In a battle with the Tartars, a gallant young man was grievously wounded. Somebody said to him, “A certain merchant has a stock of the mummy antidote; if you would ask him, he might perhaps accommodate you with a portion of it.” They say that merchant was so notorious for his stinginess, that—“If, in the place of his loaf of bread, the orb of the sun had been in his wallet, nobody would have seen daylight in the world till the day of judgment.”
The spirited youth replied: “Were I to ask him for this antidote, he might give it, or he might not; and if he did it might cure me, or it might not; at any rate, to ask such a man were itself a deadly poison!” Whatever thou wouldst ask of the mean, in obligation, might add to the body, but would take from the soul.—And philosophers have observed, that were the water of immortality, for example, to be sold at the price of the reputation, a wise man would not buy it, for an honorable death is preferable to a life of infamy.—Wert thou to eat colocynth from the hand of the kind-hearted, it would relish better than a sweetmeat from that of the crabbed.
One of the learned had a large family and small means. He stated his case to a great man, who entertained a favorable opinion of his character. This one turned away from his solicitation, and viewed this prostitution of begging as discreditable with a gentleman of education. If soured by misfortune, present not thyself before a dear friend, for thou may’st also imbitter his pleasure. When thou bringest forward a distress, do it with a cheerful and smiling face, for an openness of countenance can never retard business.—They have related that he rose a little in the pension, but sunk much in the estimation of the great man. After some days, when he perceived this falling off in his affection, he said:—“Miserable is that supply of food which thou obtainest in the hour of need; the pot is put to boil, but my reputation is bubbled into vapor.—He added to my means of subsistence, but took from my reputation; absolute starving were better than the disgrace of begging.”
A dervish had a pressing call for money. Somebody told him a certain person is inconceivably rich; were he made aware of your want, he would somehow manage to accommodate it. He said, “I do not know him.” The other answered, “I will introduce you;” and having taken his hand, he brought him to that person’s dwelling. The dervish beheld a man with a hanging lip, and sitting in sullen discontent. He said nothing, and returned home. His friend asked, “What have you done?” He replied, “His gift I gave in exchange for his look:—Lay not thy words before a man with a sour face, otherwise thou may’st be ruffled by his ill-nature. If thou tellest the sorrows of thy heart let it be to him in whose countenance thou may’st be assured of prompt consolation.”