A demon met a rich man's son, pious and devout, and shewed him from atop the world a city made of marble, limestone and alabaster which stretched white across the plain below. "Ask me once," the demon whispered," and I will set this city on fire and the tormented will scream your name. Their pain will be your glory, for you alone will know why they suffer and you will be the king of agony." But the man answered "No, imp! My father was a successful man who had fifty wives and he taught me 'To do is to own, to ask is to owe.' Get away from me and tempt me no more. But can I borrow a match?"
Next the demon found another son of privilege, this one frivolous and wasteful, and took him to the same mountaintop. From the peak, he showed the boy a giant carnival that filled the valley below with whirling amusements, bright lights, gentle elephants and the music of a calliope. All the people were enjoying the sights, sounds and smells so much that they never noticed the locked gates around the fiesta or the wide river of boiling sulfur that completed a circle around the gates. "Offer me your soul," the demon whispered, "and I will make you the wisest man in this happy place, for only you will see the trap." But the young man answered, "Begone Beelzebub! For my mother was a debutante who taught me 'A secret is a miser's cash and a merchant's trash.' What's on TV?"
So the sullen but resourceful demon went to a seminary, telling himself, "Evil is unreliable and folly knows not wrong, but a tender-hearted wise man is up for mischief every day by dawn."
Moral: The hateful and indolent can be saved with a rhyme, the honest are lost to reason.
MAXIM, n. A gift from the listless to the lost.