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Fools ask what time it is, but the wise know their
-OLD DUTCH PROVERB.
That which the fool does in the end, the wise man does at the beginning.
Hatred and strife will not arise between two wise men;
Wise men learn more by fools, than fools do by wise
It never occurs to fools that merit and good fortune are closely united.
People are never so near playing the fool as when they think themselves wise.
Learned fools exceed all fools.
SOCRATES AND THE ORACLE OF DELPHI.
The oracle at Delphi pronounced Socrates the wisest of men. Socrates could not understand it, and yet he was unwilling to disbelieve the oracle, so he went about from one person reputed wise to another, in order to be able to say, "here is a wiser man than I am," or at
* Translated by Platts.
least find out what the oracle meant. He went to many, but he found that, while they in reality knew almost nothing that was worth knowing, they thought they knew a great deal, and were angry with one who tried to convince them of their ignorance. So that at last Socrates came to recognise that there was a truth in what had been said about him; to use nearly his own words," He left them, saying to himself, I am wiser than these men; for neither they nor I, it would seem, know anything valuable: but they, not knowing, fancy that they do know; I, as I really do not know, so I do not think that I know. I seem therefore to be in one small matter wiser than they.'
SEVEN WISE MEN OF GREECE.
1. Solon of Athens, whose motto was,
2. Chilo of Sparta, whose motto was,
3. Thales of Miletos, whose motto was-
4. Bias of Priéne, whose motto was,
Cleobulos of Lindos, whose motto was,
"The golden mean," or "Avoid extremes."
7. Periander of Corinth-whose motto was,
*From Theism by Rabert Flint.
+ From Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.
163. WIT AND HUMOUR.
Wit without wisdom is salt without meat.
Wit is folly unless a wise man has the keeping of it.
One day the Emperor (Akbar) was sitting in his court, which consisted of nobles, chiefs and bankers. The Emperor eyeing the magnates put them the following question individually. "What idea is uppermost in the minds of all assembled here at the present time?" None could answer this question. They talked among themselves that as it was a hard thing to know what one was thinking of, it was impossible to know what so many in the court were about. They also said that the king had lost his reason to put a question like that, and they were anxious to see what Birbal would say in reply, because they thought that that day would test the powers of Birbal, who had the reputation of being the wisest of them all. Thus the talk went round, and every one of them hung down his head as the Emperor looked at him and put him the question. At last it came to Birbal's turn, who immediately got up to answer and said, "May it please Your Majesty, shall I give answer with respect to each separately or shall I give only one answer covering the thoughts of all?" The Emperor chose the second method. Birbal then continued, "All are thinking of the permanence of your empire, and the increase of your wealth and glory. You may enquire of them whether what I say is right or wrong. The Emperor was gratified to hear this. Even
least find the courtiers was wishing evil of the Emperor, but brould not dare to say it to his face. All began to nay what Birbal said was true.
The late king of Prussia once sent to an aide-de-camp, who was brave but poor, a small portfolio, bound like a book, in which were deposited five hundred crowns. Some time afterwards he met the officer and said to him, "Ah, well, how did you like the new work I sent you." Excessively, sire," replied the colonel, "I read it with such interest that I expect the second volume with impatience." The king smiled, and when the officer's birthday arrived, he presented him with another portfolio, similar in every respect to the first, but with these words engraved upon it, "This book is complete in two volumes.
One king was outwitted by an astrologer, who had foretold that a lady, whom he loved, would die in eight days, which actually took place. The unlucky prophet was ordered before him, and on a signal was to be tbrown out of the window. "You who pretended to be such a wise man," said the king, "knowing so well the fate of others, tell me this moment what will be own, and how long you have to live?" Whether the fellow guessed his fate, or had been threatened by the messengers, he replied, without testifying any fear, "I shall die just three days before your Majesty" The king upon this was not in the smallest hurry to throw the prophet out of the window, but, on the contrary, he took particular care to let him want for nothing, and to make him live as long as possible.
A man came to the late Duke of Wellington with a patented article. "What have you to offer?" "A bul
let-proof jacket, your grace." "Put it on." Thaitted the tor obeyed. The Duke rang a bell, an aide-de-camp oiety sented himself. "Tell the captain of the guard to orde.g one of his men to load with ball cartridge." The inventor disappeared, and was never seen again near the Horse-guards. No money was wasted in trying that invention.
During the debate in the Continental Congress on the establishment of the federal army, a member offered a resolution providing that it should never exceed three thousand men, whereupon Washington moved an amendment that no enemy should ever invade the country with a force exceeding two thousand men. This joke was a perfect success, and the laughter which it excited smothered the Resolution.
Aristippus begged a favour of King Dionysius for one of his friends, and not being able to obtain it, he cast himself at his feet. Somebody reproaching him at his cringing as unworthy of a philosopher, he pleasingly answered, "You ought not to lay the blame upon me but upon the king, who carries his ears at his feet."
The secret of Dante's struggle through life was in the reckless sarcasm of his reply to the prince of Verona, who asked him how he could account for the fact that in the household of princes, the court fool was in greater favour than the philosopher. Similarity of minds," said the fierce genius, "is over all the world a test of friendship."
Some merchants went to an eastern sovereign, and exhibited for sale several very fine horses. The King