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 yourselves.
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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 journey.
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.