LABOUR is exertion in obtaining the objects of pursuit; Perseverance is bearing trouble in the attainment of our wishes and wants. And labour and perseverance are among the qualities of conquering kings and triumphant princes: and this property follows that of a lofty mind; for in proportions as designs are lofty, labour and perseverance become greater in pursuit of the object. And a man ought to have lofty designs, and not be afraid of bearing difficulties: for the case cannot go beyond these two things: if, by perseverance, the mantle of his wishes falls into his hands; why that is his object: and if he is left behind the curtain of suspense; why his apology is manifest in the opinion of the wise, and his ambition, in the pursuit of illustrious and distinguished achievements, is clear and evident to all minds.

I labour in my pursuit; if I gain it, how great is my good fortune;
And if I gain it not, my apology appears laudable to the great.

Among the Fable of the Sages of India, it is related, that an ant had bound the girdle of perseverance on his loins; and was carrying away a grain from a hillock of sand,—the removal of which would have been accomplished with difficulty by men,—and laying it on the other side. A bird passed by the place; he saw a weak and spare figure, which was moving its hands and feet with the greatest alacrity, and exercising extreme labour and indescribable perseverance in removing the sand: he said, “O feeble in figure, what service is this which thou hast undertaken, and what pursuit is this into which thou hast entered?” The ant loosened its tongue, and said, “I have an affection for one of my own tribe, and when I sought a union with her, she proposed this condition, saying, ‘If thou art attached to me, step out, and carry off this hillock of sand from this road; and so I am prepared for this service, and I want to perform the condition, and relieve myself from the obliga­tion of the engagement.” The bird said, “This notion, which thou hast taken up, is not in proportion to thy spirit; and this bow which thou drawest is not according to the strength of thy arm.” The ant replied, “I am resolved upon pursuing this service, and I have stepped forward with labour and perseverance; if it goes forward, that is my aim; and if not, they will hold me excused.

I follow the path of exertion;
There is nothing for man but what he labours for:
If I get the mantle of my desire into my hand;
I get out of the way of sorrow and regret;
And if by my perseverance an affair should not end to my content;
I am justified in it, and so, good-bye.”

To Afarīdūn (in the beginning of the days of power, when the sweets plants of fortune began to bud in the gardens of prosperity; and the gales of joyfulness to blow from the region of enjoyment) the idea arose, of conquering several of the provinces, which were in the possession of a party of subordinate chiefs,

Although what is sufficient to support life be but little,
Yet, to acquire the world by the sword, belongs to a lofty spirit.

He consulted on the matter with the Pillars of the State; a certain number of them said, “O Prince! thou hast a kingdom in good order, and abundance of rich and valuable things; it doth not seem good, without any necessity, to stir up the dust of strife, and to kindle the fire of animosity. Take enjoyment from what is present; and renounce engaging in danger.”

Labour for tranquillity and delight,
For there is not any apparent limit to desire.

Afarīdūn replied, “Contentment is the property of beasts with downcast heads; and to sit in a corner is a result of the meanness of spirit of the incompetent and dis­appointed. One should reckon the conveniency of the time, which is like the idea of a fleeting cloud, as great spoils; and in the accomplishment of hopes one should have no apprehension of the occurrence of accidents.

He should not bind on the girdle of royalty;
Who has any fondness for personal ease;
When shall he repose from fatigue,
Who has pretensions to empire.

They have related that a king sent his son to the wars against one of his enemies. They brought the king word that the prince used, now and then, on the way, to take off his armour; and that he pitched his tent two nights in the same halting place. The father wrote to him, thus, “My son, the Almighty, when he created honour, made trouble and fatigue its associates; and when he gave existence to contempt, made indulgence and ease its com­panions; and then he gave honour to princes, and contempt to peasants. The delight of a king is in the conquest of dominion: the delight of a peasant is peace and safety and taking rest: and these two gifts do not meet together; it is therefore necessary that a king should bid adieu to repose, and leave tranquillity to peasants; for if he do not do so, he must finish in taking rest, and must turn away from conquest of dominion.

The luxury of royalty is enough for thee, seek no other pleasure;
With the existence of sovereignty, do not look for other means.”

Yākūb-lais, in the beginning of his career, would fling himself into dangers, and would encounter the greatest difficulties; he would avoid self-indulgence; and would never rest a single moment from suffering fatigue. They said to him, “Thou art a man that workest in brass; to thee, what motive is there for enduring all this misery, and for casting thyself into the whirlpool of destruction.” He replied, “It vexes me to spend my precious life in repairing brass and copper; and to turn my attention to a trade in which there are many equals: my labour is in this, and my perseverance is for this, that I may raise myself to a rank where no one of the children of my class may be my equal.” They answered, “This is an affair extremely hard; and a business very difficult.” He said, “I have learnt that the draught of death is to be drunk, and the burthen of decay and destruction must be borne: that I should be cut off in noble pursuit, is better than that I should die in a base occupation.” And thus, by this labour and per­severance, he reached to that rank to which he attained.

Continue in labour and perseverance in every matter;
Drop not the mantle of pursuit from thy hand;
Every thing to which the heart is attached;
If thou persevere, it will fall into thy hand.

And as by labour and perseverance, the foundation of greatness gains compactness; by the reverse of this character, which is idleness and sloth, the foundations of dignity and prosperity break down. They questioned a person of the race of Tāhir, thus, “What was the cause of the decline of your power and the departure of your fortune?” He answered thus, “Wine at night, and sleep in the morning: that is to say; from indolence, we did not engage in affairs of state, and from sloth, we cast away the habit of industry; consequently the vessel of our independ­dence was sunk in the whirlpool of decline; and the boat of our hope never reached the shore.”

That person destroys the foundations of his own fortune;
Who drinks wine in the evening, and goes to sleep in the morning.