matics. I therefore returned to metaphysics; I read the Meta-physica (of Aristode), but did not understand its contents and was baiHcd by the author's intention ; I read it over forty times, until I had the text by heart. Even then I did not understand it or what the author meant, and I despaired within myself, saying, " This is a book which there is no way of understanding." But one day at noon I chanced to be in the booksellers' quarter, and a broker was there with a volume in his hand which he was calling for sale. He offered it to me, but I returned it to liim impatiendy, believing that diere was no use in this particular science. However he said to me, " Buy this book from me : it is cheap, and I will sell it to you for four dirhams. The owner is in need of the money." So I bought it, and found that it was a book by AbG Nasr al-Farabi On the Objects of the Metaphysial. I returned home and hastened to read it; and at once the objects of that book became clear to me, for I had it all by heart. I rejoiced at this, and upon the next day distributed much in alms to the poor in gratitude to Almighty God.
Now the Sultan of Bukhara at that time was Nuhi ibn Mansur, and it happened that he fell sick of a malady which baffled all the physicians. My name was famous among them because of the breadth of my reading; they therefore mentioned me in his presence, and begged him to summon me. I attended the sick-room, and collaborated with them in treating the royal patient. So I came to be enrolled in his service. One day I asked his leave to enter their library, to examine die contents and read the books on medicine; he granted my request, and I entered a mansion with many chambers, each clumber having chcsts of books piled one upon another. In one apartment were books on language and poetry, in another law, and so on; each apartment was act aside for books on a single science. I glanced
through the catalogue of the works of the ancient Greeks, and asked for those which I required ; and I saw books whose very names are as yet unknown to many—works which I had never seen before and have not seen since. I read these books, taking notes of their contents ; I came to realize the place each man occupied in his particular science.
So by the time I reached my eighteenth year I had exhausted all these sciences. My memory for learning was at that period of my life better than it is now, but to-day I am more mature ; apart from this my knowledge is exactly the same, nothing further having been added to my store since then.
There lived near me in those days a man called Abu '1-Hosan the Prosodist; he requested me to compose a comprehensive work on this science, and I wrote for him the Majiuit (" Compendium ") which I named after him, including in it all the branches of knowledge except mathematics. At that time I was twenty-one. Another man Uved in my neighbourhood called Abu Bakr al-Barqi, a Khwarizmian by birth; he was a lawyer at heart, his interests being focused on jurisprudence, exegesis and asceticism, to which subjects he was extremely inclined. He asked me to comment on his books, and I wrote few him al-Haiil wo'l-mahsul (" The Import and the Substance ") in about twenty volumes, as well as a work on ethics called al~Birr wal-ithm (" Good Works and Sin ") ; these two books are only to be found in his library, and are unknown to anyone else, so that they have never been copied.
Then my father died, and my circumstances chaugcd. I accepted a post in the Sultan's employment, and was obliged to move from Bukhara to Gtirganj, where Abu '1-Husain at-SahK was a minister, being a man devoted to these sciences. I wasmtroduoed to the Amir, 'Afi iba aMfe'iafe, bang at that time deified in garb of lawyers, with scarf and dan-
wrap ; they fixed a handsome salary for mc, amply sufficient for the like of me. Then I was constrained to move to Nasa, and from there to fiaward, and thencc successively to Tus, Shaqqan, Samanqan, Jajarm the frontier-post of Khurasan, and Jurjan. My entire purpose was to comc to the Amir Qabus; but it happened meanwhile that Qabus was taken and imprisoned in a fortress, where he died.
After this I went to Dihistan, where I fell very ill. I returned to Jurjan, and there made friends with Abu 'Ubaid al-Juzjani.
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