Whoever has his foe at his mercy, and does not kill him, is his own enemy:—With a stone in his hand, and the snake’s head convenient, a wise man hesitates not in crushing it.
Certain people have seen this maxim in an opposite point of view, saying: “It were wiser to delay the execution of captives, inasmuch as the option is left so that you can slay, or you can release them; but if you shall have heedlessly put them to death, the policy is defunct, for the opportunity of repairing it is lost":—There is no great difficulty to separate the soul from the body, but it is not so easy to restore life to the dead: prudence dictates patience in giving the arrow flight, for let it quit the bow and it never can be recalled.
A learned man who has got into an argument with the ignorant can have no hopes of supporting his own dignity; and if an ignoramus by his loquacity gets the upper hand it should not surprise us, for he is a stone and can bruise a gem:—No wonder if his spirit flag; the nightingale is cooped up in the same cage with the crow:—If the man of sense is coarsely treated by the vulgar, let it not excite our wrath and indignation; if a piece of worthless stone can bruise a cup of gold, its worth is not increased, nor that of the gold diminished.
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Genius without education is the subject of our regret, and education without genius is labor lost. Although embers have a lofty origin (fire being of a noble nature), yet, as having no intrinsic worth, they fall upon a level with common dust; on the other hand, sugar does not derive its value from the cane, but from its own innate quality:—Inasmuch as the disposition of Canaan was bad, his descent from the prophet Noah stood him in no stead. Pride thyself on what virtue thou hast, and not on thy parentage; the rose springs from a thorn-bush, and Abraham from Azor (neither his father’s name, or fire).
That is musk which discloses itself by its smell, and not what the perfumers impose upon us:—If a man be expert in any art he needs not tell it, for his own skill will show it.
A wise man is, like a vase in a druggist’s shop, silent, but full of virtues; and the ignorant man resembles the drum of the warrior, being full of noise, and an empty babbler:—The sincerely devout have remarked that a learned man beset by the illiterate is like one of the lovely in a circle of the blind, or the holy Koran in the dwelling of the infidel.
A friend whom they take an age to conciliate, it were wrong all at once to alienate:—In a series of years a stone changes into a ruby; take heed, and destroy it not at once by dashing it against another stone.