A Gardener emptied the fish pond to water the plants. Master said he liked fish so Gardener filled the pond and let plants wilt. Wrong again. Do both!
Don’t go to extremes.
In the midst of a beautiful flower garden, there was a large pond filled with carp, tench, perch, and other fresh-water fish; it was also intended to water the garden. The foolish Gardener, being particularly careful in attending to the flowers, so emptied the pond of its water that there scarcely remained sufficient to preserve the fish in existence. His Master, coming down to walk in the garden, and seeing this mismanagement, reprimanded the Gardener, saying, “Though I am very fond of flowers, I am also fond of regaling myself with fish.” The Gardener, being a coarse, ignorant peasant, obeyed his master so punctually that he gave no water to the flowers, in order that the fish might be abundantly supplied. Some time after the Master again visited his garden, and, to his great mortification, saw the flowers which so greatly ornamented it all dead or drooping. “You blockhead!” he cried; “in future remember not to devote so much of the water of the pond to the flowers as to leave me without fish, nor yet be so liberal to the fish as to kill my beauteous blossoms.”
[Note: The Northcote fable is the same fable as in the JBR Collection above. Only the illustrations and Application associated with the fable in the Northcote book are displayed here.]
The maxim is trite but well worth repeating, that whoever wishes to attain excellence must always avoid extremes, and endeavour to unite utility with elegance.