LET any one compare his own situation with that of mankind in general, and theirs must have one of three characters, — superior, equal, or inferior. His intercourse with the first division has been deter­mined in Sect. V. In the second division, inter­course is of three kinds, — with friends, with foes, and with those who are neither.*

I. Friends are of two sorts, — genuine and not genuine. With the genuine the mode of intercourse has just been ascertained: for the other, if peradven­ture by cultivation and courtesy they may be brought to bear a semblance of the genuine, we should take every opportunity to pay them attention, and make every endeavour to improve their feelings: possibly they may attain to the distinction of genuine friend­ship. Our secrets, however, our enterprises, our faults, and the measure of our property, we should not let them know. We must not punish them for their faults, nor rebuke them for inattention to our claims. Their projects we should support, as far as we can, with cheerfulness, either real or complimen­tary; and should the honors of advance to rank or property become theirs, we must not appear to regard them the more or visit them the oftener.

II. Foes are of two sorts, — the far and the near; and each of two kinds, — the hidden and the open. Potential foes are of the open, invidious ones of the hidden, description. A near foe is the most formidable one; being more acquainted with our minute circumstances. Wherever we eat or drink, whereso­ever we arrive or set out from, we must be mindful of his vicinity and our own safeguard.*

The main point in the treatment of foes is by courteous and conciliating demeanour to remove, if possible, the blemish from their hearts; and the best of all expedients is to cut off the supply of ani­mosity and hatred. When this project is hopeless, as long as we can behave with exterior civility we should never give openness to our variance. For to overwhelm evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil. We must pay no regard then to the folly of our enemies, but let our war-cry* be patience and politeness. Indeed, dissension and animosity cannot be too much avoided; leading as they do to loss of property, ruin of fortune, endless regret, and overwhelming anxiety; — nay, to loss of life as well as property they may lead, and innumer­able calamities besides. Life is too precious a jewel to be thrown away upon a spite against our foes.

Among other essential precautions it is one to inquire into an enemy’s concerns, and take the greatest pains to ascertain them; being equally careful, however, to conceal them when ascertained, and not divulge them till the proper time. For to publish an enemy’s fault is to put him upon per­ceiving it, and avoiding its range; or perchance he may labour in secret to avert the injurious operation, reserving its discovery till the expedient moment; and victory may fall to him in conse­quence. Part of it, however, we may bring forward as opportunity demands, that, knowing our con­sciousness of his defects, his spirit may be broken and mortified, and thus grow weary of the contest. On no account are we to disgrace him with impu­tations of our own: for falsehood will redound to the strength and superiority of the opposite party. Complaints against him we may lay, however, before the chiefs and functionaries, in order to possess them with a right view of our situation; and then, if similar attempts are made on his side, they shall not be believed, but imputed to his further misbe­haviour. We ought to make ourselves acquainted with the habit and tendency of his every quality, so as to prepare an appropriate defence for each. All that may lead to his embarrassment and disquiet we ought likewise to ascertain, and make use of upon suitable occasion. Plato says the best way of providing against the practices of our foes is to render ourselves superior to them in those arts which are common to the two: thus at the same time ourselves attaining the honors of perfection, averting the enemies’ molestation, and consigning them to humiliation and embarrassment. To give vent to expressions of abuse, abhorrence, male­diction, and censure, is the trait of weak women, and far removed from the practice of men of sense and ability. Not only indeed do we assume thereby the characteristics of the foolish, without detriment to the enemy’s cause, but we incite him to attack our reputation in return.* We are told that when a person appeared before Abú Muslim, at the insti­gation of a court parasite, and entered into charges against Nasar Sayār, (the previous governor of Khorāsan on the Marwānite party), Abú Muslim was displeased, and put a stop to the proceeding, saying, that if he for his own purposes should choose to embrue his hands in the blood of that party, it could answer none to attack their repu­tations.

When an enemy is visited by any calamity from which we are not ourselves secure, we should not exult in it or display any satisfaction; for the calamity having an application to us, we should in fact be exulting over ourselves.

“Rejoice not thou that to the dreary grave
Behold’st thy foeman borne, — for thou must follow.”

Should an enemy ever turn to us for refuge, or repose on us any reliance, we must beware of deceiving or betraying him. We must discharge all obligations of honor and humanity, and so contrive as to convince every one of our good feeling and integrity, and retort upon him the turpitude of wrong. On this point we ought to proceed by the example of the Prophet, of whom we are told in the most authentic accounts, that when Kaab bin Zohair, who passed among the Arabs for a master in composition, had defiled his tongue (before he was honored by conversion) by satirizing certain ser­vants* of the Prophetic port, and in consequence the refuge of revelation had put the ban* upon his life, Kaab, being informed of the fact, and knowing that his only resource lay in an appeal to that unfailing mercy which embraces all in both worlds (We sent thee not but in mercy to the worlds), com­posed a splendid elegy, all sparkling with rich encomiums on his highness’s excellence, and mounting (as was the Arab custom) on a swift-paced camel, crossed the deserts, and presented himself at that threshold where angels were fain to nestle. Thus safely ensconced, he fell to reciting his elegy, in the course of which he had taken care to introduce the grounds of his apology and deprecation. As soon as his holiness heard it he cancelled the catalogue of Kaab’s offences, and bestowed upon him a tunic drawn from his own pure and spiritual person, as the most sacred pledge of impetrated safety. From that time forward the poet was ranked with the most favoured attendants.*

For averting their malice, there are three courses to follow. 1. To ameliorate their natures, or, if that is impracticable, to ameliorate their regard. 2. To avoid it by choosing a residence at some distance, or undertaking travel. 3. To attack and destroy it. This is the last of expedients, and one which we are only to adopt when the enemy is malicious in se; when we cannot avoid the harm by any other means; when we are of opinion, that in case of the enemy’s prevailing over us, some evil still more serious will result; when we can be sure that no further ill consequences will follow, either in this world or the next. And this, withal, we are still to except against deceit and treachery; and if it be practicable to attack his power by the hand of another foe, that is to be preferred.

As to the invidious, we must harass them by setting forth our advantages, and by displaying our virtues, or other such means of good fortune, internal or external, as may tend to irritate their mental malady, and in time excite other and fresh ones. Their pretexts we must tear aside, that men may be aware of their odious propensities, and prepared to condemn their further displays. There is a proverb —

“All other hatred you may hope to change
But that of him who hates because he envies.”

III. As to intercourse with those who are neither friends nor foes, it will differ with the different classes to which they belong. With the ingenuous, who occupy towards the public a cordial and sincere position, we should affect warmth, and meet them with unaffected cheerfulness. We must not, how­ever, be too hasty in admitting the professions of every one: we must not be deceived by circum­stances of appearance. By observation we must acquaint ourselves with peoples’ real intentions, and be guided accordingly. The good (or those engaged in promoting general concord)* we should treat with reverence and respect. The foolish we should entertain with coolness; not dwelling on their follies nor seeking access to revenge, but trusting to be rid of them by calmness, benignity, and mutual avoidance. With the haughty we should be haughty, that they may be corrected and rebuked by our demeanour: we have it in one of the dicta, “With the haughty it is friendly to be haughty.” For courtesy towards this class only serves to confirm them in their error; while a haughty bearing in return would be likely to awaken them to a sense of it. To men of eminence we should show respect, for a high privilege is theirs. We should bear with the ill-nature of our neigh­bours and friends. There is a saying, “The mild forbear in body, and the generous forbear in soul.”

With regard to those beneath us, if docile, we should tender them as our own children; searching into their natures and dispositions for the bent of their abilities, and employing them accordingly; holding ourselves bound to assist them to the utmost of our power. The dull we should encourage in whatever may be most adapted to their capacities, and discourage from aiming at scientific attainment. Interrogators, if importunate, we should rebuke and disregard; not however when such importunity proceeds from excess of exigence. We must care­fully distinguish between him that wants and him that desires. For the first, we should expedite his want, or even supply it, if without detriment we may; the second we should restrict from pursuing his cupidity any further. To the weak we should extend our hand, and to the oppressed our succour; and, as far as in us lies, endeavour a resemblance to that absolute good, the source of every blessing, the well-spring of every excellence, — the Almighty and All-hallowed, whose mercy and munificence watered — whose heavenly inspirations expanded — the blos­soms of celestial perfection now teeming on crea­tion’s favourite plant — mankind: and this without expectation of advantage, or forecast of purpose or design; his exaltation is beyond it. This then is the course which the aspirant after virtue must pursue; making absolute good the ultimate end of all his other acquisitions, — till at length he achieves the elevation of becoming the Vice-regent of God:*

“His holy guidance lends the soul her grace,
Points where to run, and how to win the race.”