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Payne: The Blind Man and the Cripple

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'A blind man and a cripple were travelling-companions and used to beg in company. One day they sought admission into the garden of some one of the benevolent, and a kind-hearted man hearing their talk, took compassion on them and carried them into his garden, where he left them and went away, bidding them do no waste nor damage therein. When the fruits became ripe, the cripple said to the blind man, "Harkye, I see ripe fruits and long for them; but I cannot rise to theme to eat thereof; so go thou, for thou art sound of limb, and fetch us thereof, that we may eat." "Out on thee!" replied the blind man. "I had no thought of them, but now that thou callest them to my mind, I long to eat of them and I cannot avail unto this, being unable to see them; so how shall we do to get at them?" At this moment, up came the overseer of the garden, who was a man of understanding, and the cripple said to him, "Harkye, overseer! I long for some of those fruits; but we are as thou seest; I am a cripple and my mate here is stone-blind: so what shall we do?" "Out on ye!" replied the overseer. "Have ye forgotten that the master of the garden stipulated with you that ye should do no waste nor damage therein? Take warning then and abstain from this." But they answered, "Needs must we get at these fruits, that we may eat thereof: so tell us how we shall contrive this."

When the overseer saw that they were not to be turned from their purpose, he said, "O cripple, let the blind man take thee on his back and carry thee to the tree whose fruit pleaseth thee, so thou mayst pluck what thou canst reach thereof." So the blind man took the cripple on his back and the latter guided him, till he brought him to a tree, and he fell to plucking from it what he would and tearing at its branches, till he had despoiled it; after which they went round about the garden and wasted it with their hands and feet; nor did they cease from this fashion, till they had stripped all the trees in the garden.

Then they returned to their place and presently up came the master of the garden, who, seeing it in this plight, was sore angered and said to them, "Out on ye! What fashion is this? Did I not stipulate with you that ye should do no waste in the garden?" Quoth they, "Thou knowest that we cannot avail to come at any of the fruit, for that one of us is a cripple and cannot rise and the other is blind and cannot see that which is before him: so what is our offence?" But the master answered, saying, "Think ye I know not how ye wrought and how ye have gone about to do waste in my garden? I know, as if I had been with thee, O blind man, that thou tookest the cripple on thy back and he guided thee, till thou borest him to the trees." Then he punished them grievously and put them out of the garden. Now the blind man is the similitude of the body, and the cripple that of the soul, for that it hath no power of motion but by the body; the garden is the works, for which the creature is rewarded or punished, and the overseer is the reason, which commandeth to good and forbiddeth from evil. Thus the body and the soul are partners in reward and punishment.' (Q.) 'Which of the learned men is most worthy of praise, according to thee?' (A.) 'He who is learned in the knowledge of God and whose knowledge profiteth him.' (Q.) 'And who is this?' (A.) 'He who is instant in seeking to please his Lord and avoid His wrath.' (Q.) 'And which of them is the most excellent?' (A.) 'He who is most learned in the knowledge of God.' (Q.) 'And which is the most experienced of them?' (A.) 'He who is most constant in doing according to his knowledge.' (Q.) 'And which is the purest-hearted of them?' (A.) 'He who is most assiduous in preparing for death and praising God and least of them in hope, and indeed he who familiarizes his soul with the terrors of death is as one who looks into a clear mirror, for that he knows the truth, and the mirror still increases in clearness and brilliance.' (Q.) 'What are the goodliest of treasures?' (A.) 'The treasures of heaven.' (Q.) 'Which is the goodliest of the treasures of heaven?' (A.) 'The praise and magnification of God.' (Q.) 'Which is the most excellent of the treasures of earth?' (A.) 'The practice of kindness.' (Q.) 'Tell me of three different things, knowledge and judgment and wit, and of that which unites them.' (A.) 'Knowledge comes of learning, judgment of experience and wit of refection, and they are all stablished and united in reason. He in whom these three qualities combine is perfect, and he who adds thereto the fear of God is in the right course.' (Q.) 'Tell me, is it possible, in the case of a man of learning and wisdom, endowed with sound judgment, lucid intelligence and keen and excelling wit, for desire and lust to change these his qualities?' (A.) '[Yes]; for these passions, when they enter into a man, affect his wisdom and understanding and judgment and wit and he is like the eagle, which abode in the upper air of the excess of his subtlety and precaution against the hunters; but, as he was thus, he saw a fowler set up his nets and bait them with a piece of meat; which when he beheld, desire and lust thereof overcame him and he forgot that which he had seen of nets and of the sorry case of all birds that fell into them. So he swooped down from the sky and pouncing upon the piece of meat, was caught in the same snare and could not win free. When the fowler came up and saw the eagle taken in his net, he marvelled exceedingly and said, "I set up my nets, thinking to take therein pigeons and the like of small birds; how came this eagle to fall into it?" It is said that when desire and lust incite a man of understanding to aught, he considers the issue thereof and refrains from that which they make fair and overcomes his passions with his reason; for, when they urge him to aught, it behoves him to make his reason like unto a skilled horseman, who, mounting a skittish horse, curbs him with a sharp bit, so that he goes aright with him and carries him whither he will. As for the ignorant man, who has neither knowledge nor judgment and things are obscure to him and desire and lust lord it over him, verily he does according to his desire and his lust and is of the number of those that perish; nor is there among men one in sorrier case than he.' (Q.) 'When is knowledge profitable and when availeth reason to ward off the ill effects of desire and lust?' (A.) 'When their possessor uses them in quest of the goods of the next world, for reason and knowledge are altogether profitable; but it behoves their owner to expend them not in the quest of the goods of this world, save in so far as may be needful for gaining his livelihood and defending himself from its mischief.' (Q.) 'What is most worthy that a man should apply himself thereto and occupy his heart withal?' (A.) 'Good works.' (Q.) 'If a man do this, it diverts him from gaining his living: how then shall he do for his livelihood, which he cannot dispense withal?' (A.) 'A man's day is four- and-twenty hours, and it behoves him to employ one [third] part thereof in seeking his living, another in prayer and rest and the remainder in the pursuit of knowledge; for a reasonable man without knowledge is as a barren land, wherein is place for neither tillage nor tree-planting nor grass. Except it be prepared for tillage and planted, no fruit will profit therein; but, if it be tilled and planted, it brings forth goodly fruits. So with the ignorant man: there is no profit in him till knowledge be planted in him: then doth he bear fruit.' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of knowledge without understanding?' (A.) 'It is as the knowledge of a brute, which hath learnt the hours of its feeding and watering and waking, but hath no reason.' (Q.) 'Thou hast been brief in thine answer concerning this; but I accept thy reply. Tell me, how shall I guard myself against the Sultan?' (A.) 'By giving him no hold over thee.' (Q.) 'And how can I but give him hold over me, seeing that he is set in dominion over me and that the rein of my affair is in his hand?' (A.) 'His dominion over thee lies in the duties thou owest him; so, if thou give him his due, he hath no [farther] dominion over thee.' (Q.) 'What are a vizier's duties to his king?' (A.) 'Good counsel and zealous service both in public and private, right judgment, the keeping of his secrets and that he conceal from him nought of that which he hath a right to know, lack of neglect of aught of his occasions, with whose accomplishment he charges him, the seeking his approof on every wise and the avoidance of his wrath.' (Q.) 'How should the vizier do with the king?' (A.) 'If thou be vizier to the king and wouldst be safe from him, let thy hearing and thy speech to him overpass his expectation of thee and be thy seeking of thy need from him after the measure of thy rank in his esteem, and beware lest thou advance thyself to a dignity whereof he shall not judge thee worthy, for this would be like to presumption in thee against him. So, if thou presume upon his mildness and assume a rank beyond that which he deemeth thy due, thou wilt be like the hunter, who used to trap wild beasts for their skins and throw the flesh away. Now a lion used to come to the place [where the hunter skinned his prey] and eat of the carrion; and in course of time, he clapped up an acquaintance with the hunter, who would throw [meat] to him and wipe his hands on his back, whilst the lion wagged his tail. When the hunter saw his tameness and gentleness and submissiveness to him, he said in himself, "Verily this lion humbleth himself to me and I am master of him, and I see not why I should not mount him and strip off his hide, as with the other wild beasts." So he sprang on the lion's back, presuming on his mildness and deeming himself sure of him; which when the lion saw, he was exceeding wroth and raising his paw, smote the hunter, that he drove his claws into his guts; after which he cast him under his feet and tore him in pieces and devoured him. By this thou mayst know that it behoves the vizier to bear himself towards the king according to that which he seeth of his condition and not to presume upon the superiority of his own judgment, lest the king become jealous of him.' (Q.) 'How shall the vizier grace himself in the king's sight?' (A.) 'By the performance of the trust of loyal counsel and sound judgment committed to him and the execution of his commandments.' (Q.) 'As for that which thou sayst of the vizier's duty to avoid the king's wrath and perform his wishes and apply himself diligently to the due execution of that wherewith he charges him, that is a matter of course: but how, if the king's whole pleasure be in tyranny and the practice of oppression and extortion, and what shall the vizier do if he be afflicted with the frequentation of this unjust king? If he strive to turn him from his lust and his desire, he cannot avail unto this, and if he follow him in his lusts and flatter him with false counsel, he assumes the responsibility of this and becomes an enemy to the people. What sayst thou of this?' (A.) 'What thou sayst, O vizier, of his responsibility and sin, arises only in the case of his abetting the king in his wrong-doing; but it behoves the vizier, when the king takes counsel with him of the like of this, to show forth to him the way of justice and equity and caution him against tyranny and oppression and expound to him the principles of good government, alluring him with the reward that pertains to this and restraining him with warning of the punishment that he incurs [in following his perverse inclinations]. If the king incline to his words, his end is gained, and if not, there is nothing for it but that he depart from him on courteous wise, for that in separation is ease for each of them.' (Q.) 'What are the duties of the king to his subjects and of the latter to the king?' (A.) 'They shall do what he orders them with a pure intent and obey him in that which pleases him and pleases God and His apostle. It is the king's duty to protect their possessions and guard their women, even as it is their duty to hearken unto him and obey him and expend their lives freely in his defence and give him his lawful due and praise him duly for that which he bestoweth upon them of his justice and beneficence.' (Q.) 'Have his subjects any claim upon the king other than that which thou hast said?' (A.) 'Yes: the king's duty to his subjects is more imperative than their duty to him; for that the breach of his duty towards them is more harmful than that of theirs towards him; because the will of the king and the loss of his kingdom and fortune betide not but by the breach of his duty to his subjects: wherefore it behoves him who is invested with the kingship to be assiduous in ensuing three things, to wit, the furtherance of the faith, the welfare of his subjects and the due administration of government; for by the assiduous observance of these three things, his kingdom shall endure.' (Q.) 'How doth it behove him to do for his subjects' weal?' (A.) 'By giving them their due and maintaining their laws and usages and employing wise and learned men to teach them and justifying them, one of the other, and sparing their blood and defending their goods and lightening their burdens and strengthening their armies.' (Q.) 'What is the king's duty to his vizier?' (A.) 'None hath a more imperative claim on the king than the vizier, for three reasons: firstly, because of that which betides him with him, in case of error in judgment, and because of the common profit to king and people in case of sound judgment: secondly, that the folk may know the goodliness of the rank which the vizier holds in the king's estimation and so look on him with eyes of veneration and respect and submission; and thirdly, that the vizier, seeing this from king and people, may ward off from them that which they mislike and fulfil to them that which they love.' (Q.) 'I have heard all thou hast said of the attributes of king and vizier and people and approve thereof: but now tell me what is incumbent in the matter of keeping the tongue from lying and folly and slander and excess in speech.' (A.) 'It behoves a man to speak nought but good and kindness and to talk not of that which concerns him not; to leave detraction nor carry talk he hath heard from one man to his enemy, neither seek to harm his friend nor his enemy with his sultan and reck not of any, neither of him from whom he hopes for good nor of him whose mischief he fears, save of God the Most High; for, in truth, He is the [only] one who liveth or profiteth. Let him not impute default unto any nor talk ignorantly, lest he incur the burden and the sin thereof before God and earn hatred among men; for know that speech is like an arrow, which, once discharged, none can avail to recall. Moreover, let him beware of confiding his secret to one who shall discover it, lest he fall into mischief by reason of its disclosure, after having relied upon its concealment; and let him be more careful to keep his secret from his friend than from his enemy; for the keeping a secret with all folk is of the performance of trust.' (Q.) 'Tell me how a man should bear himself with his family and friends.' (A.) 'There is no ease for a son of Adam save in good conduct; he should render to his family that which they deserve and to his brethren that which is their due.' (Q.) 'What should one render to one's kinsfolk?' (A.) 'To one's parents, submission and soft speech and affability and honour and reverence. To one's brethren, loyal counsel and readiness to expend one's good for them and assistance in their undertakings and grieving for their grief and joyance in their joy and closing of the eyes toward the errors that they may commit; for, when they experience this from a man, they requite him with the best they can command of good counsel and expend their lives in his defence; so, if thou know thy brother to be trusty, be lavish to him of thy love and helpful to him in all his affairs.' (Q.) 'I see that brethren are of two kinds, brethren of trust and brethren of society. As for the first, there is due to them that which thou hast set forth; but now tell me of the other.' (A.) 'As for brethren of society, thou gettest of them clearance and goodly usance and fair speech and company; so be thou not sparing to them of thy delights, but be lavish to them, like as they are lavish thereof to thee, and render to them that which they render to thee of affability and an open favour and sweet speech; so shall thy life be pleasant and thy speech have acceptance with them.' (Q.) 'Tell me now of the provision decreed by the Creator to all creatures. Hath He allotted to men and beasts each his several provision, to the completion of his appointed term; and if this be so, what maketh him who seeketh his livelihood to incur hardship and toil in the quest of that which he knows he cannot fail of obtaining, if it be decreed to him, though he incur not the misery of endeavour; whilst, if it be not decreed to him, he shall not win thereto, though he strive after it with his utmost endeavour? Shall he therefore leave striving and put his trust in his Lord and rest his body and his soul?' (A.) 'Indeed, we see that to each there is a provision allotted and a term prescribed; but to each provision is a way and means, and he who seeketh would get ease of his seeking by leaving to seek; et needs must he seek his fortune. Moreover, the seeker is in two cases; either he gains his fortune or fails thereof. In the first case, his pleasure consists, first in the having gained his fortune, and secondly, in the satisfactory issue of his quest; and in the other case, his pleasure consists, first, in his readiness to seek his living, secondly, in his abstaining from being a burden to the folk, and thirdly, in his freedom from liability to reproach.' (Q.) 'What sayst thou of the means of seeking one's fortune?' (A.) 'A man shall hold lawful that which God (to whom belong might and majesty) permitteth and unlawful that which He forbiddeth.'

[Resume King Jelyaad of Hind and His Vizier Shimas: Whereafter Ensueth the History of King Wird Khan, Son of King Jelyaad, With His Women and Viziers]

Payne, John (1842-1916). The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night. London. 1901. Gutenberg Vol. I. Gutenberg Vol. II. Gutenberg Vol. III. Gutenberg Vol. IV. Please consult the Gutenberg edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version. Wollamshram Vol. V. Wollamshram Vol. VI. Wollamshram Vol. VII. Wollamshram Vol. VIII. Wollamshram Vol. IX. Please consult the Wollamshram edition for footnotes; the footnotes have not been included in this web version.

1001 Nights Hypertext. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License. The texts presented here are in the public domain. Thanks to Gene Perry for his excellent help in preparing the texts for the web. Page last updated: January 1, 2005 10:46 PM

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