- The danger of neglecting small beginnings of mischief.
- The neglect of small aliments may lead to serious illnesses, and even loss of life.
- Bad habits begin with little indulgences.
You find a little hole in your coat, so small that you do not think it matters. Later, you find it has become a big tear and it takes you more than nine stitches with needle and thread, and time and trouble, to repair it. If you had mended it at once, you could have done it in a minute or so and with one or two stitches. So the proverb means, take things in time and you will save yourself a lot of trouble. A small hole in a canal embankment can be stopped up with very little trouble but if it is neglected, it will widen into a great breach which will call for much labour and expense to make it right again. As the old saying teaches, a kingdom may be lost by neglecting to replace a nail in a horse’s shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the rider was lost; for want of a rider, the battle was lost.”
This lesson applies to matters of health. A man catches a cold and, thinking it a small matter, neglects it. It develops into pneumonia, and he is dangerously ill for weeks, or even dies. If he had taken the cold in time, he would have saved his life, or at any rate much suffering, loss of time and the expense of doctor’s heavy bills. Or he neglects a scratch or cut, and develops blood-poisoning, and is seriously ill; whereas if he had attended to the wound at once, on harm would have to come him.
It can be applied, too, to morals and character. No one gets into a bad habit all at once. All habits begin with small and apparently innocent indulgences. For example, drunkenness. A drunkard begins by taking a glass of wine or whiskey now and then, and thinks nothing of it. But the appetite for drink grows until it becomes a craving; and before he know where he is, he has become a slave to drink. As a Japanese proverb says:
“First the man takes a drink; then the drink takes a drink; then the drink takes the man.”
The only safe way is to avoid the first glass. Inattention to small details and the neglect of small beginnings have marred many a promising career.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine – 500 Words
Constituted as we human beings are, we fail to act in time and thus come to grief. The proverb serves to remind us that little neglects cause great headaches and sometimes do incalculable harm. Literally the proverb means that if we find even a very small hole in a garment, say in a coat or a shirt or a saree, we should stitch the same without delay, otherwise it will grow into a big tear, necessitate ‘nine stitches’ and what is worse may render the garment unfit for wear.
What is true of clothes is true of most things in life. We know as a general truth that prevention is better than cure. Let us apply it to matters of health. Small things cause great mischief. We should be on our guard against small ills like indigestion, cold, cough cuts etc. they should be readily attended to, else they may pave the way for very serious physical troubles. A cold, for example, if neglected, may cause pneumonia. Indigestion, we all know, is the mother of innumerable ailments. Cough is not a disease, it is only a symptom, nature’s warning that something is wrong and needs urgent attention. If we ignore this warning it may mean a host of complications. Similarly, a small cut if left unattended, may become septic cause blood-poisoning and entail untold suffering and expense. Thus we see that in matters of health little neglects may expose one to grave risks and even cost life.
What is true of clothes and health is equally true of a multitude of things in life. Take character. Habit, says an old proverb, is second nature; but habits, good and bad, are not formed all at once.
Bad habits, therefore, should be nipped in the bud, otherwise, in course of time, they will overpower one completely and shall determine his character accordingly. If a child begins to contract a vicious habit his parents or those interested in his welfare should see to it that he shakes it off. If neglected it will soon dominate him and mar his future. Thus by disregardng bad ab ts as mere peccadilloes and indulginga them ‘in little proportion, we run the big risk of getting into their vicious clutch. Once one becomes the slave of a bad habit, it is difficult for him to shake it off, sience it has become a part of his nature. Who has not heard the famous proverb,
“First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink; then the drink takes the man.”
Small neglects have blasted many a promising career, ruined many a. happy home and hurled thousands into the abyss of misery and suffering. A little fire, if not extinguished in time, may develop into a mighty conflagration.
We should, therefore, learn to mend all matters before it is too late, to handle situation in time. A small leak in the bottom of a ship may cause the ship to sink. A scrap or a scrimmage, if not stopped at once, may develop into serious rioting, causing serious loss of life and destruction of property. Failure to capture the Kashmir valley in its initial stages has given rise to what is now known as the Kashmir Tangle. Failure to get it extricated from the Indian yoke at the very outset caused the death of thousands of precious lives in the Indo-Pakistan conflict. Nothing brings home to us the significance of this proverb so effectively as the old saying, ‘For want of a nail, the shoe (horse-shoe) was lost; for want of a shoe, the horse was lost; for want of a horse, the rider was lost; for want of a rider, the battle was lost; for want of a battle, the kindom was lost.? Small neglects may cause loss of kindoms and empires.