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her own son; so that the king, who was equally a good husband and a good father, wavered in the most cruel uncertainty. What shall I resolve on? said he to himself: the laws declare for the eldest ; my favou. rite sultana pleads for the second, and I myself incline for the youngest. O too lovely sultaness; I have felt the effects of your sweet and alluring looks! O thou weak nature, that yieldeft to my love! But neither of you shall triumph over the laws; I will die on the throne, that, after my death, the laws may decide the controversy. But what? The laws will decide nothing; a cruel war will be kindled between my chil. dren; my people will be the victims of their ambition; and I owe all to my people. O beauteous sultaness! I ought to sacrifice you, myself, and whatever else is dear to me, to the good of my subjects: I will there. fore leave them at liberty to chuse them, felves a sovereign.
After After these reflections, he assembled his viziers, the nobles, and the people. I have, said he to them, one foot on the throne and the other in the grave; but I would, if it were possible, not go down into the abyss of eternity with the crown on my head; its weight oppresses and weighs me down. I resign it to you; chuse for yourselves a mafter. At these words there appeared in all their looks a profound sadness. The people cried out with one voice,“ Live, long live the king, our father and our friend !” “ Be not so much concerned,” in. terrupted the king : “ you are my bowels; you can suffer nothing, but I must feel fo great a pain as would shorten my days.” At this they redoubled their cries, and the aged monarch himself could not refrain from tears. “ Think no more,” said he, “ on what you are going to lose; but consider what you have still left. The princes my children have all the qualities that make men
great; proclaim which of them you think most worthy to possess the throne I resign,”
A profound silence succeeded their fighs and lamentations. The whole assembly cast their eyes on the throne, and saw the three princes fitting on the steps. They admired each of them; and not liking one more than the other, no man could determine which to chuse. Then the prime vizier approached the throne, and spoke in this manner: “ O wise and valiant king ! may he, who draws light out of darkness, and from the horrors of the night produces a glorious and delightful morning, keep you in his holy care, and perpetuate your posterity! Receive with your accuflomed goodness the advice of your faithful slave : let each of your three sons reign three days only, and we will determine afterwards, since your majesty is pleased to give us leave. Our choice then will be founded on judgment; for men are known, when they are in high
fortune, and'in wine. The man is truly wise, whom neither the one nor the other of them can corrupt?
This advice of the grand Vizier was fol. lowed, and prevailed over the subtle insi. nuations of his three wives, who saw all their solicitations rendered vain, and their projects confounded.
Accordingly, the eldest' Prince was. cloathed in purple, and took the sceptre of government into his hand. His mother counselled him to be affable and liberal, not to alter the form of government, and to pardon criminals. “ By this means, said fhe, you will have all the empire for you, the king, the nobles, and the people.” .
Instructions grounded on such principles seemed to promise a happy issue. The Prince followed them exactly; but his con. duct appeared studied and affected, which occasioned some distrust. · The three days of his reign being expired,
the second Prince afcended the throne, His mother gave himn opposite instructions: " Depose, said she, the Vizirs; banish the doctors of the law; raise to the higheft dignities men of ambitious minds, who, to · keep their employments, will vote you the throne; and, when you are well settled in it, we will recal the Vizirs and the doctors, whose fidelity the riches which thy ambitious minifters shall have amassed, will serve to regain and to reanimate their zeal.
This mode was followed; but the people dreaded the worst that could happen from a Prince who pretended to the crown, and gave himself so little trouble to deserve
The king's third son took upon him, in his turn, the fovereign authority. He would have no advice from his mother: “ For though, said he, I have an infinite respect for my mother, and even believe that she would give me no advice but what is found.