I saw a schoolmaster in the Maghrib country, who was sour-faced, of uncouth speech, ill-humoured, troublesome to the people, of a beggarly nature and without self-restraint, so that the very sight of him disgusted the Musalmans and when reading the Quran he distressed the hearts of the people. A number of innocent boys and little maidens suffered from the hand of his tyranny, venturing neither to laugh nor to speak because he would slap the silver-cheeks of some and put the crystal legs of others into the stocks. In short, I heard that when his behaviour had attained some notoriety, he was expelled from the school and another installed as corrector, who happened to be a religious, meek, good and wise man. He spoke only when necessary and found no occasion to deal harshly with anyone so that the children lost the fear they had entertained for their first master and, taking advantage of the angelic manners of the second, they acted like demons towards each other and, trusting in his gentleness, neglected their studies, spending most of their time in play, and breaking on the heads of each other the tablets’ of their unfinished tasks.
If the schoolmaster happens to be lenient
The children will play leapfrog in the bazar.
Two weeks afterwards I happened to pass near that same mosque where I again saw the first master whom the people had made glad by reconciliation and had reinstalled in his post. I was displeased, exclaimed ‘La haul’, and asked why they had again made Iblis the teacher of angels. An old man, experienced in the world, who had heard me, smiled and said: ‘Hast thou not heard the maxim?
A padshah placed his son in a school,
Putting in his lap a silver tablet
With this inscription in golden letters:
The severity of a teacher is better than the love of a father.’
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