They tell a story of a Persian king who had stretched forth the arm of oppression over the subjects’ property, and commenced a system of violence and rapacity to such a degree that the people emigrated to avoid the vexatiousness of his tyranny, and took the road of exile to escape the annoyance of his extortions. Now that the population was diminished and the resources of the state had failed, the treasury remained empty, and enemies gathered strength on all sides. Whoever may expect a comforter on the day of adversity, say, let him practise humanity during the season of prosperity; if not treated cordially, thy devoted slave will forsake thee; show him kindness and affection, and the stranger may become the slave of thy devotion.
One day they were reading, in his presence, from the Shah Nameh, of the tyrant Zohak’s declining dominion and the succession of Feridun. The vizir asked the king, saying: “Can you so far comprehend that Feridun had no revenue, domain, or army, and how the kingdom came to be confirmed with him?” He answered: “As you have heard, a body of people collected about him from attachment, and gave their assistance till he acquired a kingdom.” The vizir said: “Since, O sire, a gathering of the people is the means of forming a kingdom, how come you in fact to cause their dispersion unless it be that you covet not a sovereignty? So far were good that thou wouldst patronize the army with all thy heart, for a king with an army constitutes a principality.” The king asked: “What are the best means of collecting an army and yeomanry?” He replied: “Munificence is the duty of a king, that the people may assemble around him, and clemency, that they may rest secure under the asylum of his dominion and fortune, neither of which you have. A tyrant cannot govern a kingdom, for the duty of a shepherd is not expected from the wolf. A king that can anyhow be accessory to tyranny will undermine the wall of his own sovereignty.”
The advice of the prudent minister did not accord with the disposition of the king. He ordered him to be confined, and immured him in a dungeon. It soon came to pass that the sons of the king’s uncle rose in opposition, levied an army in support of their pretensions, and claimed the sovereignty of their father. A host of the people, who had cruelly suffered under the arm of his extortion and were dispersed, gathered around and succored them till they dispossessed him of his kingdom and established them in his stead. That king who can approve of tyrannizing over the weak will find his friend a bitter foe in the day of hardship. Deal fairly with thy subjects, and rest easy about the warfare of thine enemies, for with an upright prince his yeomanry is an army.
* * * * *