In the territory of Diarbekr, or Mesopotamia, I was the guest of an old man, who was very rich, and had a handsome son. One night he told a story, saying: “During my whole life I never had any child but this boy. And in this valley a certain tree is a place of pilgrimage, where people go to supplicate their wants; and many was the night that I have besought God at the foot of that tree before he would bestow upon me this boy.” I have heard that the son was also whispering his companions, and saying: “How happy I should be if I could discover the site of that tree, in order that I might pray for the death of my father.” The gentleman was rejoicing and saying: “What a sensible youth is my son!” and the boy was complaining and crying: “What a tedious old dotard is my father!” Many years are passing over thy head, during which thou didst not visit thy father’s tomb. What pious oblation didst thou make to the manes of a parent that thou shouldst expect so much from thy son?
Urged one day by the pride of youthful vanity, I had made a forced march, and in the evening found myself exhausted at the bottom of an acclivity. A feeble old man, who had deliberately followed the pace of the caravan, came up to me and said: “How come you to lie down here? Get up, this is no fit place for rest.” I replied: “How can I proceed, who have not a foot to stand on?” He said: “Have you not heard what the prudent have remarked? ’Going on, and halting, is better than running ahead and breaking down!’ Ye who wish to reach the end of your journey, hurry not on; practise my advice, and learn deliberation. The Arab horse makes a few stretches at full speed, and is broken down; while the camel, at its deliberate pace, travels on night and day, and gets to the end of his journey.”
An active, merry, cheerful, and sweet-spoken youth was for a length of time in the circle of my society, whose heart had never known sorrow, nor his lip ceased from being on a smile. An age had passed, during which we had not chanced to meet. When I next saw him he had taken to himself a wife, and got a family; and the root of his enjoyment was torn up, and the rose of his mirth blasted. I asked him: “How is this?” He replied: “Since I became a father of children, I ceased to play the child:—Now thou art old, relinquish childishness, and leave it to the young to indulge in play and merriment. Expect not the sprightliness of youth from the aged; for the stream that ran by can never return. Now that the corn is ripe for the sickle, it rears not its head as when green and shooting. The season of youth has slipt through my hands; alas! when I think on those heart-exhilarating days! The lion has lost the sturdy grasp of his paw: I must now put up, like a lynx, with a bit of cheese. An old woman had stained her gray locks black. I said to her: O, my antiquated dame! thy hair I admit thou canst turn dark by art, but thou never canst make thy crooked back straight.”