These are nearly all briefly represented by the image used for the force of money by Dante, of mast and sail, —
"Quali dal vento be gonfiate vele
Caggiono avvolte, poi chè l'alber fiacca
Tal cadde a terra la fiera crudele."
The image may be followed out, like all of Dante's, into as close detail as the reader chooses. Thus the stress of the sail must be proportioned to the strength of mast, and it is only in unforeseen danger that a skilful seaman ever carries all the canvas his spars will bear: states of mercantile languor are like the flap of the sail in a calm, — of mercantile precaution, like taking in reefs; and the mercantile ruin is instant on the breaking of the mast.