One day, in the perverseness of youth, I spoke with asperity to my mother. Vexed at heart, she sat down in a corner, and with tears in her eyes was saying: “You have perhaps forgot the days of infancy, that you are speaking to me thus harshly.—How well did an old woman observe to her own son, when she saw him powerful as a tiger, and formidable as an elephant: ’Couldst thou call to mind those days of thy infancy when helpless thou wouldst cling to this my bosom, thou wouldst not thus assail me with savage fury, now thou art a lion-like hero, and I am a poor old woman.’”
A rich miser had a son who was grievously sick. His well-wishers and friends spoke to him, saying: “It were proper that you either read the Koran throughout or offer an animal in sacrifice, in order that the Most High God may restore him to health.” After a short reflection within himself he answered, “It is better to read the Koran, which is ready at hand; and my herds are at a distance.” A good and holy man heard this and remarked: “He makes choice of the reading part because the Koran slips glibly over the tongue, but his money is to be wrung from the soul of him. Fie upon that readiness to bow the head in prayer; would that the hand of charity could accompany it! In bestowing a dinar he will stickle like an ass in the mire; but ask him to read the Al-hamdi, or first chapter of the Koran, and he will recite it a hundred times.”
Of the Impressions of Education
A certain nobleman had a dunce of a son. He sent him to a learned man, saying: “Verily you will give instruction to this youth, peradventure he may become a rational being.” He continued to give him lessons for some time, but they made no impression upon him, when he sent a message to the father, saying: “This son is not getting wise, and he has well-nigh made me a fool!” Where the innate capacity is good, education may make an impression upon it; but no furbisher knows how to give a polish to iron which is of a bad temper. Wash a dog seven times in the ocean, and so long as he is wet he is all the filthier. Were they to take the ass of Jesus to Mecca, on his return from that pilgrimage he would still be an ass.
A philosopher was exhorting his children and saying: “O emanations of my soul, acquire knowledge, as no reliance can be placed on worldly riches and possessions, for once you leave home rank is of no use, and gold and silver on a journey are exposed to the risk either of thieves plundering them at once, or of the owner wasting them by degrees; but knowledge is a perennial spring and ever-during fortune. Were a professional man to lose his fortune, he need