BLTC Press Titles

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The Secret Doctrine, Volume I Cosmogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

My Man Jeeves

P. G. Wodehouse

The Diplomatic Background of the War

Charles Seymour

A multitude of counsellors

by Josephus Nelson Larned


Precepts of the prefect the feudal lord Ptah-hotep, under the majesty of the king of the South and North, Assa, living eternally forever.

The prefect, the feudal lord Ptah-hotep says: O God with the two crocodiles, my lord, the progress of age changes into senility. Decay falls [upon man] and decline takes the place of youth. A vexation weighs upon him every day; sight fails; the ear becomes deaf; his strength dissolves without ceasing. The mouth is silent, speech fails him; the mind decays, remembering not the day before. The whole body suffers. That which is good becomes evil; taste completely disappears. Old age makes a man altogether miserable; the nose is stopped up, breathing no more from exhaustion. Standing or sitting there is here a condition (?) of . . . Who will cause me to have authority to speak? that I may declare to him the words of those who have heard the counsels of former days? And the counsels heard of the gods, who (will give me authority to declare them?) Cause that it be so and that evil be removed from those that are enlightened; send the double . . .

The majesty of this god says: Instruct him in the sayings of former days. It is this which constitutes the merit of the children of the great. All that which makes the soul equal penetrates him who hears it, and that which it says produces no satiety.

Beginning of the arrangement of the good saying (s), spoken by the noble lord, the divine father, beloved of God, the son of the king, the first-born of his race, the prefect (and) feudal lord Ptah-hotep, so as to instruct the ignorant in the knowledge of the arguments of the good saying(s). It is profitable for him who hears them, it is a loss to him who shall transgress them.

He says to his son: Be not arrogant because of that which thou knowest; deal with the ignorant as with the learned; for the barriers of art are not closed, no artist being in possession of the perfection to which he should aspire. [But] good (words) are more difficult to find than the emerald, for it is by slaves that that is discovered among the rocks of pegmatite.

If thou findest a disputant while he is hot, and if he is superior to thee in ability, lower the hands, bend the back, do not get into a passion with him. As he will not let thee destroy his words, it is utterly wrong to interrupt him; that proclaims that thou art incapable of keeping thyself calm when thou art contradicted.

If, then, thou hast to do with a disputant while he is hot, imitate one who does not stir. Thou hast the advantage over him if thou keepest silence when he is uttering evil words. "The better (of the two) is he who is impassive," say the bystanders, and thou art right in the opinion of the great.

If thou findest a disputant while he is hot, do not despise him, because thou art not of the same opinion. Be not angry against him when he is wrong; away with such a thing. He fights against himself; require him not [further] to flatter thy feelings. Do not amuse thyself with the spectacle which thou hast before thee; it is odious, [it is] mean, [it is the part] of a despicable soul [so to do]. As soon as thou lettest thyself be moved by thy feelings, combat this [desire] as a thing that is reproved by the great.

Inspire not men with fear, [else] God will fight against [thee] in the same manner.

If thou art an agriculturist, gather the crops (?) in the field which the great God has given thee, fill not thy mouth in the house of thy neighbors; it is better to make one's self dreaded by the possessor. As for him who, master of his own way of acting, being all-powerful, seizes [the goods of others] like a crocodile in the midst [even] of watchmen, his children are an object of malediction, of scorn and of hatred on account of it, while [his] father is grievously distressed, and [as for] the mother who has borne [him], happy is another rather than herself. [But] a man becomes a god when he is chief of a tribe which has confidence in following him.

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