This teaches prudence. It is a quotation from an essay by Montaigne (‘Il faut reculer pour mieux sauter’) and has much the same meaning as Look before you leap, except that the stress is not on looking but on making previous preparations. For example, a stream may be too wide for us to clear in one leap from a standing position on the bank. We therefore withdraw several paces so that a preliminary run will give us the necessary impetus to reach the other side. In the same way, it is not wise, even though we are in a hurry, to embark on something without previous thought and planning, which may seem to be slowing us down, but in fact hastens our progress.