The Diwan of Abu'l-Ala, by Henry Baerlein, , at sacred-texts.com
p. 4 p. 5
Now the book is finished, so far as I shall finish it. There is, my friend, but this one page to write. And, more than probably, this is the page of all the book that I shall never wish to blot. Increasing wisdom or, at any rate, experience will make me frown, I promise you, some time or other at a large proportion of the pages of this volume. But when I look upon your name I hear a troop of memories, and in their singing is my happiness.
When you receive this book, presuming that the Russian Censor does not shield you from it, I have some idea what you will do. The string, of course, must not be cut, and you will seriously set about the disentangling of it. One hand assists by holding up, now near the nose now farther off, your glasses; the other hand pecks at the string. After, say, twenty minutes there will enter the admirable Miss Fox—oh! the tea she used to make for us when we were freezing on the mountains of Bulgaria, what time our Chicagoan millionaire was ruffled and Milyukov, the adventurous professor, standing now not far from
[paragraph continues] Russia's helm, would always drive ahead of us and say, with princely gesture, that if we suffered from the dust it was advisable that he should be the one to meet the fury of the local lions. But do not let us lose the scent: Miss Fox, that woman of resource, will cut the string. And later on, while to her you are dictating things political and while your other secretary is discoursing music, mournful Russian music, then with many wrinkles on your brow you will hold the book at arm's length.
"The Serbonian Bog," says Miss Fox, repeating the last lines of the dictation.
Your face is held sideways with what is called, I believe, a quizzical expression.
"Morocco," says she, "viewed from the banks of the Seine, is becoming more and more like the Serbonian Bog." Then she waits, discreet as always, while you think. Miss Fox, his thoughts are on the Adriatic!
There his boat, eleven years ago, was sailing underneath a net of stars and he was talking to a fellow-traveller. They had been joined at first by common suffering,—and how shall mortals find a stronger link? On board that boat there was an elderly American, the widow of a senator's brother-in-law, whose mission was, she took it, to convert those two. What specially attracted her to them was not, perhaps, that they excelled the other passengers in luridness, but that they
had the privilege of understanding, more or less, her language.
"Feci quod potui," said Dr. Dillon, "faciant meliora potentes."
She said, and let us hope with truth, that recently a Chinaman, another object of her ministrations, had addressed her as "Your honour, the foreign devil." And this caused her to discuss the details of our final journey—in the meantime we have taken many others of a more delightful sort—and she assured us that we should be joined by Chinamen and all those Easterners. She had extremely little hope for any of them, and, the Syrian poet, Abu’l-Ala, whom Dr. Dillon had been putting into English prose,—Abu’l-Ala she steadily refused to read. Nor did the prospect of beholding him in English verse evoke a sign of joy upon her countenance. "Oh," she exclaimed, "what good is it?" And there is naught for me to say but "Feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes."
Note—Seeing that the vignette which Dr. Dillon once designed for his notepaper and copyrighted, by the way, was so appropriate, he has been good enough to let me place it on the cover of this book. It represents the wind blowing at a piece of thistledown, while underneath, in Arabic, we read that all things pass away.