There dwelt in Egypt two youths of noble birth, one of whom applied himself to study knowledge, and the other to accumulate wealth. In process of time that became the wisest man of his age, and this king of Egypt. Then was the rich man casting an eye of scorn upon his philosophic brother, and saying, “I have reached a sovereignty, and you remain thus in a state of poverty.” He replied: “O brother! I am all the more grateful for the bounty of a Most High God, whose name was glorified, that I have found the heritage of the prophets—namely, wisdom; and you have got the estate of Pharaoh and Haman—that is, the kingdom of Egypt. I am an emmet, that mankind shall tread under foot; not a hornet, that they shall complain of my sting. How can I sufficiently express my grateful sense of this blessing, that I possess not the means of injuring my fellow-creatures?”
I heard of a dervish who was consuming in the flame of want, tacking patch after patch upon his ragged garment, and solacing his mind with this couplet:—“I can rest content with a dry crust of bread and a coarse woollen frock, for the burden of my own exertion bears lighter than laying myself under obligation to another.”—Somebody observed to him, “Why do you sit quiet, while a certain gentleman of this city is so nobly disposed and universally benevolent, that he has girt up his loins in the service of the religious independents, and seated himself by the door of their hearts? Were he apprised of your condition, he would esteem himself obliged, and be happy in the opportunity of relieving it.” He said: “Be silent; for it is better to die of want than to expose our necessities before another, as they have remarked:—’Patching a tattered cloak, and the consequent treasure of content, are more commendable than petitioning the great for every new garment.’” By my troth, I swear it were equal to the torments of hell to enter into paradise through the interest of a neighbor.
One of the Persian kings sent a skilful physician to attend Mohammed Mustafa, on whom be salutation. He remained some years in the territory of the Arabs; but nobody went to try his skill, or asked him for any medicine. One day he presented himself before the blessed prince of prophets, and complained, saying, “The king had sent me to dispense medicine to your companions; but, till this moment, nobody has been so good as to enable me to practise any skill that this your servant may possess.” The blessed messenger of God was pleased to answer, saying, “It is a rule with this tribe never to eat till hard pressed by hunger, and to discontinue their repast while they have yet an appetite.” The physician said, “This accounts for their health.” Then he kissed the earth of respect and took his leave. The physician will then begin to inculcate temperance, or to extend the finger of indulgence, when from silence his patient might suffer by excess, or his life be endangered by abstinence:—of course, the skill of the physician is advice, and the patient’s regimen and diet yield the fruits of health!