Wise Sayings – from the Irish

[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 18, October 27, 1832]

The following passages have been translated from the Book of Balimote, fo. 75. The translations are given, as the original is too obsolete for the present purpose, and the necessary explanations to render it intelligible would require too much room. The first paragraph is from the "Advice of Cormac Ulfada, (the long bearded,) to his son," Carbré, Anno 254—

"No fellowship with a king - no falling out with a madman - no dealing with a revengeful man - no competition with the powerful - no wrong to be done to seven classes of persons, excited to anger, viz: - a bard, a commander, a woman, a prisoner, a drunken person, a druid, a king in his own dominions. - No stopping the force of a going wheel by strength of hand - no forcing the sea - no entering a battle with broken hands - no heightening the grief of a sorrowful man - no merriment in the seat of justice - no grief at feasts - no oblivion in ordinances or laws - no contention with a righteous person - no mocking of a wise man - no staying in dangerous roads - no prosperity shall follow malice - no coveting of skirmishes - a lion is not a safe companion to all persons - three deaths that ought not to be bemoaned: the death of a fat hog, the death of a thief, and the death of a proud prince - three things that advance the subject: to be tender to a good wife, to serve a good prince, and to be obedient to a good governor."

"The son of Fithil the wise, asked him what was the best thing to maintain a family or a house? - Fithil answered, 'a good anvil.' - 'What anvil ?' says the son, - 'a good wife,' says Fithil. - ' How shall I know her ?' says the son, - 'by her countenance and virtue,' says Fithil, 'for, the small short is not to be coveted though she be fair-haired, nor the thick short, nor the long white, nor the swarthy yellow, nor the lean black, nor the fair scold or talkative woman, nor the small fruitful who is fond and jealous, nor the fair complexioned, who is ambitious to see and be seen.' - 'What woman shall I take ?' - 'I know not,' says Fithil,' though the large flaxen-haired, and the white black-haired, are the best; but I know no sort fit for a man to trust to, if he wishes to live in peace.' - 'What shall I do with them then'? says the son. - Fithil answered, 'you shall let them all alone, or take them for good or evil, as they may turn out, for until they are consumed to ashes, they shall not be free from imperfections.' - 'Who is the worst of women ?' - 'Becarn' - ' What is worse than her ?' - 'The man that married her, and brought her home to his house to have children by her.' - 'What can be worse than that man?' - 'Their child, for it is utterly impossible that he can ever be free from villany and malice.'"

"Wisdom is what makes a poor man a king - a weak person powerful - a good generation of a bad one - a foolish man reasonable - though wisdom be good in the beginning, it is better at the end." - Hardiman's Irish Minstrelsy.