Persian Literature, Volume 2, Comprising The Shah Nameh, The
Part 3 out of 3
A kingdom is embellished by the wise, and religion rendered illustrious
by the pious. Kings stand more in need of the company of the intelligent
than the intelligent do of the society of kings:--If, O king! thou wilt
listen to my advice, in all thy archives thou canst not find a wiser
maxim than this: entrust thy concerns only to the learned,
notwithstanding business is not a learned man's concern.
Three things have no durability without their concomitants: property
without trade, knowledge without debate, or a sovereignty without
To compassionate the wicked is to tyrannize over the good; and to pardon
the oppressor is to deal harshly with the oppressed:--When thou
patronizest and succorest the base-born man, he looks to be made the
partner of thy fortune.
No reliance can be placed on the friendship of kings, nor vain hope put
in the melodious voice of boys; for that passes away like a vision, and
this vanishes like a dream:--Bestow not thy affections upon a mistress
who has a thousand lovers; or, if thou bestowest them upon her, be
prepared for a separation.
Reveal not every secret you have to a friend, for how can you tell but
that friend may hereafter become an enemy? And bring not all the
mischief you are able to do upon an enemy, for he may one day become
your friend. And any private affair that you wish to keep secret, do not
divulge to anybody; for, though such a person has your confidence, none
can be so true to your secret as yourself:--Silence is safer than to
communicate the thought of thy mind to anybody, and to warn him, saying:
Do not divulge it, O silly man! confine the water at the dam-head, for
once it has a vent thou canst not stop it. Thou shouldst not utter a
word in secret which thou wouldst not have spoken in the face of the
A reduced foe, who offers his submission and courts your amity, can only
have in view to become a strong enemy, as they have said: "You cannot
trust the sincerity of friends, then what are you to expect from the
cajoling of foes?" Whoever despises a weak enemy resembles him who
neglects a spark of fire:--To-day that thou canst quench it, put it
out; for let fire rise into a flame, and it may consume a whole world.
Now that thou canst transfix him with thy arrow, permit not thy
antagonist to string his bow.
Whoever is making a league with their enemies has it in his mind to do
his friends an ill turn:--"O wise man! wash thy hands of that friend who
is in confederacy with thy foes."
When irresolute in the despatch of business, incline to that side which
is the least offensive:--Answer not with harshness a mild-spoken man,
nor force him into war who knocks at the gate of peace.
So long as money can answer, it were wrong in any business to put the
life in danger:--as the Arabs say:--"_let the sword decide after
stratagem has failed_":--When the hand is balked in every crafty
endeavor, it is lawful to lay it upon the hilt of the sabre.
Show no mercy to a subdued foe, for if he recover himself he will show
you no mercy:--When thou seest thy antagonist in a reduced state, curl
not thy whiskers at him in contempt, for in every bone there is marrow,
and within every jacket there is a man.
Whoever puts a wicked man to death delivers mankind from his mischief,
and the wretch himself from God's vengeance:--Beneficence is
praiseworthy; yet thou shouldst not administer a balsam to the wound of
the wicked. Knew he not who took compassion on a snake, that it is the
pest of the sons of Adam.
It is wrong to follow the advice of an adversary; nevertheless it is
right to hear it, that you may do the contrary; and this is the essence
of good policy:--Sedulously shun whatever thy foe may recommend,
otherwise thou may'st wring the hands of repentance on thy knees. Should
he show thee to the right a path straight as an arrow, turn aside from
that, and take the path to the left.
* * * * *
Two orders of mankind are the enemies of church and state: the king
without clemency, and the holy man without learning:--Let not that
prince have rule over the state who is not himself obedient to the will
It behooves a king so to regulate his anger towards his enemies as not
to alarm the confidence of his friends; for the fire of passion falls
first on the angry man; afterwards its sparks will dart forth towards
the foe, and him they may reach, or they may not. It ill becomes the
children of Adam, formed of dust, to harbor in their head such pride,
arrogance, and passion. I cannot fancy all this thy warmth and obstinacy
to be created from earth, but from fire. I went to a holy man in the
land of Bailcan, and said: "Cleanse me of ignorance by thy instruction?"
He replied: "O fakir, or theologician! go and bear things patiently like
the earth; or whatever thou hast read let it all be buried under the
An evil-disposed man is a captive in the hands of an enemy (namely,
himself); for wherever he may go he cannot escape from the grasp of that
enemy's vengeance:--Let a wicked man ascend up to heaven, that he may
escape from the grasp of calamity; even thither would the hand of his
own evil heart follow him with misfortune.
When you see discord raging among the troops of your enemy, be on your
side quiet; but if you see them united, think of your own dispersed
state:--When thou beholdest war among thy foes, go and enjoy peace with
thy friends; but if thou findest them of one soul and mind, string thy
bow, and range stones around thy battlements.
* * * * *
Keep to yourself any intelligence that may prove unpleasant, till some
person else has disclosed it:--Bring, O nightingale! the glad tidings of
the spring, and leave to the owl to be the harbinger of evil.
* * * * *
Whoever is counselling a self-sufficient man stands himself in need of a
Swallow not the wheedling of a rival, nor pay for the sycophancy of a
parasite; for that has laid the snare of treachery, and this whetted the
palate of gluttony. The fool is puffed up with his own praise, like a
dead body, which on being stretched upon a bier shows a momentary
corpulency:--Take heed and listen not to the sycophant's blandishments,
who expects in return some small compensation; for shouldst thou any day
disappoint his object he would in like style sum up two hundred of thy
Till some person may show its defects, the speech of the orator will
fail of correctness:--Be not vain of the eloquence of thy discourse
because it has the fool's good opinion, and thine own approbation.
Every person thinks his own intellect perfect, and his own child
handsome:--A Mussulman and a Jew were warm in argument to such a degree
that I smiled at their subject. The Mussulman said in wrath: "If this
deed of conveyance be not authentic may I, O God, die a Jew!" The Jew
replied: "On the Pentateuch I swear, if what I say be false, I am a
Mussulman like you!" Were intellect to be annihilated from the face of
the earth, nobody could be brought to say: "I am ignorant."
Ten people will partake of the same joint of meat, and two dogs will
snarl over a whole carcase. The greedy man is incontinent with a whole
world set before him; the temperate man is content with his crust of
bread:--A loaf of brown bread may fill an empty stomach, but the produce
of the whole globe cannot satisfy a greedy eye:--My father, when the sun
of his life was going down, gave me this sage advice, and it set for
good, saying: "Lust is a fire; refrain from indulging it, and do not
involve thyself in the flames of hell. Since thou hast not the strength
of burning in those flames (as a punishment in the next world), pour in
this world the water of continence upon this fire--namely, lust."
Whoever does not do good, when he has the means of doing it, will suffer
hardship when he has not the means:--None is more unlucky than the
misanthrope, for on the day of adversity he has not a single friend.
Life stands on the verge of a single breath; and this world is an
existence between two nonentities. Such as truck their deen, or
religious practice, for worldly pelf are asses. They sold Joseph, and
what got they by their bargain?--"_Did I not covenant with you, O ye
sons of Adam, that you should not serve Satan; for verily he is your
avowed enemy_":--By the advice of a foe you broke your faith with a
friend; behold from whom you separated, and with whom you united
* * * * *
Whatever is produced in haste goes hastily to waste:--I have heard that,
after a process of forty years, they convert the clay of the East into a
China porcelain cup. At Bagdad they can make an hundred cups in a day,
and thou may'st of course conceive their respective value. A chicken
walks forth from its shell, and goes in quest of its food; the young of
man possesses not that instinct of prudence and discrimination. That
which was at once something comes to nothing; and this surpasses all
creatures in dignity and wisdom. A piece of crystal or glass is found
everywhere, and held of no value; a ruby is obtained with difficulty,
and therefore inestimable.
Patience accomplishes its object, while hurry speeds to its ruin:--With
my own eyes I saw in the desert that the deliberate man outstripped him
that had hurried on. The wing-footed steed is broken down in his speed,
whilst the camel-driver jogs on with his beast to the end of his
Nothing is so good for an ignorant man as silence, and if he knew this
he would no longer be ignorant:--When unadorned with the grace of
eloquence it is wise to keep watch over the tongue in the mouth. The
tongue, by abuse, renders a man contemptible; levity in a nut is a sign
of its being empty. A fool was undertaking the instruction of an ass,
and had devoted his whole time to this occupation. A wise man said to
him: "What art thou endeavoring to do? In this vain attempt dread the
reproof of the censorious! A brute can never learn speech from thee; do
thou learn silence from him." That man who reflects not before he speaks
will only make all the more improper answer. Either like a man arrange
thy speech with judgment, or like a brute sit silent.
Whoever shall argue with one more learned than himself that others may
take him for a wise man, only confirms them in his being a fool:--"When
a person superior to what thou art engages thee in conversation do not
contradict him, though thou may'st know better."
He can see no good who will associate with the wicked:--Were an angel
from heaven to associate with a demon, he would learn his brutality,
perfidy, and hypocrisy. Virtue thou never canst learn of the vicious; it
is not the wolf's occupation to mend skins, but to tear them.
Expose not the secret failings of mankind, otherwise you must verily
bring scandal upon them and distrust upon yourself.
Whoever acquires knowledge and does not practise it resembles him who
ploughs his land and leaves it unsown.
* * * * *
It is not every man that has a handsome physical exterior that has a
good moral character; for the faculty of business or virtue resides in
the heart and not in the skin. Thou canst in one day ascertain the
intellectual faculties of a man, and what proficiency he has made in his
degrees of knowledge; but be not secure of his mind, nor foolishly sure,
for it may take years to detect the innate baseness of the heart.
Whoever contends with the great sheds his own blood:--Thou contemplatest
thyself as a mighty great man; and they have truly remarked that the
squinter sees double. Thou who canst in play butt with a ram must soon
find thyself with a broken pate.
To grapple with a lion, or to box against a naked scimitar, are not the
acts of the prudent:--Brave not the furious with war and opposition
before their arms of strength cross thy hands of submission.
A weak man who tries his courage against the strong leagues with the foe
to his own destruction:--Nurtured in a shade, what strength can he have
that he should engage with the warlike in battle; impotent of arm, he
was falling the victim of folly when he set his wrist in opposition to a
wrist of iron.
Whoever will not listen to admonition harbors the fancy of hearing
reprehension:--When advice gains not an admission into the ear, if I
give thee reproof, hear it in silence.
The idle cannot endure the industrious any more than the curs of the
market-place, who, on meeting dogs employed for sporting, will snarl at
and prevent them passing.
A mean wretch that cannot vie with another in virtue will assail him
with malignity:--The narrow-minded envier will somehow manage to revile
thee, who in thy presence might have the tongue of his utterance struck
* * * * *
To hold counsel with women is bad, and to deal generously
with prodigals a fault:--Showing mercy upon the sharp-fanged
pard must prove an injustice to the harmless sheep.
Whoever has his foe at his mercy, and does not kill him, is his own
enemy:--With a stone in his hand, and the snake's head convenient, a
wise man hesitates not in crushing it.
Certain people have seen this maxim in an opposite point of view,
saying: "It were wiser to delay the execution of captives, inasmuch as
the option is left so that you can slay, or you can release them; but if
you shall have heedlessly put them to death, the policy is defunct, for
the opportunity of repairing it is lost":--There is no great difficulty
to separate the soul from the body, but it is not so easy to restore
life to the dead: prudence dictates patience in giving the arrow flight,
for let it quit the bow and it never can be recalled.
A learned man who has got into an argument with the ignorant can have no
hopes of supporting his own dignity; and if an ignoramus by his
loquacity gets the upper hand it should not surprise us, for he is a
stone and can bruise a gem:--No wonder if his spirit flag; the
nightingale is cooped up in the same cage with the crow:--If the man of
sense is coarsely treated by the vulgar, let it not excite our wrath and
indignation; if a piece of worthless stone can bruise a cup of gold, its
worth is not increased, nor that of the gold diminished.
* * * * *
Genius without education is the subject of our regret, and education
without genius is labor lost. Although embers have a lofty origin (fire
being of a noble nature), yet, as having no intrinsic worth, they fall
upon a level with common dust; on the other hand, sugar does not derive
its value from the cane, but from its own innate quality:--Inasmuch as
the disposition of Canaan was bad, his descent from the prophet Noah
stood him in no stead. Pride thyself on what virtue thou hast, and not
on thy parentage; the rose springs from a thorn-bush, and Abraham from
Azor (neither his father's name, or fire).
That is musk which discloses itself by its smell, and not what the
perfumers impose upon us:--If a man be expert in any art he needs not
tell it, for his own skill will show it.
A wise man is, like a vase in a druggist's shop, silent, but full of
virtues; and the ignorant man resembles the drum of the warrior, being
full of noise, and an empty babbler:--The sincerely devout have remarked
that a learned man beset by the illiterate is like one of the lovely in
a circle of the blind, or the holy Koran in the dwelling of the infidel.
A friend whom they take an age to conciliate, it were wrong all at once
to alienate:--In a series of years a stone changes into a ruby; take
heed, and destroy it not at once by dashing it against another stone.
Reason is in like manner enthralled by passion, as an uxorious man is in
the hands of an artful woman. Thou may'st shut the door of joy upon that
dwelling where thou hearest resounding the scolding voice of a woman.
Intellect, without firmness, is craft and chicanery; and firmness,
without intellect, perverseness and obstinacy:--First, prudence, good
sense, and discrimination, and then dominion; for the dominion and good
fortune of the ignorant are the armor of rebellion against God.
The sinner who spends and gives away is better than the devotee who begs
and lays by.
Whoever foregoes carnal indulgence in order to get the good opinion of
mankind, has forsaken a lawful passion and involved himself in what is
forbidden:--What, wretched creature! can that hermit see in his own
tarnished mirror, or heart, who retires to a cell, but not for the sake
A wise man should not through clemency overlook the insolence of the
vulgar, otherwise both sustain a loss, for their respect for him is
lessened and their own brutality confirmed:--When thou addressest the
low with urbanity and kindness, it only adds to their pride and
* * * * *
In a season of drought and scarcity ask not the distressed dervish,
saying: "How are you?" Unless on the condition that you apply a balm to
his wound, and supply him with the means of subsistence:--The ass which
thou seest stuck in the slough with his rider, compassionate from thy
heart, otherwise do not go near him. Now that thou went and asked him
how he fell, like a sturdy fellow bind up thy loins, and take his ass by
Two things are repugnant to reason: to expend more than what Providence
has allotted for us, and to die before our ordained time:--Whether
offered up in gratitude, or uttered in complaint, destiny cannot be
altered by a thousand sighs and lamentations. The angel who presides
over the store-house of the winds feels no compunction, though he
extinguish the old woman's lamp.
O you that are going in quest of food, sit down, that you may have to
eat. And, O you that death is in quest of, go not on, for you cannot
carry life along with you:--In search of thy daily bread, whether thou
exertest thyself, or whether thou dost not, the God of Majesty and Glory
will equally provide it. Wert thou to walk into the mouth of a tiger or
lion, he could not devour thee, unless by the ordinance of thy destiny.
Whatever was not designed, the hand cannot reach; and whatever was
ordained, it can attain in any situation:--Thou hast heard that
Alexander got as far as chaos; but after all this toil he drank not the
water of immortality.
The fisherman, unless it be his lot, catches no fish in the Tigris; and
the fish, unless it be its fate, does not die on the dry land:--The
wretched miser is prowling all over the world, he in quest of pelf, and
death in quest of him.
* * * * *
The envious man is niggard of the gifts of Providence, and an enemy of
the innocent:--I met a dry-brained fellow of this sort, tricked forth in
the robe of a dignified person. I said: "O sir! if thou art unfortunate
in having this disposition, in what have the fortunate been to
blame?--Take heed, and wish not misfortune to the misanthrope, for his
own ill-conditioned lot is calamity sufficient. What need is there of
showing ill-will to him, who has such an enemy close at his heels."
A scholar without diligence is a lover without money; a traveller
without knowledge is a bird without wings; a theorist without practice
is a tree without fruit; and a devotee without learning is a house
without an entrance.
The object of sending the Koran down from heaven was that mankind might
make it a manual of morals, and not that they should recite it by
The sincere publican has proceeded on foot; the slothful Pharisee is
mounted and gone asleep.
The sinner who humbles himself in prayer is more acceptable than the
devotee who is puffed up with pride:--The courteous and kind-hearted
soldier of fortune is better than the misanthropic and learned divine.
A learned man without works is a bee without honey:--Tell that harsh and
ungenerous hornet: As thou yieldest no honey, wound not with thy sting.
* * * * *
Though a dress presented by the sovereign be honorable, yet is our own
tattered garment preferable; and though the viands at a great man's
table be delicate, yet is our own homely fare more sweet:--A salad and
vinegar, the produce of our own industry, are sweeter than the lamb and
bread sauce at the table of our village chief.
It is contrary to sound judgment, and repugnant to the maxims of the
prudent, to take a medicine on conjecture, or to follow a road but in
the track of the caravan.
They asked Imaam Mursheed Mohammed-bin-Mohammed Ghazali, on whom be
God's mercy, how he had reached such a pitch of knowledge. He replied:
"Whatever I was ignorant of myself, I felt no shame in asking of
others":--Thy prospect of health conforms with reason, when thy pulse is
in charge of a skilled physician. Ask whatever thou knowest not; for the
condescension of inquiring is a guide on thy road in the excellence of
Anything you foresee that you may somehow come to know, be not hasty in
questioning, lest your consequence and respectability may suffer:--When
Lucman perceived that in the hands of David iron was miraculously
moulded like wax, he asked him not, How didst thou do it? for he was
aware that he should know it, through his own wisdom, without asking.
It is one of the laws of good breeding that you should forego an
engagement, or accommodate yourself to the master of the
entertainment:--If thou knowest that the inclination is reciprocal,
accommodate thy story to the temper of the hearer. Any discreet man that
was in Mujnun's company would entertain him only with encomiums on
* * * * *
Whoever interrupts the conversation of others to make a display of his
fund of knowledge makes notorious his own stock of ignorance.
Philosophers have said:--A prudent man will not obtrude his answer till
he has the question stated to him in form. Notwithstanding the
proposition may have its right demonstration, the cavil of the
fastidious will construe it wrong.
* * * * *
To tell a falsehood is like the cut of a sabre; for though the wound may
heal, the scar of it will remain. In like manner as the brothers of the
blessed Joseph, who, being notorious for a lie, had no credit afterwards
when they spoke the truth:--God on high has said--Jacob is supposed to
speak--(Koran xii. Sale ii. 35):--"_Nay, but rather ye have contrived
this to gratify your own passion; yet it behooves me to be
patient_":--If a man who is in the habit of speaking truth lets a
mistake escape him, we can overlook it; but if he be notorious for
uttering falsehoods, and tell a truth, thou wilt call it a lie.
The noblest of creatures is man, and the vilest of animals is no doubt a
dog; yet, in the concurring opinion of the wise, a dog, thankful for his
food, is more worthy than a human being who is void of gratitude:--A dog
will never forget the crumb thou gavest him, though thou may'st
afterwards throw a hundred stones at his head; but foster with thy
kindness a low man for an age, and on the smallest provocation he will
be up against thee in arms.
* * * * *
It is written in the Injeel, or Gospel, stating: "O son of man, if I
bestow riches upon you, you will be more intent upon your property than
upon me, and if I leave you in poverty you will sit down dejected; how
then can you feel a relish to praise, or a zeal to worship
me?"--(Proverbs xxx. 7, 8, 9.) In the day of plenty thou art proud and
negligent; in the time of want, full of sorrow and dejected; since in
prosperity and adversity such is thy condition, it were difficult to
state when thou wouldst voluntarily do thy duty.
The pleasure of Him, or God, who has no equal hurls one man from a
throne of sovereignty, and another he preserves in a fish's
belly:--Happy proceeds his time who is enraptured with thy praise,
though, like Jonah, he even may pass it in the belly of a fish!
Were the Almighty to unsheath the sword of his wrath, prophets and
patriarchs would draw in their heads; and were he to deign a glimpse of
his benevolence, it would reach the wicked along with the good:--Were he
on the day of judgment to call us to a strict account, even the prophets
would have no room for excuse. Say, withdraw the veil from the face of
thy compassion, that sinners may entertain hopes of pardon.
Whoever is not to be brought into the path of righteousness by the
punishments of this life shall be overtaken with the punishments of that
to come:--"_Verily, I will cause them to taste the lesser punishment
over and above the greater punishment":_--(Koran xxxii. Sale ii. 258.)
Princes, in chastising, admonish, and then confine; when they admonish,
and thou listenest not, they throw thee into prison.
Men of auspicious fortune would rather take warning from the precepts
and examples of their predecessors than that the rising generation
should take warning from their acts:--The bird will not approach the
grain that is spread about, where it sees another bird a captive in the
snare. Take warning by the mischance of others, that others may not take
warning by thine.
How can he help himself who was born deaf, if he cannot hear; and what
can he do whose thread of fortune is dragging him on that he may not
proceed:--The dark night of such as are beloved of God is serene and
light as the bright day; but this good fortune results not from thine
own strength of arm, till God in his mercy deign to bestow it. To whom
shall I complain of thee? for there is no judge else, nor is any arm
mightier than thine. Him whom thou directest none can lead astray, and
him whom thou bewilderest none can direct upon his way.
The beggar whose end is good is better off than the king whose end is
evil:--That sorrow which is the harbinger of joy is preferable to the
joy which is followed by sorrow.
The sky enriches the earth with rain, and the earth gives it dust in
return. As the Arabs say: "_What the vessels have, that they give_."--If
my moral character strike thee as improper, do not renounce thine own
The Most High God discerns and hides what is improper; my neighbor sees
not, and is loud in his clamor:--God preserve us! if man knew what is
hidden, none could be safe from the animadversion of his neighbor.
Gold is got from the mine by digging into the earth; and from the grasp
of the miser by taking away his life:--Misers spend not, but watch with
solicitude: expectation, they say, is preferable to waste. Next day
observe to the joy of their enemies, the gold remains, and they are dead
without the enjoyment of that hope.
Such as deal hard with the weak will suffer from the extortion of the
strong:--It is not every arm in which there is strength that can wrench
the hand of a weak man. Bring not affliction upon the hearts of the
feeble, lest thou may'st fall under the lash of the strong.
A wise man, where he meets opposition, labors to get through it, and
where he finds quiet he drops his anchor, for there safety is on one
side, and here enjoyment in the middle of it.
The gamester wants three sixes, but he throws only three aces:--The
pasture meadow is a thousand times richer than the common, but the horse
has not his tether at command.
The dervish in his prayer is saying: "O God, have compassion on the
wicked, for to the good thou hast been abundantly kind, inasmuch as thou
hast made them virtuous."
Jemshid was the first person who put an edging round his garment, and a
ring upon his finger. They asked him: "Why did you bestow all the
decoration and ornament on the left hand, whilst the right is the
superior?" He answered: "Sufficient for the right is the ornament of
being right." Feridun commanded the gilders of China that they would
inscribe upon the front of his palace: "Strive, O wise man, to make the
wicked good, for the good are of themselves great and fortunate."
They said to a great and holy man: "Notwithstanding the superiority that
the right hand commands, who do they wear the ring on the left hand?" He
replied: "Are you not aware that the best are most neglected! He who
casts our horoscope, provision, and fortune, bestows upon us either good
luck or wisdom."
It is proper for him to offer counsel to kings who dreads not to lose
his head, nor looks for a reward:--Whether thou strewest heaps of gold
at his feet, or brandishest an Indian sword over the Unitarian's head,
to hope or fear he is alike indifferent; and in this the divine unity
alone he is resolved and firm.
It belongs to the king to displace extortioners, to the superintendent
of the police to guard against murderers, and to the cazi to decide in
quarrels and disputes. No two complainants ever referred to the cazi
content to abide by justice:--When thou knowest that in right the claim
is just, better pay with a grace than by distress and force. If a man is
refractory in discharging his revenue, the collector must necessarily
coerce him to pay it.
Every man's teeth are blunted by acids excepting the cazi's, and they
require sweets:--That cazi, or judge, that can accept of five cucumbers
as a bribe, will confirm thee in a right to ten fields of melons.
* * * * *
They asked a wise man, saying: "Of the many celebrated trees which the
Most High God has created lofty and umbrageous, they call none azad, or
free, excepting the cypress, which bears no fruit; what mystery is there
in this?" He replied: "Each has its appropriate produce and appointed
season, during the continuance of which it is fresh and blooming, and
during their absence dry and withered; to neither of which states is the
cypress exposed, being always flourishing; and of this nature are the
azads, or religious independents. Fix not thy heart on what is
transitory; for the Dijlah, or Tigris, will continue to flow through
Bagdad after the race of Khalifs is extinct. If thy hand has plenty, be
liberal as the date-tree; but if it affords nothing to give away, be an
azad, or free man, like the cypress."
Two orders of mankind died, and carried with them regret: such as had
and did not spend, and such as knew and did not practise:--None can see
that wretched mortal a miser who will not endeavor to point out his
faults; but were the generous man to have a hundred defects, his
liberality would cover all his blemishes.
THE CONCLUSION OF THE BOOK
The book of the "Gulistan, or Flower-Garden," was completed through the
assistance and grace of God. Throughout the whole of this work I have
not followed the custom of writers by inserting verses of poetry
borrowed from former authors:--"It is more decorous to wear our own
patched and old cloak than to ask in loan another man's garment."
Most of Sa'di's sayings have a dash of hilarity and an odor of gayety
about them, in consequence of which short-sighted critics extend the
tongue of animadversion, saying: It is not the occupation of sensible
men to solicit marrow from a shrivelled brain, or to digest the smoke of
a profitless lamp. Nevertheless it cannot be concealed from the
enlightened judgment of the holy and good, to whom these discourses are
specially addressed, that the pearls of salutary admonition are threaded
on the cord of an elegance of language, and the bitter potion of
instruction sweetened with the honey of facetiousness, that the taste of
the reader may not take disgust, and himself be debarred from the
pleasure of approving of them: "On our part we offered some good advice,
and spent an age in bringing it to perfection. If that should not meet
the ear of anybody's good-will, prophets deliver their messages, or warn
mankind; and that is enough."
"_O thou who perusest this book, ask the mercy of God on the author of
it: his forgiveness on the transcriber. Petition for whatever charitable
gift thou mayst require for thyself, and implore pardon on the owner_."
May I crave thy prayer on the English translator? _The book is finished
through the favor of the Lord God Paramount and the bestower of all
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