The Partridge said,

‘Two parties chose a judge, who shed
Tears on election. ‘Wherefore,’ said
One, ‘these tears? ’tis rather fit,
Since thou art judge, to joy at it.’
‘Alas!’ quoth he, ‘can I, untaught,
Decide where both know all, I, nought?
Those two that strive, in all instructed stand,
While the poor judge sees nought of either hand.
Thus, uninformed and blind to either state,
Could he proceed to slay and confiscate?’
‘True! thou art blind,’ the litigant replies,
‘Thou uninstructed, and the parties wise,
Yet faith to thee the needful light supplies,*
In that thou hast no bias: this
The strengthening of thy vision is.
While selfish ends, those wiser twain
Blind, and inter their wits again.
Merit is hid where interest assails,
And o’er the vision casts a hundred veils.
Art thou unbribed, thy sight remains;
But greed brings slavery and chains.
The judge whom justice once has dared to sell,
Ne’er can the tyrant from his victim tell.’

And, thanks be to God! the rust of interest has not darkened the mirror of thy pure heart, and the eye of thy conscience has not been dimmed by the rays of the fire of bribery; and for this reason it is thoroughly certain that thou wilt exhibit to our sight what is right, and wilt appoint the minister of punishment to act against him who draws back his neck from the law.

Who from thy will draws braws back his neck, behead!’

The cat said, ‘Thou hast spoken well, and truth demands that you both should pluck up the plant of interest from the ground of your heart, and know that he who has right on his side is in truth victor, though his claim be not to outward experience gained; while the wrongful appellant is spiritually baffled and defeated, though practically a decree be passed in accordance with his wish; for ‘Verily falsehood is of short continuance.’* And how well it has been said,

If thou to-day thy reins too much dost loose,
How shalt thou break to-morrow from my noose?*

And I say to you, Store up good actions as a treasure for the final state, and trust not in life, which is like a summer cloud; and, like, the rose-garden’s bloom, swiftly fleets away; and regarding mankind both high and low, far and near, as your own soul, suffer not yourselves to do anything to them that ye would not like for yourselves.

Do not to others what would grieve thyself.’

In this manner he breathed his spells upon them, until they became friendly with him, and advanced securely and unconcerned, without shunning him or putting themselves on their guard. Then with one spring he seized them both and supplied the kitchen of his stomach with the food of their delicious flesh; and such was the upshot of all his show of prayers and fasting and advice and abstinence, that is to say, it all ended in the gratification of his own foul appetites and impure passions.

And I have adduced this story in order that it may be known that one ought not to place confidence in an unprincipled and perfidious person. And the conduct of the deceitful and hypocritical owl bears this complexion, and his faults are infinite, and his vices innumerable, and this portion, which I have repeated, is but a drop from a boundless ocean, and a mere atom in comparison with the nine revolving heavens.

Did I my voice a million decades raise,
Of hundred thousands I but one could praise.*

And God forbid! that you should choose to act thus, and place him on the throne of sovereignty: for as soon as the royal diadem rests on his ill-omened head, without doubt the stubborn heavens will smite it with the stone of calamity, and whenever the throne-step of dominion is pressed by his inauspicious foot, the etherial vault will wrathfully rain down the fire of disaster upon it; and inasmuch as his nature is impure and his essence imperfect, the effect of your encouragement of him will be lost.

Our favor should to natures pure be shewn,
Pearls, coral, spring not from the clod or stone.’

After hearing these words, the birds at once desisted from the affair, and abandoned their intention of becoming the subjects of the owl; and that unhappy wretch, remaining stupified and sad in the corner of dejection, said to the Crow, ‘O black-faced, impudent one! after removing from before thyself the curtain of modesty, thou hast indulged in these insults against me, and by hurting my feelings, hast brought me to harbor resentment and hostility, and raised a dust of terror that the revolution of Time will not be able to remove in a hundred thousand centuries, and hast kindled a fire of mischief whose fire cannot be quenched with the water surrounding the heaven!

My heart may die, but ne’er will fade the impress of thy wrong.

I know not whether the first advances came from my side, that thou hast displayed all this affection and friendship; or whether thou hast thought fit to come forward by way of commencement with so much courtesy and kindness! Learn, however, that if they fell a tree, a branch will spring from its root, and, increasing in vegetation, it will return to its former state; but when the plant of friendship has been severed by the saw of ill-treatment, the springing up of the shoot of sincere regard is altogether out of the question; and if a wound be inflicted with a sword, it may be healed, and admits of cure with a plaster, but the wound which words inflict can never be cured, and the gash they make no ointment can salve.

That which the tongue has wounded, never heals.
The wound the tongue inflicts upon the heart,
No soothing ointment ever can close up.
And thou, and they who from thy sarcasms smart,
Will be such comrades as the stone and cup.

It is possible to extract the point of an arrow which is fixed in the breast, but the shaft which the tongue infixes in the heart can never be drawn out.

The shaft that launches at the heart—its point no skill can e’er extract.

And everything from which injury can be anticipated finds an antidote in something else, except malice, which cannot be obviated by anything. For example fire,—which, though it burns, may be quenched with water; but the flame of rancor cannot be extinguished with the water of the seven seas. Poison, too, though deadly, may have its injurious effects removed from the body by theriaca; but no such antidote can expel the poison of malice from the heart. And from this time forth between my race and thine a tree of enmity has been planted, whose root reaches to the bottom of the earth, and whose boughs stretch out beyond the height of the Pleiades.

When in the breast the plant of malice lies,
’Tis clear and certain what the fruit will be.
And rancor’s tree such produce still supplies,
Its flavor will with no one’s taste agree.’

The Owl having uttered this speech, departed vexed and distressed; and the Crow, repenting what he had said, fell into a long train of thought, and said to himself, ‘It is a strange thing that I have entered upon, and stirred up against my tribe fierce enemies and cruel foes. What had I to do with advising the birds? and it did not become me to deliver these sentiments more than other parties, who are greater and stronger than I am. Surely these sagacious birds knew the faults of the owl better than I, and better understood what measures were advisable in this matter; but they wisely dreaded the termination of this matter and the issue of this debate; and acted in accordance with the purport of the saying, ‘He who holds his peace is safe.’ The tongue has been created in the shape of a sword that men may not use it in play; and sword-play is the practice of merry-andrews, while men of the sword exercise that weapon only in the ranks of war. Without absolute necessity, to bare the sword of the tongue from the sheath of the palate, is the same thing as cutting one’s throat and risking one’s life.

When once the tongue adopts loquacity,
What marvel that the soul from fear should shake!
Since tongues were formed a deadly trade to ply,
’Twas right them in the shape of swords to make.

And worse than that,—these words were spoken in the owl’s very presence; and, doubtless, this increased his fury and resentment, and the hearing* abusive words piles wrath on wrath. And they have said that a wise man, though he have perfect confidence in his own strength and might, must not allow himself to make belligerent advances, and to commence a quarrel; but, rely on his own preparations and majesty, and not stir up strife. For, whosoever has a tried antidote, and a variety of drugs collected in his posses­sion, ought not, trusting therein, to volunteer to drink deadly poison.

What though thou hast an antidote! yet this
No reason to drink deadly poison is.

And sages agree that the effect of deeds is preferable to that of words, and that acting is proved to excel speaking; and the effect of a good action is apparent in the issue of things, and associates the termination of matters with good. But he whose words preponderate over his deeds, and who employs himself in rhetorically setting off to advantage what ought to be done, and embellishes it in men’s eyes with fine talking and eloquence, the end of his proceedings will, in a short time, be disgrace and reproach. And the end of words without deeds can be nothing but regret and remorse. And I am that great talker and little doer that did not use salutary reflection as to consequences, nor deliberate sufficiently. And had the crown of prudence adorned the head of my affairs, and had I had a portion from the boundless treasures of wisdom, I should first have consulted some one; and after deciding as to what was to be said, I should have uttered a discourse innocent and unblameable, and in which there could have been nothing mischievous.

The words I spoke, in truth, were too unweighed,
I pierced a pearl I should not have assayed.

Since, however, I entered upon this subject without the direction of prudent advisers and the counsel of the perfectly sagacious, and uttered some words impromptu which caused disturbance and excited enmity, what wonder that I have been reckoned among the number of the depraved; and that fatuity, ignorance, and absurdity have been imputed to me? And it has become proverbial, that ‘the babbler is a dotard,’ in other words, that the great talker is also a foolish talker; and although, in externals, the power of speech is that which discriminates between men and brutes, still sages account the utterer of evil words as below brutes in rank, and regard the dumb as better than those who speak foolishly.

Dumb are the brutes, and man has power to speak;*
Yet the tongue-tied, those who speak ill, excel.
Let men to utter words of prudence seek,
Or, are they brutish? be they dumb as well.
Shun then the fools, who for ten mortals prate;
Thou, to speak wisely, first excogitate.’

In short, the Crow vexed himself for a time,* and gave vent to self-accusa­tions, such as these and then flew away. Such was the commencement of the feud between us and the owls, which I have recounted.’

The King said, ‘O Kárshinás! I have heard thy words, and they contain much that is valuable; and to associate with the wise, and to make their words the guide of our actions and procedure is a presage of good fortune and success, and a token of arriving at perfection.

Like musk is sweet communion with the wise;
It, with a perfume rare, the brain affects.
Each act a hint in wisdom’s path supplies,
And every word to useful ends directs.

And now, after that the dwelling of my heart has been illuminated by the lamp of luminous language, which alone can be the taper of the cells of the recluses of the monasteries of friendship; explain in what way thou hast devised a remedy for the state of our soldiers, who, like moths, are consumed by the fire of the violence of the owls; and what counsel thou hast taken for removing the apprehensions of my subjects and tranquilizing the hearts of the soldiery?

The thing, where thou dost use thy subtilty,
Is, from a hundred knots, at once set free.’

Kárshinás unloosed the tongue of gratitude, and said,

‘O King! may earth obey thee, heaven befriend!
And swift-borne* victory in thy van attend!

As to what thy vazírs of luminous mind laid before thee in their state­ments, with respect to war and peace, and abiding and flight, and submitting to tax and tribute; my mind is satisfied with none of their proposals; and my hope is that, by some kind of stratagem, we shall obtain success and deliverance; for many persons have gained their wish by the practice of artifice and humble bearing; and have effected, by stratagem and deceit, what they could not have brought about by war and measures of that kind, as the thieves of the country of Gurgán* got by artifice, a sheep from the hands of a holy man.’ The King asked, ‘How was that?’