save yourself? And now I remember that I saw Tartarus through a hole in the earth just at that hour, and Cerberus looking ready to eat me up."

Then I came to the conclusion that the worthy Meroë had not spared my throat out of pity, but to reserve me for the cross. So, on returning to my chamber, I thought over some speedy method of putting an end to myself; but fortune had provided me with no weapon for self-destruction, except the bedstead. "Now, bedstead," said I, "most dear to my soul, partner with me in so many sorrows, fully conscious and a spectator of this night's events, and whom alone when accused I can adduce as a witness of my innocence--do thou supply me (who would fain hasten to the shades below) a welcome instrument of death."

Thus saying, I began to undo the bed-cord. I threw one end of it over a small beam projecting above the window, fastened it there, and made a slip-knot at the other end. Then I mounted on the bed, and thus elevated for my own destruction, put my head into the noose and kicked away my support with one foot; so that the noose, tightened about my throat by the strain of my weight, might stop my breath. But the rope, which was old and rotten, broke in two; and falling from aloft, I tumbled heavily upon Socrates, who was lying close by, and rolled with him on the floor.

Lo and behold! at that very instant the porter burst into the room, bawling out, "Where are you, you who were in such monstrous haste to be off at midnight, and now lie snoring, rolled up in the bed-clothes?"

At these words--whether awakened by my fall or by the rasping voice of the porter, I know not--Socrates was the first to start up; and he exclaimed, "Evidently travelers have good reason for detesting these hostlers. This nuisance here, breaking in without being asked,--most likely to steal something,--has waked me out of a sound sleep by his outrageous bellowing."

On hearing him speak I jumped up briskly, in an ecstasy of unhoped-for joy:--"Faithfulest of porters," I exclaimed, "my friend, my own father, and my brother,--behold him whom you, in your drunken fit, falsely accuse me of having murdered."

So saying, I embraced Socrates, and was for loading him with kisses; but he repulsed me with considerable violence. "Get out with you!" he cried. Sorely confused, I trumped up some absurd story on the spur of the moment, to give another turn to the conversation, and taking him by the right hand--

"Why not be off," said I, "and enjoy the freshness of the morning on our journey?"

So I took my bundle, and having paid the innkeeper for our night's lodging, we started on our road.

We had gone some little distance, and now, everything being illumined by the beams of the rising sun, I keenly and attentively examined that part of my companion's neck into which I had seen the sword plunged.

"Foolish man," said I to myself, "buried in your cups, you certainly have had a most absurd dream. Why, look: here's Socrates, safe, sound, and hearty. Where is the wound? Where is the sponge? Where is the scar of a gash so deep and so recent?"

Addressing myself to him, I remarked, "No wonder the doctors say that hideous and ominous dreams come only to people stuffed with food and liquor. My own case is a good instance. I went beyond moderation in my drinking last evening, and have passed a wretched night full of shocking and dreadful visions, so that I still fancy myself spattered and defiled with human gore."

"It is not gore," he replied with a smile, "that you are sprinkled with. And yet in my sleep I thought my own throat was being cut, and felt some pain in my neck, and fancied that my very heart was being plucked out. Even now I am quite faint; my knees tremble; I stagger as I go, and feel in want of some food to hearten me up."

"Look," cried I, "here is breakfast all ready for you." So saying, I lifted my wallet from my shoulders, handed him some bread and cheese, and said, "Let us sit down near that plane-tree." We did so, and I helped myself to some refreshment. While looking at him more closely, as he was eating with a voracious appetite, I saw that he was faint, and of a hue like boxwood. His natural color, in fact, had so forsaken him, that as I recalled those nocturnal furies to my frightened imagination, the very first piece of bread I put in my mouth, though exceedingly small, stuck in the middle of my throat and would pass neither downward nor upward. Besides, the number of people passing along increased my fears; for who would believe that one of two companions could meet his death except at the hands of the other?

Presently, after having gorged himself with food, he began to be impatient for some drink, for he had bolted the larger part of an excellent cheese. Not far from the roots of the plane-tree a gentle stream flowed slowly along, like a placid lake, rivaling silver or crystal.

"Look," said I: "drink your fill of the water of this stream, bright as the Milky Way."

He arose, and, wrapping himself in his cloak, with his knees doubled under him, knelt down upon the shelving bank and bent greedily toward the water. Scarcely had he touched its surface with his lips, when the wound in his throat burst open and the sponge rolled out, a few drops of blood with it; and his lifeless body would have fallen into the river had I not laid hold of one of his feet, and dragged him with great difficulty and labor to the top of the bank. There, having mourned my hapless comrade as much as there was time, I buried him in the sandy soil that bordered the stream. Then, trembling and terror-stricken, I fled through various unfrequented places; and as though guilty of homicide, abandoned my country and my home, embraced a voluntary exile, and now dwell in Ætolia, where I have married another wife.

Translated for 'A Library of the World's Best Literature.'


[The radical difference in the constituent parts of the 'Golden Ass' is startling, and is well illustrated by the selection given previously and that which follows. The story of the "drummer" comports exactly with the modern idea of realism in fiction: a vivid and unflinching picture of manners and morals, full of broad coarse humor and worldly wit. The story of Cupid and Psyche is the purest, daintiest, most poetic of fancies; in essence a fairy tale that might be told of an evening by the fire-light in the second century or the nineteenth, but embodying also a high and beautiful allegory, and treated with a delicate art which is in extreme contrast with the body of the 'Golden Ass.' The difference is almost as striking as between Gray's lampoon on "Jemmy Twitcher" and his 'Bard' or 'Elegy'; or between Aristophanes's revels in filth and his ecstatic soarings into the heavenliest regions of poetry.

The contrast is even more rasping when we remember that the tale is not put into the mouth of a girl gazing dreamily into the glowing coals on the hearth, or of some elegant reciter amusing a social group in a Roman drawing-room or garden, but of a grizzled hag who is maid of all work in a robbers' cave. She tells it to divert the mind of a lovely young bride held for ransom. It begins like a modern fairy tale, with a great king and queen who had "three daughters of remarkable beauty," the loveliest being the peerless Psyche. Even Venus becomes envious of the honors paid to Psyche's charms, and summons Cupid to wing one of his shafts which shall cause her "to be seized with the most burning love for the lowest of mankind," so as to disgrace and ruin her. Cupid undertakes the task, but instead falls in love with her himself. Meanwhile an oracle from Apollo, instigated by Venus, dooms her to be sacrificed in marriage to some unknown aërial monster, who must find her alone on a naked rock. She is so placed, awaiting her doom in terror; but the zephyrs bear her away to the palace of Love. Cupid hides her there, lest Venus wreak vengeance on them both: and there, half terrified but soon soothed, in the darkness of night she hears from Cupid that he, her husband, is no monster, but the fairest of immortals. He will not disclose his identity, however; not only so, but he tenderly warns her that she must not seek to discover it, or even to behold him, till he gives permission, unless she would bring hopeless disaster on both. Nor must she confide in her two sisters, lest their unwisdom or sudden envy cause harm.

The simple-hearted and affectionate girl, however, in her craving for sympathy, cannot resist the temptation to boast of her happiness to her sisters. She invites them to pass a day in her magnificent new home, and tells contradictory stories about her husband. Alas! they depart bitterly envious, and plotting to make her ruin her own joy out of fear and curiosity.]

"What are we to say, sister, [said one to the other] of the monstrous lies of that silly creature? At one time her husband is a young man, with the down just showing itself on his chin; at another he is of middle age, and his hair begins to be silvered with gray.... You may depend upon it, sister, either the wretch has invented these lies to deceive us, or else she does not know herself how her husband looks. Whichever is the case, she must be deprived of these riches as soon as possible. And yet, if she is really ignorant of her husband's appearance, she must no doubt have married a god, and who knows what will happen? At all events, if--which heaven forbid--she does become the mother of a divine infant, I shall instantly hang myself. Meanwhile let us return to our parents, and devise some scheme based on what we have just been saying."

The sisters, thus inflamed with jealousy, called on their parents in a careless and disdainful manner; and after being kept awake all night by the turbulence of their spirits, made all haste at morning to the rock, whence, by the wonted assistance of the breeze, they descended swiftly to Psyche, and with tears squeezed out by rubbing their eyelids, thus craftily addressed her:--

"Happy indeed are you, and fortunate in your very ignorance of so heavy a misfortune. There you sit, without a thought of danger; while we, your sisters, who watch over your interests with the most vigilant care, are in anguish at your lost condition. For we have learned as truth, and as sharers in your sorrows and misfortunes cannot conceal it from you, that it is an enormous serpent, gliding along in many folds and coils, with a neck swollen with deadly venom, and prodigious gaping jaws, that secretly sleeps with you by night. Remember the Pythian Oracle. Besides, a great many of the husbandmen, who hunt all round the country, and ever so many of the neighbors, have observed him returning home from his feeding-place in the evening. All declare, too, that he will not long continue to pamper you with delicacies, but will presently devour you. Will you listen to us, who are so anxious for your precious safety, and avoiding death, live with us secure from danger, or die horribly? But if you are fascinated by your country home, or by the endearments of a serpent, we have at all events done our duty toward you, like affectionate sisters."

Poor, simple, tender-hearted Psyche was aghast with horror at this dreadful story; and quite bereft of her senses, lost all remembrance of her husband's admonitions and of her own promises, and hurled herself headlong into the very abyss of calamity. Trembling, therefore, with pale and livid cheeks and an almost lifeless voice, she faltered out these broken words:--

"Dearest sisters, you have acted toward me as you ought, and with your usual affectionate care; and indeed, it appears to me that those who gave you this information have not invented a falsehood. For, in fact, I have never yet beheld my husband's face, nor do I know at all whence he comes. I only hear him speak in an undertone by night, and have to bear with a husband of an unknown appearance, and one that has an utter aversion to the light of day. He may well, therefore, be some monster or other. Besides, he threatens some shocking misfortune as the consequence of indulging any curiosity to view his features. So, then, if you are able to give any aid to your sister in this perilous emergency, don't delay a moment."

[One of them replies:--]

"Since the ties of blood oblige us to disregard peril when your safety is to be insured, we will tell you the only means of safety. We have considered it over and over again. On that side of the bed where you are used to lie, conceal a very sharp razor; and also hide under the tapestry a lighted lamp, well trimmed and full of oil. Make these preparations with the utmost secrecy. After the monster has glided into bed as usual, when he is stretched out at length, fast asleep and breathing heavily, as you slide out of bed, go softly along with bare feet and on tiptoe, and bring out the lamp from its hiding-place; then having the aid of its light, raise your right hand, bring down the weapon with all your might, and cut off the head of the creature at the neck. Then we will bring you away with all these things, and if you wish, will wed you to a human creature like yourself."

[They then depart, fearing for themselves if they are near when the catastrophe happens.]

But Psyche, now left alone, except so far as a person who is agitated by maddening Furies is not alone, fluctuated in sorrow like a stormy sea; and though her purpose was fixed and her heart was resolute when she first began to make preparations for the impious work, her mind now wavered, and feared. She hurried, she procrastinated; now she was bold, now tremulous; now dubious, now agitated by rage; and what was the most singular thing of all, in the same being she hated the beast and loved the husband. Nevertheless, as the evening drew to a close, she hurriedly prepared the instruments of her enterprise.

The night came, and with it her husband. After he fell asleep, Psyche, to whose weak body and spirit the cruel influence of fate imparted unusual strength, uncovered the lamp, and seized the knife with the courage of a man. But the instant she advanced, she beheld the very gentlest and sweetest of all creatures, even Cupid himself, the beautiful God of Love, there fast asleep; at sight of whom, the joyous flame of the lamp shone with redoubled vigor, and the sacrilegious dagger repented the keenness of its edge.

But Psyche, losing the control of her senses, faint, deadly pale, and trembling all over, fell on her knees, and made an attempt to hide the blade in her own bosom; and this no doubt she would have done had not the blade, dreading the commission of such a crime, glided out of her rash hand. And now, faint and unnerved as she was, she felt herself refreshed at heart by gazing upon the beauty of those divine features. She looked upon the genial locks of his golden head, teeming with ambrosial perfume, the circling curls that strayed over his milk-white neck and roseate cheeks, and fell gracefully entangled, some before and some behind, causing the very light of the lamp itself to flicker by their radiant splendor. On the shoulders of the god were dewy wings of brilliant whiteness; and though the pinions were at rest, yet the tender down that fringed the feathers wantoned to and fro in tremulous, unceasing play. The rest of his body was smooth and beautiful, and such as Venus could not have repented of giving birth to. At the foot of his bed lay his bow, his quiver, and his arrows, the auspicious weapons of the mighty god.

While with insatiable wonder and curiosity Psyche is examining and admiring her husband's weapons, she draws one of the arrows out of the quiver, and touches the point with the tip of her thumb to try its sharpness; but happening to press too hard, for her hand still trembled, she punctured the skin, so that some tiny drops of rosy blood oozed forth. And thus did Psyche, without knowing it, fall in love with Love. Then, burning more and more with desire for Cupid, gazing passionately on his face, and fondly kissing him again and again, her only fear was lest he should wake too soon.

But while she hung over him, bewildered with delight so overpowering, the lamp, whether from treachery or baneful envy, or because it longed to touch, and to kiss as it were, so beautiful an object, spirted a drop of scalding oil from the summit of its flame upon the right shoulder of the god.... The god, thus scorched, sprang from the bed, and seeing the disgraceful tokens of forfeited fidelity, started to fly away, without a word, from the eyes and arms of his most unhappy wife. But Psyche, the instant he arose, seized hold of his right leg with both hands, and hung on to him, a wretched appendage to his flight through the regions of the air, till at last her strength failed her, and she fell to the earth.

Translation of Bohn Library, revised.




homas Aquinas, philosopher and theologian, was born in 1226, at or near Aquino, in Southern Italy. He received his early training from the Benedictines of Monte Cassino. Tradition says he was a taciturn and seemingly dull boy, derisively nicknamed by his fellows "the dumb ox," but admired by his teachers. He subsequently entered the University of Naples. While studying there he joined the Dominican Order, and was sent later on to Cologne, where he became a pupil of Albertus Magnus. In 1251 he went to Paris, took his degrees in theology, and began his career as a teacher in the University. His academic work there was continued, with slight interruptions, till 1261. The eleven years which followed were spent partly in Rome, where Thomas enjoyed the esteem of Urban IV. and Clement IV., and partly in the cities of Northern Italy, which he visited in the interest of his Order. During this period he produced the greatest of his works, and won such repute as a theologian that the leading universities made every effort to secure him as a teacher. He was appointed to a professorship at Naples, where he remained from 1272 until the early part of 1274. Summoned by Gregory X. to take part in the Council of Lyons, he set out on his journey northward, but was compelled by illness to stop at Fossa Nuova. Here he died March 7th, 1274. He was canonized in 1323, and was proclaimed a doctor of the Church by Pius V. in 1567.


These honors were merited by a remarkable combination of ability and virtue. To an absolute purity of life, St. Thomas added an earnest love of truth and of labor. Calm in the midst of discussion, he was equally proof against the danger of brilliant success. As the friend of popes and princes, he might have attained the highest dignities; but these he steadfastly declined, devoting himself, so far as his duty permitted, to scientific pursuits. Judged by his writings, he was intense yet thoroughly objective, firm in his own position but dispassionate in treating the opinions of others. Conclusions reached by daring speculation and faultless logic are stated simply, impersonally. Keen replies are given without bitterness, and the boldest efforts of reason are united with the submissiveness of faith.

His works fill twenty-five large quarto volumes of the Parma edition. This is, so far, the most complete collection, though various portions have been edited from time to time with the commentaries of learned theologians like Cajetan and Sylvius. Partial translations have also been made into several modern languages; but as yet there is no complete English edition of St. Thomas.

Turning to the Latin text, the student cannot but notice the contrast between the easy diction of modern philosophical writers and the rugged conciseness of the mediæval Schoolman. On the other hand, disappointment awaits those who quit the pages of Cicero for the less elegant Latinity of the Middle Ages. What can be said in favor of scholastic "style" is that it expresses clearly and tersely the subtle shades of thought which had developed through thirteen centuries, and which often necessitated a sacrifice of classic form. With the Schoolmen, as with modern writers on scientific subjects, precision was the first requisite, and terminology was of more consequence than literary beauty.

Similar standards must be kept in view when we pass judgment upon the technique of St. Thomas. In his presentation we find neither the eloquence nor the rhetoric of the Fathers. He quotes them continually, and in some of his works adopts their division into books and chapters. But his exposition is more compact, consisting at times of clear-cut arguments in series without an attempt at transition, at other times of sustained reasoning processes in which no phrase is superfluous and no word ambiguous. Elsewhere he uses the more rigid mold which was peculiar to the Scholastic Period, and had been fashioned chiefly by Alexander Hales. Each subject is divided into so many "questions," and each question into so many "articles." The "article" begins with the statement of objections, then discusses various opinions, establishes the author's position, and closes with a solution of the difficulties which that position may encounter. This method had its advantages. It facilitated analysis, and obliged the writer to examine every aspect of a problem. It secured breadth of view and thoroughness of treatment. It was, especially, a transparent medium for reason, unbiased by either sentiment or verbiage.

If such qualities of style and presentation were encouraged by the environment in which Aquinas pursued his earlier studies, they were also helpful in the task which he chose as his life-work. This was the construction of a system in which all the elements of knowledge should be harmoniously united. An undertaking so vast necessitated a long preparation, the study of all available sources, and the elucidation of many detailed problems. Hence, a considerable portion of St. Thomas's works is taken up with the explanation of Peter Lombard's 'Sententiæ,' with Commentaries on Aristotle, with Expositions of Sacred Scripture, collections from the Fathers, and various opuscula or studies on special subjects. Under the title 'Quæstiones Disputatæ,' numerous problems in philosophy and theology are discussed at length. But the synthetic power of Aquinas is shown chiefly in the 'Contra Gentes' and the 'Summa Theologica,' the former being a defense of Christian belief with special reference to Arabian philosophy, and the latter a masterly compendium of rational and revealed truth.

The conception of the 'Summa' was not altogether original. From the earliest days of the Church, men of genius had insisted on the reasonableness of Christian belief by showing that, though supernatural in its origin, it did not conflict with either the facts or the laws of human knowledge. And as these had found their highest expression in Greek philosophy, it was natural that this philosophy should serve as a basis for the elucidation of revealed truth. The early Fathers turned to Plato, not only because his teaching was so spiritual, but also because it could be so readily used as a framework for those theological concepts which Christianity had brought into the world. Thus adopted by men who were recognized authorities in the Church,--especially men like Augustine and the Areopagite,--Platonism endured for centuries as the rational element in dogmatic exposition.

Scholasticism inaugurated a new era. Patristic erudition had gathered a wealth of theological knowledge which the Schoolmen fully appreciated. But the same truths were to receive another setting and be treated by different methods. Speculation changed its direction, Aristotle taking the place of his master. The peripatetic system found able exponents in the earlier Scholastics; but Aquinas surpassed them alike in the mastery of the philosopher's principles and in his application of these principles to Christian doctrine. His Commentaries on Aristotle adhere strictly to the text, dissecting its meaning and throwing into relief the orderly sequence of ideas. In his other works, he develops the germs of thought which he had gathered from the Stagirite, and makes them the groundwork of his philosophical and theological speculations.

With the subtlety of a metaphysician St. Thomas combined a vast erudition. Quotations from the Fathers appear on nearly every page of his writings, serving either as a keynote to the discussion which follows, or as an occasion for solving objections. Toward St. Augustine he shows the deepest reverence, though their methods differ so widely, and his brief but lucid comments throw light on difficult sayings of the great Doctor. His familiarity with patristic theology is shown particularly in the 'Catena Aurea,' where he links with passages from the Sacred Text numerous extracts from the older commentators.

His respect for these interpretations did not prevent him from making a thorough search of Scripture itself. With characteristic clearness and depth he interpreted various books of the Bible, insisting chiefly on the doctrinal meaning. The best of his work in this line was devoted to the Pauline Epistles and to the Book of Job; but his mastery of each text is no less evident where he takes the authority of Scripture as the starting-point in theological argument, or makes it the crowning evidence at the close of a philosophical demonstration.

The materials gathered from Philosophy, Tradition, and Scripture were the fruit of analysis; the final synthesis had yet to be accomplished. This was the scope of the 'Summa Theologica,' a work which, though it was not completed, is the greatest production of Thomas Aquinas. In the prologue he says:--

"Since the teacher of Catholic truth should instruct not only those who are advanced, but also those who are beginning, it is our purpose in this work to treat subjects pertaining to the Christian religion in a manner adapted to the instruction of beginners. For we have considered that young students encounter various obstacles in the writings of different authors: partly because of the multiplication of useless questions, articles, and arguments; partly because the essentials of knowledge are dealt with, not in scientific order, but according as the explanation of books required or an occasion for disputing offered; partly because the frequent repetition of the same things begets weariness and confusion in the hearer's mind. Endeavoring, therefore, to avoid these defects and others of a like nature, we shall try, with confidence in the Divine assistance, to treat of sacred science briefly and clearly, so far as the subject-matter will allow."

The work intended for novices in theology, and so unpretentiously opened, is then portioned out in these words:--

"Whereas, the chief aim of this science is to impart a knowledge of God, not only as existing in Himself, but also as the origin and end of all things, and especially of rational creatures, we therefore shall treat first of God; second, of the rational creature's tendency toward God; third, of Christ, who as man is the way whereby we approach unto God. Concerning God, we shall consider (1) those things which pertain to the Divine Essence; (2) those which regard the distinction of persons; (3) those which concern the origin of creatures from Him. As to the Divine Essence we shall inquire (1) whether God exists; (2) what is, or rather what is not, the manner of His existence; (3) how He acts through His knowledge, will, and power. Under the first¸ heading we shall ask whether God's existence is self-evident, whether it can be demonstrated, and whether God does exist."

Similar subdivisions precede each question as it comes up for discussion, so that the student is enabled to take a comprehensive view, and perceive the bearing of one problem on another as well as its place in the wide domain of theology. As a consequence, those who are familiar with the 'Summa' find in it an object-lesson of breadth, proportion, and orderly thinking. Its chief merit, however, lies in the fact that it is the most complete and systematic exhibition of the harmony between reason and faith. In it, more than in any other of his works, is displayed the mind of its author. It determines his place in the history of thought, and closes what may be called the second period in the development of Christian theology. Scholasticism, the high point of intellectual activity in the Church, reached its culmination in Thomas Aquinas.

His works have been a rich source of information for Catholic theologians, and his opinions have always commanded respect. The polemics of the sixteenth century brought about a change in theological methods, the positive and critical elements becoming more prominent. Modern rationalism, however, has intensified the discussion of those fundamental problems which St. Thomas handled so thoroughly. As his writings furnish both a forcible statement of the Catholic position and satisfactory replies to many current objections, the Thomistic system has recently been restored. The "neo-scholastic movement" was initiated by Leo XIII. in his Encyclical 'Æterni Patris,' dated August 4th, 1879, and its rapid growth has made Aquinas the model of Catholic thought in the nineteenth century, as he certainly was in the thirteenth.

The subjoined extracts show his views on some questions of actual importance, with regard not alone to mediæval controversies, but to the problems of the universe, which will press on the minds of men twenty-five hundred years in the future as they did twenty-five hundred years in the past.


Part I--From the 'Summa Theologica'

It is obvious that terms implying negation or extrinsic relation in no way signify the divine substance, but simply the removal of some attribute from Him, or His relation with other beings, or rather the relation of other beings with Him. As to appellations that are absolute and positive,--such as good, wise, and the like,--various opinions have been entertained. It was held by some that these terms, though used affirmatively, were in reality devised for the purpose of elimination, and not with the intent of positive attribution. Hence, they claimed, when we say that God is a living being, we mean that God's existence is not that of inanimate things; and so on for other predicates. This was the position of Rabbi Moses. According to another view these terms are employed to denote a relation between God and creatures; so that for instance, when we say, God is good, we mean, God is the cause of goodness in all things.

Both interpretations, however, are open to a threefold objection. For, in the first place, neither can offer any explanation of the fact that certain terms are applied to the Deity in preference to others. As He is the source of all good, so He is the cause of all things corporeal; consequently, if by affirming that God is good we merely imply that He is the cause of goodness, we might with equal reason assert that He is a corporeal being.

Again, the inference from these positions would be that all terms applied to God have only a secondary import, such, for instance, as we give to the word healthy, as applied to medicine; whereby we signify that it is productive of health in the organism, while the organism itself is said, properly and primarily, to be healthy.

In the third place, these interpretations distort the meaning of those who employ such terms in regard to the Deity. For, when they declare that He is the living God, they certainly mean something else than that He is the cause of our life or that He is different from inanimate bodies.

We are obliged, therefore, to take another view, and to affirm that such terms denote the substantial nature of God, but that, at the same time, their representative force is deficient. They express the knowledge which our intellect has of God; and since this knowledge is gotten from created things, we know Him according to the measure in which creatures represent Him. Now God, absolutely and in all respects perfect, possesses every perfection that is found in His creatures. Each created thing, therefore, inasmuch as it has some perfection, resembles and manifests the Deity; not as a being of the same species or genus with itself, but as a supereminent source from which are derived its effects. They represent Him, in a word, just as the energy of the terrestrial elements represents the energy of the sun.

Our manner of speech, therefore, denotes the substance of God, yet denotes it imperfectly, because creatures are imperfect manifestations of Him. When we say that God is good, we do not mean that He is the cause of goodness or that He is not evil. Our meaning is this: What we call goodness in creatures preexists in God in a far higher way. Whence it follows, not that God is good because He is the source of good, but rather, because He is good, He imparts goodness to all things else; as St. Augustine says, "Inasmuch as He is good, we are."


From the 'Quæstiones Disputatæ'

The relations which are spoken of as existing between God and creatures are not really in Him. A real relation is that which exists between two things. It is mutual or bilateral then, only when its basis in both correlates is the same. Such is the case in all quantitive relations. Quantity being essentially the same in all quanta, gives rise to relations which are real in both terms--in the part, for instance, and in the whole, in the unit of measurement and in that which is measured.

But where a relation originates in causation, as between that which is active and that which is passive, it does not always concern both terms. True, that which is acted upon, or set in motion, or produced, must be related to the source of these modifications, since every effect is dependent upon its cause. And it is equally true that such causes or agencies are in some cases related to their effects, namely, when the production of those effects redounds in some way to the well-being of the cause itself. This is evidently what happens when like begets like, and thereby perpetuates, so far as may be, its own species.... There are cases, nevertheless, in which a thing, without being related, has other things related to it. The cognizing subject is related to that which is the object of cognition--to a thing which is outside the mind. But the thing itself is in no way affected by this cognition, since the mental process is confined to the mind, and therefore does not bring about any change in the object. Hence the relation established by the act of knowing cannot be in that which is known.

The same holds good of sensation. For though the physical object sets up changes in the sense-organ, and is related to it as other physical agencies are related to the things on which they act, still, the sensation implies, over and above the organic change, a subjective activity of which the external activity is altogether devoid. Likewise, we say that a man is at the right of a pillar because, with his power of locomotion, he can take his stand at the right or the left, before or behind, above or below. But obviously these relations, vary them as we will, imply nothing in the stationary pillar, though they are real in the man who holds or changes his position. Once more, a coin has nothing to do with the action that gives it its value, since this action is a human convention; and a man is quite apart from the process which produces his image. Between a man and his portrait there is a relation, but this is real in the portrait only. Between the coin and its current value there is a relation, but this is not real in the coin.

Now for the application. God's action is not to be understood as going out from Him and terminating in that which He creates. His action is Himself; consequently altogether apart from the genus of created being whereby the creature is related to Him. And again, he gains nothing by creating, or, as Avicenna puts it, His creative action is in the highest degree generous. It is also manifest that His action involves no modification of His being--without changing, He causes the changeable. Consequently, though creatures are related to Him, as effects to their cause, He is not really related to them.


From the 'Quæstiones Disputatæ'

According to Augustine, the passage "Let the earth bring forth the green herb" means, not that plants were then actually produced in their proper nature, but that a germinative power was given the earth to produce plants by the work of propagation; so that the earth is then said to have brought forth the green herb and the fruit-yielding tree, inasmuch as it received the power of producing them. This position is strengthened by the authority of Scripture (Gen. ii. 4):--"These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the heaven and the earth, and every plant in the field before it sprang up in the earth, and every herb in the ground before it grew." From this text we infer, first, that all the works of the six days were created in the day that God made heaven and earth and every plant of the field; and consequently that all plants, which are said to have been created on the third day, were produced at the same time that God created heaven and earth. The second inference is that plants were then produced not actually, but only according to causal virtues, in that the power to produce them was given to the earth. And this is meant when it is said that He produced every plant of the field before it actually arose upon the earth by His dispositive action, and every herb of the earth before it actually grew. Hence, before they came forth in reality, they were made causally in the earth.

This view, moreover, is supported by reason. For in those first days God made the creature either in its cause, or in its origin, or in its actuality, by the work from which He afterward rested; He nevertheless works even till now in the administration of things created by the work of propagation. To this latter process belongs the actual production of plants from the earth, because all that is needed to bring them forth is the energy of the heavenly bodies as their father, so to say, and the power of the earth in place of a mother. Plants, therefore, were produced on the third day, not actually, but causally. After the six days, however, they were actually brought forth, according to their proper species and in their proper nature, by the work of administration.



he Arabian Nights--or, more accurately, 'The Thousand Nights and a Night' (Alf Leilah wa-leílah)--have gained a popularity in Europe, since they were first turned into a modern language by Galland in 1704, which rivals, if it does not exceed, their regard in the East. They opened up to Europe a wealth of anecdote, a fertility of daring fancy, which has not ceased to amuse and to interest. It is not their value as literature which has placed them so high in the popular esteem, both in the East and in the West; for they are written in a style not a little slovenly, the same scenes, figures, and expressions are repeated to monotony, and the poetical extracts which are interwoven are often of very uncertain excellence. Some of the modern translations--as by Payne and Burton--have improved upon the original, and have often given it a literary flavor which it certainly has not in the Arabic. For this reason, native historians and writers seldom range the stories in their literary chronicles, or even deign to mention them by name. The 'Nights' have become popular from the very fact that they affect little; that they are contes pure and simple, picturing the men and the manners of a certain time without any attempt to gloss over their faults or to excuse their foibles: so that "the doings of the ancients become a lesson to those that follow after, that men look upon the admonitory events that have happened to others and take warning." All classes of men are to be found there: Harun al-Rashid and his viziers, as well as the baker, the cobbler, the merchant, the courtesan. The very coarseness is a part of the picture; though it strikes us more forcibly than it did those to whom the tales were told and for whom they were written down. It is a kaleidoscope of the errors and failings and virtues of the men whose daily life it records; it is also a picture of the wonderfully rich fantasy of the Oriental mind.

In the better texts (i.e., of Boulak and Calcutta) there are no less than about two hundred and fifty stories; some long, others short. There is no direct order in which they follow one upon the other. The chief story may at any moment suggest a subordinate one; and as the work proceeds, the looseness and disconnectedness of the parts increase. The whole is held together by a "frame"; a device which has passed into the epic of Ariosto ('Orlando Furioso,' xxviii.), and which is not unlike that used by Boccaccio ('Decameron') and Chaucer ('Canterbury Tales'). This "frame" is, in short:--A certain king of India, Shahriyar, aroused by his wife's infidelity, determines to make an end of all the women in his kingdom. As often as he takes a wife, on the morrow he orders her slain. Shahrzad, the daughter of his Vizier, takes upon herself the task of ridding the king of his evil intent. On the night of her marriage to the king, she, together with her sister Dunyazad, so engrosses his mind with her stories that the king seeks their continuance night after night; thus she wards off her fate for nearly three years. At the end of that time she has borne the king three male children; and has, by the sprightliness of her mind, gradually drawn all the conceit out of him, so that his land is at rest. The tales told within this frame may be divided into: (a) Histories, or long romances, which are often founded upon historical facts; (b) Anecdotes and short stories, which deal largely with the caliphs of the house of Abbas; (c) Romantic fiction, which, though freely mingled with supernatural intervention, may also be purely fictitious (contes fantastiques); (d) Fables and Apologues; (e) Tales, which serve the teller as the peg upon which to hang and to exhibit his varied learning. In addition to this "frame," there is a thread running through the whole; for the grand theme which is played with so many variations is the picturing of love--in the palace and in the hovel, in the city and in the desert. The scenes are laid in all the four corners of the globe, but especially in the two great centres of Muhammadan activity, Bagdad and Cairo. It is not a matter of chance that Harun al-Rashid is the Caliph to whom the legends of the 'Nights' have given a crown so very different from the one which he really wore. Though his character was often far from that which is pictured here, he was still a patron of art and of literature. His time was the heyday of Muhammadan splendor; and his city was the metropolis to which the merchants and the scholars flocked from the length and breadth of Arab dominion.

To unravel the literary history of such a collection is difficult indeed, for it has drawn upon all civilizations and all literatures. But since Hammer-Purgstall and De Sacy began to unwind the skein, many additional turns have been given. The idea of the "frame" in general comes undoubtedly from India; and such stories as 'The Barber's Fifth Brother,' 'The Prince and the Afrit's Mistress,' have been "traced back to the Hitopadesa, Panchatantra, and Katha Sarit Sagara." The 'Story of the King, his Seven Viziers, his Son, and his Favorite,' is but a late version, through the Pahlavi, of the Indian Sindibad Romance of the time of Alexander the Great. A number of fables are easily paralleled by those in the famous collection of Bidpai (see the list in Jacobs's 'The Fables of Bidpai,' London, 1888, lxviii.). This is probably true of the whole little collection of beast fables in the One Hundred and Forty-sixth Night; for such fables are based upon the different reincarnations of the Buddha and the doctrine of metempsychosis. The story of Jali'ad and the Vizier Shammas is distinctly reported to have been translated from the Persian into Arabic. Even Greek sources have not been left untouched, if the picture of the cannibal in the adventures of Sindbad the Sailor be really a reflex of the story of Odysseus and Polyphemus. Arabic historians--such as Tabari, Masudi, Kazwini, al-Jaúzi--and the Kitab al-Aghani, have furnished innumerable anecdotes and tales; while such old Arabic poets as Imr al-Kais, Alkamah, Nabhighah, etc., have contributed occasional verses.

It is manifest that such a mass of tales and stories was not composed at any one time, or in any one place. Many must have floated around in drinking-rooms and in houses of revelry for a long time before they were put into one collection. Even to this day the story of Ali Baba is current among the Bedouins in Sinai. Whenever the digest was first made, it is certain that stories were added at a later time. This is evident from the divergences seen in the different manuscripts, and by the additional stories collected by Payne and Burton. But in their present form, everything points to the final redaction of the 'Nights' in Egypt. Of all the cities mentioned, Cairo is described the most minutely; the manners and customs of the personæ are those of Egyptian society--say from the thirteenth to the sixteenth century. For this we have the warrant of Mr. Lane, than whom no one is to be heard upon this subject with greater respect. That such stories as these were popular in Egypt seems to follow from the fact that the only mention of them is found in Makrisi's 'Description of Cairo' (1400) and in Abu al-Mahasin, another historian of Egypt (1470). The collection cannot have been made later than 1548, the date placed by a reader on the manuscript used by Galland. But that its date is not much earlier is shown by various chance references. The mention of coffee (discovered in the fourteenth century); of cannon (first mentioned in Egypt in 1383); of the wearing of different-colored garments by Muslims, Jews, and Christians (instituted in 1301 by Muhammad ibn Kelaün); of the order of Carandaliyyah (which did not exist until the thirteenth century); of Sultani peaches (the city Sultaniyyah was founded in the middle of the thirteenth century)--point to the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries as the approximate date of the final composition of the 'Nights.' This is supported by the mention of the office of the Sheikh al-Islam, an office not created before the year 1453. Additions, such as the 'Story of Abu Ker and Abu Zer,' were made as late as the sixteenth century; and tobacco, which is mentioned, was not introduced into Europe until the year 1560. The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries are a period of the revival of letters in Egypt, which might well have induced some Arab lover of folk-lore to write down a complete copy of these tales. The Emperor Salah-al-din (1169) is the last historical personage mentioned, and there is absolutely no trace of Shiite heresy to be found in the whole collection. This omission would be impossible had they been gathered up at the time of the heretical Fatimide dynasty (900-1171).

But it seems equally certain that the 'Nights' did not originate altogether in the land of the Nile. The figure of Harun al-Rashid, the many doings in the "City of Peace" (Bagdad), lead us irresistibly over to the Eastern capital of the Muhammadan Empire. The genii and Afrits and much of the gorgeous picturing remind one of Persia, or at least of Persian influence. The Arabs were largely indebted to Persia for literature of a kind like this; and we know that during the ninth and tenth centuries many books were translated from the Pahlavi and Syriac. Thus Ibn al-Mukaffah (760) gave the Arabs the 'Kholanamah,' the 'Amirnamah' (Mirror of Princes), 'Kalilah,' and 'Dimnan.' etc. The historian Masudi (943) expressly refers the story of the 'Thousand and One Nights' to a Persian original. "The first who composed such tales and made use of them were the ancient Persians. The Arabs translated them, and made others like them." He then continues ('Prairies d'Or,' ed. De Meynard) and mentions the book 'Hezar Afsane,' which means "a thousand tales," a book popularly called the 'Thousand and One Nights,' and containing the story of the king and his vizier, and of his daughter Shirazaad and her slave-girl Dinazad. Other books of the same kind are the book of Simas, containing stories of Indian kings and viziers, the book of Sindibad, etc. (See also 'Hanzæ Ispahanensis Annalium,' ed. Gottwaldt, 1844, page 41.) A similar statement is made by Abu Yákub al-Nadim (987) in the 'Fihrist' (ed. Flügel, page 304):--"This book, 'Hezar Afsane,' is said to have been written by the Princess Homai (or Homain), daughter of Bahman. It comprises a Thousand Nights, but less than two hundred stories; for a night story often was related in a number of nights. I have seen it many times complete; but it is in truth a meagre and uninteresting publication." A translation of the 'Hezar Afsane' was made into Arabic, and it is again mentioned in the middle of the twelfth century by Abdulhec al-Házraji; but neither it nor the original Pahlavi has yet been found. It thus remains a matter of speculation as to how much of the 'Hezar Afsane' has found its way into the 'Nights.' It is evident that to it they are indebted for the whole general idea, for many of the principal names, and probably for the groundwork of a great many of the stories. The change of the title from 'The Thousand' to 'The Thousand and One' is due to the fact that the Arabs often expressed "a large number" by this second cipher. But the 'Nights' cannot be a translation from the Persian; for the other two books mentioned by Masudi are in the Arabic collection. Lane supposes the relationship to be that of the 'Æneid' to the 'Odyssey.' But it is probably closer: one fifth of the collection which, according to Payne, is common to all manuscripts, will doubtless be found to be based on the Pahlavi original. That the dependence is not greater is evident from the absence of the great heroes of the Persian Epos--Feridun, Zer, Isfandyar, etc. The heroes are all Arabs; the life depicted is wholly Arabic.

The original Persian 'Nights' must be quite old. Homai, the Persian Semiramis, is mentioned in the 'Avesta'; and in Firdausi she is the daughter and the wife of Artaxerxes Longimanus (B.C. 465-425). Her mother was a Jewess, Shahrazaad, one of the captives brought from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar; she afterward delivered her nation from captivity. Tabari calls Esther, of Old Testament fame, the mother of Bahman; and Professor de Goeje (de Gids, 1886, iii. 385) has cleverly identified the Homai of the old 'Nights,' not only with Shahrazaad of the Arabian, but also with Esther of the Bible. That his argument holds good is seen from its acceptance by Kuenen ('Hist. Krit. Einleitung,' 1, 2, page 222), August Müller (Deutsche Rundschau, 1887), and Darmesteter ('Actes du Huitième Congrès des Orientalistes,' 1893, ii. 196).

The best translations of the 'Nights' have been made by Antoine Galland in French (12 vols., Paris, 1704-1712); by G. Weil in German (4 vols., 1838-1842); and in English by E.W. Lane (3 vols., 1839-1841), John Payne (13 vols., 1882-1884), and Richard Burton (16 vols., 1885-1888). Lane's and Burton's translations are enriched by copious notes of great value.


Part of Nights 566 and 578: Translation of E.W. Lane

There was in olden time, and in an ancient age and period, in Damascus of Syria, a King, one of the Khaleefehs, named Abd-El-Melik, the son of Marwán; and he was sitting, one day, having with him the great men of his empire, consisting of Kings and Sultans, when a discussion took place among them respecting the traditions of former nations. They called to mind the stories of our lord Suleymán the son of Daood (on both of whom be peace!) and the dominion and authority which God (whose name be exalted!) had bestowed upon him, over mankind and the Jinn and the birds and the wild beasts and other things; and they said, We have heard from those who were before us, that God (whose perfection be extolled, and whose name be exalted!) bestowed not upon any one the like of that which He bestowed upon our lord Suleymán, and that he attained to that to which none other attained, so that he used to imprison the Jinn and the Márids and the Devils in bottles of brass, and pour molten lead over them, and seal this cover over them with his signet....

And the Prince of the Faithful, Abd-El-Melik, the son of Marwán, wondered at these words, and said, Extolled be the perfection of God! Suleymán was endowed with a mighty dominion!--And among those who were present in that assembly was En-Fábighah Edh-Dhubyánee; and he said, Tálib hath spoken truth in that which he hath related, and the proof of his veracity is the saying of the Wise, the First [thus versified]:--

And [consider] Suleymán, when the Deity said to him, Perform

the office of Khaleefeh, and govern with diligence;

And whoso obeyeth thee, honor him for doing so; and whoso

disobeyeth thee, imprison him forever.

He used to put them into bottles of brass, and to cast them into the sea.

And the Prince of the Faithful approved of these words, and said, By Allah, I desire to see some of these bottles! So Tálib the son of Sahl replied, O Prince of the Faithful, thou art able to do so and yet remain in thy country. Send to thy brother Abd-El-Azeez, the son of Marwán, desiring him to bring them to thee from the Western Country, that he may write orders to Moosà to journey from the Western Country, to this mountain which we have mentioned, and to bring thee what thou desirest of these bottles; for the furthest tract of his province is adjacent to this mountain.--And the Prince of the Faithful approved of his advice, and said, O Tálib, thou has spoken truth in that which thou hast said, and I desire that thou be my messenger to Moosà the son of Nuseyr for this purpose, and thou shalt have a white ensign, together with what thou shalt desire of wealth or dignity or other things, and I will be thy substitute to take care of thy family. To this Tálib replied, Most willingly, O Prince of the Faithful. And the Khaleefeh said to him, Go, in dependence on the blessing of God, and his aid....

So Tálib went forth on his way to Egypt ... and to Upper Egypt, until they came to the Emeer Moosà, the son of Nuseyr; and when he knew of his approach he went forth to him and met him, and rejoiced at his arrival; and Tálib handed to him the letter. So he took it and read it, and understood its meaning; and he put it upon his head, saying, I hear and obey the command of the Prince of the Faithful. He determined to summon his great men; and they presented themselves; and he inquired of them respecting that which had been made known to him by the letter; whereupon they said, O Emeer, if thou desire him who will guide thee to that place, have recourse to the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, the son of Abd-El-Kuddoos Es-Sa-moodee; for he is a knowing man, and hath traveled much, and he is acquainted with the deserts and wastes and the seas, and their inhabitants and their wonders, and the countries of their districts. Have recourse, therefore, to him, and he will direct thee to the object of thy desire.--Accordingly he gave orders to bring him, and he came before him; and lo, he was a very old man, whom the vicissitudes of years and times had rendered decrepit. The Emeer Moosà saluted him, and said to him, O sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, our lord the Prince of the Faithful, Abd-El-Melik the son of Marwán, hath commanded us thus and thus, and I possess little knowledge of that land, and it hath been told me that thou art acquainted with that country and the routes. Hast thou then a wish to accomplish the affair of the Prince of the Faithful?--The sheykh replied, Know, O Emeer, that this route is difficult, far extending, with few tracks. The Emeer said to him, How long a period doth it require? He answered, It is a journey of two years and some months going, and the like returning; and on the way are difficulties and horrors, and extraordinary and wonderful things. Moreover, thou art a warrior for the defense of the faith, and our country is near unto the enemy; so perhaps the Christians may come forth during our absence; it is expedient, therefore, that thou leave in thy province one to govern it.--He replied, Well. And he left his son Hároon as his substitute in his province, exacted an oath of fidelity to him, and commanded the troops that they should not oppose him, but obey him in all that he should order them to do. And they heard his words, and obeyed him. His son Hároon was of great courage, an illustrious hero, and a bold champion; and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad pretended to him that the place in which were the things that the Prince of the Faithful desired was four months' journey distant, on the shore of the sea, and that throughout the whole route were halting-places, adjacent one to another, and grass and springs. And he said, God will assuredly make this affair easy to us through the blessing attendant upon thee, O Viceroy of the Prince of the Faithful. Then the Emeer Moosà said, Knowest thou if any one of the Kings have trodden this land before us? He answered him, Yes, O Emeer: this land belonged to the King of Alexandria, Darius the Greek.

[The cavalcade fare on, and soon reach a first "extraordinary and wonderful thing,"--the palace-tomb of great "Koosh, the son of Sheddad," full of impressive mortuary inscriptions that set the party all a-weeping. Thence--]

The soldiers proceeded, with the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad before them showing them the way, until all the first day had passed, and the second, and the third. They then came to a high hill, at which they looked, and lo, upon it was a horseman of brass, on the top of whose spear was a wide and glistening head that almost deprived the beholder of sight, and on it was inscribed, O thou who comest unto me, if thou know not the way that leadeth to the City of Brass, rub the hand of the horseman, and he will turn, and then will stop, and in whatsoever direction he stoppeth, thither proceed, without fear and without difficulty; for it will lead thee to the City of Brass.--And when the Emeer Moosà had rubbed the hand of the horseman, it turned like the blinding lightning, and faced a different direction from that in which they were traveling.

The party therefore turned thither and journeyed on, and it was the right way. They took that route, and continued their course the same day and the next night until they had traversed a wide tract of country. And as they were proceeding, one day, they came to a pillar of black stone, wherein was a person sunk to his arm-pits, and he had two huge wings, and four arms; two of them like those of the sons of Adam, and two like the forelegs of lions, with claws. He had hair upon his head like the tails of horses, and two eyes like two burning coals, and he had a third eye, in his forehead, like the eye of the lynx, from which there appeared sparks of fire. He was black and tall; and he was crying out, Extolled be the perfection of my Lord, who hath appointed me this severe affliction and painful torture until the day of resurrection! When the party beheld him, their reason fled from them, and they were stupefied at the sight of his form, and retreated in flight; and the Emeer Moosà said to the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, What is this? He answered, I know not what he is. And the Emeer said, Draw near to him, and investigate his case: perhaps he will discover it, and perhaps thou wilt learn his history. The sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad replied, May God amend the state of the Emeer! Verily we fear him.--Fear ye not, rejoined the Emeer; for he is withheld from injuring you and others by the state in which he is. So the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad drew near to him, and said to him, O thou person, what is thy name, and what is thy nature, and what hath placed thee here in this manner? And he answered him, As to me, I am an 'Efreet of the Jinn, and my name is Dáhish the son of El-Amash, and I am restrained here by the majesty, confined by the power, [of God,] tormented as long as God (to whom be ascribed might and glory!) willeth. Then the Emeer Moosà said, O sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, ask him what is the cause of his confinement in this pillar. He therefore asked respecting that, and the 'Efreet answered him, Verily my story is wonderful, and it is this:

[The Evil Spirit narrates to them his history, being part of the famous war between Solomon and the Jinn.]

The party therefore wondered at him, and at the horrible nature of his form; and the Emeer Moosà said, There is no deity but God! Suleymán was endowed with a mighty dominion!--And the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad said to the 'Efreet, O thou, I ask thee concerning a thing of which do thou inform us. The 'Efreet replied, Ask concerning what thou wilt. And the sheykh said, Are there in this place any of the 'Efreets confined in bottles of brass from the time of Suleymán, on whom be peace? He answered, Yes, in the Sea of El-Karkar, where are a people of the descendants of Nooh (on whom be peace!), whose country the deluge reached not, and they are separated there from [the rest of] the sons of Adam.--And where, said the sheykh, is the way to the City of Brass, and the place wherein are the bottles? What distance is there between us and it? The 'Efreet answered, It is near. So the party left him and proceeded; and there appeared to them a great black object, with two [seeming] fires corresponding with each other in position, in the distance, in that black object; whereupon the Emeer Moosà said to the sheykh, What is this great black object, and what are these two corresponding fires? The guide answered him, Be rejoiced, O Emeer; for this is the City of Brass, and this is the appearance of it that I find described in the Book of Hidden Treasures; that its wall is of black stones, and it hath two towers of brass of El-Andalus, which the beholder seeth resembling two corresponding fires; and thence it is named the City of Brass. They ceased not to proceed until they arrived at it; and lo, it was lofty, strongly fortified, rising high into the air, impenetrable: the height of its walls was eighty cubits, and it had five and twenty gates, none of which would open but by means of some artifice; and there was not one gate to it that had not, within the city, one like it: such was the beauty of the construction and architecture of the city. They stopped before it, and endeavored to discover one of its gates; but they could not; and the Emeer Moosà said to the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, O sheykh, I see not to this city any gate. The sheykh replied, O Emeer, thus do I find it described in the Book of Hidden Treasures; that it hath five and twenty gates, and that none of its gates may be opened but from within the city. And how, said the Emeer, can we contrive to enter it, and divert ourselves with a view of its wonders?

Then the Emeer Moosà ordered one of his young men to mount a camel, and ride round the city, in the hope that he might discover a trace of a gate, or a place lower than that to which they were opposite. So one of his young men mounted, and proceeded around it for two days with their nights, prosecuting his journey with diligence, and not resting; and when the third day arrived, he came in sight of his companions, and he was astounded at that which he beheld of the extent of the city, and its height. Then he said, O Emeer, the easiest place in it is this place at which ye have alighted. And thereupon the Emeer Moosà took Tálib the son of Sahl, and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, and they ascended a mountain opposite the city, and overlooking it; and when they had ascended that mountain, they saw a city than which eyes had not beheld any greater. Its pavilions were lofty, and its domes were shining; its mansions were in good condition, and its rivers were running; its trees were fruitful, and its gardens bore ripe produce. It was a city with impenetrable gates, empty, still, without a voice or a cheering inhabitant, but the owl hooting in its quarters, and birds skimming in circles in its areas, and the raven croaking in its districts and its great thoroughfare-streets, and bewailing those who had been in it. The Emeer Moosà paused, sorrowing for its being devoid of inhabitants, and its being despoiled of people and dwellers; and he said, Extolled be the perfection of Him whom ages and times change not, the Creator of the creation by his power! And while he was extolling the perfection of God, (to whom be ascribed might and glory!) he happened to look aside, and lo, there were seven tablets of white marble, appearing from a distance. So he approached them, and behold, they were sculptured and inscribed; and he ordered that their writing should be read: therefore the sheykh Abd-Es-Samad advanced and examined them and read them; and they contained admonition, and matter for example and restraint, unto those endowed with faculties of discernment. Upon the first tablet was inscribed, in the ancient Greek character,--

O son of Adam, how heedless art thou of the case of him who hath been before thee! Thy years and age have diverted thee from considering him. Knowest thou not that the cup of death will be filled for thee, and that in a short time thou wilt drink it? Look then to thyself before entering thy grave. Where are those who possessed the countries and abased the servants of God and led armies? Death hath come upon them; and God is the terminator of delights and the separator of companions and the devastator of flourishing dwellings; so He hath transported them from the amplitude of palaces to the straightness of the graves.

And in the lower part of the tablet were inscribed these verses:--

Where are the Kings and the peoplers of the earth? They have

quitted that which they have built and peopled;

And in the grave they are pledged for their past actions: there

after destruction, they have become putrid corpses.

Where are the troops? They repelled not, nor profited. And

where is that which they collected and hoarded?

The decree of the Lord of the Throne surprised them. Neither

riches nor refuge saved them from it.

And the Emeer Moosà fainted; his tears ran down upon his cheeks, and he said, By Allah, indifference to the world is the most appropriate and the most sure course! Then he caused an inkhorn and a paper to be brought, and he wrote the inscription of the first tablet; after which he drew near to the second tablet, and the third, and the fourth; and having copied what was inscribed on them, he descended from the mountain; and the world had been pictured before his eyes.

And when he came back to the troops, they passed the day devising means of entering the city; and the Emeer Moosà said to his Wezeer, Tálib the son of Sahl, and to those of his chief officers who were around him, How shall we contrive to enter the city, that we may see its wonders? Perhaps we shall find in it something by which we may ingratiate ourselves with the Prince of the Faithful.--Tálib the son of Sahl replied, May God continue the prosperity of the Emeer! Let us make a ladder, and mount upon it, and perhaps we shall gain access to the gate from within.--And the Emeer said, This is what occurred to my mind, and excellent is the advice. Then he called to the carpenters and blacksmiths, and ordered them to make straight some pieces of wood, and to construct a ladder covered with plates of iron. And they did so, and made it strong. They employed themselves in constructing it a whole month, and many men were occupied in making it. And they set it up and fixed it against the wall, and it proved to be equal to the wall in height, as though it had been made for it before that day. So the Emeer Moosà wondered at it, and said, God bless you! It seemeth, from the excellence of your work, as though ye had adapted it by measurement to the wall.--He then said to the people, Which of you will ascend this ladder, and mount upon the wall, and walk along it, and contrive means of descending into the city, that he may see how the case is, and then inform us of the mode of opening the gate? And one of them answered, I will ascend it, O Emeer, and descend and open the gate. The Emeer therefore replied, Mount. God bless thee!--Accordingly, the man ascended the ladder until he reached the top of it; when he stood, and fixed his eyes towards the city, clapped his hands, and cried out with his loudest voice, saying, Thou art beautiful! Then he cast himself down into the city, and his flesh became mashed with his bones. So the Emeer Moosà said, This is the action of the rational. How then will the insane act? If we do thus with all our companions, there will not remain of them one; and we shall be unable to accomplish our affair, and the affair of the Prince of the Faithful. Depart ye; for we have no concern with this city.--But one of them said, Perhaps another than this may be more steady than he. And a second ascended, and a third, and a fourth, and a fifth; and they ceased not to ascend by that ladder to the top of the wall, one after another, until twelve men of them had gone, acting as acted the first. Therefore the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad said, There is none for this affair but myself, and the experienced is not like the inexperienced. But the Emeer Moosà said to him, Thou shalt not do that, nor will I allow thee to ascend to the top of this wall; for shouldst thou die, thou wouldst be the cause of the death of us all, and there would not remain of us one; since thou art the guide of the party. The sheykh however replied, Perhaps the object will be accomplished by my means, through the will of God, whose name be exalted! And thereupon all the people agreed to his ascending.

Then the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad arose, and encouraged himself, and having said, In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful!--he ascended the ladder, repeating the praises of God (whose name be exalted!) and reciting the Verses of Safety, until he reached the top of the wall; when he clapped his hands, and fixed his eyes. The people therefore all called out to him, and said, O sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, do it not, and cast not thyself down! And they said, Verily to God we belong, and verily unto him we return! If the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad fall, we all perish!--Then the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad laughed immoderately, and sat a long time repeating the praises of God, (whose name be exalted!) and reciting the Verses of Safety; after which he rose with energy, and called out with his loudest voice, O Emeer, no harm shall befall you; for God (to whom be ascribed might and glory!) hath averted from me the effect of the artifice and fraudulence of the Devil, through the blessing resulting from the utterance of the words, In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.--So the Emeer said to him, What hast thou seen, O sheykh? He answered, When I reached the top of the wall, I beheld ten damsels, like moons, who made a sign with their hands, as though they would say, Come to us. And it seemed to me that beneath me was a sea (or great river) of water; whereupon I desired to cast myself down, as our companions did: but I beheld them dead; so I withheld myself from them, and recited some words of the Book of God, (whose name be exalted!) whereupon God averted from me the influence of those damsels' artifice, and they departed from me; therefore I cast not myself down, and God repelled from me the effect of their artifice and enchantment. There is no doubt that this is an enchantment and an artifice which the people of this city contrived in order to repel from it every one who should desire to look down upon it, and wish to obtain access to it; and these our companions are laid dead.

He then walked along the wall till he came to the two towers of brass, when he saw that they had two gates of gold, without locks upon them, or any sign of the means of opening them. Therefore the sheykh paused as long as God willed, and looking attentively, he saw in the middle of one of the gates a figure of a horseman of brass, having one hand extended, as though he were pointing with it, and on it was an inscription, which the sheykh read, and lo, it contained these words:--Turn the pin that is in the middle of the front of the horseman's body twelve times, and then the gate will open. So he examined the horseman, and in the middle of the front of his body was a pin, strong, firm, well fixed; and he turned it twelve times; whereupon the gate opened immediately, with a noise like thunder; and the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad entered. He was a learned man, acquainted with all languages and characters. And he walked on until he entered a long passage, whence he descended some steps, and he found a place with handsome wooden benches, on which were people dead, and over their heads were elegant shields, and keen swords, and strung bows, and notched arrows. And behind the [next] gate were a bar of iron, and barricades of wood, and locks of delicate fabric, and strong apparatus. Upon this, the sheykh said within himself, Perhaps the keys are with these people. Then he looked, and lo, there was a sheykh who appeared to be the oldest of them, and he was upon a high wooden bench among the dead men. So the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad said, May not the keys of the city be with this sheykh? Perhaps he was the gate-keeper of the city, and these were under his authority. He therefore drew near to him, and lifted up his garments, and lo, the keys were hung to his waist. At the sight of them, the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad rejoiced exceedingly; his reason almost fled from him in consequence of his joy: and he took the keys, approached the gate, opened the locks, and pulled the gate and the barricades and other apparatus which opened, and the gate also opened, with a noise like thunder, by reason of its greatness and terribleness, and the enormousness of its apparatus. Upon this, the sheykh exclaimed, God is most great!--and the people made the same exclamation with him, rejoicing at the event. The Emeer Moosà also rejoiced at the safety of the sheykh 'Abd-Es-Samad, and at the opening of the gate of the city; the people thanked the sheykh for that which he had done, and all the troops hastened to enter the gate. But the Emeer Moosà cried out to them, saying to them, O people, if all of us enter, we shall not be secure from some accident that may happen. Half shall enter, and half shall remain behind.

The Emeer Moosà then entered the gate, and with him half of the people, who bore their weapons of war. And the party saw their companions lying dead: so they buried them. They saw also the gate-keepers and servants and chamberlains and lieutenants lying upon beds of silk, all of them dead. And they entered the market of the city, and beheld a great market, with lofty buildings, none of which projected beyond another: the shops were open, and the scales hung up, and the utensils of brass ranged in order, and the kháns were full of all kinds of goods. And they saw the merchants dead in their shops: their skins were dried, and their bones were carious, and they had become examples to him who would be admonished. They saw likewise four markets of particular shops filled with wealth. And they left this place, and passed on to the silk-market, in which were silks and brocades interwoven with red gold and white silver upon various colours, and the owners were dead, lying upon skins, and appearing almost as though they would speak. Leaving these, they went on to the market of jewels and pearls and jacinths; and they left it, and passed on to the market of the money-changers, whom they found dead, with varieties of silks beneath them, and their shops were filled with gold and silver. These they left, and they proceeded to the market of the perfumers; and lo, their shops were filled with varieties of perfumes, and bags of musk, and ambergris, and aloes-wood, and nedd, and camphor, and other things; and the owners were all dead, not having with them any food. And when they went forth from the market of the perfumers, they found near unto it a palace, decorated, and strongly constructed; and they entered it, and found banners unfurled, and drawn swords, and strung bows, and shields hung up by chains of gold and silver, and helmets gilded with red gold. And in the passages of that palace were benches of ivory, ornamented with plates of brilliant gold, and with silk, on which were men whose skins had dried upon the bones: the ignorant would imagine them to be sleeping; but, from the want of food, they had died, and tasted mortality. Upon this, the Emeer Moosà paused, extolling the perfection of God (whose name be exalted!) and his holiness, and contemplating the beauty of that palace.

[They find the palace a marvel of splendor, but as awfully silent and mausoleum-like as the rest of the city; and soon reach a magnificent hall in which lies the dead body of "Jedmur, the Daughter of the King of the Amalekites," magnificently laid in state, and magically preserved and protected. Tálib unwisely and covetously attempts to rob the corpse of jewels; and is instantly beheaded by its enchanted guards. The Emeer Moosà and the sage 'Abd-Es-Samad, however, leave the place in safety, return to Upper Egypt and Syria by way of the Country of the Blacks, succeed in securing twelve of the wonderful bottles containing Jinn,--and the tale concludes with the Emeer Moosà's resignation of his throne that he may die in Jerusalem, so profoundly has he been affected by the adventure.]


Nights 15, 16, 17, and 18: Translation of Professor John Payne


There reigned once in the City of Peace [Bagdad], before the Khalifate of Abdulmelik ben Merwan, a king called Omar ben Ennuman, who was of the mighty giants, and had subdued the kings of Persia and the emperors of the East, for none could warm himself at his fire nor cope with him in battle; and when he was angry there came sparks out of his nostrils. He had gotten him dominion over all countries, and God had subjected unto him all creatures; his commands were obeyed in all the great cities, and his armies penetrated the most distant lands: the East and West came under his rule, with the regions between them, Hind and Sind and China and Hejaz and Yemen and the islands of India and China, Syria and Mesopotamia and the lands of the blacks and the islands of the ocean, and all the famous rivers of the earth, Jaxartes and Bactrus and Nile and Euphrates. He sent his ambassadors to the farthest parts of the earth to fetch him true report, and they returned with tidings of justice and peace, bringing him assurance of loyalty and obedience, and invocations of blessings on his head; for he was a right noble king, and there came to him gifts and tribute from all parts of the world. He had a son called Sherkan, who was one of the prodigies of the age and the likest of all men to his father, who loved him with an exceeding love and had appointed him to be king after him. The prince grew up till he reached man's estate, and was twenty years old, and God subjected all men to him, for he was gifted with great might and prowess in battle, humbling the champions and destroying all who made head against him. So, before long, this Sherkan became famous in all quarters of the world, and his father rejoiced in him; and his might waxed till he passed all bounds, and magnified himself, taking by storm the citadels and strong places.

[The Prince being sent to assist King Afridoun, of the Greeks, against an enemy, is intrusted with an army of ten thousand soldiers, and leaves Bagdad in military state.]

Then they loaded the beasts and beat the drums and blew the clarions and unfurled the banners and the standards, whilst Sherkan mounted, with the Vizier Dendan by his side, and the standards waving over them; and the army set out and fared on with the [Greek] ambassadors in the van till the day departed and the night came, when they halted and encamped for the night. On the morrow, as soon as God brought in the day, they took horse and continued their march, nor did they cease to press onward, guided by the ambassadors, for the space of twenty days. On the twenty-first day, at nightfall, they came to a wide and fertile valley whose sides were thickly wooded and covered with grass, and there Sherkan called a three-days' halt. So they dismounted and pitched their tents, dispersing right and left in the valley, whilst the Vizier Dendan and the ambassadors alighted in the midst.

As for Sherkan, when he had seen the tents pitched and the troops dispersed on either side, and had commanded his officers and attendants to camp beside the Vizier Dendan, he gave reins to his horse, being minded to explore the valley, and himself to mount guard over the army, having regard to his father's injunctions and to the fact that they had reached the frontier of the Land of Roum and were now in the enemy's country. So he rode on alone, along the valley, till a fourth part of the night was past, when he grew weary and sleep overcame him so that he could no longer spur his horse. Now he was used to sleep on horseback; so when drowsiness got the better of him, he fell asleep, and the horse paced on with him half the night and entered a forest: but Sherkan awoke not till the steed smote the earth with his hoof. Then he started from sleep and found himself among trees: and the moon arose and lighted the two horizons. He was troubled at finding himself alone in this place, and spoke the words which whoso says shall never be confounded--that is to say, "There is no power and no virtue but in GOD, the most High, the Supreme!" But as he rode on, in fear of the wild beasts, behold the trees thinned out, and the moon shone out upon a meadow as it were one of the meads of paradise, and he heard therein the noise of talk and pleasant laughter, such as ravishes the wit of men. So King Sherkan dismounted, and tying his horse to a tree, fared on a little further, till he espied a stream of running water, and heard a woman talking and saying in Arabic, "By the virtue of the Messiah, this is not handsome of you! But whoso speaks the word I will throw her down and bind her with her girdle!" He followed in the direction of the voice, and saw gazelles frisking and wild cattle pasturing, and birds in their various voices expressing joy and gladness; and the earth was embroidered with all manner flowers and green herbs, even as says of it the poet, in the following verses:--

Earth has no fairer sight to show than this its

blossom-time, With all the gently running streams

that wander o'er its face,

It is indeed the handiwork of God Omnipotent, The

Lord of every noble gift, and Giver of all grace!

Midmost the meadow stood a monastery, and within the inclosure a citadel that rose high into the air in the light of the moon. The stream passed through the midst of the monastery; and therenigh sat ten damsels like moons, high-bosomed maids clad in dresses and ornaments that dazzled the eyes, as says of them the poet:--

The meadow glitters with the troops Of lovely ones

that wander there;

Its grace and beauty doubled are By these that are

so passing fair;

Virgins, that with their swimming gait, The hearts of

all that see ensnare,

Along whose necks, like trails of grapes, Stream down

the tresses of their hair;

Proudly they walk, with eyes that dart The shafts and

arrows of despair,

And all the champions of the world Are slain by

their seductive air.

Sherkan looked at the ten girls, and saw in their midst a lady like the moon at its full, with ringleted and shining forehead, great black eyes and curling brow-locks, perfect in person and attributes, as says the poet:--

Her beauty beamed on me with glances wonder-bright: The

slender Syrian spears are not so straight and slight:

She laid her veil aside, and, lo, her cheeks rose-red! All manner

of loveliness was in their sweetest sight

The locks that o'er her brow fell down, were like the night,

From out of which there shines a morning of delight.

Then Sherkan heard her say to the girls, "Come on, that I may wrestle with you, ere the moon set and the dawn come." So they came up to her, one after another, and she overthrew them, one by one, and bound their hands behind them, with their girdles. When she had thrown them all, there turned to her an old woman who was before her, and said, as if she were wroth with her, "O shameless! dost thou glory in overthrowing these girls? Behold, I am an old woman, yet have I thrown them forty times! So what hast thou to boast of? But if thou have strength to wrestle with me, stand up that I may grip thee, and put thy head between thy feet." The young lady smiled at her words, although her heart was full of anger against her, and said, "O my lady Dhat ed Dewahi, wilt indeed wrestle with me--or dost thou jest with me?" "I mean to wrestle with thee in very deed," replied she. "Stand up to me then," said the damsel, "if thou have strength to do so!" When the old woman heard this she was sore enraged, and her hair stood on end like that of a hedgehog. Then she sprang up, whilst the damsel confronted her ... and they took hold of one another, whilst Sherkan raised his eyes to heaven and prayed to God that the damsel might conquer the old hag. Presently ... the old woman strove to free herself, and in the struggle wriggled out of the girl's hands and fell on her back ... and behold the young lady ... throwing over her a veil of fine silk, helped her to dress herself, making excuses to her and saying, "O my lady Dhat ed Dewahi, I did not mean to throw thee so roughly, but thou wriggledst out of my hands; so praised be God for safety." She returned her no answer, but rose in her confusion and walked away out of sight, leaving the young lady standing alone, by the other girls thrown down and bound.

Then said Sherkan, "To every fortune there is a cause. Sleep fell not on me, nor did the steed bear me hither but for my good fortune; for of a surety this damsel and what is with her shall be my prize." So he turned back and mounted, and drew his scimitar; then he gave his horse the spur and he started off with him like an arrow from a bow, whilst he brandished his naked blade and cried out, "God is most great!" When the damsel saw him she sprang to her feet, and running to the bank of the river, which was there six cubits wide, made a spring and landed on the other side, where she turned, and standing cried out in a loud voice, "Who art thou, sirrah, that breakest in on our pasture as if thou wert charging an army? Whence comest thou and whither art thou bound? Speak the truth and it shall profit thee, and do not lie, for lying is of the losel's fashion. Doubtless thou hast strayed this night from thy road, that thou hast happened on this place. So tell me what thou seekest: if thou wouldst have us set thee in the right road, we will do so; or if thou seek help we will help thee."

When Sherkan heard her words he replied, "I am a stranger of the Muslims, who am come out by myself in quest of booty, and I have found no fairer purchase this moonlit night than these ten damsels; so I will take them and rejoin my comrades with them." Quoth she, "I would have thee to know that thou hast not yet come at the booty; and as for these ten damsels, by Allah, they are no purchase for thee! Indeed the fairest purchase thou canst look for is to win free of this place: for thou art in a mead, where, if we gave one cry, there would be with us anon four thousand knights. Did I not tell thee that lying is shameful?" And he said, "The fortunate man is he to whom God sufficeth, and who hath no need of other than him." "By the virtue of the Messiah," replied she, "did I not fear to have thy death at my hand, I would give a cry that would fill the meadow on thee, with horse and foot! but I have pity on the stranger; so, if thou seek booty, I require of thee that thou dismount from thy horse, and swear to me by thy faith that thou wilt not approach me with aught of arms, and we will wrestle--I and thou. If thou throw me, lay me on thy horse and take all of us to thy booty; and if I throw thee, thou shalt be at my commandment. Swear this to me; for I fear thy perfidy, since experience has it that as long as perfidy is in men's natures, to trust in every one is weakness. But if thou wilt swear I will come over to thee." Quoth Sherkan, "Impose on me whatever oath thou deemest binding, and I will swear not to draw near thee until thou hast made thy preparations, and sayest 'Come wrestle with me.' If thou throw me I have wealth wherewith to ransom myself, and if I throw thee I shall get fine purchase." Then said she, "Swear to me by Him who hath lodged the soul in the body and given laws to mankind that thou wilt not hurt me with aught of violence save in the way of wrestling--else mayest thou die out of the pale of Islam." "By Allah," exclaimed Sherkan, "if a Cadi should swear me, though he were Cadi of the Cadis, he would not impose on me the like of this oath!" Then he took the oath she required, and tied his horse to a tree, sunken in the sea of reverie, and saying in himself, "Glory to Him who fashioned her!" Then he girt himself, and made ready for wrestling, and said to her, "Cross the stream to me." Quoth she, "It is not for me to come to thee; if thou wilt, do thou cross over to me." "I cannot do that," replied he; and she said, "O boy! I will come to thee." So she gathered her skirts, and making a spring landed on the other side of the river by him; whereupon he drew near to her, wondering at her beauty and grace, and saw a form that the hand of Omnipotence had turned with the leaves of Jinn, and which had been fostered by divine solicitude, a form on which the zephyrs of fair fortune had blown, and over whose creation favorable planets had presided. Then she called out to him saying, "O Muslim, come and wrestle before the daybreak!" and tucked up her sleeves, showing a fore-arm like fresh curd; the whole place was lighted up by its whiteness and Sherkan was dazzled by it. Then he bent forward and clapped his hands, and she did the like, and they took hold and gripped each other. He laid his hands on her slender waist ... and fell a trembling like the Persian reed in the hurricane. So she lifted him up, and throwing him to the ground sat down on his breast. Then she said to him, "O Muslim, it is lawful among you to kill Christians: what sayest thou to my killing thee?" "O my lady," replied he, "as for killing me, it is unlawful; for our Prophet (whom God bless and preserve!) hath forbidden the slaying of women and children and old men and monks." "Since this was revealed unto your prophet," rejoined she, "it behooves us to be even with him therein; so rise: I give thee thy life, for beneficence is not lost upon men." Then she got up, and he rose and brushed the earth from his head, and she said to him, "Be not abashed; but indeed one who enters the land of the Greeks in quest of booty and to succor kings against kings, how comes it that there is no strength in him to defend himself against a woman?" "It was not lack of strength in me," replied he, "nor was it thy strength that overthrew me, but thy beauty; so if thou wilt, grant me another bout, it will be of thy favor." She laughed and said, "I grant thee this: but these damsels have been long bound, and their arms and shoulders are weary, and it were fitting I should loose them, since this next bout may peradventure be a long one." Then she went up to the girls, and unbinding them said to them in the Greek tongue, "Go and put yourselves in safety, till I have brought to naught this Muslim." So they went away, whilst Sherkan looked at them, and they gazed at him and the young lady. Then he and she drew near again and set to.... But [again by admiration of her beauty] his strength failed him, and she feeling this, lifted him in her hands swifter than the blinding lightning and threw him to the ground. He fell on his back, and she said to him, "Rise: I give thee thy life a second time. I spared thee before for the sake of thy prophet, for that he forbade the killing of women, and I do so this second time because of thy weakness and tender age, and strangerhood: but I charge thee, if there be in the army sent by King Omar ben Ennuman a stronger than thou, send him hither and tell him of me." "By Allah, O my lady," replied Sherkan (and indeed he was greatly incensed against her), "it was not by thy strength that thou overthrewest me, but by [thy beauty], so that nor wit nor foresight was left in me. But now, if thou have a mind to try another fall with me, with my wits about me, I have a right to this one bout more by the rules of the game, for my presence of mind has now returned to me." "Hast thou not had enough of wrestling, O conquered one?" rejoined she. "However, come, if thou wilt: but know that this bout must be the last." Then they took hold of each other, and he set to in earnest and warded himself against being thrown down: so they wrestled awhile and the damsel found in him strength such as she had not before observed, and said to him, "O Muslim, thou art on thy guard!" "Yes," replied he, "thou knowest that there remaineth but this bout, and after each of us will go his own way." She laughed and he laughed too: then she seized the opportunity to bore in upon him unawares, and gripping him by the thigh, threw him to the ground, so that he fell on his back. She laughed at him and said, "Thou art surely an eater of bran: for thou art like a Bedouin bonnet that falls off at a touch, or a child's toy that a puff of air overturns. Out on thee, thou poor creature! Go back to the army of the Muslims and send us other than thyself, for thou lackest thews; and cry as among the Arabs and Persians and Turks and Medes, 'Whoso has might in him let him come to us!'" Then she made a spring and landed on the other side of the stream and said to Sherkan laughing, "It goes to my heart to part with thee! get thee to thy friends, O my lord, before the morning, lest the knights come upon thee and take thee on the points of their lances. Thou hast not strength enough to defend thee against women; so how couldst thou make head against men and cavaliers!" And she turned to go back to the monastery. Sherkan was confounded, and called out to her, saying "O my lady! Wilt thou go away, and leave the wretched stranger, the broken-hearted slave of love?" So she turned to him laughing, and said, "What wouldst thou? I grant thy prayer." "Have I set foot in thy country and tasted the sweetness of thy favors," replied Sherkan, "and shall I return without eating of thy victual and tasting of thy hospitality? Indeed, I am become one of thy servitors." Quoth she, "None but the base refuses hospitality: on my head and eyes be it! Do me the favor to mount and ride along the stream, abreast of me, for thou art my guest." At this Sherkan rejoiced, and hastening back to his horse, mounted and rode along the river-bank, keeping abreast of her, till he came to a drawbridge that hung by pulleys and chains of steel, made fast with hooks and padlocks. Here stood the ten damsels awaiting the lady, who spoke to one of them in the Greek tongue and said to her, "Go to him; take his horse's rein and bring him over into the monastery."... They went on till they reached a vaulted gate, arched over with marble. This she opened, and entered with Sherkan into a long vestibule, vaulted with ten arches, from each of which hung a lamp of crystal, shining like the rays of the sun. The damsels met her at the end of the vestibule, bearing perfumed flambeaux and having on their heads kerchiefs embroidered with all manner of jewels, and went on before her, till they came to the inward of the monastery, where Sherkan saw couches set up all around, facing one another and overhung with curtains spangled with gold. The floor was paved with all kinds of variegated marbles, and in the midst was a basin of water with four and twenty spouts of gold around it from which issued water like liquid silver; whilst at the upper end stood a throne covered with silks of royal purple. Then said the damsel, "O my lord, mount this throne." So he seated himself on it, and she withdrew: and when she had been absent awhile, he asked the servants of her, and they said, "She hath gone to her sleeping-chamber; but we will serve thee as thou shalt order." So they set before him rare meats, and he ate till he was satisfied, when they brought him a basin of gold and an ewer of silver and he washed his hands. Then his mind reverted to his troops, and he was troubled, knowing not what had befallen them in his absence and thinking how he had forgotten his father's injunctions, so that he abode, oppressed with anxiety and repenting of what he had done, till the dawn broke and the day appeared, when he lamented and sighed and became drowned in the sea of melancholy, repeating the following verses:--

"I lack not of prudence, and yet in this case, I've been fooled;

so what shift shall avail unto me?

If any could ease me of love and its stress, Of my might and

my virtue I'd set myself free.

But alas! my heart's lost in maze of desire, And no helper save

God in my strait can I see.

Hardly had he finished when up came more than twenty damsels like moons, encompassing the young lady, who appeared among them as the full moon among stars. She was clad in royal brocade, and girt with a woven girdle set with various kinds of jewels that straitly clasped her waist.... On her head she wore a network of pearls, gemmed with various kinds of jewels, and she moved with a coquettish, swimming gait, swaying wonder-gracefully, whilst the damsels held up her skirts.... She fixed her eyes on him, and considered him awhile, till she was assured of him, when she came up to him and said, "Indeed the place is honored and illumined with thy presence, O Sherkan! How didst thou pass the night, O hero, after we went away and left thee? Verily, lying is a defect and a reproach in kings; especially in great kings: and thou art Sherkan, son of King Omar ben Ennuman; so henceforth tell me naught but truth, and strive not to keep the secret of thy condition, for falsehood engenders hatred and enmity. The arrow of destiny hath fallen upon thee, and it behooves thee to show resignation and submission." When Sherkan heard what she said, he saw nothing for it but to tell her the truth: so he said, "I am indeed Sherkan, son of Omar ben Ennuman; whom fortune hath afflicted and cast into this place: so now do whatsoever thou wilt."


Portions of Nights 536 to 542, presenting the Introduction and the first
of the seven 'Voyages': Translation of Captain Sir Richard Burton.

There lived in the city of Bagdad, during the reign of the Commander of the Faithful, Harun al-Rashid, a man named Sindbad the Hammal [Porter], one in poor case, who bore burdens on his head for hire. It happened to him one day of great heat that whilst he was carrying a heavy load, he became exceeding weary and sweated profusely; the heat and the weight alike oppressing him. Presently, as he was passing the gate of a merchant's house, before which the ground was swept and watered, and where the air was temperate, he sighted a broad bench beside the door; so he set his load thereon, to take rest and smell the air.--

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.


She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the Hammal set his load upon the bench to take rest and smell the air, there came out upon him from the court-door a pleasant breeze and a delicious fragrance. He sat down on the edge of the bench, and at once heard from within the melodious sound of lutes and other stringed instruments, and mirth-exciting voices singing and reciting, together with the song of birds warbling and glorifying Almighty Allah in various tunes and tongues; turtles, mockingbirds, merles, nightingales, cushats, and stone-curlews: whereat he marveled in himself and was moved to mighty joy and solace. Then he went up to the gate and saw within a great flower-garden wherein were pages and black slaves, and such a train of servants and attendants and so forth as is found only with Kings and Sultans; and his nostrils were greeted with the savory odors of all manner meats rich and delicate, and delicious and generous wines. So he raised his eyes heavenwards and said, "Glory to Thee, O Lord, O Creator and Provider, who providest whomso Thou wilt without count or stint! O mine Holy One, I cry Thee pardon for all sins and turn to Thee repenting of all offenses! O Lord, there is no gainsaying Thee in Thine ordinance and Thy dominion, neither wilt Thou be questioned of that Thou dost, for Thou indeed over all things art Almighty! Extolled be Thy perfection: whom Thou wilt Thou makest poor and whom Thou wilt Thou makest rich! Whom Thou wilt Thou exaltest and whom Thou wilt Thou abasest, and there is no god but Thou! How mighty is Thy majesty and how enduring Thy dominion and how excellent Thy government! Verily, Thou favorest whom Thou wilt of Thy servants, whereby the owner of this place abideth in all joyance of life and delighteth himself with pleasant scents and delicious meats and exquisite wines of all kinds. For indeed Thou appointest unto Thy creatures that which Thou wilt and that which Thou hast foreordained unto them; wherefore are some weary and others are at rest, and some enjoy fair fortune and affluence whilst others suffer the extreme of travail and misery, even as I do." And he fell to reciting:

How many by my labors, that evermore endure, All goods of

life enjoy and in cooly shade recline?

Each morn that dawns I wake in travail and in woe, And

strange is my condition and my burden gars me pine:

Many others are in luck and from miseries are free, And Fortune

never loads them with loads the like o' mine:

They live their happy days in all solace and delight; Eat, drink,

and dwell in honor 'mid the noble and the digne:

All living things were made of a little drop of sperm, Thine

origin is mine and my provenance is thine;

Yet the difference and distance 'twixt the twain of us are far As

the difference of savor 'twixt vinegar and wine:

But at Thee, O God All-wise! I venture not to rail Whose ordinance

is just and whose justice cannot fail.

When Sindbad the Porter had made an end of reciting his verses, he bore up his burden and was about to fare on, when there came forth to him from the gate a little foot-page, fair of face and shapely of shape and dainty of dress, who caught him by the hand, saying, "Come in and speak with my lord, for he calleth for thee." The Porter would have excused himself to the page, but the lad would take no refusal; so he left his load with the doorkeeper in the vestibule and followed the boy into the house, which he found to be a goodly mansion, radiant and full of majesty, till he brought him to a grand sitting-room wherein he saw a company of nobles and great lords, seated at tables garnished with all manner of flowers and sweet-scented herbs, besides great plenty of dainty viands and fruits dried and fresh and confections and wines of the choicest vintages. There also were instruments of music and mirth, and lovely slave-girls playing and singing. All the company was ranged according to rank, and in the highest place sat a man of worshipful and noble aspect, whose beard-sides hoariness had stricken; and he was stately of stature and fair of favor, agreeable of aspect and full of gravity and dignity and majesty. So Sindbad the Porter was confounded at that which he beheld, and said in himself, "By Allah, this must be either a piece of Paradise or some king's palace!" Then he saluted the company with much respect, praying for their prosperity; and kissing ground before them, stood with his head bowed down in humble attitude.--

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.


She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sindbad the Porter, after kissing ground between their hands, stood with his head bowed down in humble attitude. The master of the house bade him draw near and be seated and bespoke him kindly, bidding him welcome. Then he set before him various kinds of viands, rich and delicious, and the Porter, after saying his Bismillah, fell to and ate his fill, after which he exclaimed, "Praised be Allah whatso be our case!" and washing his hands, returned thanks to the company for his entertainment. Quoth the host, "Thou art welcome and thy day is a-blessed. But what are thy name and calling?" Quoth the other, "O my lord, my name is Sindbad the Hammal, and I carry folk's goods on my head for hire." The house-master smiled and rejoined, "Know, O Porter, that thy name is even as mine, for I am Sindbad the Seaman; and now, O Porter, I would have thee let me hear the couplets thou recitedst at the gate anon." The Porter was abashed and replied, "Allah upon thee! Excuse me, for toil and travail and lack of luck when the hand is empty teach a man ill manners and boorish ways." Said the host, "Be not ashamed; thou art become my brother: but repeat to me the verses, for they pleased me whenas I heard thee recite them at the gate." Hereupon the Porter repeated the couplets, and they delighted the merchant, who said to him:--

Know, O Hammal, that my story is a wonderful one, and thou shalt hear all that befell me and all I underwent ere I rose to this state of prosperity and became the lord of this place wherein thou seest me; for I came not to this high estate save after travail sore and perils galore, and how much toil and trouble have I not suffered in days of yore! I have made seven voyages, by each of which hangeth a marvelous tale, such as confoundeth the reason, and all this came to pass by doom of fortune and fate; for from what destiny doth write there is neither refuge nor flight.

Know then, good my lords (continued he), that I am about to relate the


My father was a merchant, one of the notables of my native place, a moneyed man and ample of means, who died whilst I was yet a child, leaving me much wealth in money and lands, and farmhouses. When I grew up I laid hands on the whole and ate of the best and drank freely and wore rich clothes and lived lavishly, companioning and consorting with youths of my own age, and considering that this course of life would continue for ever and ken no change. Thus did I for a long time, but at last I awoke from my heedlessness, and returning to my senses, I found my wealth had become unwealth and my condition ill-conditioned, and all I once hent had left my hand. And recovering my reason I was stricken with dismay and confusion, and bethought me of a saying of our lord Solomon, son of David, (upon whom be Peace!) which I had heard aforetime from my father, "Three things are better than other three: the day of death is better than the day of birth, a live dog is better than a dead lion, and the grave is better than want." Then I got together my remains of estates and property and sold all, even my clothes, for three thousand dirhams, with which I resolved to travel to foreign parts, remembering the saying of the poet:--

By means of toil man shall scale the height; Who to fame

aspires mustn't sleep o' night:

Who seeketh pearl in the deep must dive, Winning weal and

wealth by his main and might:

And who seeketh Fame without toil and strife Th' impossible

seeketh and wasteth life.

So taking heart I bought me goods, merchandise, and all needed for a voyage, and, impatient to be at sea, I embarked, with a company of merchants, on board a ship bound for Bassorah. There we again embarked and sailed many days and nights, and we passed from isle to isle and sea to sea and shore to shore, buying and selling and bartering everywhere the ship touched, and continued our course till we came to an island as it were a garth of the garden of Paradise. Here the captain cast anchor, and making fast to the shore, put out the landing planks. So all on board landed and made furnaces, and lighting fires therein, busied themselves in various ways, some cooking and some washing, whilst other some walked about the island for solace, and the crew fell to eating and drinking and playing and sporting. I was one of the walkers; but as we were thus engaged, behold the master, who was standing on the gunwale, cried out to us at the top of his voice, saying, "Ho there! passengers, run for your lives and hasten back to the ship and leave your gear and save yourselves from destruction, Allah preserve you! For this island whereon ye stand is no true island, but a great fish stationary a-middlemost of the sea, whereon the sand hath settled and trees have sprung up of old time, so that it is become like unto an island; but when ye lighted fires on it, it felt the heat and moved; and in a moment it will sink with you into the sea and ye will all be drowned. So leave your gear and seek your safety ere ye die."--

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.


She said, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when the ship-master cried to the passengers, "Leave your gear and seek safety ere ye die," all who heard him left gear and goods, clothes washed and unwashed, fire-pots and brass cooking-pots, and fled back to the ship for their lives, and some reached it while others (among whom was I) did not, for suddenly the island shook and sank into the abysses of the deep, with all that were thereon, and the dashing sea surged over it with clashing waves. I sank with the others down, down into the deep, but Almighty Allah preserved me from drowning and threw in my way a great wooden tub of those that had served the ship's company for tubbing. I gripped it for the sweetness of life, and bestriding it like one riding, paddled with my feet like oars, whilst the waves tossed me as in sport right and left. Meanwhile, the captain made sail and departed with those who had reached the ship, regardless of the drowning and the drowned; and I ceased not following the vessel with my eyes, till she was hid from sight and I made sure of death. Darkness closed in upon me while in this plight, and the winds and waves bore me on all that night and the next day, till the tub brought to with me under the lee of a lofty island, with trees overhanging the tide. I caught hold of a branch and by its aid clambered up on to the land, after coming nigh upon death; but when I reached the shore, I found my legs cramped and numbed, and my feet bore traces of the nibbling of fish upon their soles; withal I had felt nothing for excess of anguish and fatigue. I threw myself down on the island-ground, like a dead man, and drowned in desolation swooned away, nor did I return to my senses till next morning, when the sun rose and revived me. But I found my feet swollen, so made shift to move by shuffling on my breech and crawling on my knees, for in that island were found store of fruit and springs of sweet water. I ate of the fruits, which strengthened me; and thus I abode days and nights, till my life seemed to return and my spirits began to revive and I was better able to move about. So after due consideration I fell to exploring the island and diverting myself with gazing upon all things that Allah Almighty had created there; and rested under the trees, from one of which I cut me a staff to lean upon. One day as I walked along the marge, I caught sight of some object in the distance, and thought it a wild beast or one of the monster creatures of the sea; but as I drew near it, looking hard the while, I saw that it was a noble mare, tethered on the beach. Presently I went up to her, but she cried out against me with a great cry, so that I trembled for fear and turned to go away, when there came forth a man from under the earth and followed me, crying out and saying, "Who and whence art thou, and what caused thee to come hither?" "O my lord," answered I, "I am in very sooth a waif, a stranger, and was left to drown with sundry others by the ship we voyaged in; but Allah graciously sent me a wooden tub, so I saved myself thereon, and it floated with me till the waves cast me up on this island." When he heard this he took my hand, and saying "Come with me," carried me into a great Sardáb, or underground chamber, which was spacious as a saloon. He made me sit down at its upper end; then he brought me somewhat of food, and, being anhungered, I ate till I was satisfied and refreshed. And when he had put me at mine ease he questioned me of myself, and I told him all that had befallen me from first to last. And as he wondered at my adventure, I said, "By Allah, O my lord, excuse me; I have told thee the truth of my case and the accident which betided me. And now I desire that thou tell me who thou art, and why thou abidest here under the earth, and why thou hast tethered yonder mare on the brink of the sea." Answered he, "Know that I am one of the several who are stationed in different parts of this island, and we are of the grooms of King Mihrján, and under our hand are all his horses.... And Inshallah! I will bear thee to King Mihrján--"

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.


She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that the Syce said to Sindbad the Seaman, "I will bear thee to King Mihrján and show thee our country. And know that hadst thou not happened on us, thou hadst perished miserably and none had known of thee; but I will be the means of the saving of thy life and of thy return to thine own land." I called down blessings on him and thanked him for his kindness and courtesy.... After this, we sat awhile, till the rest of the grooms came up, each leading a mare, and seeing me with their fellow Syce questioned me of my case, and I repeated my story to them. Thereupon they drew near me, and spreading the table, ate and invited me to eat; so I ate with them, after which they took horse, and mounting me on one of the mares, set out with me and fared on without ceasing, till we came to the capital city of King Mihrján, and going in to him acquainted him with my story. Then he sent for me, and when they set me before him and salams had been exchanged, he gave me a cordial welcome and wishing me long life bade me tell him my tale. So I related to him all that I had seen and all that had befallen me from first to last, whereat he marveled and said to me, "By Allah, O my son, thou hast indeed been miraculously preserved! Were not the term of thy life a long one, thou hadst not escaped from these straits; but praised be Allah for safety!" Then he spoke cheerily to me and entreated me with kindness and consideration; moreover, he made me his agent for the port and registrar of all ships that entered the harbor. I attended him regularly, to receive his commandments, and he favored me and did me all manner of kindness and invested me with costly and splendid robes. Indeed, I was high in credit with him, as an intercessor for the folk and an intermediary between them and him, when they wanted aught of him. I abode thus a great while, and as often as I passed through the city to the port, I questioned the merchants and travelers and sailors of the city of Baghdad; so haply I might hear of an occasion to return to my native land, but could find none who knew it or knew any who resorted thither. At this I was chagrined, for I was weary of long strangerhood; and my disappointment endured for a time till one day, going in to King Mihrján, I found with him a company of Indians. I saluted them and they returned my salam; and politely welcomed me and asked me of my country--

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased saying her permitted say.


She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that Sindbad the Seaman said:--When they asked me of my country I questioned them of theirs, and they told me that they were of various castes, some being called Shakiriyah, who are the noblest of their castes and neither oppress nor offer violence to any, and other Brahmans, a folk who abstain from wine, but live in delight and solace and merriment, and own camels and horses and cattle. Moreover, they told me that the people of India are divided into two-and-seventy castes, and I marveled at this with exceeding marvel. Amongst other things that I saw in King Mihrján's dominions was an island called Kásil, wherein all night is heard the beating of drums and tabrets; but we were told by the neighboring islanders and by travelers that the inhabitants are people of diligence and judgment. In this sea I saw also a fish two hundred cubits long, and the fishermen fear it; so they strike together pieces of wood and put it to flight. I also saw another fish, with a head like that of an owl, besides many other wonders and rarities, which it would be tedious to recount. I occupied myself thus in visiting the islands, till one day, as I stood in the port, with a staff in my hand, according to my custom, behold, a great ship, wherein were many merchants, came sailing for the harbor. When it reached the small inner port where ships anchor under the city, the master furled his sails and making fast to the shore, put out the landing-planks, whereupon the crew fell to breaking bulk and landing cargo whilst I stood by, taking written note of them. They were long in bringing the goods ashore, so I asked the master, "Is there aught left in thy ship?" and he answered, "O my lord, there are divers bales of merchandise in the hold, whose owner was drowned from amongst us at one of the islands on our course; so his goods remained in our charge by way of trust, and we propose to sell them and note their price, that we may convey it to his people in the city of Baghdad, the Home of Peace." "What was the merchant's name?" quoth I, and quoth he, "Sindbad the Seaman"; whereupon I straitly considered him and knowing him, cried out to him with a great cry, saying, "O captain, I am that Sindbad the Seaman who traveled with other merchants; and when the fish heaved and thou calledst to us, some saved themselves and others sank, I being one of them. But Allah Almighty threw in my way a great tub of wood, of those the crew had used to wash withal, and the winds and waves carried me to this island, where by Allah's grace I fell in with King Mihrján's grooms and they brought me hither to the King their master. When I told him my story he entreated me with favor and made me his harbor-master, and I have prospered in his service and found acceptance with him. These bales, therefore, are mine, the goods which God hath given me--"

And Shahrazad perceived the dawn of day and ceased to say her permitted say.


She continued, It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that when Sindbad the Seaman said to the captain, "These bales are mine, the goods which Allah hath given me," the other exclaimed, "There is no Majesty and there is no Might save in Allah, the Glorious, the Great! Verily, there is neither conscience nor good faith left among men!" Said I, "O Rais, what mean these words, seeing that I have told thee my case?" And he answered, "Because thou heardest me say that I had with me goods whose owner was drowned, thou thinkest to take them without right; but this is forbidden by law to thee, for we saw him drown before our eyes, together with many other passengers, nor was one of them saved. So how canst thou pretend that thou art the owner of the goods?" "O captain," said I, "listen to my story and give heed to my words, and my truth will be manifest to thee; for lying and leasing are the letter-marks of the hypocrites." Then I recounted to him all that had befallen me since I sailed from Baghdad with him to the time when we came to the fish-island where we were nearly drowned; and I reminded him of certain matters which had passed between us; whereupon both he and the merchants were certified of the truth of my story and recognized me and gave me joy of my deliverance, saying, "By Allah, we thought not that thou hadst escaped drowning! But the Lord hath granted thee new life." Then they delivered my bales to me, and I found my name written thereon, nor was aught thereof lacking. So I opened them, and making up a present for King Mihrján of the finest and costliest of the contents, caused the sailors to carry it up to the palace, where I went in to the King and laid my present at his feet acquainting him with what had happened, especially concerning the ship and my goods; whereat he wondered with exceeding wonder and the truth of all that I had told him was made manifest to him. His affection for me redoubled after that, and he showed me exceeding honor and bestowed on me a great present in return for mine. Then I sold my bales and what other matters I owned, making a great profit on them, and bought me other goods and gear of the growth and fashion of the island-city. When the merchants were about to start on their homeward voyage, I embarked on board the ship all that I possessed, and going in to the King, thanked him for all his favors and friendship, and craved his leave to return to my own land and friends. He farewelled me and bestowed upon me great store of the country-stuffs and produce; and I took leave of him and embarked. Then we set sail and fared on nights and days, by the permission of Allah Almighty; and Fortune served us and Fate favored us, so that we arrived in safety at Bassorah-city where I landed rejoiced at my safe return to my natal soil. After a short stay, I set out for Baghdad, the House of Peace, with store of goods and commodities of great price. Reaching the city in due time, I went straight to my own quarter and entered my house, where all my friends and kinsfolk came to greet me. Then I bought me eunuchs and concubines, servants and negro slaves, till I had a large establishment, and I bought me houses, and lands and gardens, till I was richer and in better case than before, and returned to enjoy the society of my friends and familiars more assiduously than ever, forgetting all I had suffered of fatigue and hardship and strangerhood and every peril of travel; and I applied myself to all manner joys and solaces and delights, eating the daintiest viands and drinking the deliciousest wines; and my wealth allowed this state of things to endure. This, then, is the story of my first voyage, and to-morrow, Inshallah! I will tell you the tale of the second of my seven voyages. Saith he who telleth the tale: Then Sindbad the Seaman made Sindbad the Landsman sup with him and bade give him an hundred gold pieces, saying, "Thou hast cheered us with thy company this day." The Porter thanked him, and taking the gift, went his way, pondering that which he had heard and marveling mightily at what things betide mankind.


Translation of Captain Sir Richard F. Burton

Now during this time Shahrazad had borne the King three boy children; so, when she had made an end of the story of Ma'aruf, she rose to her feet and kissing ground before him, said, "O King of the time and unique one of the age and the tide, I am thine handmaid, and these thousand nights and a night have I entertained thee with stories of folk gone before and admonitory instances of the men of yore. May I then make bold to crave a boon of thy highness?" He replied, "Ask, O Shahrazad, and it shall be granted to thee." Whereupon she cried out to the nurses and the eunuchs, saying, "Bring me my children." So they brought them to her in haste, and they were three boy children, one walking, one crawling, and one sucking. She took them, and setting them before the King, again kissed ground and said, "O King of the Age, these are thy children and I crave that thou release me from the doom of death, as a dole to these infants; for, an thou kill me, they will become motherless and will find none among women to rear them as they should be reared." When the King heard this, he wept and straining the boys to his bosom, said, "By Allah, O Shahrazad, I pardoned thee before the coming of these children, for that I found thee chaste, pure, ingenuous, and pious! Allah bless thee and thy father and thy mother and thy root and thy branch! I take the Almighty to witness against me that I exempt thee from aught that can harm thee."

So she kissed his hands and feet and rejoiced with exceeding joy, saying, "The Lord make thy life long and increase thee in dignity and majesty!" presently adding, "Thou marveledst at which befell thee on the part of women; yet there betided the Kings of the Chosroës before thee greater mishaps and more grievous than that which hath befallen thee, and indeed I have set forth unto thee that which happened to Caliphs and Kings and others with their women, but the relation is longsome, and hearkening groweth tedious, and in this is all-sufficient warning for the man of wits and admonishment for the wise." Then she ceased to speak, and when King Shahryar heard her speech and profited by that which she had said, he summoned up his reasoning powers and cleansed his heart and caused his understanding to revert, and turned to Allah Almighty and said to himself, "Since there befell the Kings of the Chosroës more than that which hath befallen me, never whilst I live shall I cease to blame myself for the past. As for this Shahrazad, her like is not found in the lands; so praise be to Him Who appointed her a means for delivering His creatures from oppression and slaughter!" Then he arose from his séance and kissed her head, whereat she rejoiced, she and her sister Dunyazad, with exceeding joy.

When the morning morrowed the King went forth, and sitting down on the throne of the Kingship, summoned the Lords of his land; whereupon the Chamberlains and Nabobs and Captains of the host went in to him and kissed ground before him. He distinguished the Wazir, Shahrazad's sire, with special favor and bestowed on him a costly and splendid robe of honor, and entreated him with the utmost kindness, and said to him, "Allah protect thee for that thou gavest me to wife thy noble daughter, who hath been the means of my repentance from slaying the daughters of folk. Indeed, I have found her pure and pious, chaste and ingenuous, and Allah hath vouchsafed me by her three boy children; wherefore praised be He for His passing favor." Then he bestowed robes of honor upon his Wazirs and Emirs and Chief Officers and he set forth to them briefly that which had betided him with Shahrazad, and how he had turned from his former ways and repented him of what he had done, and proposed to take the Wazir's daughter Shahrazad to wife, and let draw up the marriage-contract with her. When those who were present heard this, they kissed ground before him and blessed him and his betrothed Shahrazad, and the Wazir thanked her.

Then Shahryar made an end of his sitting in all weal, whereupon the folk dispersed to their dwelling-places, and the news was bruited abroad that the King proposed to marry the Wazir's daughter, Shahrazad. Then he proceeded to make ready the wedding gear, and presently he sent after his brother, King Shah Zaman, who came, and King Shahryar went forth to meet him with the troops. Furthermore, they decorated the city after the goodliest fashion and diffused scents from censers and burnt aloes-wood and other perfumes in all the markets and thoroughfares and rubbed themselves with saffron, what while the drums beat and the flutes and pipes sounded and mimes and mountebanks played and plied their arts, and the King lavished on them gifts and largesse, and in very deed it was a notable day. When they came to the palace, King Shahryar commanded to spread the table with beasts roasted whole, and sweetmeats, and all manner of viands, and bade the crier cry to the folk that they should come up to the Diwan and eat and drink, and that this should be a means of reconciliation between him and them. So high and low, great and small, came up unto him, and they abode on that wise, eating and drinking, seven days with their nights.

Then the King shut himself up with his brother, and related to him that which had betided him with the Wazir's daughter Shahrazad during the past three years, and told him what he had heard from her of proverbs and parables, chronicles and pleasantries, quips and jests, stories and anecdotes, dialogues and histories, and elegies and other verses; whereat King Shah Zaman marveled with the utmost marvel and said, "Fain would I take her younger sister to wife, so we may be two brothers-german to two sisters-german, and they on like wise be sisters to us; for that the calamity which befell me was the cause of our discovering that which befell thee, and all this time of three years past I have taken no delight in woman; but now I desire to marry thy wife's sister Dunyazad."

When King Shahryar heard his brother's words, he rejoiced with joy exceeding, and arising forthright, went in to his wife Shahrazad and acquainted her with that which his brother purposed, namely, that he sought her sister Dunyazad in wedlock; whereupon she answered, "O King of the Age, we seek of him one condition, to wit, that he take up his abode with us, for that I cannot brook to be parted from my sister an hour, because we were brought up together, and may not endure separation each from another. If he accept this pact, she is his handmaid." King Shahryar returned to his brother and acquainted him with that which Shahrazad had said; and he replied, "Indeed, this is what was in my mind, for that I desire nevermore to be parted from thee one hour. As for the kingdom, Allah the Most High shall send to it whomso He chooseth, for that I have no longer a desire for the kingship."

When King Shahryar heard his brother's words, he rejoiced exceedingly and said, "Verily, this is what I wished, O my brother. So Alhamdolillah--Praised be Allah!--who hath brought about union between us." Then he sent after the Kazis and Olema, Captains and Notables, and they married the two brothers to the two sisters. The contracts were written out, and the two Kings bestowed robes of honor of silk and satin on those who were present, whilst the city was decorated and the rejoicings were renewed. The King commanded each Emir and Wazir and Chamberlain and Nabob to decorate his palace, and the folk of the city were gladdened by the presage of happiness and contentment. King Shahryar also bade slaughter sheep, and set up kitchens and made bride-feasts and fed all comers, high and low; and he gave alms to the poor and needy and extended his bounty to great and small.

Then the eunuchs went forth that they might perfume the Hammam for the brides; so they scented it with rosewater and willow-flower water and pods of musk, and fumigated it with Kákilí eaglewood and ambergris. Then Shahrazad entered, she and her sister Dunyazad, and they cleansed their heads and clipped their hair. When they came forth of the Hammam-bath, they donned raiment and ornaments, such as men were wont prepare for the Kings of the Chosroës; and among Shahrazad's apparel was a dress purfled with red gold and wrought with counterfeit presentments of birds and beasts. And the two sisters encircled their necks with necklaces of jewels of price, in the like whereof Iskander rejoiced not, for therein were great jewels such as amazed the wit and dazzled the eye; and the imagination was bewildered at their charms, for indeed each of them was brighter than the sun and the moon. Before them they lighted brilliant flambeaux of wax in candelabra of gold, but their faces outshone the flambeaux, for that they had eyes sharper than unsheathed swords and the lashes of their eyelids bewitched all hearts. Their cheeks were rosy red, and their necks and shapes gracefully swayed, and their eyes wantoned like the gazelle's; and the slave-girls came to meet them with instruments of music.

Then the two Kings entered the Hammam-bath, and when they came forth they sat down on a couch set with pearls and gems, whereupon the two sisters came up to them and stood between their hands, as they were moons, bending and leaning from side to side in their beauty and loveliness. Presently they brought forward Shahrazad and displayed her, for the first dress, in a red suit; whereupon King Shahryar rose to look upon her, and the wits of all present, men and women, were bewitched for that she was even as saith of her one of her describers:--

A sun on wand in knoll of sand she showed,

Clad in her cramoisy-hued chemisette:

Of her lips' honey-dew she gave me drink

And with her rosy cheeks quencht fire she set.

Then they attired Dunyazad in a dress of blue brocade, and she became as she were the full moon when it shineth forth. So they displayed her in this, for the first dress, before King Shah Zaman, who rejoiced in her and well-nigh swooned away for love-longing and amorous desire; yea, he was distraught with passion for her, whenas he saw her, because she was as saith of her one of her describers in these couplets:--

She comes appareled in an azure vest
     Ultramarine as skies are deckt and dight:
I view'd th' unparall'd sight, which showed my eyes
     A Summer-moon upon a Winter-night.

Then they returned to Shahrazad and displayed her in the second dress, a suit of surpassing goodliness, and veiled her face with her hair like a chin-veil. Moreover, they let down her side-locks, and she was even as saith of her one of her describers in these couplets:--

O hail to him whose locks his cheeks o'ershade,
     Who slew my life by cruel hard despight:
Said I, "Hast veiled the Morn in Night?" He said,
     "Nay, I but veil the Moon in hue of Night."

Then they displayed Dunyazad in a second and a third and a fourth dress, and she paced forward like the rising sun, and swayed to and fro in the insolence of her beauty; and she was even as saith the poet of her in these couplets:--

The sun of beauty she to all appears
     And, lovely coy, she mocks all loveliness:
And when he fronts her favor and her smile
     A-morn, the sun of day in clouds must dress.

Then they displayed Shahrazad in the third dress and the fourth and the fifth, and she became as she were a Bán-branch snell of a thirsting gazelle, lovely of face and perfect in attributes of grace, even as saith of her one in these couplets:--

She comes like fullest moon on happy night,
     Taper of waist with shape of magic might;
She hath an eye whose glances quell mankind,
     And ruby on her cheeks reflects his light;
Enveils her hips the blackness of her hair;
     Beware of curls that bite with viper-bite!
Her sides are silken-soft, what while the heart
     Mere rock behind that surface 'scapes our sight;
From the fringed curtains of her cyne she shoots
     Shafts that at furthest range on mark alight.

Then they returned to Dunyazad and displayed her in the fifth dress and in the sixth, which was green, when she surpassed with her loveliness the fair of the four quarters of the world, and outvied, with the brightness of her countenance, the full moon at rising tide; for she was even as saith of her the poet in these couplets:--

A damsel 'twas the tirer's art had decked with snare and sleight,
     And robed with rays as though the sun from her had borrowed light;
She came before us wondrous clad in chemisette of green,
     As veilèd by his leafy screen Pomegranate hides from sight;
And when he said, "How callest thou the fashion of thy dress?"
     She answered us in pleasant way, with double meaning dight,
"We call this garment crève-coeur; and rightly is it hight,
     For many a heart wi' this we brake and harried many a sprite."

Then they displayed Shahrazad in the sixth and seventh dresses and clad her in youth's clothing, whereupon she came forward swaying from side to side, and coquettishly moving, and indeed she ravished wits and hearts and ensorcelled all eyes with her glances. She shook her sides and swayed her haunches, then put her hair on sword-hilt and went up to King Shahryar, who embraced her as hospitable host embraceth guest, and threatened her in her ear with the taking of the sword; and she was even as saith of her the poet in these words:--

Were not the Murk of gender male,
      Than feminines surpassing fair,
Tire-women they had grudged the bride,
      Who made her beard and whiskers wear!

Thus also they did with her sister Dunyazad; and when they had made an end of the display, the King bestowed robes of honor on all who were present, and sent the brides to their own apartments. Then Shahrazad went in to King Shahryar and Dunyazad to King Shah Zaman, and each of them solaced himself with the company of his beloved consort, and the hearts of the folk were comforted. When morning morrowed, the Wazir came in to the two Kings and kissed ground before them; wherefore they thanked him and were large of bounty to him. Presently they went forth and sat down upon couches of kingship, whilst all the Wazirs and Emirs and Grandees and Lords of the land presented themselves and kissed ground. King Shahryar ordered them dresses of honor and largesse, and they prayed for the permanence and prosperity of the King and his brother. Then the two Sovrans appointed their sire-in-law the Wazir to be Viceroy in Samarcand, and assigned him five of the Chief Emirs to accompany him, charging them attend him and do him service. The Minister kissed ground and prayed that they might be vouchsafed length of life: then he went in to his daughters, whilst the Eunuchs and Ushers walked before him, and saluted them and farewelled them. They kissed his hands and gave him joy of the kingship and bestowed on him immense treasures; after which he took leave of them, and setting out, fared days and nights, till he came near Samarcand, where the townspeople met him at a distance of three marches and rejoiced in him with exceeding joy. So he entered the city, and they decorated the houses and it was a notable day. He sat down on the throne of his kingship, and the Wazirs did him homage and the Grandees and Emirs of Samarcand, and all prayed that he might be vouchsafed justice and victory and length of continuance. So he bestowed on them robes of honor and entreated them with distinction, and they made him Sultan over them. As soon as his father-in-law had departed for Samarcand, King Shahryar summoned the Grandees of his realm and made them a stupendous banquet of all manner of delicious meats and exquisite sweetmeats. He also bestowed on them robes of honor and guerdoned them, and divided the kingdoms between himself and his brother in their presence, whereat the folk rejoiced. Then the two Kings abode, each ruling a day in turn, and they were ever in harmony each with other, while on similar wise their wives continued in the love of Allah Almighty and in thanksgiving to Him; and the peoples and the provinces were at peace, and the preachers prayed for them from the pulpits, and their report was bruited abroad and the travelers bore tidings of them to all lands. In due time King Shahryar summoned chronicles and copyists, and bade them write all that had betided him with his wife, first and last; so they wrote this and named it 'The Stories of the Thousand Nights and A Night.' The book came to thirty volumes, and these the King laid up in his treasure. And the two brothers abode with their wives in all pleasaunce and solace of life and its delights, for that indeed Allah the Most High had changed their annoy into joy; and on this wise they continued till there took them the Destroyer of delights and the Severer of societies, the Desolator of dwelling-places, and Garnerer of grave-yards, and they were translated to the ruth of Almighty Allah; their houses fell waste and their palaces lay in ruins, and the Kings inherited their riches. Then there reigned after them a wise ruler, who was just, keen-witted, and accomplished, and loved tales and legends, especially those which chronicle the doings of Sovrans and Sultans, and he found in the treasury these marvelous stories and wondrous histories, contained in the thirty volumes aforesaid. So he read in them a first book and a second and a third and so on to the last of them, and each book astounded and delighted him more than that which preceded it, till he came to the end of them. Then he admired what so he had read therein of description and discourse and rare traits and anecdotes and moral instances and reminiscences, and bade the folk copy them and dispread them over all lands and climes; wherefore their report was bruited abroad and the people named them 'The marvels and wonders of the Thousand Nights and A Night.' This is all that hath come down to us of the origin of this book, and Allah is All-knowing. So Glory be to Him Whom the shifts of Time waste not away, nor doth aught of chance or change affect His sway! Whom one case diverteth not from other case, and Who is sole in the attributes of perfect grace. And prayer and the Peace be upon the Lord's Pontiff and Chosen One among His creatures, our Lord MOHAMMED the Prince of mankind, through whom we supplicate Him for a goodly and a godly end.



f no civilization is the complexion of its literary remains so characteristic of its varying fortunes as is that of the Arabic. The precarious conditions of desert life and of the tent, the more certain existence in settled habitations, the grandeur of empire acquired in a short period of enthusiastic rapture, the softening influence of luxury and unwonted riches, are so faithfully portrayed in the literature of the Arabs as to give us a picture of the spiritual life of the people which no mere massing of facts can ever give. Well aware of this themselves, the Arabs at an early date commenced the collection and preservation of their old literary monuments with a care and a studious concern which must excite within us a feeling of wonder. For the material side of life must have made a strong appeal to these people when they came forth from their desert homes. Pride in their own doings, pride in their own past, must have spurred them on; yet an ardent feeling for the beautiful in speech is evident from the beginning of their history. The first knowledge that we have of the tribes scattered up and down the deserts and oases of the Arabian peninsula comes to us in the verses of their poets. The early Teuton bards, the rhapsodists of Greece, were not listened to with more rapt attention than was the simple Bedouin, who, seated on his mat or at the door of his tent, gave vent to his feelings of joy or sorrow in such manner as nature had gifted him. As are the ballads for Scottish history, so are the verses of these untutored bards the record of the life in which they played no mean part. Nor could the splendors of court life at Damascus, Bagdad, or Cordova make their rulers insensible to the charms of poetry,--that "beautiful poetry with which Allah has adorned the Muslim." A verse happily said could always charm, a satire well pointed could always incite; and the true Arab of to-day will listen to those so adorned with the same rapt attention as did his fathers of long ago.

This gift of the desert--otherwise so sparing of its favors--has not failed to leave its impression upon the whole Arabic literature. Though it has produced some prose writers of value, writing, as an art to charm and to please, has always sought the measured cadence of poetry or the unmeasured symmetry of rhymed prose. Its first lispings are in the "trembling" (rájaz) metre,--iambics, rhyming in the same syllable throughout; impromptu verses, in which the poet expressed the feelings of the moment: a measure which, the Arabs say, matches the trembling trot of the she-camel. It is simple in its character; coming so near to rhymed prose that Khalíl (born 718), the great grammarian, would not willingly admit that such lines could really be called poetry. Some of these verses go back to the fourth and fifth centuries of our era. But a growing sense of the poet's art was incompatible with so simple a measure; and a hundred years before the appearance of the Prophet, many of the canonical sixteen metres were already in vogue. Even the later complete poems bear the stamp of their origin, in the loose connection with which the different parts stand to each other. The "Kasídah" (poem) is built upon the principle that each verse must be complete in itself,--there being no stanzas,--and separable from the context; which has made interpolations and omissions in the older poems a matter of ease.

The classical period of Arabic poetry, which reaches from the beginning of the sixth century to the beginning of the eighth, is dominated by this form of the Kasídah. Tradition refers its origin to one al-Muhalhel ibn Rabí'a of the tribe of Taghlib, about one hundred and fifty years before Muhammad; though, as is usual, this honor is not uncontested. The Kasídah is composed of distichs, the first two of which only are to rhyme; though every line must end in the same syllable. It must have at least seven or ten verses, and may reach up to one hundred or over. In nearly every case it deals with a tribe or a single person,--the poet himself or a friend,--and may be either a panegyric, a satire, an elegy, or a eulogy. That which it is the aim of the poet to bring out comes last; the greater part of the poem being of the nature of a captatio benevolentia. Here he can show his full power of expression. He usually commences with the description of a deserted camping-ground, where he sees the traces of his beloved. He then adds the erotic part, and describes at length his deeds of valor in the chase or in war; in order, then, to lead over to the real object he has in view. Because of this disposition of the material, which is used by the greater poets of this time, the general form of the Kasídah became in a measure stereotyped. No poem was considered perfect unless molded in this form.

Arabic poetry is thus entirely lyrical. There was too little, among these tribes, of the common national life which forms the basis for the Epos. The Semitic genius is too subjective, and has never gotten beyond the first rude attempts at dramatic composition. Even in its lyrics, Arabic poetry is still more subjective than the Hebrew of the Bible. It falls generally into the form of an allocution, even where it is descriptive. It is the poet who speaks, and his personality pervades the whole poem. He describes nature as he finds it, with little of the imaginative, "in dim grand outlines of a picture which must be filled up by the reader, guided only by a few glorious touches powerfully standing out." A native quickness of apprehension and intense feeling nurtured this poetic sentiment among the Arabs. The continuous enmity among the various tribes produced a sort of knight-errantry which gave material to the poet; and the richness of his language put a tongue in his mouth which could voice forth the finest shades of description or sentiment. Al-Damári has wisely said: "Wisdom has alighted upon three things,--the brain of the Franks, the hands of the Chinese, and the tongues of the Arabs."

The horizon which bounded the Arab poet's view was not far drawn out. He describes the scenes of his desert life: the sand dunes; the camel, antelope, wild ass, and gazelle; his bow and arrow and his sword; his loved one torn from him by the sudden striking of the tents and departure of her tribe. The virtues which he sings are those in which he glories, "love of freedom, independence in thought and action, truthfulness, largeness of heart, generosity, and hospitality." His descriptions breathe the freshness of his outdoor life and bring us close to nature: his whole tone rings out a solemn note, which is even in his lighter moments grave and serious,--as existence itself was for those sons of the desert, who had no settled habitation, and who, more than any one, depended upon the bounty of Allah. Although these Kasídahs passed rapidly from mouth to mouth, little would have been preserved for us had there not been a class of men who, led on some by desire, some by necessity, made it their business to write down the compositions, and to keep fresh in their memory the very pronunciation of each word. Every poet had such a Ráwiah. Of one Hammád it is said that he could recite one hundred Kasídahs rhyming on each letter of the alphabet, each Kasídah having at least one hundred verses. Abu Tammám (805), the author of the 'Hamásah,' is reported to have known by heart fourteen thousand pieces of the metre rájaz. It was not, however, until the end of the first century of the Híjrah that systematic collections of this older literature were commenced.

It was this very Hammád (died 777) who put together seven of the choicest poems of the early Arabs. He called them 'Mu 'allakât,'--"the hung up" (in a place of honor, in the estimation of the people). The authors of these seven poems were: Imr-al-Kais, Tárafa, Zuhéir, Labîd (570), 'Antara, 'Amr, and al-Hárith. The common verdict of their countrymen has praised the choice made by Hammád. The seven remained the great models, to which later poets aspired: in description of love, those of Imr-al-Kais and 'Antara; in that of the camel and the horse, Labîd; of battle, 'Amr; in the praise of arms, Hárith; in wise maxims, Zuhéir. To these must be added al-Nabighah, 'Alkamah, Urwa ibn al-Ward, Hássan ibn Thábit, al-A'sha, Aus ibn Hájar, and as-Shánfarah, whose poem has been called "the most magnificent of old Arabic poems." In addition to the single poems found in the 'Mu 'allakât' and elsewhere, nearly all of these composed whole series of poems, which were at a later time put in the form of collections and called 'Diwans.' Some of these poets have left us as many as four hundred verses. Such collections were made by grammarians and antiquarians of a later age. In addition to the collections made around the name of a single poet, others were made, fashioned upon a different principle: The 'Mufáddaliyát' (the most excellent poems), put together by al-Mufáddal (761); the 'Diwan' of the poets of the tribe of Hudhéil; the 'Hamásah' (Bravery; so called from the subject of the first of the ten books into which the collection is divided) of Abu Tammám. The best anthology of these poems is 'The Great Book of Songs,' put together by Abu al-Fáraj al-Ispa-háni (died 967).

With these poets Arabic literature reached its highest development. They are the true expression of the free Arabic spirit. Most of them lived before or during the time of the appearance of Muhammad. His coming produced a great change in the life of the simple Bedouins. Though they could not be called heathen, their religion expressed itself in the simple feeling of dependence upon higher powers, without attempting to bring this faith into a close connection with their daily life. Muhammad introduced a system into which he tried to mold all things. He wished to unite the scattered tribes to one only purpose. He was thus cutting away that untrammeled spirit and that free life which had been the making of Arabic poetry. He knew this well. He knew also the power the poets had over the people. His own 'Qur'an' (Koran) was but a poor substitute for the elegant verses of his opponents. "Imr-al-Kais," he said, "is the finest of all poets, and their leader into everlasting fire." On another occasion he is reported to have called out, "Verily, a belly full of matter is better than a belly full of poetry." Even when citing verses, he quoted them in such a manner as to destroy the metre. Abu Bekr very properly remarked, "Truly God said in the 'Qur'an,' 'We have not taught him poetry, and it suits him not.'" In thus decrying the poets of "barbarism," and in setting up the 'Qur'an' as the greatest production of Arabic genius, Muhammad was turning the national poetry to its decline. Happily his immediate successors were unable or unwilling to follow him strictly. Ali himself, his son-in-law, is said to have been a poet; nor did the Umáyyid Caliphs of Damascus, "very heathens in their carnal part," bring the new spirit to its full bloom, as did the Abbassides of Bagdad.

And yet the old spirit was gradually losing ground. The consolidation of the empire brought greater security; the riches of Persia and Syria produced new types of men. The centre of Arab life was now in the city, with all its trammels, its forced politeness, its herding together. The simplicity which characterized the early caliphs was going; in its place was come a court,--court life, court manners, court poets. The love of poetry was still there; but the poet of the tent had become the poet of the house and the palace. Like those troubadours who had become jongleurs, they lived upon the crumbs which fell from the table of princes. Such crumbs were often not to be despised. Many a time and oft the bard tuned his lyre merely for the price of his services. We know that he was richly rewarded. Harún gave a dress worth four hundred thousand pieces of gold to Já'far ibn Yahya; at his death, Ibn 'Ubeid al-Buchtarí (865) left one hundred complete suits of dress, two hundred shirts, and five hundred turbans--all of which had been given him for his poems. The freshness of olden times was fading little by little; the earnestness of the Bedouin poet was making way for a lightness of heart. In this intermediate period, few were born so happily, and yet so imbued with the new spirit, as was 'Umar ibn 'Rabí'a (644), "the man of pleasure as well as the man of literature." Of rich parentage, gifted with a love of song which moved him to speak in verses, he was able to keep himself far from both prince and palace. He was of the family of Kureísh, in whose Muhammad all the glories of Arabia had centred, with one exception,--the gift of poetry. And now "this Don Juan of Mecca, this Ovid of Arabia," was to wipe away that stain. He was the Arabian Minnesinger, whom Friedrich Rückert called "the greatest love-poet the Arabs have produced." A man of the city, the desert had no attractions for him. But he sang of love as he made love,--with utter disregard of holy place or high station, in an erotic strain strange to the stern Umáyyids. No wonder they warned their children against reading his compositions. "The greatest sin committed against Allah are the poems of 'Umar ibn Rabí'a," they said.

With the rise of the Abbassides (750), that "God-favored dynasty," Arabic literature entered upon its second great development; a development which may be distinguished from that of the Umáyyids (which was Arabian) as, in very truth, Muhammadan. With Bagdad as the capital, it was rather the non-Arabic Persians who held aloft the torch than the Arabs descended from Kuréish. It was a bold move, this attempt to weld the old Persian civilization with the new Muhammadan. Yet so great was the power of the new faith that it succeeded. The Barmecide major-domo ably seconded his Abbasside master; the glory of both rests upon the interest they took in art, literature, and science. The Arab came in contact with a new world. Under Mansúr (754), Harun al-Rashid (786), and Ma'mún (813), the wisdom of the Greeks in philosophy and science, the charms of Persia and India in wit and satire, were opened up to enlightened eyes. Upon all of these, whatever their nationality, Islam had imposed the Arab tongue, pride in the faith and in its early history. 'Qur'an' exegesis, philosophy, law, history, and science were cultivated under the very eyes and at the bidding of the Palace. And, at least for several centuries, Europe was indebted to the culture of Bagdad for what it knew of mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy.

The Arab muse profited with the rest of this revival. History and philosophy, as a study, demanded a close acquaintance with the products of early Arab genius. The great philologian al-Asmái (740-831) collected the songs and tales of the heroic age; and a little later, with other than philological ends in view, Abu Tammám and al-Búchturí (816-913) made the first anthologies of the old Arabic literatures ('Hamásah'). Poetry was already cultivated: and amid the hundreds of wits, poets, and singers who thronged the entrance to the court, there are many who claim real poetic genius. Among them are al-Ahtal (died 713), a Christian; 'Umar ibn Rabí'a (died 728), Jarír al-Farázdak (died 728), and Muslim ibn al-Walíd (died 828). But it is rather the Persian spirit which rules,--the spirit of the Shahnámeh and Firdaúsi,--"charming elegance, servile court flattery, and graceful wit." In none are the characteristics so manifest as in Abu Núwas (762-819), the Poet Laureate of Harun, the Imr-al-Kais of his time. His themes are wine and love. Everything else he casts to the wind; and like his modern counterpart, Heine, he drives the wit of his satire deep into the holiest feelings of his people. "I would that all which Religion and Law forbids were permitted me; and if I had only two years to live, that God would change me into a dog at the Temple in Mecca, so that I might bite every pilgrim in the leg," he is reported to have said. When he himself did once make the required pilgrimage, he did so in order to carry his loves up to the very walls of the sacred house. "Jovial, adventure-loving, devil-may-care," irreligious in all he did, yet neither the Khalif nor the whole Muhammadan world were incensed. In spite of all, they petted him and pronounced his wine-songs the finest ever written; full of thought and replete with pictures, rich in language and true to every touch of nature. "There are no poems on wine equal to my own, and to my amatory compositions all others must yield," he himself has said. He was poor and had to live by his talents. But wherever he went he was richly rewarded. He was content only to be able to live in shameless revelry and to sing. As he lived, so he died,--in a half-drunken group, cut to pieces by those who thought themselves offended by his lampoons.

At the other end of the Muslim world, the star of the Umáyyids, which had set at Damascus, rose again at Cordova. The union of two civilizations--Indo-Germanic and Semitic--was as advantageous in the West as in the East. The influence of the spirit of learning which reigned at Bagdad reached over to Spain, and the two dynasties vied with each other in the patronage of all that was beautiful in literature and learned in science. Poetry was cultivated and poets cherished with a like regard: the Spanish innate love of the Muse joined hands with that of the Arabic. It was the same kind of poetry in Umáyyid Spain as in Abbasside Bagdad: poetry of the city and of the palace. But another element was added here,--the Western love for the softer beauties of nature, and for their expression in finely worked out mosaics and in graceful descriptions. It is this that brings the Spanish-Arabic poetry nearer to us than the more splendid and glittering verses of the Abbassides, or the cruder and less polished lines of the first Muhammadans. The amount of poetry thus composed in Arab Spain may be gauged by the fact that an anthology made during the first half of the tenth century, by Ibn Fáraj, contained twenty thousand verses. Cordova under 'Abd-al-Rahmán III. and Hákim II. was the counterpart of Bagdad under Harun. "The most learned prince that ever lived," Hákim was so renowned a patron of literature that learned men wandered to him from all over the Arab Empire. He collected a library of four hundred thousand volumes, which had been gathered together by his agents in Egypt, Syria, and Persia: the catalogue of which filled forty-four volumes. In Cordova he founded a university and twenty-seven free schools. What wonder that all the sciences--Tradition, Theology, Jurisprudence, and especially History and Geography--flourished during his reign. Of the poets of this period there may be mentioned: Sa'íd ibn Júdi--the pattern of the Knight of those days, the poet loved of women; Yáhyah ibn Hakam, "the gazelle"; Ahmad ibn 'Abd Rabbíh, the author of a commonplace book; Ibn Abdún of Badjiz, Ibn Hafájah of Xucar, Ibn Sa'íd of Granada. Kings added a new jewel to their crown, and took an honored place among the bards; as 'Abd al-Rahmán I., and Mu'tamid (died 1095), the last King of Seville, whose unfortunate life he himself has pictured in most beautiful elegies. Although the short revival under the Almohades (1184-1198) produced such men as Ibn Roshd, the commentator on Aristotle, and Ibn Toféil, who wrote the first 'Robinson Crusoe' story, the sun was already setting. When Ferdinand burned the books which had been so laboriously collected, the dying flame of Arab culture in Spain went out.

During the third period--from Ma'mún (813), under whom the Turkish body-guards began to wield their baneful influence, until the break-up of the Abbasside Empire in 1258--there are many names, but few real poets, to be mentioned. The Arab spirit had spent itself, and the Mogul cloud was on the horizon. There were 'Abd-allah ibn al-Mu'tazz, died 908; Abu Firás, died 967; al-Tughrai, died 1120; al-Busíri, died 1279,--author of the 'Búrda,' poem in praise of Muhammad: but al-Mutanábbi, died 965, alone deserves special mention. The "Prophet-pretender"--for such his name signifies--has been called by Von Hammer "the greatest Arabian poet"; and there is no doubt that his 'Diwán,' with its two hundred and eighty-nine poems, was and is widely read in the East. But it is only a depraved taste that can prefer such an epigene to the fresh desert-music of Imr-al-Kais. Panegyrics, songs of war and of bloodshed, are mostly the themes that he dilates upon. He was in the service of Saif al-Dáulah of Syria, and sang his victories over the Byzantine Kaiser. He is the true type of the prince's poet. Withal, the taste for poetic composition grew, though it produced a smaller number of great poets. But it also usurped for itself fields which belong to entirely different literary forms. Grammar, lexicography, philosophy, and theology were expounded in verse; but the verse was formal, stiff, and unnatural. Poetic composition became a tour de force.

This is nowhere better seen than in that species of composition which appeared for the first time in the eleventh century, and which so pleased and charmed a degenerate age as to make of the 'Makamat' the most favorite reading. Ahmad Abu Fadl al-Hamadhání, "the wonder of all time" (died 1007), composed the first of such "sessions." Of his four hundred only a few have come down to our time. Abu Muhammad al-Hariri (1030-1121), of Bâsra, is certainly the one who made this species of literature popular; he has been closely imitated in Hebrew by Charízi (1218), and in Syriac by Ebed Yéshu (1290). "Makámah" means the place where one stands, where assemblies are held; then, the discourses delivered, or conversations held in such an assembly. The word is used here especially to denote a series of "discourses and conversations composed in a highly finished and ornamental style, and solely for the purpose of exhibiting various kinds of eloquence, and exemplifying the rules of grammar, rhetoric, and poetry." Hariri himself speaks of--

"These 'Makamat,' which contain serious language and lightsome,

And combine refinement with dignity of style,

And brilliancies with jewels of eloquence,

And beauties of literature with its rarities,

Besides quotations from the 'Qur'an,' wherewith I adorned them,

And choice metaphors, and Arab proverbs that I interspersed,

And literary elegancies, and grammatical riddles,

And decisions upon ambiguous legal questions,

And original improvisations, and highly wrought orations,

And plaintive discourses, as well as jocose witticisms."

The design is thus purely literary. The fifty "sessions" of Hariri, which are written in rhymed prose interspersed with poetry, contain oratorical, poetical, moral, encomiastic, and satirical discourses, which only the merest thread holds together. Each Makámah is a unit, and has no necessary connection with that which follows. The thread which so loosely binds them together is the delineation of the character of Abu Zeid, the hero, in his own words. He is one of those wandering minstrels and happy improvisers whom the favor of princes had turned into poetizing beggars. In each Makámah is related some ruse, by means of which Abu Zeid, because of his wonderful gift of speech, either persuades or forces those whom he meets to pay for his sustenance, and furnish the means for his debauches. Not the least of those thus ensnared is his great admirer, Háreth ibn Hammám, the narrator of the whole, who is none other than Hariri. Wearied at last with his life of travel, debauch, and deception, Abu Zeid retires to his native city and becomes an ascetic, thus to atone in a measure for his past sins. The whole might be called, not improperly, a tale, a novel. But the intention of the poet is to show forth the richness and variety of the Arabic language; and his own power over this great mass brings the descriptive--one might almost say the lexicographic--side too much to the front. A poem that can be read either backward or forward, or which contains all the words in the language beginning with a certain letter, may be a wonderful mosaic, but is nothing more. The merit of Hariri lies just in this: that working in such cramped quarters, with such intent and design continually guiding his pen, he has often really done more. He has produced rhymed prose and verses which are certainly elegant in diction and elevated in tone.

Such tales as these, told as an exercise of linguistic gymnastics, must not blind us to the presence of real tales, told for their own sake. Arabic literature has been very prolific in these. They lightened the graver subjects discussed in the tent,--philosophy, religion, and grammar,--and they furnished entertainment for the more boisterous assemblies in the coffee-houses and around the bowl. For the Arab is an inveterate story-teller; and in nearly all the prose that he writes, this character of the "teller" shimmers clearly through the work of the "writer." He is an elegant narrator. Not only does he intersperse verses and lines more frequently than our own taste would license: by nature, he easily falls into the half-hearted poetry of rhymed prose, for which the rich assonances of his language predispose. His own learning was further cultivated by his early contact with Persian literature; through which the fable and the wisdom of India spoken from the mouths of dumb animals reached him. In this more frivolous form of inculcating wisdom, the Prophet scented danger to his strait-laced demands: "men who bring sportive legends, to lead astray from God's path without knowledge and to make a jest of it; for such is shameful woe," is written in the thirty-first Surah. In vain; for in hours of relaxation, such works as the 'Fables of Bidpai' (translated from the Persian in 750 by 'Abd Allah ibn Mukáffah), the 'Ten Viziers,' the 'Seven Wise Masters,' etc., proved to be food too palatable. Nor were the Arabs wanting in their own peculiar 'Romances,' influenced only in some portions of the setting by Persian ideas. Such were the 'Story of Saif ibn dhi Yázan,' the 'Tale of al-Zir,' the 'Romance of Dálhmah,' and especially the 'Romance of Antar' and the 'Thousand Nights and A Night.' The last two romances are excellent commentaries on Arab life, at its dawn and at its fullness, among the roving chiefs of the desert and the homes of revelry in Bagdad. As the rough-hewn poetry of Imr-al-Kais and Zuhéir is a clearer exponent of the real Arab mind, roving at its own suggestion, than the more perfect and softer lines of a Mutanábbi, so is the 'Romance of Antar' the full expression of real Arab hero-worship. And even in the cities of the Orient to-day, the loungers in their cups can never weary of following the exploits of this black son of the desert, who in his person unites the great virtues of his people, magnanimity and bravery, with the gift of poetic speech. Its tone is elevated; its coarseness has as its origin the outspokenness of unvarnished man; it does not peep through the thin veneer of licentious suggestiveness. It is never trivial, even in its long and wearisome descriptions, in its ever-recurring outbursts of love. Its language suits its thought: choice and educated, and not descending--as in the 'Nights'--to the common expressions of ordinary speech. In this it resembles the 'Makamat' of Hariri, though much less artificial and more enjoyable. It is the Arabic romance of chivalry, and may not have been without influence on the spread of the romance of mediæval Europe. For though its central figure is a hero of pre-Islamic times, it was put together by the learned philologian, al-'Asmái, in the days of Harun the Just, at the time when Charlemagne was ruling in Europe.

There exist in Arabic literature very few romances of the length of 'Antar.' Though the Arab delights to hear and to recount tales, his tales are generally short and pithy. It is in this shorter form that he delights to inculcate principles of morality and norms of character. He is most adroit at repartee and at pungent replies. He has a way of stating principles which delights while it instructs. The anecdote is at home in the East: many a favor is gained, many a punishment averted, by a quick answer and a felicitously turned expression. Such anecdotes exist as popular traditions in very large numbers; and he receives much consideration whose mind is well stocked with them. Collections of anecdotes have been put to writing from time to time. Those dealing with the early history of the caliphate are among the best prose that the Arabs have produced. For pure prose was never greatly cultivated. The literature dealing with their own history, or with the geography and culture of the nations with which they came in contact, is very large, and as a record of facts is most important. Ibn Hishám (died 767), Wákidi (died 822), Tabari (838-923), Masudi (died 957), Ibn Athír (died 1233), Ibn Khaldún (died 1406), Makrisi (died 1442), Suyúti (died 1505), and Makkári (died 1631), are only a few of those who have given us large and comprehensive histories. Al-Birúni (died 1038), writer, mathematician, and traveler, has left us an account of the India of his day which has earned for him the title "Herodotus of India," though for careful observation and faithful presentation he stands far above the writer with whose name he is adorned. But nearly all of these historical writers are mere chronologists, dry and wearisome to the general reader. It is only in the Preface, or 'Exordium,' often the most elaborate part of the whole book viewed from a rhetorical standpoint, that they attempt to rise above mere incidents and strive after literary form. Besides the regard in which anecdotes are held, it is considered a mark of education to insert in one's speech as often as possible a familiar saying, a proverb, a bon mot. These are largely used in the moral addresses (Khútbah) made in the mosque or elsewhere, addresses which take on also the form of rhymed prose. A famous collection of such sayings is attributed to 'Ali, the fourth successor of Muhammad. In these the whole power of the Arab for subtle distinctions in matters of wordly wisdom, and the truly religious feeling of the East, are clearly manifested.

The propensity of the Arab mind for the tale and the anecdote has had a wider influence in shaping the religious and legal development, of Muhammadanism than would appear at first sight. The 'Qur'an' might well suffice as a directive code for a small body of men whose daily life was simple, and whose organization was of the crudest kind. But even Muhammad in his own later days was called on to supplement the written word by the spoken, to interpret such parts of his "book" as were unintelligible, to reconcile conflicting statements, and to fit the older legislation to changed circumstances. As the religious head of the community, his dictum became law; and these logia of the Prophet were handed around and handed down as the unwritten law by which his lieutenants were to be guided, in matters not only religious, but also legal. For "law" to them was part and parcel of "religion." This "hadith" grew apace, until, in the third century of the Híjrah, it was put to writing. Nothing bears weight which has not the stamp of Muhammad's authority, as reported by his near surroundings and his friends. In such a mass of tradition, great care is taken to separate the chaff from the wheat. The chain of tradition (Isnád) must be given for each tradition, for each anecdote. But the "friends" of the Prophet are said to have numbered seven thousand five hundred, and it has not been easy to keep out fraud and deception. The subjects treated are most varied, sometimes even trivial, but dealing usually with recondite questions of law and morals. Three great collections of the 'Hadíth' have been made: by al-Buchári (869), Múslim (874), and al-Tirmídhi (892). The first two only are considered canonical. From these are derived the three great systems of jurisprudence which to this day hold good in the Muhammadan world.

The best presentation of the characteristics of Arabic poetry is by W. Ahlwardt, 'Ueber Poesie und Poetik der Araber' (Gotha, 1856); of Arabic metres, by G.W. Freytag, 'Darstellung der Arabischen Verkunst' (Bonn, 1830). Translations of Arabic poetry have been published by J.D. Carlyle, 'Specimens of Arabic Poetry' (Cambridge, 1796); W.A. Clouston, 'Arabic Poetry' (Glasgow, 1881); C.J. Lyall, 'Translations of Ancient Arabic Poetry' (London, 1885). The history of Arabic literature is given in Th. Nöldeke's 'Beiträge zur Kenntniss der Poesie der Alten Araber' (Hanover, 1864), and F. F. Arbuthnot's 'Arabic Authors' (London, 1890).


From the most celebrated of the 'Mu 'allakât,' that of Imr-al-Kais, 'The Wandering King': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

O friend, see the lightning there! it flickered and now is gone,

as though flashed a pair of hands in the pillar of crowned cloud.

Now, was it its blaze, or the lamps of a hermit that dwells alone,

and pours o'er the twisted wicks the oil from his slender cruse?

We sat there, my fellows and I, 'twixt Dárij and al-Udhaib,

and gazed as the distance gloomed, and waited its oncoming.

The right of its mighty rain advanced over Katan's ridge;

the left of its trailing skirt swept Yadhbul and as-Sitar:

Then over Kutaifah's steep the flood of its onset drave,

and headlong before its storm the tall trees were borne to ground;

And the drift of its waters passed o'er the crags of al-Kanân,

and drave forth the white-legged deer from the refuge they sought therein.

And Taimá--it left not there the stem of a palm aloft,

nor ever a tower, save ours, firm built on the living rock.

And when first its misty shroud bore down upon Mount Thabîr,

he stood like an ancient man in a gray-streaked mantle wrapt.

The clouds cast their burdens down on the broad plain of al-Ghabit,

as a trader from al-Yaman unfolds from the bales his store;

And the topmost crest, on the morrow, of al-Mujaimir's cairn,

was heaped with the flood-borne wrack, like wool on a distaff wound.


A lament for the desertion, through a war, of his former home and the haunts of his tribe;
Translation of C. J. Lyall.


Are they of Umm Aufà's tents--these black lines that speak no word

in the stony plain of al-Mutathellam and al-Darraj?

Yea, and the place where his camp stood in ar-Rakmatan is now

like the tracery drawn afresh by the veins of the inner wrist.

The wild kine roam there large-eyed, and the deer pass to and fro,

and their younglings rise up to suck from the spots where they all lie round.

I stood there and gazed; since I saw it last twenty years had flown,

and much I pondered thereon: hard was it to know again--

The black stones in order laid in the place where the pot was set,

and the trench like a cistern's root with its sides unbroken still.

And when I knew it, at last, for his resting-place, I cried,

"Good greeting to thee, O house! Fair peace in the morn to thee!"

Look forth, O friend! canst thou see aught of ladies, camel-borne,

that journey along the upland there, above Jurthum well?

Their litters are hung with precious stuffs, and their veils thereon

cast loosely, their borders rose, as though they were dyed in blood.

Sideways they sat as their beasts clomb the ridge of as-Sûbân;

in them were the sweetness and grace of one nourished in wealth and ease.

They went on their way at dawn--they started before sunrise;

straight did they make for the vale of ar-Rass, as hand for mouth.

Dainty and playful their mood to one who should try its worth,

and faces fair to an eye skilled to trace out loveliness.

And the tassels of scarlet wool, in the spots where they gat them down

glowed red, like to 'ishrik seeds, fresh-fallen, unbroken, bright.

And then they reached the wells where the deep-blue water lies,

they cast down their staves, and set them to pitch the tents for rest.

On their right hand rose al-Kanân, and the rugged skirts thereof--

(and in al-Kanân how many are foes and friends of mine!)

At eve they left as-Sûbân; then they crossed the ridge again,

borne on the fair-fashioned litters, all new and builded broad.

[Certain cantos, to the sixth one, reproach the author of the treachery and quarrel that led to the war and migration. Then follows a series of maxims as to human life and conduct.]


Aweary am I of life's toil and travail: he who like me

has seen pass of years fourscore, well may he be sick of life!

I know what To-day unfolds, what before it was Yesterday;

but blind do I stand before the knowledge To-morrow brings.

I have seen the Dooms trample men as a blind beast at random treads:

whom they smote, he died; whom they missed, he lived on to strengthless eld.

Who gathers not friends by help, in many cases of need

is torn by the blind beast's teeth, or trodden beneath its foot.

And he who his honor shields by the doing of a kindly deed

grows richer; who shuts not the mouth of reviling, it lights on him.

And he who is lord of wealth and niggardly with his hoard,

alone is he left by his kin; naught have they for him but blame.

Who keeps faith, no blame he earns, and that man whose heart is led

to goodness unmixed with guile gains freedom and peace of soul.

Who trembles before the Dooms, yea, him shall they surely seize,

albeit he set a ladder to climb the sky.

Who spends on unworthy men his kindness with lavish hand;

no praise doth he earn, but blame, and repentance the seed thereof.

Who will not yield to the spears, when their feet turn to him in peace,

shall yield to the points thereof, and the long flashing blades of steel.

Who holds not his foe away from his cistern with sword and spear,

it is broken and spoiled; who uses not roughness, him shall men wrong.

Who seeks far away from kin for housing, takes foe for friend;

who honors himself not well, no honor gains he from men.

Who makes of his soul a beast of burden to bear men's loads,

nor shields it one day from shame, yea, sorrow shall be his lot.

Whatso be the shaping of mind that a man is born withal,

though he think it lies hid from men, it shall surely one day be known.

How many a man seemed goodly to thee while he held his peace,

whereof thou didst learn the more or less when he turned to speech.

The tongue is a man's one-half, the other, the heart within;

besides these two naught is left but a semblance of flesh and blood.

If a man be old and a fool, his folly is past all cure;

but a young man may yet grow wise and cast off his foolishness.


We asked, and ye gave; we asked again, and ye gave again:

but the end of much asking must be that no giving shall follow it.


A rebuke to a mischief-maker: Translation of C. J. Lyall

The craft of thy busy tongue has sundered from home and kin

the cousins of both thy houses, 'Amr, 'Auf, and Mâlik's son.

For thou to thy dearest art a wind of the bitter north,

that sweeps from the Syrian hills, and wrinkles our cheeks and brows.

But balmy art thou and mild to strangers, a gracious breeze

that brings from the gulf shore showers and fills with its rain our streams.

And this, of a truth, I know--no fancy it is of mine:

who holds mean his kith and kin, the meanest of men is he!

And surely a foolish tongue, when rules not its idle prate

discretion, but shows men where thou dwellest with none to guard.


A lament for the afflictions of his tribe, the 'Âmir. From the 'Diwan': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

Yea, the righteous shall keep the way of the righteous,

and to God turn the steps of all that abideth;

And to God ye return, too; with Him, only,

rest the issues of things--and all that they gather.

All that is in the Book of Knowledge is reckoned,

and before Him revealed lies all that is hidden:

Both the day when His gifts of goodness on those whom

He exalts are as palms full freighted with sweetness,

(Young, burdened with fruit, their heads bowed with clusters,

swelled to bursting, the tallest e'en as the lesser,)

And the day when avails the sin-spotted only

prayer for pardon and grace to lead him to mercy,

And the good deed he wrought to witness before him,

and the pity of Him who is Compassion:

Yea, a place in his shade, the best to abide in,

and a heart still and steadfast, right weening, honest.

Is there aught good in life? Yea, I have seen it,

even I, if the seeing bring aught of profit.

Long has Life been to me; and this is its burthen:

lone against time abide Ti'âr and Yaramram,

And Kulâf and Badî' the mighty, and Dalfa',

yea, and Timâr, that towers aloft over Kubbah[1];

And the Stars, marching all night in procession,

drooping westwards, as each hies forth to his setting:

Sure and steadfast their course: the underworld draws them

gently downwards, as maidens encircling the Pillar;

And we know not, whenas their lustre is vanished,

whether long be the ropes that bind them, or little.

Lone is 'Âmir, and naught is left of her goodness,

in the meadows of al-A'râf, but her dwellings--

Ruined shadows of tents and penfolds and shelters,

bough from bough rent, and spoiled by wind and by weather.

Gone is 'Âmir, her ancients gone, all the wisest:

none remain but a folk whose war-mares are fillies,

Yet they slay them in every breach in our rampart--

yea, and they that bestride them, true-hearted helpers,

They contemn not their kin when change comes upon them,

Nor do we scorn the ties of blood and of succor.

--Now on 'Âmir be peace, and praises, and blessing,

wherever be on earth her way--or her halting!

[1] The five names foregoing are those of mountains.


From the 'Mu 'allakât of Antara': Translation of E.H. Palmer

'Twas then her beauties first enslaved my heart--
Those glittering pearls and ruby lips, whose kiss
Was sweeter far than honey to the taste.
As when the merchant opes a precious box
Of perfume, such an odor from her breath
Comes toward me, harbinger of her approach;
Or like an untouched meadow, where the rain
Hath fallen freshly on the fragrant herbs
That carpet all its pure untrodden soil:
A meadow where the fragrant rain-drops fall
Like coins of silver in the quiet pools,
And irrigate it with perpetual streams;
A meadow where the sportive insects hum,
Like listless topers singing o'er their cups,
And ply their forelegs, like a man who tries
With maimèd hand to use the flint and steel.



From the original poem of Duraid, son of as-Simmah, of Jusharn: Translation of C.J. Lyall.

I warned them both, 'Ârid, and the men who went 'Ârid's way--

the house of the Black Mother: yea, ye are all my witnesses,

I said to them: "Think--even now, two thousand are on your track,

all laden with sword and spear, their captains in Persian mail!"

But when they would hearken not, I followed their road, though I

knew well they were fools, and that I walked not in Wisdom's way.

For am not I but one of the Ghazîyah? and if they err

I err with my house; and if the Ghazîyah go right, so I.

I read them my rede, one day, at Mun'araj al-Liwa:

the morrow, at noon, they saw my counsel as I had seen.

A shout rose, and voices cried, "The horsemen have slain a knight!"

I said, "Is it 'Abdallâh, the man whom you say is slain?"

I sprang to his side: the spears had riddled his body through

as a weaver on outstretched web deftly plies the sharp-toothed comb.

I stood as a camel stands with fear in her heart, and seeks

the stuffed skin with eager mouth, and thinks--is her youngling slain?

I plied spear above him till the riders had left their prey,

and over myself black blood flowed in a dusky tide.

I fought as a man who gives his life for his brother's life,

who knows that his time is short, that Death's doom above him hangs.

But know ye, if 'Abdallâh be dead, and his place a void,

no weakling unsure of hand, and no holder-back was he!

Alert, keen, his loins well girt, his leg to the middle bare,

unblemished and clean of limb, a climber to all things high;

No wailer before ill-luck; one mindful in all he did

to think how his work to-day would live in to-morrow's tale,

Content to bear hunger's pain though meat lay beneath his hand--

to labor in ragged shirt that those whom he served might rest.

If Dearth laid her hand on him, and Famine devoured his store,

he gave but the gladlier what little to him they spared.

He dealt as a youth with Youth, until, when his head grew hoar,

and age gathered o'er his brow, to lightness he said, "Begone!"

Yea, somewhat it soothes my soul that never I said to him

"thou liest," nor grudged him aught of mine that he sought of me!


A picture of womanhood, from the 'Mufaddaliyât': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

Alas, Umm 'Amr set her face to depart and went:

gone is she, and when she sped, she left with us no farewell.

Her purpose was quickly shaped--no warning gave she to friends,

though there she had dwelt, hard-by, her camels all day with ours.

Yea, thus in our eyes she dwelt, from morning to noon and eve--

she brought to an end her tale, and fleeted and left us lone.

So gone is Umaimah, gone! and leaves here a heart in pain:

my life was to yearn for her; and now its delight is fled.

She won me, whenas, shamefaced--no maid to let fall her veil,

no wanton to glance behind--she walked forth with steady tread;

Her eyes seek the ground, as though they looked for a thing lost there;

she turns not to left or right--her answer is brief and low.

She rises before day dawns to carry her supper forth

to wives who have need--dear alms, when such gifts are few enow!

Afar from the voice of blame, her tent stands for all to see,

when many a woman's tent is pitched in the place of scorn.

No gossip to bring him shame from her does her husband dread--

when mention is made of women, pure and unstained is she.

The day done, at eve glad comes he home to his eyes' delight:

he needs not to ask of her, "Say, where didst thou pass the day?"--

And slender is she where meet, and full where it so beseems,

and tall and straight, a fairy shape, if such on earth there be.

And nightlong as we sat there, methought that the tent was roofed

above with basil-sprays, all fragrant in dewy eve--

Sweet basil, from Halyah dale, its branches abloom and fresh,

that fills all the place with balm--no starveling of desert sands.


From 'Umar ibn Rabí'a's 'Love Poems': Translation of W. Gifford Palgrave

Ah, for the throes of a heart sorely wounded!
Ah, for the eyes that have smit me with madness!
Gently she moved in the calmness of beauty,
Moved as the bough to the light breeze of morning.
Dazzled my eyes as they gazed, till before me
All was a mist and confusion of figures.
Ne'er had I sought her, ne'er had she sought me;
Fated the love, and the hour, and the meeting.
There I beheld her as she and her damsels
Paced 'twixt the temple and outer inclosure;
Damsels the fairest, the loveliest, gentlest,
Passing like slow-wandering heifers at evening;
Ever surrounding with comely observance
Her whom they honor, the peerless of women.
"Omar is near: let us mar his devotions,
Cross on his path that he needs must observe us;
Give him a signal, my sister, demurely."
"Signals I gave, but he marked not or heeded,"
Answered the damsel, and hasted to meet me.
Ah, for that night by the vale of the sandhills!
Ah, for the dawn when in silence we parted!
He whom the morn may awake to her kisses
Drinks from the cup of the blessed in heaven.


From 'Umar ibn Rabí'a's 'Love Poems': Translation of W. Gifford Palgrave

In the valley of Mohassib I beheld her where she stood:
Caution bade me turn aside, but love forbade and fixed me there.
Was it sunlight? or the windows of a gleaming mosque at eve,
Lighted up for festal worship? or was all my fancy's dream?
Ah, those earrings! ah, that necklace! Naufel's daughter sure the maid,
Or of Hashim's princely lineage, and the Servant of the Sun!
But a moment flashed the splendor, as the o'er-hasty handmaids drew
Round her with a jealous hand the jealous curtains of the tent.
Speech nor greeting passed between us; but she saw me, and I saw
Face the loveliest of all faces, hands the fairest of all hands.
Daughter of a better earth, and nurtured by a brighter sky;
Would I ne'er had seen thy beauty! Hope is fled, but love remains.


A eulogy of the valor and culture of the men of Ghassân, written in time of the poet's political exile from them: Translation of C. J. Lyall.

Leave me alone, O Umaimah--alone with my sleepless pain--

alone with the livelong night and the wearily lingering stars;

It draws on its length of gloom; methinks it will never end,

nor ever the Star-herd lead his flock to their folds of rest;--

Alone with a breast whose griefs, that roamed far afield by day,

the darkness has brought all home: in legions they throng around.

A favor I have with 'Amr, a favor his father bore

toward me of old; a grace that carried no scorpion sting.

I swear (and my word is true--an oath that hath no reserve,

and naught in my heart is hid save fair thought of him, my friend)--

If these twain his fathers were, who lie in their graves; the one

al-Jillik, the others al-Saidâ, by Hârib's side,

And Hârith, of Jafnah's line, the lord of his folk of old--

yea, surely his might shall reach the home of his enemy!

In him hope is sure of help when men say--"The host is sped,

the horsemen of Ghassân's line unblemished, no hireling herd,

His cousins, all near of kin, their chief 'Amr, 'Âmir's son--

a people are they whose might in battle shall never fail!"

When goes forth the host to war, above them in circles wheel

battalions of eagles, pointing the path to battalions more;

Their friendship is old and tried, fast comrades, in foray bred

to look unafraid on blood, as hounds to the chase well trained.

Behold them, how they sit there, behind where their armies meet,

watching with eyes askance, like elders in gray furs wrapt,

Intent; for they know full well that those whom they follow, when

the clash of the hosts shall come, will bear off the victory.

Ay, well is that custom known, a usage that time has proved

when lances are laid in rest on withers of steeds arow--

Of steeds in the spear-play skilled, with lips for the fight drawn back,

their bodies with wounds all scarred, some bleeding and some half-healed.

And down leap the riders where the battle is strait and stern,

and spring in the face of Death like stallions amid the herd;

Between them they give and take deep draughts of the wine of doom

as their hands ply the white swords, thin and keen in the smiting-edge.

In shards fall the morions burst by the fury of blow on blow,

and down to the eyebrows, cleft, fly shattered the skulls beneath.

In them no defect is found, save only that in their swords

are notches, a many, gained from smiting of host on host:

An heirloom of old, those blades, from the fight of Halîmah's day,

and many the mellay fierce that since has their temper proved;

Therewith do they cleave in twain the hauberk of double woof,

and kindle the rock beneath to fire, ere the stroke is done.

A nature is theirs--God gives the like to no other men--

a wisdom that never sleeps, a bounty that never fails.

Their home is God's own land, His chosen of old; their faith

is steadfast. Their hope is set on naught but the world to come.

Their sandals are soft and fine, and girded with chastity,

they welcome with garlands sweet the dawn of the Feast of Palms.

There greets them when they come home full many a handmaid fine,

and ready, on trestles, hang the mantles of scarlet silk.

Yea, softly they wrap their limbs, well-knowing of wealth and ease,

in rich raiment, white-sleeved, green at the shoulder--in royal guise.

They look not on Weal as men who know not that Woe comes, too:

they look not on evil days as though they would never mend.

Lo, this was my gift to Ghassân, what time I sought

My people; and all my paths were darkened, and strait my ways.


The poem characterizes the separation of a wife and mother--a slave--from her family: Translation of C.J. Lyall.

They said last night--To-morrow at first of dawning,

or maybe at eventide, must Laila go!--

My heart at the word lay helpless, as lies a Katä

in net night-long, and struggles with fast-bound wing.

Two nestlings she left alone, in a nest far distant,

a nest which the winds smite, tossing it to and fro.

They hear but the whistling breeze, and stretch necks to greet her;

but she they await--the end of her days is come!

So lies she, and neither gains in the night her longing,

nor brings her the morning any release from pain.


By al-Find, of the Zimman Tribe: Translation of C.J. Lyall

Forgiveness had we for Hind's sons:

We said, "The men our brothers are;

The days may bring that yet again

They be the folk that once they were."

But when the Ill stood clear and plain,

And naked Wrong was bold to brave,

And naught was left but bitter Hate--

We paid them in the coin they gave.

We strode as stalks a lion forth

At dawn, a lion wrathful-eyed;

Blows rained we, dealing shame on shame,

And humbling pomp and quelling pride.

Too kind a man may be with fools,

And nerve them but to flout him more;

And Mischief oft may bring thee peace,

When Mildness works not Folly's cure.


From Ibrahîm, Son of Kunaif of Nabhan: Translation of C.J. Lyall

Be patient: for free-born men to bear is the fairest thing,
And refuge against Time's wrong or help from his hurt is none;
And if it availed man aught to bow him to fluttering Fear,
Or if he could ward off hurt by humbling himself to Ill,
To bear with a valiant front the full brunt of every stroke
And onset of Fate were still the fairest and best of things.
But how much the more, when none outruns by a span his Doom,
And refuge from God's decree nor was nor will ever be,
And sooth, if the changing Days have wrought us--their wonted way--
A lot mixed of weal and woe, yet one thing they could not do:
They have not made soft or weak the stock of our sturdy spear;
They have not abased our hearts to doing of deeds of shame.
We offer to bear their weight, a handful of noble souls:
Though laden beyond all weight of man, they uplift the load.
So shield we with Patience fair our souls from the stroke of Shame;
Our honors are whole and sound, though others be lean enow.


On a lost love. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall

By him who brings weeping and laughter

who deals Death and Life as He wills--

she left me to envy the wild deer

that graze twain and twain without fear!

Oh, love of her, heighten my heart's pain,

and strengthen the pang every night;

oh, comfort that days bring, forgetting

--the last of all days be thy tryst!

I marveled how swiftly the time sped

between us, the moment we met;

but when that brief moment was ended

how wearily dragged he his feet!


By Abu l-'Ata of Sind. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall

Of thee did I dream, while spears between us were quivering--
and sooth, of our blood full deep had drunken the tawny shafts!
I know not--by Heaven I swear, and here is the word I say!--
this pang, is it love-sickness, or wrought by a spell from thee?
If it be a spell, then grant me grace of thy love-longing--
if other the sickness be, then none is the guilt of thine!


By Ja'far ibn 'Ulbah. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall

That even when, under Sábhal's twin peaks, upon us drave

the horsemen, troop upon troop, and the foeman pressed us sore--

They said to us, "Two things lie before you; now must ye choose

the points of the spears couched at ye; or if ye will not, chains!"

We answered them, "Yea this thing may fall to you after the fight,

when men shall be left on ground, and none shall arise again;

But we know not, if we quail before the assault of Death,

how much may be left of life--the goal is too dim to see."

We rode to the strait of battle; there cleared us a space, around

the white swords in our right hands which the smiths had furbished fair.

On them fell the edge of my blade, on that day of Sabhal date;

And mine was the share thereof, wherever my fingers closed.


By Katari, ibn al-Fujâ'ah, ibn Ma'zin. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

I said to her, when she fled in amaze and breathless

before the array of battle, "Why dost thou tremble?

Yea, if but a day of Life thou shouldst beg with weeping,

beyond what thy Doom appoints, thou wouldst not gain it!

Be still, then; and face the onset of Death, high-hearted,

for none upon earth shall win to abide forever.

No raiment of praise the cloak of old age and weakness;

none such for the coward who bows like a reed in the tempest.

The pathway of death is set for all men to travel.

the crier of Death proclaims through the earth his empire.

Who dies not when young and sound, dies old and weary--

cut off in his length of days from all love and kindness;

And what for a man is left of delight of living,--

past use--flung away--a worthless and worn-out chattel?"


By al-Fadl, ibn al-Abbas, ibn Utbah. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

Sons of our uncle, peace! Cousins of ours, be still!

drag not to light from its grave the strife that we buried there.

Hope not for honor from us, while ye heap upon us shame,

or think that we shall forbear from vexing when ye vex us.

Sons of our uncle, peace! lay not our rancor raw;

walk now gently awhile, as once ye were wont to go.

Ay, God knows that we, we love you not, in sooth!

and that we blame ye not that ye have no love for us.

Each of us has his ground for the loathing his fellow moves:

a grace it is from the Lord that we hate ye--ye us!


A poem by Hittân ibn al-Mu'allà of Tayyi. From the 'Hamásah': Translation of C.J. Lyall.

Fortune has brought me down--her wonted way--

from stature high and great, to low estate;

Fortune has rent away my plenteous store;

of all my wealth, honor alone is left.

Fortune has turned my joy to tears--how oft

did Fortune make me laugh with what she gave!

But for these girls, the katá's downy brood,

unkindly thrust from door to door as hard--

Far would I roam, and wide, to seek my bread,

in earth, that has no lack of breadth and length.

Nay, but our children in our midst, what else

but our hearts are they, walking on the ground?

If but the breeze blow harsh on one of them,

mine eye says "no" to slumber, all night long!


Poem by Sa'd, son of Malik, of the Kais Tribe: Translation of C. J. Lyall

How evil a thing is war, that bows men to shameful rest!
War burns away in her blaze all glory and boasting of men:
Naught stands but the valiant heart to face pain--the hard-hoofed steed
The ring-mail set close and firm, the nail-crowned helms and the spears;
And onset, again after rout, when men shrink from the serried array--
Then, then, fall away all the vile, the hirelings! and shame is strong!
War girds up her skirts before them, and evil unmixed is bare.
For their hearts were for maidens veiled, not for driving the gathered
Yea, evil the heirs we leave, sons of Yakshar and al-Laksh!

But let flee her fires who will, no flinching for me, son of Kais!
O children of Kais! stand firm before her! gain peace or give!
Who seeks flight before her fear, his Doom stands and bars the road.
Away! Death allows no quitting of place, and brands are bare!
What is life for us, when the uplands and valleys are ours no more?
Ah, where are the mighty now? the spears and generous hands?


Translation of George Sale


In the name of the most merciful GOD. Praise be unto GOD, the creator of heaven and earth; who maketh the angels his messengers, furnished with two, and three, and four pair of wings: GOD maketh what addition he pleaseth unto his creatures; for GOD is almighty. The mercy which GOD shall freely bestow on mankind, there is none who can withhold; and what he shall withhold, there is none who can bestow, besides him: and he is the mighty, the wise. O men, remember the favor of GOD towards you: is there any creator, besides GOD, who provideth food for you from heaven and earth? There is no GOD but he: how therefore are ye turned aside from acknowledging his unity? If they accuse thee of imposture, apostles before thee have also been accused of imposture; and unto GOD shall all things return. O men, verily the promise of GOD is true: let not therefore the present life deceive you, neither let the deceiver deceive you concerning GOD: for Satan is an enemy unto you; wherefore hold him for an enemy: he only inviteth his confederates to be the inhabitants of hell. For those who believe not there is prepared a severe torment: but for those who shall believe and do that which is right, is prepared mercy and a great reward. Shall he therefore for whom his evil work hath been prepared, and who imagineth it to be good, be as he who is rightly disposed, and discerneth the truth? Verily GOD will cause to err whom he pleaseth, and will direct whom he pleaseth. Let not thy soul therefore be spent in sighs for their sakes, on account of their obstinacy; for GOD well knoweth that which they do. It is God who sendeth the winds, and raiseth a cloud: and we drive the same unto a dead country, and thereby quicken the earth after it hath been dead; so shall the resurrection be. Whoever desireth excellence; unto GOD doth all excellence belong: unto him ascendeth the good speech; and the righteous work will he exalt. But as for them who devise wicked plots, they shall suffer a severe punishment; and the device of those men shall be rendered vain. GOD created you first of the dust, and afterwards of seed: and he hath made you man and wife. No female conceiveth, or bringeth forth, but with his knowledge. Nor is any thing added unto the age of him whose life is prolonged, neither is any thing diminished from his age, but the same is written in the book of God's decrees. Verily this is easy with GOD. The two seas are not to be held in comparison: this is fresh and sweet, pleasant to drink; but that is salt and bitter: yet out of each of them ye eat fish, and take ornaments for you to wear. Thou seest the ships also ploughing the waves thereof, that ye may seek to enrich yourselves by commerce, of the abundance of God: peradventure ye will be thankful. He causeth the night to succeed the day, and he causeth the day to succeed the night; and he obligeth the sun and the moon to perform their services: each of them runneth an appointed course. This is GOD, your LORD: his is the kingdom. But the idols which ye invoke besides him have not the power even over the skin of a date-stone: if ye invoke them, they will not hear your calling; and although they should hear, yet they would not answer you. On the day of resurrection they shall disclaim your having associated them with God: and none shall declare unto thee the truth, like one who is well acquainted therewith. O men, ye have need of GOD; but GOD is self-sufficient, and to be praised. If he pleaseth, he can take you away, and produce a new creature in your stead: neither will this be difficult with GOD. A burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another: and if a heavy-burdened soul call on another to bear part of its burden, no part thereof shall be borne by the person who shall be called on, although he be ever so nearly related. Thou shalt admonish those who fear their LORD in secret, and are constant at prayer: and whoever cleanseth himself from the guilt of disobedience, cleanseth himself to the advantage of his own soul; for all shall be assembled before GOD at the last day. The blind and the seeing shall not be held equal; neither darkness and light; nor the cool shade and the scorching wind: neither shall the living and the dead be held equal. GOD shall cause him to hear whom he pleaseth: but thou shalt not make those to hear who are in their graves. Thou art no other than a preacher; verily we have sent thee with truth, a bearer of good tidings, and a denouncer of threats.

There hath been no nation, but a preacher hath in past times been conversant among them: if they charge thee with imposture, they who were before them likewise charged their apostles with imposture. Their apostles came unto them with evident miracles, and with divine writings, and with the Enlightening Book: afterwards I chastised those who were unbelievers; and how severe was my vengeance! Dost thou not see that GOD sendeth down rain from heaven, and that we thereby produce fruits of various colors? In the mountains also there are some tracts white and red, of various colors; and others are of a deep black: and of men, and beasts, and cattle there are whose colors are in like manner various. Such only of his servants fear GOD as are endued with understanding: verily GOD is mighty and ready to forgive. Verily they who read the book of GOD, and are constant at prayer, and give alms out of what we have bestowed on them, both in secret and openly, hope for a merchandise which shall not perish: that God may fully pay them their wages, and make them a superabundant addition of his liberality; for he is ready to forgive the faults of his servants, and to requite their endeavors. That which we have revealed unto thee of the book of the Korân is the truth, confirming the scriptures which were revealed before it: for GOD knoweth and regardeth his servants. And we have given the book of the Korân in heritage unto such of our servants as we have chosen: of them there is one who injureth his own soul; and there is another of them who keepeth the middle way; and there is another of them who outstrippeth others in good works, by the permission of GOD. This is the great excellence. They shall be introduced into gardens of perpetual abode; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and pearls, and their clothing therein shall be of silk: and they shall say, Praise be unto GOD, who hath taken away sorrow from us! verily our LORD is ready to forgive the sinners, and to reward the obedient: who hath caused us to take up our rest in a dwelling of eternal stability, through his bounty, wherein no labor shall touch us, neither shall any weariness affect us. But for the unbelievers is prepared the fire of hell: it shall not be decreed them to die a second time; neither shall any part of the punishment thereof be made lighter unto them. Thus shall every infidel be rewarded. And they shall cry out aloud in hell, saying, LORD, take us hence, and we will work righteousness, and not what we have formerly wrought. But it shall be answered them, Did we not grant you lives of length sufficient, that whoever would be warned might be warned therein; and did not the preacher come unto you? Taste therefore the pains of hell. And the unjust shall have no protector. Verily GOD knoweth the secrets both of heaven and earth, for he knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men. It is he who hath made you to succeed in the earth. Whoever shall disbelieve, on him be his unbelief; and their unbelief shall only gain the unbelievers greater indignation in the sight of their LORD; and their unbelief shall only increase the perdition of the unbelievers. Say, what think ye of your deities which ye invoke besides GOD? Show me what part of the earth they have created. Or had they any share in the creation of the heavens? Have we given unto the idolaters any book of revelations, so that they may rely on any proof therefrom to authorize their practice? Nay; but the ungodly make unto one another only deceitful promises. Verily GOD sustaineth the heavens and the earth, lest they fail: and if they should fail, none could support the same besides him; he is gracious and merciful. The Koreish swore by GOD, with a most solemn oath, that if a preacher had come unto them, they would surely have been more willingly directed than any nation: but now a preacher is come unto them, it hath only increased in them their aversion from the truth, their arrogance in the earth, and their contriving of evil; but the contrivance of evil shall only encompass the authors thereof. Do they expect any other than the punishment awarded against the unbelievers of former times? For thou shalt not find any change in the ordinance of GOD; neither shalt thou find any variation in the ordinance of GOD. Have they not gone through the earth, and seen what hath been the end of those who were before them; although they were more mighty in strength than they? GOD is not to be frustrated by anything either in heaven or on earth; for he is wise and powerful. If GOD should punish men according to what they deserve, he would not leave on the back of the earth so much as a beast; but he respiteth them to a determined time; and when their time shall come, verily GOD will regard his servants.


In the name of the most merciful GOD. The Merciful hath taught his servant the Korân. He created man: he hath taught him distinct speech. The sun and the moon run their courses according to a certain rule: and the vegetables which creep on the ground, and the trees submit to his disposition. He also raised the heaven; and he appointed the balance, that ye should not transgress in respect to the balance: wherefore observe a just weight; and diminish not the balance. And the earth hath he prepared for living creatures: therein are various fruits, and palm-trees bearing sheaths of flowers; and grain having chaff, and leaves. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? He created man of dried clay like an earthen vessel: but he created the genii of fire clear from smoke. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? He is the LORD of the east, and the LORD of the west. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? He hath let loose the two seas, that they meet each another: between them is placed a bar which they cannot pass. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? From them are taken forth unions and lesser pearls. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? His also are the ships, carrying their sails aloft in the sea like mountains. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Every creature which liveth on the earth is subject to decay: but the glorious and honorable countenance of thy LORD shall remain for ever. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Unto him do all creatures which are in heaven and earth make petition; every day is he employed in some new work. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? We will surely attend to judge you, O men and genii, at the last day. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? O ye collective body of genii and men, if ye be able to pass out of the confines of heaven and earth, pass forth: ye shall not pass forth but by absolute power. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? A flame of fire without smoke, and a smoke without flame shall be sent down upon you; and ye shall not be able to defend yourselves therefrom. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? And when the heaven shall be rent in sunder, and shall become red as a rose, and shall melt like ointment: (Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) On that day neither man nor genius shall be asked concerning his sin. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? The wicked shall be known by their marks; and they shall be taken by the forelocks, and the feet, and shall be cast into hell. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? This is hell which the wicked deny as a falsehood: they shall pass to and fro between the same and hot boiling water. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? But for him who dreadeth the tribunal of his LORD are prepared two gardens: (Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) In each of them shall be two fountains flowing. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall there be of every fruit two kinds. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? They shall repose on couches, the linings whereof shall be of thick silk interwoven with gold; and the fruit of the two gardens shall be near at hand to gather. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall receive them beauteous damsels, refraining their eyes from beholding any besides their spouses: whom no man shall have deflowered before them, neither any Jinn: (Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) Having complexions like rubies and pearls. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Shall the reward of good works be any other good? Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? And besides these there shall be two other gardens: (Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny?) Of a dark green. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall be two fountains pouring forth plenty of water. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? In each of them shall be fruits, and palm-trees, and pomegranates. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall be agreeable and beauteous damsels: Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Whom no man shall have deflowered before their destined spouses, nor any Jinn. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Therein shall they delight themselves, lying on green cushions and beautiful carpets. Which, therefore, of your LORD'S benefits will ye ungratefully deny? Blessed be the name of thy LORD, possessed of glory and honor!


In the name of the most merciful GOD. When the heaven shall be rent in sunder, and shall obey its LORD, and shall be capable thereof; and when the earth shall be stretched out, and shall cast forth that which is therein, and shall remain empty, and shall obey its LORD, and shall be capable thereof: O man, verily laboring thou laborest to meet thy LORD, and thou shalt meet him. And he who shall have his book given into his right hand shall be called to an easy account, and shall turn unto his family with joy: but he who shall have his book given him behind his back shall invoke destruction to fall upon him, and he shall be sent into hell to be burned; because he rejoiced insolently amidst his family on earth. Verily he thought he should never return unto God: yea verily, but his LORD beheld him. Wherefore I swear by the redness of the sky after sunset, and by the night, and the animals which it driveth together, and by the moon when she is in the full; ye shall surely be transferred successively from state to state. What aileth them, therefore, that they believe not the resurrection; and that, when the Korân is read unto them, they worship not? Yea: the unbelievers accuse the same of imposture: but GOD well knoweth the malice which they keep hidden in their breasts. Wherefore denounce unto them a grievous punishment, except those who believe and do good works: for them is prepared a never-failing reward.


From the 'Makamat' of al-Hariri of Basra: Translation of Theodore Preston

We praise thee, O God,

For whatever perspicuity of language thou hast taught us,

And whatever eloquence thou hast inspired us with,

As we praise thee

For the bounty which thou hast diffused,

And the mercy which thou hast spread abroad:

And we pray thee to guard us

From extravagant expressions and frivolous superfluities

As we pray Thee to guard us

From the shame of incapacity and the disgrace of hesitation:

And we entreat thee to exempt us from temptation

By the flattery of the admirer or connivance of the indulgent,

As we entreat thee to exempt us from exposure

To the slight of the detractor or aspersion of the defamer:

And we ask thy forgiveness

Should our frailties betray us into ambiguities,

As we ask thy forgiveness

Should our steps advance to the verge of improprieties:

And we beg thee freely to bestow

Propitious succor to lead us aright,

And a heart turning in unison with truth,

And a language adorned with veracity,

And style supported by conclusiveness,

And accuracy that may exclude incorrectness,

And firmness of purpose that may overcome caprice,

And sagacity whereby we may attain discrimination;

That thou wilt aid us by thy guidance unto right conceptions,

And enable us with thy help to express them with clearness,

And thou wilt guard us from error in narration,

And keep us from folly even in pleasantry,

So that we may be safe from the censure of sarcastic tongues,

And secure from the fatal effects of false ornament,

And may not resort to any improper source,

And occupy no position that would entail regret,

Nor be assailed by any ill consequences or blame,

Nor be constrained to apology for inconsideration.

O God, fulfill for us this our desire,

And put us in possession of this our earnest wish,

And exclude us not from thy ample shade,

Nor leave us to become the prey of the devourer:

For we stretch to thee the hand of entreaty,

And profess entire submission to thee, and contrition of spirit,

And seek with humble supplication and appliances of hope

The descent of thy vast grace and comprehensive bounty.


From the 'Makamat' of al-Hariri of Barra: Translation of Theodore Preston

On a night whose aspect displayed both light and shade,

And whose moon was like a magic circlet of silver,

I was engaged in evening conversation at Koufa

With companions who had been nourished on the milk of eloquence,

So the charms of conversation fascinated us,

While wakefulness still prevailed among us,

Until the moon had at length disappeared in the West.

But when the gloom of night had thus drawn its curtain,

And nothing but slumber remained abroad,

We heard from the door the low call of a benighted traveler,

And then followed the knock of one seeking admission;

And we answered, "Who comes here this darksome night?"

And the stranger replied:--

"Listen ye who here are dwelling!

May you so be kept from ill!

So may mischief ne'er befall you,

Long as life your breast shall fill!

Gloom of dismal night and dreary

Drives a wretch to seek your door,

Whose disheveled hoary tresses

All with dust are sprinkled o'er;

Who, though destitute and lonely,

Far has roamed on hill and dale,

Till his form became thus crooked,

And his cheek thus deadly pale;

Who, though faint as slender crescent,

Ventures here for aid to sue,

Hospitable meal and shelter

Claiming first of all from you.

Welcome then to food and dwelling

One so worthy both to share,

Sure to prove content and thankful,

Sure to laud your friendly care."

Fascinated then by the sweetness of his language and delivery,

And readily inferring what this prelude betokened,

We hasted to open the door, and received him with welcome,

Saying to the servant, "Hie! Hie! Bring whatever is ready!"

But the stranger said, "By Him who brought me to your abode,

I will not taste of your hospitality, unless you pledge to me

That you will not permit me to be an incumbrance to you,

Nor impose on yourselves necessity of eating on my account."

Now it was just as if he had been informed of our wishes,

Or had shot from the same bow as our sentiments;

So we gratified him by acceding to the condition,

And highly commended him for his accommodating disposition.

But when the servant had produced what was ready,

And the candle was lighted up in the midst of us,

I regarded him attentively, and lo! it was Abu-Zeid;

Whereupon I addressed my companions in these words:--

"May you have joy of the guest who has repaired to you:

For though the moon of the heavens has set,

The full moon of poetry has arisen;

And though the moon of the eclipse has disappeared,

The full moon of eloquence has shone forth."

So the wine of joy infused itself into them,

And sleep flew away from the corners of their eyes,

And they rejected the slumber which they had contemplated,

And began to resume the pleasantry which they had laid aside,

While Abu-Zeid remained intent on the business in hand.

But as soon as he desired the removal of what was before him,

I said to him, "Entertain us with one of thy strange anecdotes,

Or with an account of one of thy wonderful journeys."

And he said:--"The result of long journeys brought me to this land,

Myself being in a state of hunger and distress,

And my wallet light as the heart of the mother of Moses;

So I arose, when dark night had settled on the world,

Though with weary feet, to seek a lodging, or obtain a loaf;

Till, being driven on by the instigation of hunger,

And by fate, so justly called 'the parent of adventures,'

I stood at the door of a house and improvised these words:--

"'Inmates of this abode, all hail! all hail!

Long may you live in plenty's verdant vale.

Oh, grant your aid to one by toil opprest,

Way-worn, benighted, destitute, distrest;

Whose tortured entrails only hunger hold

(For since he tasted food two days are told);

A wretch who finds not where to lay his head,

Though brooding night her weary wing hath spread,

But roams in anxious hope a friend to meet,

Whose bounty, like a spring of water sweet,

May heal his woes; a friend who straight will say,

"Come in! 'Tis time thy staff aside to lay."'

"But there came out to me a boy in a short tunic, who said:--

"'By Him who hospitable rites ordained,

And first of all, and best, those rites maintained,

I swear that friendly converse and a home

Is all we have for those who nightly roam."

"And I replied, 'What can I do with an empty house,

And a host who is himself thus utterly destitute?

But what is thy name, boy? for thy intelligence charms me.'

He replied, 'My name is Zeid, and I was reared at Faid;

And my mother Barrah (who is such as her name implies),

Told me she married one of the nobles of Serong and Ghassân,

Who deserted her stealthily, and there was an end of him.'

Now I knew by these distinct signs that he was my child,

But my poverty deterred me from discovering myself to him."

Then we asked if he wished to take his son to live with him;

And he replied, "If only my purse were heavy enough,

It would be easy for me to undertake the charge of him."

So we severally undertook to contribute a portion of it,

Whereupon he returned thanks for this our bounty,

And was so profusely lavish in his acknowledgments,

That we thought his expression of gratitude excessive.

And as soon as he had collected the coin into his scrip,

He looked at me as the deceiver looks at the deceived,

And laughed heartily, and then indited these lines:--

"O thou who, deceived

By a tale, hast believed

A mirage to be truly a lake,

Though I ne'er had expected

My fraud undetected,

Or doubtful my meaning to make!

I confess that I lied

When I said that my bride

And my first-born were Barrah and Zeid;

But guile is my part,

And deception my art,

And by these are my gains ever made.

Such schemes I devise

That the cunning and wise

Never practiced the like or conceived;

Nor Asmai nor Komait

Any wonders relate

Like those that my wiles have achieved.

But if these I disdain,

I abandon my gain,

And by fortune at once am refused:

Then pardon their use,

And accept my excuse,

Nor of guilt let my guile be accused."

Then he took leave of me, and went away from me,

Leaving in my heart the embers of lasting regret.


A Semi-Poetical Tale: Translation of Sir Richard Burton, in 'Supplemental Nights to the Book of The Thousand Nights and A Night'

It is said that when the Caliphate devolved on Omar bin Abd al-Aziz, (of whom Allah accept!) the poets resorted to him, as they had been used to resort to the Caliphs before him, and abode at his door days and days; but he suffered them not to enter till there came to him 'Adi bin Artah, who stood high in esteem with him. Jarir [another poet] accosted him, and begged him to crave admission for them to the presence; so 'Adi answered, "'Tis well," and going in to Omar, said to him, "The poets are at thy door, and have been there days and days; yet hast thou not given them leave to enter, albeit their sayings abide, and their arrows from the mark never fly wide." Quoth Omar, "What have I to do with the poets?" And quoth 'Adi, "O Commander of the Faithful, the Prophet (Abhak!) was praised by a poet, and gave him largesse--and in him is an exemplar to every Moslem." Quoth Omar, "And who praised him?" And quoth 'Adi, "Abbás bin Mirdás praised him, and he clad him with a suit and said, 'O Generosity! Cut off from me his tongue!'" Asked the Caliph, "Dost thou remember what he said?" And 'Adi answered, "Yes." Rejoined Omar, "Then repeat it;" so 'Adi repeated:--

"I saw thee, O thou best of the human race,

Bring out a book which brought to graceless, grace.

Thou showedst righteous road to men astray

From right, when darkest wrong had ta'en its place:--

Thou with Islâm didst light the gloomiest way,

Quenching with proof live coals of frowardness:

I own for Prophet, my Mohammed's self,

and men's award upon his word we base.

Thou madest straight the path that crooked ran

Where in old days foul growth o'ergrew its face.

Exalt be thou in Joy's empyrean!

And Allah's glory ever grow apace!"

"And indeed," continued 'Adi, "this Elegy on the Prophet (Abhak!) is well known, and to comment on it would be tedious."

Quoth Omar, "Who [of the poets] is at the door?" And quoth 'Adi, "Among them is Omar ibn Rabí'ah, the Korashi;" whereupon the Caliph cried, "May Allah show him no favor, neither quicken him! Was it not he who spoke impiously [in praising his love]?--

'Could I in my clay-bed [the grave] with Ialma repose,

There to me were better than Heaven or Hell!'

Had he not [continued the Caliph] been the enemy of Allah, he had wished for her in this world; so that he might, after, repent and return to righteous dealing. By Allah! he shall not come in to me! Who is at the door other than he?"

Quoth 'Adi, "Jamil bin Ma'mar al-Uzri is at the door." And quoth Omar, "'Tis he who saith in one of his love-Elegies:--

'Would Heaven, conjoint we lived! and if I die,

Death only grant me a grave within her grave!

For I'd no longer deign to live my life

If told, "Upon her head is laid the pave."'

Quoth Omar, "Away with him from me! Who is at the door?" And quoth 'Adi, "Kutthayir 'Azzah": whereupon Omar cried, "'Tis he who saith in one of his [impious] Odes:--

'Some talk of faith and creed and nothing else,

And wait for pains of Hell in prayer-seat;

But did they hear what I from Azzah heard,

They'd make prostration, fearful, at her feet.'

Leave the mention of him. Who is at the door?" Quoth 'Adi, "Al-Ahwas al-Ansari." Cried Omar, "Allah Almighty put him away, and estrange him from His mercy! Is it not he who said, berhyming on a Medinite's slave girl, so that she might outlive her master:--

Allah be judge betwixt me and her lord

Whoever flies with her--and I pursue.'

He shall not come in to me! Who is at the door other than he?" 'Adi replied, "Hammam bin Ghalib al-Farazdak." And Omar said, "Tis he who glories in wickedness.... He shall not come in to me! Who is at the door other than he?" 'Adi replied, "Al-Akhtal al-Taghlibi." And Omar said, "He is the [godless] miscreant who saith in his singing:--

'Ramazan I ne'er fasted in lifetime; nay

I ate flesh in public at undurn day!

Nor chid I the fair, save in word of love.

Nor seek Meccah's plain in salvation-way:

Nor stand I praying, like rest, who cry,

"Hie salvation-wards!" at the dawn's first ray....'

By Allah! he treadeth no carpet of mine. Who is at the door other than he?" Said 'Adi, "Jarir Ibn al-Khatafah." And Omar cried, "Tis he who saith:--

'But for ill-spying glances, had our eyes espied

Eyes of the antelope, and ringlets of the Reems!

A Huntress of the eyes, by night-time came; and I

cried, "Turn in peace! No time for visit this, meseems."'

But if it must be, and no help, admit Jarir." So 'Adi went forth and admitted Jarir, who entered saying:--

'Yea, He who sent Mohammed unto men.

A just successor of Islam assigned.

His ruth and his justice all mankind embrace.

To daunt the bad and stablish well-designed.

Verily now, I look to present good,

for man hath ever transient weal in mind.'

Quoth Omar, "O Jarir! keep the fear of Allah before thine eyes, and say naught save the sooth." And Jarir recited these couplets:--

'How many widows loose the hair, in far Yamamah land,

How many an orphan there abides, feeble of voice and eye,

Since faredst thou, who wast to them instead of father lost

when they like nestled fledglings were, sans power to creep or fly.

And now we hope--since broke the clouds their word and troth with us--

Hope from the Caliph's grace to gain a rain that ne'er shall dry.'

When the Caliph heard this, he said, "By Allah, O Jarir! Omar possesseth but an hundred dirhams. Ho boy! do thou give them to him!" Moreover, he gifted Jarir with the ornaments of his sword; and Jarir went forth to the other poets, who asked him, "What is behind thee?" ["What is thy news?"] and he answered, "A man who giveth to the poor, and who denieth the poets; and with him I am well pleased."




ominique François Arago was born February 26th, 1786, near Perpignan, in the Eastern Pyrenees, where his father held the position of Treasurer of the Mint. He entered the École Polytechnique in Paris after a brilliant examination, and held the first places throughout the course. In 1806 he was sent to Valencia in Spain, and to the neighboring island of Iviza, to make the astronomical observations for prolonging the arc of the meridian from Dunkirk southward, in order to supply the basis for the metric system.

Here begin his extraordinary adventures, which are told with inimitable spirit and vigor in his 'Autobiography.' Arago's work required him to occupy stations on the summits of the highest peaks in the mountains of southeastern Spain. The peasants were densely ignorant and hostile to all foreigners, so that an escort of troops was required in many of his journeys. At some stations he made friends of the bandits of the neighborhood, and carried on his observations under their protection, as it were. In 1807 the tribunal of the Inquisition existed in Valencia; and Arago was witness to the trial and punishment of a pretended sorceress,--and this, as he says, in one of the principal towns of Spain, the seat of a celebrated university. Yet the worst criminals lived unmolested in the cathedrals, for the "right of asylum" was still in force. His geodetic observations were mysteries to the inhabitants, and his signals on the mountain top were believed to be part of the work of a French spy. Just at this time hostilities broke out between France and Spain, and the astronomer was obliged to flee disguised as a Majorcan peasant, carrying his precious papers with him. His knowledge of the Majorcan language saved him, and he reached a Spanish prison with only a slight wound from a dagger. It is the first recorded instance, he says, of a fugitive flying to a dungeon for safety. In this prison, under the care of Spanish officers, Arago found sufficient occupation in calculating observations which he had made; in reading the accounts in the Spanish journals of his own execution at Valencia; and in listening to rumors that it was proposed (by a Spanish monk) to do away with the French prisoner by poisoning his food.

The Spanish officer in charge of the prisoners was induced to connive at the escape of Arago and M. Berthémie (an aide-de-camp of Napoleon); and on the 28th of July, 1808, they stole away from the coast of Spain in a small boat with three sailors, and arrived at Algiers on the 3d of August. Here the French consul procured them two false passports, which transformed the Frenchmen into strolling merchants from Schwekat and Leoben. They boarded an Algerian vessel and set off. Let Arago describe the crew and cargo:--

"The vessel belonged to the Emir of Seca. The commander was a Greek captain named Spiro Calligero. Among the passengers were five members of the family superseded by the Bakri as kings of the Jews; two Maroccan ostrich-feather merchants; Captain Krog from Bergen in Norway; two lions sent by the Dey of Algiers as presents to the Emperor Napoleon; and a great number of monkeys."

As they entered the Golfe du Lion their ship was captured by a Spanish corsair and taken to Rosas. Worst of all, a former Spanish servant of Arago's--Pablo--was a sailor in the corsair's crew! At Rosas the prisoners were brought before an officer for interrogation. It was now Arago's turn. The officer begins:--

"'Who are you?'

"'A poor traveling merchant.'

"'From whence do you come?'

"'From a country where you certainly have never been.'

"'Well--from what country?'

"I feared to answer; for the passports (steeped in vinegar to prevent infection) were in the officer's hands, and I had entirely forgotten whether I was from Schwekat or from Leoben. Finally I answered at a chance, 'I am from Schwekat;' fortunately this answer agreed with the passport.

"'You're from Schwekat about as much as I am,' said the officer: 'you're a Spaniard, and a Spaniard from Valencia to boot, as I can tell by your accent.'

"'Sir, you are inclined to punish me simply because I have by nature the gift of languages. I readily learn the dialects of the various countries where I carry on my trade. For example, I know the dialect of Iviza.'

"'Well, I will take you at your word. Here is a soldier who comes from Iviza. Talk to him.'

"'Very well; I will even sing the goat-song.'

"The verses of this song (if one may call them verses) are separated by the imitated bleatings of the goat. I began at once, with an audacity which even now astonishes me, to intone the song which all the shepherds in Iviza sing:--

Ah graciada Señora,

Una canzo bouil canta,

Bè bè bè bè.

No sera gaiva pulida,

Nosé si vos agradara,

Bè bè bè bè.

"Upon which my Ivizan avouches, in tears, that I am certainly from Iviza. The song had affected him as a Switzer is affected by the 'Ranz des Vaches.' I then said to the officer that if he would bring to me a person who could speak French, he would find the same embarrassment in this case also. An emigré of the Bourbon regiment comes forward for the new experiment, and after a few phrases affirms without hesitation that I am surely a Frenchman. The officer begins to be impatient.

"'Have done with these trials: they prove nothing. I require you to tell me who you are.'

"'My foremost desire is to find an answer which will satisfy you. I am the son of the innkeeper at Mataro.'

"'I know that man: you are not his son.'

"'You are right: I told you that I should change my answers till I found one to suit you. I am a marionette player from Lerida.'

"A huge laugh from the crowd which had listened to the interrogatory put an end to the questioning."

Finally it was necessary for Arago to declare outright that he was French, and to prove it by his old servant Pablo. To supply his immediate wants he sold his watch; and by a series of misadventures this watch subsequently fell into the hands of his family, and he was mourned in France as dead.

After months of captivity the vessel was released, and the prisoner set out for Marseilles. A fearful tempest drove them to the harbor of Bougie, an African port a hundred miles east of Algiers. Thence they made the perilous journey by land to their place of starting, and finally reached Marseilles eleven months after their voyage began. Eleven months to make a journey of four days!

The intelligence of the safe arrival, after so many perils, of the young astronomer, with his packet of precious observations, soon reached Paris. He was welcomed with effusion. Soon afterward (at the age of twenty-three years) he was elected a member of the section of Astronomy of the Academy of Sciences, and from this time forth he led the peaceful life of a savant. He was the Director of the Paris Observatory for many years; the friend of all European scientists; the ardent patron of young men of talent; a leading physicist; a strong Republican, though the friend of Napoleon; and finally the Perpetual Secretary of the Academy.

In the latter capacity it was part of his duty to prepare éloges of deceased Academicians. Of his collected works in fourteen volumes, 'Oeuvres de François Arago,' published in Paris, 1865, three volumes are given to these 'Notices Biographiques.' Here may be found the biographies of Bailly, Sir William Herschel, Laplace, Joseph Fourier, Carnot, Malus, Fresnel, Thomas Young, and James Watt; which, translated rather carelessly into English, have been published under the title 'Biographies of Distinguished Men,' and can be found in the larger libraries. The collected works contain biographies also of Ampère, Condoreet, Volta, Monge, Porson, Gay-Lussac, besides shorter sketches. They are masterpieces of style and of clear scientific exposition, and full of generous appreciation of others' work. They present in a lucid and popular form the achievements of scientific men whose works have changed the accepted opinion of the world, and they give general views not found in the original writings themselves. Scientific men are usually too much engrossed in advancing science to spare time for expounding it to popular audiences. The talent for such exposition is itself a special one. Arago possessed it to the full, and his own original contributions to astronomy and physics enabled him to speak as an expert, not merely as an expositor.

The extracts are from his admirable estimate of Laplace, which he prepared in connection with the proposal, before him and other members of a State Committee, to publish a new and authoritative edition of the great astronomer's works. The translation is mainly that of the 'Biographies of Distinguished Men' cited above, and much of the felicity of style is necessarily lost in translation; but the substance of solid and lucid exposition from a master's hand remains.

Arago was a Deputy in 1830, and Minister of War in the Provisional Government of 1848. He died full of honors, October 2d, 1853. Two of his brothers, Jacques and Étienne, were dramatic authors of note. Another, Jean, was a distinguished general in the service of Mexico. One of his sons, Alfred, is favorably known as a painter; another, Emmanuel, as a lawyer, deputy, and diplomat.


The Marquis de Laplace, peer of France, one of the forty of the French Academy, member of the Academy of Sciences and of the Bureau of Longitude, Associate of all the great Academies or Scientific Societies of Europe, was born at Beaumont-en-Auge, of parents belonging to the class of small farmers, on the 28th of March, 1749; he died on the 5th of March, 1827. The first and second volumes of the 'Mécanique Céleste' [Mechanism of the Heavens] were published in 1799; the third volume appeared in 1802, the fourth in 1805; part of the fifth volume was published in 1823, further books in 1824, and the remainder in 1825. The 'Théorie des Probabilités' was published in 1812. We shall now present the history of the principal astronomical discoveries contained in these immortal works.

Astronomy is the science of which the human mind may justly feel proudest. It owes this pre-eminence to the elevated nature of its object; to the enormous scale of its operations; to the certainty, the utility, and the stupendousness of its results. From the very beginnings of civilization the study of the heavenly bodies and their movements has attracted the attention of governments and peoples. The greatest captains, statesmen, philosophers, and orators of Greece and Rome found it a subject of delight. Yet astronomy worthy of the name is a modern science: it dates from the sixteenth century only. Three great, three brilliant phases have marked its progress. In 1543 the bold and firm hand of Copernicus overthrew the greater part of the venerable scaffolding which had propped the illusions and the pride of many generations. The earth ceased to be the centre, the pivot, of celestial movements. Henceforward it ranged itself modestly among the other planets, its relative importance as one member of the solar system reduced almost to that of a grain of sand.

Twenty-eight years had elapsed from the day when the Canon of Thorn expired while holding in his trembling hands the first copy of the work which was to glorify the name of Poland, when Würtemberg witnessed the birth of a man who was destined to achieve a revolution in science not less fertile in consequences, and still more difficult to accomplish. This man was Kepler. Endowed with two qualities which seem incompatible,--a volcanic imagination, and a dogged pertinacity which the most tedious calculations could not tire,--Kepler conjectured that celestial movements must be connected with each other by simple laws; or, to use his own expression, by harmonic laws. These laws he undertook to discover. A thousand fruitless attempts--the errors of calculation inseparable from a colossal undertaking--did not hinder his resolute advance toward the goal his imagination descried. Twenty-two years he devoted to it, and still he was not weary. What are twenty-two years of labor to him who is about to become the lawgiver of worlds; whose name is to be ineffaceably inscribed on the frontispiece of an immortal code; who can exclaim in dithyrambic language, "The die is cast: I have written my book; it will be read either in the present age or by posterity, it matters not which; it may well await a reader since God has waited six thousand years for an interpreter of his works"?

These celebrated laws, known in astronomy as Kepler's laws, are three in number. The first law is, that the planets describe ellipses around the sun, which is placed in their common focus; the second, that a line joining a planet and the sun sweeps over equal areas in equal times; the third, that the squares of the times of revolution of the planets about the sun are proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from that body. The first two laws were discovered by Kepler in the course of a laborious examination of the theory of the planet Mars. A full account of this inquiry is contained in his famous work, 'De Stella Martis' [Of the Planet Mars], published in 1609. The discovery of the third law was announced to the world in his treatise on Harmonics (1628).

To seek a physical cause adequate to retain the planets in their closed orbits; to make the stability of the universe depend on mechanical forces, and not on solid supports like the crystalline spheres imagined by our ancestors; to extend to the heavenly bodies in their courses the laws of earthly mechanics,--such were the problems which remained for solution after Kepler's discoveries had been announced. Traces of these great problems may be clearly perceived here and there among ancient and modern writers, from Lucretius and Plutarch down to Kepler, Bouillaud, and Borelli. It is to Newton, however, that we must award the merit of their solution. This great man, like several of his predecessors, imagined the celestial bodies to have a tendency to approach each other in virtue of some attractive force, and from the laws of Kepler he deduced the mathematical characteristics of this force. He extended it to all the material molecules of the solar system; and developed his brilliant discovery in a work which, even at the present day, is regarded as the supremest product of the human intellect.

The contributions of France to these revolutions in astronomical science consisted, in 1740, in the determination by experiment of the spheroidal figure of the earth, and in the discovery of the local variations of gravity upon the surface of our planet. These were two great results; but whenever France is not first in science she has lost her place. This rank, lost for a moment, was brilliantly regained by the labors of four geometers. When Newton, giving to his discoveries a generality which the laws of Kepler did not suggest, imagined that the different planets were not only attracted by the sun, but that they also attracted each other, he introduced into the heavens a cause of universal perturbation. Astronomers then saw at a glance that in no part of the universe would the Keplerian laws suffice for the exact representation of the phenomena of motion; that the simple regular movements with which the imaginations of the ancients were pleased to endow the heavenly bodies must experience numerous, considerable, perpetually changing perturbations. To discover a few of these perturbations, and to assign their nature and in a few rare cases their numerical value, was the object which Newton proposed to himself in writing his famous book, the 'Principia Mathematica Philosophiæ Naturalis' [Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy], Notwithstanding the incomparable sagacity of its author, the 'Principia' contained merely a rough outline of planetary perturbations, though not through any lack of ardor or perseverance. The efforts of the great philosopher were always superhuman, and the questions which he did not solve were simply incapable of solution in his time.

Five geometers--Clairaut, Euler, D'Alembert, Lagrange, and Laplace--shared between them the world whose existence Newton had disclosed. They explored it in all directions, penetrated into regions hitherto inaccessible, and pointed out phenomena hitherto undetected. Finally--and it is this which constitutes their imperishable glory--they brought under the domain of a single principle, a single law, everything that seemed most occult and mysterious in the celestial movements. Geometry had thus the hardihood to dispose of the future, while the centuries as they unroll scrupulously ratify the decisions of science.

If Newton gave a complete solution of celestial movements where but two bodies attract each other, he did not even attempt the infinitely more difficult problem of three. The "problem of three bodies" (this is the name by which it has become celebrated)--the problem of determining the movement of a body subjected to the attractive influence of two others--was solved for the first time by our countryman, Clairaut. Though he enumerated the various forces which must result from the mutual action of the planets and satellites of our system, even the great Newton did not venture to investigate the general nature of their effects. In the midst of the labyrinth formed by increments and diminutions of velocity, variations in the forms of orbits, changes in distances and inclinations, which these forces must evidently produce, the most learned geometer would fail to discover a trustworthy guide. Forces so numerous, so variable in direction, so different in intensity, seemed to be incapable of maintaining a condition of equilibrium except by a sort of miracle. Newton even suggested that the planetary system did not contain within itself the elements of indefinite stability. He was of opinion that a powerful hand must intervene from time to time to repair the derangements occasioned by the mutual action of the various bodies. Euler, better instructed than Newton in a knowledge of these perturbations, also refused to admit that the solar system was constituted so as to endure forever.

Never did a greater philosophical question offer itself to the inquiries of mankind. Laplace attacked it with boldness, perseverance, and success. The profound and long-continued researches of the illustrious geometer completely established the perpetual variability of the planetary ellipses. He demonstrated that the extremities of their major axes make the circuit of the heavens; that independent of oscillation, the planes of their orbits undergo displacements by which their intersections with the plane of the terrestrial orbit are each year directed toward different stars. But in the midst of this apparant chaos, there is one element which remains constant, or is merely subject to small and periodic changes; namely, the major axis of each orbit, and consequently the time of revolution of each planet. This is the element which ought to have varied most, on the principles held by Newton and Euler. Gravitation, then, suffices to preserve the stability of the solar system. It maintains the forms and inclinations of the orbits in an average position, subject to slight oscillations only; variety does not entail disorder; the universe offers an example of harmonious relations, of a state of perfection which Newton himself doubted.

This condition of harmony depends on circumstances disclosed to Laplace by analysis; circumstances which on the surface do not seem capable of exercising so great an influence. If instead of planets all revolving in the same direction, in orbits but slightly eccentric and in planes inclined at but small angles toward each other, we should substitute different conditions, the stability of the universe would be jeopardized, and a frightful chaos would pretty certainly result. The discovery of the actual conditions excluded the idea, at least so far as the solar system was concerned, that the Newtonian attraction might be a cause of disorder. But might not other forces, combined with the attraction of gravitation, produce gradually increasing perturbations such as Newton and Euler feared? Known facts seemed to justify the apprehension. A comparison of ancient with modern observations revealed a continual acceleration in the mean motions of the moon and of Jupiter, and an equally striking diminution of the mean motion of Saturn. These variations led to a very important conclusion. In accordance with their presumed cause, to say that the velocity of a body increased from century to century was equivalent to asserting that the body continually approached the centre of motion; on the other hand, when the velocity diminished, the body must be receding from the centre. Thus, by a strange ordering of nature, our planetary system seemed destined to lose Saturn, its most mysterious ornament; to see the planet with its ring and seven satellites plunge gradually into those unknown regions where the eye armed with the most powerful telescope has never penetrated. Jupiter, on the other hand, the planet compared with which the earth is so insignificant, appeared to be moving in the opposite direction, so that it would ultimately be absorbed into the incandescent matter of the sun. Finally, it seemed that the moon would one day precipitate itself upon the earth.

There was nothing doubtful or speculative in these sinister forebodings. The precise dates of the approaching catastrophes were alone uncertain. It was known, however, that they were very distant. Accordingly, neither the learned dissertations of men of science nor the animated descriptions of certain poets produced any impression upon the public mind. The members of our scientific societies, however, believed with regret the approaching destruction of the planetary system. The Academy of Sciences called the attention of geometers of all countries to these menacing perturbations. Euler and Lagrange descended into the arena. Never did their mathematical genius shine with a brighter lustre. Still the question remained undecided, when from two obscure corners of the theories of analysis, Laplace, the author of the 'Mécanique Céleste,' brought the laws of these great phenomena clearly to light. The variations in velocity of Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon, were proved to flow from evident physical causes, and to belong in the category of ordinary periodic perturbations depending solely on gravitation. These dreaded variations in orbital dimensions resolved themselves into simple oscillations included within narrow limits. In a word, by the powerful instrumentality of mathematical analysis, the physical universe was again established on a demonstrably firm foundation.

Having demonstrated the smallness of these periodic oscillations, Laplace next succeeded in determining the absolute dimensions of the orbits. What is the distance of the sun from the earth? No scientific question has occupied the attention of mankind in a greater degree. Mathematically speaking, nothing is more simple: it suffices, as in ordinary surveying, to draw visual lines from the two extremities of a known base line to an inaccessible object; the remainder of the process is an elementary calculation. Unfortunately, in the case of the sun, the distance is very great and the base lines which can be measured upon the earth are comparatively very small. In such a case, the slightest errors in the direction of visual lines exercise an enormous influence upon the results. In the beginning of the last century, Halley had remarked that certain interpositions of Venus between the earth and the sun--or to use the common term, the transits of the planet across the sun's disk--would furnish at each observing station an indirect means of fixing the position of the visual ray much superior in accuracy to the most perfect direct measures. Such was the object of the many scientific expeditions undertaken in 1761 and 1769, years in which the transits of Venus occurred. A comparison of observations made in the Southern Hemisphere with those of Europe gave for the distance of the sun the result which has since figured in all treatises on astronomy and navigation. No government hesitated to furnish scientific academies with the means, however expensive, of establishing their observers in the most distant regions. We have already remarked that this determination seemed imperiously to demand an extensive base, for small bases would have been totally inadequate. Well, Laplace has solved the problem without a base of any kind whatever; he has deduced the distance of the sun from observations of the moon made in one and the same place.

The sun is, with respect to our satellite the moon, the cause of perturbations which evidently depend on the distance of the immense luminous globe from the earth. Who does not see that these perturbations must diminish if the distance increases, and increase if the distance diminishes, so that the distance determines the amount of the perturbations? Observation assigns the numerical value of these perturbations; theory, on the other hand, unfolds the general mathematical relation which connects them with the solar distance and with other known elements. The determination of the mean radius of the terrestrial orbit--of the distance of the sun--then becomes one of the most simple operations of algebra. Such is the happy combination by the aid of which Laplace has solved the great, the celebrated problem of parallax. It is thus that the illustrious geometer found for the mean distance of the sun from the earth, expressed in radii of the terrestrial orbit, a value differing but slightly from that which was the fruit of so many troublesome and expensive voyages.

The movements of the moon proved a fertile mine of research to our great geometer. His penetrating intellect discovered in them unknown treasures. With an ability and a perseverance equally worthy of admiration, he separated these treasures from the coverings which had hitherto concealed them from vulgar eyes. For example, the earth governs the movements of the moon. The earth is flattened; in other words, its figure is spheroidal. A spheroidal body does not attract as does a sphere. There should then exist in the movement--I had almost said in the countenance--of the moon a sort of impress of the spheroidal figure of the earth. Such was the idea as it originally occurred to Laplace. By means of a minutely careful investigation, he discovered in its motion two well-defined perturbations, each depending on the spheroidal figure of the earth. When these were submitted to calculation, each led to the same value of the ellipticity. It must be recollected that the ellipticity thus derived from the motions of the moon is not the one corresponding to such or such a country, to the ellipticity observed in France, in England, in Italy, in Lapland, in North America, in India, or in the region of the Cape of Good Hope; for, the earth's crust having undergone considerable upheavals at different times and places, the primitive regularity of its curvature has been sensibly disturbed thereby. The moon (and it is this which renders the result of such inestimable value) ought to assign, and has in reality assigned, the general ellipticity of the earth; in other words, it has indicated a sort of average value of the various determinations obtained at enormous expense, and with infinite labor, as the result of long voyages undertaken by astronomers of all the countries of Europe.

Certain remarks of Laplace himself bring into strong relief the profound, the unexpected, the almost paradoxical character of the methods I have attempted to sketch. What are the elements it has been found necessary to confront with each other in order to arrive at results expressed with such extreme precision? On the one hand, mathematical formulae deduced from the principle of universal gravitation; on the other, certain irregularities observed in the returns of the moon to the meridian. An observing geometer, who from his infancy had never quitted his study, and who had never viewed the heavens except through a narrow aperture directed north and south,--to whom nothing had ever been revealed respecting the bodies revolving above his head, except that they attract each other according to the Newtonian law of gravitation,--would still perceive that his narrow abode was situated upon the surface of a spheroidal body, whose equatorial axis was greater than its polar by a three hundred and sixth part. In his isolated, fixed position he could still deduce his true distance from the sun!

Laplace's improvement of the lunar tables not only promoted maritime intercourse between distant countries, but preserved the lives of mariners. Thanks to an unparalleled sagacity, to a limitless perseverance, to an ever youthful and communicable ardor, Laplace solved the celebrated problem of the longitude with a precision even greater than the utmost needs of the art of navigation demanded. The ship, the sport of the winds and tempests, no longer fears to lose its way in the immensity of the ocean. In every place and at every time the pilot reads in the starry heavens his distance from the meridian of Paris. The extreme perfection of these tables of the moon places Laplace in the ranks of the world's benefactors.

In the beginning of the year 1611, Galileo supposed that he found in the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites a simple and rigorous solution of the famous problem of the longitude, and attempts to introduce the new method on board the numerous vessels of Spain and Holland at once began. They failed because the necessary observations required powerful telescopes, which could not be employed on a tossing ship. Even the expectations of the serviceability of Galileo's methods for land calculations proved premature. The movements of the satellites of Jupiter are far less simple than the immortal Italian supposed them to be. The labors of three more generations of astronomers and mathematicians were needed to determine them, and the mathematical genius of Laplace was needed to complete their labors. At the present day the nautical ephemerides contain, several years in advance, the indications of the times of the eclipses and reappearances of Jupiter's satellites. Calculation is as precise as direct observation.

Influenced by an exaggerated deference, modesty, timidity, France in the eighteenth century surrendered to England the exclusive privilege of constructing her astronomical instruments. Thus, when Herschel was prosecuting his beautiful observations on the other side of the Channel, we had not even the means of verifying them. Fortunately for the scientific honor of our country, mathematical analysis also is a powerful instrument. The great Laplace, from the retirement of his study, foresaw, and accurately predicted in advance, what the excellent astronomer of Windsor would soon behold with the largest telescopes existing. When, in 1610, Galileo directed toward Saturn a lens of very low power which he had just constructed with his own hands, although he perceived that the planet was not a globe, he could not ascertain its real form. The expression "tri-corporate," by which the illustrious Florentine designated the appearance of the planet, even implied a totally erroneous idea of its structure. At the present day every one knows that Saturn consists of a globe about nine hundred times greater than the earth, and of a ring. This ring does not touch the ball of the planet, being everywhere removed from it to a distance of twenty thousand (English) miles. Observation indicates the breadth of the ring to be fifty-four thousand miles. The thickness certainly does not exceed two hundred and fifty miles. With the exception of a black streak which divides the ring throughout its whole contour into two parts of unequal breadth and of different brightness, this strange colossal bridge without foundations had never offered to the most experienced or skillful observers either spot or protuberance adapted for deciding whether it was immovable or endowed with a motion of rotation. Laplace considered it to be very improbable, if the ring was stationary, that its constituent parts should be capable of resisting by mere cohesion the continual attraction of the planet. A movement of rotation occurred to his mind as constituting the principle of stability, and he deduced the necessary velocity from this consideration. The velocity thus found was exactly equal to that which Herschel subsequently derived from a series of extremely delicate observations. The two parts of the ring, being at different distances from the planet, could not fail to be given different movements of precession by the action of the sun. Hence it would seem that the planes of both rings ought in general to be inclined toward each other, whereas they appear from observation always to coincide. It was necessary then that some physical cause capable of neutralizing the action of the sun should exist. In a memoir published in February, 1789, Laplace found that this cause depended on the ellipticity of Saturn produced by a rapid movement of rotation of the planet, a movement whose discovery Herschel announced in November of the same year.

If we descend from the heavens to the earth, the discoveries of Laplace will appear not less worthy of his genius. He reduced the phenomena of the tides, which an ancient philosopher termed in despair "the tomb of human curiosity," to an analytical theory in which the physical conditions of the question figure for the first time. Consequently, to the immense advantage of coast navigation, calculators now venture to predict in detail the time and height of the tides several years in advance. Between the phenomena of the ebb and flow, and the attractive forces of the sun and moon upon the fluid sheet which covers three fourths of the globe, an intimate and necessary connection exists; a connection from which Laplace deduced the value of the mass of our satellite the moon. Yet so late as the year 1631 the illustrious Galileo, as appears from his 'Dialogues,' was so far from perceiving the mathematical relations from which Laplace deduced results so beautiful, so unequivocal, and so useful, that he taxed with frivolousness the vague idea which Kepler entertained of attributing to the moon's attraction a certain share in the production of the diurnal and periodical movements of the waters of the ocean.

Laplace did not confine his genius to the extension and improvement of the mathematical theory of the tide. He considered the phenomenon from an entirely new point of view, and it was he who first treated of the stability of the ocean. He has established its equilibrium, but upon the express condition (which, however, has been amply proved to exist) that the mean density of the fluid mass is less than the mean density of the earth. Everything else remaining the same, if we substituted an ocean of quicksilver for the actual ocean, this stability would disappear. The fluid would frequently overflow its boundaries, to ravage continents even to the height of the snowy peaks which lose themselves in the clouds.

No one was more sagacious than Laplace in discovering intimate relations between phenomena apparently unrelated, or more skillful in deducing important conclusions from such unexpected affinities. For example, toward the close of his days, with the aid of certain lunar observations, with a stroke of his pen he overthrew the cosmogonic theories of Buffon and Bailly, which were so long in favor. According to these theories, the earth was hastening to a state of congelation which was close at hand. Laplace, never contented with vague statements, sought to determine in numbers the rate of the rapid cooling of our globe which Buffon had so eloquently but so gratuitously announced. Nothing could be more simple, better connected, or more conclusive than the chain of deductions of the celebrated geometer. A body diminishes in volume when it cools. According to the most elementary principles of mechanics, a rotating body which contracts in dimensions must inevitably turn upon its axis with greater and greater rapidity. The length of the day has been determined in all ages by the time of the earth's rotation; if the earth is cooling, the length of the day must be continually shortening. Now, there exists a means of ascertaining whether the length of the day has undergone any variation; this consists in examining, for each century, the arc of the celestial sphere described by the moon during the interval of time which the astronomers of the existing epoch call a day; in other words, the time required by the earth to effect a complete rotation on its axis, the velocity of the moon being in fact independent of the time of the earth's rotation. Let us now, following Laplace, take from the standard tables the smallest values, if you choose, of the expansions or contractions which solid bodies experience from changes of temperature; let us search the annals of Grecian, Arabian, and modern astronomy for the purpose of finding in them the angular velocity of the moon: and the great geometer will prove, by incontrovertible evidence founded upon these data, that during a period of two thousand years the mean temperature of the earth has not varied to the extent of the hundredth part of a degree of the centigrade thermometer. Eloquence cannot resist such a process of reasoning, or withstand the force of such figures. Mathematics has ever been the implacable foe of scientific romances. The constant object of Laplace was the explanation of the great phenomena of nature according to inflexible principles of mathematical analysis. No philosopher, no mathematician, could have guarded himself more cautiously against a propensity to hasty speculation. No person dreaded more the scientific errors which cajole the imagination when it passes the boundary of fact, calculation, and analogy.

Once, and once only, did Laplace launch forward, like Kepler, like Descartes, like Leibnitz, like Buffon, into the region of conjectures. But then his conception was nothing less than a complete cosmogony. All the planets revolve around the sun, from west to east, and in planes only slightly inclined to each other. The satellites revolve around their respective primaries in the same direction. Both planets and satellites, having a rotary motion, turn also upon their axes from west to east. Finally, the rotation of the sun also is directed from west to east. Here, then, is an assemblage of forty-three movements, all operating alike. By the calculus of probabilities, the odds are four thousand millions to one that this coincidence in direction is not the effect of accident.

It was Buffon, I think, who first attempted to explain this singular feature of our solar system. "Wishing, in the explanation of phenomena, to avoid recourse to causes which are not to be found in nature," the celebrated academician sought for a physical cause for what is common to the movements of so many bodies differing as they do in magnitude, in form, and in their distances from the centre of attraction. He imagined that he had discovered such a physical cause by making this triple supposition: a comet fell obliquely upon the sun; it pushed before it a torrent of fluid matter; this substance, transported to a greater or less distance from the sun according to its density, formed by condensation all the known planets. The bold hypothesis is subject to insurmountable difficulties. I proceed to indicate, in a few words, the cosmogonic system which Laplace substituted for it.

According to Laplace, the sun was, at a remote epoch, the central nucleus of an immense nebula, which possessed a very high temperature, and extended far beyond the region in which Uranus now revolves. No planet was then in existence. The solar nebula was endowed with a general movement of rotation in the direction west to east. As it cooled it could not fail to experience a gradual condensation, and in consequence to rotate with greater and greater rapidity. If the nebulous matter extended originally in the plane of its equator, as far as the limit where the centrifugal force exactly counterbalanced the attraction of the nucleus, the molecules situate at this limit ought, during the process of condensation, to separate from the rest of the atmospheric matter and to form an equatorial zone, a ring, revolving separately and with its primitive velocity. We may conceive that analogous separations were effected in the remoter strata of the nebula at different epochs and at different distances from the nucleus, and that they gave rise to a succession of distinct rings, all lying in nearly the same plane, and all endowed with different velocities.

This being once admitted, it is easy to see that the permanent stability of the rings would have required a regularity of structure throughout their whole contour, which is very improbable. Each of them, accordingly, broke in its turn into several masses, which were obviously endowed with a movement of rotation coinciding in direction with the common movement of revolution, and which, in consequence of their fluidity, assumed spheroidal forms. In order, next, that one of those spheroids may absorb all the others belonging to the same ring, it is sufficient to suppose it to have a mass greater than that of any other spheroid of its group.

Each of the planets, while in this vaporous condition to which we have just alluded, would manifestly have a central nucleus, gradually increasing in magnitude and mass, and an atmosphere offering, at its successive limits, phenomena entirely similar to those which the solar atmosphere, properly so called, had exhibited. We are here contemplating the birth of satellites and the birth of the ring of Saturn.

The Nebular Hypothesis, of which I have just given an imperfect sketch, has for its object to show how a nebula endowed with a general movement of rotation must eventually transform itself into a very luminous central nucleus (a sun), and into a series of distinct spheroidal planets, situate at considerable distances from one another, all revolving around the central sun, in the direction of the original movement of the nebula; how these planets ought also to have movements of rotation in similar directions; how, finally, the satellites, when any such are formed, must revolve upon their axes and around their respective primaries, in the direction of rotation of the planets and of their movement of revolution around the sun.

In all that precedes, attention has been concentrated upon the 'Mécanique Céleste.' The 'Système du Monde' and the 'Théorie Analytique des Probabilités' also deserve description.

The Exposition of the System of the World is the 'Mécanique Céleste' divested of that great apparatus of analytical formulae which must be attentively perused by every astronomer who, to use an expression of Plato, wishes to know the numbers which govern the physical universe. It is from this work that persons ignorant of mathematics may obtain competent knowledge of the methods to which physical astronomy owes its astonishing progress. Written with a noble simplicity of style, an exquisite exactness of expression, and a scrupulous accuracy, it is universally conceded to stand among the noblest monuments of French literature.... The labors of all ages to persuade truth from the heavens are there justly, clearly, and profoundly analyzed. Genius presides as the impartial judge of genius. Throughout his work Laplace remained at the height of his great mission. It will be read with respect so long as the torch of science illuminates the world.

The calculus of probabilities, when confined within just limits, concerns the mathematician, the experimenter, and the statesman. From the time when Pascal and Fermat established its first principles, it has rendered most important daily services. This it is which, after suggesting the best form for statistical tables of population and mortality, teaches us to deduce from those numbers, so often misinterpreted, the most precise and useful conclusions. This it is which alone regulates with equity insurance premiums, pension funds, annuities, discounts, etc. This it is that has gradually suppressed lotteries, and other shameful snares cunningly laid for avarice and ignorance. Laplace has treated these questions with his accustomed superiority: the 'Analytical Theory of Probabilities' is worthy of the author of the 'Mécanique Céleste.'

A philosopher whose name is associated with immortal discoveries said to his too conservative audience, "Bear in mind, gentlemen, that in questions of science the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual." Two centuries have passed over these words of Galileo without lessening their value or impugning their truth. For this reason, it has been thought better rather to glance briefly at the work of Laplace than to repeat the eulogies of his admirers.



rbuthnot's place in literature depends as much on his association with the wits of his day as on his own satirical and humorous productions. Many of these have been published in the collections of Swift, Gay, Pope, and others, and cannot be identified. The task of verifying them is rendered more difficult by the fact that his son repudiated a collection claiming to be his 'Miscellaneous Works,' published in 1750.

John Arbuthnot was born in the manse near Arbuthnot Castle, Kincardineshire, Scotland, April 29th, 1667. He was the son of a Scotch Episcopal clergyman, who was soon to be dispossessed of his parish by the Presbyterians in the Revolution of 1688. His children, who shared his Jacobite sentiments, were forced to leave Scotland; and John, after finishing his university course at Aberdeen, and taking his medical degree at St. Andrews, went to London and taught mathematics. He soon attracted attention by a keen and satirical 'Examination of Dr. Woodward's Account of the Deluge,' published in 1697. By a fortunate chance he was called to attend the Prince Consort (Prince George of Denmark), and in 1705 was made Physician Extraordinary to Queen Anne. If we may believe Swift, the agreeable Scotchman at once became her favorite attendant. His position at court was strengthened by his friendships with the great Tory statesmen.


Arbuthnot's best remembered work is 'The History of John Bull'; not because many people read or will ever read the book itself, but because it fixed a typical name and a typical character ineffaceably in the popular fancy and memory. He is credited with having been the first to use this famous sobriquet for the English nation; he was certainly the first to make it universal, and the first to make that burly, choleric, gross-feeding, hard-drinking, blunt-spoken, rather stupid and decidedly gullible, but honest and straightforward character one of the stock types of the world. The book appeared as four separate pamphlets: the first being entitled 'Law is a Bottomless Pit, Exemplified in the Case of Lord Strutt, John Bull, Nicholas Frog, and Lewis Baboon, Who Spent All They Had in a Law Suit'; the second, 'John Bull in His Senses'; the third, 'John Bull Still in His Senses'; and the fourth, 'Lewis Baboon Turned Honest, and John Bull Politician.' Published in 1712, these were at once attributed to Swift. But Pope says, "Dr. Arbuthnot was the sole writer of 'John Bull'"; and Swift gives us still more conclusive evidence by writing, "I hope you read 'John Bull.' It was a Scotch gentleman, a friend of mine, that writ it; but they put it on to me." In his humorous preface Dr. Arbuthnot says:--

"When I was first called to the office of historiographer to John Bull, he expressed himself to this purpose:--'Sir Humphrey Polesworth, I know you are a plain dealer; it is for that reason I have chosen you for this important trust; speak the truth, and spare not.' That I might fulfill those, his honorable intentions, I obtained leave to repair to and attend him in his most secret retirements; and I put the journals of all transactions into a strong box to be opened at a fitting occasion, after the manner of the historiographers of some Eastern monarchs.... And now, that posterity may not be ignorant in what age so excellent a history was written (which would otherwise, no doubt, be the subject of its inquiries), I think it proper to inform the learned of future times that it was compiled when Louis XIV. was King of France, and Philip, his grandson, of Spain; when England and Holland, in conjunction with the Emperor and the allies, entered into a war against these two princes, which lasted ten years, under the management of the Duke of Marlborough, and was put to a conclusion by the treaty of Utrecht under the ministry of the Earl of Oxford, in the year 1713."

The characters disguised are: "John Bull," the English; "Nicholas Frog," the Dutch; "Lewis Baboon," the French king; "Lord Strutt," the late King of Spain; "Philip Baboon," the Duke of Anjou; "Esquire South," the King of Spain; "Humphrey Hocus," the Duke of Marlborough; and "Sir Roger Bold," the Earl of Oxford. The lawsuit was the War of the Spanish Succession; John Bull's first wife was the late ministry; and his second wife the Tory ministry. To explain the allegory further, John Bull's mother was the Church of England; his sister Peg, the Scotch nation; and her lover Jack, Presbyterianism.

That so witty a work, so strong in typical freehand character drawing of permanent validity and remembrance, should be unread and its author forgotten except by scholars, is too curious a fact not to have a deep cause in its own character. The cause is not hard to find: it is one of the books which try to turn the world's current backward, and which the world dislikes as offending its ideals of progress. Stripped of its broad humor, its object, rubbed in with no great delicacy of touch, was to uphold the most extreme and reactionary Toryism of the time, and to jeer at political liberalism from the ground up. Its theoretic loyalty is the non-resistant Jacobitism of the Nonjurors, which it is so hard for us now to distinguish from abject slavishness; though like the principles of the casuists, one must not confound theory with practice. It seems the loyalty of a mujik or a Fiji dressed in cultivated modern clothes, not that of a conceivable cultivated modern community as a whole; but it would be very Philistine to pour wholesale contempt on a creed held by so many large minds and souls. It was of course produced by the experience of what the reverse tenets had brought on,--a long civil war, years of military despotism, and immense social and moral disorganization. In 'John Bull,' the fidelity of a subject to a king is made exactly correspondent, both in theory and practice, with the fidelity of a wife to her husband and her marriage vows; and an elaborate parallel is worked out to show that advocating the right of resistance to a bad king is precisely the same, on grounds of either logic or Scripture, as advocating the right of adultery toward a bad husband. This is not even good fooling; and, its local use past and no longer buoyed by personal liking for the author, the book sinks back into the limbo of partisan polemics with many worse ones and perhaps some better ones, dragging its real excellences down with it.

In 1714 the famous Scriblerus Club was organized, having for its members Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, Gay, Congreve, Lord Oxford, and Bishop Atterbury. They agreed to write a series of papers ridiculing, in the words of Pope, "all the false tastes in learning, under the character of a man of capacity enough, but that had dipped into every art and science, but injudiciously in each." The chronicle of this club was found in 'The Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus,' which is thought to have been written entirely by Arbuthnot, and which describes the education of a learned pedant's son. Its humor may be appreciated by means of the citation given below. The first book of 'Scriblerus' appeared six years after Arbuthnot's death, when it was included in the second volume of Alexander Pope's works (1741). Pope said that from the 'Memoirs of Scriblerus' Swift took his idea of 'Gulliver'; and the Dean himself writes to Arbuthnot, July 3d, 1714:--

"To talk of 'Martin' in any hands but Yours is a Folly. You every day give better hints than all of us together could do in a twelvemonth. And to say the truth, Pope, who first thought of the Hint, has no Genius at all to it, in my mind; Gay is too young; Parnell has some ideas of it, but is idle; I could put together, and lard, and strike out well enough, but all that relates to the Sciences must be from you."

Swift's opinion that Arbuthnot "has more wit than we all have, and his humanity is equal to his wit," seems to have been the universal dictum; and Pope honored him by publishing a dialogue in the 'Prologue to the Satires,' known first as 'The Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot,' which contains many affectionate personal allusions. Aitken says, in his biography:--

"Arbuthnot's attachment to Swift and Pope was of the most intimate nature, and those who knew them best maintained that he was their equal at least in gifts. He understood Swift's cynicism, and their correspondence shows the unequaled sympathy that existed between the two. Gay, Congreve, Berkeley, Parnell, were among Arbuthnot's constant friends, and all of them were indebted to him for kindnesses freely rendered. He was on terms of intimacy with Bolingbroke and Oxford, Chesterfield, Peterborough, and Pulteney; and among the ladies with whom he mixed were Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Lady Betty Germain, Mrs. Howard, Lady Masham, and Mrs. Martha Blount. He was, too, the trusted friend and physician of Queen Anne. Most of the eminent men of science of the time, including some who were opposed to him in politics, were in frequent intercourse with him; and it is pleasant to know that at least one of the greatest of the wits who were most closely allied to the Whig party--Addison--had friendly relations with him."

From the letters of Lord Chesterfield we learn that

"His imagination was almost inexhaustible, and whatever subject he treated, or was consulted upon, he immediately overflowed with all that it could possibly produce. It was at anybody's service, for as soon as he was exonerated he did not care what became of it; insomuch that his sons, when young, have frequently made kites of his scattered papers of hints, which would have furnished good matter for folios. Not being in the least jealous of his fame as an author, he would neither take the time nor the trouble of separating the best from the worst; he worked out the whole mine, which afterward, in the hands of skillful refiners, produced a rich vein of ore. As his imagination was always at work, he was frequently absent and inattentive in company, which made him both say and do a thousand inoffensive absurdities; but which, far from being provoking, as they commonly are, supplied new matter for conversation, and occasioned wit both in himself and others."

Speaking to Boswell of the writers of Queen Anne's time, Dr. Johnson said, "I think Dr. Arbuthnot the first man among them. He was the most universal genius, being an excellent physician, a man of deep learning, and a man of much humor." He did not, however, think much of the 'Scriblerus' papers, and said they were forgotten because "no man would be the wiser, better, or merrier for remembering them"; which is hard measure for the wit and divertingness of some of the travesties. Cowper, reviewing Johnson's 'Lives of the Poets,' declared that "one might search these eight volumes with a candle to find a man, and not find one, unless perhaps Arbuthnot were he." Thackeray, too, called him "one of the wisest, wittiest, most accomplished, gentlest of mankind."

Thus fortunate in his sunny spirit, in his genius for friendship, in his professional eminence, and in his literary capacity, Dr. Arbuthnot saw his life flow smoothly to its close. He died in London on February 27th, 1735, at the age of sixty eight, still working and playing with youthful ardor, and still surrounded with all the good things of life.


From 'The History of John Bull,' Part I.

For the better understanding the following history, the reader ought to know that Bull, in the main, was an honest, plain-dealing fellow, choleric, bold, and of a very unconstant temper; he dreaded not old Lewis either at backsword, single falchion, or cudgel play; but then he was very apt to quarrel with his best friends, especially if they pretended to govern him. If you flattered him, you might lead him like a child. John's temper depended very much upon the air; his spirits rose and fell with the weather-glass. John was quick and understood his business very well; but no man alive was more careless in looking into his accounts, or more cheated by partners, apprentices, and servants. This was occasioned by his being a boon companion, loving his bottle and his diversion; for, to say truth, no man kept a better house than John, nor spent his money more generously. By plain and fair dealing John had acquired some plums, and might have kept them, had it not been for his unhappy lawsuit.

Nic. Frog was a cunning, sly fellow, quite the reverse of John in many particulars; covetous, frugal, minded domestic affairs, would pinch his belly to save his pocket, never lost a farthing by careless servants or bad debtors. He did not care much for any sort of diversion, except tricks of High German artists and legerdemain. No man exceeded Nic. in these; yet it must be owned that Nic. was a fair dealer, and in that way acquired immense riches.

Hocus was an old, cunning attorney; and though this was the first considerable suit that ever he was engaged in, he showed himself superior in address to most of his profession. He kept always good clerks, he loved money, was smooth-tongued, gave good words, and seldom lost his temper. He was not worse than an infidel, for he provided plentifully for his family, but he loved himself better than them all. The neighbors reported that he was henpecked, which was impossible, by such a mild-spirited woman as his wife was.


From the 'History of John Bull,' Part I.

John Bull, otherwise a good-natured man, was very hard-hearted to his sister Peg, chiefly from an aversion he had conceived in his infancy. While he flourished, kept a warm house, and drove a plentiful trade, poor Peg was forced to go hawking and peddling about the streets selling knives, scissors, and shoe-buckles; now and then carried a basket of fish to the market; sewed, spun, and knit for a livelihood till her fingers' ends were sore: and when she could not get bread for her family, she was forced to hire them out at journey-work to her neighbors. Yet in these, her poor circumstances, she still preserved the air and mien of a gentlewoman--a certain decent pride that extorted respect from the haughtiest of her neighbors. When she came in to any full assembly, she would not yield the pas to the best of them. If one asked her, "Are you not related to John Bull?" "Yes," says she, "he has the honor to be my brother." So Peg's affairs went till all the relations cried out shame upon John for his barbarous usage of his own flesh and blood; that it was an easy matter for him to put her in a creditable way of living, not only without hurt, but with advantage to himself, seeing she was an industrious person, and might be serviceable to him in his way of business. "Hang her, jade," quoth John, "I can't endure her as long as she keeps that rascal Jack's company." They told him the way to reclaim her was to take her into his house; that by conversation the childish humors of their younger days might be worn out.

These arguments were enforced by a certain incident. It happened that John was at that time about making his will and entailing his estate, the very same in which Nic. Frog is named executor. Now, his sister Peg's name being in the entail, he could not make a thorough settlement without her consent. There was indeed a malicious story went about, as if John's last wife had fallen in love with Jack as he was eating custard on horseback; that she persuaded John to take his sister into the house the better to drive on the intrigue with Jack, concluding he would follow his mistress Peg. All I can infer from this story is that when one has got a bad character in the world, people will report and believe anything of them, true or false. But to return to my story.

When Peg received John's message she huffed and stormed:--"My brother John," quoth she, "is grown wondrous kind-hearted all of a sudden, but I meikle doubt whether it be not mair for their own conveniency than for my good; he draws up his writs and his deeds, forsooth, and I must set my hand to them, unsight, unseen. I like the young man he has settled upon well enough, but I think I ought to have a valuable consideration for my consent. He wants my poor little farm because it makes a nook in his park wall. You may e'en tell him he has mair than he makes good use of; he gangs up and down drinking, roaring, and quarreling, through all the country markets, making foolish bargains in his cups, which he repents when he is sober; like a thriftless wretch, spending the goods and gear that his forefathers won with the sweat of their brows; light come, light go; he cares not a farthing. But why should I stand surety for his contracts? The little I have is free, and I can call it my own--hame's hame, let it be never so hamely. I ken well enough, he could never abide me, and when he has his ends he'll e'en use me as he did before. I'm sure I shall be treated like a poor drudge--I shall be set to tend the bairns, darn the hose, and mend the linen. Then there's no living with that old carline, his mother; she rails at Jack, and Jack's an honester man than any of her kin: I shall be plagued with her spells and her Paternosters, and silly Old World ceremonies; I mun never pare my nails on a Friday, nor begin a journey on Childermas Day; and I mun stand becking and binging as I gang out and into the hall. Tell him he may e'en gang his get; I'll have nothing to do with him; I'll stay like the poor country mouse, in my awn habitation."

So Peg talked; but for all that, by the interposition of good friends, and by many a bonny thing that was sent, and many more that were promised Peg, the matter was concluded, and Peg taken into the house upon certain articles [the Act of Toleration is referred to]; one of which was that she might have the freedom of Jack's conversation, and might take him for better or for worse if she pleased; provided always he did not come into the house at unseasonable hours and disturb the rest of the old woman, John's mother.


From 'Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus'

Mrs. Scriblerus considered it was now time to instruct him in the fundamentals of religion, and to that end took no small pains in teaching him his catechism. But Cornelius looked upon this as a tedious way of instruction, and therefore employed his head to find out more pleasing methods, the better to induce him to be fond of learning. He would frequently carry him to the puppet-show of the creation of the world, where the child, with exceeding delight, gained a notion of the history of the Bible. His first rudiments in profane history were acquired by seeing of raree-shows, where he was brought acquainted with all the princes of Europe. In short, the old gentleman so contrived it to make everything contribute to the improvement of his knowledge, even to his very dress. He invented for him a geographical suit of clothes, which might give him some hints of that science, and likewise some knowledge of the commerce of different nations. He had a French hat with an African feather, Holland shirts, Flanders lace, English clothes lined with Indian silk, his gloves were Italian, and his shoes were Spanish: he was made to observe this, and daily catechized thereupon, which his father was wont to call "traveling at home." He never gave him a fig or an orange but he obliged him to give an account from what country it came. In natural history he was much assisted by his curiosity in sign-posts; insomuch that he hath often confessed he owed to them the knowledge of many creatures which he never found since in any author, such as white lions, golden dragons, etc. He once thought the same of green men, but had since found them mentioned by Kercherus, and verified in the history of William of Newburg.

His disposition to the mathematics was discovered very early, by his drawing parallel lines on his bread and butter, and intersecting them at equal angles, so as to form the whole superficies into squares. But in the midst of all these improvements a stop was put to his learning the alphabet, nor would he let him proceed to the letter D, till he could truly and distinctly pronounce C in the ancient manner, at which the child unhappily boggled for near three months. He was also obliged to delay his learning to write, having turned away the writing-master because he knew nothing of Fabius's waxen tables.

Cornelius having read and seriously weighed the methods by which the famous Montaigne was educated, and resolving in some degree to exceed them, resolved he should speak and learn nothing but the learned languages, and especially the Greek; in which he constantly eat and drank, according to Homer. But what most conduced to his easy attainment of this language was his love of gingerbread: which his father observing, caused to be stamped with the letters of the Greek alphabet; and the child the very first day eat as far as Iota. By his particular application to this language above the rest, he attained so great a proficiency therein, that Gronovius ingenuously confesses he durst not confer with this child in Greek at eight years old; and at fourteen he composed a tragedy in the same language, as the younger Pliny had done before him.

He learned the Oriental languages of Erpenius, who resided some time with his father for that purpose. He had so early a relish for the Eastern way of writing, that even at this time he composed (in imitation of it) 'A Thousand and One Arabian Tales,' and also the 'Persian Tales,' which have been since translated into several languages, and lately into our own with particular elegance by Mr. Ambrose Philips. In this work of his childhood he was not a little assisted by the historical traditions of his nurse.


he legend of the Argonauts relates to the story of a band of heroes who sailed from Thessaly to Æa, the region of the Sun-god on the remotest shore of the Black Sea, in quest of a Golden Fleece. The ship Argo bore the heroes, under the command of Jason, to whom the task had been assigned by his uncle Pelias. Pelias was the usurper of his nephew's throne; and for Jason, on his coming to man's estate, he devised the perilous adventure of fetching the golden fleece of the Speaking Ram which many years before had carried Phrixus to Æa, or Colchis. Fifty of the most distinguished Grecian heroes came to Jason's aid, while Argus, the son of Phrixus, under the guidance of Athena, built the ship, inserting in the prow, for prophetic advice and furtherance, a piece of the famous talking oak of Dodona. Tiphys was the steersman, and Orpheus joined the crew to enliven the weariness of their sea-life with his harp.

The heroes came first to Lemnos, where the women had risen in revolt and slain fathers, brothers, and husbands. Here the voyagers lingered almost a year; but at last, having taken leave, they came to the southern coast of Propontis, where the Doliones dwelt under King Cyzicus. Their kind entertainment among this people was marred by ill-fate; for having weighed anchor in the night, they were driven back by a storm, and being mistaken for foes, were fiercely attacked. Cyzicus himself fell by the hand of Jason. They next touched at the country of the Bebrycians, where the hero Pollux overcame the king in a boxing-match and bound him to a tree; and thence to Salmydessus, to consult the soothsayer Phineus. In gratitude for their freeing him from the Harpies, who, as often as his table was set, descended out of the clouds upon his food and defiled it, the prophet directed them safe to Colchis. The heroes rowing with might, thus passed the Symplegades, two cliffs which opened and shut with such swift violence that a bird could scarce fly through the passage. The rocks were held apart with the help of Athena, and from that day they became fixed and harmless. Further on, they came in sight of Mount Caucasus, saw the eagle which preyed on the vitals of Prometheus, and heard the sufferer's woeful cries. So their journey was accomplished, and they arrived at Æa, and the palace of King Æetes.

When the king heard the errand of the heroes he was moved against them, and refused to give up the fleece except on terms which he thought Jason durst not comply with. Two bulls, snorting fire, with feet of brass, Jason was required to yoke, and with them plow a field and sow the land with dragon's teeth. Here the heavenly powers came to the hero's aid, and Hera and Athena prayed Aphrodite to send the shaft of Cupid upon Medea, the youthful daughter of the king. Thus it came about that Medea conceived a great passion for the young hero, and with the magic which she knew she made for him a salve. The salve rendered his body invulnerable. He yoked the bulls, and ploughed the field, and sowed the dragon's teeth. A crop of armed men sprang from the sowing, but Jason, prepared for this marvel by Medea, threw among them a stone which she had given him, whereupon they fell upon and slew one another.

But Æetes still refused to fetch the fleece, plotting secretly to burn the Argo and kill the heroic Argonauts. Medea came to their succor, and by her black art lulled to sleep the dragon which guarded the fleece. They seized the pelt, boarded the Argo, and sailed away, taking Medea with them. When her father followed in pursuit, in the madness of her love for Jason she slew her brother whom she had with her, and strewed the fragments of his body upon the wave. The king stopped to recover them and give them burial, and thus the Argonauts escaped. But the anger of the gods at this horrible murder led the voyagers in expiation a wearisome way homeward. For they sailed through the waters of the Adriatic, the Nile, the circumfluous stream of the earth, passed Scylla and Charybdis and the Island of the Sun, to Crete and Ægina and many lands, before the Argo rode once more in Thessalian waters.

The legend is one of the oldest and most familiar tales of Greece. Whether it is all poetic myth, or had a certain foundation in fact, it is impossible now to say. The date, the geography, the heroes, are mythical; and as in the Homeric poems, the supernatural and seeming historical are so blended that the union is indissoluble by any analysis yet found. The theme has touched the imagination of poets from the time of Apollonius Rhodius, who wrote the 'Argonautica' and went to Alexandria B.C. 194 to take care of the great library there, to William Morris, who published his 'Life and Death of Jason' in 1867. Mr. Morris's version of the contest of Orpheus with the Sirens is given to illustrate the reality of the old legends to the Greeks themselves. Jason's later life, his putting away of Medea, his marriage with Glauce, and the revenge of the deserted princess, furnish the story of the greatest of the plays of Euripides.


From 'The Life and Death of Jason'

The Sirens:

Oh, happy seafarers are ye,

And surely all your ills are past,

And toil upon the land and sea,

Since ye are brought to us at last.

To you the fashion of the world,

Wide lands laid waste, fair cities burned,

And plagues, and kings from kingdoms hurled,

Are naught, since hither ye have turned.

For as upon this beach we stand,

And o'er our heads the sea-fowl flit,

Our eyes behold a glorious land,

And soon shall ye be kings of it.


A little more, a little more,

O carriers of the Golden Fleece,

A little labor with the oar,

Before we reach the land of Greece.

E'en now perchance faint rumors reach

Men's ears of this our victory,

And draw them down unto the beach

To gaze across the empty sea.

But since the longed-for day is nigh,

And scarce a god could stay us now,

Why do ye hang your heads and sigh,

And still go slower and more slow?

The Sirens:

Ah, had ye chanced to reach the home

Your fond desires were set upon,

Into what troubles had ye come!

What barren victory had ye won!

But now, but now, when ye have lain

Asleep with us a little while

Beneath the washing of the main,

How calm shall be your waking smile!

For ye shall smile to think of life

That knows no troublous change or fear,

No unavailing bitter strife,

That ere its time brings trouble near.


Is there some murmur in your ears,

That all that we have done is naught,

And nothing ends our cares and fears,

Till the last fear on us is brought?

The Sirens:

Alas! and will ye stop your ears,

In vain desire to do aught,

And wish to live 'mid cares and fears,

Until the last fear makes you naught?


Is not the May-time now on earth,

When close against the city wall

The folk are singing in their mirth,

While on their heads the May flowers fall?

The Sirens:

Yes, May is come, and its sweet breath

Shall well-nigh make you weep to-day,

And pensive with swift-coming death

Shall ye be satiate of the May.


Shall not July bring fresh delight,

As underneath green trees ye sit,

And o'er some damsel's body white,

The noon-tide shadows change and flit?

The Sirens:

No new delight July shall bring,

But ancient fear and fresh desire;

And spite of every lovely thing,

Of July surely shall ye tire.


And now when August comes on thee,

And 'mid the golden sea of corn

The merry reapers thou mayst see,

Wilt thou still think the earth forlorn?

The Sirens:

Set flowers on thy short-lived head,

And in thine heart forgetfulness

Of man's hard toil, and scanty bread,

And weary of those days no less.


Or wilt thou climb the sunny hill,

In the October afternoon,

To watch the purple earth's blood fill

The gray vat to the maiden's tune?

The Sirens:

When thou beginnest to grow old,

Bring back remembrance of thy bliss

With that the shining cup doth hold,

And weary helplessly of this.


Or pleasureless shall we pass by

The long cold night and leaden day,

That song and tale and minstrelsy

Shall make as merry as the May?

The Sirens:

List then, to-night, to some old tale

Until the tears o'erflow thine eyes;

But what shall all these things avail,

When sad to-morrow comes and dies?


And when the world is born again,

And with some fair love, side by side,

Thou wanderest 'twixt the sun and rain,

In that fresh love-begetting tide;

Then, when the world is born again,

And the sweet year before thee lies,

Shall thy heart think of coming pain,

Or vex itself with memories?

The Sirens:

Ah! then the world is born again

With burning love unsatisfied,

And new desires fond and vain,

And weary days from tide to tide.

Ah! when the world is born again,

A little day is soon gone by,

When thou, unmoved by sun or rain,

Within a cold straight house shall lie.

Therewith they ceased awhile, as languidly

The head of Argo fell off toward the sea,

And through the water she began to go;

For from the land a fitful wind did blow,

That, dallying with the many-colored sail,

Would sometimes swell it out and sometimes fail,

As nigh the east side of the bay they drew;

Then o'er the waves again the music flew.

The Sirens:

Think not of pleasure short and vain,

Wherewith, 'mid days of toil and pain,

With sick and sinking hearts ye strive

To cheat yourselves that ye may live

With cold death ever close at hand.

Think rather of a peaceful land,

The changeless land where ye may be

Roofed over by the changeful sea.


And is the fair town nothing then,

The coming of the wandering men

With that long talked-of thing and strange.

And news of how the kingdoms change,

The pointed hands, and wondering

At doers of a desperate thing?

Push on, for surely this shall be

Across a narrow strip of sea.

The Sirens:

Alas! poor souls and timorous,

Will ye draw nigh to gaze at us

And see if we are fair indeed?

For such as we shall be your meed,

There, where our hearts would have you go.

And where can the earth-dwellers show

In any land such loveliness

As that wherewith your eyes we bless,

O wanderers of the Minyæ,

Worn toilers over land and sea?


Fair as the lightning 'thwart the sky,

As sun-dyed snow upon the high

Untrodden heaps of threatening stone

The eagle looks upon alone,

Oh, fair as the doomed victim's wreath,

Oh, fair as deadly sleep and death,

What will ye with them, earthly men,

To mate your threescore years and ten?

Toil rather, suffer and be free,

Betwixt the green earth and the sea.

The Sirens:

If ye be bold with us to go,

Things such as happy dreams may show

Shall your once heavy lids behold

About our palaces of gold;

Where waters 'neath the waters run,

And from o'erhead a harmless sun

Gleams through the woods of chrysolite.

There gardens fairer to the sight

Than those of the Phæacian king

Shall ye behold; and, wondering,

Gaze on the sea-born fruit and flowers,

And thornless and unchanging bowers,

Whereof the May-time knoweth naught.

So to the pillared house being brought,

Poor souls, ye shall not be alone,

For o'er the floors of pale blue stone

All day such feet as ours shall pass,

And 'twixt the glimmering walls of glass,

Such bodies garlanded with gold,

So faint, so fair, shall ye behold,

And clean forget the treachery

Of changing earth and tumbling sea.


Oh the sweet valley of deep grass,

Where through the summer stream doth pass,

In chain of shadow, and still pool,

From misty morn to evening cool;

Where the black ivy creeps and twines

O'er the dark-armed, red-trunkèd pines.

Whence clattering the pigeon flits,

Or brooding o'er her thin eggs sits,

And every hollow of the hills

With echoing song the mavis fills.

There by the stream, all unafraid,

Shall stand the happy shepherd maid,

Alone in first of sunlit hours;

Behind her, on the dewy flowers,

Her homespun woolen raiment lies,

And her white limbs and sweet gray eyes

Shine from the calm green pool and deep,

While round about the swallows sweep,

Not silent; and would God that we,

Like them, were landed from the sea.

The Sirens:

Shall we not rise with you at night,

Up through the shimmering green twilight,

That maketh there our changeless day,

Then going through the moonlight gray,

Shall we not sit upon these sands,

To think upon the troublous lands

Long left behind, where once ye were,

When every day brought change and fear!

There, with white arms about you twined,

And shuddering somewhat at the wind

That ye rejoiced erewhile to meet,

Be happy, while old stories sweet,

Half understood, float round your ears,

And fill your eyes with happy tears.

Ah! while we sing unto you there,

As now we sing, with yellow hair

Blown round about these pearly limbs,

While underneath the gray sky swims

The light shell-sailor of the waves,

And to our song, from sea-filled caves

Booms out an echoing harmony,

Shall ye not love the peaceful sea?


Nigh the vine-covered hillocks green,

In days agone, have I not seen

The brown-clad maidens amorous,

Below the long rose-trellised house,

Dance to the querulous pipe and shrill,

When the gray shadow of the hill

Was lengthening at the end of day?

Not shadowy or pale were they,

But limbed like those who 'twixt the trees

Follow the swift of goddesses.

Sunburnt they are somewhat, indeed,

To where the rough brown woolen weed

Is drawn across their bosoms sweet,

Or cast from off their dancing feet;

But yet the stars, the moonlight gray,

The water wan, the dawn of day,

Can see their bodies fair and white

As hers, who once, for man's delight,

Before the world grew hard and old,

Came o'er the bitter sea and cold;

And surely those that met me there

Her handmaidens and subjects were;

And shame-faced, half-repressed desire

Had lit their glorious eyes with fire,

That maddens eager hearts of men.

Oh, would that I were with them when

The risen moon is gathering light,

And yellow from the homestead white

The windows gleam; but verily

This waits us o'er a little sea.

The Sirens:

Come to the land where none grows old,

And none is rash or over-bold

Nor any noise there is or war,

Or rumor from wild lands afar,

Or plagues, or birth and death of kings;

No vain desire of unknown things

Shall vex you there, no hope or fear

Of that which never draweth near;

But in that lovely land and still

Ye may remember what ye will,

And what ye will, forget for aye.

So while the kingdoms pass away,

Ye sea-beat hardened toilers erst,

Unresting, for vain fame athirst,

Shall be at peace for evermore,

With hearts fulfilled of Godlike lore,

And calm, unwavering Godlike love,

No lapse of time can turn or move.

There, ages after your fair fleece

Is clean forgotten, yea, and Greece

Is no more counted glorious,

Alone with us, alone with us,

Alone with us, dwell happily,

Beneath our trembling roof of sea.


Ah! do ye weary of the strife,

And long to change this eager life

For shadowy and dull hopelessness,

Thinking indeed to gain no less

Than this, to die, and not to die,

To be as if ye ne'er had been,

Yet keep your memory fresh and green,

To have no thought of good or ill,

Yet keep some thrilling pleasure still?

Oh, idle dream! Ah, verily

If it shall happen unto me

That I have thought of anything,

When o'er my bones the sea-fowl sing,

And I lie dead, how shall I pine

For those fresh joys that once were mine,

On this green fount of joy and mirth,

The ever young and glorious earth;

Then, helpless, shall I call to mind

Thoughts of the flower-scented wind,

The dew, the gentle rain at night,

The wonder-working snow and white,

The song of birds, the water's fall,

The sun that maketh bliss of all;

Yea, this our toil and victory,

The tyrannous and conquered sea.

The Sirens:

Ah, will ye go, and whither then

Will ye go from us, soon to die,

To fill your threescore years and ten

With many an unnamed misery?

And this the wretchedest of all,

That when upon your lonely eyes

The last faint heaviness shall fall,

Ye shall bethink you of our cries.

Come back, nor, grown old, seek in vain

To hear us sing across the sea;

Come back, come back, come back again,

Come back, O fearful Minyæ!


Ah, once again, ah, once again,

The black prow plunges through the sea;

Nor yet shall all your toil be vain,

Nor ye forget, O Minyæ!




mong the smaller principalities of Italy during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, none was more brilliant than the court of Ferrara, and none more intimately connected with the literature of the times. Here, on September 8th, 1474, was born Ludovico Ariosto, the great poet of the Renaissance. Here, like Boiardo before him and Tasso after him, he lived and wrote; and it was to the family of Este that he dedicated that poem in which are seen, as in a mirror, the gay life, the intellectual brilliancy, and the sensuous love for beauty which mark the age. At seventeen he began the study of the law, which he soon abandoned for the charms of letters. Most of his life was passed in the service first of Cardinal d'Este, and afterward of the Duke of Ferrara. But the courtier never overcame the poet, who is said to have begun the famous 'Orlando Furioso' at the age of thirty, and never to have ceased the effort to improve it.

The literary activity of Ariosto showed itself in the composition of comedies and satires, as well as in that of his immortal epic. The comedies were written for the court theatre of Ferrara, to which he seems to have had some such relation as that of Goethe to the theatre at Weimar. The later comedies are much better than the early ones, which are but little more than translations from Plautus and Terence. In general, however, the efforts of Ariosto in this direction are far less important than the 'Orlando' or the 'Satires.' At the first appearance of his plays they were enormously successful, and the poet was hailed as a great dramatic genius. But these comedies are interesting to-day chiefly from the fact that Ariosto was one of the very first of the writers of modern comedy, and was the leader of that movement in Italy and France which prepared the way for Molière.

Of more importance than the comedies, and second only in interest to the 'Orlando' are the 'Satires' seven in number, the first written in 1517 and the last in 1531, thus representing the maturer life of the poet. Nearly everything we know of Ariosto's character is taken from this source. He reveals himself in them as a man who excites neither our highest admiration nor our contempt. He was not born to be a statesman, nor a courtier, nor a man of affairs; and his life as ambassador of Cardinal Ippolito, and as captain of Garafagno, was not at all to his liking. His one longing through all the busy years of his life was for a quiet home, where he could live in liberty and enjoy the comforts of cultured leisure. A love of independence was a marked trait of his character, and it must often have galled him to play the part he did at the court of Ferrara. As a satirist he was no Juvenal or Persius. He was not stirred to profound indignation by the evils about him, of which there were enough in that brilliant but corrupt age. He discussed in easy, familiar style, the foibles of his fellow-men, and especially the events of his own life and the traits of his own character.

The same views of life, the same tolerant temper, which are seen in the 'Satires,' form an important part of the 'Orlando Furioso,' where they take the form of little dissertations, introduced at the beginning of a canto, or scattered through the body of the poem. These reflections are full of practical sense and wisdom, and remind us of the familiar conversation with the reader which forms so great a charm in Thackeray's novels.

In the Italian Renaissance there is a curious mingling of classical and romantic influences, and the generation which gave itself up passionately to the study of Greek and Latin still read with delight the stories of the Paladins of Charlemagne and the Knights of the Round Table. What Sir Thomas Malory had done in English prose, Boiardo did in Latin poetry. When Ariosto entered the service of Cardinal Ippolito, every one was reading the 'Orlando Innamorato,' and the young poet soon fell under the charm of these stories; so that when the inward impulse which all great poets feel toward the work of creation came to him, he took the material already at hand and continued the story of 'Orlando.' With a certain skill and inventiveness, Boiardo had mingled together the epic cycles of Arthur and Charlemagne. He had shown the Saracen host under King Agramante driving the army of Charlemagne before them, until the Christians had finally been shut up within the walls of Paris. It was at this critical moment in his poem that Boiardo died. Ariosto took up the story where he had left it, and carried it on until the final defeat of Agramante, and his death at the hands of Orlando in the desert island.

But we must not think that the 'Orlando Furioso' has one definite plot. At first reading we are confused by the multiplicity of incident, by the constant change of scene, and by the breaking off of one story to make place for another. In a single canto the scene changes from France to Africa, and by means of winged horses tremendous distances are traveled over in a day. On closer examination we find that this confusion is only apparent. The poet himself is never confused, but with sure hand he manipulates the many-colored threads which are wrought into the fabric of the poem. The war between the Saracens and the Christians is a sort of background or stage; a rallying point for the characters. In reality it attracts but slightly our attention or interest. Again, Orlando's love for Angelica, and his madness,--although the latter gave the title to the book, and both afford some of the finest episodes,--have no organic connection with the whole. The real subject, if any there be, is the loves of Ruggiero and Bradamante. These are the supposed ancestors of the house of Este, and it is with their final union, after many vicissitudes, that the poem ends.

But the real purpose of Ariosto was to amuse the reader by countless stories of romantic adventure. It was not as a great creative genius, as the inventor of new characters, as the earnest and philosophical reformer, that he appears to mankind, but as the supreme artist. Ariosto represents in its highest development that love for form, that perfection of style, which is characteristic of the Latin races as distinguished from the Teutonic. It is this that makes the 'Orlando Furioso' the great epic of the Renaissance, and that caused Galileo to bestow upon the poet the epithet "divine."

For nearly thirty years Ariosto changed and polished these lines, so that the edition of 1532 is quite different from that of 1516. The stanzas in which the poem is written are smooth and musical, the language is so chosen as always to express the exact shade of thought, the interest never flags. What seems the arbitrary breaking off of a story before its close is really the art of the poet; for he knows, were each episode to be told by itself, we should have only a string of novelle, and not the picture he desired to paint,--that of the world of chivalry, with its knights-errant in search of adventures, its damsels in distress, its beautiful gardens and lordly palaces, its hermits and magicians, its hippogriffs and dragons, and all the paraphernalia of magic art.

Ariosto's treatment of chivalry is peculiar to himself. Spenser in the sixteenth century, and Lord Tennyson in our own day, pictured its virtues and noble aspirations. In his immortal 'Don Quixote,' Cervantes held its extravagances up to ridicule. In Ariosto's day no one believed any longer in the heroes or the ideals of chivalry, nor did the poet himself; hence there is an air of unreality about the poem. The figures that pass before us, although they have certain characteristics of their own, are not real beings, but those that dwell in a land of fancy. As the poet tells these stories of a bygone age, a smile of irony plays upon his face; he cannot take them seriously; and while he never goes so far as to turn into ridicule the ideals of chivalry, yet, in such episodes as the prodigious exploits of Rodomonte within the walls of Paris, and the voyage of Astolfo to the moon, he does approach dangerously near to the burlesque.

We are not inspired by large and noble thoughts in reading the 'Orlando Furioso.' We are not deeply stirred by pity or terror. No lofty principles are inculcated. Even the pathetic scenes, such as the death of Zerbino and Isabella, stir no real emotion in us, but we experience a sense of the artistic effect of a poetic death.

It is not often, in these days of the making of many books of which there is no end, that one has time to read a poem which is longer than the 'Iliad' and the 'Odyssey' together. But there is a compelling charm about the 'Orlando,' and he who sits down to read it with serious purpose will soon find himself under the spell of an attraction which comes from unflagging interest and from perfection of style and construction. No translation can convey an adequate sense of this beauty of color and form; but the versions of William Stewart Rose, here cited, suggest the energy, invention, and intensity of the epic.

In 1532 Ariosto published his final edition of the poem, now enlarged to forty-six cantos, and retouched from beginning to end. He died not long afterward, in 1533, and was buried in the church of San Benedetto, where a magnificent monument marks his resting-place.


From 'Orlando Furioso,' Cantos 18 and 19

Two Moors among the Paynim army were,

From stock obscure in Ptolomita grown;

Of whom the story, an example rare

Of constant love, is worthy to be known.

Medore and Cloridane were named the pair;

Who, whether Fortune pleased to smile or frown,

Served Dardinello with fidelity,

And late with him to France had crost the sea.

Of nimble frame and strong was Cloridane,

Throughout his life a follower of the chase.

A cheek of white, suffused with crimson grain,

Medoro had, in youth, a pleasing grace;

Nor bound on that emprize, 'mid all the train,

Was there a fairer or more jocund face.

Crisp hair he had of gold, and jet-black eyes;

And seemed an angel lighted from the skies.

These two were posted on a rampart's height,

With more to guard the encampment from surprise,

When 'mid the equal intervals, at night,

Medoro gazed on heaven with sleepy eyes.

In all his talk, the stripling, woeful wight,

Here cannot choose, but of his lord devise,

The royal Dardinel; and evermore

Him left unhonored on the field, deplore.

Then, turning to his mate, cries, "Cloridane,

I cannot tell thee what a cause of woe

It is to me, my lord upon the plain

Should lie, unworthy food for wolf or crow!

Thinking how still to me he was humane,

Meseems, if in his honor I forego

This life of mine, for favors so immense

I shall but make a feeble recompense.

"That he may not lack sepulture, will I

Go forth, and seek him out among the slain;

And haply God may will that none shall spy

Where Charles's camp lies hushed. Do thou remain;

That, if my death be written in the sky,

Thou may'st the deed be able to explain.

So that if Fortune foil so far a feat,

The world, through Fame, my loving heart may weet."

Amazed was Cloridane a child should show

Such heart, such love, and such fair loyalty;

And fain would make the youth his thought forego,

Whom he held passing dear: but fruitlessly

Would move his steadfast purpose; for such woe

Will neither comforted nor altered be.

Medoro is disposed to meet his doom,

Or to inclose his master in the tomb.

Seeing that naught would bend him, naught would move,

"I too will go," was Cloridane's reply:

"In such a glorious act myself will prove;

As well such famous death I covet, I.

What other thing is left me, here above,

Deprived of thee, Medoro mine? To die

With thee in arms is better, on the plain,

Than afterwards of grief, shouldst thou be slain."

And thus resolved, disposing in their place

Their guard's relief, depart the youthful pair,

Leave fosse and palisade, and in small space

Are among ours, who watch with little care;

Who, for they little fear the Paynim race,

Slumber with fires extinguished everywhere.

'Mid carriages and arms they lie supine,

Up to the eyes immersed in sleep and wine.

A moment Cloridano stopt, and cried,

"Not to be lost are opportunities.

This troop, by whom my master's blood was shed,

Medoro, ought not I to sacrifice?

Do thou, lest any one this way be led,

Watch everywhere about, with ears and eyes;

For a wide way, amid the hostile horde,

I offer here to make thee with my sword."

So said he, and his talk cut quickly short,

Coming where learned Alpheus slumbered nigh;

Who had the year before sought Charles's court,

In med'cine, magic, and astrology

Well versed: but now in art found small support,

Or rather found that it was all a lie.

He had foreseen that he his long-drawn life

Should finish on the bosom of his wife.

And now the Saracen with wary view

Had pierced his weasand with the pointed sword.

Four others he near that Diviner slew,

Nor gave the wretches time to say a word.

Sir Turpin in his story tells not who,

And Time has of their names effaced record.

Palidon of Moncalier next he speeds;

One who securely sleeps between two steeds.

Rearing th' insidious blade, the pair are near

The place where round King Charles's pavilion

Are tented warlike paladin and peer,

Guarding the side that each is camped upon,

When in good time the Paynims backward steer,

And sheathe their swords, the impious slaughter done;

Deeming impossible, in such a number,

But they must light on one who does not slumber.

And though they might escape well charged with prey,

To save themselves they think sufficient gain.

Thither by what he deems the safest way

(Medoro following him) went Cloridane

Where in the field, 'mid bow and falchion lay,

And shield and spear, in pool of purple stain,

Wealthy and poor, the king and vassal's corse,

And overthrown the rider and his horse.

The silvery splendor glistened yet more clear,

There where renowned Almontes's son lay dead.

Faithful Medoro mourned his master dear,

Who well agnized the quartering white and red,

With visage bathed in many a bitter tear

(For he a rill from either eyelid shed),

And piteous act and moan, that might have whist

The winds, his melancholy plaint to list;

But with a voice supprest--not that he aught

Regards if any one the noise should hear,

Because he of his life takes any thought,

Of which loathed burden he would fain be clear;

But lest his being heard should bring to naught

The pious purpose which has brought them here--

The youths the king upon their shoulders stowed;

And so between themselves divide the load.

Hurrying their steps, they hastened, as they might,

Under the cherished burden they conveyed;

And now approaching was the lord of light,

To sweep from heaven the stars, from earth the shade,

When good Zerbino, he whose valiant sprite

Was ne'er in time of need by sleep down-weighed,

From chasing Moors all night, his homeward way

Was taking to the camp at dawn of day.

He has with him some horsemen in his train,

That from afar the two companions spy.

Expecting thus some spoil or prize to gain,

They, every one, toward that quarter hie.

"Brother, behoves us," cried young Cloridane,

"To cast away the load we bear, and fly;

For 'twere a foolish thought (might well be said)

To lose two living men, to save one dead;"

And dropt the burden, weening his Medore

Had done the same by it, upon his side;

But that poor boy, who loved his master more,

His shoulders to the weight alone applied:

Cloridane hurrying with all haste before,

Deeming him close behind him or beside;

Who, did he know his danger, him to save

A thousand deaths, instead of one, would brave.

The closest path, amid the forest gray,

To save himself, pursued the youth forlorn;

But all his schemes were marred by the delay

Of that sore weight upon his shoulders borne.

The place he knew not, and mistook the way,

And hid himself again in sheltering thorn.

Secure and distant was his mate, that through

The greenwood shade with lighter shoulders flew.

So far was Cloridane advanced before,

He heard the boy no longer in the wind;

But when he marked the absence of Medore,

It seemed as if his heart was left behind.

"Ah! how was I so negligent," (the Moor

Exclaimed) "so far beside myself, and blind,

That, I, Medoro, should without thee fare,

Nor know when I deserted thee or where?"

So saying, in the wood he disappears,

Plunging into the maze with hurried pace;

And thither, whence he lately issued, steers,

And, desperate, of death returns in trace.

Cries and the tread of steeds this while he hears,

And word and threat of foeman, as in chase;

Lastly Medoro by his voice is known,

Disarmed, on foot, 'mid many horse, alone.

A hundred horsemen who the youth surround,

Zerbino leads, and bids his followers seize

The stripling; like a top the boy turns round

And keeps him as he can: among the trees,

Behind oak, elm, beech, ash, he takes his ground,

Nor from the cherished load his shoulders frees.

Wearied, at length, the burden he bestowed

Upon the grass, and stalked about his load.

As in her rocky cavern the she-bear,

With whom close warfare Alpine hunters wage,

Uncertain hangs about her shaggy care,

And growls in mingled sound of love and rage,

To unsheath her claws, and blood her tushes bare,

Would natural hate and wrath the beast engage;

Love softens her, and bids from strife retire,

And for her offspring watch, amid her ire.

Cloridane, who to aid him knows not how,

And with Medoro willingly would die,

But who would not for death this being forego,

Until more foes than one should lifeless lie,

Ambushed, his sharpest arrow to his bow

Fits, and directs it with so true an eye,

The feathered weapon bores a Scotchman's brain,

And lays the warrior dead upon the plain.

Together, all the others of the band

Turned thither, whence was shot the murderous reed;

Meanwhile he launched another from his stand,

That a new foe might by the weapon bleed,

Whom (while he made of this and that demand,

And loudly questioned who had done the deed)

The arrow reached--transfixed the wretch's throat

And cut his question short in middle note.

Zerbino, captain of those horse, no more

Can at the piteous sight his wrath refrain;

In furious heat he springs, upon Medore,

Exclaiming, "Thou of this shalt bear the pain."

One hand he in his locks of golden ore

Enwreaths, and drags him to himself amain;

But as his eyes that beauteous face survey,

Takes pity on the boy, and does not slay.

To him the stripling turns, with suppliant cry,

And, "By thy God, sir knight," exclaims, "I pray,

Be not so passing cruel, nor deny

That I in earth my honored king may lay:

No other grace I supplicate, nor I

This for the love of life, believe me, say.

So much, no longer, space of life I crave,

As may suffice to give my lord a grave.

"And if you needs must feed the beast and bird,

Like Theban Creon, let their worst be done

Upon these limbs; so that by me interred

In earth be those of good Almontes's son."

Medoro thus his suit, with grace, preferred,

And words to move a mountain; and so won

Upon Zerbino's mood, to kindness turned,

With love and pity he all over burned.

This while, a churlish horseman of the band,

Who little deference for his lord confest,

His lance uplifting, wounded overhand

The unhappy suppliant in his dainty breast.

Zerbino, who the cruel action scanned,

Was deeply stirred, the rather that, opprest,

And livid with the blow the churl had sped,

Medoro fell as he was wholly dead.

The Scots pursue their chief, who pricks before,

Through the deep wood, inspired by high disdain,

When he has left the one and the other Moor,

This dead, that scarce alive, upon the plain.

There for a mighty space lay young Medore,

Spouting his life-blood from so large a vein

He would have perished, but that thither made

A stranger, as it chanced, who lent him aid.


From 'Orlando Furioso,' Canto 19

By chance arrived a damsel at the place,

Who was (though mean and rustic was her wear)

Of royal presence and of beauteous face,

And lofty manners, sagely debonnair.

Her have I left unsung so long a space,

That you will hardly recognize the fair

Angelica: in her (if known not) scan

The lofty daughter of Catay's great khan.

Angelica, when she had won again

The ring Brunello had from her conveyed,

So waxed in stubborn pride and haught disdain,

She seemed to scorn this ample world, and strayed

Alone, and held as cheap each living swain,

Although amid the best by fame arrayed;

Nor brooked she to remember a gallant

In Count Orlando or King Sacripant:

And above every other deed repented,

That good Rinaldo she had loved of yore;

And that to look so low she had consented,

(As by such choice dishonored) grieved her sore.

Love, hearing this, such arrogance resented,

And would the damsel's pride endure no more.

Where young Medoro lay he took his stand,

And waited her, with bow and shaft in hand.

When fair Angelica the stripling spies,

Nigh hurt to death in that disastrous fray,

Who for his king, that there unsheltered lies,

More sad than for his own misfortune lay,

She feels new pity in her bosom rise,

Which makes its entry in unwonted way.

Touched was her naughty heart, once hard and curst,

And more when he his piteous tale rehearsed.

And calling back to memory her art,

For she in Ind had learned chirurgery,

(Since it appears such studies in that part

Worthy of praise and fame are held to be,

And, as an heirloom, sires to sons impart,

With little aid of books, the mystery,)

Disposed herself to work with simples' juice,

Till she in him should healthier life produce.

And recollects an herb had caught her sight

In passing thither, on a pleasant plain:

What (whether dittany or pancy hight)

I know not; fraught with virtue to restrain

The crimson blood forth-welling, and of might

To sheathe each perilous and piercing pain.

She found it near, and having pulled the weed,

Returned to seek Medoro on the mead.

Returning, she upon a swain did light,

Who was on horseback passing through the wood.

Strayed from the lowing herd, the rustic wight

A heifer missing for two days pursued.

Him she with her conducted, where the might

Of the faint youth was ebbing with his blood:

Which had the ground about so deeply dyed

Life was nigh wasted with the gushing tide.

Angelica alights upon the ground,

And he, her rustic comrade, at her best.

She hastened 'twixt two stones the herb to pound,

Then took it, and the healing juice exprest:

With this did she foment the stripling's wound,

And even to the hips, his waist and breast;

And (with such virtue was the salve endued)

It stanched his life-blood, and his strength renewed.

And into him infused such force again,

That he could mount the horse the swain conveyed;

But good Medoro would not leave the plain

Till he in earth had seen his master laid.

He, with the monarch, buried Cloridane,

And after followed whither pleased the maid.

Who was to stay with him, by pity led,

Beneath the courteous shepherd's humble shed.

Nor would the damsel quit the lowly pile

(So she esteemed the youth) till he was sound;

Such pity first she felt, when him erewhile

She saw outstretched and bleeding on the ground.

Touched by his mien and manners next, a file

She felt corrode her heart with secret wound;

She felt corrode her heart, and with desire,

By little and by little warmed, took fire.

The shepherd dwelt between two mountains hoar,

In goodly cabin, in the greenwood shade,

With wife and children; in short time before,

The brand-new shed had builded in the glade.

Here of his grisly wound the youthful Moor

Was briefly healed by the Catayan maid;

But who in briefer space, a sorer smart

Than young Medoro's, suffered at her heart.

[She pines for love of him, and at length makes her love known. They solemnize their marriage, and remain a month there with great happiness.]

Amid such pleasures, where, with tree o'ergrown,

Ran stream, or bubbling fountain's wave did spin,

On bark or rock, if yielding were the stone,

The knife was straight at work, or ready pin.

And there, without, in thousand places lone,

And in as many places graved, within,

Medoro and Angelica were traced,

In divers ciphers quaintly interlaced.

When she believed they had prolonged their stay

More than enow, the damsel made design

In India to revisit her Catay,

And with its crown Medoro's head entwine.

She had upon her wrist an armlet, gay

With costly gems, in witness and in sign

Of love to her by Count Orlando borne,

And which the damsel for long time had worn.

No love which to the paladin she bears,

But that it costly is and wrought with care,

This to Angelica so much endears,

That never more esteemed was matter rare;

This she was suffered, in the isle of tears,

I know not by what privilege, to wear,

When, naked, to the whale exposed for food

By that inhospitable race and rude.

She, not possessing wherewithal to pay

The kindly couple's hospitality,--

Served by them in their cabin, from the day

She there was lodged, with such fidelity,--

Unfastened from her arm the bracelet gay,

And bade them keep it for her memory.

Departing hence, the lovers climb the side

Of hills, which fertile France from Spain divide.


From 'Orlando Furioso,' Canto 23

The course in pathless woods, which without rein

The Tartar's charger had pursued astray,

Made Roland for two days, with fruitless pain,

Follow him, without tidings of his way.

Orlando reached a rill of crystal vein,

On either bank of which a meadow lay;

Which, stained with native hues and rich, he sees,

And dotted o'er with fair and many trees.

The mid-day fervor made the shelter sweet

To hardy herd as well as naked swain:

So that Orlando well beneath the heat

Some deal might wince, opprest with plate and chain.

He entered for repose the cool retreat,

And found it the abode of grief and pain;

And place of sojourn more accursed and fell

On that unhappy day, than tongue can tell.

Turning him round, he there on many a tree

Beheld engraved, upon the woody shore,

What as the writing of his deity

He knew, as soon as he had marked the lore.

This was a place of those described by me,

Whither oft-times, attended by Medore,

From the near shepherd's cot had wont to stray

The beauteous lady, sovereign of Catay.

In a hundred knots, amid these green abodes,

In a hundred parts, their ciphered names are dight;

Whose many letters are so many goads,

Which Love has in his bleeding heart-core pight.

He would discredit in a thousand modes,

That which he credits in his own despite;

And would perforce persuade himself, that rind

Other Angelica than his had signed.

"And yet I know these characters," he cried,

"Of which I have so many read and seen;

By her may this Medoro be belied,

And me, she, figured in the name, may mean."

Feeding on such like phantasies, beside

The real truth, did sad Orlando lean

Upon the empty hope, though ill contented,

Which he by self-illusions had fomented.

But stirred and aye rekindled it, the more

That he to quench the ill suspicion wrought,

Like the incautious bird, by fowler's lore,

Hampered in net or lime; which, in the thought

To free its tangled pinions and to soar,

By struggling is but more securely caught.

Orlando passes thither, where a mountain

O'erhangs in guise of arch the crystal fountain.

Here from his horse the sorrowing county lit,

And at the entrance of the grot surveyed

A cloud of words, which seemed but newly writ,

And which the young Medoro's hand had made.

On the great pleasure he had known in it,

This sentence he in verses had arrayed;

Which to his tongue, I deem, might make pretense

To polished phrase; and such in ours the sense:--

"Gay plants, green herbage, rill of limpid vein,

And, grateful with cool shade, thou gloomy cave,

Where oft, by many wooed with fruitless pain,

Beauteous Angelica, the child of grave

King Galaphron, within my arms has lain;

For the convenient harborage you gave,

I, poor Medoro, can but in my lays,

As recompense, forever sing your praise.

"And any loving lord devoutly pray,

Damsel and cavalier, and every one,

Whom choice or fortune hither shall convey,

Stranger or native,--to this crystal run,

Shade, caverned rock, and grass, and plants, to say,

'Benignant be to you the fostering sun

And moon, and may the choir of nymphs provide,

That never swain his flock may hither guide.'"

In Arabic was writ the blessing said,

Known to Orlando like the Latin tongue,

Who, versed in many languages, best read

Was in this speech; which oftentimes from wrong

And injury and shame had saved his head,

What time he roved the Saracens among.

But let him boast not of its former boot,

O'erbalanced by the present bitter fruit.

Three times, and four, and six, the lines impressed

Upon the stone that wretch perused, in vain

Seeking another sense than was expressed,

And ever saw the thing more clear and plain;

And all the while, within his troubled breast,

He felt an icy hand his heart-core strain.

With mind and eyes close fastened on the block,

At length he stood, not differing from the rock.

Then well-nigh lost all feeling; so a prey

Wholly was he to that o'ermastering woe.

This is a pang, believe the experienced say

Of him who speaks, which does all griefs outgo.

His pride had from his forehead passed away,

His chin had fallen upon his breast below;

Nor found he, so grief-barred each natural vent,

Moisture for tears, or utterance for lament.

Stifled within, the impetuous sorrow stays,

Which would too quickly issue; so to abide

Water is seen, imprisoned in the vase,

Whose neck is narrow and whose swell is wide;

What time, when one turns up the inverted base,

Toward the mouth, so hastes the hurrying tide,

And in the strait encounters such a stop,

It scarcely works a passage, drop by drop.

He somewhat to himself returned, and thought

How possibly the thing might be untrue:

That some one (so he hoped, desired, and sought

To think) his lady would with shame pursue;

Or with such weight of jealousy had wrought

To whelm his reason, as should him undo;

And that he, whosoe'er the thing had planned,

Had counterfeited passing well her hand.

With such vain hope he sought himself to cheat,

And manned some deal his spirits and awoke;

Then prest the faithful Brigliadoro's seat,

As on the sun's retreat his sister broke.

Not far the warrior had pursued his beat,

Ere eddying from a roof he saw the smoke;

Heard noise of dog and kine, a farm espied,

And thitherward in quest of lodging hied.

Languid, he lit, and left his Brigliador

To a discreet attendant; one undrest

His limbs, one doffed the golden spurs he wore,

And one bore off, to clean, his iron vest.

This was the homestead where the young Medore

Lay wounded, and was here supremely blest.

Orlando here, with other food unfed,

Having supt full of sorrow, sought his bed.

Little availed the count his self-deceit;

For there was one who spake of it unsought:

The shepherd-swain, who to allay the heat

With which he saw his guest so troubled, thought

The tale which he was wonted to repeat--

Of the two lovers--to each listener taught;

A history which many loved to hear,

He now, without reserve, 'gan tell the peer.

"How at Angelica's persuasive prayer,

He to his farm had carried young Medore,

Grievously wounded with an arrow; where

In little space she healed the angry sore.

But while she exercised this pious care,

Love in her heart the lady wounded more,

And kindled from small spark so fierce a fire,

She burnt all over, restless with desire;

"Nor thinking she of mightiest king was born,

Who ruled in the East, nor of her heritage,

Forced by too puissant love, had thought no scorn

To be the consort of a poor foot-page."

His story done, to them in proof was borne

The gem, which, in reward for harborage,

To her extended in that kind abode,

Angelica, at parting, had bestowed.

In him, forthwith, such deadly hatred breed

That bed, that house, that swain, he will not stay

Till the morn break, or till the dawn succeed,

Whose twilight goes before approaching day.

In haste, Orlando takes his arms and steed,

And to the deepest greenwood wends his way.

And when assured that he is there alone,

Gives utterance to his grief in shriek and groan.

Never from tears, never from sorrowing,

He paused; nor found he peace by night or day;

He fled from town, in forest harboring,

And in the open air on hard earth lay.

He marveled at himself, how such a spring

Of water from his eyes could stream away,

And breath was for so many sobs supplied;

And thus oft-times, amid his mourning, cried:--

"I am not--am not what I seem to sight:

What Roland was, is dead and under ground,

Slain by that most ungrateful lady's spite,

Whose faithlessness inflicted such a wound.

Divided from the flesh, I am his sprite,

Which in this hell, tormented, walks its round,

To be, but in its shadow left above,

A warning to all such as trust in love."

All night about the forest roved the count,

And, at the break of daily light, was brought

By his unhappy fortune to the fount,

Where his inscription young Medoro wrought.

To see his wrongs inscribed upon that mount

Inflamed his fury so, in him was naught

But turned to hatred, frenzy, rage, and spite;

Nor paused he more, but bared his falchion bright,

Cleft through the writing; and the solid block,

Into the sky, in tiny fragments sped.

Woe worth each sapling and that caverned rock

Where Medore and Angelica were read!

So scathed, that they to shepherd or to flock

Thenceforth shall never furnish shade or bed.

And that sweet fountain, late so clear and pure,

From such tempestous wrath was ill secure.

So fierce his rage, so fierce his fury grew,

That all obscured remained the warrior's sprite;

Nor, for forgetfulness, his sword he drew,

Or wondrous deeds, I trow, had wrought the knight;

But neither this, nor bill, nor axe to hew,

Was needed by Orlando's peerless might.

He of his prowess gave high proofs and full,

Who a tall pine uprooted at a pull.

He many others, with as little let

As fennel, wall-wort-stem, or dill uptore;

And ilex, knotted oak, and fir upset,

And beech and mountain ash, and elm-tree hoar.

He did what fowler, ere he spreads his net,

Does, to prepare the champaign for his lore,

By stubble, rush, and nettle stalk; and broke,

Like these, old sturdy trees and stems of oak.

The shepherd swains, who hear the tumult nigh,

Leaving their flocks beneath the greenwood tree,

Some here, some there, across the forest hie,

And hurry thither, all, the cause to see.

But I have reached such point, my history,

If I o'erpass this bound, may irksome be.

And I my story will delay to end

Rather than by my tediousness offend.


(B.C. 448-380?)


he birth-year of Aristophanes is placed about 448 B.C., on the ground that he is said to have been almost a boy when his first comedy was presented in 427. His last play, the 'Plutus,' was produced in 388, and there is no evidence that he long survived this date. Little is known of his life beyond the allusions, in the Parabases of the 'Acharnians,' 'Knights,' and 'Wasps,' to his prosecution by Cleon, to his own or his father's estate at Aegina, and to his premature baldness. He left three sons who also wrote comedies.

Aristophanes is the sole extant representative of the so-called Old Comedy of Athens; a form of dramatic art which developed obscurely under the shadow of Attic Tragedy in the first half of the fifth century B.C., out of the rustic revelry of the Phallic procession and Comus song of Dionysus, perhaps with some outside suggestions from the Megarian farce and its Sicilian offshoot, the mythological court comedy of Epicharmus. The chief note of this older comedy for the ancient critics was its unbridled license of direct personal satire and invective. Eupolis, Cratinus, and Aristophanes, says Horace, assailed with the utmost freedom any one who deserved to be branded with infamy. This old political Comedy was succeeded in the calmer times that followed the Peloponnesian War by the so-called Middle Comedy (390-320) of Alexis, Antiphanes, Strattis, and some minor men; which insensibly passed into the New Comedy (320-250) of Menander and Philemon, known to us in the reproductions of Terence. And this new comedy, which portrayed types of private life instead of satirizing noted persons by name, and which, as Aristotle says, produced laughter by innuendo rather than by scurrility, was preferred to the "terrible graces" of her elder sister by the gentle and refined Plutarch, or the critic who has usurped his name in the 'Comparison of Aristophanes and Menander.' The old Attic Comedy has been variously compared to Charivari, Punch, the comic opera of Offenbach, and a Parisian 'revue de fin d'année.' There is no good modern analogue. It is not our comedy of manners, plot, and situation; nor yet is it mere buffoonery. It is a peculiar mixture of broad political, social, and literary satire, and polemical discussion of large ideas, with the burlesque and licentious extravagances that were deemed the most acceptable service at the festival of the laughter-loving, tongue-loosening god of the vine.


The typical plan of an Aristophanic comedy is very simple. The protagonist undertakes in all apparent seriousness to give a local habitation and a body to some ingenious fancy, airy speculation, or bold metaphor: as for example, the procuring of a private peace for a citizen who is weary of the privations of war; or the establishment of a city in Cloud-Cuckoo-Land where the birds shall regulate things better than the featherless biped, man; or the restoration of the eyesight of the proverbially blind god of Wealth. The attention of the audience is at once enlisted for the semblance of a plot by which the scheme is put into execution. The design once effected, the remainder of the play is given over to a series of loosely connected scenes, ascending to a climax of absurdity, in which the consequences of the original happy thought are followed out with a Swiftian verisimilitude of piquant detail and a Rabelaisian license of uproarious mirth. It rests with the audience to take the whole as pure extravaganza, or as a reductio ad absurdum or playful defense of the conception underlying the original idea. In the intervals between the scenes, the chorus sing rollicking topical songs or bits of exquisite lyric, or in the name of the poet directly exhort and admonish the audience in the so-called Parabasis.

Of Aristophanes's first two plays, the 'Banqueters of Hercules' (427), and the 'Babylonians' (426), only fragments remain. The impolitic representation in the latter of the Athenian allies as branded Babylonian slaves was the ground of Cleon's attack in the courts upon Aristophanes, or Callistratus in whose name the play was produced.

The extant plays are the following:--

'The Acharnians,' B.C. 425, shortly after the Athenian defeat at Delium. The worthy countryman, Dicæopolis, weary of being cooped up within the Long Walls, and disgusted with the shameless jobbery of the politicians, sends to Sparta for samples of peace (the Greek word means also libations) of different vintages. The Thirty Years' brand smells of nectar and ambrosia. He accepts it, concludes a private treaty for himself and friends, and proceeds to celebrate the rural Dionysia with wife and child, soothing, by an eloquent plea pronounced in tattered tragic vestments borrowed from Euripides, the anger of the chorus of choleric Acharnian charcoal burners, exasperated at the repeated devastation of their deme by the Spartans. He then opens a market, to which a jolly Boeotian brings the long-lost, thrice-desired Copaic eel; while a starveling Megarian, to the huge delight of the Athenian groundlings, sells his little daughters, disguised as pigs, for a peck of salt. Finally Dicæopolis goes forth to a wedding banquet, from which he returns very mellow in the company of two flute girls; while Lamachus, the head of the war party, issues forth to do battle with the Boeotians in the snow, and comes back with a bloody coxcomb. This play was successfully given in Greek by the students of the University of Pennsylvania in the spring of 1886, and interestingly discussed in the Nation of May 6th by Professor Gildersleeve.

'The Knights,' B.C. 424: named from the chorus of young Athenian cavaliers who abet the sausage-seller, Agoracritus, egged on by the discontented family servants (the generals), Nicias and Demosthenes, to outbid with shameless flattery the rascally Paphlagonian steward, Cleon, and supplant him in the favor of their testy bean-fed old master, Demos (or People). At the close, Demos recovers his wits and his youth, and is revealed sitting enthroned in his glory in the good old Marathonian Athens of the Violet Crown. The prolongation of the billingsgate in the contest between Cleon and the sausage-seller grows wearisome to modern taste; but the portrait of the Demagogue is for all time.

'The Clouds,' B.C. 423: an attack on Socrates, unfairly taken as an embodiment of the deleterious and unsettling "new learning," both in the form of Sophistical rhetoric and "meteorological" speculation. Worthy Strepsiades, eager to find a new way to pay the debts in which the extravagance of his horse-racing son Pheidippides has involved him, seeks to enter the youth as a student in the Thinking-shop or Reflectory of Socrates, that he may learn to make the worse appear the better reason, and so baffle his creditors before a jury. The young man, after much demur and the ludicrous failure of his father, who at first matriculates in his stead, consents. He listens to the pleas of the just and unjust argument in behalf of the old and new education, and becomes himself such a proficient that he demonstrates, in flawless reasoning, that Euripides is a better poet than Aeschylus, and that a boy is justified in beating his father for affirming the contrary. Strepsiades thereupon, cured of his folly, undertakes a subtle investigation into the timbers of the roof of the Reflectory, with a view to smoking out the corrupters of youth. Many of the songs sung by or to the clouds, the patron deities of Socrates's misty lore, are extremely beautiful. Socrates is made to allude to these attacks of comedy by Plato in the 'Apology,' and, on his last day in prison, in the 'Phædo.' In the 'Symposium' or 'Banquet' of Plato, Aristophanes bursts in upon a company of friends with whom Socrates is feasting, and drinks with them till morning; while Socrates forces him and the tragic poet Agathon, both of them very sleepy, to admit that the true dramatic artist will excel in both tragedy and comedy.

'The Wasps,' B.C. 422: a jeu d'esprit turning on the Athenian passion for litigation. Young Bdelucleon (hate-Cleon) can keep his old father Philocleon (love-Cleon) out of the courts only by instituting a private court in his own house. The first culprit, the house-dog, is tried for stealing a Sicilian cheese, and acquitted by Philocleon's mistaking the urn of acquittal for that of condemnation. The old man is inconsolable at the first escape of a victim from his clutches; but finally, renouncing his folly, takes lessons from his exquisite of a son in the manners and deportment of a fine gentleman. He then attends a dinner party, where he betters his instructions with comic exaggeration and returns home in high feather, singing tipsy catches and assaulting the watch on his way. The chorus of Wasps, the visible embodiment of a metaphor found also in Plato's 'Republic,' symbolizes the sting used by the Athenian jurymen to make the rich disgorge a portion of their gathered honey. The 'Plaideurs' of Racine is an imitation of this play; and the motif of the committal of the dog is borrowed by Ben Jonson in the 'Staple of News.'

'The Peace,' B.C. 421: in support of the Peace of Nicias, ratified soon afterward (Grote's 'History of Greece,' Vol. vi., page 492). Trygæus, an honest vine-dresser yearning for his farm, in parody of the Bellerophon of Euripides, ascends to heaven on a dung-beetle. He there hauls Peace from the bottom of the well into which she had been cast by Ares, and brings her home in triumph to Greece, when she inaugurates a reign of plenty and uproarious jollity, and celebrates the nuptials of Trygæus and her handmaid Opora (Harvest-home).

'The Birds,' B.C. 414. Peisthetærus (Plausible) and Euelpides (Hopeful), whose names and deeds are perhaps a satire on the unbounded ambition that brought ruin on Athens at Syracuse, journey to Birdland and persuade King Hoopoe to induce the birds to build Nephelococcygia or Cloud-Cuckoo-Burgh in the air between the gods and men, starve out the gods with a "Melian famine," and rule the world themselves. The gods, their supplies of incense cut off, are forced to treat, and Peisthetærus receives in marriage Basileia (Sovereignty), the daughter of Zeus. The mise en scène, with the gorgeous plumage of the bird-chorus, must have been very impressive, and many of the choric songs are exceedingly beautiful. There is an interesting account by Professor Jebb in the Fortnightly Review (Vol. xli.) of a performance of 'The Birds' at Cambridge in 1884.

Two plays, B.C. 411: (1) at the Lenæa, 'The Lysistrata,' in which the women of Athens and Sparta by a secession from bed and board compel their husbands to end the war; (2) The 'Thesmophoriazusæ' or Women's Festival of Demeter, a licentious but irresistibly funny assault upon Euripides. The tragedian, learning that the women in council assembled are debating on the punishment due to his misogyny, implores the effeminate poet Agathon to intercede for him. That failing, he dispatches his kinsman Mnesilochus, disguised with singed beard and woman's robes, a sight to shake the midriff of despair with laughter, to plead his cause. The advocate's excess of zeal betrays him; he is arrested: and the remainder of the play is occupied by the ludicrous devices, borrowed or parodied from well-known Euripidean tragedies, by which the poet endeavors to rescue his intercessor.

'The Frogs,' B.C. 405, in the brief respite of hope between the victory of Arginusæ and the final overthrow of Athens at Ægospotami. Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides are dead. The minor bards are a puny folk, and Dionysus is resolved to descend to Hades in quest of a truly creative poet, one capable of a figure like "my star god's glow-worm," or "His honor rooted in dishonor stood." After many surprising adventures by the way, and in the outer precincts of the underworld, accompanied by his Sancho Panza, Xanthias, he arrives at the court of Pluto just in time to be chosen arbitrator of the great contest between Aeschylus and Euripides for the tragic throne in Hades. The comparisons and parodies of the styles of Aeschylus and Euripides that follow, constitute, in spite of their comic exaggeration, one of the most entertaining and discriminating chapters of literary criticism extant, and give us an exalted idea of the intelligence of the audience that appreciated them. Dionysus decides for Æschylus, and leads him back in triumph to the upper world.

The 'Ecclesiazusæ' or 'Ladies in Parliament,' B.C. 393: apparently a satire on the communistic theories which must have been current in the discussions of the schools before they found definite expression in Plato's 'Republic.' The ladies of Athens rise betimes, purloin their husbands' hats and canes, pack the Assembly, and pass a measure to intrust the reins of government to women. An extravagant and licentious communism is the result.

The 'Plutus,' B.C. 388: a second and much altered edition of a play represented for the first time in 408. With the 'Ecclesiazusæ' it marks the transition to the Middle Comedy, there being no parabasis, and little of the exuberant verve of the older pieces. The blind god of Wealth recovers his eyesight by sleeping in the temple of Æsculapius, and proceeds to distribute the gifts of fortune more equitably.

The assignment of the dates and restoration of the plots of the thirty-two lost plays, of which a few not very interesting fragments remain, belong to the domain of conjectural erudition.

Aristophanes has been regarded by some critics as a grave moral censor, veiling his high purpose behind the grinning mask of comedy; by others as a buffoon of genius, whose only object was to raise a laugh. Both sides of the question are ingeniously and copiously argued in Browning's 'Aristophanes' Apology'; and there is a judicious summing up of the case of Aristophanes vs. Euripides in Professor Jebb's lectures on Greek poetry. The soberer view seems to be that while predominantly a comic artist, obeying the instincts of his genius, he did frequently make his comedy the vehicle of an earnest conservative polemic against the new spirit of the age in Literature, Philosophy, and Politics. He pursued Euripides with relentless ridicule because his dramatic motives lent themselves to parody, and his lines were on the lips of every theatre-goer; but also because he believed that Euripides had spoiled the old, stately, heroic art of Aeschylus and Sophocles by incongruous infusions of realism and sentimentalism, and had debased the "large utterance of the early gods" by an unhallowed mixture of colloquialism, dialectic, and chicane.

Aristophanes travestied the teachings of Socrates because his ungainly figure, and the oddity (atopia) attributed to him even by Plato, made him an excellent butt; yet also because he felt strongly that it was better for the young Athenian to spend his days in the Palæstra, or "where the elm-tree whispers to the plane," than in filing a contentious tongue on barren logomachies. That Socrates in fact discussed only ethical problems, and disclaimed all sympathy with speculations about things above our heads, made no difference: he was the best human embodiment of a hateful educational error. And similarly the assault upon Cleon, the "pun-pelleting of demagogues from Pnux," was partly due to the young aristocrat's instinctive aversion to the coarse popular leader, and to the broad mark which the latter presented to the shafts of satire, but equally, perhaps, to a genuine patriotic revolt at the degradation of Athenian politics in the hands of the successors of Pericles.

But Aristophanes's ideas interest us less than his art and humor. We have seen the nature of his plots. In such a topsy-turvy world there is little opportunity for nice delineation of character. His personages are mainly symbols or caricatures. Yet they are vividly if broadly sketched, and genuine touches of human nature lend verisimilitude to their most improbable actions. One or two traditional comic types appear for the first time, apparently, on his stage: the alternately cringing and familiar slave or valet of comedy, in his Xanthias and Karion; and in Dicæopolis, Strepsiades, Demos, Trygæus, and Dionysus, the sensual, jovial, shrewd, yet naïve and credulous middle-aged bourgeois gentilhomme or 'Sganarelle,' who is not ashamed to avow his poltroonery, and yet can, on occasion, maintain his rights with sturdy independence.

But the chief attraction of Aristophanes is the abounding comic force and verve of his style. It resembles an impetuous torrent, whose swift rush purifies in its flow the grossness and obscenity inseparable from the origin of comedy, and buoys up and sweeps along on the current of fancy and improvisation the chaff and dross of vulgar jests, puns, scurrilous personalities, and cheap "gags," allowing no time for chilling reflections or criticism. Jests which are singly feeble combine to induce a mood of extravagant hilarity when huddled upon us with such "impossible conveyance." This vivida vis animi can hardly be reproduced in a translation, and disappears altogether in an attempt at an abstract enumeration of the poet's inexhaustible devices for comic effect. He himself repeatedly boasts of the fertility of his invention, and claims to have discarded the coarse farce of his predecessors for something more worthy of the refined intelligence of his clever audience. Yet it must be acknowledged that much even of his wit is the mere filth-throwing of a naughty boy; or at best the underbred jocularity of the "funny column," the topical song, or the minstrel show. There are puns on the names of notable personages; a grotesque, fantastic, punning fauna, flora, and geography of Greece; a constant succession of surprises effected by the sudden substitution of low or incongruous terms in proverbs, quotations, and legal or religious formulas; scenes in dialect, scenes of excellent fooling in the vein of Uncle Toby and the Clown, girds at the audience, personalities that for us have lost their point,--about Cleonymus the caster-away of shields, or Euripides's herb-selling mother,--and everywhere unstinted service to the great gods Priapus and Cloacina.

A finer instrument of comic effect is the parody. The countless parodies of the lyric and dramatic literature of Greece are perhaps the most remarkable testimony extant to the intelligence of an Athenian audience. Did they infallibly catch the allusion when Dicæopolis welcomed back to the Athenian fish-market the long-lost Copaic eel in high Æschylean strain,--

"Of fifty nymphs Copaic alderliefest queen,"

and then, his voice breaking with the intolerable pathos of Admetus's farewell to the dying Alcestis, added,

"Yea, even in death

Thou'lt bide with me, embalmed and beet-bestewed"?

Did they recognize the blasphemous Pindaric pun in "Helle's holy straits," for a tight place, and appreciate all the niceties of diction, metre, and dramatic art discriminated in the comparison between Aeschylus and Euripides in the 'Frogs'? At any rate, no Athenian could miss the fun of Dicæopolis (like Hector's baby) "scared at the dazzling plume and nodding crest" of the swashbuckler Lamachus, of Philocleon, clinging to his ass's belly like Odysseus escaping under the ram from the Cyclops's cave; of the baby in the Thesmophoriazusæ seized as a Euripidean hostage, and turning out a wine bottle in swaddling-clothes; of light-foot Iris in the rôle of a saucy, frightened soubrette; of the heaven-defying Æschylean Prometheus hiding under an umbrella from the thunderbolts of Zeus. And they must have felt instinctively what only a laborious erudition reveals to us, the sudden subtle modulations of the colloquial comic verse into mock-heroic travesty of high tragedy or lyric.

Euripides, the chief victim of Aristophanes's genius for parody, was so burlesqued that his best known lines became by-words, and his most ardent admirers, the very Balaustions and Euthukleses, must have grinned when they heard them, like a pair of augurs. If we conceive five or six Shakespearean comedies filled from end to end with ancient Pistols hallooing to "pampered jades of Asia," and Dr. Caiuses chanting of "a thousand vagrom posies," we may form some idea of Aristophanes's handling of the notorious lines--

"The tongue has sworn, the mind remains unsworn."
"Thou lovest life, thy sire loves it too."
"Who knows if life and death be truly one?"

But the charm of Aristophanes does not lie in any of these things singly, but in the combination of ingenious and paradoxical fancy with an inexhaustible flow of apt language by which they are held up and borne out. His personages are ready to make believe anything. Nothing surprises them long. They enter into the spirit of each new conceit, and can always discover fresh analogies to bear it out. The very plots of his plays are realized metaphors or embodied conceits. And the same concrete vividness of imagination is displayed in single scenes and episodes. The Better and the Worse Reason plead the causes of the old and new education in person. Cleon and Brasidas are the pestles with which War proposes to bray Greece in a mortar; the triremes of Athens in council assembled declare that they will rot in the docks sooner than yield their virginity to musty, fusty Hyperbolus. The fair cities of Greece stand about waiting for the recovery of Peace from her Well, with dreadful black eyes, poor things; Armisticia and Harvest-Home tread the stage in the flesh, and Nincompoop and Defraudation are among the gods.

The special metaphor or conceit of each play attracts appropriate words and images, and creates a distinct atmosphere of its own. In the 'Knights' the air fairly reeks with the smell of leather and the tanyard. The 'Birds' transport us to a world of trillings and pipings, and beaks and feathers. There is a buzzing and a humming and a stinging throughout the 'Wasps.' The 'Clouds' drip with mist, and are dim with aërial vaporous effects.

Aristophanes was the original inventor of Bob Acres's style of oath--the so-called referential or sentimental swearing. Dicæopolis invokes Ecbatana when Shamartabas struts upon the stage. Socrates in the 'Clouds' swears by the everlasting vapors. King Hoopoe's favorite oath is "Odds nets and birdlime." And the vein of humor that lies in over-ingenious, elaborate, and sustained metaphor was first worked in these comedies. All these excellences are summed up in the incomparable wealth and flexibility of his vocabulary. He has a Shakespearean mastery of the technicalities of every art and mystery, an appalling command of billingsgate and of the language of the cuisine, and would tire Falstaff and Prince Hal with base comparisons. And not content with the existing resources of the Greek vocabulary, he coins grotesque or beautiful compounds,--exquisite epithets like "Botruodöré" (bestower of the vine), "heliomanes" (drunk-with-sunlight), "myriad-flagoned phrases," untranslatable "port-manteaus" like "plouthugieia" (health-and-wealthfulness), and Gargantuan agglomerations of syllables like the portentous olla podrida at the end of the 'Ecclesiazusæ.'

The great comic writer, as the example of Molière proves, need not be a poet. But the mere overflow of careless poetic power which is manifested by Aristophanes would have sufficed to set up any ordinary tragedian or lyrist. In plastic mastery of language only two Greek writers can vie with him, Plato and Homer. In the easy grace and native harmony of his verse he outsings all the tragedians, even that Aeschylus whom he praised as the man who had written the most exquisite songs of any poet of the time. In his blank verse he easily strikes every note, from that of the urbane, unaffected, colloquial Attic, to parody of high or subtle tragic diction hardly distinguishable from its model. He can adapt his metres to the expression of every shade of feeling. He has short, snapping, fiery trochees, like sparks from their own holm oak, to represent the choler of the Acharnians; eager, joyous glyconics to bundle up a sycophant and hustle him off the stage, or for the young knights of Athens celebrating Phormio's sea fights, and chanting, horse-taming Poseidon, Pallas, guardian of the State, and Victory, companion of the dance; the quickstep march of the trochaic tetrameter to tell how the Attic wasps, true children of the soil, charged the Persians at Marathon; and above all--the chosen vehicle of his wildest conceits, his most audacious fancies, and his strongest appeals to the better judgment of the citizens--the anapæstic tetrameter, that "resonant and triumphant" metre of which even Mr. Swinburne's anapæsts can reproduce only a faint and far-off echo.

But he has more than the opulent diction and the singing voice of the poet. He has the key to fairy-land, a feeling for nature which we thought romantic and modern, and in his lyrics the native wood-notes wild of his own 'Mousa lochmaia' (the muse of the coppice). The chorus of the Mystæ in the 'Frogs,' the rustic idyl of the 'Peace,' the songs of the girls in the 'Lysistrata,' the call of the nightingale, the hymns of the 'Clouds,' the speech of the "Just Reason," and the grand chorus of birds, reveal Aristophanes as not only the first comic writer of Greece, but as one of the very greatest of her poets.

Among the many editions of Aristophanes, those most useful to the student and the general reader are doubtless the text edited by Bergk (2 vols., 1867), and the translations of the five most famous plays by John Hookham Frere, to be found in his complete works.


From 'The Acharnians': Frere's Translation


Be not surprised, most excellent spectators,

If I that am a beggar have presumed

To claim an audience upon public matters,

Even in a comedy; for comedy

Is conversant in all the rules of justice,

And can distinguish betwixt right and wrong.

The words I speak are bold, but just and true.

Cleon at least cannot accuse me now,

That I defame the city before strangers,

For this is the Lenæan festival,

And here we meet, all by ourselves alone;

No deputies are arrived as yet with tribute,

No strangers or allies: but here we sit

A chosen sample, clean as sifted corn,

With our own denizens as a kind of chaff.

First, I detest the Spartans most extremely;

And wish that Neptune, the Tænarian deity,

Would bury them in their houses with his earthquakes.

For I've had losses--losses, let me tell ye,

Like other people; vines cut down and injured.

But among friends (for only friends are here),

Why should we blame the Spartans for all this?

For people of ours, some people of our own,--

Some people from among us here, I mean:

But not the People (pray, remember that);

I never said the People, but a pack

Of paltry people, mere pretended citizens,

Base counterfeits,--went laying informations,

And making a confiscation of the jerkins

Imported here from Megara; pigs, moreover,

Pumpkins, and pecks of salt, and ropes of onions,

Were voted to be merchandise from Megara,

Denounced, and seized, and sold upon the spot.

Well, these might pass, as petty local matters.

But now, behold, some doughty drunken youths

Kidnap, and carry away from Megara,

The courtesan, Simætha. Those of Megara,

In hot retaliation, seize a brace

Of equal strumpets, hurried forth perforce

From Dame Aspasia's house of recreation.

So this was the beginning of the war,

All over Greece, owing to these three strumpets.

For Pericles, like an Olympian Jove,

With all his thunder and his thunderbolts,

Began to storm and lighten dreadfully,

Alarming all the neighborhood of Greece;

And made decrees, drawn up like drinking songs,

In which it was enacted and concluded

That the Megarians should remain excluded

From every place where commerce was transacted,

With all their ware--like "old Care" in the ballad:

And this decree, by land and sea, was valid.

Then the Megarians, being all half starved,

Desired the Spartans to desire of us

Just to repeal those laws: the laws I mentioned,

Occasioned by the stealing of those strumpets.

And so they begged and prayed us several times;

And we refused: and so they went to war.


From 'The Acharnians': Frere's Translation.

Our poet has never as yet

Esteemed it proper or fit

To detain you with a long

Encomiastic song

On his own superior wit;

But being abused and accused,

And attacked of late

As a foe of the State,

He makes an appeal in his proper defense,

To your voluble humor and temper and sense,

With the following plea:

Namely, that he

Never attempted or ever meant

To scandalize

In any wise

Your mighty imperial government.

Moreover he says,

That in various ways

He presumes to have merited honor and praise;

Exhorting you still to stick to your rights,

And no more to be fooled with rhetorical flights;

Such as of late each envoy tries

On the behalf of your allies,

That come to plead their cause before ye,

With fulsome phrase, and a foolish story

Of "violet crowns" and "Athenian glory,"

With "sumptuous Athens" at every word:

"Sumptuous Athens" is always heard;

"Sumptuous" ever, a suitable phrase

For a dish of meat or a beast at graze.

He therefore affirms

In confident terms,

That his active courage and earnest zeal

Have usefully served your common weal:

He has openly shown

The style and tone

Of your democracy ruling abroad,

He has placed its practices on record;

The tyrannical arts, the knavish tricks,

That poison all your politics.

Therefore shall we see, this year,

The allies with tribute arriving here,

Eager and anxious all to behold

Their steady protector, the bard so bold;

The bard, they say, that has dared to speak,

To attack the strong, to defend the weak.

His fame in foreign climes is heard,

And a singular instance lately occurred.

It occurred in the case of the Persian king,

Sifting and cross-examining

The Spartan envoys. He demanded

Which of the rival States commanded

The Grecian seas? He asked them next

(Wishing to see them more perplexed)

Which of the two contending powers

Was chiefly abused by this bard of ours?

For he said, "Such a bold, so profound an adviser

By dint of abuse would render them wiser,

More active and able; and briefly that they

Must finally prosper and carry the day."

Now mark the Lacedæmonian guile!

Demanding an insignificant isle!

"Ægina," they say, "for a pledge of peace,

As a means to make all jealousy cease."

Meanwhile their privy design and plan

Is solely to gain this marvelous man--

Knowing his influence on your fate--

By obtaining a hold on his estate

Situate in the isle aforesaid.

Therefore there needs to be no more said.

You know their intention, and know that you know it:

You'll keep to your island, and stick to the poet.

And he for his part

Will practice his art

With a patriot heart,

With the honest views

That he now pursues,

And fair buffoonery and abuse:

Not rashly bespattering, or basely beflattering,

Not pimping, or puffing, or acting the ruffian;

Not sneaking or fawning;

But openly scorning

All menace and warning,

All bribes and suborning:

He will do his endeavor on your behalf;

He will teach you to think, he will teach you to laugh.

So Cleon again and again may try;

I value him not, nor fear him, I!

His rage and rhetoric I defy.

His impudence, his politics,

His dirty designs, his rascally tricks,

No stain of abuse on me shall fix.

Justice and right, in his despite,

Shall aid and attend me, and do me right:

With these to friend, I ne'er will bend,

Nor descend

To a humble tone

(Like his own),

As a sneaking loon,

A knavish, slavish, poor poltroon.


From 'The Knights': Frere's Translation.

If a veteran author had wished to engage

Our assistance to-day, for a speech from the stage,

We scarce should have granted so bold a request:

But this author of ours, as the bravest and best,

Deserves an indulgence denied to the rest,

For the courage and vigor, the scorn and the hate,

With which he encounters the pests of the State;

A thoroughbred seaman, intrepid and warm,

Steering outright, in the face of the storm.

But now for the gentle reproaches he bore

On the part of his friends, for refraining before

To embrace the profession, embarking for life

In theatrical storms and poetical strife.

He begs us to state that for reasons of weight

He has lingered so long and determined so late.

For he deemed the achievements of comedy hard,

The boldest attempt of a desperate bard!

The Muse he perceived was capricious and coy;

Though many were courting her, few could enjoy.

And he saw without reason, from season to season,

Your humor would shift, and turn poets adrift,

Requiting old friends with unkindness and treason,

Discarded in scorn as exhausted and worn.

Seeing Magnes's fate, who was reckoned of late

For the conduct of comedy captain and head;

That so oft on the stage, in the flower of his age,

Had defeated the Chorus his rivals had led;

With his sounds of all sort, that were uttered in sport,

With whims and vagaries unheard of before,

With feathers and wings, and a thousand gay things,

That in frolicsome fancies his Choruses wore--

When his humor was spent, did your temper relent,

To requite the delight that he gave you before?

We beheld him displaced, and expelled and disgraced,

When his hair and his wit were grown aged and hoar.

Then he saw, for a sample, the dismal example

Of noble Cratinus so splendid and ample,

Full of spirit and blood, and enlarged like a flood;

Whose copious current tore down with its torrent,

Oaks, ashes, and yew, with the ground where they grew,

And his rivals to boot, wrenched up by the root;

And his personal foes, who presumed to oppose,

All drowned and abolished, dispersed and demolished,

And drifted headlong, with a deluge of song.

And his airs and his tunes, and his songs and lampoons,

Were recited and sung by the old and the young:

At our feasts and carousals, what poet but he?

And "The fair Amphibribe" and "The Sycophant Tree,"

"Masters and masons and builders of verse!"

Those were the tunes that all tongues could rehearse;

But since in decay you have cast him away,

Stript of his stops and his musical strings,

Battered and shattered, a broken old instrument,

Shoved out of sight among rubbishy things.

His garlands are faded, and what he deems worst,

His tongue and his palate are parching with thirst.

And now you may meet him alone in the street,

Wearied and worn, tattered and torn,

All decayed and forlorn, in his person and dress,

Whom his former success should exempt from distress,

With subsistence at large at the general charge,

And a seat with the great at the table of State,

There to feast every day and preside at the play

In splendid apparel, triumphant and gay.

Seeing Crates, the next, always teased and perplexed,

With your tyrannous temper tormented and vexed;

That with taste and good sense, without waste or expense,

From his snug little hoard, provided your board

With a delicate treat, economic and neat.

Thus hitting or missing, with crowns or with hissing,

Year after year he pursued his career,

For better or worse, till he finished his course.

These precedents held him in long hesitation;

He replied to his friends, with a just observation,

"That a seaman in regular order is bred

To the oar, to the helm, and to look out ahead;

With diligent practice has fixed in his mind

The signs of the weather, and changes of wind.

And when every point of the service is known,

Undertakes the command of a ship of his own."

For reasons like these,

If your judgment agrees

That he did not embark

Like an ignorant spark,

Or a troublesome lout,

To puzzle and bother, and blunder about,

Give him a shout,

At his first setting out!

And all pull away

With a hearty huzza

For success to the play!

Send him away,

Smiling and gay,

Shining and florid,

With his bald forehead!


From 'The Clouds': Andrew Lang's Translation


Hither, come hither, ye Clouds renowned, and unveil yourselves here;

Come, though ye dwell on the sacred crests of Olympian snow,

Or whether ye dance with the Nereid Choir in the gardens clear,

Or whether your golden urns are dipped in Nile's overflow,

Or whether you dwell by Mæotis mere

Or the snows of Mimas, arise! appear!

And hearken to us, and accept our gifts ere ye rise and go.


Immortal Clouds from the echoing shore

Of the father of streams from the sounding sea,

Dewy and fleet, let us rise and soar;

Dewy and gleaming and fleet are we!

Let us look on the tree-clad mountain-crest,

On the sacred earth where the fruits rejoice,

On the waters that murmur east and west,

On the tumbling sea with his moaning voice.

For unwearied glitters the Eye of the Air,

And the bright rays gleam;

Then cast we our shadows of mist, and fare

In our deathless shapes to glance everywhere

From the height of the heaven, on the land and air,

And the Ocean Stream.

Let us on, ye Maidens that bring the Rain,

Let us gaze on Pallas's citadel,

In the country of Cecrops fair and dear,

The mystic land of the holy cell,

Where the Rites unspoken securely dwell,

And the gifts of the gods that know not stain,

And a people of mortals that know not fear.

For the temples tall and the statues fair,

And the feasts of the gods are holiest there;

The feasts of Immortals, the chaplets of flowers,

And the Bromian mirth at the coming of spring,

And the musical voices that fill the hours,

And the dancing feet of the maids that sing!


From 'The Birds': Swinburne's Translation

Come on then, ye dwellers by nature in darkness, and like to the leaves' generations,

That are little of might, that are molded of mire, unenduring and shadowlike nations,

Poor plumeless ephemerals, comfortless mortals, as visions of shadows fast fleeing,

Lift up your mind unto us that are deathless, and dateless the date of our being;

Us, children of heaven, us, ageless for aye, us, all of whose thoughts are eternal:

That ye may from henceforth, having heard of us all things aright as to matters supernal,

Of the being of birds, and beginning of gods, and of streams, and the dark beyond reaching,

Trustfully knowing aright, in my name bid Prodicus pack with his preaching!

It was Chaos and Night at the first, and the blackness of darkness, and Hell's broad border,

Earth was not, nor air, neither heaven; when in depths of the womb of the dark without order

First thing, first-born of the black-plumed Night, was a wind-egg hatched in her bosom,

Whence timely with seasons revolving again sweet Love burst out as a blossom,

Gold wings glittering forth of his back, like whirlwinds gustily turning.

He, after his wedlock with Chaos, whose wings are of darkness, in Hell broad-burning,

For his nestlings begat him the race of us first, and upraised us to light new-lighted.

And before this was not the race of the gods, until all things by Love were united:

And of kind united in kind with communion of nature the sky and the sea are

Brought forth, and the earth, and the race of the gods everlasting and blest. So that we are

Far away the most ancient of all things blest. And that we are of Love's generation

There are manifest manifold signs. We have wings, and with us have the Loves habitation;

And manifold fair young folk that forswore love once, ere the bloom of them ended,

Have the men that pursued and desired them subdued by the help of us only befriended,

With such baits as a quail, a flamingo, a goose, or a cock's comb staring and splendid.

All best good things that befall men come from us birds, as is plain to all reason:

For first we proclaim and make known to them spring, and the winter and autumn in season;

Bid sow, when the crane starts clanging for Afric in shrill-voiced emigrant number,

And calls to the pilot to hang up his rudder again for the season and slumber;

And then weave a cloak for Orestes the thief, lest he strip men of theirs if it freezes.

And again thereafter the kite reappearing announces a change in the breezes.

And that here is the season for shearing your sheep of their spring wool. Then does the swallow

Give you notice to sell your great-coat, and provide something light for the heat that's to follow.

Thus are we as Ammon or Delphi unto you. Dodona, nay, Phoebus Apollo.

For, as first ye come all to get auguries of birds, even such is in all things your carriage,

Be the matter a matter of trade, or of earning your bread, or of any one's marriage.

And all things ye lay to the charge of a bird that belong to discerning prediction:

Winged fame is a bird, as you reckon; you sneeze, and the sign's as a bird for conviction;

All tokens are "birds" with you--sounds, too, and lackeys and donkeys. Then must it not follow

That we are to you all as the manifest godhead that speaks in prophetic Apollo?


From 'The Peace': Frere's Translation

How sweet it is to see the new-sown cornfield fresh and even,
With blades just springing from the soil that only ask a shower from heaven.
Then, while kindly rains are falling, indolently to rejoice,
Till some worthy neighbor calling, cheers you with his hearty voice.
Well, with weather such as this, let us hear, Trygæus tell us
What should you and I be doing? You're the king of us good fellows.
Since it pleases heaven to prosper your endeavors, friend, and mine,
Let us have a merry meeting, with some friendly talk and wine.
In the vineyard there's your lout, hoeing in the slop and mud--
Send the wench and call him out, this weather he can do no good.
Dame, take down two pints of meal, and do some fritters in your way;
Boil some grain and stir it in, and let us have those figs, I say.
Send a servant to my house,--any one that you can spare,--
Let him fetch a beestings pudding, two gherkins, and the pies of hare:
There should be four of them in all, if the cat has left them right;
We heard her racketing and tearing round the larder all last night,
Boy, bring three of them to us,--take the other to my father:
Cut some myrtle for our garlands, sprigs in flower or blossoms rather.
Give a shout upon the way to Charinades our neighbor,
To join our drinking bout to-day, since heaven is pleased to bless our labor.


From 'The Peace': Translation in the Quarterly Review

Oh, 'tis sweet, when fields are ringing

With the merry cricket's singing,

Oft to mark with curious eye

If the vine-tree's time be nigh:

Here is now the fruit whose birth

Cost a throe to Mother Earth.

Sweet it is, too, to be telling,

How the luscious figs are swelling;

Then to riot without measure

In the rich, nectareous treasure,

While our grateful voices chime,--

Happy season! blessed time.


From 'The Birds ': Frere's Translation

Awake! awake!

Sleep no more, my gentle mate!

With your tiny tawny bill,

Wake the tuneful echo shrill,

On vale or hill;

Or in her airy rocky seat,

Let her listen and repeat

The tender ditty that you tell,

The sad lament,

The dire event,

To luckless Itys that befell.

Thence the strain

Shall rise again,

And soar amain,

Up to the lofty palace gate

Where mighty Apollo sits in state

In Jove's abode, with his ivory lyre,

Hymning aloud to the heavenly choir,

While all the gods shall join with thee

In a celestial symphony.


From 'The Birds ': Frere's Translation

Enter Messenger, quite out of breath, and speaking in short snatches

--Where is he? Where? Where is he? Where? Where

is he?--The president Peisthetairus?

Peisthetairus [coolly
]--Here am I.

Mess. [in a gasp of breath
]--Your fortification's finished.

.--Well! that's well.

.--A most amazing, astonishing work it is!

So that Theagenes and Proxenides

Might flourish and gasconade and prance away

Quite at their ease, both of them four-in-hand,

Driving abreast upon the breadth of wall,

Each in his own new chariot.

.--You surprise me.

.--And the height (for I made the measurement myself)

Is exactly a hundred fathoms.

.--Heaven and earth!

How could it be? such a mass! who could have built it?

.--The Birds; no creature else, no foreigners,

Egyptian bricklayers, workmen or masons.

But they themselves, alone, by their own efforts,--

(Even to my surprise, as an eye-witness)

The Birds, I say, completed everything:

There came a body of thirty thousand cranes,

(I won't be positive, there might be more)

With stones from Africa in their craws and gizzards,

Which the stone-curlews and stone-chatterers

Worked into shape and finished. The sand-martens

And mud-larks, too, were busy in their department,

Mixing the mortar, while the water-birds,

As fast as it was wanted, brought the water

To temper and work it.

Peis. [in a fidget
]--But who served the masons

Who did you get to carry it?

.--To carry it?

Of course, the carrion crows and carrying pigeons.

Peis. [in a fuss, which he endeavors to conceal

Yes! yes! but after all, to load your hods,

How did you manage that?

.--Oh, capitally,

I promise you. There were the geese, all barefoot

Trampling the mortar, and when all was ready

They handed it into the hods, so cleverly,

With their flat feet!

Peis. [a bad joke, as a vent for irritation

               They footed it, you mean--

Come; it was handily done though, I confess.

.--Indeed, I assure you, it was a sight to see them;

And trains of ducks there were, clambering the ladders

With their duck legs, like bricklayers' 'prentices,

All dapper and handy, with their little trowels.

.--In fact, then, it's no use engaging foreigners;

Mere folly and waste, we've all within ourselves.

Ah, well now, come! But about the woodwork? Heh!

Who were the carpenters? Answer me that!

.--The woodpeckers, of course: and there they were,

Laboring upon the gates, driving and banging,

With their hard hatchet-beaks, and such a din,

Such a clatter, as they made, hammering and hacking,

In a perpetual peal, pelting away

Like shipwrights, hard at work in the arsenal.

And now their work is finished, gates and all,

Staples and bolts, and bars and everything;

The sentries at their posts; patrols appointed;

The watchman in the barbican; the beacons

Ready prepared for lighting; all their signals

Arranged--but I'll step out, just for a moment,

To wash my hands. You'll settle all the rest.


From the 'Thesmophoriazusæ': Collins's Translation

They're always abusing the women,

As a terrible plague to men:

They say we're the root of all evil,

And repeat it again and again;

Of war, and quarrels, and bloodshed,

All mischief, be what it may!

And pray, then, why do you marry us,

If we're all the plagues you say?

And why do you take such care of us,

And keep us so safe at home,

And are never easy a moment

If ever we chance to roam?

When you ought to be thanking heaven

That your Plague is out of the way,

You all keep fussing and fretting--

"Where is my Plague to-day?"

If a Plague peeps out of the window,

Up go the eyes of men;

If she hides, then they all keep staring

Until she looks out again.


From 'The Frogs': Frere's Translation

CHORUS [shouting and singing']

Iacchus! Iacchus! Ho!

Iacchus! Iacchus! Ho!

Xanthias--There, master, there they are, the initiated
                 All sporting about as he told us we should find 'em.
                 They're singing in praise of Bacchus like Diagoras.
Bacchus--Indeed, and so they are; but we'll keep quiet
Till we make them out a little more distinctly.

CHORUS [song]

Mighty Bacchus! Holy Power!
Hither at the wonted hour
      Come away,
      Come away,
With the wanton holiday,
Where the revel uproar leads
To the mystic holy meads,
Where the frolic votaries fly,
With a tipsy shout and cry;
Flourishing the Thyrsus high,
Flinging forth, alert and airy,
To the sacred old vagary,
The tumultuous dance and song,
Sacred from the vulgar throng;
Mystic orgies that are known
To the votaries alone--
To the mystic chorus solely--
Secret unrevealed--and holy.
Xan.--O glorious virgin, daughter of the Goddess!
             What a scent of roasted griskin reached my senses!
Bac.--Keep quiet--and watch for a chance of a piece of the haslets.

CHORUS [song]

Raise the fiery torches high!
Bacchus is approaching nigh,
Like the planet of the morn
Breaking with the hoary dawn
  On the dark solemnity--
There they flash upon the sight;
All the plain is blazing bright,
Flushed and overflown with light:
Age has cast his years away,
And the cares of many a day,
Sporting to the lively lay--
Mighty Bacchus! march and lead
(Torch in hand toward the mead)
Thy devoted humble Chorus;
Mighty Bacchus--move before us!
Keep silence--keep peace--and let all the profane
From our holy solemnity duly refrain;
Whose souls, unenlightened by taste, are obscure;
Whose poetical notions are dark and impure;
         Whose theatrical conscience
         Is sullied by nonsense;
Who never were trained by the mighty Cratinus
In mystical orgies, poetic and vinous;
Who delight in buffooning and jests out of season;
Who promote the designs of oppression and treason;
Who foster sedition and strife and debate;
All traitors, in short, to the Stage and the State:
Who surrender a fort, or in private export
To places and harbors of hostile resort
Clandestine consignments of cables and pitch,--
In the way that Thorycion grew to be rich
From a scoundrelly dirty collector of tribute:
All such we reject and severely prohibit;
All statesmen retrenching the fees and the salaries
Of theatrical bards, in revenge for the railleries
And jests and lampoons of this holy solemnity,
Profanely pursuing their personal enmity,
For having been flouted and scoffed and scorned--
All such are admonished and heartily warned;
         We warn them once,
         We warn them twice,
We warn and admonish--we warn them thrice,
         To conform to the law,
         To retire and withdraw;
 While the Chorus again with the formal saw,
    (Fixt and assign'd to the festive day)
    Move to the measure and march away.


March! march! lead forth,
  Lead forth manfully,
     March in order all;
Bustling, hustling, justling,
     As it may befall;
Flocking, shouting, laughing,
Mocking, flouting, quaffing,
        One and all;
  All have had a belly-full
Of breakfast brave and plentiful;
  With your voices and your bodies
    Serve the goddess,
         And raise
      Songs of praise;
  She shall save the country still,
And save it against the traitor's will;
      So she says.


Now let us raise in a different strain
The praise of the goddess, the giver of grain;
              Imploring her favor
              With other behavior,
In measures more sober, submissive, and graver.


              Ceres, holy patroness,
           Condescend to mark and bless,
              With benevolent regard,
           Both the Chorus and the Bard;
           Grant them for the present day
           Many things to sing and say,
           Follies intermixed with sense;
           Folly, but without offense.
           Grant them with the present play
           To bear the prize of verse away.


Now call again, and with a different measure,
    The power of mirth and pleasure;
The florid, active Bacchus, bright and gay,
To journey forth and join us on the way.


O Bacchus, attend! the customary patron of every lively lay;
              Go forth without delay
              Thy wonted annual way,
          To meet the ceremonious holy matron:
              Her grave procession gracing,
              Thine airy footsteps tracing
          With unlaborious, light, celestial motion;
          And here at thy devotion
          Behold thy faithful choir
             In pitiful attire:
          All overworn and ragged,
          This jerkin old and jagged,
          These buskins torn and burst,
             Though sufferers in the fray,
          May serve us at the worst
             To sport throughout the day;
          And then within the shades
          I spy some lovely maids
        With whom we romped and reveled,
          Dismantled and disheveled,
          With their bosoms open,--
        With whom we might be coping.
   Xan.--Well, I was always hearty,
             Disposed to mirth and ease:
          I'm ready to join the party.
   Bac.--And I will if you please.


From 'The Frogs'

Halcyons ye by the flowing sea

Waves that warble twitteringly,

Circling over the tumbling blue,

Dipping your down in its briny dew,

Spi-i-iders in corners dim

Spi-spi-spinning your fairy film,

Shuttles echoing round the room

Silver notes of the whistling loom,

Where the light-footed dolphin skips

Down the wake of the dark-prowed ships,

Over the course of the racing steed

Where the clustering tendrils breed

Grapes to drown dull care in delight,

Oh! mother make me a child again just for to-night!

I don't exactly see how that last line is to scan,

But that's a consideration I leave to our musical man.


From 'The Frogs'

[The point of the following selection lies in the monotony of both narrative style and metre in Euripides's prologues, and especially his regular cæsura after the fifth syllable of a line. The burlesque tag used by Aristophanes to demonstrate this effect could not be applied in the same way to any of the fourteen extant plays of Sophocles and Æschylus.]

--And by Jove, I'll not stop to cut up your verses

word by word, but if the gods are propitious I'll spoil

all your prologues with a little flask of smelling-salts.

--With a flask of smelling-salts?

.--With a single one. For you build your verses so that

anything will fit into the metre,--a leathern sack,

or eider-down, or smelling-salts. I'll show you.

.--So, you'll show me, will you?

.--I will that.


. [

Ægyptus, as broad-bruited fame reports,

With fifty children voyaging the main

To Argos came, and

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--What the mischief have the smelling-salts got to do with

it? Recite another prologue to him and let me see.


Dionysus, thyrsus-armed and faun-skin-clad,

Amid the torchlights on Parnassus's slope

Dancing and prancing

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--Caught out again by the smelling-salts.

.--No matter. Here's a prologue that he can't fit 'em to.

No lot of mortal man is wholly blest:

The high-born youth hath lacked the means of life,

The lowly lout hath

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.


.-- Well, what?

.-- Best take in sail.

These smelling-salts, methinks, will blow a gale.

.--What do I care? I'll fix him next time.

.--Well, recite another, and steer clear of the smelling-salts.


Cadmus departing from the town of Tyre,

Son of Agenor

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--My dear fellow, buy those smelling-salts, or there won't

be a rag left of all your prologues.

.--What? I buy 'em of him?

.--If you'll be advised by me.

.--Not a bit of it. I've lots of prologues where he can't

work 'em in.

Pelops the Tantalid to Pisa coming

With speedy coursers

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--There they are again, you see. Do let him have 'em,

my good Æschylus. You can replace 'em for a


.--Never. I've not run out yet.

                     Oeneus from broad fields

.--- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--Let me say the whole verse, won't you?

Oeneus from broad fields reaped a mighty crop

And offering first-fruits

.-- --lost his smelling-salts.

.--While sacrificing? Who filched them?

.--Oh, never mind him. Let him try it on this verse:--

Zeus, as the word of sooth declared of old--

.--It's no use, he'll say Zeus lost his smelling-salts. For

those smelling-salts fit your prologues like a kid

glove. But go on and turn your attention to his



(B.C. 384-322)


he "Stagirite," called by Eusebius "Nature's private secretary," and by Dante "the master of those that know,"--the greatest thinker of the ancient world, and the most influential of all time,--was born of Greek parents at Stagira, in the mountains of Macedonia, in B.C. 384. Of his mother, Phæstis, almost nothing is known. His father, Nicomachus, belonged to a medical family, and acted as private physician to Amyntas, grandfather of Alexander the Great; whence it is probable that Aristotle's boyhood was passed at or near the Macedonian court. Losing both his parents while a mere boy, he was taken charge of by a relative, Proxenus Atarneus, and sent, at the age of seventeen, to Athens to study. Here he entered the school of Plato, where he remained twenty years, as pupil and as teacher. During this time he made the acquaintance of the leading contemporary thinkers, read omnivorously, amassed an amount of knowledge that seems almost fabulous, schooled himself in systematic thought, and (being well off) collected a library, perhaps the first considerable private library in the world. Having toward the end felt obliged to assume an independent attitude in thought, he was not at the death of Plato (347) appointed his successor in the Academy, as might have been expected. Not wishing at that time to set up a rival school, he retired to the court of a former fellow-pupil, Hermias, then king of Assos and Atarneus, whom he greatly respected, and whose adopted daughter, Pythias, he later married. Here he remained, pursuing his studies, for three years; and left only when his patron was treacherously murdered by the Persians.

Having retired to Mitylene, he soon afterward received an invitation from Philip of Macedonia to undertake the education of his son Alexander, then thirteen years old. Aristotle willingly obeyed this summons; and retiring with his royal pupil to Mieza, a town southwest of Pella, imparted his instruction in the Nymphæum, which he had arranged in imitation of Plato's garden school. Alexander remained with him three years, and was then called by his father to assume important State duties. Whether Aristotle's instruction continued after that is uncertain; but the two men remained fast friends, and there can be no doubt that much of the nobility, self-control, largeness of purpose, and enthusiasm for culture, which characterized Alexander's subsequent career, were due to the teaching of the philosopher. What Aristotle was in the world of thought, Alexander became in the world of action.

Aristotle remained in Macedonia ten years, giving instruction to young Macedonians and continuing his own studies. He then returned to Athens, and opened a school in the peripatos, or promenade, of the Lyceum, the gymnasium of the foreign residents, a school which from its location was called the Peripatetic. Here he developed a manifold activity. He pursued all kinds of studies, logical, rhetorical, physical, metaphysical, ethical, political, and aesthetic, gave public (exoteric) and private (esoteric) instruction, and composed the bulk of the treatises which have made his name famous. These treatises were composed slowly, in connection with his lectures, and subjected to frequent revision. He likewise endeavored to lead an ideal social life with his friends and pupils, whom he gathered under a common roof to share meals and elevated converse in common.

Thus affairs went on for twelve fruitful years, and might have gone on longer, but for the sudden death of Alexander, his friend and patron. Then the hatred of the Athenians to the conqueror showed itself in hostility to his old master, and sought for means to put him out of the way. How hard it was to find a pretext for so doing is shown by the fact that they had to fix upon the poem which he had written on the death of his friend Hermias many years before, and base upon it--as having the form of the paean, sacred to Apollo--a charge of impiety. Aristotle, recognizing the utter flimsiness of the charge, and being unwilling, as he said, to allow the Athenians to sin a second time against philosophy, retired beyond their reach to his villa at Chalcis in Euboea, where he died of stomach disease the year after (322). In the later years of his life, the friendship between him and his illustrious pupil had, owing to certain outward circumstances, become somewhat cooled; but there never was any serious breach. His body was carried to Stagira, which he had induced Philip to restore after it had been destroyed, and whose inhabitants therefore looked upon him as the founder of the city. As such he received the religious honors accorded to heroes: an altar was erected to him, at which an annual festival was celebrated in the month named after him.

We may sum up the character of Aristotle by saying that he was one of the sanest and most rounded men that ever lived. As a philosopher, he stands in the front rank. "No time," says Hegel, "has a man to place by his side." Nor was his moral character inferior to his intellect. No one can read his 'Ethics,' or his will (the text of which is extant), without feeling the nobleness, simplicity, purity, and modernness of his nature. In his family relations, especially, he seems to have stood far above his contemporaries. The depth of his aesthetic perception is attested by his poems and his 'Poetics.'

The unsatisfactory and fragmentary condition in which Aristotle's works have come down to us makes it difficult to judge of his style. Many of them seem mere collections of notes and jottings for lectures, without any attempt at style. The rest are distinguished by brevity, terseness, and scientific precision. No other man ever enriched philosophic language with so many original expressions. We know, from the testimony of most competent judges, such as Cicero, that his popular writings, dialogues, etc., were written in an elegant style, casting even that of Plato into the shade; and this is borne fully out by some extant fragments.

Greek philosophy culminates in Aristotle. Setting out with a naïve acceptance of the world as being what it seemed, and trying to reduce this Being to some material principle, such as water, air, etc., it was gradually driven, by force of logic, to distinguish Being from Seeming, and to see that while the latter was dependent on the thinking subject, the former could not be anything material. This result was reached by both the materialistic and spiritualistic schools, and was only carried one step further by the Sophists, who maintained that even the being of things depended on the thinker. This necessarily led to skepticism, individualism, and disruption of the old social and religious order.

Then arose Socrates, greatest of the Sophists, who, seeing that the outer world had been shown to depend on the inner, adopted as his motto, "Know Thyself," and devoted himself to the study of mind. By his dialectic method he showed that skepticism and individualism, so far as anarchic, can be overcome by carrying out thought to its implications; when it proves to be the same for all, and to bring with it an authority binding on all, and replacing that of the old external gods. Thus Socrates discovered the principle of human liberty, a principle necessarily hostile to the ancient State, which absorbed the man in the citizen. Socrates was accordingly put to death as an atheist; and then Plato, with good intentions but prejudiced insight, set to work to restore the old tyranny of the State. This he did by placing truth, or reality (which Socrates had found in complete thought, internal to the mind), outside of both thought and nature, and making it consist of a group of eternal schemes, or forms, of which natural things are merely transient phantoms, and which can be reached by only a few aristocratic souls, born to rule the rest. On the basis of this distortion he constructed his Republic, in which complete despotism is exercised by the philosophers through the military; man is reduced to a machine, his affections and will being disregarded; community of women and of property is the law; and science is scouted.

Aristotle's philosophy may be said to be a protest against this view, and an attempt to show that reality is embodied in nature, which depends on a supreme intelligence, and may be realized in other intelligences, or thought-centres, such as the human mind. In other words, according to Aristotle, truth is actual in the world and potential in all minds, which may by experience put on its forms. Thus the individualism of the Sophists and the despotism of Plato are overcome, while an important place is made for experience, or science.

Aristotle, accepting the world of common-sense, tried to rationalize it; that is, to realize it in himself. First among the Greeks he believed it to be unique, uncreated, and eternal, and gave his reasons. Recognizing that the phenomenal world exists in change, he investigated the principle and method of this. Change he conceives as a transition from potentiality to actuality, and as always due to something actualized, communicating its form to something potential. Looking at the "world" as a whole, and picturing it as limited, globular, and constructed like an onion, with the earth in the centre, and round about it nine concentric spheres carrying the planets and stars, he concludes that there must be at one end something purely actual and therefore unchanging,--that is, pure form or energy; and at the other, something purely potential and therefore changing,--that is, pure matter or latency. The pure actuality is at the circumference, pure matter at the centre. Matter, however, never exists without some form. Thus, nature is an eternal circular process between the actual and the potential. The supreme Intelligence, God, being pure energy, changelessly thinks himself, and through the love inspired by his perfection moves the outmost sphere; which would move all the rest were it not for inferior intelligences, fifty-six in number, who, by giving them different directions, diversify the divine action and produce the variety of the world. The celestial world is composed of eternal matter, or aether, whose only change is circular motion; the sublunary world is composed of changing matter, in four different but mutually transmutable forms--fire, air, water, earth--movable in two opposite directions, in straight lines, under the ever-varying influence of the celestial spheres.

Thus the world is an organism, making no progress as a whole, but continually changing in its various parts. In it all real things are individuals, not universals, as Plato thought. And forms pass from individual to individual only. Peleus, not humanity, is the parent of Achilles; the learned man only can teach the ignorant. In the world-process there are several distinct stages, to each of which Aristotle devotes a special work, or series of works. Beginning with the "four elements" and their changes, he works up through the mineral, vegetable, and animal worlds, to man, and thence through the spheral intelligences to the supreme, divine intelligence, on which the Whole depends. Man stands on the dividing line between the temporal and the eternal; belonging with his animal part to the former, with his intelligence (which "enters from without") to the latter. He is an intelligence, of the same nature as the sphere-movers, but individuated by mutable matter in the form of a body, matter being in all cases the principle of individuation. As intelligence, he becomes free; takes the guidance of his life into his own hand; and, first through ethics, politics, and aesthetics, the forms of his sensible or practical activity, and second through logic, science, and philosophy, the forms of his intellectual activity, he rises to divine heights and "plays the immortal." His supreme activity is contemplation. This, the eternal energy of God, is possible for man only at rare intervals.

Aristotle, by placing his eternal forms in sensible things as their meaning, made science possible and necessary. Not only is he the father of scientific method, inductive and deductive, but his actual contributions to science place him in the front rank of scientists. His Zoölogy, Psychology, Logic, Metaphysics, Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics, are still highly esteemed and extensively studied. At the same time, by failing to overcome the dualism and supernaturalism of Plato, by adopting the popular notions about spheres and sphere-movers, by separating intelligence from sense, by conceiving matter as independent and the principle of individuation, and by making science relate only to the universal, he paved the way for astrology, alchemy, magic, and all the forms of superstition, retarding the advance of several sciences, as for example astronomy and chemistry, for many hundred years.

After Aristotle's death, his school was continued by a succession of studious and learned men, but did not for many centuries deeply affect contemporary life. At last, in the fifth century A.D., his thought found its way into the Christian schools, giving birth to rationalism and historical criticism. At various times its adherents were condemned as heretics and banished, mostly to Syria. Here, at Edessa and Nisibis, they established schools of learning which for several centuries were the most famous in the world. The entire works of Aristotle were turned into Syriac; among them several spurious ones of Neo-Platonic origin, notably the famous 'Liber de Causis' and the 'Theology of Aristotle.' Thus a Neo-Platonic Aristotle came to rule Eastern learning. On the rise of Islâm, this Aristotle was borrowed by the Muslims, and became ruler of their schools at Bagdad, Basra, and other places,--schools which produced many remarkable men. On the decay of these, he passed in the twelfth century into the schools of Spain, and here ruled supreme until Arab philosophy was suppressed, shortly before 1200. From the Arabs he passed into the Christian Church about this date; and though at first resisted, was finally accepted, and became "the philosopher" of the schools, and the inspirer of Dante. The Reformers, though decrying him, were forced to have recourse to him; but his credit was not re-established until the present century, when, thanks to Hegel, Trendelenburg, Brandis, and the Berlin Academy, his true value was recognized and his permanent influence insured.

The extant works of Aristotle, covering the whole field of science, may be classified as follows:--

A. Logical or Formal, dealing with the form rather than the matter of science:--'Categories,' treating of Being and its determination, which, being regarded ontologically, bring the work into the metaphysical sphere; 'On Interpretation,' dealing with the proposition; 'Former Analytics,' theory of the syllogism; 'Later Analytics,' theory of proof; 'Topics,' probable proofs; 'Sophistical proofs,' fallacies. These works were later united by the Stoics under the title 'Organon,' or Instrument (of science).

B. Scientific or Philosophical, dealing with the matter of science. These may be subdivided into three classes: (a) Theoretical, (b) Practical, (c) Creative.

(a) The Theoretical has further subdivisions: (a) Metaphysical, (b) Physical, (c) Mathematical.--(a) The Metaphysical works include the incomplete collection under the name 'Metaphysics,'--(b) The Physical works include 'Physics,' 'On the Heavens,' 'On Generation and Decay,' 'On the Soul,' with eight supplementary tracts on actions of the soul as combined with the body; viz., 'On Sense and Sensibles,' 'On Memory and Reminiscence,' 'On Sleep and Waking,' 'On Dreams,' 'On Divination from Dreams,' 'On Length and Shortness of Life,' 'On Life and Death,' 'On Respiration,' 'Meteorologics,' 'Histories of Animals' (Zoögraphy). 'On the Parts of Animals,' 'On the Generation of Animals,' 'On the Motion of Animals,' 'Problems' (largely spurious). 'On the Cosmos,' 'Physiognomies,' 'On Wonderful Auditions,' 'On Colors.'--The Mathematical works include 'On Indivisible Lines,' 'Mechanics.'

(b) The Practical works are 'Nicomachean Ethics,' 'Endemean Ethics,' 'Great Ethics' ('Magna Moralia'), really different forms of the same work; 'Politics,' 'Constitutions' (originally one hundred and fifty-eight in number; now represented only by the recently discovered 'Constitution of Athens'), 'On Virtues and Vices,' 'Rhetoric to Alexander,' 'Oeconomics.'

(c) Of Creative works we have only the fragmentary 'Poetics.' To these may be added a few poems, one of which is given here.

Besides the extant works of Aristotle, we have titles, fragments, and some knowledge of the contents of a large number more. Among these are the whole of the "exoteric" works, including nineteen Dialogues. A list of his works, as arranged in the Alexandrian Library (apparently), is given by Diogenes Laërtius in his 'Life of Aristotle' (printed in the Berlin and Paris editions of 'Aristotle'); a list in which it is not easy to identify the whole of the extant works. The 'Fragments' appear in both the editions just named. Some of the works named above are almost certainly spurious; e.g., the 'Rhetoric to Alexander,' the 'Oeconomics,' etc.

The chief editions of Aristotle's works, exclusive of the 'Constitution of Athens,' are that of the Berlin Academy (Im. Bekker), containing text, scholia, Latin translation, and Index in Greek (5 vols., square 4to); and the Paris or Didot (Dübner, Bussemaker, Heitz), containing text, Latin translation, and very complete Index in Latin (5 vols., 4to). Of the chief works the best editions are:--'Organon,' Waitz; 'Metaphysics,' Schwegler, Bonitz; 'Physics,' Prantl; 'Meteorologies,' Ideler; 'On the Generation of Animals,' Aubert and Wimmer; 'Psychology,' Trendelenburg, Torstrik, Wallace (with English translation); 'Nicomachean Ethics,' Grant, Ramsauer, Susemihl; 'Politics,' Stahr, Susemihl; 'Constitution of Athens,' Kenyon, Sandys; 'Poetics,' Susemihl, Vahlen, Butcher (with English translation). There are few good English translations of Aristotle's works; but among these may be mentioned Peter's 'Nicomachean Ethics,' Jowett's and Welldon's 'Politics,' and Poste's 'Constitution of Athens.' There is a fair French translation of the principal works by Barthélemy St.-Hilaire. The Berlin Academy is now (1896) publishing the ancient Greek commentaries on Aristotle in thirty-five quarto volumes. The best work on Aristotle is that by E. Zeller, in Vol. iii. of his 'Philosophie der Griechen.' The English works by Lewes and Grote are inferior. For Bibliography, the student may consult Ueberweg, 'Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophic,' Vol. i., pages 196 seq.


From 'On the Soul,' Book iii., Chapter 6

Concerning that part of the soul, however, by which the soul knows (and is prudentially wise) whether it is separable or not separable, according to magnitude, but according to reason, it must be considered what difference it possesses, and how intellectual perception is produced. If, therefore, to perceive intellectually is the same thing as to perceive sensibly, it will either be to suffer something from the intelligible, or something else of this kind. It is necessary, however, that it should be impassive, but capable of receiving form; and in capacity a thing of this kind, but not this; and also, that as the sensitive power is to sensibles, so should intellect be to intelligibles. It is necessary, therefore, since it understands all things, that it should be unmingled, as Anaxagoras says, that it may predominate: but this is that it may know; for that which is foreign at the same time presenting itself to the view, impedes and obstructs.

Hence, neither is there any other nature of it than this, that it is possible. That, therefore, which is called the intellect of soul (I mean the intellect by which the soul energizes dianoetically and hypoleptically), is nothing in energy of beings before it intellectually perceives them. Hence, neither is it reasonable that it should be mingled with body; for thus it would become a thing with certain quality, would be hot or cold, and would have a certain organ in the same manner as the sensitive power. Now, however, there is no organ of it. In a proper manner, therefore, do they speak, who say that the soul is the place of forms; except that this is not true of the whole soul, but of that which is intellective; nor is it forms in entelecheia, but in capacity. But that the impassivity of the sensitive and intellective power is not similar, is evident in the sensoria and in sense. For sense cannot perceive from a vehement sensible object (as for instance, sounds from very loud sounds; nor from strong odors and colors can it either see or smell): but intellect, when it understands anything very intelligible, does not less understand inferior concerns, but even understands them in a greater degree; for the sensitive power is not without body, but intellect is separate from body.

When however it becomes particulars, in such a manner as he is said to possess scientific knowledge who scientifically knows in energy (and this happens when it is able to energize through itself), then also it is similarly in a certain respect in capacity, yet not after the same manner as before it learnt or discovered; and it is then itself able to understand itself. By the sensitive power, therefore, it distinguishes the hot and the cold, and those things of which flesh is a certain reason; but by another power, either separate, or as an inflected line subsists with reference to itself when it is extended, it distinguishes the essence of flesh. Further still, in those things which consist in ablation, the straight is as the flat nose; for it subsists with the continued.

Some one, however, may question, if intellect is simple and impassive and has nothing in common with anything, as Anaxagoras says, how it can perceive intellectually, if to perceive intellectually is to suffer something; for so far as something is common to both, the one appears to act, but the other to suffer. Again, it may also be doubted whether intellect is itself intelligible. For either intellect will also be present with other things, if it is not intelligible according to another thing, but the intelligible is one certain thing in species; or it will have something mingled, which will make it to be intelligible in the same manner as other things. Or shall we say that to suffer subsists according to something common? On which account, it was before observed that intellect is in capacity, in a certain respect, intelligibles, but is no one of them in entelecheia, before it understands or perceives intellectually. But it is necessary to conceive of it as of a table in which nothing is written in entelecheia; which happens to be the case in intellect. But in those things which have matter, each of the intelligibles is in capacity only. Hence, intellect will not be present with them; for the intellect of such things is capacity without matter. But with intellect the intelligible will be present.

Since, however, in every nature there is something which is matter to each genus (and this because it is all those in capacity), and something which is the cause and affective, because it produces all things (in such a manner as art is affected with respect to matter), it is necessary that these differences should also be inherent in the soul. And the one is an intellect of this kind because it becomes all things; but the other because it produces all things as a certain habit, such for instance as light. For in a certain respect, light also causes colors which are in capacity to be colors in energy. And this intellect is separate, unmingled, and impassive, since it is in its essence energy; for the efficient is always more honorable than the patient, and the principle than matter. Science, also, in energy is the same as the thing [which is scientifically known]. But science which is in capacity is prior in time in the one [to science in energy]; though, in short, neither [is capacity prior to energy] in time. It does not, however, perceive intellectually at one time and at another time not, but separate intellect is alone this very thing which it is; and this alone is immortal and eternal. We do not, however, remember because this is impassive; but the passive intellect is corruptible, and without this the separate intellect understands nothing.


From the 'Poetics,' Chapter 9

But it is evident from what has been said that it is not the province of a poet to relate things which have happened, but such as might have happened, and such things as are possible according to probability, or which would necessarily have happened. For a historian and a poet do not differ from each other because the one writes in verse and the other in prose; for the history of Herodotus might be written in verse, and yet it would be no less a history with metre than without metre. But they differ in this, that the one speaks of things which have happened, and the other of such as might have happened. Hence, poetry is more philosophic, and more deserving of attention, than history. For poetry speaks more of universals, but history of particulars. But universal consists, indeed, in relating or performing certain things which happen to a man of a certain description, either probably or necessarily [to which the aim of poetry is directed in giving names]; but particular consists in narrating what [for example] Alcibiades did, or what he suffered. In comedy, therefore, this is now become evident. For comic poets having composed a fable through things of a probable nature, they thus give whatever names they please to their characters, and do not, like iambic poets, write poems about particular persons. But in tragedy they cling to real names. The cause, however, of this is, that the possible is credible. Things therefore which have not yet been done, we do not yet believe to be possible: but it is evident that things which have been done are possible, for they would not have been done if they were impossible.

Not indeed but that in some tragedies there are one or two known names, and the rest are feigned; but in others there is no known name, as for instance in 'The Flower of Agatho.' For in this tragedy the things and the names are alike feigned, and yet it delights no less. Hence, one must not seek to adhere entirely to traditional fables, which are the subjects of tragedy. For it is ridiculous to make this the object of search, because even known subjects are known but to a few, though at the same time they delight all men. From these things, therefore, it is evident that a poet ought rather to be the author of fables than of metres, inasmuch as he is a poet from imitation, and he imitates actions. Hence, though it should happen that he relates things which have happened, he is no less a poet. For nothing hinders but that some actions which have happened are such as might both probably and possibly have happened, and by [the narration of] such he is a poet.

But of simple plots and actions, the episodic are the worst. But I call the plot episodic, in which it is neither probable nor necessary that the episodes follow each other. Such plots, however, are composed by bad poets, indeed, through their own want of ability; but by good poets, on account of the players. For, introducing [dramatic] contests, and extending the plot beyond its capabilities, they are frequently compelled to distort the connection of the parts. But tragedy is not only an imitation of a perfect action, but also of actions which are terrible and piteous, and actions principally become such (and in a greater degree when they happen contrary to opinion) on account of each other. For thus they will possess more of the marvelous than if they happened from chance and fortune; since also of things which are from fortune, those appear to be most admirable which seem to happen as it were by design. Thus the statue of Mityus at Argos killed him who was the cause of the death of Mityus by falling as he was surveying it. For such events as these seem not to take place casually. Hence it is necessary that fables of this kind should be more beautiful.


Quoted in Cicero's 'Nature of the Gods'

If there were men whose habitations had been always under ground, in great and commodious houses, adorned with statues and pictures, furnished with everything which they who are reputed happy abound with: and if, without stirring from thence, they should be informed of a certain divine power and majesty, and after some time the earth should open and they should quit their dark abode to come to us, where they should immediately behold the earth, the seas, the heavens; should consider the vast extent of the clouds and force of the winds; should see the sun and observe his grandeur and beauty, and perceive that day is occasioned by the diffusion of his light through the sky; and when night has obscured the earth they should contemplate the heavens, bespangled and adorned with stars, the surprising variety of the moon in her increase and wane, the rising and setting of all the stars and the inviolable regularity of their courses,--when, says he, "they should see these things, they would undoubtedly conclude that there are gods, and that these are their mighty works."


From 'The Metaphysics,' Book xi., Chapter I

The subject of theory (or speculative science) is essence. In it are investigated the principles and causes of essences. The truth is, if the All be regarded as a whole, essence is its first (or highest) part. Also, if we consider the natural order of the categories, essence stands at the head of the list; then comes quality; then quantity. It is true that the other categories, such as qualities and movements, are not in any absolute sense at all, and the same is true of [negatives, such as] not-white or not-straight. Nevertheless, we use such expressions as "Not-white is."

Moreover, no one of the other categories is separable [or independent]. This is attested by the procedure of the older philosophers; for it was the principles, elements, and causes of essence that were the objects of their investigations. The thinkers of the present day, to be sure, are rather inclined to consider universals as essence. For genera are universals, and these they hold to be principles and essences, mainly because their mode of investigation is a logical one. The older philosophers, on the other hand, considered particular things to be essences; e.g., fire and earth, not body in general.

There are three essences. Two of these are sensible, one being eternal and the other transient. The latter is obvious to all, in the form of plants and animals; with regard to the former, there is room for discussion, as to whether its elements are one or many. The third, differing from the other two, is immutable and is maintained by certain persons to be separable. Some make two divisions of it, whereas others class together, as of one nature, ideas and mathematical entities; and others again admit only the latter. The first two essences belong to physical science, for they are subject to change; the last belongs to another science, if there is no principle common to all.


From 'The Politics,' Book 8

No one, therefore, can doubt that the legislator ought principally to attend to the education of youth. For in cities where this is neglected, the politics are injured. For every State ought to be governed according to its nature; since the appropriate manners of each polity usually preserve the polity, and establish it from the beginning. Thus, appropriate democratic manners preserve and establish a democracy, and oligarchic an oligarchy. Always, however, the best manners are the cause of the best polity. Further still, in all professions and arts, there are some things which ought previously to be learnt, and to which it is requisite to be previously accustomed, in order to the performance of their several works,; so that it is evident that it is also necessary in the practice of virtue.

Since, however, there is one purpose to every city, it is evident that the education must necessarily be one and the same in all cities; and that the attention paid to this should be common. At the same time, also, no one ought to think that any person takes care of the education of his children separately, and privately teaches them that particular discipline which appears to him to be proper. But it is necessary that the studies of the public should be common. At the same time, also, no one ought to think that any citizen belongs to him in particular, but that all the citizens belong to the city; for each individual is a part of the city. The care and attention, however, which are paid to each of the parts, naturally look to the care and attention of the whole. And for this, some one may praise the Lacedaemonians; for they pay very great attention to their children, and this in common. It is evident, therefore, that laws should be established concerning education, and that it should be made common.


Virtue, to men thou bringest care and toil;

Yet art thou life's best, fairest spoil!

O virgin goddess, for thy beauty's sake

To die is delicate in this our Greece,

Or to endure of pain the stern strong ache.

Such fruit for our soul's ease

Of joys undying, dearer far than gold

Or home or soft-eyed sleep, dost thou unfold!

It was for thee the seed of Zeus,

Stout Herakles, and Leda's twins, did choose

Strength-draining deeds, to spread abroad thy name:

Smit with the love of thee

Aias and Achilleus went smilingly

Down to Death's portal, crowned with deathless fame.

Now, since thou art so fair,

Leaving the lightsome air.

Atarneus' hero hath died gloriously.

Wherefore immortal praise shall be his guerdon:

His goodness and his deeds are made the burden

Of songs divine

Sung by Memory's daughters nine,

Hymning of hospitable Zeus the might

And friendship firm as fate in fate's despite.

Translation of J. A. Symonds.



ón Arnason was born in 1819, at Hof. Akàgaströnd, in Iceland, where his father, Arm Illugason, was clergyman. After completing the course at the Bessastad Latin School, at that time the most famous school in Iceland, he took his first position as librarian of the so-called Stiptbókasafn Islands (since 1881 called the National Library), which office he held till 1887, when he asked to be relieved from his official duties. During this period he had been also the first librarian of the Reykjavik branch of the Icelandic Literary Society; a teacher and the custodian of the library at the Latin School, which in the mean time had been moved from Bessastad to Reykjavik; secretary of the bishop, Helgi Thordersen, and custodian of the growing collection of Icelandic antiquities which has formed the nucleus of a national museum. He had found time, besides, during these years, for considerable literary work; and apart from several valuable bibliographies had, alone and in collaboration, made important contributions to his native literature. He died at Reykjavik in 1888.

His principal literary work, and that by which alone he is known outside of Iceland, is the collection of folk-tales that appeared in Iceland in 1862-64, in two volumes, with the title 'Islenzkar Thoosögur og Æfintyri' (Icelandic Popular Legends and Tales). A small preliminary collection, called 'Islenzk Æfintyri' (Icelandic Tales), made in collaboration with Magnus Grimsson, had been published in 1852. Subsequently, Jón Arnason went to work single-handed to make an exhaustive collection of the folk-tales of the country, which by traveling and correspondence he drew from every nook and corner of Iceland. No effort was spared to make the collection complete, and many years were spent in this undertaking. The results were in every way valuable. No more important collection of folk-tales exists in the literature of any nation, and the work has become both a classic at home and a most suggestive link in the comparative study of folk-lore elsewhere. Arnason thus performed for his native land what the Grimms did for Germany, and what Asbjörnsen and Moe did for Norway. He has frequently been called the "Grimm of Iceland." The stories of the collection have since found their way all over the world, many of them having been translated into English, German, French, and Danish.

In his transcription of the tales, Arnason has followed, even more conscientiously, the plan of the Grimms in adhering to the local or individual form in which the story had come to him in writing or by oral transmission. We get in this way a perfect picture of the national spirit, and a better knowledge of life and environment in Iceland than from any other source. In these stories there is much to say of elves and trolls, of ghosts and "fetches," of outlaws and the devil. Magic plays an important part, and there is the usual lore of beasts and plants. Many of them are but variants of folk-tales that belong to the race. Others, however, are as plainly local evolutions, which in their whole conception are as weird and mysterious as the environment that has produced them.

All the stories are from 'Icelandic Legends': Translation of Powell and Magnusson.


Long ago a farmer lived at Vogar, who was a mighty fisherman; and of all the farms about, not one was so well situated with regard to the fisheries as his.

One day, according to custom, he had gone out fishing; and having cast down his line from the boat and waited awhile, found it very hard to pull up again, as if there were something very heavy at the end of it. Imagine his astonishment when he found that what he had caught was a great fish, with a man's head and body! When he saw that this creature was alive, he addressed it and said, "Who and whence are you?"

"A merman from the bottom of the sea," was the reply.

The farmer then asked him what he had been doing when the hook caught his flesh.

The other replied, "I was turning the cowl of my mother's chimney-pot, to suit it to the wind. So let me go again, will you?"

"Not for the present," said the fisherman. "You shall serve me awhile first." So without more words he dragged him into the boat and rowed to shore with him.

When they got to the boat-house, the fisherman's dog came to him and greeted him joyfully, barking and fawning on him, and wagging his tail. But his master's temper being none of the best, he struck the poor animal; whereupon the merman laughed for the first time.

Having fastened the boat, he went toward his house, dragging his prize with him over the fields, and stumbling over a hillock which lay in his way, cursed it heartily; whereupon the merman laughed for the second time.

When the fisherman arrived at the farm, his wife came out to receive him, and embraced him affectionately, and he received her salutations with pleasure; whereupon the merman laughed for the third time.

Then said the farmer to the merman, "You have laughed three times, and I am curious to know why you have laughed. Tell me, therefore."

"Never will I tell you," replied the merman, "unless you promise to take me to the same place in the sea wherefrom you caught me, and there to let me go free again." So the farmer made him the promise.

"Well," said the merman, "I laughed the first time because you struck your dog, whose joy at meeting you was real and sincere. The second time, because you cursed the mound over which you stumbled, which is full of golden ducats. And the third time, because you received with pleasure your wife's empty and flattering embrace, who is faithless to you, and a hypocrite. And now be an honest man, and take me out to the sea whence you brought me."

The farmer replied, "Two things that you have told me I have no means of proving; namely, the faithfulness of my dog and the faithlessness of my wife. But the third I will try the truth of; and if the hillock contain gold, then I will believe the rest."

Accordingly he went to the hillock, and having dug it up, found therein a great treasure of golden ducats, as the merman had told him. After this the farmer took the merman down to the boat, and to that place in the sea whence he had brought him. Before he put him in, the latter said to him:

"Farmer, you have been an honest man, and I will reward you for restoring me to my mother, if only you have skill enough to take possession of property that I shall throw in your way. Be happy and prosper."

Then the farmer put the merman into the sea, and he sank out of sight.

It happened that not long after seven sea-gray cows were seen on the beach, close to the farmer's land. These cows appeared to be very unruly, and ran away directly the farmer approached them. So he took a stick and ran after them, possessed with the fancy that if he could burst the bladder which he saw on the nose of each of them, they would belong to him. He contrived to hit the bladder on the nose of one cow, which then became so tame that he could easily catch it, while the others leaped into the sea and disappeared.

The farmer was convinced that this was the gift of the merman. And a very useful gift it was, for better cow was never seen nor milked in all the land, and she was the mother of the race of gray cows so much esteemed now.

And the farmer prospered exceedingly, but never caught any more mermen. As for his wife, nothing further is told about her, so we can repeat nothing.


It is told that long ago a peasant living at Götur in Myrdalur went out fishing round the island of Dyrhólar. In returning from the sea, he had to cross a morass. It happened once that on his way home after nightfall, he came to a place where a man had lost his horse in the bog, and was unable to recover it without help. The fisherman, to whom this man was a stranger, aided him in freeing his horse from the peat.

When the animal stood again safe and sound upon the dry earth, the stranger said to the fisherman, "I am your neighbor, for I live in Hvammsgil, and am returning from the sea, like you. But I am so poor that I cannot pay you for this service as you ought to be paid. I will promise you, however, this much: that you shall never go to sea without catching fish, nor ever, if you will take my advice, return with empty hands. But you must never put to sea without having first seen me pass your house, as if going toward the shore. Obey me in this matter, and I promise you that you shall never launch your boat in vain."

The fisherman thanked him for this advice; and sure enough it was that for three years afterward, never putting to sea till he had first seen his neighbor pass his door, he always launched his boat safely, and always came home full-handed.

But at the end of the three years it fell out that one day in the early morning, the fisherman, looking out from his house, saw the wind and weather favorable, and all other fishers hurrying down to the sea to make the best of so good a time. But though he waited hour after hour in the hope of seeing his neighbor pass, the man of Hvammsgil never came. At last, losing his patience, he started out without having seen him go by. When he came down to the shore, he found that all the boats were launched and far away.

Before night the wind rose and became a storm, and every boat that had that day put to sea was wrecked, and every fisher drowned; the peasant of Götur alone escaping, for he had been unable to go out fishing. The next night he had a strange dream, in which his neighbor from Hvammsgil came to him and said, "Although you did not yesterday follow my advice, I yet so far felt kindly toward you that I hindered you from going out to sea, and saved you thus from drowning; but look no more forth to see me pass, for we have met for the last time." And never again did the peasant see his neighbor pass his door.


A certain day-laborer once started from his home in the south to earn wages for hay-cutting in the north country. In the mountains he was suddenly overtaken by a thick mist and sleet-storm, and lost his way. Fearing to go on further, he pitched his tent in a convenient spot, and taking out his provisions, began to eat.

While he was engaged upon his meal, a brown dog came into the tent, so ill-favored, dirty, wet, and fierce-eyed, that the poor man felt quite afraid of it, and gave it as much bread and meat as it could devour. This the dog swallowed greedily, and ran off again into the mist. At first the man wondered much to see a dog in such a wild place, where he never expected to meet with a living creature; but after a while he thought no more about the matter, and having finished his supper, fell asleep, with his saddle for a pillow.

At midnight he dreamed that he saw a tall and aged woman enter his tent, who spoke thus to him:--"I am beholden to you, good man, for your kindness to my daughter, but am unable to reward you as you deserve. Here is a scythe which I place beneath your pillow; it is the only gift I can make you, but despise it not. It will surely prove useful to you, as it can cut down all that lies before it. Only beware of putting it into the fire to temper it. Sharpen it, however, as you will, but in that way never." So saying, she was seen no more.

When the man awoke and looked forth, he found the mist all gone and the sun high in heaven; so getting all his things together and striking his tent, he laid them upon the pack-horses, saddling last of all his own horse. But on lifting his saddle from the ground, he found beneath it a small scythe blade, which seemed well worn and was rusty. On seeing this, he at once recalled to mind his dream, and taking the scythe with him, set out once more on his way. He soon found again the road which he had lost, and made all speed to reach the well-peopled district to which he was bound.

When he arrived at the north country, he went from house to house, but did not find any employment, for every farmer had laborers enough, and one week of hay-harvest was already past. He heard it said, however, that one old woman in the district, generally thought by her neighbors to be skilled in magic and very rich, always began her hay-cutting a week later than anybody else, and though she seldom employed a laborer, always contrived to finish it by the end of the season. When by any chance--and it was a rare one--she did engage a workman, she was never known to pay him for his work.

Now the peasant from the south was advised to ask this old woman for employment, having been warned of her strange habits.

He accordingly went to her house, and offered himself to her as a day laborer. She accepted his offer, and told him that he might, if he chose, work a week for her, but must expect no payment.

"Except," she said, "you can cut more grass in the whole week than I can rake in on the last day of it."

To these terms he gladly agreed, and began mowing. And a very good scythe he found that to be which the woman had given him in his dream; for it cut well, and never wanted sharpening, though he worked with it for five days unceasingly. He was well content, too, with his place, for the old woman was kind enough to him.

One day, entering the forge next to her house, he saw a vast number of scythe-handles and rakes, and a big heap of blades, and wondered beyond measure what the old lady could want with all these. It was the fifth day--the Friday--and when he was asleep that night, the same elf-woman whom he had seen upon the mountains came again to him and said:--

"Large as are the meadows you have mown, your employer will easily be able to rake in all that hay to-morrow, and if she does so, will, as you know, drive you away without paying you. When therefore you see yourself worsted, go into the forge, take as many scythe-handles as you think proper, fit their blades to them, and carry them out into that part of the land where the hay is yet uncut. There you must lay them on the ground, and you shall see how things go."

This said, she disappeared, and in the morning the laborer, getting up, set to work as usual at his mowing.

At six o'clock the old witch came out, bringing five rakes with her, and said to the man, "A goodly piece of ground you have mowed, indeed!"

And so saying, she spread the rakes upon the hay. Then the man saw, to his astonishment, that though the one she held in her hand raked in great quantities of hay, the other four raked in no less each, all of their own accord, and with no hand to wield them.

At noon, seeing that the old woman would soon get the best of him, he went into the forge and took out several scythe-handles, to which he fixed their blades, and bringing them out into the field, laid them down upon the grass which was yet standing. Then all the scythes set to work of their own accord, and cut down the grass so quickly that the rakes could not keep pace with them. And so they went on all the rest of the day, and the old woman was unable to rake in all the hay which lay in the fields. After dark she told him to gather up his scythes and take them into the house again, while she collected her rakes, saying to him:--

"You are wiser than I took you to be, and you know more than myself; so much the better for you, for you may stay as long with me as you like."

He spent the whole summer in her employment, and they agreed very well together, mowing with mighty little trouble a vast amount of hay. In the autumn she sent him away, well laden with money, to his own home in the south. The next summer, and more than one summer following, he spent in her employ, always being paid as his heart could desire, at the end of the season.

After some years he took a farm of his own in the south country, and was always looked upon by all his neighbors as an honest man, a good fisherman, and an able workman in whatever he might put his hand to. He always cut his own hay, never using any scythe but that which the elf-woman had given him upon the mountains; nor did any of his neighbors ever finish their mowing before him.

One summer it chanced that while he was fishing, one of his neighbors came to his house and asked his wife to lend him her husband's scythe, as he had lost his own. The farmer's wife looked for one, but could only find the one upon which her husband set such store. This, however, a little loth, she lent to the man, begging him at the same time never to temper it in the fire; for that, she said, her good man never did. So the neighbor promised, and taking it with him, bound it to a handle and began to work with it. But, sweep as he would, and strain as he would (and sweep and strain he did right lustily), not a single blade of grass fell. Wroth at this, the man tried to sharpen it, but with no avail. Then he took it into his forge, intending to temper it, for, thought he, what harm could that possibly do? but as soon as the flames touched it, the steel melted like wax, and nothing was left but a little heap of ashes. Seeing this, he went in haste to the farmer's house, where he had borrowed it, and told the woman what had happened; she was at her wits' end with fright and shame when she heard it, for she knew well enough how her husband set store by this scythe, and how angry he would be at its loss.

And angry indeed he was, when he came home, and he beat his wife well for her folly in lending what was not hers to lend. But his wrath was soon over, and he never again, as he never had before, laid the stick about his wife's shoulders.


In a large house, where all the chief rooms were paneled, there lived once upon a time a farmer, whose ill-fate it was that every servant of his that was left alone to guard the house on Christmas Eve, while the rest of the family went to church, was found dead when the family returned home. As soon as the report of this was spread abroad, the farmer had the greatest difficulty in procuring servants who would consent to watch alone in the house on that night; until at last, one day a man, a strong fellow, offered him his services, to sit up alone and guard the house. The farmer told him what fate awaited him for his rashness; but the man despised such a fear, and persisted in his determination.

On Christmas Eve, when the farmer and all his family, except the new man-servant, were preparing for church, the farmer said to him, "Come with us to church; I cannot leave you here to die."

But the other replied, "I intend to stay here, for it would be unwise in you to leave your house unprotected; and besides, the cattle and sheep must have their food at the proper time."

"Never mind the beasts," answered the farmer. "Do not be so rash as to remain in the house this night; for whenever we have returned from church on this night, we have always found every living thing in the house dead, with all its bones broken."

But the man was not to be persuaded, as he considered all these fears beneath his notice; so the farmer and the rest of the servants went away and left him behind, alone in the house.

As soon as he was by himself he began to consider how to guard against anything that might occur; for a dread had stolen over him, in spite of his courage, that something strange was about to take place. At last he thought that the best thing to do was, first of all to light up the family room; and then to find some place in which to hide himself. As soon as he had lighted all the candles, he moved two planks out of the wainscot at the end of the room, and creeping into the space between it and the wall, restored the planks to their places, so that he could see plainly into the room and yet avoid being himself discovered.

He had scarcely finished concealing himself, when two fierce and strange-looking men entered the room and began looking about.

One of them said, "I smell a human being."

"No," replied the other, "there is no human being here."

Then they took a candle and continued their search, until they found the man's dog asleep under one of the beds. They took it up, and having dashed it on the ground till every bone in its body was broken, hurled it from them. When the man-servant saw this, he congratulated himself on not having fallen into their hands.

Suddenly the room was filled with people, who were laden with tables and all kinds of table furniture, silver, cloths, and all, which they spread out, and having done so, sat down to a rich supper, which they had also brought with them. They feasted noisily, and spent the remainder of the night in drinking and dancing. Two of them were appointed to keep guard, in order to give the company due warning of the approach either of anybody or of the day. Three times they went out, always returning with the news that they saw neither the approach of any human being, nor yet of the break of day.

But when the man-servant suspected the night to be pretty far spent, he jumped from his place of concealment into the room, and clashing the two planks together with as much noise as he could make, shouted like a madman, "The day! the day! the day!"

On these words the whole company rose scared from their seats, and rushed headlong out, leaving behind them not only their tables, and all the silver dishes, but even the very clothes they had taken off for ease in dancing. In the hurry of flight many were wounded and trodden under foot, while the rest ran into the darkness, the man-servant after them, clapping the planks together and shrieking, "The day! the day! the day!" until they came to a large lake, into which the whole party plunged headlong and disappeared.

From this the man knew them to be water-elves.

Then he returned home, gathered the corpses of the elves who had been killed in the flight, killed the wounded ones, and, making a great heap of them all, burned them. When he had finished this task, he cleaned up the house and took possession of all the treasures the elves had left behind them.

On the farmer's return, his servant told him all that had occurred, and showed him the spoils. The farmer praised him for a brave fellow, and congratulated him on having escaped with his life. The man gave him half the treasures of the elves, and ever afterward prospered exceedingly.

This was the last visit the water-elves ever paid to that house.


It is supposed that among the hills there are certain cross-roads, from the centre of which you can see four churches, one at the end of each road.

If you sit at the crossing of these roads on Christmas Eve (or as others say, on New Year's Eve), elves come from every direction and cluster round you, and ask you, with all sorts of blandishments and fair promises, to go with them; but you must continue silent. Then they bring to you rarities and delicacies of every description, gold, silver, and precious stones, meats and wines, of which they beg you to accept; but you must neither move a limb nor accept a single thing they offer you. If you get so far as this without speaking, elf-women come to you in the likeness of your mother, your sister, or any other relation, and beg you to come with them, using every art and entreaty; but beware you neither move nor speak. And if you can continue to keep silent and motionless all the night, until you see the first streak of dawn, then start up and cry aloud, "Praise be to God! His daylight filleth the heavens!"

As soon as you have said this, the elves will leave you, and with you all the wealth they have used to entice you, which will now be yours.

But should you either answer, or accept of their offers, you will from that moment become mad.

On the night of one Christmas Eve, a man named Fusi was out on the cross-roads, and managed to resist all the entreaties and proffers of the elves, until one of them offered him a large lump of mutton-suet, and begged him to take a bite of it. Fusi, who had up to this time gallantly resisted all such offers as gold and silver and diamonds and such filthy lucre, could hold out no longer, and crying, "Seldom have I refused a bite of mutton-suet," he went mad.



prung from the sturdy peasant stock of the north, to which patriotism is a chief virtue, Ernst Moritz Arndt first saw the light at Schoritz, Island of Rügen (then a dependency of Sweden), December 29th, 1769. His father, once a serf, had achieved a humble independence, and he destined his clever son for the ministry, the one vocation open to him which meant honor and advancement. The young man studied theology at Greifswald and Jena, but later turned his attention exclusively to history and literature. His early life is delightfully described in his 'Stories and Recollections of Childhood.' His youth was molded by the influence of Goethe, Klopstock, Bürger, and Voss. After completing his university studies he traveled extensively in Austria, Hungary, and Northern Italy. His account of these journeys, published in 1802, shows his keen observation of men and affairs.


He began his long service to his country by his 'History of Serfdom in Pomerania and Sweden,' which contributed largely to the general abolition of the ancient abuse. He became professor of history in the University of Greifswald in 1806, and about that time began to publish the first series of the 'Spirit of the Times.' These were stirring appeals to rouse the Germans against the oppressions of Napoleon. In consequence he was obliged to flee to Sweden. After three years he returned under an assumed name, and again took up his work at Greifswald. In 1812, after the occupation of Pomerania by the French, his fierce denunciations again forced him to flee, this time to Russia, the only refuge open to him. There he joined Baron von Stein, who eagerly made use of him in his schemes for the liberation of Germany. At this time his finest poems were written: those kindling war songs that appealed so strongly to German patriotism, when "songs were sermons and sermons were songs." The most famous of these, 'What is the German's Fatherland?' 'The Song of the Field-marshal,' and 'The God Who Made Earth's Iron Hoard,' still live as national lyrics.

Arndt was also constantly occupied in writing pamphlets of the most stirring nature, as their titles show:--'The Rhine, Germany's River, but Never Germany's Boundary'; 'The Soldier's Catechism'; and 'The Militia and the General Levy.' After the disasters of the French in Russia, he returned to Germany, unceasingly devoted to his task of rousing the people. Though by birth a Swede, he had become at heart a Prussian, seeing in Prussia alone the possibility of German unity.

In 1817 he married Schleiermacher's sister, and the following year was appointed professor of history in the newly established University of Bonn. Shortly afterward suspended, on account of his liberal views, he was forced to spend twenty years in retirement. His leisure gave opportunity for literary work, however, and he availed himself of it by producing several historical treatises and his interesting 'Reminiscences of My Public Life.' One of the first acts of Frederick William IV., after his accession, was to restore Arndt to his professorship at Bonn. He took a lively interest in the events of 1848, and belonged to the deputation that offered the imperial crown to the King of Prussia. He continued in the hope and the advocacy of German unity, though he did not live to see it realized. The ninetieth birthday of "Father Arndt," as he was fondly called by his countrymen, was celebrated with general rejoicing throughout Germany. He died shortly afterward, on January 29th, 1860.

Arndt's importance as a poet is due to the stirring scenes of his earlier life and the political needs of Germany. He was no genius. He was not even a deep scholar. His only great work is his war-songs and patriotic ballads. Germany honors his manly character and patriotic zeal in that stormy period of Liberation which led through many apparent defeats to the united Empire of to-day.

The best German biographies are that of Schenkel (1869), W. Baur (1882), and Langenberg (1869); the latter in 1878 edited 'Arndt's Letters to a Friend.' J.R. Seeley's 'Life and Adventures of E.M. Arndt' (1879) is founded on the latter's 'Reminiscences of My Public Life.


What is the German's fatherland?

Is it Prussia, or the Swabian's land?

Is it where the grape glows on the Rhine?

Where sea-gulls skim the Baltic's brine?

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Bavaria, or the Styrian's land?

Is it where the Master's cattle graze?

Is it the Mark where forges blaze?

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Westphalia? Pomerania's strand?

Where the sand drifts along the shore?

Or where the Danube's surges roar?

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Now name for me that mighty land!

Is it Switzerland? or Tyrols, tell;--

The land and people pleased me well!

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Now name for me that mighty land!

Ah! Austria surely it must be,

So rich in fame and victory.

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Tell me the name of that great land!

Is it the land which princely hate

Tore from the Emperor and the State?

Oh no! more grand

Must be the German's fatherland!

What is the German's fatherland?

Now name at last that mighty land!

"Where'er resounds the German tongue,

Where'er its hymns to God are sung!"

That is the land,

Brave German, that thy fatherland!

That is the German's fatherland!

Where binds like oak the clasped hand,

Where truth shines clearly from the eyes,

And in the heart affection lies.

Be this the land,

Brave German, this thy fatherland!

That is the German's fatherland!

Where scorn shall foreign triflers brand,

Where all are foes whose deeds offend,

Where every noble soul's a friend:

Be this the land,

All Germany shall be the land!

All Germany that land shall be:

Watch o'er it, God, and grant that we,

With German hearts, in deed and thought,

May love it truly as we ought.

Be this the land,

All Germany shall be the land!


What's the blast from the trumpets? Hussars, to the fray!
The field-marshal[2] rides in the rolling mellay:
So gay on, his mettlesome war-horse he goes,
So fierce waves his glittering sword at his foes.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

[2] Blücher

Oh, see as he comes how his piercing eyes gleam!
Oh, see how behind him his snowy locks stream!
So fresh blooms his age, like a well-ripened wine,
He may well as the battle-field's autocrat shine.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

It was he, when his country in ruin was laid,
Who sternly to heaven uplifted his blade,
And swore on the brand, with a heart burning high,
To show Frenchmen the trade that the Prussians could ply.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

That oath he has kept. When the battle-cry rang,
Hey! how the gray youth to the saddle upsprang!
He made a sweep-dance for the French in the room,
And swept the land clean with a steel-ended broom.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

At Lützen, in the meadow, he kept up such a strife,
That many thousand Frenchmen there yielded up their life;
That thousands ran headlong for very life's sake,
And thousands are sleeping who never will wake.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

On the water, at Katzbach, his oath was in trim:
He taught in a moment the Frenchmen to swim.
Farewell, Frenchmen; fly to the Baltic to save!
You mob without breeches, catch whales for your grave.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

At Wartburg, on the Elbe, how he cleared him a path!
Neither fortress nor town barred the French from his wrath;
Like hares o'er the field they all scuttled away,
While behind them the hero rang out his Huzza!
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

At Leipzig--O glorious fight on the plain!--
French luck and French might strove against him in vain;
There beaten and stiff lay the foe in their blood,
And there dear old Blücher a field-marshal stood.
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful: they're shouting hurrah!

Then sound, blaring trumpets! Hussars, charge once more!
Ride, field-marshal, ride like the wind in the roar!
To the Rhine, over Rhine, in your triumph advance!
Brave sword of our country, right on into France!
And here are the Germans: juchheirassassa!
The Germans are joyful; they're shouting hurrah!


God, who gave iron, purposed ne'er

That man should be a slave:

Therefore the sabre, sword, and spear

In his right hand He gave.

Therefore He gave him fiery mood,

Fierce speech, and free-born breath,

That he might fearlessly the feud

Maintain through life and death.

Therefore will we what God did say,

With honest truth, maintain,

And ne'er a fellow-creature slay,

A tyrant's pay to gain!

But he shall fall by stroke of brand

Who fights for sin and shame,

And not inherit German land

With men of German name.

O Germany, bright fatherland!

O German love, so true!

Thou sacred land, thou beauteous land,

We swear to thee anew!

Outlawed, each knave and coward shall

The crow and raven feed;

But we will to the battle all--

Revenge shall be our meed.

Flash forth, flash forth, whatever can,

To bright and flaming life!

Now all ye Germans, man for man,

Forth to the holy strife!

Your hands lift upward to the sky--

Your heart shall upward soar--

And man for man, let each one cry,

Our slavery is o'er!

Let sound, let sound, whatever can,

Trumpet and fife and drum,

This day our sabres, man for man,

To stain with blood we come;

With hangman's and with Frenchmen's blood,

O glorious day of ire,

That to all Germans soundeth good--

Day of our great desire!

Let wave, let wave, whatever can,

Standard and banner wave!

Here will we purpose, man for man,

To grace a hero's grave.

Advance, ye brave ranks, hardily--

Your banners wave on high;

We'll gain us freedom's victory,

Or freedom's death we'll die!



he favorite and now venerable English poet, Edwin Arnold, showed his skill in smooth and lucid verse early in life. In 1852, when twenty years of age, he won the Newdigate Prize at Oxford for a poem, 'The Feast of Belshazzar.' Two years later, after graduation with honors, he was named second master of Edward the Sixth's School at Birmingham; and, a few years subsequent, principal of the Government Sanskrit College at Poona, in India. In 1856 he published 'Griselda, a Tragedy'; and after his return to London in 1861, translations from the Greek of Herodotus and the Sanskrit of the Indian classic 'Hitopadeça,' the latter under the name of 'The Book of Good Counsels.' There followed from his pen 'Education in India'; 'A History of the Administration in India under the Late Marquis of Dalhousie' (1862-64); and 'The Poets of Greece,' a collection of fine passages (1869). In addition to his other labors he has been one of the editors-in-chief of the London Daily Telegraph.

Saturated with the Orient, familiar with every aspect of its civilization, moral and religious life, history and feeling, Sir Edwin's literary work has attested his knowledge in a large number of smaller poetical productions, and a group of religious epics of long and impressive extent. Chiefest among them ranks that on the life and teachings of Buddha, 'The Light of Asia; or, The Great Renunciation' (1879). It has passed through more than eighty editions in this country, and almost as many in England. In recognition of this work Mr. Arnold was decorated by the King of Siam with the Order of the White Elephant. Two years after its appearance he published 'Mahâbhârata,' 'Indian Idylls,' and in 1883, 'Pearls of the Faith; or, Islam's Rosary Being the Ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allah, with Comments in Verse from Various Oriental Sources.' In 1886 the Sultan conferred on him the Imperial Order of Osmanli, and in 1888 he was created Knight Commander of the Indian Empire by Queen Victoria. 'Sa'di in the Garden; or, The Book of Love' (1888), a poem turning on a part of the 'Bôstâni' of the Persian poet Sa'di, brought Sir Edwin the Order of the Lion and Sun from the Shah of Persia. In 1888 he published also 'Poems National and Non-Oriental.' Since then he has written 'The Light of the World'; 'Potiphar's Wife, and Other Poems' (1892); 'The Iliad and Odyssey of Asia,' and in prose, 'India Revisited' (1891); 'Seas and Lands'; 'Japonica,' which treats of life and things Japanese; and 'Adzuma, the Japanese Wife: a Play in Four Acts' (1893). During his travels in Japan the Emperor decorated him with the Order of the Rising Sun. In 1893 Sir Edwin was chosen President of the Birmingham and Midland Institute. His latest volume, 'The Tenth Muse and Other Poems,' appeared in 1895.

'The Light of Asia,' the most successful of his works, attracted instant attention on its appearance, as a novelty of rich Indian local color. In substance it is a graceful and dramatic paraphrase of the mass of more or less legendary tales of the life and spiritual career of the Buddha, Prince Gautama, and a summary of the principles of the great religious system originating with him. It is lavishly embellished with Indian allusions, and expresses incidentally the very spirit of the East. In numerous cantos, proceeding from episode to episode of its mystical hero's career, its effect is that of a loftily ethical, picturesque, and fascinating biography, in highly polished verse. The metre selected is a graceful and dignified one, especially associated with 'Paradise Lost' and other of the foremost classics of English verse. Sir Edwin says of the poem in his preface, "I have sought, by the medium of an imaginary Buddhist votary, to depict the life and character and indicate the philosophy of that noble hero and reformer, Prince Gautama of India, the founder of Buddhism;" and the poet has admirably, if most flatteringly, succeeded. The poem has been printed in innumerable cheap editions as well as those de luxe; and while it has been criticized as too complaisant a study of even primitive Buddhism, it is beyond doubt a lyrical tract of eminent utility as well as seductive charm.


From 'The Light of Asia'

This reverence
Lord Buddha kept to all his schoolmasters,
Albeit beyond their learning taught; in speech
Right gentle, yet so wise; princely of mien,
Yet softly mannered; modest, deferent,
And tender-hearted, though of fearless blood:
No bolder horseman in the youthful band
E'er rode in gay chase of the shy gazelles;
No keener driver of the chariot
In mimic contest scoured the palace courts:
Yet in mid-play the boy would oft-times pause,
Letting the deer pass free; would oft-times yield
His half-won race because the laboring steeds
Fetched painful breath; or if his princely mates
Saddened to lose, or if some wistful dream
Swept o'er his thoughts. And ever with the years
Waxed this compassionateness of our Lord,
Even as a great tree grows from two soft leaves
To spread its shade afar; but hardly yet
Knew the young child of sorrow, pain, or tears,
Save as strange names for things not felt by kings,
Nor ever to be felt. But it befell
In the royal garden on a day of spring,
A flock of wild swans passed, voyaging north
To their nest-places on Himála's breast.
Calling in love-notes down their snowy line
The bright birds flew, by fond love piloted;
And Devadatta, cousin of the Prince,
Pointed his bow, and loosed a willful shaft
Which found the wide wing of the foremost swan
Broad-spread to glide upon the free blue road,
So that it fell, the bitter arrow fixed,
Bright scarlet blood-gouts staining the pure plumes.
Which seeing, Prince Siddârtha took the bird
Tenderly up, rested it in his lap,--
Sitting with knees crossed, as Lord Buddha sits,--
And, soothing with a touch the wild thing's fright,
Composed its ruffled vans, calmed its quick heart,
Caressed it into peace with light kind palms
As soft as plantain leaves an hour unrolled;
And while the left hand held, the right hand drew
The cruel steel forth from the wound, and laid
Cool leaves and healing honey on the smart.
Yet all so little knew the boy of pain,
That curiously into his wrist he pressed
The arrow's barb, and winced to feel it sting,
And turned with tears to soothe his bird again.
Then some one came who said, "My Prince hath shot
A swan, which fell among the roses here;
He bids me pray you send it. Will you send?"
"Nay," quoth Siddârtha: "If the bird were dead,
To send it to the slayer might be well,
But the swan lives; my cousin hath but killed
The godlike speed which throbbed in this white wing."
And Devadatta answered, "The wild thing,
Living or dead, is his who fetched it down;
'Twas no man's in the clouds, but fallen 'tis mine.
Give me my prize, fair cousin." Then our Lord
Laid the swan's neck beside his own smooth cheek
And gravely spake:--"Say no! the bird is mine,
The first of myriad things which shall be mine
By right of mercy and love's lordliness.
For now I know, by what within me stirs.
That I shall teach compassion unto men
And be a speechless world's interpreter,
Abating this accursed flood of woe.
Not man's alone; but if the Prince disputes,
Let him submit this matter to the wise
And we will wait their word." So was it done;
In full divan the business had debate,
And many thought this thing and many that,
Till there arose an unknown priest who said,
"If life be aught, the savior of a life
Owns more the living thing than he can own
Who sought to slay; the slayer spoils and wastes,
The cherisher sustains: give him the bird."
Which judgment all found just; but when the King
Sought out the sage for honor, he was gone;
And some one saw a hooded snake glide forth.
The gods come oft-times thus! So our Lord Buddha
Began his works of mercy.

  Yet not more
Knew he as yet of grief than that one bird's,
Which, being healed, went joyous to its kind.
But on another day the King said, "Come,
Sweet son! and see the pleasaunce of the spring,
And how the fruitful earth is wooed to yield
Its riches to the reaper; how my realm--
Which shall be thine when the pile flames for me--
Feeds all its mouths and keeps the King's chest filled.
Fair is the season with new leaves, bright blooms,
Green grass, and cries of plow-time." So they rode
Into a land of wells and gardens, where,
All up and down the rich red loam, the steers
Strained their strong shoulders in the creaking yoke,
Dragging the plows; the fat soil rose and rolled
In smooth dark waves back from the plow; who drove
Planted both feet upon the leaping share
To make the furrow deep; among the palms
The tinkle of the rippling water rang,
And where it ran the glad earth 'broidered it
With balsams and the spears of lemon-grass.
Elsewhere were sowers who went forth to sow;
And all the jungle laughed with nesting-songs,
And all the thickets rustled with small life
Of lizard, bee, beetle, and creeping things,
Pleased at the springtime. In the mango-sprays
The sunbirds flashed; alone at his green forge
Toiled the loud coppersmith; bee-eaters hawked,
Chasing the purple butterflies; beneath,
Striped squirrels raced, the mynas perked and picked,
The nine brown sisters chattered in the thorn,
The pied fish-tiger hung above the pool,
The egrets stalked among the buffaloes,
The kites sailed circles in the golden air;
About the painted temple peacocks flew,
The blue doves cooed from every well, far off
The village drums beat for some marriage feast;
All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince
Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw
The thorns which grow upon this rose of life:
How the swart peasant sweated for his wage,
Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged
The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours,
Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too,
How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him,
And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed
The fish-tiger of that which it had seized;
The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did chase
The jeweled butterflies; till everywhere
Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain,
Life living upon death. So the fair show
Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy
Of mutual murder, from the worm to man,
Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which--
The hungry plowman and his laboring kine,
Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke,
The rage to live which makes all living strife--
The Prince Siddârtha sighed. "Is this," he said,
"That happy earth they brought me forth to see?
How salt with sweat the peasant's bread! how hard
The oxen's service! in the brake how fierce
The war of weak and strong! i' th' air what plots!
No refuge e'en in water. Go aside
A space, and let me muse on what ye show."
So saying, the good Lord Buddha seated him
Under a jambu-tree, with ankles crossed,
As holy statues sit, and first began
To meditate this deep disease of life,
What its far source and whence its remedy.
So vast a pity filled him, such wide love
For living things, such passion to heal pain,
That by their stress his princely spirit passed
To ecstasy, and, purged from mortal taint
Of sense and self, the boy attained thereat
Dhyâna, first step of "the Path."


From 'The Light of Asia'

Onward he passed,
Exceeding sorrowful, seeing how men
Fear so to die they are afraid to fear,
Lust so to live they dare not love their life,
But plague it with fierce penances, belike
To please the gods who grudge pleasure to man;
Belike to balk hell by self-kindled hells;
Belike in holy madness, hoping soul
May break the better through their wasted flesh.
"O flowerets of the field!" Siddârtha said,
"Who turn your tender faces to the sun,--
Glad of the light, and grateful with sweet breath
Of fragrance and these robes of reverence donned,
Silver and gold and purple,--none of ye
Miss perfect living, none of ye despoil
Your happy beauty. O ye palms! which rise
Eager to pierce the sky and drink the wind
Blown from Malaya and the cool blue seas;
What secret know ye that ye grow content,
From time of tender shoot to time of fruit,
Murmuring such sun-songs from your feathered crowns?
Ye too, who dwell so merry in the trees,--
Quick-darting parrots, bee-birds, bulbuls, doves,--
None of ye hate your life, none of ye deem
To strain to better by foregoing needs!
But man, who slays ye--being lord--is wise,
And wisdom, nursed on blood, cometh thus forth
In self-tormentings!"

                      While the Master spake
Blew down the mount the dust of pattering feet,
White goats and black sheep winding slow their way
With many a lingering nibble at the tufts,
And wanderings from the path, where water gleamed
Or wild figs hung. But always as they strayed
The herdsman cried, or slung his sling, and kept
The silly crowd still moving to the plain.
A ewe with couplets in the flock there was:
Some hurt had lamed one lamb, which toiled behind
Bleeding, while in the front its fellow skipped,
And the vexed dam hither and thither ran,
Fearful to lose this little one or that;
Which when our Lord did mark, full tenderly
He took the limping lamb upon his neck,
Saying, "Poor wooly mother, be at peace!
Whither thou goest I will bear thy care;
'Twere all as good to ease one beast of grief
As sit and watch the sorrows of the world
In yonder caverns with the priests who pray."
"But," spake he of the herdsmen, "wherefore, friends!
Drive ye the flocks adown under high noon,
Since 'tis at evening that men fold their sheep?"

And answer gave the peasants:--"We are sent
To fetch a sacrifice of goats fivescore,
And fivescore sheep, the which our Lord the King
Slayeth this night in worship of his gods."

Then said the Master, "I will also go!"
So paced he patiently, bearing the lamb
Beside the herdsmen in the dust and sun,
The wistful ewe low bleating at his feet.
Whom, when they came unto the river-side,
A woman--dove-eyed, young, with tearful face
And lifted hands--saluted, bending low:--
"Lord! thou art he," she said, "who yesterday
Had pity on me in the fig grove here,
Where I live lone and reared my child; but he,
Straying amid the blossoms, found a snake,
Which twined about his wrist, while he did laugh
And teased the quick forked tongue and opened mouth
Of that cold playmate. But alas! ere long
He turned so pale and still, I could not think
Why he should cease to play, and let my breast
Fall from his lips. And one said, 'He is sick
Of poison;' and another, 'He will die.'
But I, who could not lose my precious boy,
Prayed of them physic, which might bring the light
Back to his eyes; it was so very small,
That kiss-mark of the serpent, and I think
It could not hate him, gracious as he was,
Nor hurt him in his sport. And some one said,
'There is a holy man upon the hill--
Lo! now he passeth in the yellow robe;
Ask of the Rishi if there be a cure
For that which ails thy son.' Whereon I came
Trembling to thee, whose brow is like a god's,
And wept and drew the face-cloth from my babe,
Praying thee tell what simples might be good.
And thou, great sir! didst spurn me not, but gaze
With gentle eyes and touch with patient hand;
Then draw the face-cloth back, saying to me,
'Yea! little sister, there is that might heal
Thee first, and him, if thou couldst fetch the thing;
For they who seek physicians bring to them
What is ordained. Therefore, I pray thee, find
Black mustard-seed, a tola; only mark
Thou take it not from any hand or house
Where father, mother, child, or slave hath died;
It shall be well if thou canst find such seed.'
Thus didst thou speak, my lord!"

                                The Master smiled
Exceeding tenderly. "Yea! I spake thus,
Dear Kisagôtami! But didst thou find
The seed?"

            "I went, Lord, clasping to my breast
The babe, grown colder, asking at each hut,--
Here in the jungle and toward the town,--
'I pray you, give me mustard, of your grace,
A tola--black' and each who had it gave,
For all the poor are piteous to the poor:
But when I asked, 'In my friend's household here
Hath any peradventure ever died--
Husband or wife, or child, or slave?' they said:--
'O sister! what is this you ask? the dead
Are very many and the living few!'
So, with sad thanks, I gave the mustard back,
And prayed of others, but the others said,
'Here is the seed, but we have lost our slave!'
'Here is the seed, but our good man is dead!'
'Here is some seed, but he that sowed it died!
Between the rain-time and the harvesting!'
Ah, sir! I could not find a single house
Where there was mustard-seed and none had died!
Therefore I left my child--who would not suck
Nor smile--beneath the wild vines by the stream,
To seek thy face and kiss thy feet, and pray
Where I might find this seed and find no death,
If now, indeed, my baby be not dead,
As I do fear, and as they said to me."

"My sister! thou hast found," the Master said,
"Searching for what none finds, that bitter balm
I had to give thee. He thou lovedst slept
Dead on thy bosom yesterday; to-day
Thou know'st the whole wide world weeps with thy woe;
The grief which all hearts share grows less for one.
Lo! I would pour my blood if it could stay
Thy tears, and win the secret of that curse
Which makes sweet love our anguish, and which drives
O'er flowers and pastures to the sacrifice--
As these dumb beasts are driven--men their lords.
I seek that secret: bury thou thy child!"

So entered they the city side by side,
The herdsmen and the Prince, what time the sun
Gilded slow Sona's distant stream, and threw
Long shadows down the street and through the gate
Where the King's men kept watch. But when these saw
Our Lord bearing the lamb, the guards stood back,
The market-people drew their wains aside,
In the bazaar buyers and sellers stayed
The war of tongues to gaze on that mild face;
The smith, with lifted hammer in his hand,
Forgot to strike; the weaver left his web,
The scribe his scroll, the money-changer lost
His count of cowries; from the unwatched rice
Shiva's white bull fed free; the wasted milk
Ran o'er the lota while the milkers watched
The passage of our Lord moving so meek,
With yet so beautiful a majesty.
But most the women gathering in the doors
Asked, "Who is this that brings the sacrifice
So graceful and peace-giving as he goes?
What is his caste? whence hath he eyes so sweet?
Can he be Sâkra or the Devaraj?"
And others said, "It is the holy man
Who dwelleth with the Rishis on the hill."
But the Lord paced, in meditation lost,
Thinking, "Alas! for all my sheep which have
No shepherd; wandering in the night with none
To guide them; bleating blindly toward the knife
Of Death, as these dumb beasts which are their kin."

Then some one told the King, "There cometh here
A holy hermit, bringing down the flock
Which thou didst bid to crown the sacrifice."

The King stood in his hall of offering;
On either hand the white-robed Brahmans ranged
Muttered their mantras, feeding still the fire
Which roared upon the midmost altar. There
From scented woods flickered bright tongues of flame,
Hissing and curling as they licked the gifts
Of ghee and spices and the Soma juice,
The joy of Indra. Round about the pile
A slow, thick, scarlet streamlet smoked and ran,
Sucked by the sand, but ever rolling down,
The blood of bleating victims. One such lay,
A spotted goat, long-horned, its head bound back
With munja grass; at its stretched throat the knife
Pressed by a priest, who murmured, "This, dread gods.
Of many yajnas cometh as the crown
From Bimbasâra: take ye joy to see
The spirted blood, and pleasure in the scent
Of rich flesh roasting 'mid the fragrant flames;
Let the King's sins be laid upon this goat,
And let the fire consume them burning it,
For now I strike."

                    But Buddha softly said,
"Let him not strike, great King!" and therewith loosed
The victim's bonds, none staying him, so great
His presence was. Then, craving leave, he spake
Of life, which all can take, but none can give,
Life, which all creatures love and strive to keep,
Wonderful, dear and pleasant unto each,
Even to the meanest; yea, a boon to all
Where pity is, for pity makes the world
Soft to the weak and noble for the strong.
Unto the dumb lips of his flock he lent
Sad, pleading words, showing how man, who prays
For mercy to the gods, is merciless,
Being as god to those; albeit all life
Is linked and kin, and what we slay have given
Meek tribute of the milk and wool, and set
Fast trust upon the hands which murder them.
Also he spake of what the holy books
Do surely teach, how that at death some sink
To bird and beast, and these rise up to man
In wanderings of the spark which grows purged flame.
So were the sacrifice new sin, if so
The fated passage of a soul be stayed.
Nor, spake he, shall one wash his spirit clean
By blood; nor gladden gods, being good, with blood;
Nor bribe them, being evil; nay, nor lay
Upon the brow of innocent bound beasts
One hair's weight of that answer all must give
For all things done amiss or wrongfully,
Alone, each for himself, reckoning with that
The fixed arithmetic of the universe,
Which meteth good for good and ill for ill,
Measure for measure, unto deeds, words, thoughts;
Watchful, aware, implacable, unmoved;
Making all futures fruits of all the pasts.
Thus spake he, breathing words so piteous
With such high lordliness of ruth and right,
The priests drew back their garments o'er the hands
Crimsoned with slaughter, and the King came near,
Standing with clasped palms reverencing Buddha;
While still our Lord went on, teaching how fair
This earth were if all living things be linked
In friendliness of common use of foods,
Bloodless and pure; the golden grain, bright fruits,
Sweet herbs which grow for all, the waters wan,
Sufficient drinks and meats. Which, when these heard,
The might of gentleness so conquered them,
The priests themselves scattered their altar-flames
And flung away the steel of sacrifice;
And through the land next day passed a decree
Proclaimed by criers, and in this wise graved
On rock and column:--"Thus the King's will is:
There hath been slaughter for the sacrifice
And slaying for the meat, but henceforth none
Shall spill the blood of life nor taste of flesh,
Seeing that knowledge grows, and life is one,
And mercy cometh to the merciful."
So ran the edict, and from those days forth
Sweet peace hath spread between all living kind,
Man and the beasts which serve him, and the birds,
Of all those banks of Gunga where our Lord
Taught with his saintly pity and soft speech.


From 'The Great Journey,' in the Mahâbhârata

Thenceforth alone the long-armed monarch strode,
Not looking back,--nay, not for Bhima's sake,--But
walking with his face set for the mount;
And the hound followed him,--only the hound.

After the deathly sands, the Mount; and lo!
Sâkra shone forth, the God, filling the earth
And heavens with thunder of his chariot-wheels.
"Ascend," he said, "with me, Pritha's great son!"
But Yudhisthira answered, sore at heart
For those his kinsfolk, fallen on the way:
"O Thousand-eyed, O Lord of all the gods,
Give that my brothers come with me, who fell!
Not without them is Swarga sweet to me.
She, too, the dear and kind and queenly,--she
Whose perfect virtue Paradise must crown,--Grant
her to come with us! Dost thou grant this?"

The God replied:--"In heaven thou shalt see
Thy kinsman and the Queen--these will attain--And
Krishna. Grieve no longer for thy dead,
Thou chief of men! their mortal covering stripped,
These have their places; but to thee the gods
Allot an unknown grace; Thou shalt go up,
Living and in thy form, to the immortal homes."

But the King answered:--"O thou Wisest One,
Who know'st what was, and is, and is to be,
Still one more grace! This hound hath ate with me,
Followed me, loved me: must I leave him now?"

"Monarch," spake Indra, "thou art now as we,--
Deathless, divine; thou art become a god;
Glory and power and gifts celestial,
And all the joys of heaven are thine for aye;
What hath a beast with these? Leave here thy hound."

Yet Yudhisthira answered:--"O Most High,
O, Thousand-eyed and wisest! can it be
That one exalted should seem pitiless?
Nay, let me lose such glory; for its sake
I cannot leave one living thing I loved."

Then sternly Indra spake:--"He is unclean,
And into Swarga such shall enter not.
The Krodhavasha's wrath destroys the fruits
Of sacrifice, if dogs defile the fire.
Bethink thee, Dharmaraj; quit now this beast!
That which is seemly is not hard of heart."

Still he replied:--"Tis written that to spurn
A suppliant equals in offense to slay
A twice-born; wherefore, not for Swarga's bliss
Quit I, Mahendra, this poor clinging dog,--
So without any hope or friend save me,
So wistful, fawning for my faithfulness;
So agonized to die, unless I help
Who among men was called steadfast and just."

Quoth Indra:--"Nay, the altar-flame is foul
Where a dog passeth; angry angels sweep
The ascending smoke aside, and all the fruits
Of offering, and the merit of the prayer
Of him whom a hound toucheth. Leave it here!
He that will enter heaven must enter pure.
Why didst thou quit thy brethren on the way,
And Krishna, and the dear-loved Draupadí,
Attaining, firm and glorious, to this Mount
Through perfect deeds, to linger for a brute?
Hath Yudhisthira vanquished self, to melt
With one poor passion at the door of bliss?
Stay'st thou for this, who didst not stay for them,--
Draupadí, Bhima?"

                  But the King yet spake:--
"'Tis known that none can hurt or help the dead.
They, the delightful ones, who sank and died,
Following my footsteps, could not live again
Though I had turned,--therefore I did not turn;
But could help profit, I had stayed to help.
There be four sins, O Sâkra, grievous sins:
The first is making suppliants despair,
The second is to slay a nursing wife,
The third is spoiling Brahmans' goods by force,
The fourth is injuring an ancient friend.
These four I deem not direr than the crime,
If one, in coming forth from woe to weal,
Abandon any meanest comrade then."

Straight as he spake, brightly great Indra smiled;
Vanished the hound, and in its stead stood there
The Lord of Death and Justice, Dharma's self!
Sweet were the words which fell from those dread lips,
Precious the lovely praise:--"O thou true King,
Thou that dost bring to harvest the good seed
Of Pandu's righteousness; thou that hast ruth
As he before, on all which lives!--O son!
I tried thee in the Dwaita wood, what time
They smote thy brothers, bringing water; then
Thou prayedst for Nakula's life--tender and just--
Nor Bhima's nor Arjuna's, true to both,
To Madri as to Kunti, to both queens.
Hear thou my word! Because thou didst not mount
This car divine, lest the poor hound be shent
Who looked to thee, lo! there is none in heaven
Shall sit above thee, King!--Bhârata's son!
Enter thou now to the eternal joys,
Living and in thy form. Justice and Love
Welcome thee, Monarch! thou shalt throne with us."


"She is dead!" they said to him: "come away;
Kiss her and leave her,--thy love is clay!"

They smoothed her tresses of dark-brown hair;
On her forehead of stone they laid it fair;

Over her eyes that gazed too much
They drew the lids with a gentle touch;

With a tender touch they closed up well
The sweet thin lips that had secrets to tell;

About her brows and beautiful face
They tied her veil and her marriage lace,

And drew on her white feet her white-silk shoes,--
Which were the whitest no eye could choose,--

And over her bosom they crossed her hands,
"Come away!" they said, "God understands."

And there was silence, and nothing there
But silence, and scents of eglantere,

And jasmine, and roses and rosemary;
And they said, "As a lady should lie, lies she."

And they held their breath till they left the room,
With a shudder, to glance at its stillness and gloom.

But he who loved her too well to dread
The sweet, the stately, the beautiful dead,

He lit his lamp, and took the key
And turned it--alone again, he and she.

He and she; but she would not speak,
Though he kissed, in the old place, the quiet cheek.

He and she; yet she would not smile,
Though he called her the name she loved erewhile.

He and she; still she did not move
To any passionate whisper of love.

Then he said, "Cold lips and breasts without breath,
Is there no voice, no language of death,

"Dumb to the ear and still to the sense,
But to heart and to soul distinct, intense?

"See, now; I will listen with soul, not ear:
What was the secret of dying, dear?

"Was it the infinite wonder of all
That you ever could let life's flower fall?

"Or was it a greater marvel to feel
The perfect calm o'er the agony steal?

"Was the miracle greater to find how deep
Beyond all dreams sank downward that sleep?

"Did life roll back its record dear,
And show, as they say it does, past things clear?

"And was it the innermost heart of the bliss
To find out so, what a wisdom love is?

"O perfect dead! O dead most dear!
I hold the breath of my soul to hear.

"I listen as deep as to horrible hell,
As high as to heaven, and you do not tell.

"There must be pleasure in dying, sweet,
To make you so placid from head to feet!

"I would tell you, darling, if I were dead,
And 'twere your hot tears upon my brow shed,--

"I would say, though the Angel of Death had laid
His sword on my lips to keep it unsaid,--

"You should not ask vainly, with streaming eyes,
Which of all deaths was the chiefest surprise.

"The very strangest and suddenest thing
Of all the surprises that dying must bring."

Ah, foolish world! O most kind dead!
Though he told me, who will believe it was said?

Who will believe that he heard her say,
With the sweet, soft voice, in the dear old way,

"The utmost wonder is this,--I hear
And see you, and love you, and kiss you, dear;

"And am your angel, who was your bride,
And know that though dead, I have never died."


From 'Pearls of the Faith'

He made life--and He takes it--but instead
Gives more: praise the Restorer, Al-Mu'hid!

He who died at Azan sends
This to comfort faithful friends:--

Faithful friends! it lies, I know,
Pale and white and cold as snow;
And ye say, "Abdullah's dead!"
Weeping at my feet and head.
I can see your falling tears,
I can hear your cries and prayers,
Yet I smile and whisper this:--
"I am not that thing you kiss;
Cease your tears and let it lie:
It was mine, it is not I."

Sweet friends! what the women lave
For its last bed in the grave
Is a tent which I am quitting,
Is a garment no more fitting,
Is a cage from which at last
Like a hawk my soul hath passed.
Love the inmate, not the room;
The wearer, not the garb; the plume
Of the falcon, not the bars
Which kept him from the splendid stars.

Loving friends! be wise, and dry
Straightway every weeping eye:
What ye lift upon the bier
Is not worth a wistful tear.
'Tis an empty sea-shell, one
Out of which the pearl is gone.
The shell is broken, it lies there;
The pearl, the all, the soul, is here.
'Tis an earthen jar whose lid
Allah sealed, the while it hid
That treasure of His treasury,
A mind which loved Him: let it lie!
Let the shard be earth's once more,
Since the gold shines in His store!

Allah Mu'hid, Allah most good!
Now Thy grace is understood:
Now my heart no longer wonders
What Al-Barsakh is, which sunders
Life from death, and death from Heaven:
Nor the "Paradises Seven"
Which the happy dead inherit;
Nor those "birds" which bear each spirit
Toward the Throne, "green birds and white"
Radiant, glorious, swift their flight!
Now the long, long darkness ends.
Yet ye wail, my foolish friends,
While the man whom ye call "dead"
In unbroken bliss instead
Lives, and loves you: lost, 'tis true
By any light which shines for you;
But in light ye cannot see
Of unfulfilled felicity,
And enlarging Paradise;
Lives the life that never dies.

Farewell, friends! Yet not farewell;
Where I am, ye, too, shall dwell.
I am gone before your face
A heart-beat's time, a gray ant's pace.
When ye come where I have stepped,
Ye will marvel why ye wept;
Ye will know, by true love taught,
That here is all, and there is naught.
Weep awhile, if ye are fain,--
Sunshine still must follow rain!
Only not at death, for death--
Now I see--is that first breath
Which our souls draw when we enter
Life, that is of all life centre.

Know ye Allah's law is love,
Viewed from Allah's Throne above;
Be ye firm of trust, and come
Faithful onward to your home!
"La Allah illa Allah! Yea,
Mu'hid! Restorer! Sovereign!" say!

He who died at Azan gave
This to those that made his grave.


From 'Pearls of the Faith'

Say Ar-Raheen! call Him "Compassionate,"
For He is pitiful to small and great.
'Tis written that the serving angels stand
Beside God's throne, ten myriads on each hand,
Waiting, with wings outstretched and watchful eyes,
To do their Master's heavenly embassies.
Quicker than thought His high commands they read,
Swifter than light to execute them speed;
Bearing the word of power from star to star,
Some hither and some thither, near and far.
And unto these naught is too high or low,
Too mean or mighty, if He wills it so;
Neither is any creature, great or small,
Beyond His pity, which embraceth all,
Because His eye beholdeth all which are;
Sees without search, and counteth without care.
Nor lies the babe nearer the nursing-place
Than Allah's smallest child to Allah's grace;
Nor any ocean rolls so vast that He
Forgets one wave of all that restless sea.

Thus it is written; and moreover told
How Gabriel, watching by the Gates of Gold,
Heard from the Voice Ineffable this word
Of twofold mandate uttered by the Lord:--
"Go earthward! pass where Solomon hath made
His pleasure-house, and sitteth there arrayed,
Goodly and splendid--whom I crowned the king.
For at this hour my servant doth a thing
Unfitting: out of Nisibis there came
A thousand steeds with nostrils all aflame
And limbs of swiftness, prizes of the fight;
Lo! these are led, for Solomon's delight,
Before the palace, where he gazeth now
Filling his heart with pride at that brave show;
So taken with the snorting and the tramp
Of his war-horses, that Our silver lamp
Of eve is swung in vain, Our warning Sun
Will sink before his sunset-prayer's begun;
So shall the people say, 'This king, our lord,
Loves more the long-maned trophies of his sword
Than the remembrance of his God!' Go in!
Save thou My faithful servant from such sin.

"Also, upon the slope of Arafat,
Beneath a lote-tree which is fallen flat,
Toileth a yellow ant who carrieth home
Food for her nest, but so far hath she come
Her worn feet fail, and she will perish, caught
In the falling rain; but thou, make the way naught-And
help her to her people in the cleft
Of the black rock."

                    Silently Gabriel left
The Presence, and prevented the king's sin,
And holp the little ant at entering in.

O Thou whose love is wide and great,
We praise Thee, "The Compassionate


From 'Pearls of the Faith'

He is sufficient, and He makes suffice;

Praise thus again thy Lord, mighty and wise.

God is enough! thou, who in hope and fear

Toilest through desert-sands of life, sore tried,

Climb trustful over death's black ridge, for near

The bright wells shine: thou wilt be satisfied.

God doth suffice! O thou, the patient one,

Who puttest faith in Him, and none beside,

Bear yet thy load; under the setting sun

The glad tents gleam: thou wilt be satisfied.

By God's gold Afternoon! peace ye shall have:

Man is in loss except he live aright,

And help his fellow to be firm and brave,

Faithful and patient: then the restful night!

Al Mughni! best Rewarder! we

Endure; putting our trust in Thee.


From 'Pearls of the Faith'

Magnify Him, Al-Kaiyum; and so call

The "Self-subsisting" God who judgeth all.

When the trumpet shall sound,

On that day,

The wicked, slow-gathering,

Shall say,

"Is it long we have lain in our graves?

For it seems as an hour!"

Then will Israfil call them to judgment:

And none shall have power

To turn aside, this way or that;

And their voices will sink

To silence, except for the sounding

Of a noise, like the noise on the brink

Of the sea when its stones

Are dragged with a clatter and hiss

Down the shore, in the wild breakers' roar!

The sound of their woe shall be this:--

Then they who denied

That He liveth Eternal, "Self-made,"

Shall call to the mountains to crush them;

Amazed and affrayed.

Thou Self-subsistent, Living Lord!

Thy grace against that day afford.


Ah, Blessed Lord! Oh, High Deliverer!
Forgive this feeble script which doth Thee wrong
Measuring with little wit Thy lofty Love.
Ah, Lover! Brother! Guide! Lamp of the Law!
I take my refuge in Thy name and Thee!
I take my refuge in Thy Law of God!
I take my refuge in Thy Order! Om!
The Dew is on the lotus--rise, great Sun!
And lift my leaf and mix me with the wave.
Om mani padme hum, the Sunrise comes!
The Dewdrop slips into the Shining Sea!

From Harper's Monthly


Translated from Kalidasa's 'Ritu Sanhâra'

With fierce noons beaming, moons of glory gleaming,

Full conduits streaming, where fair bathers lie,

With sunsets splendid, when the strong day, ended,

Melts into peace, like a tired lover's sigh--

So cometh summer nigh.

And nights of ebon blackness, laced with lustres

From starry clusters; courts of calm retreat,

Where wan rills warble over glistening marble;

Cold jewels, and the sandal, moist and sweet--

These for the time are meet

Of "Suchi," dear one of the bright days, bringing

Love songs for singing which all hearts enthrall,

Wine cups that sparkle at the lips of lovers,

Odors and pleasures in the palace hall:

In "Suchi" these befall.

For then, with wide hips richly girt, and bosoms

Fragrant with blossoms, and with pearl strings gay,

Their new-laved hair unbound, and spreading round

Faint scents, the palace maids in tender play

The ardent heats allay

Of princely playmates. Through the gates their feet,

With lac-dye rosy and neat, and anklets ringing,

In music trip along, echoing the song

Of wild swans, all men's hearts by subtle singing

To Kama's service bringing;

For who, their sandal-scented breasts perceiving,

Their white pearls--weaving with the saffron stars

Girdles and diadems--their gold and gems

Linked upon waist and thigh, in Love's soft snares

Is not caught unawares?

Then lay they by their robes--no longer light

For the warm midnight--and their beauty cover

With woven veil too airy to conceal

Its dew-pearled softness; so, with youth clad over,

Each seeks her eager lover.

And sweet airs winnowed from the sandal fans,

Faint balm that nests between those gem-bound breasts,

Voices of stream and bird, and clear notes heard

From vina strings amid the songs' unrests,

Wake passion. With light jests,

And sidelong glances, and coy smiles and dances,

Each maid enhances newly sprung delight;

Quick leaps the fire of Love's divine desire,

So kindled in the season when the Night

With broadest moons is bright;

Till on the silvered terraces, sleep-sunken,

With Love's draughts drunken, those close lovers lie;

And--all for sorrow there shall come To-morrow--

The Moon, who watched them, pales in the gray sky,

While the still Night doth die.

Then breaks fierce Day! The whirling dust is driven

O'er earth and heaven, until the sun-scorched plain

Its road scarce shows for dazzling heat to those

Who, far from home and love, journey in pain,

Longing to rest again.

Panting and parched, with muzzles dry and burning,

For cool streams yearning, herds of antelope

Haste where the brassy sky, banked black and high,

Hath clouded promise. "There will be"--they hope--

"Water beyond the tope!"

Sick with the glare, his hooded terrors failing,

His slow coils trailing o'er the fiery dust,

The cobra glides to nighest shade, and hides

His head beneath the peacock's train: he must

His ancient foeman trust!

The purple peafowl, wholly overmastered

By the red morning, droop with weary cries;

No stroke they make to slay that gliding snake

Who creeps for shelter underneath the eyes

Of their spread jewelries!

The jungle lord, the kingly tiger, prowling,

For fierce thirst howling, orbs a-stare and red,

Sees without heed the elephants pass by him,

Lolls his lank tongue, and hangs his bloody head,

His mighty forces fled.

Nor heed the elephants that tiger, plucking

Green leaves, and sucking with a dry trunk dew;

Tormented by the blazing day, they wander,

And, nowhere finding water, still renew

Their search--a woful crew!

With restless snout rooting the dark morasses,

Where reeds and grasses on the soft slime grow,

The wild-boars, grunting ill-content and anger,

Dig lairs to shield them from the torturing glow,

Deep, deep as they can go.

The frog, for misery of his pool departing--

'Neath that flame-darting ball--and waters drained

Down to their mud, crawls croaking forth, to cower

Under the black-snake's coils, where there is gained

A little shade; and, strained

To patience by such heat, scorching the jewel

Gleaming so cruel on his venomous head,

That worm, whose tongue, as the blast burns along,

Licks it for coolness--all discomfited--

Strikes not his strange friend dead!

The pool, with tender-growing cups of lotus

Once brightly blowing, hath no blossoms more!

Its fish are dead, its fearful cranes are fled,

And crowding elephants its flowery shore

Tramp to a miry floor.

With foam-strings roping from his jowls, and dropping

From dried drawn lips, horns laid aback, and eyes

Mad with the drouth, and thirst-tormented mouth,

Down-thundering from his mountain cavern flies

The bison in wild wise,

Questing a water channel. Bare and scrannel

The trees droop, where the crows sit in a row

With beaks agape. The hot baboon and ape

Climb chattering to the bush. The buffalo

Bellows. And locusts go

Choking the wells. Far o'er the hills and dells

Wanders th' affrighted eye, beholding blasted

The pleasant grass: the forest's leafy mass

Wilted; its waters waned; its grace exhausted;

Its creatures wasted.

Then leaps to view--blood-red and bright of hue--

As blooms sprung new on the Kusumbha-Tree--

The wild-fire's tongue, fanned by the wind, and flung

Furiously forth; the palms, canes, brakes, you see

Wrapped in one agony

Of lurid death! The conflagration, driven

In fiery levin, roars from jungle caves;

Hisses and blusters through the bamboo clusters,

Crackles across the curling grass, and drives

Into the river waves

The forest folk! Dreadful that flame to see

Coil from the cotton-tree--a snake of gold--

Violently break from root and trunk, to take

The bending boughs and leaves in deadly hold

Then passing--to enfold

New spoils! In herds, elephants, jackals, pards,

For anguish of such fate their enmity

Laying aside, burst for the river wide

Which flows between fair isles: in company

As friends they madly flee!

But Thee, my Best Beloved! may "Suchi" visit fair

With songs of secret waters cooling the quiet air,

Under blue buds of lotus beds, and pâtalas which shed

Fragrance and balm, while Moonlight weaves over thy happy head

Its silvery veil! So Nights and Days of Summer pass for thee

Amid the pleasure-palaces, with love and melody!




atthew Arnold, an English poet and critic, was born December 24th, 1822, at Laleham, in the Thames valley. He was the son of Dr. Thomas Arnold, best remembered as the master of Rugby in later years, and distinguished also as a historian of Rome. His mother was, by her maiden name, Mary Penrose, and long survived her husband. Arnold passed his school days at Winchester and Rugby, and went to Oxford in October, 1841. There, as also at school, he won scholarship and prize, and showed poetical talent. He was elected a fellow of Oriel in March, 1845. He taught for a short time at Rugby, but in 1847 became private secretary to Lord Lansdowne, who in 1851 appointed him school inspector. From that time he was engaged mainly in educational labors, as inspector and commissioner, and traveled frequently on the Continent examining foreign methods. He was also interested controversially in political and religious questions of the day, and altogether had a sufficient public life outside of literature. In 1851 he married Frances Lucy, daughter of Sir William Wightman, a judge of the Court of Queen's Bench, and by her had five children, three sons and two daughters.

His first volume of verse, 'The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems,' bears the date 1849; the second, 'Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems,' 1852; the third, 'Poems,' made up mainly from the two former, was published in 1853, and thereafter he added little to his poetic work. His first volume of similar significance in prose was 'Essays in Criticism,' issued in 1865. Throughout his mature life he was a constant writer, and his collected works of all kinds now fill eleven volumes, exclusive of his letters. In 1857 he was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford, and there began his career as a lecturer; and this method of public expression he employed often. His life was thus one with many diverse activities, and filled with practical or literary affairs; and on no side was it deficient in human relations. He won respect and reputation while he lived; and his works continue to attract men's minds, although with much unevenness. He died at Liverpool, on April 15th, 1888.

That considerable portion of Arnold's writings which was concerned with education and politics, or with phases of theological thought and religious tendency, however valuable in contemporary discussion, and to men and movements of the third quarter of the century, must be set on one side. It is not because of anything there contained that he has become a permanent figure of his time, or is of interest in literature. He achieved distinction as a critic and as a poet; but although he was earlier in the field as a poet, he was recognized by the public at large first as a critic. The union of the two functions is not unusual in the history of literature; but where success has been attained in both, the critic has commonly sprung from the poet in the man, and his range and quality have been limited thereby. It was so with Dryden and Wordsworth, and, less obviously, with Landor and Lowell. In Arnold's case there is no such growth: the two modes of writing, prose and verse, were disconnected. One could read his essays without suspecting a poet, and his poems without discerning a critic, except so far as one finds the moralist there. In fact, Arnold's critical faculty belonged rather to the practical side of his life, and was a part of his talents as a public man.

This appears by the very definitions that he gave, and by the turn of his phrase, which always keeps an audience rather than a meditative reader in view. "What is the function of criticism at the present time?" he asks, and answers--"A disinterested endeavor to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world." That is a wide warrant. The writer who exercises his critical function under it, however, is plainly a reformer at heart, and labors for the social welfare. He is not an analyst of the form of art for its own sake, or a contemplator of its substance of wisdom or beauty merely. He is not limited to literature or the other arts of expression, but the world--the intellectual world--is all before him where to choose; and having learned the best that is known and thought, his second and manifestly not inferior duty is to go into all nations, a messenger of the propaganda of intelligence. It is a great mission, and nobly characterized; but if criticism be so defined, it is criticism of a large mold.

The scope of the word conspicuously appears also in the phrase, which became proverbial, declaring that literature is "a criticism of life." In such an employment of terms, ordinary meanings evaporate: and it becomes necessary to know the thought of the author rather than the usage of men. Without granting the dictum, therefore, which would be far from the purpose, is it not clear that by "critic" and "criticism" Arnold intended to designate, or at least to convey, something peculiar to his own conception,--not strictly related to literature at all, it may be, but more closely tied to society in its general mental activity? In other words, Arnold was a critic of civilization more than of books, and aimed at illumination by means of ideas. With this goes his manner,--that habitual air of telling you something which you did not know before, and doing it for your good,--which stamps him as a preacher born. Under the mask of the critic is the long English face of the gospeler; that type whose persistent physiognomy was never absent from the conventicle of English thought.

This evangelizing prepossession of Arnold's mind must be recognized in order to understand alike his attitude of superiority, his stiffly didactic method, and his success in attracting converts in whom the seed proved barren. The first impression that his entire work makes is one of limitation; so strict is this limitation, and it profits him so much, that it seems the element in which he had his being. On a close survey, the fewness of his ideas is most surprising, though the fact is somewhat cloaked by the lucidity of his thought, its logical vigor, and the manner of its presentation. He takes a text, either some formula of his own or some adopted phrase that he has made his own, and from that he starts out only to return to it again and again with ceaseless iteration. In his illustrations, for example, when he has pilloried some poor gentleman, otherwise unknown, for the astounded and amused contemplation of the Anglican monocle, he cannot let him alone. So too when, with the journalist's nack for nicknames, he divides all England into three parts, he cannot forget the rhetorical exploit. He never lets the points he has made fall into oblivion; and hence his work in general, as a critic, is skeletonized to the memory in watchwords, formulas, and nicknames, which, taken altogether, make up only a small number of ideas.

His scale, likewise, is meagre. His essay is apt to be a book review or a plea merely; it is without that free illusiveness and undeveloped suggestion which indicate a full mind and give to such brief pieces of writing the sense of overflow. He takes no large subject as a whole, but either a small one or else some phases of the larger one; and he exhausts all that he touches. He seems to have no more to say. It is probable that his acquaintance with literature was incommensurate with his reputation or apparent scope as a writer. As he has fewer ideas than any other author of his time of the same rank, so he discloses less knowledge of his own or foreign literatures. His occupations forbade wide acquisition; he husbanded his time, and economized also by giving the best direction to his private studies, and he accomplished much; but he could not master the field as any man whose profession was literature might easily do. Consequently, in comparison with Coleridge or Lowell, his critical work seems dry and bare, with neither the fluency nor the richness of a master.

In yet another point this paucity of matter appears. What Mr. Richard Holt Hutton says in his essay on the poetry of Arnold is so apposite here that it will be best to quote the passage. He is speaking, in an aside, of Arnold's criticisms:--

"They are fine, they are keen, they are often true; but they are always too much limited to the thin superficial layer of the moral nature of their subjects, and seem to take little comparative interest in the deeper individuality beneath. Read his essay on Heine, and you will see the critic engrossed with the relation of Heine to the political and social ideas of his day, and passing over with comparative indifference the true soul of Heine, the fountain of both his poetry and his cynicism. Read his five lectures on translating Homer, and observe how exclusively the critic's mind is occupied with the form as distinguished from the substance of the Homeric poetry. Even when he concerns himself with the greatest modern poets,--with Shakespeare as in the preface to the earlier edition of his poems, or with Goethe in reiterated poetical criticisms, or when he again and again in his poems treats of Wordsworth,--it is always the style and superficial doctrine of their poetry, not the individual character and unique genius, which occupy him. He will tell you whether a poet is 'sane and clear,' or stormy and fervent; whether he is rapid and noble, or loquacious and quaint; whether a thinker penetrates the husks of conventional thought which mislead the crowd; whether there is sweetness as well as lucidity in his aims; whether a descriptive writer has 'distinction' of style, or is admirable only for his vivacity: but he rarely goes to the individual heart of any of the subjects of his criticism; he finds their style and class, but not their personality in that class; he ranks his men, but does not portray them; hardly even seems to find much interest in the individual roots of their character."

In brief, this is to say that Arnold took little interest in human nature; nor is there anything in his later essays on Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, Milton, or Gray, to cause us to revise the judgment on this point. In fact, so far as he touched on the personality of Keats or Gray, to take the capital instances, he was most unsatisfactory.

Arnold was not, then, one of those critics who are interested in life itself, and through the literary work seize on the soul of the author in its original brightness, or set forth the life-stains in the successive incarnations of his heart and mind. Nor was he of those who consider the work itself final, and endeavor simply to understand it,--form and matter,--and so to mediate between genius and our slower intelligence. He followed neither the psychological nor the aesthetic method. It need hardly be said that he was born too early to be able ever to conceive of literature as a phenomenon of society, and its great men as only terms in an evolutionary series. He had only a moderate knowledge of literature, and his stock of ideas was small; his manner of speech was hard and dry, there was a trick in his style, and his self-repetition is tiresome.

What gave him vogue, then, and what still keeps his more literary work alive? Is it anything more than the temper in which he worked, and the spirit which he evoked in the reader? He stood for the very spirit of intelligence in his time. He made his readers respect ideas, and want to have as many as possible. He enveloped them in an atmosphere of mental curiosity and alertness, and put them in contact with novel and attractive themes. In particular, he took their minds to the Continent and made them feel that they were becoming cosmopolitan by knowing Joubert; or at home, he rallied them in opposition to the dullness of the period, to "barbarism" or other objectionable traits in the social classes: and he volleyed contempt upon the common multitudinous foe in general, and from time to time cheered them with some delectable examples of single combat. It cannot be concealed that there was much malicious pleasure in it all. He was not indisposed to high-bred cruelty. Like Lamb, he "loved a fool," but it was in a mortar; and pleasant it was to see the spectacle when he really took a man in hand for the chastisement of irony. It is thus that "the seraphim illuminati sneer." And in all his controversial writing there was a brilliancy and unsparingness that will appeal to the deepest instincts of a fighting race, willy-nilly; and as one had only to read the words to feel himself among the children of light, so that our withers were unwrung, there was high enjoyment.

This liveliness of intellectual conflict, together with the sense of ideas, was a boon to youth especially; and the academic air in which the thought and style always moved, with scholarly self-possession and assurance, with the dogmatism of "enlightenment" in all ages and among all sects, with serenity and security unassailable, from within at least--this academic "clearness and purity without shadow or stain" had an overpowering charm to the college-bred and cultivated, who found the rare combination of information, taste, and aggressiveness in one of their own ilk. Above all, there was the play of intelligence on every page; there was an application of ideas to life in many regions of the world's interests; there was contact with a mind keen, clear, and firm, armed for controversy or persuasion equally, and filled with eager belief in itself, its ways, and its will.

To meet such personality in a book was a bracing experience; and for many these essays were an awakening of the mind itself. We may go to others for the greater part of what criticism can give,--for definite and fundamental principles, for adequate characterization, for the intuition and the revelation, the penetrant flash of thought and phrase: but Arnold generates and supports a temper of mind in which the work of these writers best thrives even in its own sphere; and through him this temper becomes less individual than social, encompassing the whole of life. Few critics have been really less "disinterested," few have kept their eyes less steadily "upon the object": but that fact does not lessen the value of his precepts of disinterestedness and objectivity; nor is it necessary, in becoming "a child of light," to join in spirit the unhappy "remnant" of the academy, or to drink too deep of that honeyed satisfaction, with which he fills his readers, of being on his side. As a critic, Arnold succeeds if his main purpose does not fail, and that was to reinforce the party of ideas, of culture, of the children of light; to impart, not moral vigor, but openness and reasonableness of mind; and to arouse and arm the intellectual in contradistinction to the other energies of civilization.

The poetry of Arnold, to pass to the second portion of his work, was less widely welcomed than his prose, and made its way very slowly; but it now seems the most important and permanent part. It is not small in quantity, though his unproductiveness in later years has made it appear that he was less fluent and abundant in verse than he really was. The remarkable thing, as one turns to his poems, is the contrast in spirit that they afford to the essays: there is here an atmosphere of entire calm. We seem to be in a different world. This fact, with the singular silence of his familiar letters in regard to his verse, indicates that his poetic life was truly a thing apart.

In one respect only is there something in common between his prose and verse: just as interest in human nature was absent in the latter, it is absent also in the former. There is no action in the poems; neither is there character for its own sake. Arnold was a man of the mind, and he betrays no interest in personality except for its intellectual traits; in Clough as in Obermann, it is the life of thought, not the human being, that he portrays. As a poet, he expresses the moods of the meditative spirit in view of nature and our mortal existence; and he represents life, not lyrically by its changeful moments, nor tragically by its conflict in great characters, but philosophically by a self-contained and unvarying monologue, deeper or less deep in feeling and with cadences of tone, but always with the same grave and serious effect. He is constantly thinking, whatever his subject or his mood; his attitude is intellectual, his sentiments are maxims, his conclusions are advisory. His world is the sphere of thought, and his poems have the distance and repose and also the coldness that befit that sphere; and the character of his imagination, which lays hold of form and reason, makes natural to him the classical style.

It is obvious that the sources of his poetical culture are Greek. It is not merely, however, that he takes for his early subjects Merope and Empedocles, or that he strives in 'Balder Dead' for Homeric narrative, or that in the recitative to which he was addicted he evoked an immelodious phantom of Greek choruses; nor is it the "marmoreal air" that chills while it ennobles much of his finest work. One feels the Greek quality not as a source but as a presence. In Tennyson, Keats, and Shelley, there was Greek influence, but in them the result was modern. In Arnold the antiquity remains; remains in mood, just as in Landor it remains in form. The Greek twilight broods over all his poetry. It is pagan in philosophic spirit; not Attic, but of a later and stoical time, with the very virtues of patience, endurance, suffering, not in their Christian types, but as they now seem to a post-Christian imagination looking back to the imperial past. There is a difference, it is true, in Arnold's expression of the mood: he is as little Sophoclean as he is Homeric, as little Lucretian as he is Vergilian. The temperament is not the same, not a survival or a revival of the antique, but original and living. And yet the mood of the verse is felt at once to be a reincarnation of the deathless spirit of Hellas, that in other ages also has made beautiful and solemn for a time the shadowed places of the Christian world. If one does not realize this, he must miss the secret of the tranquillity, the chill, the grave austerity, as well as the philosophical resignation, which are essential to the verse. Even in those parts of the poems which use romantic motives, one reason of their original charm is that they suggest how the Greek imagination would have dealt with the forsaken merman, the church of Brou, and Tristram and Iseult. The presence of such motives, such mythology, and such Christian and chivalric color in the work of Arnold does not disturb the simple unity of its feeling, which finds no solvent for life, whatever its accident of time and place and faith, except in that Greek spirit which ruled in thoughtful men before the triumph of Christianity, and is still native in men who accept the intellect as the sole guide of life.

It was with reference to these modern men and the movement they took part in, that he made his serious claim to greatness; to rank, that is, with Tennyson and Browning, as he said, in the literature of his time. "My poems," he wrote, "represent on the whole the main movement of mind of the last quarter of a century; and thus they will probably have their day as people become conscious to themselves of what that movement of mind is, and interested in the literary productions that reflect it. It might be fairly urged that I have less poetical sentiment than Tennyson, and less intellectual vigor and abundance than Browning; yet because I have, perhaps, more of a fusion of the two than either of them, and have more regularly applied that fusion to the main line of modern development, I am likely enough to have my turn, as they have had theirs." If the main movement had been such as he thought of it, or if it had been of importance in the long run, there might be a sounder basis for this hope than now appears to be the case; but there can be no doubt, let the contemporary movement have been what it may, that Arnold's mood is one that will not pass out of men's hearts to-day nor to-morrow.

On the modern side the example of Wordsworth was most formative, and in fact it is common to describe Arnold as a Wordsworthian: and so, in his contemplative attitude to nature, and in his habitual recourse to her, he was; but both nature herself as she appeared to him, and his mood in her presence, were very different from Wordsworth's conception and emotion. Arnold finds in nature a refuge from life, an anodyne, an escape; but Wordsworth, in going into the hills for poetical communion, passed from a less to a fuller and deeper life, and obtained an inspiration, and was seeking the goal of all his being. In the method of approach, too, as well as in the character of the experience, there was a profound difference between the two poets. Arnold sees with the outward rather than the inward eye. He is pictorial in a way that Wordsworth seldom is; he uses detail much more, and gives a group or a scene with the externality of a painter. The method resembles that of Tennyson rather than that of Wordsworth, and has more direct analogy with the Greek manner than with the modern and emotional schools; it is objective, often minute, and always carefully composed, in the artistic sense of that term. The description of the river Oxus, for example, though faintly charged with suggested and allegoric meaning, is a noble close to the poem which ends in it. The scale is large, and Arnold was fond of a broad landscape, of mountains, and prospects over the land; but one cannot fancy Wordsworth writing it. So too, on a small scale, the charming scene of the English garden in 'Thyrsis' is far from Wordsworth's manner:--

"When garden walks and all the grassy floor
With blossoms red and white of fallen May
  And chestnut-flowers are strewn--
So have I heard the cuckoo's parting cry,
From the wet field, through the vext garden trees,
Come with the volleying rain and tossing breeze."

This is a picture that could be framed: how different from Wordsworth's "wandering voice"! Or to take another notable example, which, like the Oxus passage, is a fine close in the 'Tristram and Iseult,'--the hunter on the arras above the dead lovers:--

"A stately huntsman, clad in green,
And round him a fresh forest scene.
On that clear forest-knoll he stays,
With his pack round him, and delays.

The wild boar rustles in his lair,
The fierce hounds snuff the tainted air,
But lord and hounds keep rooted there.
Cheer, cheer thy dogs into the brake,
O hunter! and without a fear
Thy golden tasseled bugle blow"

But no one is deceived, and the hunter does not move from the arras, but is still "rooted there," with his green suit and his golden tassel. The piece is pictorial, and highly wrought for pictorial effects only, obviously decorative and used as stage scenery precisely in the manner of our later theatrical art, with that accent of forethought which turns the beautiful into the aesthetic. This is a method which Wordsworth never used. Take one of his pictures, the 'Reaper' for example, and see the difference. The one is out-of-doors, the other is of the studio. The purpose of these illustrations is to show that Arnold's nature-pictures are not only consciously artistic, with an arrangement that approaches artifice, but that he is interested through his eye primarily and not through his emotions. It is characteristic of his temperament also that he reminds one most often of the painter in water-colors.

If there is this difference between Arnold and Wordsworth in method, a greater difference in spirit is to be anticipated. It is a fixed gulf. In nature Wordsworth found the one spirit's "plastic stress," and a near and intimate revelation to the soul of truths that were his greatest joy and support in existence. Arnold finds there no inhabitancy of God, no such streaming forth of wisdom and beauty from the fountain heads of being; but the secret frame of nature is filled only with the darkness, the melancholy, the waiting endurance that is projected from himself:--

"Yet, Fausta, the mute turf we tread,
The solemn hills about us spread,
The stream that falls incessantly,
The strange-scrawled rocks, the lonely sky,
If I might lend their life a voice,
Seem to bear rather than rejoice."

Compare this with Wordsworth's 'Stanzas on Peele Castle,' and the important reservations that must be borne in mind in describing Arnold as a Wordsworthian will become clearer. It is as a relief from thought, as a beautiful and half-physical diversion, as a scale of being so vast and mysterious as to reduce the pettiness of human life to nothingness,--it is in these ways that nature has value in Arnold's verse. Such a poet may describe natural scenes well, and obtain by means of them contrast to human conditions, and decorative beauty; but he does not penetrate nature or interpret what her significance is in the human spirit, as the more emotional poets have done. He ends in an antithesis, not in a synthesis, and both nature and man lose by the divorce. One looks in vain for anything deeper than landscapes in Arnold's treatment of nature; she is emptied of her own infinite, and has become spiritually void: and in the simple great line in which he gave the sea--

"The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea--"

he is thinking of man, not of the ocean: and the mood seems ancient rather than modern, the feeling of a Greek, just as the sound of the waves to him is always Aegean.

In treating of man's life, which must be the main thing in any poet's work, Arnold is either very austere or very pessimistic. If the feeling is moral, the predominant impression is of austerity; if it is intellectual, the predominant impression is of sadness. He was not insensible to the charm of life, but he feels it in his senses only to deny it in his mind. The illustrative passage is from 'Dover Beach':--

    "Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
  So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain."

This is the contradiction of sense and thought, the voice of a regret grounded in the intellect (for if it were vital and grounded in the emotions it would become despair); the creed of illusion and futility in life, which is the characteristic note of Arnold, and the reason of his acceptance by many minds. The one thing about life which he most insists on is its isolation, its individuality. In the series called 'Switzerland,' this is the substance of the whole; and the doctrine is stated with an intensity and power, with an amplitude and prolongation, that set these poems apart as the most remarkable of all his lyrics. From a poet so deeply impressed with this aspect of existence, and unable to find its remedy or its counterpart in the harmony of life, no joyful or hopeful word can be expected, and none is found. The second thing about life which he dwells on is its futility; though he bids one strive and work, and points to the example of the strong whom he has known, yet one feels that his voice rings more true when he writes of Obermann than in any other of the elegiac poems. In such verse as the 'Summer Night,' again, the genuineness of the mood is indubitable. In 'The Sick King of Bokhara,' the one dramatic expression of his genius, futility is the very centre of the action. The fact that so much of his poetry seems to take its motive from the subsidence of Christian faith has set him among the skeptic or agnostic poets, and the "main movement" which he believed he had expressed was doubtless that in which agnosticism was a leading element. The unbelief of the third quarter of the century was certainly a controlling influence over him, and in a man mainly intellectual by nature it could not well have been otherwise.

Hence, as one looks at his more philosophical and lyrical poems--the profounder part of his work--and endeavors to determine their character and sources alike, it is plain to see that in the old phrase, "the pride of the intellect" lifts its lonely column over the desolation of every page. The man of the academy is here, as in the prose, after all. He reveals himself in the literary motive, the bookish atmosphere of the verse, in its vocabulary, its elegance of structure, its precise phrase and its curious allusions (involving footnotes), and in fact, throughout all its form and structure. So self-conscious is it that it becomes frankly prosaic at inconvenient times, and is more often on the level of eloquent and graceful rhetoric than of poetry. It is frequently liquid and melodious, but there is no burst of native song in it anywhere. It is the work of a true poet, nevertheless; but there are many voices for the Muse. It is sincere, it is touched with reality; it is the mirror of a phase of life in our times, and not in our times only, but whenever the intellect seeks expression for its sense of the limitation of its own career, and its sadness in a world which it cannot solve.

A word should be added concerning the personality of Arnold which is revealed in his familiar letters,--a collection that has dignified the records of literature with a singularly noble memory of private life. Few who did not know Arnold could have been prepared for the revelation of a nature so true, so amiable, so dutiful. In every relation of private life he is shown to have been a man of exceptional constancy and plainness. The letters are mainly home letters; but a few friendships also yielded up their hoard, and thus the circle of private life is made complete. Every one must take delight in the mental association with Arnold in the scenes of his existence, thus daily exposed, and in his family affections. A nature warm to its own, kindly to all, cheerful, fond of sport and fun, and always fed from pure fountains, and with it a character so founded upon the rock, so humbly serviceable, so continuing in power and grace, must wake in all the responses of happy appreciation, and leave the charm of memory.

He did his duty as naturally as if it required neither resolve, nor effort, nor thought of any kind for the morrow, and he never failed, seemingly, in act or word of sympathy, in little or great things; and when, to this, one adds the clear ether of the intellectual life where he habitually moved in his own life apart, and the humanity of his home, the gift that these letters bring may be appreciated. That gift is the man himself; but set in the atmosphere of home, with son-ship and fatherhood, sisters and brothers, with the bereavements of years fully accomplished, and those of babyhood and boyhood,--a sweet and wholesome English home, with all the cloud and sunshine of the English world drifting over its roof-tree, and the soil of England beneath its stones, and English duties for the breath of its being. To add such a home to the household-rights of English literature is perhaps something from which Arnold would have shrunk, but it endears his memory.


From 'Essays in Criticism'

What are the essential characteristics of the spirit of our nation? Not, certainly, an open and clear mind, not a quick and flexible intelligence. Our greatest admirers would not claim for us that we have these in a pre-eminent degree; they might say that we had more of them than our detractors gave us credit for, but they would not assert them to be our essential characteristics. They would rather allege, as our chief spiritual characteristics, energy and honesty; and if we are judged favorably and positively, not invidiously and negatively, our chief characteristics are no doubt these: energy and honesty, not an open and clear mind, not a quick and flexible intelligence. Openness of mind and flexibility of intelligence were very signal characteristics of the Athenian people in ancient times; everybody will feel that. Openness of mind and flexibility of intelligence are remarkable characteristics of the French people in modern times,--at any rate, they strikingly characterize them as compared with us; I think everybody, or almost everybody, will feel that. I will not now ask what more the Athenian or the French spirit has than this, nor what shortcomings either of them may have as a set-off against this; all I want now to point out is that they have this, and that we have it in a much lesser degree.

Let me remark, however, that not only in the moral sphere, but also in the intellectual and spiritual sphere, energy and honesty are most important and fruitful qualities; that for instance, of what we call genius, energy is the most essential part. So, by assigning to a nation energy and honesty as its chief spiritual characteristics,--by refusing to it, as at all eminent characteristics, openness of mind and flexibility of intelligence,--we do not by any means, as some people might at first suppose, relegate its importance and its power of manifesting itself with effect from the intellectual to the moral sphere. We only indicate its probable special line of successful activity in the intellectual sphere, and, it is true, certain imperfections and failings to which in this sphere it will always be subject. Genius is mainly an affair of energy, and poetry is mainly an affair of genius; therefore a nation whose spirit is characterized by energy may well be eminent in poetry;--and we have Shakespeare. Again, the highest reach of science is, one may say, an inventive power, a faculty of divination, akin to the highest power exercised in poetry; therefore a nation whose spirit is characterized by energy may well be eminent in science;--and we have Newton. Shakespeare and Newton: in the intellectual sphere there can be no higher names. And what that energy, which is the life of genius, above everything demands and insists upon, is freedom; entire independence of all authority, prescription, and routine,--the fullest room to expand as it will. Therefore a nation whose chief spiritual characteristic is energy will not be very apt to set up, in intellectual matters, a fixed standard, an authority, like an academy. By this it certainly escapes certain real inconveniences and dangers; and it can at the same time, as we have seen, reach undeniably splendid heights in poetry and science.

On the other hand, some of the requisites of intellectual work are specially the affair of quickness of mind and flexibility of intelligence. The form, the method of evolution, the precision, the proportions, the relations of the parts to the whole, in an intellectual work, depend mainly upon them. And these are the elements of an intellectual work which are really most communicable from it, which can most be learned and adopted from it, which have therefore the greatest effect upon the intellectual performance of others. Even in poetry these requisites are very important; and the poetry of a nation not eminent for the gifts on which they depend, will more or less suffer by this shortcoming. In poetry, however, they are after all secondary, and energy is the first thing; but in prose they are of first-rate importance. In its prose literature, therefore, and in the routine of intellectual work generally, a nation with no particular gifts for these will not be so successful. These are what, as I have said, can to a certain degree be learned and appropriated, while the free activity of genius cannot. Academies consecrate and maintain them, and therefore a nation with an eminent turn for them naturally establishes academies. So far as routine and authority tend to embarrass energy and inventive genius, academies may be said to be obstructive to energy and inventive genius, and to this extent to the human spirit's general advance. But then this evil is so much compensated by the propagation, on a large scale, of the mental aptitudes and demands which an open mind and a flexible intelligence naturally engender, genius itself in the long run so greatly finds its account in this propagation, and bodies like the French Academy have such power for promoting it, that the general advance of the human spirit is perhaps, on the whole, rather furthered than impeded by their existence.

How much greater is our nation in poetry than prose! how much better, in general, do the productions of its spirit show in the qualities of genius than in the qualities of intelligence! One may constantly remark this in the work of individuals: how much more striking, in general, does any Englishman--of some vigor of mind, but by no means a poet--seem in his verse than in his prose! His verse partly suffers from his not being really a poet, partly no doubt from the very same defects which impair his prose, and he cannot express himself with thorough success in it, but how much more powerful a personage does he appear in it, by dint of feeling and of originality and movement of ideas, than when he is writing prose! With a Frenchman of like stamp, it is just the reverse: set him to write poetry, he is limited, artificial, and impotent; set him to write prose, he is free, natural, and effective. The power of French literature is in its prose writers, the power of English literature is in its poets. Nay, many of the celebrated French poets depend wholly for their fame upon the qualities of intelligence which they exhibit,--qualities which are the distinctive support of prose; many of the celebrated English prose writers depend wholly for their fame upon the qualities of genius and imagination which they exhibit,--qualities which are the distinctive support of poetry.

But as I have said, the qualities of genius are less transferable than the qualities of intelligence; less can be immediately learned and appropriated from their product; they are less direct and stringent intellectual agencies, though they may be more beautiful and divine. Shakespeare and our great Elizabethan group were certainly more gifted writers than Corneille and his group; but what was the sequel to this great literature, this literature of genius, as we may call it, stretching from Marlowe to Milton? What did it lead up to in English literature? To our provincial and second-rate literature of the eighteenth century. What, on the other hand, was the sequel to the literature of the French "great century," to this literature of intelligence, as by comparison with our Elizabethan literature we may call it; what did it lead up to? To the French literature of the eighteenth century, one of the most powerful and pervasive intellectual agencies that have ever existed,--the greatest European force of the eighteenth century. In science, again, we had Newton, a genius of the very highest order, a type of genius in science if ever there was one. On the continent, as a sort of counterpart to Newton, there was Leibnitz; a man, it seems to me (though on these matters I speak under correction), of much less creative energy of genius, much less power of divination than Newton, but rather a man of admirable intelligence, a type of intelligence in science if ever there was one. Well, and what did they each directly lead up to in science? What was the intellectual generation that sprang from each of them? I only repeat what the men of science have themselves pointed out. The man of genius was continued by the English analysts of the eighteenth century, comparatively powerless and obscure followers of the renowned master. The man of intelligence was continued by successors like Bernoulli, Euler, Lagrange, and Laplace, the greatest names in modern mathematics.


From 'Culture and Anarchy'

The disparagers of culture make its motive curiosity; sometimes, indeed, they make its motive mere exclusiveness and vanity. The culture which is supposed to plume itself on a smattering of Greek and Latin is a culture which is begotten by nothing so intellectual as curiosity; it is valued either out of sheer vanity and ignorance, or else as an engine of social and class distinction, separating its holder, like a badge or title, from other people who have not got it. No serious man would call this culture, or attach any value to it, as culture, at all. To find the real ground for the very differing estimate which serious people will set upon culture, we must find some motive for culture in the terms of which may lie a real ambiguity; and such a motive the word curiosity gives us.

I have before now pointed out that we English do not, like the foreigners, use this word in a good sense as well as in a bad sense. With us the word is always used in a somewhat disapproving sense. A liberal and intelligent eagerness about the things of the mind may be meant by a foreigner when he speaks of curiosity; but with us the word always conveys a certain notion of frivolous and unedifying activity. In the Quarterly Review, some little time ago, was an estimate of the celebrated French critic, M. Sainte-Beuve; and a very inadequate estimate it in my judgment was. And its inadequacy consisted chiefly in this: that in our English way it left out of sight the double sense really involved in the word curiosity, thinking enough was said to stamp M. Sainte-Beuve with blame if it was said that he was impelled in his operations as a critic by curiosity, and omitting either to perceive that M. Sainte-Beuve himself, and many other people with him, would consider that this was praiseworthy and not blameworthy, or to point out why it ought really to be accounted worthy of blame and not of praise. For as there is a curiosity about intellectual matters which is futile, and merely a disease, so there is certainly a curiosity--a desire after the things of the mind simply for their own sakes and for the pleasure of seeing them as they are--which is, in an intelligent being, natural and laudable. Nay, and the very desire to see things as they are implies a balance and regulation of mind which is not often attained without fruitful effort, and which is the very opposite of the blind and diseased impulse of mind which is what we mean to blame when we blame curiosity. Montesquieu says:--"The first motive which ought to impel us to study is the desire to augment the excellence of our nature, and to render an intelligent being yet more intelligent." This is the true ground to assign for the genuine scientific passion, however manifested, and for culture, viewed simply as a fruit of this passion; and it is a worthy ground, even though we let the term curiosity stand to describe it.

But there is of culture another view, in which not solely the scientific passion, the sheer desire to see things as they are, natural and proper in an intelligent being, appears as the ground of it. There is a view in which all the love of our neighbor, the impulses toward action, help, and beneficence, the desire for removing human error, clearing human confusion, and diminishing human misery, the noble aspiration to leave the world better and happier than we found it,--motives eminently such as are called social,--come in as part of the grounds of culture, and the main and pre-eminent part. Culture is then properly described not as having its origin in curiosity, but as having its origin in the love of perfection; it is a study of perfection. It moves by the force, not merely or primarily of the scientific passion for pure knowledge, but also of the moral and social passion for doing good. As in the first view of it we took for its worthy motto Montesquieu's words, "To render an intelligent being yet more intelligent!" so in the second view of it there is no better motto which it can have than these words of Bishop Wilson: "To make reason and the will of God prevail."

Only, whereas the passion for doing good is apt to be over-hasty in determining what reason and the will of God say, because its turn is for acting rather than thinking, and it wants to be beginning to act; and whereas it is apt to take its own conceptions, which proceed from its own state of development and share in all the imperfections and immaturities of this, for a basis of action: what distinguishes culture is, that it is possessed by the scientific passion as well as by the passion of doing good; that it demands worthy notions of reason and the will of God, and does not readily suffer its own crude conceptions to substitute themselves for them. And knowing that no action or institution can be salutary and stable which is not based on reason and the will of God, it is not so bent on acting and instituting, even with the great aim of diminishing human error and misery ever before its thoughts, but that it can remember that acting and instituting are of little use, unless we know how and what we ought to act and to institute....

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. He who works for sweetness and light, works to make reason and the will of God prevail. He who works for machinery, he who works for hatred, works only for confusion. Culture looks beyond machinery, culture hates hatred; culture has one great passion, the passion for sweetness and light. It has one even yet greater!--the passion for making them prevail. It is not satisfied till we all come to a perfect man; it knows that the sweetness and light of the few must be imperfect until the raw and unkindled masses of humanity are touched with sweetness and light. If I have not shrunk from saying that we must work for sweetness and light, so neither have I shrunk from saying that we must have a broad basis, must have sweetness and light for as many as possible. Again and again I have insisted how those are the happy moments of humanity, how those are the marking epochs of a people's life, how those are the flowering times for literature and art and all the creative power of genius, when there is a national glow of life and thought, when the whole of society is in the fullest measure permeated by thought, sensible to beauty, intelligent and alive. Only it must be real thought and real beauty; real sweetness and real light. Plenty of people will try to give the masses, as they call them, an intellectual food prepared and adapted in the way they think proper for the actual condition of the masses. The ordinary popular literature is an example of this way of working on the masses. Plenty of people will try to indoctrinate the masses with the set of ideas and judgments constituting the creed of their own profession or party. Our religious and political organizations give an example of this way of working on the masses. I condemn neither way; but culture works differently. It does not try to teach down to the level of inferior classes; it does not try to win them for this or that sect of its own, with ready-made judgments and watchwords. It seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere; to make all men live in an atmosphere of sweetness and light, where they may use ideas, as it uses them itself, freely,--nourished and not bound by them.

This is the social idea; and the men of culture are the true apostles of equality. The great men of culture are those who have had a passion for diffusing, for making prevail, for carrying from one end of society to the other, the best knowledge, the best ideas of their time; who have labored to divest knowledge of all that was harsh, uncouth, difficult, abstract, professional, exclusive; to humanize it, to make it efficient outside the clique of the cultivated and learned, yet still remaining the best knowledge and thought of the time, and a true source, therefore, of sweetness and light. Such a man was Abélard in the Middle Ages, in spite of all his imperfections; and thence the boundless emotion and enthusiasm which Abélard excited. Such were Lessing and Herder in Germany, at the end of the last century; and their services to Germany were in this way inestimably precious. Generations will pass, and literary monuments will accumulate, and works far more perfect than the works of Lessing and Herder will be produced in Germany; and yet the names of these two men will fill a German with a reverence and enthusiasm such as the names of the most gifted masters will hardly awaken. And why? Because they humanized knowledge; because they broadened the basis of life and intelligence; because they worked powerfully to diffuse sweetness and light, to make reason and the will of God prevail. With Saint Augustine they said:--"Let us not leave thee alone to make in the secret of thy knowledge, as thou didst before the creation of the firmament, the division of light from darkness; let the children of thy spirit, placed in their firmament, make their light shine upon the earth, mark the division of night and day, and announce the revolution of the times; for the old order is passed, and the new arises; the night is spent, the day is come forth; and thou shalt crown the year with thy blessing, when thou shalt send forth laborers into thy harvest sown by other hands than theirs; when thou shalt send forth new laborers to new seed-times, whereof the harvest shall be not yet."

Keeping this in view, I have in my own mind often indulged myself with the fancy of employing, in order to designate our aristocratic class, the name of The Barbarians. The Barbarians, to whom we all owe so much, and who reinvigorated and renewed our worn-out Europe, had, as is well known, eminent merits; and in this country, where we are for the most part sprung from the Barbarians, we have never had the prejudice against them which prevails among the races of Latin origin. The Barbarians brought with them that stanch individualism, as the modern phrase is, and that passion for doing as one likes, for the assertion of personal liberty, which appears to Mr. Bright the central idea of English life, and of which we have at any rate a very rich supply. The stronghold and natural seat of this passion was in the nobles of whom our aristocratic class are the inheritors; and this class, accordingly, have signally manifested it, and have done much by their example to recommend it to the body of the nation, who already, indeed, had it in their blood. The Barbarians, again, had the passion for field-sports; and they have handed it on to our aristocratic class, who of this passion, too, as of the passion for asserting one's personal liberty, are the great natural stronghold. The care of the Barbarians for the body, and for all manly exercises; the vigor, good looks, and fine complexion which they acquired and perpetuated in their families by these means,--all this may be observed still in our aristocratic class. The chivalry of the Barbarians, with its characteristics of high spirit, choice manners, and distinguished bearing,--what is this but the attractive commencement of the politeness of our aristocratic class? In some Barbarian noble, no doubt, one would have admired, if one could have been then alive to see it, the rudiments of our politest peer. Only, all this culture (to call it by that name) of the Barbarians was an exterior culture mainly. It consisted principally in outward gifts and graces, in looks, manners, accomplishments, prowess. The chief inward gifts which had part in it were the most exterior, so to speak, of inward gifts, those which come nearest to outward ones; they were courage, a high spirit, self-confidence. Far within, and unawakened, lay a whole range of powers of thought and feeling, to which these interesting productions of nature had, from the circumstances of their life, no access. Making allowances for the difference of the times, surely we can observe precisely the same thing now in our aristocratic class. In general its culture is exterior chiefly; all the exterior graces and accomplishments, and the more external of the inward virtues, seem to be principally its portion. It now, of course, cannot but be often in contact with those studies by which, from the world of thought and feeling, true culture teaches us to fetch sweetness and light; but its hold upon these very studies appears remarkably external, and unable to exert any deep power upon its spirit. Therefore the one insufficiency which we noted in the perfect mean of this class was an insufficiency of light. And owing to the same causes, does not a subtle criticism lead us to make, even on the good looks and politeness of our aristocratic class, and of even the most fascinating half of that class, the feminine half, the one qualifying remark, that in these charming gifts there should perhaps be, for ideal perfection, a shade more soul?

I often, therefore, when I want to distinguish clearly the aristocratic class from the Philistines proper, or middle class, name the former, in my own mind, The Barbarians. And when I go through the country, and see this and that beautiful and imposing seat of theirs crowning the landscape, "There," I say to myself, "is a great fortified post of the Barbarians."


From 'Essays in Criticism'

No, we are all seekers still! seekers often make mistakes, and I wish mine to redound to my own discredit only, and not to touch Oxford. Beautiful city! so venerable, so lovely, so unravaged by the fierce intellectual life of our century, so serene!

"There are our young barbarians all at play!"

And yet, steeped in sentiment as she lies, spreading her gardens to the moonlight, and whispering from her towers the last enchantments of the Middle Age, who will deny that Oxford, by her ineffable charm, keeps ever calling us nearer to the true goal of all of us, to the ideal, to perfection,--to beauty, in a word, which is only truth seen from another side?--nearer, perhaps, than all the science of Tübingen. Adorable dreamer, whose heart has been so romantic! who hast given thyself so prodigally, given thyself to sides and to heroes not mine, only never to the Philistines! home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties! what example could ever so inspire us to keep down the Philistine in ourselves, what teacher could ever so save us from that bondage to which we are all prone, that bondage which Goethe, in his incomparable lines on the death of Schiller, makes it his friend's highest praise (and nobly did Schiller deserve the praise) to have left miles out of sight behind him: the bondage of "was uns alle bandigt, Das Gemeine!" She will forgive me, even if I have unwittingly drawn upon her a shot or two aimed at her unworthy son; for she is generous, and the cause in which I fight is, after all, hers. Apparitions of a day, what is our puny warfare against the Philistines, compared with the warfare which this queen of romance has been waging against them for centuries, and will wage after we are gone?


Who prop, thou ask'st, in these bad days, my mind?--

He much, the old man, who, clearest-souled of men,

Saw The Wide Prospect, and the Asian Fen,

And Tmolus hill, and Smyrna bay, though blind.

Much he, whose friendship I not long since won,

That halting slave, who in Nicopolis

Taught Arrian, when Vespasian's brutal son

Cleared Rome of what most shamed him. But he his

My special thanks, whose even-balanced soul,

From first youth tested up to extreme old age,

Business could not make dull, nor passion wild;

Who saw life steadily, and saw it whole;

The mellow glory of the Attic stage,

Singer of sweet Colonus, and its child.

'Tis death! and peace, indeed, is here,
And ease from shame, and rest from fear.
There's nothing can dismarble now
The smoothness of that limpid brow.
But is a calm like this, in truth,
The crowning end of life and youth,
And when this boon rewards the dead,
Are all debts paid, has all been said?
And is the heart of youth so light,
Its step so firm, its eye so bright,
Because on its hot brow there blows
A wind of promise and repose
From the far grave, to which it goes;
Because it has the hope to come,
One day, to harbor in the tomb?
Ah no, the bliss youth dreams is one
For daylight, for the cheerful sun,
For feeling nerves and living breath--
Youth dreams a bliss on this side death.
It dreams a rest, if not more deep,
More grateful than this marble sleep;
It hears a voice within it tell:
Calms not life's crown, though calm is well.
'Tis all perhaps which man acquires,
But 'tis not what our youth desires.



We were apart; yet, day by day,

I bade my heart more constant be.

I bade it keep the world away,

And grow a home for only thee;

Nor feared but thy love likewise grew,

Like mine, each day, more tried, more true.

The fault was grave! I might have known,

What far too soon, alas! I learned--

The heart can bind itself alone,

And faith may oft be unreturned.

Self-swayed our feelings ebb and swell--

Thou lov'st no more;--Farewell! Farewell!

Farewell!--and thou, thou lonely heart,

Which never yet without remorse

Even for a moment didst depart

From thy remote and spherèd course

To haunt the place where passions reign--

Back to thy solitude again!

Back! with the conscious thrill of shame

Which Luna felt, that summer-night,

Flash through her pure immortal frame,

When she forsook the starry height

To hang over Endymion's sleep

Upon the pine-grown Latmian steep.

Yet she, chaste queen, had never proved

How vain a thing is mortal love,

Wandering in Heaven, far removed;

But thou hast long had place to prove

This truth--to prove, and make thine own:

"Thou hast been, shalt be, art, alone."

Or, if not quite alone, yet they

Which touch thee are unmating things--

Ocean and clouds and night and day;

Lorn autumns and triumphant springs;

And life, and others' joy and pain,

And love, if love, of happier men.

Of happier men--for they, at least,

Have dreamed two human hearts might blend

In one, and were through faith released

From isolation without end

Prolonged; nor knew, although not less

Alone than thou, their loneliness.

Yes! in the sea of life enisled,

With echoing straits between us thrown,

Dotting the shoreless watery wild,

We mortal millions live alone.

The islands feel the enclasping flow,

And then their endless bounds they know.

But when the moon their hollow lights,

And they are swept by balms of spring,

And in their glens, on starry nights,

The nightingales divinely sing;

And lovely notes, from shore to shore,

Across the sounds and channels pour--

Oh! then a longing like despair

Is to their farthest caverns sent;

For surely once, they feel, we were

Parts of a single continent!

Now round us spreads the watery plain--

Oh, might our marges meet again!

Who ordered that their longing's fire

Should be, as soon as kindled, cooled?

Who renders vain their deep desire?--

A God, a God their severance ruled!

And bade betwixt their shores to be

The unplumbed, salt, estranging sea


In front the awful Alpine track

Crawls up its rocky stair;

The autumn storm-winds drive the rack,

Close o'er it, in the air.

Behind are the abandoned baths

Mute in their meadows lone;

The leaves are on the valley-paths,

The mists are on the Rhone--

The white mists rolling like a sea!

I hear the torrents roar.

--Yes, Obermann, all speaks of thee;

I feel thee near once more.

I turn thy leaves! I feel their breath

Once more upon me roll;

That air of languor, cold, and death,

Which brooded o'er thy soul.

Fly hence, poor wretch, whoe'er thou art,

Condemned to cast about,

All shipwreck in thy own weak heart,

For comfort from without!

A fever in these pages burns

Beneath the calm they feign;

A wounded human spirit turns,

Here, on its bed of pain.

Yes, though the virgin mountain-air

Fresh through these pages blows;

Though to these leaves the glaciers spare

The soul of their mute snows;

Though here a mountain-murmur swells

Of many a dark-boughed pine;

Though, as you read, you hear the bells

Of the high-pasturing kine--

Yet, through the hum of torrent lone,

And brooding mountain-bee,

There sobs I know not what ground-tone

Of human agony.

Is it for this, because the sound

Is fraught too deep with pain,

That, Obermann! the world around

So little loves thy strain?

And then we turn, thou sadder sage,

To thee! we feel thy spell!

--The hopeless tangle of our age,

Thou too hast scanned it well!

Immovable thou sittest, still

As death, composed to bear!

Thy head is clear, thy feeling chill,

And icy thy despair.

He who hath watched, not shared, the strife,

Knows how the day hath gone.

He only lives with the world's life

Who hath renounced his own.

To thee we come, then! Clouds are rolled

Where thou, O seer! art set;

Thy realm of thought is drear and cold--

The world is colder yet!

And thou hast pleasures, too, to share

With those who come to thee--

Balms floating on thy mountain-air,

And healing sights to see.

How often, where the slopes are green

On Jaman, hast thou sate

By some high chalet-door, and seen

The summer-day grow late;

And darkness steal o'er the wet grass

With the pale crocus starr'd,

And reach that glimmering sheet of glass

Beneath the piny sward,

Lake Leman's waters, far below!

And watched the rosy light

Fade from the distant peaks of snow;

And on the air of night

Heard accents of the eternal tongue

Through the pine branches play--

Listened and felt thyself grow young!

Listened, and wept--Away!

Away the dreams that but deceive!

And thou, sad guide, adieu!

I go, fate drives me; but I leave

Half of my life with you.

We, in some unknown Power's employ,

Move on a rigorous line;

Can neither, when we will, enjoy,

Nor, when we will, resign.

I in the world must live;--but thou,

Thou melancholy shade!

Wilt not, if thou can'st see me now,

Condemn me, nor upbraid.

For thou art gone away from earth,

And place with those dost claim,

The Children of the Second Birth,

Whom the world could not tame.

Farewell!--Whether thou now liest near

That much-loved inland sea,

The ripples of whose blue waves cheer

Vevey and Meillerie;

And in that gracious region bland,

Where with clear-rustling wave

The scented pines of Switzerland

Stand dark round thy green grave,

Between the dusty vineyard-walls

Issuing on that green place,

The early peasant still recalls

The pensive stranger's face,

And stoops to clear thy moss-grown date

Ere he plods on again;--

Or whether, by maligner fate,

Among the swarms of men,

Where between granite terraces

The blue Seine rolls her wave,

The Capital of Pleasures sees

Thy hardly-heard-of grave;--

Farewell! Under the sky we part,

In this stern Alpine dell.

O unstrung will! O broken heart!

A last, a last farewell!


Goethe in Weimar sleeps, and Greece,

Long since, saw Byron's struggle cease,

But one such death remained to come;

The last poetic voice is dumb--

We stand to-day by Wordsworth's tomb.

When Byron's eyes were shut in death,

We bowed our head and held our breath.

He taught us little; but our soul

Had felt him like the thunder's roll.

With shivering heart the strife we saw

Of passion with eternal law;

And yet with reverential awe

We watched the fount of fiery life

Which served for that Titanic strife.

When Goethe's death was told, we said,--

Sunk, then, is Europe's sagest head.

Physician of the iron age,

Goethe has done his pilgrimage.

He took the suffering human race,

He read each wound, each weakness clear;

And struck his finger on the place,

And said: Thou ailest here, and here!

He looked on Europe's dying hour

Of fitful dream and feverish power;

His eye plunged down the weltering strife,

The turmoil of expiring life--He

said, The end is everywhere,

Art still has truth, take refuge there!

And he was happy, if to know

Causes of things, and far below

His feet to see the lurid flow

Of terror, and insane distress,

And headlong fate, be happiness.

And Wordsworth!--Ah, pale ghosts, rejoice!

For never has such soothing voice

Been to your shadowy world conveyed,

Since erst, at morn, some wandering shade

Heard the clear song of Orpheus come

Through Hades, and the mournful gloom.

Wordsworth has gone from us--and ye,

Ah, may ye feel his voice as we!

He too upon a wintry clime

Had fallen--on this iron time

Of doubts, disputes, distractions, fears.

He found us when the age had bound

Our souls in its benumbing round;

He spoke, and loosed our heart in tears.

He laid us as we lay at birth,

On the cool, flowery lap of earth.

Smiles broke from us and we had ease;

The hills were round us, and the breeze

Went o'er the sunlit fields again;

Our foreheads felt the wind and rain,

Our youth returned; for there was shed

On spirits that had long been dead,

Spirits dried up and closely furled,

The freshness of the early world.

Ah! since dark days still bring to light

Man's prudence and man's fiery might,

Time may restore us in his course

Goethe's sage mind and Byron's force;

But where will Europe's latter hour

Again find Wordsworth's healing power?

Others will teach us how to dare,

And against fear our breast to steel;

Others will strengthen us to bear--

But who, ah! who, will make us feel?

The cloud of mortal destiny,

Others will front it fearlessly--But

who, like him, will put it by?

Keep fresh the grass upon his grave,

O Rotha, with thy living wave!

Sing him thy best! for few or none

Hears thy voice right, now he is gone.



O most just Vizier, send away

The cloth-merchants, and let them be,

Them and their dues, this day! the King

Is ill at ease, and calls for thee.


O merchants, tarry yet a day

Here in Bokhara! but at noon,

To-morrow, come, and ye shall pay

Each fortieth web of cloth to me,

As the law is, and go your way.

O Hussein, lead me to the King!

Thou teller of sweet tales,--thine own,

Ferdousi's, and the others',--lead!

How is it with my lord?



Ever since prayer-time, he doth wait,

O Vizier! without lying down,

In the great window of the gate,

Looking into the Registàn,

Where through the sellers' booths the slaves

Are this way bringing the dead man.--

O Vizier, here is the King's door!


O Vizier, I may bury him?


O King, thou know'st, I have been sick

These many days, and heard no thing

(For Allah shut my ears and mind),

Not even what thou dost, O King!

Wherefore, that I may counsel thee,

Let Hussein, if thou wilt, make haste

To speak in order what hath chanced.


O Vizier, be it as thou say'st!


Three days since, at the time of prayer,

A certain Moollah, with his robe

All rent, and dust upon his hair,

Watched my lord's coming forth, and pushed

The golden mace-bearers aside,

And fell at the King's feet, and cried:--

"Justice, O King, and on myself!

On this great sinner, who did break

The law, and by the law must die!

Vengeance, O King!"

But the King spake:--

"What fool is this, that hurts our ears

With folly? or what drunken slave?

My guards, what, prick him with your spears!

Prick me the fellow from the path!"

As the King said, so was it done,

And to the mosque my lord passed on.

But on the morrow when the King

Went forth aga