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gine that we will refuse to be instructed in the most useful science for kings? Tell me, then, what are the most certain methods by which we may judge of the true value of men?” My Lord, replied Morad, whilst your courtiers were giving you on this subject such admirable counsels, I thought of the renowned Caliph Almanzor, the creator of Bagdad, and the glory of the east. This great man, possessed in an eminent degree this knowledge, less difficult, perhaps, than you imagine it to be; and if your highness will deign to listen to me, I will relate to you the methods he employed to form a true judgment of the men whom he designed to associate with himself in the administration of the government of an extensive empire.” “Proceed,” said Adhad-Eddoulat, “ I listen to thee with attention, and I burn with impatience to hear tbis history and to profit by it.” “It is very simple.” “ So much the better, if it be true.” “ It is rather long.” “ It will be too short if it be useful.”
Then Morad began as follows:
At the period of my history the Caliph Abou-GiafarAlmanzor had just lost his grand-treasurer. After the decease of this minister, it appeared, on examining the details of his administration, that he had diminished the public treasure, and amassed for himself immense riches at the expence of whole provinces, which were desolated by his rapacious and numerous exactions. Almanzor felt the necessity of replacing this faithless minister by a man who would not abuse the power with whieh he should be invested. But where was to be found a man worthy to be trusted with so important a charge: Where the probity that would not be liable to be seduced by the prospect of immense treasures, a part of which it would be so easy to appropriate to one's own use with impunity! Your bighness may well conceive that such a place was sought after by the first lords of the court. ` All put forward their pretensions; all employed gold and intrigues to succeed ; all made the highest protestations of zeal and of devotion to the public service. The caliph, however, remained undecided, and no one was chosen for the vacant office.
In the mean time all eyes were turned towards Agib, whose fortune was immense, and whose eminent talents were well known. He was already spoken of as a candidate likely to succeed, and he flattered himself with the expectation of being shortly invested with the office of grand treasurer of the empire. The caliph had often heard speak of Agib, but he had never seen him, and was not known by him. Whilst thus undecided, he called to him one of his courtiers, and said to him: “For a long time past I have been solicited on behalf of Agib; I have some idea of constituting him my grand-treasurer; but first I must know him. This night I will disguise myself, thou shalt take me to his house and introduce me to him as one of thy friends; thou shalt speak of me in terms of the highest praise, thou shalt exalt my merit, my knowledge; my wisdom, and above all my probity. At the same time thou shalt add that it is a pity I should be so ill-treated by fortune as to be poor and wretched. Have a care to preserve my secret, that not the least suspicion may be excited: thy life should pay for thy disobedience." The courtier prostrated himself and swore to obey this absolute command.'
At night, Almanzor, cloathed in the plainest habiliments, was conducted to the house of Agib by the courtier, who, faithful to his promise, spoke thus to his protégé." Permit me, Agib, to introduce to you a man who has rendered me the most important ser: vices. He is endowed with excellent qualities. bis knowledge is various and extensive. He is indeed a model of probity and of virtue; hut fortune has illtreated him; he is a man of the highest merit, but destitute of riches, and unknown to fame.” Agib saluted the courtier, spoke to him in the most complimentary terms, lavished on him the most flattering eulogies, and noticed the stranger by a slight inclination of the head. At this instant some of Agib's friends were ushered in; he approached them with assiduity, and exhausted himself in protestations of friendship. The stranger so meanly attired, was no longer thought of; he was not even saluted..
They now bring in ices and sherbet, and each one seats himself round a table magnificently decorated. The first place is given to the courtier, the other places
are distributed according to the rank and the riches of the respective guests; the poor stranger would have been suffered to stand, if he had not adopted the reso. lution to take his seat the last. The most exquisite perfumes are burnt. A troop of youthful musicians and beautiful female dancers exhibit their talents and their graces before this brilliant assemblage of guests, who fail pot to extol the merit of Agib, to exalt the extent of his knowledge, his fine taste, and his nobleness of mind. They speak of the grand-treasurership. 66 You are the man who will obtain it," say they. " Where can the caliph make a better choice?. Where will he find a more skilful man than Agih?” Then, every one is eager to solicit of him his patronage when he shall be grand treasurer; for all have friends or relations for whom they wish to provide. Agib already, in anticipation enjoys the brilliant prospect which they have presented to his imagination. He promises all that is asked of him; the courtier is above all assured beforeh
phand, that he will obtain every for which he may deign to ask. The poor stranger for a long time preserved profound silence; but at last, with an affected timidity, which appeared however perfectly natural, he said to the future grandtreasurer: "My Lord, I beg of you the favour to think of me when you are invested with this impor. tant dignity. I will serve you with an unexampled zeal. Great reverses and unforeseen misfortunes have deprived me of the whole of my fortune, and have left me nothing but my honour and my integrity.” Agib replies to him by a smile which is meant to refuse and to promise nothing. The guests depart, and the stranger takes his leave with the courtier who had introduced him.
Eight days had just elapsed, when the caliph again called to his presence the courtier, and said to him : " To night thou shalt conduct me to the house of Agib; I will present myself in a magnificent dress, numerous slaves shall attend me, and thou shalt announce that I bave experienced a most extraordinary. change of fortuve; that I have been presented to the caliph, who has distinguished me in a most particular manner, and has instantly heaped his favours upon
me; that it is expected I sball shortly become the most powerful nobleman in Bagdad. But I again charge thee to keep well my secret. If any thing should induce thee prematurely to reveal it, I will punish thee as a traitor."
The caliph, as he had said, attired himself magnificently, and mounted on a horse bedecked with superb trappings, was escorted by a numerous band of followers, and proceeded with the courtier to the house of Agib. When Agib perceived this brilliant retinue enter the court-yard of his palace, he precipitately quitted his apartment; and Hew to present himself before the master of these numerous slaves. The courtier approached him, and drawing him aside, said to him, in a low tone of voice: “ This is the friend whom I introduced to you the other day. Since that period his fortune bas surprisingly changed; he has found the means to introduce himself to the person of the caliph, who, influenced by a caprice so common to princes and 'kings, became immediately prepossessed in favour of the merits and talents of this man, whom I have discovered to be but an adventurer, destitute of any talent but that of a capacity for intrigue. He is already become rich and powerful; his interest is most extensive. Never was a fortune so rapidly acquired. He is but a knave, but he is a skilful one, he has deceived me by false appearances of virtue, and he is capable of deceiving any one; I should not be surprised if at some future time, perhaps before long, he should be appointed grand-vizier. I have requested him to pay you a visit, and he has consented." The astonishment of Agib on hearing this information was indiscribable. It was with difficulty that he could conceal his embarrassment and his confusion. In saluting this man, whom, eight days ago he treated so contemptuously, he almost kissed the earth. He overwhelmed him with congratulations, he was so happy in the honour of cultivating the acquaintance of a man of such resplendent merit! “Fortune is then for once just,” said he," she at length has regard to virtue and talents!” The stranger was introduced into a magnificent saloon; the whole attention was occupied by him. Shortly, à numerous company arrived at the house of Agib; but he was solely occupied by his attentions to the distinguished stranger, who had honoured him by his visit. Sherbet was brought in as before, but in much richer vessels; the viands were more costly, the lights more brilliant, the perfumes more rare and more exquisite. The place of honour was given to the stranger, whom Agib himself served with a pressing and respectful solicitude. The conversation again reverted to the subject of the grand treasurership. " I promised you, the other day, said Agib to the stranger, to do something for you, if I obtained my object; 'I hope, my lord, that you have not forgotten it. But now that heaven, always just, has' advanced you beyond my expectations, it is become my turn to solicit your protection, my lord, and I dare to hope that you will use your interest to procure for me the place, of which I think myself not unworthy."
66 Thou shalt not have it, Agib, thou shalt not possess this office for which thou hast so strong a desire, that thou mayest be able to deceive me with the greater security, suddenly exclaimed the Caliph. I will not have for my grand-treasurer, a man who has more respect for riches than for talents and prohity. Recognize in me, the Caliph Almanzor, whom, a few days ago, thou didst treat so contemptuously, because thou didst conceive that I possessed nothing besides merit. Farewell! I leave thee thy possessions, but I will not trust thee with my treasures,”
Op hearing the name of Almanzor, all the courtiers fell prostrate in stupor and astonishment. They preserved this attitude long after the caliph had quitted the house of Agib, and rose but to abandon the unhappy mortal who had incurred the displeasure of the dispenser of favours.
Meanwhile the caliph returned to his palace, escorted only by the courtier who had introduced him to Agib. He had dismissed a useless retinue, and was desirous of proceeding on foot this short distance. As he was walking along he ruminated on this adventure, and smiled interiorly at the terror and confusion of Agib. At the same time, his mind was occupied in devising a plan to find an honest man for his trea