The Devotee said, ‘They have related that one day a Crow was flying and saw a partridge, which was walking gracefully on the ground, and with that sweet step and graceful gait enchanted the heart of the looker-on.

Thy graceful gait bore off at once my heart, in rapturous ecstasy,
With witching step approach once more, that I may shed my life for thee.

The Crow was pleased with the gait of the partridge, and amazed at its symmetrical movements, and agility and elasticity. The desire of walking in the same manner fixed itself in his mind, and from the core of his heart, the insane longing to step proudly, after the same fascinating fashion, made its appearance. He forthwith girt his loins in attendance on the partridge, and abandoning sleep and food, gave himself up to that arduous occupation, and kept continually running in the traces of the partridge, and gazing on its progress.

‘O partridge! on thou proudly steppest with a sweet enchanting grace;
Halting and lame I follow after, ever limping on thy trace.’

One day the partridge said, ‘O crazy, black-faced one! I observe that thou art ever hovering about me, and art always watching my motions. What is it that thou dost want?’ The Crow replied, ‘O thou of graceful manners and sweet smiling face!

Thy step has robbed me of my heart, and now I thee pursuing,
Search on and on lamenting, and my lost heart vainly ruing.

Know that having conceived a desire to learn thy gait, I have followed thy steps for a long time past, and wish to acquire thy manner of walking, in order that I may place the foot of pre-eminence on the crown of the head of my fellows.’ The partridge uttered a merry laugh, and said, ‘Alack! alack!

Ah me! how great the gulf ’twixt thee and me!*

My walking gracefully is a thing implanted in me by nature, and thy style of going is equally a natural characteristic. Nothing can obliterate natural dispositions, and no pains can alter the inherent bent. My going is in one way, and thy mode of procedure is quite another.

Behold from where to where our roads diverge!*

Leave off this fancy and relinquish this idea.

Cease! for this bow suits not thy arm to draw.’

The Crow replied, ‘The commencement forces.’ Since I have plunged into the affair, no idle stories shall make me give it up; and until I grasp my wished-for object, I will not turn back from this road.

We have the ship of patience launched on the strong sea of pain;
And we will perish there or win the jewel we would gain.’

So the unfortunate Crow for a long time ran after the partridge, and having failed to learn his method of going, forgot his own too, and could in nowise recover it.

And I have adduced this story in order that thou mayest know that thou hast undertaken a fruitless task, and art using unavailing efforts. And they have said that the most fatuous of creatures is he that plunges into a thing unfitted to his nature and unsuited to his degree; and this affair has, in point of fact, exactly the same character as thy leaving the baker’s business and embarking in agriculture, and in the end the clue of both things having escaped from thy hand, thou hast been left in the grief of exile and the calamity of friendlessnes.

I said, I would my life surrender, that I might that meeting gain,
I gave my life, but in the end I could that meeting not obtain.’

The Guest would not meet the advice of the Devotee with acceptance, and in a short time forgot the language of his fathers, and failed to learn Hebrew.

That from him slipped, and this he failed to grasp.’

This is the story of one who quits his own profession and undertakes a thing which does not suit him, and this chapter is closely connected with the caution and prudence requisite in kings. Thus every ruler who wishes to sway with a vigorous hand his kingdom, and to whom the tranquillity of his subjects, and the promotion of his friends, and the extermination of his enemies, are desirable objects, will think it right to give the minutest atten­tion and consideration to these matters. Such a king will not suffer a worthless and naturally incompetent person to contest precedence with those of a noble and pure nature. For many low people fancy themselves rival competitors of the experienced cavaliers of the field of honor, and in the exercising ground of competition* consider their own lagging carrion as equal in the race with the lightning-paced Buráḳ of the others’ spirit, while in point of fact, if they traveled by relays, they would not so much as come up with the dust that their more noble competitors raise.

How the bright goblet of Jamshíd shall earthen cups to rival try?
Though decked in pearls* and rubies it their worthless boasts may still defy.

Wherefore the observation of this precedence in the rules of administration is of the highest importance, and if, which God forbid! the difference of ranks disappear from among the rulers of men, and the lowest sit in the same scale with the mediocre, and these latter put themselves on an equality with the noblest; the awe of royalty is impaired, and interruption and disturbance appear in the royal administration of affairs. On this account former kings used to take care that men of low nature and origin should acquire learning and the art of writing, and know questions in accounts and numeration, because that should this custom come to prevail, that men of business should enter the circle of the great, while great men would be unable to transact the operations of men of business, the ill effects thereof would of course be all-pervading and widely spread. Thus the means of support of high and low would be absolutely interrupted, and in consequence of these circumstancies retardation would take place in affairs, and in the course of time the effect thereof would be apparent. Wherefore it behoves a sensible man to think it incumbent to preserve the sections of the admonitions of the wise, and the advice of the sage, in order that having reaped the advantage of their beneficial influence, the fruits of experience may be made available for his career in life, and his transactions may remain preserved and safe from the imputation of faultiness, and the brand of neglect.

Him in the world thou mayest call truly wise,
Whose ear heeds counsel and heart subtleties.
Words are like pearls, the speakers they who dive;
Ere they win princely gems they long must strive;
In those dark shells so hardly brought to light,
Lies many a pearl with secret wisdom bright.