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Robert Bland, Proverbs
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21. Surdo canis
You are preaching to the deaf; to prepossessed and prejudiced ears; to presons so besotted and addicted to their vices, that they will not listen to you, though your advice be most suitable to them, and such as they cannot reject, but to their manifest disadvantage. "They are like to the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears, and refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely." As the following narrative seems to give an ingenious explanation of this passage in the Psalms, it is here added. "There is a kind of snake in India," Mr. Forbes says, in his Oriental Memoirs, lately published, "which is called the dancing snake. They are carried in baskets throughout Hindostan, and procure a maintenance for a set of people, who play a few simple notes on the flute, with which the snakes seem much delighted, and keep time by a graceful motion of the head, erecting about half their length from the ground, and following the music with gentle curves, like the undulating lines of a swan's neck. It is a well attested fact, that when a house is infested with these snakes, and some others of the coluber genus, which destroy poultry, and small domestic animals, as also by the larger serpents of the boa tribe, the musicians are sent for, who, by playing on a flageolet, find out their hiding places, and charm them to destruction; for no sooner do the snakes hear the music, than they come from their retreat, and are easily taken. I imagine," Mr. Forbes says, "that these musical snakes were known in Palestine, from the Psalmist comparing the ungodly to the deaf adder, which stoppeth her ears, and refuseth to hear the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely. When the music ceaseth, the snakes appear motionless, but if not immediately covered up in the basket, the spectators are liable to fatal accidents. Among my drawings is that of a cobra de capello, which danced for an hour on the table, while I painted it, during which I frequently handled it, to observe the beauty of the spots, and especially the spectacles on the hood, not doubting but that its venemous fangs had been previously extracted. But the next morning I was informed by my servant, that while purchasing some fruit, he observed the man who had been with me the preceding evening, entertaining the country people, who were sitting on the ground around him, with his dancing snakes, when the animal that I had so often handled, darted suddenly at the throat of a young woman, and inflicted a wound, of which she died in about half an hour."
22. Sus Minervam
Ort. or. Ne sus Minervam
Esp. El Diablo sabe mucho, porque es viejo
Fr. Don't try to teach your Grandma to suck eggs
Persons pretending to instruct those who are qualified to be their masters, or to inform others in matters of which they are themselves ignorant, fall under the censure of this adage; their conduct being as ridiculous as would be that of a sow who should presume to attempt to teach wisdom. Our clowns, not very delicately, tell you, not to teach your grandames to suck eggs, for, «a bove majori discit arare minor», the young ox learns to plow from the elder, not the elder from the young, and El Diablo saba mucho, the Spaniards say, porque es viejo, the devil knows a great deal, for he is old.
Fuente: Erasmo, 40.
23. Sustine et abstine.
Bear and forbear, a phrase frequently used by Epictetus, as embracing almost the whole that philosophy or human reason can teach us. Of this Epictetus was a memorable example, no man bearing the evils of life with more constancy or less coveting its enjoyments. His master Epaphroditus, for he was a slave in the early part of his life, diverting himself with striking his leg with a large stick, he told him, that if he continued to give such heavy strokes he would break the bone; which happening as he had foretold, all that he said on the occasion was, «did not I tell you, you would break my leg». When afterwards he had obtained his liberty and was much followed as a teacher of philosophy, he still lived in the plainest and simplest manner; his house or cottage had no door, and the little furniture it contained was of the meanest kind. When an iron lamp by which he used to study, was stolen, he said, « I shall deceive the thief if he should come again, as he will only find an earthen one».This earthen lamp, Lucian tells us, was sold for three thousand drachmas or groats, £75 of our money. He is said to have lived to his ninety-sixth year. The Mexicans, without being beholden to the tenets of philosophy, have learnt from experience the necessity of undergoing trouble; they say to their children on being born, «thou art come into the world, child, to endure; suffer, therefore, and be silent».
Fuente: Erasmo, 1613.
24. Suum cuique pulchrum
Ing. All our geese are swans
Ing. Every crow thinks her own bird fairest
We each of us think, that whatever we possess, whether children, horses, dogs, houses, or any other things, are better than those of our neighbours, "all our geese are swans." Or, as a common adage has it, "Every crow thinks her own bird fair." This disposition, when not carried to excess, is rather to be encouraged than reproved, as tending to make us contented and happy, in our situations; indulged too much, it occasions our becoming dupes to sycophants and flatterers. None fall so easily under the influence of this prejudice, as poets, orators, and artisans, who are generally as much enamoured with their own productions, as lovers are with the charms of their mistresses. "Nemo unquam, neque poeta, neque orator fuit, qui quenquam meliorem se arbitraretur," there never was poet, or orator, Cicero says, who thought any other superior to himself in his art, nor any lover who did not find more beauty in his mistress than in any other woman.
Véase: Nemo unquam, neque poeta, neque orator fuit, qui quenquam meliorem se arbitraretur
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