Fables on lifeless objects.
The razor having one day come forth from the handle which serves as
its sheath and having placed himself in the sun, saw the sun
reflected in his body, which filled him with great pride. And
turning it over in his thoughts he began to say to himself: “And
shall I return again to that shop from which I have just come?
Certainly not; such splendid beauty shall not, please God, be turned
to such base uses. What folly it would be that could lead me to
shave the lathered beards of rustic peasants and perform such menial
service! Is this body destined for such work? Certainly not. I will
hide myself in some retired spot and there pass my life in tranquil
repose." And having thus remained hidden for some months, one day he
came out into the air, and issuing from his sheath, saw himself
turned to the similitude of a rusty saw while his surface no longer
reflected the resplendent sun. With useless repentance he vainly
deplored the irreparable mischief saying to himself: “Oh! how far
better was it to employ at the barbers my lost edge of such
exquisite keenness! Where is that lustrous surface? It has been
consumed by this vexatious and unsightly rust."
The same thing happens to those minds which instead of exercise give
themselves up to sloth. They are like the razor here spoken of, and
lose the keenness of their edge, while the rust of ignorance spoils
A stone of some size recently uncovered by the water lay on a
certain spot somewhat raised, and just where a delightful grove
ended by a stony road; here it was surrounded by plants decorated by
various flowers of divers colours. And as it saw the great quantity
of stones collected together in the roadway below, it began to wish
it could let itself fall down there, saying to itself: “What have I
to do here with these plants? I want to live in the company of
those, my sisters." And letting itself fall, its rapid course ended
among these longed for companions. When it had been there sometime
it began to find itself constantly toiling under the wheels of the
carts the iron-shoed feet of horses and of travellers. This one
rolled it over, that one trod upon it; sometimes it lifted itself a
little and then it was covered with mud or the dung of some animal,
and it was in vain that it looked at the spot whence it had come as
a place of solitude and tranquil place.
Thus it happens to those who choose to leave a life of solitary
comtemplation, and come to live in cities among people full of
The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci
edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880.