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No. 167. TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22.
Fata viam invenient
The following story is lately translated out of an Arabian manuscript, which I think has very much the turn of an Oriental tale, and as it has never before been printed, I ques
I tion not but it will be acceptable to my reader.
The name of Helim is still famous through all the eastern parts of the world. He is called among the Persians, even to this day, Helim the great physician. He was acquainted with all the powers of simples, understood all the influences of the stars, and knew the secrets that were engraved on the seal of Solomon the son of David. Helim was also governor of the Black Palace, and chief of the physicians to Alnareschin, the great king of Persia.
Alnareschin was the most dreadful tyrant that ever reigned in his country. He was of a fearful, suspicious, and cruel nature, having put to death upon very slight jealousies and surmises five and thirty of his queens, and above twenty sons, whom he suspected to have conspired against his life. Being at length wearied with the exercise of so many cruelties in his own family, and fearing lest the whole race of caliphs should be entirely lost, he one day sent for Helim, and spoke to him after this manner. “Helim, (said he,) I have long admired thy great wisdom, and retired way of living. I shall now show thee the entire confidence which I place in thee. I have only two sons remaining, who are yet but infants. It is my design that thou take them home with thee, and educate them as thy own. Train them up in the humble, unambitious pursuits after knowledge. By this means shall the line of caliphs be preserved, and my children succeed after me, without aspiring to my throne whilst I am yet alive.” “The words of my lord the king shall be obeyed,” said Helim. After which he bowed, and went out of the king's presence. He then received the children into his own house, and from that time bred them up with him in the studies of knowledge and virtue. The young princes loved and respected Helim as their father, and made such improvements under him, that by the age of one and twenty they As the young
were instructed in all the learning of the East. The name of the eldest was Ibrahim, and of the youngest Abdallah. They lived together in such a perfect friendship, that to this day it is said of intimate friends that they live together like Ibrahim and Abdallah. Helim had an only child, who was a girl of a fine soul, and a most beautiful person. a
Her father omitted nothing in her education that might make her the most accomplished woman of her age. princes were in a manner excluded from the rest of the world, they frequently conversed with this lovely virgin, who had been brought up by her father in the same course of knowledge and of virtue. Abdallah, whose mind was of a softer turn than that of his brother, grew by degrees so enamoured of her conversation, that he did not think he lived when he was not in company with his beloved Balsora, for that was the name of the maid. The fame of her beauty was so great, that at length it came to the ears of the king, who, pretending to visit the young princes his sons, demanded of Telim the sight of Balsora his fair daughter. The king was so inflamed with her beauty and behaviour, that he sent for Helim the next morning, and told him it was now his design to recompense him for all his faithful services : and that in order to it, he intended to make his daughter queen of Persia. Helim, who knew very well the fate of all those unhappy women who had thus been advanced, and could not but be privy to the secret love which Abdallah bore his daughter, “Far be it, (said he,) from the king of Persia to contaminate the blood of the caliphs, and join himself in marriage with the daughter of his physician.”. The king, however, was so impatient for such a bride, that without hearing any excuses, he immediately ordered Balsora to be sent for into his presence, keeping the father with him, in order to make her sensible of the honour which he designed her. Balsora, who was too modest and humble to think her beauty had made such an impression on the king, was a few moments after brought into his presence as he had commanded.
She appeared in the king's eye as one of the virgins of Paradise. But, upon hearing the honour which he intended her, she fainted away, and fell down as dead at his feet. Helim wept, and, after having recovered her out of the trance into which she was fallen, represented to the king that so unex
pected an honour was too great to have been communicated to her all at once; but that, if he pleased, he would himself
prepare her for it. The king bid him take his own way, and dismissed him. Balsora was conveyed again to her father's house, where the thoughts of Abdallah renewed her affliction every moment; insomuch, that at length she fell into a raging fever. The king was informed of her condition by those that saw her. Helim finding no other means of extricating her from the difficulties she was in, after having composed her mind, and made her acquainted with his intentions, gave her a potion, which he knew would lay her asleep for many hours; and afterwards, in all the seeming distress of a disconsolate father, informed the king she was dead. The king, who never let any sentiments of humanity come too near his heart, did not much trouble himself about the matter: however, for his own reputation, he told the father, that since it was known through the empire, that Balsora died at a time when he designed her for his bride, it was his intention that she should be honoured as such after her death, that her body should be laid in the Black Palace, among those of his deceased queens.
In the mean time, Abdallah, who had heard of the king's design, was not less afflicted than his beloved Balsora. As for the several circumstances of his distress, as also how the . king was informed of an irrecoverable distemper into which he was fallen, they are to be found at length in the history of Helim. It shall suffice to acquaint my reader, that Helim, some days after the supposed death of his daughter, gave the prince a potion of the same nature with that which had laid asleep Balsora.
It is the custom among the Persians, to convey, in a private manner, the bodies of all the royal family, a little after their death, into the Black Palace; which is the repository of all who are descended from the caliphs, or any way allied to them. The chief physician is always governor of the Black Palace, it being his office to embalm and preserve the holy family after they are dead, as well as to take care of them while they are yet living. The Black Palace is so called, from the colour of the building, which is all of the finest polished black marble. There are always burning in it five thousand everlasting lamps. It has also a hundred folding doors of ebony, which are each of them watched day and
night by a hundred negroes, who are to take care that nobody enters besides the governor.
Helim, after having conveyed the body of his daughter into this repository, and at the appointed time received her out of the sleep into which she was fallen, took care, some time after, to bring that of Abdallah into the same place. Balsora watched over him, till such time as the dose he had taken lost its effect. Abdallah was not acquainted with Helim's design when he gave him this sleepy potion. It is impossible to describe the surprise, the joy, the transport he was in at his first awaking. He fancied himself in the retirements of the blessed, and that the spirit of his dear Balsora, who he thought was just gone before him, was the first who came to congratulate his arrival. She soon informed him of the place he was in, which, notwithstanding all its horrors, appeared to him more sweet than the bower of Mahomet, in the company
of Balsora. Helim, who was supposed to be taken up in the embalming of the bodies, visited the place very frequently. His greatest perplexity was how to get the lovers out of the gates, being watched in such a manner as I have before related. This consideration did not a little disturb the two interred lovers. At length Helim bethought himself, that the first day of the full moon, of the month Tizpa, was near at hand. Now it is a received tradition among the Persians, that the souls of those of the royal family, who are in a state of bliss, do, on the first full moon after their decease, pass through the eastern gate of the Black Palace, which is therefore called the gate of Paradise, in order to take their flight for that happy place. Helim, therefore, having made due preparations for this night, dressed each of the lovers in a robe of azure silk, wrought in the finest looms of Persia, with a long train of linen whiter than snow, that floated on the ground behind them. Upon Abdallah's head he fixed a wreath of the greenest myrtle, and on Balsora's a garland of the freshest roses. Their garments were scented with the richest perfumes of Arabia. Having thus prepared everything, the full moon was no sooner up, and shining in all its brightness, but ? he privately opened the gate of Paradise,
| But.] Fill up the sentence thus-the full moon was no sooner up, and shining in all its brightness, (than he did not lose the opportunity,] but he privately opened, &c. See note on Spectator, No. 535.
and shut it after the same manner, as soon as they had passed through it. The band of negroes who were posted at a little distance from the gate, seeing two such beautiful apparitions, that showed themselves to advantage by the light of the full moon, and being ravished with the odour that flowed from their garments, immediately concluded them to be the ghosts of the two persons lately deceased. They fell upon their faces as they passed through the midst of them, and continued prostrate on the earth, till such time as they were out of sight. They reported the next day what they had seen; but this was looked upon, by the king himself, and most others, as the compliment that was usually paid to any of the deceased of his family. Helim had placed two of his own mules at about a mile's distance from the black temple, on the spot which they had agreed upon for their rendezvous. He here met them and conducted them to one of his own houses, which was situated on Mount Khacan. The air on this mountain was so very healthful, that Helim had formerly transported the king thither, in order to recover him out of a long fit of sickness; which succeeded so well, that the king made him a present of the whole mountain, with a beautiful house and gardens that were on the top of it. In this retirement lived Abdallah and Balsora. They were both so fraught with all kinds of knowledge, and possessed with so constant and so mutual a passion for each other, that their solitude never lay heavy on them. Abdallah applied himself to those arts which were agreeable to his manner of living, and the situation of the place, insomuch, that in a few years he converted the whole mountain into a kind of garden, and covered every part of it with plantations or spots of flowers. Helim was too good a father to let him want anything that might conduce to make his retirement pleasant.
In about ten years after their abode in this place the old king died, and was succeeded by his son Ibrahim, who, upon the supposed death of his brother, had been called to court, and entertained there as heir to the Persian empire. Though he was, for some years, inconsolable for the death of his
i Rendezvous.] I know not how this word came to make its fortune in our language. It is of an awkward and ill construction, even in the French,