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TAGS: Lawh-i-Napulyun (Tablet to Napoleon III); Tablets to kings and rulers
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Compiled from Ismael Velasco’s rendering of Dreyfus’s translation into French in L’oeuvre de Bahaou’llah [Works of Bahá’u’lláh] and Shoghi Effendi’s translation in The Promised Day Is Come. First posted to the H-Bahá’í listserve 02/98 by Velasco; revised and posted to Tarjuman 12/01; published here with the permission of the translator.

First Tablet to Napoleon III (Lawh-i-Napulyun):

by Bahá'u'lláh

translated by Hippolyte Dreyfus and Ismael Velasco
date of original: 1867 [?]
Dreyfus’s Introduction: Many months before this [the second tablet to Napoleon III] was written, and upon arriving at Saint-Jean-d’Acre, Bahá’u’lláh had addressed, through the intermediary of the French Consul, Cesar Cattafago, a letter to Napoleon III which had remained unanswered. [1] [2]

   ... For twenty and five years an entire group of God’s servants hath not had a single restful night nor an instant’s tranquility, and hath been continuously exposed to the assaults of calumny and the workings of violence. How many the children that have been made into orphans! How many the mothers who have lost their child! How many more weep to find themselves separated from their children! How many children do lament and groan in search of their mother! Sucklings have well nigh drank the cup of martyrdom, and pity hath been shown to neither men nor women!

   How many the nights when, while the savage beasts and birds of prey reposed peacefully in their forests, these servants could not, in their distress and exhaustion, find safe retreat or shelter! How many the people who, in the eve, were posessed of rank and fortune, yet in the morrow woke in poverty and misery, their goods pillaged and their possessions taken! No land remains untinged by the blood of these oppressed ones, nor soil where the graves of these wretched ones may not be found. How many the women that have been ravished and taken from country to country and town to town, and how many the men that have been sold to slavery! How many have fled into the deserts, with none apprised of their whereabouts! How many others still remain imprisoned! The sighs of these wronged ones rise up night and day, and their appeals for succour can be heard incessantly. And yet they have perpetrated no crime.

   Two[3] statements graciously uttered by the king of the age have reached the ears of these wronged ones. These pronouncements are, in truth, the king of all pronouncements, the like of which have never been heard from any sovereign. The first was the answer given the Russian Government when it inquired why the war (Crimean) was waged against it. Thou didst reply: "The cry of the oppressed who, without guilt or blame, were drowned in the Black Sea wakened me at dawn. Wherefore, I took up arms against thee." These oppressed ones, however, have suffered a greater wrong, and are in greater distress. Whereas the trials inflicted upon those people lasted but one day, the troubles borne by these servants have continued for twenty and five years, every moment of which has held for us a grievous affliction. The other weighty statement, which was indeed a wondrous statement manifested to the world, was this: "Ours is the responsibility to avenge the oppressed and succour the helpless." The fame of the Emperor’s justice and fairness hath brought hope to a great many souls. It beseemeth the king of the age to inquire into the condition of such as have been wronged, and it behooveth him to extend his care to the weak. Verily, there hath not been, nor is there now, on earth any one as oppressed as we are, or as helpless as these wanderers.[4]

   For all living beings, even the savage beasts and birds of prey, have a corner in which to find shelter. These wronged ones, alone, are constantly captive in the chains of violence, their necks prisoned in the bondage of hatred and passion. Their strength hath reached its limit, and there remains in their hearts neither patience nor endurance. They call upon thee to accord them thy good will, that they might enjoy the shelter of royal protection.


[1] This Tablet is listed as unpublished, according to the Leiden List of the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh. It was likely revealed in Edirne (Adrianople) around 1867, following the separation between Bahá’u’lláh and Mirzá Yahya (March of 1866). According to Shoghi Effendi in God Passes By, p. 173, this first Tablet to Napoleon III (reigned 1852 -1871) was revealed as a means to test the sovereign’s stated purpose regarding the oppressed during the Crimean War (1854-6). He also writes that this Tablet, among others, ranks among the preeminent Works by the Blessed Beauty. According to accounts, however, it was this Tablet that the Emperor flung down with disgust, saying: "If this man is God, I am two gods!" The Lawh-i-Nápulyún II, revealed in Arabic in 1869, just before the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1, was much severer and majestic in tone and prophesies the Emperor’s downfall; see Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh. Vol. 2, p 369, Vol. 3, p. 81, 110-115, 149, 201 and Vol. 4 p. 95, 249, 388; for text of Tablet, see Bahá’u’lláh, The Proclamation of Bahá’u’lláh, pp 17-23 (MF’s Note).

[2] Dreyfus Introduction and translation taken from L’OEUVRE DE BAHAOU’LLAH, [Works of Bahá’u’lláh] vol. 2, pp. 97-98. (Velasco’s note)

[3] This paragraph translated by Shoghi Effendi, The Promised Day Is Come, pp. 51-2. Passage in the Dreyfus/Velasco rendering is as follows:
   Two words, pronouced by the King of the age, have reached their ears, so beauteous that no sovereign hath ever uttered their like. The first was the response to the Russian government who demanded wherefore was war waged against it. Thou hast said: "the cries of the wretched innocents thrown into the Black Sea have, in the morn, woken me from my sleep, and it was this that decided me to battle." Behold, these oppressed ones are more wretched still and more miserable, since the trials of those lasted but a day, whereas the calamities we endure have not ceased for one moment in twenty five years!

   The other remarkable word which, verily, astonished the world, was: "It is for us to avenge the oppressed and succour the wretched." The royal voice of justice and retribution thereupon raised the hopes of a great multitude. It behoveth indeed the rulers of this world to inquire into the condition of the oppressed; sympathy towards the feeble is among the duties incumbent upon them. Verily, there is not, nor hath there ever been any upon the earth more sorely oppressed than us, nor hath there ever been seen any more feeble.
(Velasco’s note; supplemented by MF).

[4] End of Shoghi Effendi’s translation (Velasco’s note).
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