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161. WISDOM AND FOLLY.
What is wisdom? That sovereign word is used for two different things. It may stand for knowledge, learning, science, systematic reasoning; or it may mean, as Coleridge has defined it, common sense in an uncommon degree; that is to say, the unsystematic truths that come to shrewd, penetrating and observant minds, from their own experience of life, and their daily commerce with the world, and that is called the wisdom of life, or the wisdom of the world, or the wisdom of time and the ages.
To act with common sense according to the moment is the best wisdom.
To provide against every important danger by the employment of the most promising means, is the office of wisdom.
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom.
What is it to be wise?
'Tis but to know how little can be known;
The truest wisdom is a resolute determination.
-NAPOLEON'S FAVOURITE MAXIM.
In short, wisdom can draw expedient from obstacle, invention from difficulty, safety from danger, resource from sterility, and remedy from poison. In her hands all things become beautiful by their adaptment; subservient by their use; and salutary by their application. -COLTON.
Where the eye of pity weeps,
To be resign'd when ills betide,
This is that incense of the heart,
A man of truest wisdom will resign
His wealth, and e'en his life, for good of others ;
When death in any case is sure to happen.
• Prof. Johnson's edition.
Experience is the father and memory the mother of
--OLD ITALIAN PROVERB.
Self-discipline and self-control are the beginnings of practical wisdom; and these must have their root in self-respect. Hope springs from it-hope, which is the companion of power and mother of success. And as I respect myself, so am I equally bound to respect others, as they on their part are bound to respect me.
They said to Lokmân the sage, "of whom didst thou learn wisdom?" He replied, "Of the blind; for until they have tried the ground they do not put down their feet.
Riches diminish in the using, wisdom increases by use.
Wisdom cannot create materials; her pride is in their use.
A wise man's motto is, "Win gold and use it."
Be timely wise rather than wise in time.
Affectation of wisdom often prevents our becoming
• Translated by Platts.
Defer not till to-morrow to be wise,
But what is strength, without a double share
Proudly secure, yet liable to fall
By weakest subtilties; not made to rule
But to subserve where wisdom bears command.
Where ignorance is bliss
'Tis folly to be wise.
Can gold calm passion, or make reason shine?
Can we dig peace, or wisdom, from the mine?
Wisdom to gold prefer.
Eight things are proofs of folly: ill-timed wrath, misplaced bounty, ill-judged exertion, the confounding of friend with foe, confidence in those untried, reliance on the foolish, trust in the faithless, and garrulity.
The first degree of folly is to hold one's self wise, the second to profess it, the third to despise counsel.
On the heels of folly treadeth shame.
* From Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian Morals, by D. J. Medhora.
ADAM AND THE THREE PEARLS.
When Adam was created, God commanded Gabriel to take the three most precious pearls of the divine treasury, and offer them in a golden salver to Adam, to choose for himself one of the three. The three pearls were: Wisdom, Faith, and Modesty. Adam chose the pearl of Wisdom. Gabriel then proceeded to remove the salver with the remaining two pearls in order to replace them in the divine treasury. With all his mighty power, he found he could not lift the salver. The two pearls said to him: "We will not separate from our beloved Wisdom. We could not be happy and quiet away from it. From all eternity, we three have been the three compeers of God's Glory, the pearl of His power. We cannot be separated." A voice was now heard to proceed from the divine presence, saying, "Gabriel, leave them and come away." From that time, Wisdom has taken its seat on the summit of the brain of Adam; Faith took up its abode in his heart; Modesty established itself in his countenance. Those three pearls have remained as the heirlooms of the chosen children of Adam. For, whoever, of all his descendants, is not embellished and enriched with those three jewels, is lacking of the sentiment and lustre of his divine origin."
JUPITER AND THE LOTTERY.
Jupiter, in order to please mankind, directed Mercury to give notice that he had established a Lottery, in which there were no blanks; and that amongst a variety of other valuable chances, Wisdom was the highest prize.
*From "the Mesnevi" of Mevlânâ Jelâlud-din Muhammed ErRumi, by James W. Redhouse.