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Title: Æsop's Fables, Embellished with One Hundred and Eleven Emblematical Devices.
Author: Æsop
Language: English
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Transcriber's note: Text enclosed by underscores is in italics



  One Hundred and Eleven

  [Illustration: Man reading]

  Printed at the Chiswick Press,




  _Fable_                                       _Page_

  1 The Cock and the Jewel                        1

  2 The Wolf and the Lamb                         4

  3 The Lion and the Four Bulls                   7

  4 The Frog and the Fox                          9

  5 The Ass eating Thistles                      11

  6 The Lark and her Young Ones                  13

  7 The Cock and the Fox                         16

  8 The Fox in the Well                          19

  9 The Wolves and the Sheep                     21

  10 The Eagle and the Fox                       23

  11 The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing                26

  12 The Fowler and the Ring-Dove                28

  13 The Sow and the Wolf                        30

  14 The Horse and the Ass                       32

  15 The Wolf, the Lamb, and the Goat            35

  16 The Kite and the Pigeons                    38

  17 The Country Mouse and the City Mouse        41

  18 The Swallow and other Birds                 46

  19 The Hunted Beaver                           48

  20 The Cat and the Fox                         50

  21 The Cat and the Mice                        52

  22 The Lion and other Beasts                   54

  23 The Lion and the Mouse                      56

  24 The Fatal Marriage                          58

  25 The Mischievous Dog                         60

  26 The Ox and the Frog                         62

  27 The Fox and the Lion                        65

  28 The Ape and the Fox                         67

  29 The Dog in the Manger                       70

  30 The Birds, the Beasts, and the Bat          72

  31 The Fox and the Tiger                       75

  32 The Lioness and the Fox                     78

  33 The Oak and the Reed                        80

  34 The Wind and the Sun                        82

  35 The Kite, the Frog, and the Mouse           85

  36 The Frogs desiring a King                   87

  37 The Old Woman and her Maids                 90

  38 The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox             92

  39 The Crow and the Pitcher                    95

  40 The Porcupine and the Snakes                97

  41 The Hares and Frogs in a Storm             100

  42 The Fox and the Wolf                       103

  43 The Dog and the Sheep                      106

  44 The Peacock and the Crane                  108

  45 The Viper and the File                     110

  46 The Ass, the Lion, and the Cock            112

  47 The Jackdaw and Peacocks                   114

  48 The Ant and the Fly                        116

  49 The Ant and the Grasshopper                119

  50 The Countryman and the Snake               121

  51 The Fox and the Sick Lion                  124

  52 The Wanton Calf                            127

  53 Hercules and the Carter                    130

  54 The Belly and the Members                  133

  55 The Horse and the Lion                     136

  56 The Husbandman and the Stork               138

  57 The Cat and the Cock                       140

  58 The Leopard and the Fox                    142

  59 The Shepherd's Boy                         145

  60 The Fox and the Goat                       147

  61 Cupid and Death                            149

  62 The Old Man and his Sons                   151

  63 The Stag and the Fawn                      154

  64 The Old Hound                              157

  65 Jupiter and the Camel                      159

  66 The Fox without a Tail                     161

  67 The Fox and the Crow                       163

  68 The Hawk and the Farmer                    166

  69 The Nurse and the Wolf                     168

  70 The Hare and the Tortoise                  170

  71 The Young Man and his Cat                  173

  72 The Ass in the Lion's Skin                 175

  73 The Mountains in Labour                    177

  74 The Satyr and the Traveller                179

  75 The Sick Kite                              182

  76 The Hawk and the Nightingale               184

  77 The Peacock's Complaint                    186

  78 The Angler and the Little Fish             188

  79 The Geese and the Cranes                   190

  80 The Dog and the Shadow                     192

  81 The Ass and the Little Dog                 194

  82 The Wolf and the Crane                     197

  83 The Envious Man and the Covetous           199

  84 The Two Pots                               201

  85 The Fox and the Stork                      203

  86 The Bear and the Bee-Hives                 205

  87 The Travellers and the Bear                207

  88 The Trumpeter taken Prisoner               209

  89 The Partridge and the Cocks                211

  90 The Falconer and the Partridge             214

  91 The Eagle and the Crow                     216

  92 The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox             218

  93 The Fox and the Grapes                     220

  94 The Horse and the Stag                     222

  95 The Young Man and the Swallow              224

  96 The Man and his Goose                      227

  97 The Dog and the Wolf                       229

  98 The Wood and the Clown                     232

  99 The Old Lion                               234

  100 The Horse and the Loaded Ass              236

  101 The Old Man and Death                     238

  102 The Boar and the Ass                      240

  103 The Tunny and the Dolphin                 242

  104 The Peacock and the Magpie                244

  105 The Forester and the Lion                 246

  106 The Stag looking into the Water           248

  107 The Stag in the Ox-Stall                  251

  108 The Dove and the Ant                      254

  109 The Lion in Love                          256

  110 The Tortoise and the Eagle                259



So much has been already said concerning Æsop and his writings, both by
ancient and modern authors, that the subject seems to be quite
exhausted. The different conjectures, opinions, traditions, and
forgeries, which from time to time we have had given to us of him, would
fill a large volume: but they are, for the most part, so inconsistent
and absurd, that it would be but a dull amusement for the reader to be
led into such a maze of uncertainty: since Herodotus, the most ancient
Greek historian, did not flourish till near an hundred years after Æsop.

As for his Life, with which we are entertained in so complete a manner,
before most of the editions of his Fables, it was invented by one
Maximus Planudes, a Greek Monk; and, if we may judge of him from that
composition, just as judicious and learned a person, as the rest of his
fraternity are at this day observed to be. Sure there never were so many
blunders and childish dreams mixed up together, as are to be met with in
the short compass of that piece. For a Monk, he might be very good and
wise, but in point of history and chronology, he shows himself to be
very ignorant. He brings Æsop to Babylon, in the reign of king Lycerus,
a king of his own making; for his name is not to be found in any
catalogue, from Nabonassar to Alexander the Great; Nabonadius, most
probably, reigning in Babylon about that time. He sends him into Egypt
in the days of Nectanebo, who was not in being till two hundred years
afterwards; with some other gross mistakes of that kind, which
sufficiently show us that this Life was a work of invention, and that
the inventor was a bungling poor creature. He never mentions Æsop's
being at Athens; though Phædrus speaks of him as one that lived the
greatest part of his time there; and it appears that he had a statue
erected in that city to his memory, done by the hand of the famed
Lysippus. He writes of him as living at Samos, and interesting himself
in a public capacity in the administration of the affairs of that place;
yet, takes not the least notice of the Fable which Aristotle[1] tells us
he spoke in behalf of a famous Demagogue there, when he was impeached
for embezzling the public money; nor does he indeed give us the least
hint of such a circumstance. An ingenious man might have laid together
all the materials of this kind that are to be found in good old authors,
and, by the help of a bright invention, connected and worked them up
with success; we might have swallowed such an imposition well enough,
because we should not have known how to contradict it: but in Planudes'
case, the imposture is doubly discovered; first, as he has the
unquestioned authority of antiquity against him; secondly, (and if the
other did not condemn him) as he has introduced the witty, discreet,
judicious Æsop, quibbling in a strain of low monastic waggery, and as
archly dull as a Mountebank's Jester.

  [1] _Arist. Rhet._ Lib. ii. chap. 21.

That there was a Life of Æsop, either written or traditionary, before
Aristotle's time, is pretty plain; and that there was something of that
kind extant in Augustus' reign, is, I think, as undoubted; since Phædrus
mentions many transactions of his, during his abode at Athens. But it is
as certain, that Planudes met with nothing of this kind; or, at least,
that he met not with the accounts with which they were furnished,
because of the omissions before-mentioned; and consequently with none so
authentic and good. He seems to have thrown together some merry conceits
which occurred to him in the course of his reading, such as he thought
were worthy of Æsop, and very confidently obtrudes them upon us for his.
But, when at last he brings him to Delphos (where he was put to death by
being thrown down from a precipice) that the Delphians might have some
colour of justice for what they intended to do, he favours them with the
same stratagem which Joseph made use of to bring back his brother
Benjamin; they clandestinely convey a cup into his baggage, overtake him
upon the road, after a strict search find him guilty; upon that pretence
carry him back to the city, condemn and execute him.

As I would neither impose upon others, nor be imposed upon, I cannot, as
some have done, let such stuff as this pass for the Life of the great
Æsop. Planudes has little authority for any thing he has delivered
concerning him; nay, as far as I can find, his whole account, from the
beginning to the end, is mere invention, excepting some few
circumstances; such as the place of his birth, and of his death; for in
respect of the time in which he lived, he has blundered egregiously, by
mentioning some incidents as contemporary with Æsop, which were far
enough from being so. Xanthus, his supposed master, puts his wife into a
passion, by bringing such a piece of deformity into her house, as our
Author is described to be. Upon this, the master reproaches the slave
for not uttering something witty, at a time that seemed to require it so
much: and then Æsop comes out, slap dash, with a satirical reflection
upon women, taken from Euripides, the famous Greek tragedian. Now
Euripides happened not to be born till about fourscore years after
Æsop's death. What credit, therefore, can be given to any thing Planudes
says of him?

As to the place of his birth, I will allow, with the generality of those
who have written about him, that it might have been some town in Phrygia
Major: A. Gellius making mention of him, says, 'Æsopus ille, e Phrygia,
Fabulator.' That he was also by condition a slave, we may conclude from
what Phædrus[2] relates of him. But whether at both Samos and Athens, he
does not particularly mention: though I am inclined to think it was at
the latter only; because he often speaks of him as living at that place,
and never at any other; which looks as if Phædrus believed that he had
never lived any where else. Nor do I see how he could help being of that
opinion, if others of the ancients, whose credit is equally good, did
not carry him into other places. Aristotle introduces him (as I
mentioned before) speaking in public to the Samians, upon the occasion
of their Demagogue, or Prime Minister, being impeached for plundering
the commonwealth.

  [2] Lib. ii. fab. 9. and Lib. iii. fab. 19.

I cannot but think Æsop was something above the degree of a slave, when
he made such a figure as an eminent speaker in the Samian State. Perhaps
he might have been in that low condition in the former part of his life;
and therefore Phædrus, who had been of the same rank himself, might love
to enlarge upon this circumstance, since he does not choose to represent
him in any higher sphere. Unless we allow him to be speaking[3] in as
public a capacity to the Athenians, upon the occasion of Pisistratus'
seizing their liberties, as we have before supposed he did to the
Samians. But, however, granting that he was once a slave, we have great
authority that he was afterwards not only free, but in high veneration
and esteem with all that knew him; especially all that were eminent for
wisdom and virtue. Plutarch, in his Banquet of the Seven Wise Men, among
several other illustrious persons, celebrated for their wit and
knowledge, introduces Æsop. And, though in one place he seems to be
ridiculed by one of the company for being of a clumsy mongrel shape;
yet, in general, he is represented as very courtly and polite in his
behaviour. He rallies Solon, and the rest, for taking too much liberty
in prescribing rules for the conduct of sovereign princes; putting them
in mind, that those who aspire to be the friends and counsellors of
such, lose that character, and carry matters too far when they proceed
to censure and find fault with them. Upon the credit of Plutarch,
likewise, we fix the Life of Æsop in the time of Crœsus, King of Lydia;
with whom he was in such esteem, as to be deputed by him to consult the
Oracle at Delphos, and be sent as his envoy to Periander, King of
Corinth; which was about three hundred and twenty years after the time
in which Homer lived, and five hundred and fifty before Christ.

  [3] _Phæd._ Lib. i. fab. 2.

Now, though this imaginary banquet of Plutarch does not carry with it
the weight of a serious history, yet we may take it for granted, that he
introduced nothing in his fictitious scene, which might contradict
either the written or traditionary Life of Æsop; but rather chose to
make every thing agree with it. Be that as it will, this is the sum of
the account which we have to give of him. Nor, indeed, is it material
for us to know the little trifling circumstances of his Life; as whether
he lived at Samos or Athens, whether he was a slave or a freeman,
whether handsome or ugly. He has left us a legacy in his writings that
will preserve his memory dear and perpetual among us: what we have to
do, therefore, is to show ourselves worthy of so valuable a present, and
to act, in all respects, as near as we can to the will and intention of
the donor. They who are governed by reason, need no other motive than
the mere goodness of a thing to incite them to the practice of it. But
men, for the most part, are so superficial in their inquiries, that they
take all upon trust; and have no taste for any thing but what is
supported by the vogue of others, and which it is inconsistent with the
fashion of the world not to admire.

As an inducement, therefore, to such as these to like the person and
conversation of Æsop, I must assure them that he was held in great
esteem by most of the great wits of old. There is scarce an author among
the ancient Greeks, who mixed any thing of morality in his writings,
but either quotes or mentions him.

Whatever his person was, the beauties of his mind were very charming and
engaging; that the most celebrated among the ancients were his admirers;
that they speak of him with raptures, and pay as great a respect to him
as to any of the other wise men who lived in the same age. Nor can I
perceive, from any author of antiquity, that he was so deformed as the
Monk has represented him. If he had, he must have been so monstrous and
shocking to the eye, as not only to be a very improper envoy for a great
king, but scarce fit to be admitted as a slave in any private family.
Indeed, from what Plutarch hints of him, I suspect he had something
particular in his mien; but rather odd than ugly, and more apt to excite
mirth than disgust, in those that conversed with him. Perhaps something
humorous displayed itself in his countenance as well as his writings;
and it might be upon account of both, that he got the name of
Γελωτοποιος, as Lucian calls him, and his works that of Γελοια. However,
we will go a middle way; and without insisting upon his beauty, or giving
into his deformity, allow him to have made a merry comical figure; at least
as handsome as Socrates; but at the same time conclude, that this
particularity in the frame of his body was so far from being of any
disadvantage to him, that it gave a mirthful cast to every thing he said,
and added a kind of poignancy to his conversation.

We have seen what opinion the ancients had of our Author, and his
writings. Now, as to the manner of conveying instruction by Fables in
general, though many good vouchers of antiquity sufficiently recommend
it, yet to avoid tiring the reader's patience, I shall wave all
quotations from thence, and lay before him the testimony of a modern;
whose authority, in point of judgment, and consequently, in the present
case, may be as readily acknowledged as that of any ancient of them all.
"Fables[4]," says Mr. Addison, "were the first pieces of wit that made
their appearance in the world; and have been still highly valued, not
only in times of the greatest simplicity, but among the most polite ages
of mankind. Jotham's Fable of the Trees is the oldest that is extant,
and as beautiful as any which have been made since that time. Nathan's
Fable of the poor Man and his Lamb, is likewise more ancient than any
that is extant, besides the above-mentioned, and had so good an effect,
as to convey instruction to the ear of a king, without offending it,
and to bring the man after God's own heart to a right sense of his
guilt, and his duty. We find Æsop in the most distant ages of Greece.
And, if we look into the very beginning of the commonwealth of Rome, we
see a mutiny among the common people appeased by the Fable of the Belly
and the Members[5]; which was indeed very proper to gain the attention
of an incensed rabble, at a time, when, perhaps, they would have torn to
pieces any man who had preached the same doctrine to them, in an open
and direct manner. As Fables took their birth in the very infancy of
learning, they never flourished more than when learning was at its
greatest height. To justify this assertion, I shall put my reader in
mind of Horace, the greatest wit and critic in the Augustan age; and of
Boileau, the most correct poet among the moderns; not to mention La
Fontaine, who, by this way of writing, is come more into vogue than any
other author of our times." After this, he proceeds to give some account
of that kind of Fable in which the passions, and other imaginary beings,
are actors; and concludes with a most beautiful one of that sort, of his
own contriving. In another place, he gives us a translation from Homer
of that inimitable Fable comprised in the interview between Jupiter and
Juno, when the latter made use of the girdle of Venus, to recall the
affection of her husband; a piece never sufficiently to be recommended
to the perusal of such of the fair sex, as are ambitious of acquitting
themselves handsomely in point of conjugal complacence. But I must not
omit the excellent Preface, by which the Fable is introduced, "Reading
is to the mind[6]," says he, "what exercise is to the body: as by the
one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated; by the other
virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and
confirmed. But, as exercise becomes tedious and painful when we make use
of it only as the means of health, so reading is too apt to grow uneasy
and burdensome, when we apply ourselves to it only for our improvement
in virtue. For this reason, the virtue which we gather from a Fable or
an allegory, is like the health we get by hunting, as we are engaged in
an agreeable pursuit that draws us on with pleasure, and makes its
insensible of the fatigues that accompany it."

  [4] Spect. No. 183.

  [5] Fab. liv.

  [6] Tatler, No. 147.



[Illustration: THE COCK AND THE JEWEL.]

A brisk young Cock, in company with two or three pullets, his
mistresses, raking upon a dunghill for something to entertain them with,
happened to scratch up a Jewel. He knew what it was well enough, for it
sparkled with an exceeding bright lustre; but, not knowing what to do
with it, endeavoured to cover his ignorance under a gay contempt; so,
shrugging up his wings, shaking his head, and putting on a grimace, he
expressed himself to this purpose:--'Indeed, you are a very fine thing;
but I know not any business you have here. I make no scruple of
declaring that my taste lies quite another way; and I had rather have
one grain of dear delicious barley, than all the Jewels under the sun.'


There are several people in the world that pass, with some, for well
accomplished gentlemen, and very pretty fellows, though they are as
great strangers to the true uses of virtue and knowledge as the Cock
upon the dunghill is to the real value of the Jewel. He palliates his
ignorance by pretending that his taste lies another way. But, whatever
gallant airs people may give themselves upon these occasions, without
dispute, the solid advantages of virtue, and the durable pleasures of
learning, are as much to be preferred before other objects of the
senses, as the finest brilliant diamond is above a barley-corn. The
greatest blockheads would appear to understand what at the same time
they affect to despise: and nobody yet was ever so vicious, as to have
the impudence to declare, in public, that virtue was not a fine thing.

But still, among the idle, sauntering young fellows of the age, who have
leisure as well to cultivate and improve the faculties of the mind, as
to dress and embellish the body, how many are there who spend their days
in raking after new scenes of debauchery, in comparison of those few who
know how to relish more reasonable entertainments! Honest, undesigning
good sense is so unfashionable, that he must be a bold man who, at this
time of day, attempts to bring it into esteem.

How disappointed is the youth who, in the midst of his amorous pursuits,
endeavouring to plunder an outside of bloom and beauty, finds a treasure
of impenetrable virtue concealed within! And why may it not be said, how
delighted are the fair sex when, from among a crowd of empty, frolic,
conceited admirers, they find out, and distinguish with their good
opinion, a man of sense, with a plain, unaffected person, which, at
first sight, they did not like!


[Illustration: THE WOLF AND THE LAMB.]

One hot, sultry day, a Wolf and a Lamb happened to come, just at the
same time, to quench their thirst in the stream of a clear, silver brook
that ran tumbling down the side of a rocky mountain. The Wolf stood upon
the higher ground, and the Lamb at some distance from him down the
current. However, the Wolf, having a mind to pick a quarrel with him,
asked him, what he meant by disturbing the water, and making it so muddy
that he could not drink? and, at the same time demanded satisfaction.
The Lamb, frightened at this threatening charge, told him, in a tone as
mild as possible, that, with humble submission, he could not conceive
how that could be; since the water which he drank, ran down from the
Wolf to him, and therefore it could not be disturbed so far up the
stream. 'Be that as it will,' replies the Wolf, 'you are a rascal, and I
have been told that you treated me with ill language, behind my back,
about half a year ago.'--'Upon my word,' says the Lamb, 'the time you
mention was before I was born.' The Wolf, finding it to no purpose to
argue any longer against truth, fell into a great passion, snarling and
foaming at the mouth, as if he had been mad; and drawing nearer to the
Lamb, 'Sirrah,' says he, 'if it was not you, it was your father, and
that is all one.'--So he seized the poor innocent, helpless thing, tore
it to pieces, and made a meal of it.


The thing which is pointed at in this fable is so obvious, that it will
be impertinent to multiply words about it. When a cruel ill-natured man
has a mind to abuse one inferior to himself, either in power or courage,
though he has not given the least occasion for it, how does he resemble
the Wolf! whose envious, rapacious temper could not bear to see
innocence live quietly in its neighbourhood. In short, wherever ill
people are in power, innocence and integrity are sure to be persecuted:
the more vicious the community is, the better countenance they have for
their own villanous measures. To practise honesty in bad times, is being
liable to suspicion enough; but if any one should dare to prescribe it,
it is ten to one but he would be impeached of high crimes and
misdemeanors: for to stand up for justice in a degenerate and corrupt
state, is tacitly to upbraid the government, and seldom fails of pulling
down vengeance upon the head of him that offers to stir in its defence.
Where cruelty and malice are in combination with power, nothing is so
easy as for them to find a pretence to tyrannize over innocence, and
exercise all manner of injustice.



Four Bulls, which had entered into a very strict friendship, kept always
near one another, and fed together. The Lion often saw them, and as
often had a mind to make one of them his prey; but, though he could
easily have subdued any of them singly, yet he was afraid to attack the
whole alliance, as knowing they would have been too hard for him, and
therefore contented himself, for the present, with keeping at a
distance. At last, perceiving no attempt was to be made upon them, as
long as this combination held, he took occasion, by whispers and hints,
to foment jealousies, and raise divisions among them. This stratagem
succeeded so well, that the Bulls grew cold and reserved towards one
another, which soon after ripened into a downright hatred and
aversion; and, at last, ended in a total separation. The Lion had now
obtained his ends; and, as impossible as it was for him to hurt them
while they were united, he found no difficulty, now they were parted, to
seize and devour every Bull of them, one after another.


The moral of this fable is so well known and allowed, that to go about
to enlighten it, would be like holding a candle to the sun. "A kingdom
divided against itself cannot stand;" and as undisputed a maxim as it
is, was, however, thought necessary to be urged to the attention of
mankind, by the best Man that ever lived. And since friendships and
alliances are of so great importance to our well-being and happiness, we
cannot be too often cautioned not to let them be broken by tale-bearers
and whisperers, or any other contrivance of our enemies.


[Illustration: THE FROG AND THE FOX.]

A Frog, leaping out of a lake, and taking the advantage of a rising
ground, made proclamation to all the beasts of the forest, that he was
an able physician, and, for curing all manner of distempers, would turn
his back to no person living. This discourse, uttered in a parcel of
hard, cramp words, which nobody understood, made the beasts admire his
learning, and give credit to every thing he said. At last the Fox, who
was present, with indignation asked him, how he could have the
impudence, with those thin lantern-jaws, that meagre pale phiz, and
blotched spotted body, to set up for one who was able to cure the
infirmities of others.


A sickly, infirm look, is as disadvantageous in a physician, as that of
a rake in a clergyman, or a sheepish one in a soldier. If this moral
contains any thing further, it is, that we should not set up for
rectifying enormities in others, while we labour under the same
ourselves. Good advice ought always to be followed, without our being
prejudiced upon account of the person from whom it comes: but it is
seldom that men can be brought to think us worth minding, when we
prescribe cures for maladies with which ourselves are infected.
"Physician, heal thyself," is too scriptural not to be applied upon such
an occasion; and, if we would avoid being the jest of an audience, we
must be sound, and free from those diseases of which we would endeavour
to cure others. How shocked must people have been to hear a preacher,
for a whole hour, declaim against drunkenness, when his own infirmity
has been such, that he could neither bear nor forbear drinking; and,
perhaps, was the only person in the congregation who made the doctrine
at that time necessary! Others too have been very zealous in exploding
crimes, for which none were more suspected than themselves: but let such
silly hypocrites remember, that they whose eyes want couching, are the
most improper people in the world to set up for oculists.



An Ass was loaded with good provisions of several sorts, which, in time
of harvest, he was carrying into the field for his master and the
reapers to dine upon. By the way he met with a fine large Thistle, and,
being very hungry, began to mumble it; which, while he was doing, he
entered into this reflection--'How many greedy epicures would think
themselves happy, amidst such a variety of delicate viands as I now
carry! But to me, this bitter prickly Thistle is more savoury and
relishing than the most exquisite and sumptuous banquet.'


Happiness and misery, and oftentimes pleasure and pain, exist merely in
our opinion, and are no more to be accounted for than the difference of
tastes. "That which is one man's meat, is another man's poison," is a
proposition that ought to be allowed in all particulars, where the
opinion is concerned, as well as in eating and drinking. Our senses must
inform us whether a thing pleases or displeases, before we can declare
our judgment of it; and that is to any man good or evil, which his own
understanding suggests to him to be so, and not that which is agreeable
to another's fancy. And yet, as reasonable and as necessary as it is to
grant this, how apt are we to wonder at people for not liking this or
that, or how can they think so and so! This childish humour of wondering
at the different tastes and opinions of others, occasions much
uneasiness among the generality of mankind. But, if we considered things
rightly, why should we be more concerned at others differing from us in
their way of thinking upon any subject whatever, than at their liking
cheese, or mustard; one, or both of which, we may happen to dislike? In
truth, he that expects all mankind should be of his opinion, is much
more stupid and unreasonable than the Ass in the fable.



A Lark, who had Young Ones in a field of corn which was almost ripe, was
under some fear lest the reapers should come to reap it before her young
brood were fledged, and able to remove from the place: wherefore, upon
flying abroad to look for food, she left this charge with them--that
they should take notice what they heard talked of in her absence, and
tell her of it when she came back again. When she was gone, they heard
the owner of the corn call to his son--'Well,' says he, 'I think this
corn is ripe enough; I would have you go early to-morrow, and desire our
friends and neighbours to come and help us to reap it.' When the Old
Lark came home, the Young Ones fell a quivering and chirping round her,
and told her what had happened, begging her to remove them as fast as
she could. The mother bid them be easy; 'for,' says she, 'if the owner
depends upon friends and neighbours, I am pretty sure the corn will not
be reaped to-morrow.' Next day she went out again, upon the same
occasion, and left the same orders with them as before. The owner came,
and stayed, expecting those he had sent to: but the sun grew hot, and
nothing was done, for not a soul came to help him. 'Then,' says he to
his son, 'I perceive these friends of ours are not to be depended upon;
so that you must even go to your uncles and cousins, and tell them, I
desire they would be here betimes to-morrow morning to help us to reap.'
Well, this the Young Ones, in a great fright, reported also to their
mother. 'If that be all,' says she, 'do not be frightened, children, for
kindred and relations do not use to be so very forward to serve one
another; but take particular notice what you hear said the next time,
and be sure you let me know it.' She went abroad the next day, as usual;
and the owner, finding his relations as slack as the rest of his
neighbours, said to his son, 'Hark ye! George, do you get a couple of
good sickles ready against to-morrow morning, and we will even reap the
corn ourselves.' When the Young Ones told their mother this, 'Then,'
says she, 'we must be gone indeed; for, when a man undertakes to do his
business himself, it is not so likely that he will be disappointed.' So
she removed her Young Ones immediately, and the corn was reaped the next
day by the good man and his son.


Never depend upon the assistance of friends and relations in any thing
which you are able to do yourself; for nothing is more fickle and
uncertain. The man, who relies upon another for the execution of any
affair of importance, is not only kept in a wretched and slavish
suspense while he expects the issue of the matter, but generally meets
with a disappointment. While he, who lays the chief stress of his
business upon himself, and depends upon his own industry and attention
for the success of his affairs, is in the fairest way to attain his end:
and, if at last he should miscarry, has this to comfort him--that it was
not through his own negligence, and a vain expectation of the assistance
of friends. To stand by ourselves, as much as possible, to exert our own
strength and vigilance in the prosecution of our affairs, is god-like,
being the result of a most noble and highly exalted reason; but they who
procrastinate and defer the business of life by an idle dependance upon
others, in things which it is in their own power to effect, sink down
into a kind of stupid abject slavery, and show themselves unworthy of
the talents with which human nature is dignified.


[Illustration: THE COCK AND THE FOX.]

The Fox, passing early one summer's morning near a farm-yard, was caught
in a springe, which the farmer had planted there for that end. The Cock,
at a distance, saw what happened; and, hardly yet daring to trust
himself too near so dangerous a foe, approached him cautiously, and
peeped at him, not without some horror and dread of mind. Reynard no
sooner perceived it, but he addressed himself to him, with all the
designing artifice imaginable. 'Dear cousin,' says he, 'you see what an
unfortunate accident has befallen me here, and all upon your account:
for, as I was creeping through yonder hedge, in my way homeward, I heard
you crow, and was resolved to ask you how you did before I went any
further: but, by the way, I met with this disaster; and therefore now I
must become an humble suitor to you for a knife to cut this plaguy
string; or, at least, that you would conceal my misfortune, till I have
gnawed it asunder with my teeth.' The Cock, seeing how the case stood,
made no reply, but posted away as fast as he could, and gave the farmer
an account of the whole matter; who, taking a good weapon along with
him, came and did the Fox's business, before he could have time to
contrive his escape.


Though there is no quality of the mind more graceful in itself, or that
renders it more amiable to others, than the having a tender regard to
those who are in distress; yet we may err, even in this point, unless we
take care to let our compassion flow out upon proper objects only. When
the innocent fall into misfortune, it is the part of a generous brave
spirit to contribute to their redemption; or, if that be impossible, to
administer something to their comfort and support. But, when wicked men,
who have been enemies to their fellow-subjects, are entrapped in their
own pernicious schemes, he that labours to deliver them, makes himself
an associate in their crimes, and becomes as great an enemy to the
public as those whom he would screen and protect.

When highwaymen and housebreakers are taken, condemned, and going to
satisfy justice, at the expense of their vile paltry lives; who are
they that grieve for them, and would be glad to rescue them from the
rope? Not honest men, we may be sure. The rest of the thieving
fraternity would, perhaps, commiserate their condition, and be ready to
mutiny in their favour: nay, the rascally solicitor, who had been
employed upon their account, would be vexed that his negociations had
succeeded no better, and be afraid of losing his reputation, among other
delinquents, for the future: but every friend to justice would have no
reason to be dissatisfied at any thing but a mournful reflection, which
he could not forbear making, that, while these little criminals swing
for some trifling inconsiderable rapine, others, so transcendently their
superiors in fraud and plunder, escape with a whole skin.


[Illustration: THE FOX IN THE WELL.]

A Fox having fallen into a Well, made a shift, by sticking his claws
into the sides, to keep his head above water. Soon after, a Wolf came
and peeped over the brink; to whom the Fox applied himself very
earnestly for assistance: entreating, that he would help him to a rope,
or something of that kind, which might favour his escape. The Wolf,
moved with compassion at his misfortune, could not forbear expressing
his concern: 'Ah! poor Reynard,' says he, 'I am sorry for you with all
my heart; how could you possibly come into this melancholy
condition?'--'Nay, prithee, friend,' replies the Fox, 'if you wish me
well, do not stand pitying of me, but lend me some succour as fast as
you can: for pity is but cold comfort when one is up to the chin in
water, and within a hair's breadth of starving or drowning.'


Pity, indeed, is of itself but poor comfort at any time; and, unless it
produces something more substantial, is rather impertinently
troublesome, than any way agreeable. To stand bemoaning the misfortunes
of our friends, without offering some expedient to alleviate them, is
only echoing to their grief, and putting them in mind that they are
miserable. He is truly my friend who, with a ready presence of mind,
supports me; not he who condoles with me upon my ill success, and says
he is sorry for my loss. In short, a favour or obligation is doubled by
being well-timed; and he is the best benefactor, who knows our
necessities, and complies with our wishes, even before we ask him.



The Wolves and the Sheep had been a long time in a state of war
together. At last a cessation of arms was proposed, in order to a treaty
of peace, and hostages were to be delivered on both sides for security.
The Wolves proposed that the Sheep should give up their dogs, on the one
side, and that they would deliver up their young ones, on the other.
This proposal was agreed to; but no sooner executed, than the young
Wolves began to howl for want of their dams. The old ones took this
opportunity to cry out, the treaty was broke; and so falling upon the
Sheep, who were destitute of their faithful guardians the dogs, they
worried and devoured them without control.


In all our transactions with mankind, even in the most private and low
life, we should have a special regard how, and with whom, we trust
ourselves. Men, in this respect, ought to look upon each other as
Wolves, and to keep themselves under a secure guard, and in a continual
posture of defence. Particularly upon any treaties of importance, the
securities on both sides should be strictly considered; and each should
act with so cautious a view to their own interest, as never to pledge or
part with that which is the very essence and basis of their safety and
well-being. And if this be a just and reasonable rule for men to govern
themselves by, in their own private affairs, how much more fitting and
necessary is it in any conjuncture wherein the public is concerned? If
the enemy should demand our whole army for an hostage, the danger in our
complying with it would be so gross and apparent, that we could not help
observing it: but, perhaps, a country may equally expose itself by
parting with a particular town or general, as its whole army; its
safety, not seldom, depending as much upon one of the former, as upon
the latter. In short, hostages and securities may be something very dear
to us, but ought never to be given up, if our welfare and preservation
have any dependance upon them.


[Illustration: THE EAGLE AND THE FOX.]

An Eagle that had young ones, looking out for something to feed them
with, happened to spy a Fox's cub, that lay basking itself abroad in the
sun. She made a stoop, and trussed it immediately; but before she had
carried it quite off, the old Fox coming home, implored her, with tears
in her eyes, to spare her cub, and pity the distress of a poor fond
mother, who should think no affliction so great as that of losing her
child. The Eagle, whose nest was up in a very high tree, thought herself
secure enough from all projects of revenge, and so bore away the cub to
her young ones, without showing any regard to the supplications of the
Fox. But that subtle creature, highly incensed at this outrageous
barbarity, ran to an altar, where some country people had been
sacrificing a kid in the open fields, and catching up a firebrand in her
mouth, made towards the tree where the Eagle's nest was, with a
resolution of revenge. She had scarce ascended the first branches, when
the Eagle, terrified with the approaching ruin of herself and family,
begged of the Fox to desist, and, with much submission, returned her the
cub again safe and sound.


This fable is a warning to us not to deal hardly or injuriously by any
body. The consideration of our being in a high condition of life, and
those we hurt, far below us, will plead little or no excuse for us in
this case: for there is scarce a creature of so despicable a rank, but
is capable of avenging itself some way, and at some time or other. When
great men happen to be wicked, how little scruple do they make of
oppressing their poor neighbours! They are perched upon a lofty station,
and have built their nest on high; and, having outgrown all feelings of
humanity, are insensible of any pangs of remorse. The widow's tears, the
orphan's cries, and the curses of the miserable, like javelins thrown by
the hand of a feeble old man, fall by the way, and never reach their
heart. But let such a one, in the midst of his flagrant injustice,
remember, how easy a matter it is, notwithstanding his superior
distance, for the meanest vassal to be revenged of him. The bitterness
of an affliction, even where cunning is wanting, may animate the
poorest spirit with resolutions of vengeance; and, when once that fury
is thoroughly awakened, we know not what she will require before she is
lulled to rest again. The most powerful tyrants cannot prevent a
resolved assassination; there are a thousand different ways for any
private man to do the business, who is heartily disposed to it, and
willing to satisfy his appetite for revenge, at the expense of his life.
An old woman may clap a firebrand in the palace of a prince; and it is
in the power of a poor weak fool to destroy the children of the mighty.



A Wolf, clothing himself in the skin of a Sheep, and getting in among
the flock, by this means took the opportunity to devour many of them. At
last the shepherd discovered him, and cunningly fastening a rope about
his neck, tied him up to a tree which stood hard by. Some other
shepherds happening to pass that way, and observing what he was about,
drew near, and expressed their amazement at it. 'What,' says one of
them, 'brother, do you make hanging of Sheep?'--'No,' replies the other;
'but I make hanging of a Wolf whenever I catch him, though in the habit
and garb of a Sheep.' Then he showed them their mistake, and they
applauded the justice of the execution.


This fable shows us, that no regard is to be had to the mere habit or
outside of any person, but to undisguised worth and intrinsic virtue.
When we place our esteem upon the external garb, before we inform
ourselves of the qualities which it covers, we may often mistake evil
for good, and, instead of a Sheep, take a Wolf into our protection.
Therefore, however innocent or sanctified any one may appear, as to the
vesture wherewith he is clothed, we may act rashly, because we may be
imposed upon, if from thence we take it for granted, that he is inwardly
as good and righteous as his outward robe would persuade us he is. Men
of judgment and penetration do not use to give an implicit credit to a
particular habit, or a peculiar colour, but love to make a more exact
scrutiny; for he that will not come up to the character of an honest,
good kind of man, when stripped of his Sheep's Clothing, is but the more
detestable for his intended imposture; as the Wolf was but the more
obnoxious to the shepherd's resentment, by wearing a habit so little
suiting with his manners.



A fowler took his gun, and went into the woods a-shooting. He spied a
Ring-Dove among the branches of an oak, and intended to kill it. He
clapped the piece to his shoulder, and took his aim accordingly. But,
just as he was going to pull the trigger, an adder, which he had trod
upon under the grass, stung him so painfully in the leg, that he was
forced to quit his design, and threw his gun down in a passion. The
poison immediately infected his blood, and his whole body began to
mortify; which, when he perceived, he could not help owning it to be
just. 'Fate,' says he, 'has brought destruction upon me, while I was
contriving the death of another.'


This is another lesson against injustice; a topic in which our just
Author abounds. And, if we consider the matter fairly, we must allow it
to be as reasonable that some one should do violence to us, as we should
commit it upon another. When we are impartial in our reflections, thus
we must always think. The unjust man, with a hardened unfeeling heart,
can do a thousand bitter things to others: but if a single calamity
touches himself, oh, how tender he is! How insupportable is the
uneasiness it occasions! Why should we think others born to hard
treatment more than ourselves? Or imagine it can be reasonable to do to
another, what we ourselves should be unwilling to suffer? In our
behaviour to all mankind, we need only ask ourselves these plain
questions, and our consciences will tell us how to act. Conscience, like
a good valuable domestic, plays the remembrancer to us upon all
occasions, and gives us a gentle twitch, when we are going to do a wrong
thing. It does not, like the adder in the fable, bite us to death, but
only gives us kind cautions. However, if we neglect these just and
frequent warnings, and continue in a course of wickedness and injustice,
do not let us be surprised if Providence thinks fit, at last, to give us
a home sting, and to exercise a little retaliation upon us.


[Illustration: THE SOW AND THE WOLF.]

A Sow had just farrowed, and lay in the stye, with her whole litter of
pigs about her. A Wolf who longed for one of them, but knew not how to
come at it, endeavoured to insinuate himself into the Sow's good
opinion: and, accordingly, coming up to her--'How does the good woman in
the straw do?' says he. 'Can I be of any service to you, Mrs. Sow, in
relation to your little family here? If you have a mind to go abroad,
and air yourself a little, or so, you may depend upon it, I will take as
much care of your pigs as you could yourself.'--'Your humble servant,'
says the Sow, 'I thoroughly understand your meaning; and, to let you
know I do, I must be so free as to tell you, I had rather have your
room than your company; and, therefore, if you would act like a Wolf of
honour, and oblige me, I beg I may never see your face again.'


The being officiously good-natured and civil is something so uncommon in
the world, that one cannot hear a man make profession of it without
being surprised, or, at least, suspecting the disinterestedness of his
intentions. Especially, when one who is a stranger to us, or though
known, is ill-esteemed by us, will be making offers of services, we have
great reason to look to ourselves, and exert a shyness and coldness
towards him. We should resolve not to receive even favours from bad kind
of people; for should it happen that some immediate mischief was not
couched in them, yet it is dangerous to have obligations to such, or to
give them an opportunity of making a communication with us.


[Illustration: THE HORSE AND THE ASS.]

The Horse, adorned with his great war-saddle, and champing his foaming
bridle, came thundering along the way, and made the mountains echo with
his loud shrill neighing. He had not gone far, before he overtook an
Ass, who was labouring under a heavy burden, and moving slowly on in the
same track with himself. Immediately he called out to him, in a haughty
imperious tone, and threatened to trample him in the dirt, if he did not
break the way for him. The poor patient Ass, not daring to dispute the
matter, quietly got out of his way as fast as he could, and let him go
by. Not long after this, the same Horse, in an engagement with the
enemy, happened to be shot in the eye, which made him unfit for show,
or any military business; so he was stripped of his fine ornaments, and
sold to a carrier. The Ass, meeting him in this forlorn condition,
thought that now it was his time to insult; and so, says he, 'Hey-day,
friend, is it you? Well, I always believed that pride of yours would one
day have a fall.'


Pride is a very unaccountable vice: many people fall into it unawares,
and are often led into it by motives, which, if they considered things
rightly, would make them abhor the very thoughts of it. There is no man
that thinks well of himself, but desires that the rest of the world
should think so too. Now it is the wrong measures we take in
endeavouring after this, that expose us to discerning people in that
light which they call pride, and which is so far from giving us any
advantage in their esteem, that it renders us despicable and ridiculous.
It is an affectation of appearing considerable, that puts men upon being
proud and insolent; and their very being so makes them, infallibly,
little, and inconsiderable. The man that claims and calls for reverence
and respect, deserves none; he that asks for applause, is sure to lose
it; the certain way to get it is to seem to shun it; and the humble man,
according to the maxims even of this world, is the most likely to be
exalted. He that, in his words or actions, pleads for superiority, and
rather chooses to do an ill action, than condescend to do a good one,
acts like the Horse, and is as void of reason and understanding. The
rich and the powerful want nothing but the love and esteem of mankind to
complete their felicity; and these they are sure to obtain by a
good-humoured, kind condescension; and as certain of being every body's
aversion, while the least tincture of overbearing rudeness is
perceptible in their words or actions. What brutal tempers must they be
of, who can be easy and indifferent, while they know themselves to be
universally hated, though in the midst of affluence and power! But this
is not all; for if ever the wheel of fortune should whirl them from the
top to the bottom, instead of friendship or commiseration, they will
meet with nothing but contempt; and that with much more justice than
ever they themselves exerted it towards others.



A Wolf meeting a Lamb, one day, in company with a Goat--'Child,' says
he, 'you are mistaken; this is none of your mother; she is yonder;'
pointing to a flock of sheep at a distance.--'It may be so,' says the
Lamb; 'the person that happened to conceive me, and afterwards bore me a
few months in her belly, because she could not help it, and then dropped
me, she did not care where, and left me to the wide world, is, I
suppose, what you call my mother; but I look upon this charitable Goat
as such, that took compassion on me in my poor, helpless, destitute
condition, and gave me suck; sparing it out of the mouths of her own
kids, rather than I should want it.'--'But sure,' says he, 'you have a
greater regard for her that gave you life, than for any body
else.'--'She gave me life! I deny that. She that could not so much as
tell whether I should be black or white, had a great hand in giving me
life, to be sure! But, supposing it were so, I am mightily obliged to
her, truly, for contriving to let me be of the male-kind, so that I go
every day in danger of the butcher. What reason then have I to have a
greater regard for one to whom I am so little indebted for any part of
my being, than for those from whom I have received all the benevolence
and kindness which have hitherto supported me in life?'


It is they whose goodness makes them our parents, that properly claim
filial respect from us, and not those who are such only out of
necessity. The duties between parents and their children are relative
and reciprocal. By all laws, natural as well as civil, it is expected
that the parents should cherish and provide for the child, till it is
able to shift for itself; and that the child, with a mutual tenderness,
should depend upon the parent for its sustenance, and yield it a
reasonable obedience. Yet, through the depravity of human nature, we
very often see these laws violated, and the relations before-mentioned
treating one another with as much virulence as enemies of different
countries are capable of. Through the natural impatience and protervity
of youth, we observe the first occasion for any animosity most
frequently arising from their side; but, however, there are not wanting
examples of undutiful parents: and, when a father, by using a son ill,
and denying him such an education and such an allowance as his
circumstances can well afford, gives him occasion to withdraw his
respect from him, to urge his begetting of him as the sole obligation to
duty, is talking like a silly unthinking dotard. Mutual benevolence must
be kept up between relations, as well as friends; for, without this
cement, whatever you please to call the building, it is only a castle in
the air, a thing to be talked of, without the least reality.



A Kite, who had kept sailing in the air for many days near a dove-house,
and made a stoop at several pigeons, but all to no purpose (for they
were too nimble for him), at last had recourse to stratagem, and took
his opportunity one day to make a declaration to them, in which he set
forth his own just and good intentions, who had nothing more at heart
than the defence and protection of the Pigeons in their ancient rights
and liberties, and how concerned he was at their fears and jealousies of
a foreign invasion, especially their unjust and unreasonable suspicions
of himself, as if he intended, by force of arms, to break in upon their
constitution, and erect a tyrannical government over them. To prevent
all which, and thoroughly to quiet their minds, he thought proper to
propose to them such terms of alliance and articles of peace as might
for ever cement a good understanding between them: the principal of
which was, that they should accept of him for their king, and invest him
with all kingly privilege and prerogative over them. The poor simple
Pigeons consented: the Kite took the coronation oath, after a very
solemn manner, on his part, and the Doves, the oaths of allegiance and
fidelity, on theirs. But much time had not passed over their heads,
before the good Kite pretended that it was part of his prerogative to
devour a Pigeon whenever he pleased. And this he was not contented to do
himself only, but instructed the rest of the royal family in the same
kingly arts of government. The Pigeons, reduced to this miserable
condition, said one to the other, 'Ah! we deserve no better! Why did we
let him come in!


What can this fable be applied to but the exceeding blindness and
stupidity of that part of mankind who wantonly and foolishly trust their
native rights of liberty without good security? Who often choose for
guardians of their lives and fortunes, persons abandoned to the most
unsociable vices; and seldom have any better excuse for such an error in
politics than, that they were deceived in their expectation; or never
thoroughly knew the manners of their king till he had got them entirely
in his power: which, however, is notoriously false; for many, with the
Doves in the fable, are so silly, that they would admit of a Kite,
rather than be without a king. The truth is, we ought not to incur the
possibility of being deceived in so important a matter as this: an
unlimited power should not be trusted in the hands of any one who is not
endued with a perfection more than human.



An honest, plain, sensible Country Mouse, is said to have entertained at
his hole one day a fine Mouse of the Town. Having formerly been
playfellows together, they were old acquaintance, which served as an
apology for the visit. However, as master of the house, he thought
himself obliged to do the honours of it, in all respects, and to make as
great a stranger of his guest as he possibly could. In order to this, he
set before him a reserve of delicate grey peas and bacon, a dish of fine
oatmeal, some parings of new cheese, and, to crown all with a dessert, a
remnant of a charming mellow apple. In good manners, he forbore to eat
any himself, lest the stranger should not have enough; but, that he
might seem to bear the other company, sat and nibbled a piece of a
wheaten straw very busily. At last says the spark of the town, 'Old
crony, give me leave to be a little free with you; how can you bear to
live in this nasty, dirty, melancholy hole here, with nothing but woods
and meadows, and mountains, and rivulets, about you? Do not you prefer
the conversation of the world to the chirping of birds, and the
splendour of a court to the rude aspect of an uncultivated desert! Come,
take my word for it, you will find it a change for the better. Never
stand considering, but away this moment. Remember, we are not immortal,
and therefore have no time to lose. Make sure of to-day, and spend it as
agreeably as you can; you know not what may happen to-morrow.' In short,
these and such like arguments prevailed, and his Country Acquaintance
was resolved to go to town that night. So they both set out upon their
journey together, proposing to sneak in after the close of the evening.
They did so; and, about midnight, made their entry into a certain great
house, where there had been an extraordinary entertainment the day
before, and several tit-bits, which some of the servants had purloined,
were hid under the seat of a window. The Country Guest was immediately
placed in the midst of a rich Persian carpet: and now it was the
Courtier's turn to entertain; who, indeed, acquitted himself in that
capacity with the utmost readiness and address, changing the courses as
elegantly, and tasting every thing first as judiciously, as any clerk of
a kitchen, the other sat and enjoyed himself like a delighted epicure,
tickled to the last degree with this new turn of his affairs; when, on a
sudden, a noise of somebody opening the door made them start from their
seats, and scuttle in confusion about the dining-room. Our Country
Friend, in particular, was ready to die with fear at the barking of a
huge mastiff or two, which opened their throats just about the same
time, and made the whole house echo. At last, recovering
himself--'Well,' says he, 'if this be your town life, much good may do
you with it: give me my poor quiet hole again, with my homely, but
comfortable, grey peas.'


A moderate fortune, with a quiet retirement in the country, is
preferable to the greatest affluence which is attended with care and the
perplexity of business, and inseparable from the noise and hurry of the
town. The practice of the generality of people of the best taste, it is
to be owned, is directly against us in this point; but, when it is
considered that this practise of theirs proceeds rather from a
compliance with the fashion of the times, than their own private
thoughts, the objection is of no force. Among the great numbers of men
who have received a learned education, how few are there but either have
their fortunes entirely to make, or, at least, think they deserve to
have, and ought not to lose the opportunity of getting, somewhat more
than their fathers have left them! The town is the field of action for
volunteers of this kind; and whatever fondness they may have for the
country, yet they must stay till their circumstances will admit of a
retreat thither. But sure there never was a man yet, who lived in a
constant return of trouble and fatigue in town, as all men of business
do in some degree or other, but has formed to himself some end of
getting some sufficient competency, which may enable him to purchase a
quiet possession in the country, where he may indulge his genius, and
give up his old age to that easy smooth life which, in the tempest of
business, he had so often longed for. Can any thing argue more strongly
for a country life, than to observe what a long course of labour people
go through, and what difficulties they encounter to come at it? They
look upon it, at a distance, like a kind of heaven, a place of rest and
happiness; and are pushing forward through the rugged thorny cares of
the world, to make their way towards it. If there are many who, though
born to plentiful fortunes, yet live most part of their time in the
noise, the smoke, and hurry of the town, we shall find, upon inquiry,
that necessary indispensible business is the real or pretended plea
which most of them have to make for it. The court and the senate require
the attendance of some: lawsuits, and the proper direction of trade,
engage others: they who have a sprightly wit and an elegant taste for
conversation, will resort to the place which is frequented by people of
the same turn, whatever aversion they may otherwise have for it; and
others, who have no such pretence, have yet this to say, that they
follow the fashion. They who appear to have been men of the best sense
amongst the ancients, always recommended the country as the most proper
scene for innocence, ease, and virtuous pleasure; and, accordingly, lost
no opportunities of enjoying it: and men of the greatest distinction
among the moderns, have ever thought themselves most happy when they
could be decently spared from the employments which the excellency of
their talents necessarily threw them into, to embrace the charming
leisure of a country life.



A farmer was sowing his field with flax. The Swallow observed it, and
desired the other Birds to assist her in picking the seed up, and in
destroying it; telling them, that flax was that pernicious material of
which the thread was composed which made the fowler's nets, and by that
means contributed to the ruin of so many innocent birds. But the poor
Swallow not having the good fortune to be regarded, the flax sprung up,
and appeared above the ground. She then put them in mind once more of
their impending danger, and wished them to pluck it up in the bud,
before it went any further. They still neglected her warnings; and the
flax grew up into the high stalk. She yet again desired them to attack
it, for that it was not yet too late. But all that she could get was to
be ridiculed and despised for a silly pretending prophet. The Swallow
finding all her remonstrances availed nothing, was resolved to leave the
society of such unthinking, careless creatures, before it was too late.
So quitting the woods, she repaired to the houses, and forsaking the
conversation of the Birds, has ever since made her abode among the
dwellings of men.


As men, we should always exercise so much humanity as to endeavour the
welfare of mankind, particularly of our acquaintance and relations: and,
if by nothing further, at least by our good advice. When we have done
this, and, if occasion required, continued to repeat it a second or
third time, we shall have acquitted ourselves sufficiently from any
imputation upon their miscarriage; and having nothing more to do but to
separate ourselves from them, that we may not be involved in their ruin,
or be supposed to partake of their error. This is an excommunication
which reason allows. For as it would be cruel, on the one side, to
prosecute and hurt people for being mistaken, so, on the other, it would
be indiscreet and over complaisant, to keep them company through all
their wrong notions, and act contrary to our opinion out of pure


[Illustration: THE HUNTED BEAVER.]

It is said that a Beaver (a creature which lives chiefly in the water)
has a certain part about him which is good in physic, and that, upon
this account, he is often hunted down and killed. Once upon a time, as
one of these creatures was hard pursued by the dogs, and knew not how to
escape, recollecting with himself the reason of his being thus
persecuted, with a great resolution and presence of mind, he bit off the
part which his hunters wanted, and throwing it towards them, by these
means escaped with his life.


However it is among beasts, there are few human creatures but what are
hunted for something else besides either their lives or the pleasure of
hunting them. The inquisition would hardly be so keen against the Jews,
if they had not something belonging to them which their persecutors
esteem more valuable than their souls; which whenever that wise, but
obstinate people, can prevail with themselves to part with, there is an
end of the chase for that time. Indeed, when life is pursued, and in
danger, whoever values it, should give up every thing but his honour to
preserve it. And when a discarded minister is prosecuted for having
damaged the commonwealth, let him but throw down some of the fruits of
his iniquity to the hunters, and one may engage for his coming off, in
other respects, with a whole skin.


[Illustration: THE CAT AND THE FOX.]

As the Cat and the Fox were talking politics together, on a time, in the
middle of a forest, Reynard said, 'Let things turn out ever so bad, he
did not care, for he had a thousand tricks for them yet, before they
should hurt him.'--'But pray,' says he, 'Mrs. Puss, suppose there should
be an invasion, what course do you design to take?'--'Nay,' says the
Cat, 'I have but one shift for it, and if that won't do, I am
undone.'--'I am sorry for you, replies Reynard, 'with all my heart, and
would gladly furnish you with one or two of mine, but indeed, neighbour,
as times go, it is not good to trust; we must even be every one for
himself, as the saying is, and so your humble servant.' These words were
scarce out of his mouth, when they were alarmed with a pack of hounds,
that came upon them full cry. The Cat, by the help of her single shift,
ran up a tree, and sat securely among the top branches; from whence she
beheld Reynard, who had not been able to get out of sight, overtaken
with his thousand tricks, and torn in as many pieces by the dogs which
had surrounded him.


A man that sets up for more cunning than the rest of his neighbours, is
generally a silly fellow at the bottom. Whoever is master of a little
judgment and insight into things, let him keep them to himself, and make
use of them as he sees occasion; but he should not be teasing others
with an idle and impertinent ostentation of them. One good discreet
expedient, made use of upon an emergency, will do a man more real
service, and make others think better of him, than to have passed all
along for a shrewd crafty knave, and be bubbled at last. When any one
has been such a coxcomb as to insult his acquaintance, by pretending to
more policy and stratagem than the rest of mankind, they are apt to wish
for some difficulty for him to show his skill in; where, if he should
miscarry (as ten to one but he does) his misfortune, instead of pity, is
sure to be attended with laughter. He that sets up for a biter, as the
phrase is, being generally intent upon his prey, or vain of showing his
art, frequently exposes himself to the traps of one sharper than
himself, and incurs the ridicule of those whom he designed to make


[Illustration: THE CAT AND THE MICE.]

A certain house was much infested with Mice; but at last they got a Cat,
who catched and eat every day some of them. The Mice, finding their
numbers grow thin, consulted what was best to be done for the
preservation of the public from the jaws of the devouring Cat. They
debated and came to this resolution, That no one should go down below
the upper shelf. The Cat, observing the mice no longer came down as
usual, hungry and disappointed of her prey, had recourse to this
stratagem; she hung by her hinder legs on a peg which stuck in the wall,
and made as if she had been dead, hoping by this lure to entice the Mice
to come down. She had not been in this posture long, before a cunning
old Mouse peeped over the edge of the shelf, and spoke thus:--'Aha, my
good friend, are you there! there may you be! I would not trust myself
with you, though your skin were stuffed with straw.'


Prudent folks never trust those a second time who have deceived them
once. And, indeed, we cannot well be too cautious in following this
rule, for, upon examination, we shall find, that most of the misfortunes
which befal us, proceed from our too great credulity. They that know how
to suspect, without exposing or hurting themselves, till honesty comes
to be more in fashion, can never suspect too much.



The Lion and several other beasts entered into an alliance, offensive
and defensive, and were to live very sociably together in the forest.
One day, having made a sort of an excursion by way of hunting, they took
a very fine, large, fat deer, which was divided into four parts; there
happening to be then present his majesty the Lion, and only three
others. After the division was made, and the parts were set out, his
majesty advancing forward some steps, and pointing to one of the shares,
was pleased to declare himself after the following manner: 'This I seize
and take possession of as my right, which devolves to me, as I am
descended by a true, lineal, hereditary succession from the royal family
of Lion: that (pointing to the second) I claim by, I think, no
unreasonable demand; considering that all the engagements you have with
the enemy turn chiefly upon my courage and conduct; and you very well
know, that wars are too expensive to be carried on without proper
supplies. Then (nodding his head towards the third) that I shall take by
virtue of my prerogative; to which, I make no question, but so dutiful
and loyal a people will pay all the deference and regard that I can
desire. Now, as for the remaining part, the necessity of our present
affairs is so very urgent, our stock so low, and our credit so impaired
and weakened, that I must insist upon your granting that, without any
hesitation or demur; and hereof fail not at your peril.'


No alliance is safe which is made with those that are superior to us in
power. Though they lay themselves under the most strict and solemn ties
at the opening of the congress, yet the first advantageous opportunity
will tempt them to break the treaty; and they will never want specious
pretences to furnish out their declarations of war. It is not easy to
determine, whether it is more stupid and ridiculous for a community to
trust itself first in the hands of those that are more powerful than
themselves, or to wonder afterwards that their confidence and credulity
are abused, and their properties invaded.


[Illustration: THE LION AND THE MOUSE.]

A Lion, faint with heat, and weary with hunting, was laid down to take
his repose under the spreading boughs of a thick shady oak. It happened
that, while he slept, a company of scrambling Mice ran over his back,
and waked him: upon which, starting up, he clapped his paw upon one of
them, and was just going to put it to death; when the little suppliant
implored his mercy in a very moving manner, begging him not to slain his
noble character with the blood of so despicable and small a beast. The
Lion, considering the matter, thought proper to do as he was desired,
and immediately released his little trembling prisoner. Not long after,
traversing the forest in pursuit of his prey, he chanced to run into
the toils of the hunters; from whence, not able to disengage himself,
he set up a most hideous and loud roar. The Mouse, hearing the voice,
and knowing it to be the Lion's, immediately repaired to the place, and
bid him fear nothing, for that he was his friend. Then straight he fell
to work, and, with his little sharp teeth, gnawing asunder the knots and
fastenings of the toils, set the royal brute at liberty.


This fable gives us to understand, that there is no person in the world
so little, but even the greatest may, at some time or other, stand in
need of his assistance; and consequently that it is good to use
clemency, where there is any room for it, towards those who fall within
our power. A generosity of this kind is a handsome virtue, and looks
very graceful whenever it is exerted, if there were nothing else in it:
but as the lowest people in life may, upon occasion, have it in their
power either to serve or hurt us, that makes it our duty, in point of
common interest, to behave ourselves with good nature and lenity towards
all with whom we have to do. Then the gratitude of the Mouse, and his
readiness not only to repay, but even to exceed, the obligation due to
his benefactor, notwithstanding his little body, gives us the specimen
of a great soul, which is never so much delighted as with an opportunity
of showing how sensible it is of favours received.


[Illustration: THE FATAL MARRIAGE.]

The Lion aforesaid, touched with the grateful procedure of the Mouse,
and resolving not to be outdone in generosity by any wild beast
whatsoever, desired his little deliverer to name his own terms, for that
he might depend upon his complying with any proposal he should make. The
Mouse, fired with ambition at this gracious offer, did not so much
consider what was proper for him to ask, as what was in the power of his
prince to grant; and so presumptuously demanded his princely daughter,
the young Lioness, in marriage. The Lion consented: but, when he would
have given the royal virgin into his possession, she, like a giddy thing
as she was, not minding how she walked, by chance set her paw upon her
spouse, who was coming to meet her, and crushed her little dear to


This fable seems intended to show us how miserable some people make
themselves by a wrong choice, when they have all the good things in the
world spread before them to choose out of. In short, if that one
particular of judgment be wanting, it is not in the power of the
greatest monarch upon earth, nor of the repeated smiles of fortune, to
make us happy. It is the want or possession of a good judgment which
oftentimes makes the prince a poor wretch, and the poor philosopher
completely easy. Now, the first and chief degree of judgment is to know
one's self; to be able to make a tolerable estimate of one's own
capacity, so as not to speak or undertake any thing which may either
injure or make us ridiculous: and yet (as wonderful as it is) there have
been men of allowed good sense in particular, and possessed of all
desirable qualifications in general, to make life delightful and
agreeable, who have unhappily contrived to match themselves with women
of a genius and temper necessarily tending to blast their peace. This
proceeds from some unaccountable blindness: but when wealthy plebeians,
of mean extraction and unrefined education, as an equivalent for their
money, demand brides out of the nurseries of our peerage, their being
despised, or at least overlooked, is so unavoidable, unless in
extraordinary cases, that nothing but a false taste of glory could make
them enter upon a scheme so inconsistent and unpromising.


[Illustration: THE MISCHIEVOUS DOG.]

A certain man had a Dog, which was so fierce and mischievous, that he
was forced to fasten a heavy clog about his neck, to keep him from
running at and worrying people. This the vain cur took for a badge of
honourable distinction; and grew so insolent upon it, that he looked
down with an air of scorn upon the neighbouring dogs, and refused to
keep them company. But a sly old poacher, who was one of the gang,
assured him, that he had no reason to value himself upon the favour he
wore, since it was fixed upon him rather as a mark of disgrace than of


Some people are so exceeding vain, and at the same time so dull of
apprehension, that they interpret every thing by which they are
distinguished from others in their own favour. If they betray any
weaknesses in conversation, which are apt to excite the laughter of
their company, they make no scruple of ascribing it to their superiority
in point of wit. If want of sense or breeding (one of which is always
the case) disposes them to give, or mistake, affronts, upon which
account all discreet sensible people are obliged to shun their company,
they impute it to their own valour and magnanimity, to which they fancy
the world pays an awful and respectful deference. There are several
decent ways of preventing such turbulent men from doing mischief, which
might be applied with secrecy, and many times pass unregarded, if their
own arrogance did not require the rest of mankind to take notice of it.


[Illustration: THE OX AND THE FROG.]

An Ox, grazing in a meadow, chanced to set his foot among a parcel of
young Frogs, and trod one of them to death. The rest informed their
mother, when she came home, what had happened; telling her, that the
beast which did it was the hugest creature that they ever saw in their
lives. 'What, was it so big?' says the old Frog, swelling and blowing up
her speckled belly to a great degree. 'Oh! bigger by a vast deal,' say
they. 'And so big?' says she, straining herself yet more. 'Indeed,
mamma,' say they, 'If you were to burst yourself, you would never be so
big.' She strove yet again, and burst herself indeed.


Whenever a man endeavours to live equal with one of a greater fortune
than himself, he is sure to share a like fate with the Frog in the
fable. How many vain people, of moderate easy circumstances, burst and
come to nothing, by vying with those whose estates are more ample than
their own? Sir Changeling Plumstock was possessed of a very considerable
estate, devolved to him by the death of an old uncle, who had adopted
him his heir. He had a false taste of happiness, and, without the least
economy, trusting to the sufficiency of his vast revenue, was resolved
to be outdone by nobody in showish grandeur and expensive living. He
gave five thousand pounds for a piece of ground in the country to set a
house upon; the building and furniture of which cost fifty thousand
more; and his gardens were proportionably magnificent. Besides which, he
thought himself under a necessity of buying out two or three tenements
which stood in his neighbourhood, that he might have elbow-room enough.
All this he could very well bear; and still might have been happy, had
it not been for an unfortunate view which he one day happened to take of
my Lord Castlebuilder's gardens, which consisted of twenty acres,
whereas his own were not above twelve. From that time he grew pensive;
and, before the ensuing winter, gave five and thirty years purchase for
a dozen acres more to enlarge his gardens; built a couple of exorbitant
greenhouses, and a large pavilion at the further end of a terrace-walk.
The bare repairs and superintendencies of all which call for the
remaining part of his income. He is mortgaged pretty deep, and pays
nobody; but, being a privileged person, resides altogether at a private
cheap lodging in the City of Westminster.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE LION.]

The first time the Fox saw the Lion, he fell down at his feet, and was
ready to die with fear. The second time, he took courage, and could even
bear to look upon him. The third time, he had the impudence to come up
to him, to salute him, and to enter into familiar conversation with him.


From this fable we may observe the two extremes in which we may fail, as
to a proper behaviour towards our superiors: the one is a bashfulness,
proceeding either from a vicious guilty mind, or a timorous rusticity;
the other, an over-bearing impudence, which assumes more than becomes
it, and so renders the person insufferable to the conversation of
well-bred reasonable people. But there is this difference between the
bashfulness that arises from a want of education, and the shamefacedness
that accompanies conscious guilt; the first, by a continuance of time
and a nearer acquaintance, may be ripened into a proper liberal
behaviour; the other no sooner finds an easy practicable access, but it
throws off all manner of reverence, grows every day more and more
familiar, and branches out into the utmost indecency and irregularity.
Indeed, there are many occasions which may happen to cast an awe, or
even a terror, upon our minds at first view, without any just and
reasonable grounds; but upon a little recollection, or a nearer insight,
we recover ourselves, and can appear indifferent and unconcerned, where,
before, we were ready to sink under a load of diffidence and fear. We
should, upon such occasions, use our endeavours to regain a due degree
of steadiness and resolution; but, at the same time, we must have a care
that our efforts in that respect do not force the balance too much, and
make it rise to an unbecoming freedom and an offensive familiarity.


[Illustration: THE APE AND THE FOX.]

The Ape meeting the Fox one day, humbly requested him to give him a
piece of his fine, long, brush tail, to cover his poor naked backside,
which was exposed to all the violence and inclemency of the weather;
'For,' says he, 'Reynard, you have already more than you have occasion
for, and a great part of it even drags along in the dirt.' The Fox
answered, 'That as to his having too much, that was more than he knew;
but be it as it would, he had rather sweep the ground with his tail, as
long as he lived, than deprive himself of the least bit to cover the
Ape's nasty stinking posteriors.'


One cannot help considering the world, in the particular of the goods of
fortune, as a kind of lottery; in which some few are entitled to prizes
of different degrees; others, and those by much the greatest part, come
off with little or nothing. Some, like the Fox, have even larger
circumstances than they know what to do with, insomuch that they are
rather a charge and incumbrance than of any true use and pleasure to
them. Others, like the poor Ape's case, are all blank; not having been
so lucky as to draw from the wheel of fortune wherewith to cover their
nakedness, and live with tolerable decency. That these things are left,
in a great measure, by Providence, to the blind uncertain shuffle of
chance, is reasonable to conclude from the unequal distribution of them;
for there is seldom any regard had to true merit upon these occasions;
folly and knavery ride in coaches, while good sense and honesty walk in
the dirt. The all-wise Disposer of events does certainly permit these
things for just and good purposes, which our shallow understanding is
not able to fathom; but, humanly thinking, if the riches and power of
the world were to be always in the hands of the virtuous part of
mankind, they would be more likely to do good with them in their
generation, than the vile sottish wretches who generally enjoy them. A
truly good man would direct all the superfluous part of his wealth, at
least, for the necessities of his fellow-creatures, though there were no
religion which enjoined it: but selfish and avaricious people, who are
always great knaves, how much soever they may have, will never think
they have enough: much less be induced, by any consideration of virtue
and religion, to part with the least farthing for public charity and


[Illustration: THE DOG IN THE MANGER.]

A Dog was lying upon a manger full of hay. An Ox, being hungry, came
near, and offered to eat of the hay; but the envious ill-natured cur,
getting up and snarling at him, would not suffer him to touch it. Upon
which the Ox, in the bitterness of his heart, said, 'A curse light on
thee, for a malicious wretch, who wilt neither eat hay thyself, nor
suffer others to do it.'


Envy is the most unnatural and unaccountable of all the passions. There
is scarce any other emotion of the mind, however unreasonable, but may
have something said in excuse for it; and there are many of these
weaknesses of the soul, which, notwithstanding the wrongness and
irregularity of them, swell the heart, while they last, with pleasure
and gladness. But the envious man has no such apology as this to make;
the stronger the passion is, the greater torment he endures; and
subjects himself to a continual real pain, by only wishing ill to
others. Revenge is sweet, though cruel and inhuman; and though it
sometimes thirsts even for blood, yet may be glutted and satiated.
Avarice is something highly monstrous and absurd; yet, as it is a desire
after riches, every little acquisition gives it pleasure; and to behold
and feel the hoarded treasure, to a covetous man, is a constant
uncloying enjoyment. But envy, which is an anxiety arising in our minds,
upon our observing accomplishments in others which we want ourselves,
can never receive any true comfort, unless in a deluge, a conflagration,
a plague, or some general calamity that should befal mankind: for, as
long as there is a creature living, that enjoys its being happily within
the envious man's sphere, it will afford nourishment to his distempered
mind; but such nourishment as will make him pine, and fret, and emaciate
himself to nothing.



Once upon a time there commenced a fierce war between the Birds and the
Beasts; when the Bat, taking advantage of his ambiguous make hoped, by
that means, to live secure in a state of neutrality, and save his bacon.
It was not long before the forces on each side met, and gave battle;
and, their animosities running very high, a bloody slaughter ensued. The
Bat, at the beginning of the day, thinking the birds most likely to
carry it, listed himself among them; but kept fluttering at a little
distance, that he might the better observe, and take his measures
accordingly. However, after some time spent in the action, the army of
the Beasts seeming to prevail, he went entirely over to them, and
endeavoured to convince them, by the affinity which he had to a Mouse,
that he was by nature a beast, and would always continue firm and true
to their interest. His plea was admitted; but, in the end, the advantage
turning completely on the side of the Birds, under the admirable conduct
and courage of their general the Eagle, the Bat, to save his life, and
escape the disgrace of falling into the hands of his deserted friends,
betook himself to flight; and ever since, skulking in caves and hollow
trees all day, as if ashamed to show himself, he never appears till the
dusk of the evening, when all the feathered inhabitants of the air are
gone to roost.


For any one to desert the interest of his country, and turn renegado,
either out of fear, or any prospect of advantage, is so notoriously vile
and low, that it is no wonder if the man, who is detected in it, is for
ever ashamed to see the sun, and to show himself in the eyes of those
whose cause he has betrayed. Yet, as there is scarce any vice, even to
be imagined, but there may be found men who have been guilty of it,
perhaps there have been as many criminals in the case before us, as in
any one particular besides, notwithstanding the aggravation and
extraordinary degree of its baseness. We cannot help reflecting upon it
with horror: but, as truly detestable as this vice is, and must be
acknowledged to be, by all mankind, so far are those that practise it
from being treated with a just resentment by the rest of mankind, that
by the kind reception they afterwards meet with, they rather seem to be
encouraged and applauded, than despised and discountenanced, for it.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE TIGER.]

A skilful archer coming into the woods, directed his arrows so
successfully, that he slew many wild beasts, and pursued several others.
This put the whole savage kind into a fearful consternation, and made
them fly to the most retired thickets for refuge. At last, the Tiger
resumed a courage, and, bidding them not to be afraid, said, that he
alone would engage the enemy; telling them, they might depend upon his
valour and strength to revenge their wrongs. In the midst of these
threats, while he was lashing himself with his tail, and tearing up the
ground for anger, an arrow pierced his ribs, and hung by its barbed
point in his side. He set up an hideous and loud roar, occasioned by
the anguish which he felt, and endeavoured to draw out the painful dart
with his teeth; when the Fox, approaching him, inquired with an air of
surprise, who it was that could have strength and courage enough to
wound so mighty and valorous a beast?--'Ah!' says the Tiger, 'I was
mistaken in my reckoning: it was that invincible man yonder.'


Though strength and courage are very good ingredients towards the making
us secure and formidable in the world, yet, unless there be a proper
portion of wisdom or policy to direct them, instead of being
serviceable, they often prove detrimental to their proprietors. A rash
froward man, who depends upon the excellence of his own parts and
accomplishments, is likewise apt to expose a weak side, which his
enemies might not otherwise have observed, and gives an advantage to
others by those very means which he fancied would have secured it to
himself. Counsel and conduct always did, and always will, govern the
world; and the strong, in spite of all their force, can never avoid
being tools to the crafty. Some men are as much superior to others in
wisdom and policy, as man, in general, is above a brute. Strength
ill-concerted, opposed to them, is like a quarter staff in the hands of
a huge, robust, but bungling fellow, who fights against a master of the
science. The latter, though without a weapon, would have skill and
address enough to disarm his adversary, and drub him with his own staff.
In a word, savage fierceness and brutal strength must not pretend to
stand in competition with finesse and stratagem.


[Illustration: THE LIONESS AND THE FOX.]

The Lioness and the Fox meeting together fell into discourse; and the
conversation turning upon the breeding and the fruitfulness of some
living creatures above others, the Fox could not forbear taking the
opportunity of observing to the Lioness, that, for her part, she thought
Foxes were as happy in that respect as almost any other creatures; for
that they bred constantly once a year, if not oftener, and always had a
good litter of cubs at every birth: 'and yet,' says she, 'there are
those who are never delivered of more than one at a time, and that
perhaps not above once or twice through their whole life, who hold up
their noses, and value themselves so much upon it, that they think all
other creatures beneath them, and scarce worthy to be spoken to.' The
Lioness, who all the while perceived at whom this reflection pointed,
was fired with resentment, and with a good deal of vehemence
replied--'What you have observed may be true, and that not without
reason. You produce a great many at a litter, and often; but what are
they?--Foxes. I indeed have but one at a time; but you should remember
that this one is a Lion.'


Our productions, of whatsoever kind, are not to be esteemed so much by
the quantity as the quality of them. It is not being employed much, but
well, and to the purpose, which makes us useful to the age we live in,
and celebrated by those which are to come. As it is a misfortune to the
countries which are infested with them, for Foxes and other vermin to
multiply; so one cannot help throwing out a melancholy reflection, when
one sees some particulars of the humankind increase so fast as they do.
But the most obvious meaning of this fable, is the hint it gives us in
relation to authors. These gentlemen should never attempt to raise
themselves a reputation, by enumerating a catalogue of their
productions; since there is more glory in having written one tolerable
piece, than a thousand indifferent ones. And whoever has had the good
fortune to please in one performance of this kind, should be very
cautious how he ventures his reputation in a second.


[Illustration: THE OAK AND THE REED.]

An oak, which hung over the bank of a river, was blown down by a violent
storm of wind; and as it was carried along by the stream, some of its
boughs brushed against a Reed which grew near the shore. This struck the
Oak with a thought of admiration; and he could not forbear asking the
Reed, how he came to stand so secure and unhurt, in a tempest which had
been furious enough to tear an Oak up by the roots? 'Why,' says the
Reed, 'I secure myself by putting on a behaviour quite contrary to what
you do; instead of being stubborn and stiff, and confiding in my
strength, I yield and bend to the blast, and let it go over me; knowing
how vain and fruitless it would be to resist.'


Though a tame submission to injuries which it is in our power to
redress, be generally esteemed a base and a dishonourable thing; yet, to
resist where there is no probability, or even hopes, of our getting the
better, may also be looked upon as the effect of a blind temerity, and
perhaps of a weak understanding. The strokes of fortune are oftentimes
as irresistible as they are severe; and he who, with an impatient
reluctant spirit, fights against her, instead of alleviating, does but
double her blows upon himself. A person of a quiet still temper, whether
it is given him by Nature, or acquired by art, calmly composes himself,
in the midst of a storm, so as to elude the shock, or receive it with
the least detriment; like a prudent experienced sailor, who is swimming
to the shore from a wrecked vessel in a swelling sea, he does not oppose
the fury of the waves, but stoops and gives way, that they may roll over
his head without obstruction. The doctrine of absolute submission in all
cases is an absurd dogmatical precept, with nothing but ignorance and
superstition to support it: but, upon particular occasions, and where it
is impossible for us to overcome, to submit patiently is one of the most
reasonable maxims in life.


[Illustration: THE WIND AND THE SUN.]

A dispute once arose between the north Wind and the Sun, about the
superiority of their power; and they agreed to try their strength upon a
traveller, which should be able to get his cloak off first. The north
Wind began, and blew a very cold blast, accompanied with a sharp driving
shower. But this, and whatever else he could do, instead of making the
man quit his cloak, obliged him to gird it about his body as close as
possible. Next came the Sun, who, breaking out from a thick watery
cloud, drove away the cold vapours from the sky, and darted his warm
sultry beams upon the head of the poor weather-beaten traveller. The man
growing faint with the heat, and unable to endure it any longer, first
throws off his heavy cloak, and then flies for protection to the shade
of a neighbouring grove.


There is something in the temper of men so averse to severe and
boisterous treatment, that he who endeavours to carry his point that
way, instead of prevailing, generally leaves the mind of him, whom he
has thus attempted, in a more confirmed and obstinate situation than he
found it at first. Bitter words and hard usage freeze the heart into a
kind of obduracy, which mild persuasion and gentle language only can
dissolve and soften. Persecution has always fixed and rivetted those
opinions which it was intended to dispel; and some discerning men have
attributed the quick growth of Christianity, in a great measure, to the
rough and barbarous reception which its first teachers met with in the
world. The same may have been observed of our reformation; the blood of
the martyrs was the manure which produced that great Protestant crop, on
which the church of England has subsisted ever since. Providence, which
always makes use of the most natural means to attain its purpose, has
thought fit to establish the purest religion by this method: the
consideration of which may give a proper check to those who are
continually endeavouring to root out errors by that very management,
which so infallibly fixes and implants all opinions, as well erroneous
as orthodox. When an opinion is so violently attacked, it raises an
attention in the persecuted party, and gives an alarm to their vanity,
by making them think that worth defending and keeping, at the hazard of
their lives, which, perhaps, otherwise they would only have admired
awhile for the sake of its novelty, and afterwards resigned of their own
accord. In short, a fierce turbulent opposition, like the north Wind,
only serves to make a man wrap up his notions more closely about him;
but we know not what a kind, warm, Sun-shiny behaviour, rightly applied,
would not be able to effect.



There was once a great emulation between the Frog and the Mouse, which
should be master of the fen, and wars ensued upon it. But the crafty
Mouse, lurking under the grass in ambuscade, made sudden sallies, and
often surprised the enemy at a disadvantage. The Frog, excelling in
strength, and being more able to leap abroad and take the field,
challenged the Mouse to single combat. The Mouse accepts the challenge;
and each of them entered the lists, armed with a point of a bulrush
instead of a spear. A Kite, sailing in the air, beheld them afar off;
and, while they were eagerly bent upon each other, and pressing on to
the duel, this fatal enemy descended souse upon them, and with her
crooked talons carried off both the champions.


Nothing so much exposes a man's weak side, and lays him so open to an
enemy, as passion and malice. He whose attention is wholly fixed upon
forming a project of revenge, is ignorant of the mischiefs that may be
hatching against him from some other quarter, and, upon the attack, is
unprovided with the means of defending or securing himself. How are the
members of a commonwealth sometimes divided amongst themselves, and
inspired with rancour and malice to the last degree; and often upon as
great a trifle as that which was the subject matter of debate between
the Frog and the Mouse; not for any real advantage, but merely who shall
get the better in the dispute? But such animosities, as insignificant
and trifling as they may be among themselves, are yet of the last
importance to their enemies, by giving them many fair opportunities of
falling upon them, and reducing them to misery and slavery. O Britons,
when will ye be wise! when will ye throw away the ridiculous
distinctions of party, those ends of bulrushes, and by a prudent union
secure yourselves in a state of peace and prosperity! A state, of which,
if it were not for your intolerably foolish and unnecessary divisions at
home, all the powers upon earth could never deprive you.



The Frogs, living an easy free life every where among the lakes and
ponds, assembled together, one day, in a very tumultuous manner, and
petitioned Jupiter to let them have a King, who might inspect their
morals, and make them live a little honester. Jupiter, being at that
time in pretty good humour, was pleased to laugh heartily at their
ridiculous request; and, throwing a little log down into the pool,
cried, 'There is a King for you.' The sudden splash which this made by
its fall into the water, at first terrified them so exceedingly, that
they were afraid to come near it. But in a little time, seeing it lay
still without moving, they ventured, by degrees, to approach it; and at
last, finding there was no danger, they leaped upon it; and, in short,
treated it as familiarly as they pleased. But not contented with so
insipid a King as this was, they sent their deputies to petition again
for another sort of one; for this they neither did nor could like. Upon
that he sent them a Stork, who, without any ceremony, fell a devouring
and eating them up, one after another, as fast as he could. Then they
applied themselves privately to Mercury, and got him to speak to Jupiter
in their behalf, that he would be so good as to bless them again with
another King, or to restore them to their former state. 'No,' says he,
'since it was their own choice, let the obstinate wretches suffer the
punishment due to their folly.'


It is pretty extraordinary to find a fable of this kind finished with so
bold and yet polite a turn by Phædrus: one who attained his freedom by
the favour of Augustus, and wrote it in the time of Tiberius; who were,
successively, tyrannical usurpers of the Roman government. If we may
take his word for it, Æsop spoke it upon this occasion. When the
commonwealth of Athens flourished under good wholesome laws of its own
enacting, they relied so much upon the security of their liberty, that
they negligently suffered it to run out into licentiousness. And
factions happening to be fomented among them by designing people, much
about the same time, Pisistratus took that opportunity to make himself
master of their citadel and liberties both together. The Athenians
finding themselves in a slate of slavery, though their tyrant happened
to be a very merciful one, yet could not bear the thoughts of it; so
that Æsop, where there was no remedy, prescribes to them patience, by
the example of the foregoing fable; and adds, at last, 'Wherefore, my
dear countrymen, be contented with your present condition, bad as it is,
for fear a change should be worse.'



A certain Old Woman had several Maids, whom she used to call up to their
work, every morning, at the crowing of the Cock. The Wenches, who found
it grievous to have their sweet sleep disturbed so early, combined
together, and killed the Cock; thinking, that, when the alarm was gone,
they might enjoy themselves in their warm beds a little longer. The Old
Woman, grieved for the loss of her Cock, and having, by some means or
other, discovered the whole plot, was resolved to be even with them;
for, from that time, she obliged them to rise constantly at midnight.


It can never be expected that things should be, in all respects,
agreeable to our wishes; and, if they are not very bad indeed, we
ought, in many cases, to be contented with them; lest when, through
impatience, we precipitately quit our present condition of life, we may
to our sorrow find, with the old saying, that seldom comes a better.
Before we attempt any alteration of moment, we should be certain what
state it will produce; for, when things are already bad, to make them
worse by trying experiments, is an argument of great weakness and folly,
and is sure to be attended with a too late repentance. Grievances, if
really such, ought by all means to be redressed, provided we can be
assured of doing it with success: but we had better, at any time, bear
with some inconvenience, than make our condition worse by attempting to
mend it.


[Illustration: THE LION, THE BEAR, AND THE FOX.]

A Lion and a Bear fell together by the ears over the carcass of a Fawn
which they found in the forest, their title to him being to be decided
by force of arms. The battle was severe and tough on both sides, and
they held it out, tearing and worrying one another so long, that, what
with wounds and fatigue, they were so faint and weary, that they were
not able to strike another stroke. Thus, while they lay upon the ground,
panting and lolling out their tongues, a Fox chanced to pass by that
way, who, perceiving how the case stood, very impudently stepped in
between them, seized the booty which they had all this while been
contending for, and carried it off. The two combatants, who lay and
beheld all this, without having strength enough to stir and prevent it,
were only wise enough to make this reflection: 'Behold the fruits of our
strife and contention! that villain, the Fox, bears away the prize, and
we ourselves have deprived each other of the power to recover it from


When people go to law about an uncertain title, and have spent their
whole estate in the contest, nothing is more common than for some little
pettifogging attorney to step in and secure it to himself. The very name
of law seems to imply equity and justice, and that is the bait which has
drawn in many to their ruin. Others are excited by their passions, and
care not if they destroy themselves, so they do but see their enemy
perish with them. But, if we lay aside prejudice and folly, and think
calmly of the matter, we shall find, that going to law is not the best
way of deciding differences about property; it being, generally
speaking, much safer to trust to the arbitration of two or three honest
sensible neighbours, than, at a vast expense of money, time, and
trouble, to run through the tedious, frivolous forms, with which, by the
artifice of greedy lawyers, a court of judicature is contrived to be
attended. It has been said, that if mankind would lead moral virtuous
lives, there would be no occasion for divines; if they would but live
temperately and soberly, that they would never want physicians; both
which assertions, though true in the main, are yet expressed in too
great a latitude. But one may venture to affirm, that if men preserved
a strict regard to justice and honesty in their dealings with each
other, and, upon any mistake or misapprehension, were always ready to
refer the matter to disinterested umpires, of acknowledged judgment and
integrity, they never could have the least occasion for lawyers. When
people have gone to law, it is rarely to be found but one or both
parties was either stupidly obstinate, or rashly inconsiderate. For, if
the case should happen to be so intricate, that a man of common sense
could not distinguish who had the best title, how easy would it be to
have the opinion of the best counsel in the land, and agree to determine
it by that? If it should appear dubious even after that, how much better
would it be to divide the thing in dispute, rather than go to law, and
hazard the losing not only of the whole, but costs and damages into the



A Crow, ready to die with thirst, flew with joy to a Pitcher, which he
beheld at some distance. When he came, he found water in it indeed, but
so near the bottom, that, with all his stooping and straining, he was
not able to reach it. Then he endeavoured to overturn the Pitcher, that
so at least he might be able to get a little of it. But his strength was
not sufficient for this. At last, seeing some pebbles lie near the
place, he cast them one by one into the Pitcher; and thus, by degrees,
raised the water up to the very brim, and satisfied his thirst.


Many things which cannot be effected by strength, or by the vulgar way
of enterprising, may yet be brought about by some new and untried means.
A man of sagacity and penetration, upon encountering a difficulty or
two, does not immediately despair; but, if he cannot succeed one way,
employs his wit and ingenuity another; and, to avoid or get over an
impediment, makes no scruple of stepping out of the path of his
forefathers. Since our happiness, next to the regulation of our minds,
depends altogether upon our having and enjoying the conveniences of
life, why should we stand upon ceremony about the methods of obtaining
them, or pay any deference to antiquity upon that score? If almost every
age had not exerted itself in some new improvements of its own, we
should want a thousand arts, or, at least, many degrees of perfection in
every art, which at present we are in possession of. The invention of
any thing which is more commodious for the mind or body than what they
had before, ought to be embraced readily, and the projector of it
distinguished with a suitable encouragement. Such as the use of the
compass, for example, from which mankind reaps so much benefit and
advantage, and which was not known to former ages. When we follow the
steps of those who have gone before us in the old beaten track of life,
how do we differ from horses in a team, which are linked to each other
by a chain or harness, and move on in a dull heavy pace, to the tune of
their leader's bells? But the man who enriches the present fund of
knowledge with some new and useful improvement, like a happy adventurer
at sea, discovers, as it were, an unknown land, and imports an
additional trade into his own country.



A Porcupine, wanting to shelter himself, desired a nest of Snakes to
give him admittance into their cave. They were prevailed upon, and let
him in accordingly; but were so annoyed with his sharp prickly quills,
that they soon repented of their easy compliance, and entreated the
Porcupine to withdraw, and leave them their hole to themselves. 'No,'
says he, 'let them quit the place that don't like it; for my part, I am
well enough satisfied as I am.'


Some people are of such brutish, inhospitable tempers, that there is no
living with them, without greatly incommoding ourselves. Therefore,
before we enter into any degree of friendship, alliance, or partnership,
with any person whatever, we should thoroughly consider his nature and
qualities, his circumstances and his humour. There ought to be something
in each of these respects to tally and correspond with our own measures,
to suit our genius, and adapt itself to the size and proportion of our
desires; otherwise our associations, of whatever kind, may prove the
greatest plagues of our life. Young men are very apt to run into this
error; and being warm in all their passions, throw open their arms at
once, and admit into the greatest intimacy persons whom they know little
of, but by false and uncertain lights. Thus they sometimes receive a
Viper into their bosom instead of a friend, and take a Porcupine for a
consort, with whom they are obliged to cohabit, though she may prove a
thorn in their sides as long as they live. A true friend is one of the
greatest blessings in life; therefore to be mistaken or disappointed of
such enjoyment, when we hope to be in full possession of it must be as
great a mortification. So that we cannot be too nice and scrupulous in
our choice of those who are to be our companions for life: for they must
have but a poor shallow notion of friendship, who intend to take it,
like a lease, for a term of years only. In a word, the doctrine which
this fable speaks, is to prepare us against being injured or deceived by
a rash combination of any sort. The manners of the man we desire for a
friend, of the woman we like for a wife, of the person with whom we
would jointly manage and concert measures for the advancement of our
temporal interest, should be narrowly and cautiously inspected, before
we embark with them in the same vessel, lest we should alter our mind
when it is too late, and think of regaining the shore after we have
launched out of our depth.



Upon a great storm of wind that blew among the trees and bushes, and
made a rustling with the leaves, the Hares (in a certain park where
there happened to be plenty of them) were so terribly frighted, that
they ran like mad all over the place, resolving to seek out some retreat
of more security, or to end their unhappy days by doing violence to
themselves. With this resolution they found an outlet where a pale had
been broken down, and, bolting forth upon an adjoining common, had not
run far before their course was stopped by that of a gentle brook which
glided across the way they intended to take. This was so grievous a
disappointment, that they were not able to bear it; and they determined
rather to throw themselves headlong into the water, let what would
become of it, than lead a life so full of dangers and crosses. But, upon
their coming to the brink of the river, a parcel of Frogs, which were
sitting there, frighted at their approach, leaped into the stream in
great confusion, and dived to the very bottom for fear: which a cunning
old Puss observing, called to the rest and said, 'Hold, have a care what
ye do: here are other creatures, I perceive, which have their fears as
well as us: don't then let us fancy ourselves the most miserable of any
upon earth; but rather, by their example, learn to bear patiently those
inconveniences which our nature has thrown upon us.'


This fable is designed to show us how unreasonable many people are for
living in such continual fears and disquiets about the miserableness of
their condition. There is hardly any state of life great enough to
satisfy the wishes of an ambitious man; and scarce any so mean but may
supply all the necessities of him that is moderate. But if people will
be so unwise as to work themselves up to imaginary misfortunes, why do
they grumble at nature and their stars, when their own perverse minds
are only to blame? If we are to conclude ourselves unhappy by as many
degrees as there are others greater than we, why then the greatest part
of mankind must be miserable, in some degree at least. But, if they who
repine at their own afflicted condition, would but reckon up how many
more there are with whom they would not change cases, than whose
pleasures they envy, they would certainly rise up better satisfied from
such a calculation. But what shall we say to those who have a way of
creating themselves panics from the rustling of the wind, the scratching
of a Rat or Mouse behind the hangings, the fluttering of a Moth, or the
motion of their own shadow by moonlight? Their whole life is as full of
alarms as that of a Hare, and they never think themselves so happy as
when, like the timorous folks in the fable, they meet with a set of
creatures as fearful as themselves.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE WOLF.]

The Wolf having laid in store of provision, kept close at home, and made
much of himself. The Fox observed this, and thinking it something
particular, went to visit him, the better to inform himself of the truth
of the matter. The Wolf excused himself from seeing him, by pretending
he was very much indisposed. All this did but confirm the Fox in his
suspicions: so away he goes to a shepherd, and made discovery of the
Wolf; telling him, he had nothing else to do but to come with a good
weapon and knock him on the head as he lay in his cave. The shepherd
followed his directions, and killed the Wolf. The wicked Fox enjoyed the
cave and provisions to himself, but enjoyed them not long; for the same
shepherd passing afterwards by the same hole, and seeing the Fox there,
dispatched him also.


This fable seems to be directed against the odious trade of informing.
Not that giving information against criminals and enemies of the public
is in itself odious, for it is commendable; but the circumstances and
manner of doing it oftentimes make it a vile and detestable employment.
He that accuses another merely for the sake of the promised reward, or
in hopes of getting his forfeited estate, or with any other such
mercenary view, nay, even to save his own life, whatever he gets by the
bargain, is sure to lose his reputation: for, indeed, the most innocent
company is not safe with such a one in it, nor the neighbourhood secure
in which he lives. A villain of his stamp, whose only end is getting,
will as soon betray the innocent as the guilty: let him but know where
there is a suspected person, and propose the reward, and he will scarce
fail to work the suspicion up to high-treason, or be at a loss to give
sufficient proofs of it. We have no small comfort concerning this sort
of people, when we consider how improbable it is that they should thrive
or prosper long in their ill-gotten possessions. For he that can betray
another for the sake of a little pelf, must be a man of such bad
principles, that it cannot be for the interest of any community to
suffer him to live long in it. Besides, he himself will not be
contented with one single villany; and there is no fear but he will
provoke justice to hurl down upon his head at least as great a calamity
as he, by his malicious information, has brought upon another.


[Illustration: THE DOG AND THE SHEEP.]

The Dog sued the Sheep for a debt, of which the Kite and the Wolf were
to be judges. They, without debating long upon the matter, or making any
scruple for want of evidence, gave sentence for the plaintiff; who
immediately tore the poor Sheep in pieces, and divided the spoil with
the unjust judges.


Deplorable are the times when open barefaced villany is protected and
encouraged, when innocence is obnoxious, honesty contemptible, and it is
reckoned criminal to espouse the cause of virtue. Men originally entered
into covenants and civil compacts with each other for the promotion of
their happiness and well-being, for the establishment of justice and
public peace. How comes it then that they look stupidly on, and tamely
acquiesce, when wicked men pervert this end, and establish an arbitrary
tyranny of their own upon the foundation of fraud and oppression? Among
beasts, who are incapable of being civilized by social laws, it is no
strange thing to see innocent helpless Sheep fall a prey to Dogs,
Wolves, and Kites: but it is amazing how mankind could ever sink down to
such a low degree of base cowardice, as to suffer some of the worst of
their species to usurp a power over them, to supersede the righteous
laws of good government, and to exercise all kinds of injustice and
hardship, in gratifying their own vicious lusts. Wherever such
enormities are practised, it is when a few rapacious statesmen combine
together to get and secure the power in their own hands, and agree to
divide the spoil among themselves. For as long as the cause is to be
tried only among themselves, no question but they will always vouch for
each other. But, at the same time, it is hard to determine which
resemble brutes most, they in acting, or the people in suffering them to
act, their vile selfish schemes.



The Peacock and the Crane by chance met together in the same place. The
Peacock erecting his tail, displayed his gaudy plumes, and looked with
contempt upon the Crane, as some mean ordinary person. The Crane,
resolving to mortify his insolence, took occasion to say, that Peacocks
were very fine birds indeed, if fine feathers could make them so; but
that he thought it a much nobler thing to be able to rise above the
clouds, than to strut about upon the ground, and be gazed at by


It is very absurd to slight or insult another upon his wanting a
property which we possess; for he may, for any thing we know, have as
just reason to triumph over us, by being master of some good quality of
which we are incapable. But, in regard to the fable before us, that
which the Peacock values himself upon, the glitter and finery of dress,
is one of the most trifling considerations in nature; and what a man of
sense would be ashamed to reckon even as the least part of merit.
Indeed, children, and those people who think much about the same pitch
with them, are apt to be taken with varnish and tinsel: but they who
examine by the scale of common sense must find something of weight and
substance, before they can be persuaded to set a value. The mind which
is stored with virtuous and rational sentiments, and the behaviour which
speaks complacence and humility, stamps an estimate upon the possessor,
which all judicious spectators are ready to admire and acknowledge. But
if there be any merit in an embroidered coat, a brocade waistcoat, a
shoe, a stocking, or a sword-knot, the person who wears them has the
least claim to it; let it be ascribed where it justly belongs--to the
several artizans who wrought and disposed the materials of which they
consist. This moral is not intended to derogate any thing from the
magnificence of fine clothes and rich equipages, which, as times and
circumstances require, may be used with decency and propriety enough:
but one cannot help being concerned, lest any worth should be affixed to
them more than their own intrinsic value.


[Illustration: THE VIPER AND THE FILE.]

A Viper entering a smith's shop, looked up and down for something to
eat; and seeing a File, fell to gnawing it as greedily as could be. The
File told him, very gruffly, that he had best be quiet and let him
alone; for he would get very little by nibbling at one who, upon
occasion, could bite iron and steel.


By this fable we are cautioned to consider what any person is, before we
make an attack upon him after any manner whatsoever: particularly how we
let our tongues slip in censuring the actions of those who are, in the
opinion of the world, not only of an unquestioned reputation, so that
nobody will believe what we insinuate against them; but of such an
influence, upon account of their own veracity, that the least word from
them would ruin our credit to all intents and purposes. If wit be the
case, and we have a satirical vein, which at certain periods must have a
flow, let us be cautious at whom we level it; for if the person's
understanding be of better proof than our own, all our ingenious
sallies, like liquor squirted against the wind, will recoil back upon
our own faces, and make us the ridicule of every spectator. This fable,
besides, is not an improper emblem of envy; which, rather than not bite
at all, will fall foul where it can hurt nothing but itself.


[Illustration: THE ASS, THE LION, AND THE COCK.]

An Ass and a Cock happened to be feeding together in the same place,
when on a sudden they spied a Lion approaching them. This beast is
reported, above all things, to have an aversion, or rather antipathy, to
the crowing of a Cock; so that he no sooner heard the voice of that
bird, but he betook him to his heels, and run away as fast as ever he
could. The Ass fancying he fled for fear of him, in the bravery of his
heart, pursued him, and followed him so far, that they were quite out of
the hearing of the Cock; which the Lion no sooner perceived, but he
turned about and seized the Ass; and just as he was ready to tear him to
pieces, the sluggish creature is said to have expressed himself
thus:--'Alas! fool that I was, knowing the cowardice of my own nature,
thus, by an affected courage, to throw myself into the jaws of death,
when I might have remained secure and unmolested!'


There are many who, out of an ambition to appear considerable, affect to
show themselves men of fire, spirit, and courage: but these being
qualities, of which they are not the right owners, they generally expose
themselves, and show the little title they have to them, by endeavouring
to exert and produce them at unseasonable times, or with improper
persons. A bully, for fear you should find him out to be a coward,
overacts his part, and calls you to account for affronts which a man of
true bravery would never have thought of: and a cowardly silly fellow,
observing that he may take some liberties with impunity, where perhaps
the place or the company protect him, falsely concludes from thence,
that the person with whom he made free is a greater coward than himself;
so that he not only continues his offensive raillery and impertinence
for the present, but probably renews them in some place not so
privileged as the former, where his insolence meets with a due
chastisement; than which nothing is more equitable in itself, or
agreeable to the discreet part of mankind.



A certain Jackdaw was so proud and ambitious, that, not contented to
live within his own sphere, he picked up the feathers which fell from
the Peacocks, stuck them in among his own, and very confidently
introduced himself into an assembly of those beautiful birds. They soon
found him out, stripped him of his borrowed plumes, and, falling upon
him with their sharp bills, punished him as his presumption deserved.
Upon this, full of grief and affliction, he returned to his old
companions, and would have flocked with them again; but they, knowing
his late life and conversation, industriously avoided him, and refused
to admit him into their company: and of them, at the same time, gave him
this serious reproof--'If, friend, you could have been contented with
our station, and had not disdained the rank in which Nature had placed
you, you had not been used so scurvily by those upon whom you intruded
yourself, nor suffered the notorious slight which now we think ourselves
obliged to put upon you.'


What we may learn from this fable is, in the main, to live contentedly
in our own condition, whatever it be, without affecting to look bigger
than we are, by a false or borrowed light. To be barely pleased with
appearing above what a man really is, is bad enough; and what may justly
render him contemptible in the eyes of his equals: but if, to enable him
to do this with something of a better grace, he has clandestinely
feathered his nest with his neighbour's goods, when found out, he has
nothing to expect but to be stripped of his plunder, and used like a
felonious rogue into the bargain.


[Illustration: THE ANT AND THE FLY.]

One day there happened some words between the Ant and the Fly about
precedency, and the point was argued with great warmth and eagerness on
both sides. Says the Fly, 'It is well known what my pretensions are, and
how justly they are grounded: there is never a sacrifice that is offered
but I always taste of the entrails, even before the gods themselves. I
have one of the uppermost seats at church, and frequent the altar as
often as any body: I have a free admission at court; and can never want
the king's ear, for I sometimes sit upon his shoulder. There is not a
maid of honour, or handsome young creature, comes in my way, but, if I
like her, I settle betwixt her balmy lips, and then I eat and drink the
best of every thing, without having any occasion to work for my living.
What is there that such country pusses as you enjoy, to be compared with
a life like this?'--The Ant, who by this time had composed herself,
replied with a great deal of temper, and no less severity--'Indeed, to
be a guest at an entertainment of the gods, is a very great honour, if
one is invited; but I should not care to be a disagreeable intruder any
where. You talk of the king and the court, and the fine ladies there,
with great familiarity; but, as I have been getting in my harvest in
summer, I have seen a certain person under the town walls, making a
hearty meal upon something that is not so proper to be mentioned. As to
your frequenting the altars, you are in the right to take sanctuary
where you are like to meet with the least disturbance: but I have known
people before now run to altars, and call it devotion, when they have
been shut out of all good company, and had no where else to go. You do
not work for your living, you say,--true: therefore, when you have
played away the summer, and winter comes, you have nothing to live upon;
and, while you are starving with cold and hunger, I have a good warm
house over my head, and plenty of provisions about me.'


This fable points out to us the different characters of those that
recommend themselves in a vain-glorious way by false and borrowed
lights; and of those whose real merit procures them a good esteem
wherever they go. Poverty and folly having, at the same time,
possession of any one man, cannot fail of making him an object of pity,
if not of contempt; but, when an empty conceited pride happens to be
joined with them, they render the creature in whom they meet at the same
time despicable and ridiculous. One who often attends at court, not
because he has a place, but because he has not, should not value himself
upon his condition. They who go to church out of vanity and curiosity,
and not for pure devotion, should not value themselves upon their
religion, for it is not worth a straw. They who eat at a threepenny
ordinary, and sometimes not so well, should not boast either of their
dinner or company. In short, nobody is a better gentleman, than he whose
own honest industry supplies him with a plenty of all necessaries; who
is so well acquainted with honour, as never to say or do a mean and
unjust thing; and who despises an idle scoundrel, but knows how to
esteem men of his own principles. Such a one is a person of the first
quality, though he has never a title, and ought to take place of every
man who is not so good as himself.



In the winter season, a commonwealth of Ants was busily employed in the
management and preservation of their corn; which they exposed to the air
in heaps round about the avenues of their little country habitation. A
Grasshopper, who had chanced to outlive the summer, and was ready to
starve with cold and hunger, approached them with great humility, and
begged that they would relieve his necessity, with one grain of wheat or
rye. One of the Ants asked him, how he had disposed of his time in
summer, that he had not taken pains, and laid in a stock, as they had
done?--'Alas, gentlemen,' says he, 'I passed away the time merrily and
pleasantly, in drinking, singing, and dancing, and never once thought
of winter.'--'If that be the case,' replied the Ant, laughing, 'all I
have to say is, that they who drink, sing, and dance in the summer, must
starve in winter.'


As summer is the season of the year in which the industrious and
laborious husbandman gathers and lays up such fruits as may supply his
necessities in winter, so youth and manhood are the times of life which
we should employ and bestow in laying in such a stock of all kind of
necessaries as may suffice for the craving demands of helpless old age.
Yet, notwithstanding the truth of this, there are many of those which we
call rational creatures, who live in a method quite opposite to it, and
make it their business to squander away, in a profuse prodigality,
whatever they get in their younger days: as if the infirmity of age
would require no supplies to support it; or, at least, would find them
administered to in some miraculous way. From this fable we learn this
admirable lesson, never to lose any present opportunity of providing
against the future evils and accidents of life. While health and the
flower and vigour of our age remain firm and entire, let us lay them out
to the best advantage, that, when the latter days take hold of us, and
spoil us of our strength and abilities, we may have a store moderately
sufficient to subsist upon, which we laid up in the morning of our age.



A villager, in a frosty, snowy winter, found a snake under a hedge,
almost dead with cold. He could not help having compassion for the poor
creature, so brought it home, and laid it upon the hearth near the fire;
but it had not lain there long, before (being revived with the heat) it
began to erect itself, and fly at his wife and children, filling the
whole cottage with dreadful hissings. The Countryman hearing an outcry,
and perceiving what the matter was, catched up a mattock, and soon
dispatched him; upbraiding him at the same time in these words--'Is
this, vile wretch, the reward you make to him that saved your life? Die,
as you deserve; but a single death is too good for you.'


It is the nature of ingrates to return evil for good: and the moralists,
in all ages, have incessantly declaimed against the enormity of this
crime, concluding, that they who are capable of hurting their
benefactors, are not fit to live in a community; being such, as the
natural ties of parent, friend, or country, are too weak to restrain
within the bounds of society. Indeed, the sin of ingratitude is so
detestable, that as none but the most inhuman temper can be guilty of
it, so, in writing to men, there is no occasion to use many words,
either in exposing the vice itself, or dissuading people from the
commission of it. Therefore it is not likely that a person of Æsop's
sagacity would have compiled this fable, without having something else
in view besides this trite and obvious subject. He certainly intended to
put us in mind that, as none but a poor silly clown would go to take up
a Snake and cherish it, so we shall be very negligent and ill-advised
if, in doing good offices, we do not take care to bestow our benevolence
upon proper objects. It was not at all unnatural in the Snake to hiss,
and brandish his tongue, and fly at the first that came near him; as
soon at the person that saved his life as any other; indeed, more
likely, because nobody else had so much to do with him. Nor is it
strange at any time to see a reprobate fool throwing his poisonous
language about, and committing his extravagancies against those, more
especially, who are so inadvertent as to concern themselves with him.
The Snake and the reprobate will not appear extraordinary in their
malevolence: but the sensible part of mankind cannot help thinking those
guilty of great indiscretion, who receive either of them into their


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE SICK LION.]

It was reported that the Lion was sick, and the beasts were made to
believe that they could not make their court better than by going to
visit him. Upon this they generally went; but it was particularly taken
notice of, that the Fox was not one of the number. The Lion therefore
dispatched one of his Jackals to sound him about it, and ask him why he
had so little charity and respect, as never to come near him, at a time
when he lay so dangerously ill, and every body else had been to see
him?--'Why,' replies the Fox, 'pray present my duty to his majesty, and
tell him, that I have the same respect for him as ever, and have been
coming several times to kiss his royal hand: but I am so terribly
frightened at the mouth of his cave, to see the print of my
fellow-subjects feet all pointing forwards and none backwards, that I
have not resolution enough to venture in.' Now the truth of the matter
was, that this sickness of the Lion's was only a sham to draw the beasts
into his den, the more easily to devour them.


A man should weigh and consider the nature of any proposal well before
he gives into it; for a rash and hasty compliance has been the ruin of
many a one. And it is the quintessence of prudence not to be too easy of
belief. Indeed the multitude think altogether in the same track, and are
much upon a footing. Their meditations are confined in one channel, and
they follow one another, very orderly, in a regular stupidity. Can a man
of thought and spirit be harnessed thus, and trudge along like a
pack-horse, in a deep, stinking, muddy road, when he may frisk it over
the beauteous lawns, or lose himself agreeably in the shady verdant
mazes of unrestrained contemplation? It is impossible. Vulgar notions
are so generally attended with error, that wherever one traces the
footsteps of the many, tending all one way, it is enough to make one
suspect, with the Fox in the fable, that there is some trick in it. The
eye of reason is dulled and stupified when it is confined, and made to
gaze continually upon the same thing: it rather chooses to look about
it, and amuse itself with variety of objects, as they lie scattered up
and down in the unbounded prospect. He that goes implicitly into a
thing, may be mistaken, notwithstanding the number of those who keep him
company; but he that keeps out till he sees reason to enter, acts upon
true maxims of policy and prudence. In short, it becomes us, as we are
reasonable creatures, to behave ourselves as such, and to do as few
things as possible, of which we may have occasion to repent.


[Illustration: THE WANTON CALF.]

A Calf, full of play and wantonness, seeing the Ox at plough, could not
forbear insulting him. 'What a sorry poor drudge art thou,' says he, 'to
bear that heavy yoke upon your neck, and go all day drawing a plough at
your tail, to turn up the ground for your master! but you are a wretched
dull slave, and know no better, or else you would not do it. See what a
happy life I lead: I go just where I please; sometimes I lie down under
the cool shade; sometimes frisk about in the open sunshine; and, when I
please, slake my thirst in the clear sweet brook; but you, if you were
to perish, have not so much as a little dirty water to refresh you.' The
Ox, not at all moved with what he said, went quietly and calmly on with
his work; and, in the evening, was unyoked and turned loose. Soon after
which he saw the Calf taken out of the field, and delivered into the
hands of a priest, who immediately led him to the altar, and prepared to
sacrifice him. His head was hung round with fillets of flowers, and the
fatal knife was just going to be applied to his throat, when the Ox drew
near, and whispered him to this purpose--'Behold the end of your
insolence and arrogance; it was for this only you were suffered to live
at all; and pray now, friend, whose condition is best, yours or mine?'


To insult people in distress is the property of a cruel, indiscreet, and
giddy temper; for, as the proceedings of fortune are very irregular and
uncertain, we may, the next turn of the wheel, be thrown down to their
condition, and they exalted to ours. We are likewise given to understand
by this fable what the consequence of an idle life generally is, and how
well satisfied laborious diligent men are, in the end, when they come
quietly to enjoy the fruits of their industry. They who by little tricks
and sharpings, or by open violence and robbery, live in a high expensive
way, often in their hearts, at least, despise the poor honest man who is
contented with the virtuous product of his daily labour, and patiently
submits to his destiny. But how often is the poor man comforted, by
seeing these wanton villains led in triumph to the altar of justice,
while he has many a cheerful summer's morning to enjoy abroad, and many
a long winter's evening to indulge himself in at home, by a quiet
hearth, and under an unenvied roof: blessings which often attend a sober
industrious man, though the idle and the profligate are utter strangers
to them. Luxury and intemperance, besides their being certain to shorten
a man's days, are very apt not only to engage people with their seeming
charms into a debauched life, utterly prejudicial to their health, but
to make them have a contempt for others, whose good sense and true taste
of happiness inspire them with an aversion to idleness and effiminacy,
and put them upon hardening their constitution by innocent exercise and
laudable employment. How many do gluttony and sloth tumble into an
untimely grave! while the temperate and the active drink sober draughts
of life, and spin out their thread to the most desirable length.



As a clownish Fellow was driving his cart along a deep miry lane, the
wheels stuck so fast in the clay, that the horses could not draw them
out. Upon this, he fell a bawling and praying to Hercules to come and
help him. Hercules, looking down from a cloud, bid him not lie there,
like an idle rascal as he was, but get up and whip his horses stoutly,
and clap his shoulder to the wheel; adding, that this was the only way
for him to obtain his assistance.


This fable shows us how vain and ill-grounded the expectations of those
people are who imagine they can obtain whatever they want by
importuning heaven with their prayers; for it is so agreeable to the
nature of the Divine Being to be better pleased with virtuous actions
and an honest industry than idle prayers, that it is a sort of blasphemy
to say otherwise. These were the sentiments of honest good heathens, who
were strangers to all revealed religion: but it is not strange that they
should embrace and propagate such a notion, since it is no other than
the dictate of common reason. What is both strange in itself, and
surprising how it could be made so fashionable, is, that most of those
whose reason should be enlightened by revelation, are very apt to be
guilty of this stupidity, and, by praying often for the comforts of
life, to neglect that business which is the proper means of procuring
them. How such a mistaken devotion came to prevail one cannot imagine,
unless from one of these two motives; either that people, by such a veil
of hypocrisy, would pass themselves upon mankind for better than they
really are, or are influenced by unskilful preachers (which is
sometimes, indeed too often, the case) to mind the world as little as
possible, even to the neglect of their necessary callings. No question
but it is a great sin for a man to fail in his trade or occupation by
running often to prayers; it being a demonstration in itself, though the
Scripture had never said it, that we please God most when we are doing
the most good: and how can we do more good than, by a sober honest
industry, 'to provide for those of our own household,' and to endeavour
'to have to give to him that needeth?' The man who is virtuously and
honestly engaged, is actually serving God all the while, and is more
likely to have his silent wishes, accompanied with strenuous endeavours,
complied with by the Supreme Being, than he who begs with a fruitless
vehemence, and solicits with an empty hand: a hand which would be more
religious were it usefully employed, and more devout were it stretched
forth to do good to those that want it.



In former days, when the Belly and the other parts of the body enjoyed
the faculty of speech, and had separate views and designs of their own,
each part, it seems, in particular for himself, and in the name of the
whole, took exception at the conduct of the Belly, and were resolved to
grant him supplies no longer. They said they thought it very hard that
he should lead an idle good-for-nothing life, spending and squandering
away, upon his own ungodly guts, all the fruits of their labour; and
that, in short, they were resolved for the future, to strike off his
allowance, and let him shift for himself as well as he could. The Hands
protested they would not lift up a finger to keep him from starving;
and the Mouth wished he might never speak again if he took in the least
bit of nourishment for him as long as he lived; and, say the Teeth, may
we be rotten if ever we chew a morsel for him for the future. This
solemn league and covenant was kept as long as any thing of that kind
can be kept, which was until each of the rebel members pined away to the
skin and bone, and could hold out no longer. Then they found there was
no doing without the Belly, and that, as idle and insignificant as he
seemed, he contributed as much to the maintenance and welfare of all the
other parts as they did to his.


This fable was spoken by Menenius Agrippa, a famous Roman consul and
general, when he was deputed by the senate to appease a dangerous tumult
and insurrection of the people. The many wars that nation was engaged
in, and the frequent supplies they were obliged to raise, had so soured
and inflamed the minds of the populace, that they were resolved to
endure it no longer, and obstinately refused to pay the taxes which were
levied upon them. It is easy to discern how the great man applied this
fable. For, if the branches and members of a community refuse the
government that aid which its necessities require, the whole must perish
together. The rulers of a state, as idle and insignificant as they may
sometimes seem, are yet as necessary to be kept up and maintained in a
proper and decent grandeur, as the family of each private person is in a
condition suitable to itself. Every man's enjoyment of that little which
he gains by his daily labour, depends upon the government's being
maintained in a condition to defend and secure him in it.


[Illustration: THE HORSE AND THE LION.]

A Lion seeing a fine plump Nag, had a great mind to eat a bit of him,
but knew not which way to get him into his power. At last he bethought
himself of this contrivance: he gave out that he was a physician, who,
having gained experience by his travels into foreign countries, had made
himself capable of curing any sort of malady or distemper incident to
any kind of beast, hoping by this stratagem to get an easier admittance
among cattle, and find an opportunity to execute his design. The Horse,
who smoked the matter, was resolved to be even with him; and, so
humouring the thing, as if he suspected nothing, he prayed the Lion to
give him his advice in relation to a thorn he had got in his foot, which
had quite lamed him, and gave him great pain and uneasiness. The Lion
readily agreed and desired he might see the foot. Upon which the Horse
lifted up one of his hind legs, and, while the Lion pretended to be
poring earnestly upon his hoof, gave him such a kick in the face as
quite stunned him, and left him sprawling upon the ground. In the mean
time the Horse trotted away, neighing and laughing merrily at the
success of the trick, by which he had defeated the purpose of one who
intended to have tricked him out of his life.


Though all manner of fraud and tricking is mean, and utterly beneath a
man of sense and honour, yet, methinks, equity itself allows us to
disappoint the deceiver, and to repel craft by cunning. Treachery has
something so wicked and worthy of punishment in its nature, that it
deserves to meet with a return of its own kind: an open revenge would be
too liberal for it, and nothing matches it but itself. However,
therefore, abominable it is to be the aggressor in this point, yet it
cannot be inconsistent with virtue to counterplot and to take all manner
of advantage against the man who is undermining us.



The Husbandman pitched a net in his fields to take the Cranes and Geese
which came to feed upon the new-sown corn. Accordingly he took several,
both Cranes and Geese; and among them a Stork, who pleaded hard for his
life, and, among other apologies which he made, alleged, that he was
neither Goose nor Crane, but a poor harmless Stork, who performed his
duty to his parents to all intents and purposes, feeding them when they
were old, and, as occasion required, carrying them from place to place
upon his back.--'All this may be true,' replies the Husbandman; 'but, as
I have taken you in bad company, and in the same crime, you must expect
to suffer the same punishment.'


If bad company had nothing else to make us shun and avoid it, this,
methinks, might be sufficient, that it infects and taints a man's
reputation, to as great a degree as if he were thoroughly versed in the
wickedness of the whole gang. What is it to me if the thief who robs me
of my money gives part of it to build a church? Is he ever the less a
thief? Shall a woman's going to prayers twice a day save her reputation,
if she is known to be a malicious lying gossip? No, such mixtures of
religion and sin make the offence but the more flagrant, as they
convince us that it was not committed out of ignorance. Indeed, there is
no living without being guilty of some faults, more or less; which the
world ought to be good-natured enough to overlook, in consideration of
the general frailty of mankind, when they are not too gross and too
abundant: but when we are so abandoned to stupidity, and a neglect of
our reputation, as to keep bad company, however little we may be
criminal in reality, we must expect the same censure and punishment as
is due to the most notorious of our companions.


[Illustration: THE CAT AND THE COCK.]

The Cat, having a mind to make a meal of the Cock, seized him one
morning by surprise, and asked him what he could say for himself why
slaughter should not pass upon him?--The Cock replied, that he was
serviceable to mankind by crowing in the morning, and calling them up to
their daily labour.--'That is true,' says the Cat, 'and is the very
objection that I have against you; for you make such a shrill
impertinent noise, that people cannot sleep for you. Besides you are an
incestuous rascal, and make no scruple of lying with your mother and
sisters.'--'Well,' says the Cock, 'this I do not deny; but I do it to
procure eggs and chickens for my master.'--'Ah! villain,' says the Cat,
'hold your wicked tongue; such impieties as these declare that you are
no longer fit to live.'


When a wicked man in power has a mind to glut his appetite in any
respect, innocence, or even merit, is no protection against him. The
cries of justice and the voice of reason are of no effect upon a
conscience hardened in iniquity, and a mind versed in a long practice of
wrong and robbery. Remonstrances, however reasonably urged, or movingly
couched, have no more influence upon the heart of such a one, than the
gentle evening breeze has upon the oak when it whispers among its
branches, or the rising surges upon the deaf rock when they dash and
break against its sides. Power should never be trusted in the hands of
an impious selfish man, and one that has more regard to the
gratification of his own unbounded avarice than to public peace and
justice. Were it not for the tacit consent and heartless compliance of a
great majority of fools, mankind would not be ridden, as oftentimes they
are, by a little majority of knaves, to their great misfortune: for,
whatever people may think of the times, if they were ten times worse
than they are, it is principally owing to their own stupidity. Why do
they trust the man a moment longer who has once injured and betrayed


[Illustration: THE LEOPARD AND THE FOX.]

The Leopard one day took it into his head to value himself upon the
great variety and beauty of his spots, and truly he saw no reason why
even the Lion should take place of him, since he could not show so
beautiful a skin. As for the rest of the wild beasts of the forest, he
treated them all, without distinction, in the most haughty disdainful
manner. But the Fox being among them, went up to him with a great deal
of spirit and resolution, and told him, that he was mistaken in the
value he was pleased to set upon himself; since people of judgment were
not used to form their opinion of merit from an outside appearance, but
by considering the good qualities and endowments with which the mind was
stored within.


How much more heavenly and powerful would beauty prove, if it were not
so frequently impaired by the affectation and conceitedness of its
possessor! If some women were but as modest and unassuming as they are
handsome, they might command the hearts of all that behold them: but
Nature seemed to foresee, and has provided against such an
inconvenience, by tempering its great master-pieces with a due
proportion of pride and vanity; so that their power, depending upon the
duration of their beauty only, is like to be but of a short continuance;
which, when they happen to prove tyrants, is no small comfort to us; and
then, even while it lasts, will abate much of its severity by the allay
of those two prevailing ingredients. Wise men are chiefly captivated
with the charms of the mind; and whenever they are infatuated with a
passion for any thing else, it is generally observed that they cease,
during that time at least, to be what they were, and are indeed looked
upon to be only playing the fool. If the fair ones we have been speaking
of have a true ascendant over them, they will oblige them to divest
themselves of common sense, and to talk and act ridiculously, before
they can think them worthy of the least regard. Should one of these fine
creatures be addressed in the words of Juba,

  'Tis not a set of features, or complexion,
  The tincture of a skin, that I admire.
  Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
  Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
  The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex.
  True, she is fair; oh, how divinely fair!
  But still the lovely maid improves her charms
  With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom,
  And sanctity of manners.----

The man that should venture the success of a strong passion upon the
construction she would put upon such a compliment, might have reason to
repent of his conduct.


[Illustration: THE SHEPHERD'S BOY.]

A certain Shepherd's Boy kept his Sheep upon a common, and, in sport and
wantonness, would often cry out, The Wolf! The Wolf! By this means he
several times drew the Husbandmen, in an adjoining field, from their
work; who, finding themselves deluded, resolved for the future to take
no notice of his alarm. Soon after the Wolf came indeed. The Boy cried
out in earnest: but no heed being given to his cries, the Sheep were
devoured by the Wolf.


He that is detected for being a notorious liar, besides the ignominy and
reproach of the thing, incurs this mischief, that he will scarce be able
to get any one to believe him again as long as he lives. However true
our complaint may be, or how much soever it may be for our interest to
have it believed, yet, if we have been frequently caught tripping
before, we shall hardly be able to gain credit to what we relate
afterwards. Though mankind are generally stupid enough to be often
imposed upon, yet few are so senseless as to believe a notorious liar,
or to trust a cheat upon record. These little shams, when found out, are
sufficiently prejudicial to the interest of every private person who
practises them. But, when we are alarmed with imaginary dangers in
respect of the public, till the cry grows quite stale and threadbare,
how can it be expected we should know when to guard ourselves against
real ones.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE GOAT.]

A Fox, having tumbled by chance into a Well, had been casting about a
long while, to no purpose, how he should get out again; when at last a
Goat came to the place, and, wanting to drink, asked Reynard whether the
water was good. 'Good!' says he; 'ay, so sweet, that I am afraid I have
surfeited myself, I have drank so abundantly.' The Goat upon this,
without any more ado, leaped in; and the Fox, taking the advantage of
his horns, by the assistance of them as nimbly leaped out, leaving the
poor Goat at the bottom of the Well to shift for himself.


The doctrine taught us by this fable is no more than this, that we ought
to consider who it is that advises us before we follow the advice: for,
however plausible the counsel may seem, if the person that gives it is a
crafty knave, we may be assured that he intends to serve himself in it
more than us, if not to erect something to his own advantage out of our

The little, poor, country attorney, ready to perish, and sunk to the
lowest depth of poverty for want of employment, by such arts as these
draws the esquire, his neighbour, into the gulf of the law; till, laying
hold on the branches of his revenue, he lifts himself out of obscurity,
and leaves the other immured in the bottom of a mortgage.


[Illustration: CUPID AND DEATH.]

Cupid, one sultry summer's noon, tired with play, and faint with heat,
went into a cool grotto to repose himself, which happened to be the cave
of Death. He threw himself carelessly down on the floor, and his quiver
turning topsy-turvy, all the arrows fell out, and mingled with those of
Death, which lay scattered up and down the place. When he awoke, he
gathered them up as well as he could; but they were so intermingled
that, though he knew the certain number, he could not rightly
distinguish them; from which it happened that he took up some of the
arrows which belonged to Death, and left several of his own in the room
of them. This is the cause that we, now and then, see the hearts of the
old and decrepit transfixed with the bolts of Love; and with equal grief
and surprise behold the youthful blooming part of our species smitten
with the darts of Death.


If we allow for this fable's being written by a heathen, and according
to the scheme of the ancient pagan theology, it will appear to be a
pretty probable solution of some parts of the dispensation of
Providence, which otherwise seem to be obscure and unaccountable. For,
when we see the young and the old fall promiscuously by the hand of
Death, and at the same time consider that the world is governed by an
all-wise Providence, we are puzzled how to account for so seemingly
preposterous and unnatural a way of working. We should look upon a
gardener to be mad, or at least very capricious, who, when his young
trees are just arrived to a degree of bearing, should cut them down for
fuel, and choose out old, rotten, decayed, sapless stocks to graft and
inoculate upon: yet the irregular proceedings of those two levellers,
Love and Death, appear to be every jot as odd and unreasonable. However,
we must take it for granted that these things, though the method of them
is hidden from our eyes, are transacted after the most just and fit
manner imaginable: but, humanly speaking, it is strange that Death
should be suffered to make such undistinguished havoc in the world; and,
at the same time, just as shocking and unnatural to see old age laid
betwixt a pair of wedding sheets, as it is for youth and beauty to be
locked up in the cold embraces of the grave.


[Illustration: THE OLD MAN AND HIS SONS.]

An Old Man had many Sons, who were often falling out with one another.
When the Father had exerted his authority, and used other means in order
to reconcile them, and all to no purpose, at last he had recourse to
this expedient: he ordered his Sons to be called before him, and a short
bundle of sticks to be brought; and then commanded them, one by one, to
try if, with all their might and strength, they could any of them break
it. They all tried, but to no purpose; for the sticks being closely and
compactly bound up together, it was impossible for the force of man to
do it. After this the Father ordered the bundle to be untied, and gave a
single stick to each of his Sons; at the same time bidding him try to
break it: which, when each did with all imaginable ease, the Father
addressed himself to them to this effect--'O my Sons, behold the power
of unity! For if you, in like manner, would but keep yourselves strictly
conjoined in the bonds of friendship, it would not be in the power of
any mortal to hurt you; but when once the ties of brotherly affection
are dissolved, how soon do you fall to pieces, and are liable to be
violated by every injurious hand that assaults you!'


Nothing is more necessary towards completing and continuing the
well-being of mankind, than their entering into and preserving
friendships and alliances. The safety of a government depends chiefly
upon this; and therefore it is weakened and exposed to its enemies, in
proportion as it is divided by parties. "A kingdom divided against
itself, is brought to desolation:" and the same holds good among all
societies and corporations of men, from the constitution of the nation
down to every little parochial vestry. But the necessity of friendship
extends itself to all sorts of relations in life, as it conduces
mightily to the advantage of particular clans and families. Those of the
same blood and lineage have a natural disposition to unite together,
which they ought by all means to cultivate and improve. It must be a
great comfort to people, when they fall under any calamity, to know
there are many others who sympathize with them; a great load of grief is
mightily lessened, when it is parcelled out into many shares. And then
joy, of all our passions, loves to be communicative, and generally
increases in proportion to the number of those who partake of it with
us. We defy the threats and malice of an enemy, when we are assured that
he cannot attack us single, but must encounter a bundle of allies at the
same time. But they that behave themselves so as to have few or no
friends in the world, live in perpetual fear and jealousy of mankind,
because they are sensible of their own weakness, and know themselves
liable to be crushed, or broken to pieces, by the first aggressor.


[Illustration: THE STAG AND THE FAWN.]

A Stag, grown old and mischievous, was, according to custom, stamping
with his foot, making offers with his head, and bellowing so terribly,
that the whole herd quaked for fear of him: when one of the little Fawns
coming up, addressed him to this purpose--'Pray, what is the reason that
you, who are so stout and formidable at all other times, if you do but
hear the cry of the hounds, are ready to fly out of your skin for
fear?'--'What you observe is true,' replied the Stag, 'though I know not
how to account for it: I am indeed vigorous, and able enough, I think,
to make my party good any where, and often resolve with myself, that
nothing shall ever dismay my courage for the future; but, alas! I no
sooner hear the voice of a hound but all my spirits fail me, and I
cannot help making off as fast as ever my legs can carry me.'


This is the case of many a cowardly bully in the world. He is disposed
to be imperious and tyrannical, and to insult his companions, and takes
all opportunities of acting according to his inclination; but yet is
cautious where he makes his haunts, and takes care to have to do only
with a herd of rascally people, as vile and mean as himself. A man of
courage quashes him with a word; and he who has threatened death in
every sentence, for a twelvemonth together, to those whom he knew it
would affright, at the very frown of an intrepid man has leaped out of a
window. It is no unpleasant sight to be present when any of these
gentlemen happen to be disarmed of their terror before the face of their
humble admirers: there is a strange boisterous struggle betwixt fear,
shame, and revenge, which blinds them with confusion; and, though they
would fain exert a little courage, and show themselves men, yet, they
know not how; there is something within which will not suffer them to do
it. The predominance of nature will show itself, upon occasion, in its
true colours, through all the disguises which artful men endeavour to
throw over it. Cowardice, particularly, gives us but the more suspicion
when it would conceal itself under an affected fierceness; as they who
would smother an ill smell by a cloud of perfume, are imagined to be
but the more offensive. When we have done all, Nature will remain what
she was, and show herself whenever she is called upon; therefore
whatever we do in contradiction to her laws, is so forced and affected,
that it must needs expose and make us ridiculous. We talk nonsense when
we would argue against it: like Teague, who being asked why he fled from
his colours, said, his heart was as good as any in the regiment; but
protested his cowardly legs would run away with him whatever he could


[Illustration: THE OLD HOUND.]

An Old Hound, who had been an excellent good one in his time, and given
his master great sport and satisfaction in many a chase, at last, by the
effect of years, became feeble and unserviceable. However, being in the
field one day, when the stag was almost run down, he happened to be the
first that came in with him, and seized him by one of his haunches; but,
his decayed and broken teeth not being able to keep their hold, the deer
escaped, and threw him quite out. Upon which his master, being in a
great passion, and going to strike him, the honest old creature is said
to have barked out his apology--'Ah! do not strike your poor old
servant; it is not my heart and inclination, but my strength and speed,
that fail me. If what I now am displeases, pray don't forget what I have


This fable may serve to give us a general view of the ingratitude of
the greatest part of mankind. Notwithstanding all the civility and
complaisance that is used among people where there is a common
intercourse of business, yet let the main spring, the probability of
their being serviceable to each other, either in point of pleasure or
profit, be but once broken, and farewell courtesy: so far from
continuing any regard in behalf of past favours, it is very well if they
forbear doing any thing that is injurious. If the master had only ceased
to caress and make much of the Old Hound, when he was past doing any
service, it had not been very strange; but to treat a poor creature ill,
not for a failure of inclination, but merely a defect of nature, must,
notwithstanding the crowd of examples there are to countenance it, be
pronounced inhuman and unreasonable.

There are two accounts upon which people that have been useful are
frequently neglected. One, when they are so decayed, either through age
or some accident, that they are no longer able to do the services they
have formerly done; the other, when the occasion or emergency which
required such talents no longer exists. Phædrus, who more than once
complains of the bad consequences of age, makes no other application to
this fable than by telling his friend Philetus, with some regret, that
he wrote it with such a view; having, it seems, been repaid with
neglect, or worse usage, for services done in his youth to those who
were then able to afford him a better recompense.


[Illustration: JUPITER AND THE CAMEL.]

The Camel presented a petition to Jupiter, complaining of the hardship
of his case in not having, like bulls and other creatures, horns, or any
weapons of defence, to protect himself from the attacks of his enemies,
and praying that relief might be given him in such manner as might be
thought most expedient. Jupiter could not help smiling at the
impertinent address of the great silly beast, but, however, rejected the
petition; and told him that, so far from granting his unreasonable
request, henceforward he would take care his ears should be shortened,
as a punishment for his presumptuous importunity.


The nature of things is so fixed in every particular, that they are very
weak superstitious people who dream it is to be altered. But, besides
the impossibility of producing a change by addresses of this nature,
they who employ much of their time upon such accounts, instead of
getting, are sure to lose in the end. When any man is so frivolous and
vexatious as to make unreasonable complaints, and to harbour undue
repinings in his heart, his peevishness will lessen the real good which
he possesses, and the sourness of his temper shorten that allowance of
comfort which he already thinks too scanty. Thus, in truth, it is not
Providence, but ourselves who punish our own importunity in soliciting
for impossibilities, with a sharp corroding care, which abridges us of
some part of that little pleasure which Providence has cast into our


[Illustration: THE FOX WITHOUT A TAIL.]

A Fox, being caught in a steel trap by his tail, was glad to compound
for his escape with the loss of it; but, upon coming abroad into the
world, began to be so sensible of the disgrace such a defect would bring
upon him, that he almost wished he had died rather than left it behind
him. However, to make the best of a bad matter, he formed a project in
his head to call an assembly of the rest of the Foxes, and propose it
for their imitation, as a fashion which would be very agreeable and
becoming. He did so, and made a long harangue upon the unprofitableness
of tails in general, and endeavoured chiefly to show the awkwardness and
inconvenience of a Fox's tail in particular: adding, that it would be
both more graceful and more expeditious to be altogether without them;
and that, for his part, what he had only imagined and conjectured
before, he now found by experience; for that he never enjoyed himself so
well, and found himself so easy as he had done since he cut off his
tail. He said no more, but looked about with a brisk air, to see what
proselytes he had gained; when a sly old thief in the company, who
understood trap, answered him with a leer--'I believe you may have found
a conveniency in parting with your tail, and when we are in the same
circumstances, perhaps we may do so too.'


If men were but generally as prudent as Foxes, they would not suffer so
many silly fashions to obtain as are daily brought in vogue, for which
scarce any reason can be assigned besides the humour of some conceited
vain creature; unless, which is full as bad, they are intended to
palliate some defect in the person that introduces them. The petticoat
of a whole sex has been sometimes swelled to such a prodigious extent,
to screen an enormity of which only one of them has been guilty. And it
is no wonder that Alexander the Great could bring a wry-neck into
fashion, in a nation of slaves, when we consider what power of this
nature some little, insignificant, dapper fellows have had among a free


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE CROW.]

A Crow having taken a piece of cheese out of a cottage window, flew up
into a high tree with it, in order to eat it; which a Fox observing,
came and sat underneath, and began to compliment the Crow upon the
subject of her beauty. 'I protest,' says he, 'I never observed it
before, but your feathers are of a more delicate white than any that
ever I saw in my life! Ah; what a fine shape and graceful turn of body
is there! And I make no question but you have a tolerable voice. If it
is but as fine as your complexion, I do not know a bird that can pretend
to stand in competition with you.' The Crow, tickled with this very
civil language, nestled and riggled about, and hardly knew where she
was; but thinking the Fox a little dubious as to the particular of her
voice, and having a mind to set him right in that matter, began to sing,
and in the same instant let the cheese drop out of her mouth. This being
what the Fox wanted, he chopped it up in a moment, and trotted away,
laughing to himself at the easy credulity of the Crow.


They that love flattery (as it is to be feared too many do) are in a
fair way to repent of their foible in the long run. And yet how few are
there among the whole race of mankind who may be said to be full proof
against its attacks! The gross way by which it is managed by some silly
practitioners, is enough to alarm the dullest apprehension, and make it
to value itself upon the quickness of its insight into the little plots
of this nature: but let the ambuscade be disposed with due judgment, and
it will scarce fail of seizing the most guarded heart. How many are
tickled to the last degree with the pleasure of flattery, even while
they are applauded for their honest detestation of it! There is no way
to baffle the force of this engine but by every one's examining,
impartially for himself, the true estimate of his own qualities: if he
deals sincerely in the matter, nobody can tell so well as himself what
degree of esteem ought to attend any of his actions, and therefore he
should be entirely easy as to the opinion men are like to have of them
in the world. If they attribute more to him than is his due, they are
either designing or mistaken: if they allow him less, they are envious,
or, possibly, still mistaken; and, in either case, are to be despised or
disregarded. For he that flatters, without designing to take advantage
of it, is a fool; and whoever encourages that flattery which he has
sense enough to see through, is a vain coxcomb.


[Illustration: THE HAWK AND THE FARMER.]

A Hawk, pursuing a Pigeon over a corn-field with great eagerness and
force, threw himself into a net which a husbandman had planted there to
take the Crows; who being employed not far off, and seeing the Hawk
fluttering in the net, came and took him: but, just as he was going to
kill him, the Hawk besought him to let him go, assuring him that he was
only following a Pigeon, and neither intended nor had done any harm to
him. To whom the Farmer replied--'And what harm had the poor Pigeon done
to you?' Upon which he wrung his head off immediately.


Passion, prejudice, or power, may so far blind a man as not to suffer
him justly to distinguish whether he is not acting injuriously at the
same time that he fancies he is only doing his duty. Now the best way
of being convinced, whether what we do is reasonable and fit, is to put
ourselves in the place of the persons with whom we are concerned, and
then consult our conscience about the rectitude of our behaviour. For
this we may be assured of, that we are acting wrong whenever we are
doing any thing to another which we should think unjust if it was done
to us. Nothing but an habitual inadvertency, as to this particular, can
be the occasion that so many ingenious noble spirits are often engaged
in courses so opposite to virtue and honour. He that would startle, if a
little attorney should tamper with him to forswear himself, to bring off
some small offender, some ordinary trespasser, will, without scruple,
infringe the constitution of his country for the precarious prospect of
a place or a pension. Which is most corrupt, he that lies, like a knight
of the post, for half-a-crown and a dinner, or he that does it for the
more substantial consideration of a thousand pounds a year? Which would
be doing most service to the public, giving true testimony in a cause
between two private men, and against one little common thief who has
stolen a gold watch; or voting honestly and courageously against a rogue
of state, who has gagged and bound the laws, and stripped the nation?
Let those who intend to act justly, but view things in this light, and
all would be well. There would be no danger of their oppressing others,
or fear of being oppressed themselves.


[Illustration: THE NURSE AND THE WOLF.]

A nurse, who was endeavouring to quiet a froward bawling child, among
other attempts, threatened to throw it out of doors to the Wolf, if it
did not leave off crying. A Wolf, who chanced to be prowling near the
door, just at that time, heard the expression, and believing the woman
to be in earnest, waited a long while about the house, in expectation of
seeing her words made good. But at last the child, wearied with its own
importunities, fell asleep, and the poor Wolf was forced to return back
to the woods empty and supperless. The Fox meeting him, and surprised to
see him going home so thin and disconsolate, asked him what the matter
was, and how he came to speed no better that night?--'Ah! do not ask
me,' says he; 'I was so silly as to believe what the Nurse said, and
have been disappointed.'


All the moralists have agreed to interpret this fable as a caution to us
never to trust a woman. What reasons they could have for giving so rough
and uncourtly a precept, is not easy to be imagined: for, however fickle
and unstable some women may be, it is well known there are several who
have a greater regard for truth, in what they assert or promise, than
most men. There is not room, in so short a compass, to express a due
concern for the honour of the ladies upon this occasion, nor to show how
much one is disposed to vindicate them: and, though there is nothing bad
which can be said to them but may with equal justice be averred of the
other sex, yet one would not venture to give them quite so absolute a
precaution as the old mythologists have affixed to this fable; but only
to advise them to consider well and thoroughly of the matter before they
trust any man living.



A Hare insulted a tortoise upon account of his slowness, and vainly
boasted of her own great speed in running.--'Let us make a match,'
replied the Tortoise; 'I will run with you five miles for five pounds,
and the Fox yonder shall be the umpire of the race.' The Hare agreed;
and away they both started together. But the Hare, by reason of her
exceeding swiftness, outran the Tortoise to such a degree, that she made
a jest of the matter; and, finding herself a little tired, squatted in a
tuft of fern that grew by the way, and took a nap; thinking that, if the
Tortoise went by, she could at any time fetch him up with all the ease
imaginable. In the meanwhile the Tortoise came jogging on with slow but
continued motion; and the Hare, out of a too great security and
confidence of victory, oversleeping herself, the Tortoise arrived at the
end of the race first.


Industry and application to business makes amends for the want of a
quick and ready wit. Hence it is, that the victory is not always to the
strong, nor the race to the swift. Men of fine parts are apt to despise
the drudgery of business; but, by affecting to show the superiority of
their genius, upon many occasions, they run into too great an extreme
the other way; and the administration of their affairs is ruined through
idleness and neglect. What advantage has a man from the fertility of his
invention, and the vivacity of his imagination, unless his resolutions
are executed with a suitable and uninterrupted rapidity? In short, your
men of wit and fire, as they are called, are oftentimes sots, slovens,
and lazy fellows: they are generally proud and conceited to the last
degree; and, in the main, not the fittest persons for either
conversation or business. Such is their vanity, they think the
sprightliness of their humour inconsistent with a plain sober way of
thinking and speaking, and able to atone for all the little neglects of
their business and persons. But the world will not be thus imposed upon;
the man who would gain the esteem of others, and make his own fortune,
must be one that carries his point effectually, and finishes his course
without swerving or loitering. Men of dull parts, and a slow
apprehension, assisted by a continued diligence, are more likely to
attain this than your brisk retailers of wit, with their affected spleen
and indolence. And if business be but well done, no matter whether it be
done by the sallies of a refined wit, or the considering head of a plain
plodding man.


[Illustration: THE YOUNG MAN AND HIS CAT.]

A certain Young Man used to play with a Cat, of which he grew so fond,
that at last he fell in love with it, and to such a degree, that he
could rest neither night nor day for the excess of his passion. At last
he prayed to Venus, the goddess of beauty, to pity him, and relieve his
pain. The good-natured goddess was propitious, and heard his prayers:
before he rose up from kneeling, the Cat, which he held in his arms, was
transformed into a beautiful girl. The Youth was transported with joy,
and married her that very day. At night they went to bed, and as the new
bride lay encircled in the embraces of her amorous husband, she
unfortunately heard a Mouse behind the hangings, and sprung from his
arms to pursue it. Venus, offended to see her sacred rites profaned by
such an indecent behaviour, and perceiving that her new convert, though
a woman in outward appearance, was a Cat in her heart, she made her
return to her old form again, that her manners and person might be
agreeable to each other.


People, as to their manners and behaviour, take a strong bias from
custom and education, but a much stronger from Nature. Her laws are so
strong, that it is in vain for us to go to oppose them; we may refine
and improve, but can never totally alter her works. Upon this account it
is that we oftentimes see silly awkward blockheads displaying their
idiotism and folly through all their ensigns of dignity; for some
natures are so coarse and rustic, that all the embroidery of a court
cannot conceal them. Doubtless such people were intended by Nature for
nothing above driving Hogs to a fair, and laughing at the jokes of a
country Merry Andrew. Fortune has found them worthy of her favours, and
given them a lift out of the mire: but yet they do not fail to give
frequent indications of their true composition, by a thousand little
dirty actions. A fine equipage, and a great estate, may raise a man to
an exalted station, and procure a respect to his outward person;
notwithstanding which it may so happen, that every time he speaks and
acts he cannot help playing the fool for the blood of him.


[Illustration: THE ASS IN THE LION'S SKIN.]

An Ass finding the skin of a Lion, put it on; and, going into the woods
and pastures, threw all the flocks and herds into a terrible
consternation. At last, meeting his owner, he would have frightened him
also; but the good man, seeing his long ears slick out, presently knew
him, and with a good cudgel made him sensible that, notwithstanding his
being dressed in a Lion's Skin, he was really no more than an Ass.


As all affectation is wrong, and tends to expose and make a man
ridiculous, so the more distant he is from the thing which he affects to
appear, the stronger will the ridicule be which he excites, and the
greater the inconveniences into which he runs himself thereby. How
strangely absurd it is for a timorous person to procure a military post
in order to keep himself out of danger! and to fancy a red coat the
surest protection for cowardice! yet there have been those who have
purchased a commission to avoid being insulted; and have been so silly
as to think courage was interwoven with a sash, or tied up in a cockade.
But it would not be amiss for such gentlemen to consider, that it is not
in the power of scarlet cloth to alter nature; and that, as it is
expected a soldier should show himself a man of courage and intrepidity
upon all proper occasions, they may, by this means, meet the disgrace
they intended to avoid, and appear greater asses than they need to have
done. However, it is not in point of fortitude only that people are
liable to expose themselves, by assuming a character to which they are
not equal; but he who puts on a show of learning, of religion, of a
superior capacity in any respect, or, in short, of any virtue or
knowledge to which he has no proper claim, is, and will always be found
to be, "An Ass in a Lion's Skin."



The Mountains were said to be in labour, and uttered most dreadful
groans. People came together far and near to see what birth would be
produced; and, after they wailed a considerable time in expectation, out
crept a Mouse.


Great cry and little wool is the English proverb; the sense of which
bears an exact proportion to this fable; by which are exposed all those
who promise something exceeding great, but come off with a production
ridiculously little. Projectors of all kinds, who endeavour by
artificial rumours to raise the expectations of mankind, and then by
their mean performances defeat and disappoint them, have, time out of
mind, been lashed with the recital of this fable. How agreeably
surprising is it to see an unpromising favourite, whom the caprice of
fortune has placed at the helm of state, serving the commonwealth with
justice and integrity, instead of smothering and embezzling the public
treasure to his own private and wicked ends! and, on the contrary, how
melancholy, how dreadful, or rather, how exasperating and provoking a
sight is it to behold one, whose constant declarations for liberty and
the public good have raised people's expectations of him to the highest
pitch, as soon as he is got into power exerting his whole art and
cunning to ruin and enslave his country! The sanguine hopes of all those
that wished well to virtue, and flattered themselves with a reformation
of every thing that opposed the well-being of the community, vanish away
in smoke, and are lost in a dark, gloomy, uncomfortable prospect.



A Satyr, as he was ranging the forest in an exceeding cold snowy season,
met with a Traveller, half-starved with the extremity of the weather. He
took compassion on him, and kindly invited him home to a warm
comfortable cave he had in the hollow of a rock. As soon as they had
entered and sat down, notwithstanding there was a good fire in the
place, the chilly Traveller could not forbear blowing his fingers' ends.
Upon the Satyr's asking him why he did so, he answered, that he did it
to warm his hands. The honest sylvan having seen little of the world,
admired a man who was master of so valuable a quality as that of blowing
heat, and therefore was resolved to entertain him in the best manner he
could. He spread the table before him with dried fruits of several
sorts; and produced a remnant of cold cordial wine, which, as the rigour
of the season made very proper, he mulled with some warm spices, infused
over the fire, and presented to his shivering guest. But this the
Traveller thought fit to blow likewise; and, upon the Satyr's demanding
a reason why he blowed again, he replied, to cool his dish. This second
answer provoked the Satyr's indignation as much as the first had kindled
his surprise: so, taking the man by the shoulder, he thrust him out of
doors, saying, he would have nothing to do with a wretch who had so vile
a quality as to blow hot and cold with the same mouth.


Though the poor Traveller in the fable was not guilty of any real crime
in what he did, yet one cannot help approving the honest simplicity of
the Satyr, who could not be reconciled to such double dealing. In the
moral sense of the fable, nothing can be more offensive to one of a
sincere heart, than he that blows with a different breath from the same
mouth; who flatters a man to his face, and reviles him behind his back.
Some again, just like this man, to serve a present view, will blow
nothing but what is warm, benevolent, and cherishing; and, when they
have raised the expectations of a dependent to a degree which they think
may prove troublesome, can, with putting on a cold air, easily chill and
blast all his blooming hopes. But such a temper, whether it proceeds
from a designed or natural levity, is detestable, and has been the cause
of much trouble and mortification to many a brave deserving man. Unless
the tenor of a man's life be always true and consistent with itself, the
less one has to do with him the better.


[Illustration: THE SICK KITE.]

A Kite had been sick a long time, and finding there were no hopes of
recovery, begged of his mother to go to all the churches and religious
houses in the country, to try what prayers and promises would effect in
his behalf. The old Kite replied--'Indeed, dear son, I would willingly
undertake any thing to save your life, but I have great reason to
despair of doing you any service in the way you propose: for, with what
face can I ask any thing of the gods in favour of one whose whole life
has been a continual scene of rapine and injustice, and who has not
scrupled, upon occasion, to rob the very altars themselves?'


The rehearsal of this fable almost unavoidably draws our attention to
that very serious and important point, the consideration of a death-bed
repentance. And, to expose the absurdity of relying upon such a weak
foundation, we need only ask the same question with the Kite in the
fable: how can he that has offended the gods all his life-time, by doing
acts of dishonour and injustice, expect that they should be pleased with
him at last, for no other reason but because he fears he shall not be
able to offend them any longer? when, in truth, such a repentance can
signify nothing but a confirmation of his former impudence and folly:
for sure no stupidity can exceed that of the man who expects a future
judgment, and yet can bear to commit any piece of injustice with a sense
and deliberation of the fact.



A Nightingale, sitting all alone among the shady branches of an oak,
sung with so melodious and shrill a pipe, that she made the woods echo
again, and alarmed a hungry Hawk, who was at some distance off watching
for his prey; he had no sooner discovered the little musician, but,
making a stoop at the place, he seized her with his crooked talons, and
bid her prepare for death.--'Ah!' says she, 'for mercy's sake don't do
so barbarous a thing, and so unbecoming yourself; consider, I never did
you any wrong, and am but a poor small morsel for such a stomach as
yours; rather attack some larger fowl, which may bring you more credit
and a better meal, and let me go.'--'Aye!' says the Hawk, 'persuade me
to it if you can: I have been upon the watch all day long, and have not
met with one bit of any thing till I caught you; and now you would have
me let you go, in hopes of something better, would you? Pray, who would
be the fool then?'


They who neglect the opportunity of reaping a small advantage, in hopes
they shall obtain a better, are far from acting upon a reasonable and
well-advised foundation. The figure of Time is always drawn with a
single lock of hair hanging over his forehead, and the back part of his
head bald; to put us in mind that we should be sure to lay hold of an
occasion, when it presents itself to us, lest afterwards we repent us of
our omission and folly, and would recover it when it is too late. It is
a very weak reason to give for our refusal of an offer of kindness, that
we do it because we desire or deserve a better; for it is time enough to
relinquish the small affair when the great one comes, if ever it does
come. But, supposing it should not, how can we forgive ourselves for
letting any thing slip through our hands, by vainly gaping after
something else, which we never could obtain? He who has not been guilty
of any of these kind of errors, however poorly he may come off at last,
has only the malice of fortune, or of somebody else, to charge with his
ill success; and may applaud himself with some comfort, in never having
lost an opportunity, though ever so small, of bettering and improving
his circumstances. Unthinking people have oftentimes the unhappiness to
fret and tease themselves with retrospects of this kind, which they, who
attend to the business of life as they ought, never have occasion to



The Peacock presented a memorial to Juno, importing how hardly he
thought he was used in not having so good a voice as the Nightingale;
how that pretty animal was agreeable to every ear that heard it, while
he was laughed at for his ugly screaming noise, if he did but open his
mouth. The goddess, concerned at the uneasiness of her favourite bird,
answered him very kindly to this purpose: 'If the Nightingale is blest
with a fine voice, you have the advantage in point of beauty and
largeness of person.'--'Ah!' says he, 'but what avails my silent
unmeaning beauty, when I am so far excelled in voice!'--The goddess
dismissed him, bidding him consider, that the properties of every
creature were appointed by the decree of fate: to him beauty; strength
to the Eagle; to the Nightingale a voice of melody; the faculty of
speech to the Parrot; and to the Dove innocence. That each of these was
contented with his own peculiar quality; and unless he had a mind to be
miserable, he must learn to be so too.


Since all things, as Juno says, are fixed by the eternal and unalterable
decree of fate, how absurd it is to hear people complaining and
tormenting themselves for that which it is impossible ever to obtain!
They who are ambitious of having more good qualities, since that is
impracticable, should spare for no pains to cultivate and recommend
those they have; which a sourness and peevishness of temper, instead of
improving, will certainly lessen and impair, whether they are of the
mind or body. If we had all the desirable properties in the world, we
could be no more than easy and contented with them; and if a man, by a
right way of thinking, can reconcile himself to his own condition,
whatever it be, he will fall little short of the most complete state
that mortals ever enjoyed.



A man was angling in a river, and caught a small Perch; which, as he was
taking off the hook and going to put into his basket, opened its mouth,
and began to implore his pity, begging that he would throw it into the
river again. Upon the man's demanding what reason he had to expect such
a favour?--'Why,' says the Fish, 'because, at present, I am but young
and little, and consequently not so well worth your while as I shall be
if you take me some time hence, when I am grown larger.'--'That may be,'
replies the man, 'but I am not one of those fools who quit a certainty,
in expectation of an uncertainty.'


This fable points much the same way as the seventy-sixth, so that one
moral may very well serve for both. But the lesson they teach is so
useful and instructive, that a repetition of it is by no means
superfluous. The precept which they would instil into us is, never to
let slip the present opportunity, but to secure to ourselves every
little advantage, just in the nick that it offers, without a vain
reliance upon, and fruitless expectation of, something better in time to
come. We may cheer up our spirits with hoping for that which we cannot
at present obtain; but at the same time let us be sure we give no
occasion of condemning ourselves for omitting any thing which it was in
our power to secure.



A flock of Geese and a parcel of Cranes used often to feed together in a
corn field. At last the owner of the corn, with his servants, coming
upon them of a sudden, surprised them in the very fact; and the geese,
being heavy, fat, full-bodied creatures, were most of them sufferers;
but the Cranes, being thin and light, easily flew away.


When the enemy comes to make a seizure, they are sure to suffer most
whose circumstances are the richest and fattest. In any case of
persecution, money hangs like a dead weight about a man; and we never
feel gold so heavy as when we endeavour to make off with it. Therefore
wise and politic ministers of state, whenever they see a storm begin to
gather over their heads, always take care to unlade themselves of a good
part of their cargo; and, by this means, seldom find but the blasts of
obloquy, through which they are to make their way, are less deaf and
inexorable than the stormy waves of the ocean. Indeed, poverty is too
frequently the occasion of mens' being treated as if they were guilty of
the greatest crimes and reproaches; but then these sort of criminals
have this advantage, that no one thinks fit to treat them with any thing
worse than contempt: whereas if any pretence can be found to fall upon
the man who is rich, it is a miracle if he escapes with both life and
money. In short, riches are like the baggage of an army: very useful
while we lie in quiet possession of the camp, or are powerful enough to
defy the enemy; but when once we are put to the rout, if we would get
off with our lives or liberties, we must quit our baggage as soon as
possible, and leave it for plunder to our pursuers. Nay, however
strongly intrenched we may think ourselves, as long as money is in the
case, it is good to look about us for fear of a surprise: for, after
all, he that does not, upon occasion, make himself wings with his riches
to fly off with, deserves to be punished, like a Goose as he is, for his


[Illustration: THE DOG AND THE SHADOW.]

A Dog, crossing a little rivulet with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw
his own Shadow represented in the clear mirror of the limpid stream;
and, believing it to be another dog, who was carrying another piece of
flesh, he could not forbear catching at it; but was so far from getting
any thing his greedy design, that he dropped the piece he had in his
mouth, which immediately sunk to the bottom, and was irrecoverably lost.


He that catches at more than belongs to him justly deserves to lose what
he has. Yet nothing is more common, and, at the same time, more
pernicious, than this selfish principle. It prevails from the king to
the peasant; and all orders and degrees of men are, more or less,
infected with it. Great monarchs have been drawn in, by this greedy
humour, to grasp at the dominions of their neighbours; not that they
wanted any thing more to feed their luxury, but to gratify their
insatiable appetite for vain-glory. If the kings of Persia could have
been contented with their own vast territories, they had not lost all
Asia for the sake of a little petty state of Greece. And France, with
all its glory, has, ere now, been reduced to the last extremity by the
same unjust encroachments.

He that thinks he sees another's estate in a pack of cards, or a box and
dice, and ventures his own in the pursuit of it, should not repine if he
finds himself a beggar in the end.



The Ass observing how great a favourite the Little Dog was with his
master, how much caressed and fondled, and fed with good bits at every
meal; and for no other reason, as he could perceive, but skipping and
frisking about, wagging his tail, and leaping up into his master's lap;
he was resolved to imitate the same, and see whether such a behaviour
would not procure him the same favours. Accordingly, the master was no
sooner come home from walking about his fields and gardens, and was
seated in his easy chair, but the Ass, who observed him, came gamboling
and braying towards him, in a very awkward manner. The master could not
help laughing aloud at the odd sight. But his jest was soon turned into
earnest, when he felt the rough salute of the Ass's fore-feet, who,
raising himself upon his hinder legs, pawed against his breast with a
most loving air, and would fain have jumped into his lap. The good man,
terrified at this outrageous behaviour, and unable to endure the weight
of so heavy a beast, cried out; upon which, one of his servants running
in with a good stick, and laying on heartily upon the bones of the poor
Ass, soon convinced him that every one who desires it is not qualified
to be a favourite.


Some men are as engaging in their ways as little dogs. They can fawn,
wheedle, cringe, or, if occasion requires, leap backward and forward
over a stick, to the great emolument of their master, and entertainment
of those that behold them. But these are qualifications to which every
body cannot pretend; and therefore none but those who have a genius for
it should aspire at the employment. Many a man envies the happiness of
these favourites, and would fain insinuate himself into the same good
graces, if he did but know the way; but, whoever has a tolerable share
of discretion, will distrust his abilities in this respect, and modestly
forbear the attempt, for fear he should miscarry and look like an Ass.
But, in short, the true moral of this fable is, that every one should
consider the just turn and temper of his parts, and weigh the talents by
which he hopes to be distinguished. After such an examination, he may
the more certainly know how to apply them to the most proper purposes;
at least, so as not to hurt, or even mortify himself, by any mistaken
address. Since there is such a variety of tempers in the world, and a no
less multiplicity of arts and studies to fit and tally with them, how
reasonable is it in general, and how much would it be for the true
interest of every one in particular, if men would but be directed, by
the natural bent of their genius, to such pursuits as are most agreeable
to their capacities, and to the rudiments of education which they have
most strongly imbibed.


[Illustration: THE WOLF AND THE CRANE.]

A Wolf, after devouring his prey, happened to have a bone stick in his
throat, which gave him so much pain, that he went howling up and down,
and importuning every creature he met to lend him a kind hand, in order
to his relief; nay, he promised a reasonable reward to any one that
should undertake the operation with success. At last the Crane, tempted
with the lucre of the reward, and having first procured him to confirm
his promise with an oath, undertook the business, and ventured his long
neck into the rapacious felon's throat. In short, he plucked out the
bone, and expected the promised gratuity. When the Wolf, turning his
eyes disdainfully towards him, said,--'I did not think you had been so
unconscionable; I had your head in my mouth, and could have bit it off
whenever I pleased, but suffered you to take it away without any
damage, and yet you are not contented.'


There is a sort of people in the world, to whom a man may be in the
wrong for doing services, upon a double score: first, because they never
deserved to have a good office done them; and, secondly, because, when
once engaged, it is so hard a matter to get well rid of their

This fable is not an example of ingratitude, as at first sight it seems
to be, and as some of the mythologists have understood it; to make it a
parallel in that case, the Crane ought to have been under some
difficulties in his turn, and the Wolf have refused to assist him when
it was in his power. The whole stress of it lies in this: that we ought
to consider what kind of people they are to whom we are desired to do
good offices, before we do them; for he that grants a favour, or even
confides in a person of no honour, instead of finding his account in it,
comes off well if he is no sufferer.



An Envious Man happened to be offering up his prayers to Jupiter just in
the time and place with a Covetous Miserable Fellow. Jupiter, not caring
to be troubled with their impertinences himself, sent Apollo to examine
the merits of their petitions, and to give them such relief as he should
think proper. Apollo therefore opened his commission, and withal told
them that, to make short of the matter, whatever the one asked the other
should have it double. Upon this, the Covetous Man, though he had a
thousand things to request, yet forbore to ask first, hoping to receive
a double quantity; for he concluded that all men's wishes sympathized
with his. By this means, the Envious Man had an opportunity of
preferring his petition first, which was the thing he aimed at; so,
without much hesitation, he prayed to be relieved, by having one of his
eyes put out: knowing that, of consequence, his companion would be
deprived of both.


In this fable the folly of those two vices, Envy and Avarice, is fully
exposed, and handsomely rallied. The Miser, though he has the riches of
the world, without stint, laid open to his choice, yet dares not name
the sum, for fear another should be richer than himself. The advantage
of a double quantity, by receiving last, is what he cannot bear to lose,
and he fares accordingly. The Envious Man, though he has a power of
calling for good things, without measure, to himself or others, yet
waves this happy privilege, and is content to punish himself by a very
great loss, even that of an eye, that he may bring down a double portion
of the like calamity upon another. These are the true tempers of the
covetous and envious; one can scarce determine, whether they are more
mischievous to themselves, or to the public; but it is manifest, that
they are highly noxious to both, and should be treated accordingly.


[Illustration: THE TWO POTS.]

An Earthen Pot, and one of Brass, standing together upon the river's
brink, were both carried away by the flowing-in of the tide. The Earthen
Pot showed some uneasiness, as fearing he should be broken; but his
companion of Brass bid him be under no apprehensions, for that he would
take care of him.--'O,' replies the other, 'keep as far off as ever you
can, I entreat you; it is you I am most afraid of: for, whether the
stream dashes you against me, or me against you, I am sure to be the
sufferer; and therefore, I beg of you, do not let us come near one


A man of a moderate fortune, who is contented with what he has, and
finds he can live happily upon it, should take care not to hazard and
expose his felicity by consorting with the great and the powerful.
People of equal conditions may float down the current of life, without
hurting each other; but it is a point of some difficulty to steer one's
course in the company of the great, so as to escape without a bulge. One
would not choose to have one's little country-box situated in the
neighbourhood of a very great man; for whether I ignorantly trespass
upon him, or he knowingly encroaches upon me, I only am like to be the
sufferer. I can neither entertain nor play with him upon his own terms;
for that which is moderation and diversion to him, in me would be
extravagance and ruin.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE STORK.]

The Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and being disposed to divert
himself at the expense of his guest, provided nothing for the
entertainment but a soup, in a wide shallow dish. This himself could lap
up with a great deal of ease; but the Stork, who could but just dip in
the point of his bill, was not a bit the better all the while: however,
in a few days after, he returned the compliment, and invited the Fox;
but suffered nothing to be brought to table but some minced meat in a
glass jar, the neck of which was so deep, and so narrow, that, though
the Stork with his long bill made a shift to fill his belly, all that
the Fox, who was very hungry, could do, was to lick the brim, as the
Stork slabbered them with his eating. Reynard was heartily vexed at
first; but, when he came to take his leave, owned ingenuously, that he
had been used as he deserved; and that he had no reason to take any
treatment ill, of which himself had set the example.


It is mighty imprudent, as well as inhuman and uncivil, to affront any
body; and whoever takes the liberty to exercise his witty talent that
way, must not think much of it if he meets reprisals. Indeed, if all
those who are thus paid in their own coin would take it with the same
frankness the Fox did, the matter would not be much; but we are too apt,
when the jest comes to be turned home upon ourselves, to think that
insufferable in another, which we looked upon as pretty and facetious
when the humour was our own. The rule of doing as we would be done by,
so proper to be our model in every transaction of life, may more
particularly be of use in this respect: because people seldom or never
receive any advantage by these little ludicrous impositions; and yet, if
they were to ask themselves the question, would find that another's
using them in the same manner would be very displeasing.



A Bear, climbing over the fence into a place where Bees were kept, began
to plunder the Hives, and rob them of their honey. But the Bees, to
revenge the injury, attacked him in a whole swarm together; and, though
they were not able to pierce his rugged hide, yet, with their little
stings, they so annoyed his eyes and nostrils, that, unable to endure
the smarting pain, with impatience he tore the skin over his ears with
his own claws, and suffered ample punishment for the injury he did the
Bees in breaking open their waxen cells.


Many and great are the injuries of which some men are guilty towards
others, for the sake of gratifying some liquorish appetite. For there
are those who would not stick at bringing desolation upon their country,
and run the hazard of their own necks into the bargain, rather than
baulk a wicked inclination, either of cruelty, ambition, or avarice. But
it were to be wished all who are hurried by such blind impulses, would
consider a moment before they proceed to irrevocable execution. Injuries
and wrongs not only call for revenge and reparation with the voice of
equity itself, but oftentimes carry their punishment along with them;
and, by an unforeseen train of events, are retorted at the head of the
actor of them; and not seldom, from a deep remorse, expiated upon
himself by his own hand.



Two men being to travel through a forest together, mutually promised to
stand by each other in any danger they should meet upon the way. They
had not gone far before a Bear came rushing towards them out of a
thicket; upon which one, being a light nimble fellow, got up into a
tree; the other falling flat upon his face, and holding his breath, lay
still while the Bear came up and smelled at him; but that creature,
supposing him to be a dead carcass, went back again into the wood,
without doing him the least harm. When all was over, the Spark who had
climbed the tree came down to his companion, and, with a pleasant smile,
asked him what the Bear said to him--'For,' says he, 'I took notice that
he clapt his mouth very close to your ear.'----'Why,' replies the
other, 'he charged me to take care, for the future, not to put any
confidence in such cowardly rascals as you.'


Though nothing is more common than to hear people profess services of
friendship where there is no occasion for them, yet scarce any thing is
so hard to be found as a true friend, who will assist us in time of
danger and difficulty. All the declarations of kindness which are made
to an experienced man, though accompanied by a squeeze of the hand, and
a solemn asseveration, should leave no greater impression upon his mind
than the whistling of the hollow breeze which brushes one's ear with an
unmeaning salute, and is presently gone. He that succours our necessity
by a well-timed assistance, though it were not ushered in by previous
compliments, will ever after be looked upon as our friend and protector;
and, in so much a greater degree, as the favour was unasked and
unpromised; as it was not extorted by importunities on the one side, nor
led in by a numerous attendance of promises on the other. Words are
nothing till they are fulfilled by actions; and therefore we should not
suffer ourselves to be deluded by a vain hope and reliance upon them.



A trumpeter, being taken prisoner in a battle, begged hard for quarter,
declaring his innocence, and protesting that he neither had nor could
kill any man, bearing no arms but only his trumpet, which he was obliged
to sound at the word of command.--'For that reason,' replied his
enemies, 'we are determined not to spare you; for though you yourself
never fight, yet, with that wicked instrument of yours, you blow up
animosity between other people, and so become the occasion of much


A man may be guilty of murder who has never handled a sword, or pulled a
trigger, or lifted up his arm with any mischievous weapon. There is a
little incendiary, called the tongue, which is more venomous than a
poisoned arrow, and more killing than a two-edged sword. The moral of
the fable therefore is this, that if in any civil insurrection the
persons taken in arms against the government deserve to die, much more
do they whose devilish tongues gave birth to the sedition, and excited
the tumult. When wicked priests, instead of preaching peace and charity,
employ that engine of scandal their tongue to foment rebellions, whether
they succeed in their designs or no, they ought to be severely punished;
for they have done what in them lay to set folks together by the ears;
they have blown the trumpet and sounded the alarm, and if thousands are
not destroyed by the sword, it is none of their fault.



A certain man, having taken a Partridge, plucked some of the feathers
out of its wings, and turned it into a little yard, where he kept game
Cocks. The Cocks, for awhile, made the poor bird lead a sad life,
continually pecking and driving it away from the meat. This treatment
was taken the more unkindly, because offered to a stranger; and the
Partridge could not but conclude them the most inhospitable uncivil
people he had ever met with. But at last, observing how frequently they
quarrelled and fought with each other, he comforted himself with this
reflection; that it was no wonder they were so cruel to him, since there
was so much bickering and animosity among themselves.


This fable comes home to ourselves, we of this island having always been
looked upon as cruel to strangers. Whether there is any thing in the
manner of our situation, as an island, which consequently can be no
thoroughfare to other countries, and so is not made use of by strangers
upon that account, which makes us thus shy and uncivil; or, whether it
be a jealousy upon account of our liberties, which puts us upon being
suspicious of, and unwilling to harbour any that are not members of the
same community, perhaps it would not be easy to determine. But that it
is so in fact, is too notorious to be denied; and probably can be
accounted for no better way than from the natural bent of our temper, as
it proceeds from something peculiar to our air and climate. It has been
affirmed, that there is not in the whole world besides a breed of Cocks
and Dogs so fierce and incapable of yielding as that of ours; but that
either of them, carried into foreign countries, would degenerate in a
few years. Why may not the same be true of our men? But if strangers
find any inconvenience in this, there is a comfortable consideration to
balance it on the other side, which is, that there are no people under
the sun so much given to division and contention among themselves as we
are. Can a stranger think it hard to be looked upon with some shyness,
when he beholds how little we spare one another? Was ever any
foreigner, merely for being a foreigner, treated with half that malice
and bitterness which differing parties express towards each other? One
would willingly believe that this proceeds in the main, on both sides,
from a passionate concern for our liberties and well-being; for there is
nothing else which can so well excuse it. But it cannot be denied, that
our aversion, notwithstanding our being a trading nation, to have any
intercourse with strangers, is so great, that when we want other objects
for our churlishness, we raise them up among ourselves; and there is,
sometimes, as great a strangeness kept up between one county and another
here, as there is between two distinct kingdoms abroad. One cannot so
much wonder at the constant hostilities which are observed between the
inhabitants of South and North Britain, of Wales and Ireland, among one
another, when a Yorkshireman shall be looked upon as a foreigner by a
native of Norfolk, and both be taken for outlandish intruders by one
that happens to be born within the bills of mortality.



A falconer having taken a Partridge in his net, the bird begged hard for
a reprieve, and promised the man, if he would let him go, to decoy other
Partridges into his net.--'No,' replies the Falconer, 'I was before
determined not to spare you, but now you have condemned yourself by your
own words: for he who is such a scoundrel as to offer to betray his
friends to save himself, deserves, if possible, worse than death.'


However it may be convenient for us to like the treason, yet we must be
very destitute of honour not to hate and abominate the traitor. And
accordingly history furnishes us with many instances of kings and great
men who have punished the actors of treachery with death, though the
part they acted had been so conducive to their interests as to give them
a victory, or perhaps the quiet possession of a throne. Nor can princes
pursue a more just maxim than this; for a traitor is a villain of no
principles, that sticks at nothing to promote his own selfish ends; he
that betrays one cause for a great sum of money, will betray another
upon the same account; and therefore it must be very impolitic in a
state to suffer such wretches to live in it. Since then this maxim is so
good, and so likely at all times to be practised, what stupid rogues
must they be who undertake such precarious dirty work! If they miscarry,
it generally proves fatal to them from one side or other; if they
succeed, perhaps they may have the promised reward, but are sure to be
detested, if suffered to live, by the very person that employs them.


[Illustration: THE EAGLE AND THE CROW.]

An Eagle flew down from the top of a high rock, and settled upon the
back of a Lamb; and then instantly flying up into the air again, bore
his bleating prize aloft in his pounces. A Crow, who sat upon an elm,
and beheld this exploit, resolved to imitate it; so flying down upon the
back of a Ram, and entangling his claws in the wool, he fell a
chattering and attempting to fly; by which means he drew the observation
of the Shepherd upon him, who finding his feet hampered in the fleece of
the Ram, easily took him, and gave him to his boys for their sport and


Every quality which is excellent and commendable, is not, however,
always a proper object for our imitation. We ought to state our own
account honestly and fairly, that we may see what our abilities are, and
how our circumstances stand; otherwise we may not only become ridiculous
to others, but prejudicial to ourselves, by some awkward and ill-judged
emulation, though it happen to be in a qualification truly laudable and
great. It behoves every man to exert a good share of industry towards
the advancement of his interest, or, if he pleases, of his reputation.
But then it is highly necessary that he does this with a true regard to
his own capacity, and without any danger of exposing or embarrassing
himself in the operation.


[Illustration: THE LION, THE ASS, AND THE FOX.]

The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox went a hunting together in the forest;
and it was agreed, that whatever was taken should be divided amongst
them. They happened to have very good sport, and caught a large fat
Stag, which the Lion ordered the Ass to divide. The Ass, according to
the best of his capacity, did so, and made three pretty equal shares.
But such levelling doings not suiting at all with the craving temper of
the greedy Lion, without farther delay he flew upon the Ass, and tore
him in pieces; and then bid the Fox divide it into two parts. Reynard,
who seldom wanted a prompter, however, had his cue given him
sufficiently upon this occasion; and so nibbling off one little bit for
himself, he laid forth all the rest for the Lion's portion. The royal
brute was so delighted at this dutiful and handsome proof of his
respect, that he could not forbear expressing the satisfaction it gave
him; and asked him withal, where he could possibly have learned so
proper and so courtly a behaviour?--'Why,' replies Reynard, 'to tell
your majesty the truth, I was taught it by the Ass that lies dead


We may learn a great deal of useful experience from the examples of
other people, if we will but take the pains to observe them. And,
besides the profit of the instructions, there is no small pleasure in
being taught any proper science at the expense of somebody else. To this
purpose, the history of former times, as well as the transactions of the
present, are very well adapted; and so copious, as to be able to furnish
us with precedents upon almost every occasion. The rock upon which
another has split is a kind of light-house or beacon to warn us from the
like calamity; and by taking such an advantage, how easily may we steer
a safe course! He that, in any negociation with his betters, does not
well and wisely consider how to behave himself, so as not to give
offence, may very likely come off as the Ass did: but a cool thinking
man, though he should despair of ever making friends of the people in
power, will be cautious and prudent enough to do nothing which may
provoke them to be his enemies.


[Illustration: THE FOX AND THE GRAPES.]

A Fox, very hungry, chanced to come into a vineyard, where there hung
branches of charming ripe grapes; but nailed up to a trellis so high,
that he leaped till he quite tired himself, without being able to reach
one of them. At last--'Let who will take them!' says he, 'they are but
green and sour; so I will even let them alone.'


This fable is a good reprimand to a parcel of vain coxcombs in the
world, who, because they would never be thought to be disappointed in
any of their pursuits, pretend a dislike to every thing which they
cannot obtain. There is a strange propensity in mankind to this temper,
and there are numbers of grumbling malcontents in every different
faculty and sect in life. The discarded statesman, considering the
corruption of the times, would not have any hand in the administration
of affairs for all the world. The country squire damns a court life, and
would not go cringing and creeping to a drawing-room for the best place
the king has at his disposal. A young fellow, being asked how he liked a
celebrated beauty, by whom all the world knew he was despised, answered,
she had a stinking breath. How insufferable is the pride of this poor
creature man! who would stoop to the basest vilest actions, rather than
be thought not able to do any thing. For what is more base and vile than
lying? And when do we lie more notoriously than when we disparage and
find fault with a thing, for no other reason but because it is out of
our power?


[Illustration: THE HORSE AND THE STAG.]

The Stag with his sharp horns, got the better of the Horse, and drove
him clear out of the pasture where they used to feed together. So the
latter craved the assistance of man; and, in order to receive the
benefit of it, suffered him to put a bridle into his mouth and a saddle
upon his back. By this way of proceeding he entirely defeated his enemy;
but was mightily disappointed when, upon returning thanks, and desiring
to be dismissed, he received this answer:--'No, I never knew before how
useful a drudge you were; now I have found what you are good for, you
may depend upon it I will keep you to it.'


As the foregoing fable was intended to caution us against consenting to
any thing that might prejudice public liberty, this may serve to keep
us upon our guard in the preservation of that which is of a private
nature. This is the use and interpretation given of it by Horace, the
best and most polite philosopher that ever wrote. After reciting the
fable, he applies it thus:--'This,' says he, 'is the case of him, who
dreading poverty, parts with that invaluable jewel, liberty; like a
wretch as he is, he will always be subject to a tyrant of some sort or
other, and be a slave for ever; because his avaricious spirit knew not
how to be contented with that moderate competency, which he might have
possessed independent of all the world.'



A prodigal Young Spendthrift, who had wasted his whole patrimony in
taverns and gaming-houses, among lewd idle company, was taking a
melancholy walk near a brook. It was in the month of January; and
happened to be one of those warm sunshiny days which sometimes smile
upon us even in that winterly season of the year; and, to make it the
more flattering, a Swallow, which had made his appearance, by mistake,
too soon, flew skimming along upon the surface of the water. The giddy
Youth observing this, without any further consideration, concluded that
summer was now come, and that he should have little or no occasion for
clothes, so went and pawned them at the broker's, and ventured the money
for one stake more, among his sharping companions. When this too was
gone the same way with the rest, he took another solitary walk in the
same place as before. But the weather being severe and frosty, had made
every thing look with an aspect very different from what it did before;
the brook was quite frozen over, and the poor Swallow lay dead upon the
bank of it: the very sight of which cooled the young Spark's brains; and
coming to a kind of sense of his misery, he reproached the deceased bird
as the author of all his misfortunes:--'Ah, wretch that thou wert!' says
he, 'thou hast undone both thyself and me, who was so credulous as to
depend upon thee.'


They who frequent taverns and gaming-houses, and keep bad company,
should not wonder if they are reduced, in a very small time, to penury
and want. The wretched young fellows, who once addict themselves to such
a scandalous kind of life, scarce think of, or attend to, any one thing
besides. They seem to have nothing else in their heads, but how they may
squander what they have got, and where they may get more when that is
gone. They do not make the same use of their reason that other people
do; but, like the jaundiced eye, view every thing in that false light in
which their distemper and debauchery represent it. The Young Man in the
fable gives us a pretty example of this; he sees a Swallow in the midst
of winter, and instead of being surprised at it, as a very irregular
and extraordinary thing, concludes from thence that it is summer, as if
he had never thought before about the season. Well, the result of this
wise conclusion is of a piece with the conclusion itself; if it is
summer, he shall not want so many clothes, therefore he sells them: for
what?--More money to squander away; as if (had his observation been
just) summer would have lasted all the year round. But the true result
and conclusion of all this is--when both his money and clothes are
irrecoverably gone, he comes to his right senses; is ready to perish
with hunger, to starve with cold, and to tear his own flesh with remorse
and vexation at his former stupidity.


[Illustration: THE MAN AND HIS GOOSE.]

A certain Man had a Goose, which laid him a golden egg every day. But,
not contented with this, which rather increased than abated his avarice,
he was resolved to kill the Goose, and cut up her belly, that so he
might come at the inexhaustible treasure which he fancied she had within
her. He did so; and, to his great sorrow and disappointment, found


They who are of such craving impatient tempers, that they cannot live
contented when fortune has blessed them with a constant and continued
sufficiency, deserve even to be deprived of what they have. And this has
been the case of many ambitious and covetous men, who, by making an
essay to grow very rich at once, have missed what they aimed at, and
lost what they had before. But this comes so near the sense of the
forty-seventh fable, that the same application may very well serve for
both. If any thing further can be couched in this, it may possibly be
intended to show us the unreasonableness and inconvenience of being
solicitous about what may happen hereafter, and wanting to pry into the
womb of futurity: which if we could do, all we should get for our pains
would be, to spoil our pleasures by anticipation, and double our
misfortunes by a previous sense and apprehension of them. There are some
things that entertain and delight us very agreeably while we view them
at a proper distance; which, perhaps, would not stand the test of a too
near inspection. Beauty, being only the external form of a thing which
strikes the eye in a pleasing manner, is a very thin glossy being, and,
like some nice paintings of a peculiar composition, will not well bear
even to be breathed on: to preserve our good opinion of it, we must not
approach too close; for if, like the man in the fable, we have a mind to
search for a treasure within, we may not only fail of our expectations
there, but even lose the constant relish we enjoyed from a remoter


[Illustration: THE DOG AND THE WOLF.]

A lean, hungry, half-starved Wolf, happened, one moonshiny night, to
meet with a jolly, plump, well-fed mastiff; and, after the first
compliments were passed, says the Wolf--'You look extremely well; I
protest, I think, I never saw a more graceful comely person. But how
comes it about, I beseech you, that you should live so much better than
I? I may say, without vanity, that I venture fifty times more than you
do; and yet I am almost ready to perish with hunger.'--The Dog answered
very bluntly--'Why you may live as well, if you will do the same for it
that I do.'--'Indeed! What is that?' says he.--'Why,' says the Dog,
'only to guard the house a nights, and keep it from thieves.'--'With
all my heart,' replies the Wolf, 'for at present I have but a sorry time
of it; and, I think, to change my hard lodging in the woods, where I
endure rain, frost, and snow, for a warm roof over my head, and a belly
full of good victuals, will be no bad bargain.'--'True,' says the Dog;
'therefore you have nothing more to do but to follow me.' Now, as they
were jogging on together, the Wolf spied a crease in the Dog's neck,
and, having a strange curiosity, could not forbear asking him what it
meant.--'Pugh! nothing,' says the Dog. 'Nay, but pray,'--says the Wolf.
'Why,' says the Dog, 'if you must know, I am tied up in the day-time,
because I am a little fierce, for fear I should bite people, and am only
let loose a nights. But this is done with design to make me sleep a
days, more than any thing else, and that I may watch the better in the
night-time; for, as soon as ever the twilight appears, out I am turned,
and may go where I please. Then my master brings me plates of bones from
the table with his own hands, and whatever scraps are left by any of the
family, all fall to my share; for you must know I am a favourite with
every body. So you see how you are to live.--Come, come along; what is
the matter with you?'--'No,' replied the Wolf, 'I beg your pardon; keep
your happiness all to yourself. Liberty is the word with me; and I would
not be a king upon the terms you mention.'


The lowest condition of life, with freedom attending it, is better than
the most exalted station under a restraint. Æsop and Phædrus, who had
both felt the bitter effects of slavery, though the latter of them had
the good fortune to have the mildest prince that ever was for his
master, cannot forbear taking all opportunities to express their great
abhorrence of servitude, and their passion for liberty, upon any terms
whatsoever. Indeed, a state of slavery, with whatever seeming grandeur
and happiness it may be attended, is yet so precarious a thing, that he
must want sense, honour, courage, and all manner of virtue, who can
endure to prefer it in his choice. A man who has so little honour as to
bear to be a slave, when it is in his power to prevent or redress it,
would make no scruple to cut the throats of his fellow creatures, or to
do any wickedness that the wanton unbridled will of his tyrannical
master could suggest.


[Illustration: THE WOOD AND THE CLOWN.]

A country Fellow came one day into the Wood, and looked about him with
some concern; upon which the Trees, with a curiosity natural to some
other creatures, asked him what he wanted.--He replied--'That he only
wanted a piece of wood to make a handle to his hatchet.' Since that was
all, it was voted unanimously, that he should have a piece of good,
sound, tough ash. But he had no sooner received and fitted it for his
purpose, than he began to lay about him unmercifully, and to hack and
hew without distinction, felling the noblest trees in all the forest.
Then the Oak is said to have spoke thus to the Beech in a low
whisper,--'Brother, we must take it for our pains.'


No people are more justly liable to suffer than they who furnish their
enemies with any kind of assistance. It is generous to forgive; it is
enjoined us by religion to love our enemies; but he that trusts an
enemy, much more contributes to the strengthening and arming of him, may
almost depend upon repenting him for his inadvertent benevolence; and
has, moreover, this to add to his distress, that, when he might have
prevented it, he brought his misfortune upon himself by his own

Any person in a community, by what name or title soever distinguished,
who affects a power which may possibly hurt the people, is an enemy to
that people, and therefore they ought not to trust him: for though he
were ever so fully determined not to abuse such a power, yet he is so
far a bad man, as he disturbs the people's quiet, and makes them jealous
and uneasy by desiring to have it, or even retaining it, when it may
prove mischievous. If we consult history, we shall find that the thing
called Prerogative has been claimed and contended for chiefly by those
who never intended to make a good use of it; and as readily resigned and
thrown up by just and wise princes, who had the true interest of their
people at heart. How like senseless stocks do they act, who, by
complimenting some capricious mortal, from time to time, with parcels of
prerogative, at last put it out of their power to defend and maintain
themselves in their just and natural liberty!


[Illustration: THE OLD LION.]

A Lion, worn out with old age, lay fetching his last gasp, and agonizing
in the convulsive struggles of death. Upon which occasion several of the
beasts, who had formerly been sufferers by him, came and revenged
themselves upon him. The Boar, with his mighty tusks, drove at him in a
stroke that glanced like lightning. And the Bull gored him with his
violent horns. Which, when the Ass saw they might do without any danger,
he too came up, and threw his heels into the Lion's face. Upon which,
the poor old expiring tyrant uttered these words with his last dying
groan:--'Alas! how grievous is it to suffer insults, even from the brave
and the valiant; but to be spurned by so base a creature as this is, who
is the disgrace of Nature, is worse than dying ten thousand deaths.'


He that would be reverenced and respected by the rest of mankind, must
lay in a foundation for it of some kind or other; for people cannot be
persuaded to pay deference and esteem for nothing. So that, though we
have lived in good repute in the world, if ever we should happen to
outlive our stock, we must not be surprised to find ourselves slighted
and affronted, even by the vilest scum of the people. If therefore we
would raise to ourselves a dignity that will continue not only to the
end of our lives, but extend itself far down among the ages of
posterity, we should take care to establish it upon a foundation of
virtue and good-nature: this will not only preserve us from the insults
of enemies, but, upon occasion, surround us with a trusty guard of
faithful and sincere friends.



An idle Horse, and an Ass labouring under a heavy burden, were
travelling the road together; they both belonged to a country fellow,
who trudged it on foot by them. The Ass, ready to faint under his heavy
load, entreated the Horse to assist him, and lighten his burden, by
taking some of it upon his back. The Horse was ill-natured, and refused
to do it; upon which the poor Ass tumbled down in the midst of the
highway, and expired in an instant. The countryman ungirted his
pack-saddle, and tried several ways to relieve him, but all to no
purpose: which, when he perceived, he took the whole burden and laid it
upon the Horse, together with the skin of the dead Ass: so that the
Horse, by his moroseness in refusing to do a small kindness, justly
brought upon himself a great inconvenience.


Self-love is no such ill principle, if it were but well and truly
directed; for it is impossible that any man should love himself to any
purpose, who withdraws his assistance from his friends or the public.
Every government is to be considered as a body politic; and every man
who lives in it as a member of that body. Now, to carry on the allegory,
no member can thrive better than when they all jointly unite in their
endeavours to assist and improve the whole. If the hand was to refuse
its assistance in procuring food for the mouth, they must both starve
and perish together. And when those, who are parties concerned in the
same community, deny such assistance to each other, as the preservation
of that community necessarily requires, their self-interestedness, in
that case, is ill-directed, and will have a quite contrary effect from
what they intended. How many people are so senseless as to think it hard
that there should be any taxes in the nation; whereas, were there to be
none indeed, those very people would be undone immediately. That little
property they have would be presently plundered by foreign or domestic
enemies; and then they would be glad to contribute their quota, even
without an act of parliament. The charges of supporting a government are
necessary things, and easily supplied by a due and well proportioned
contribution. But, in a narrower and more confined view, to be ready to
assist our friends upon all occasions, is not only good, as it is an act
of humanity, but highly discreet, as it strengthens our interest, and
gives us an opportunity of lightening the burden of life.


[Illustration: THE OLD MAN AND DEATH.]

A poor feeble old man who had crawled out into a neighbouring wood to
gather a few sticks, had made up his bundle, and, laying it over his
shoulders was trudging homeward with it; but, what with age, and the
length of the way, and the weight of his burden, he grew so faint and
weak that he sunk under it: and, as he sat on the ground, called upon
Death to come, once for all, and ease him of his troubles. Death no
sooner heard him, but he came and demanded of him what he wanted. The
poor old creature, who little thought Death had been so near, and
frighted almost out of his senses with his terrible aspect, answered him
trembling, that having by chance let his bundle of sticks fall, and
being too infirm to get it up himself, he had made bold to call upon him
to help him: that, indeed, this was all he wanted at present; and that
he hoped his worship was not offended with him for the liberty he had
taken in so doing.


This fable gives us a lively representation of the general behaviour of
mankind towards that grim king of terrors, Death. Such liberties do they
take with him behind his back, that, upon every little cross accident
which happens in their way, Death is immediately called upon; and they
even wish it might be lawful for them to finish by their own hands a
life so odious, so perpetually tormenting and vexatious. When, let but
Death only offer to make his appearance, and the very sense of his near
approach almost does the business. Oh, then all they want is a little
longer life; and they would be glad to come off so well as to have their
old burden laid upon their shoulders again. One may well conclude what
an utter aversion they, who are in youth, health, and vigour of body,
have to dying, when age, poverty, and wretchedness, are not sufficient
to reconcile us to the thought.


[Illustration: THE BOAR AND THE ASS.]

A little scoundrel of an Ass, happening to meet with a Boar, had a mind
to be arch upon him,--'And so, brother,' says he, 'your humble servant.'
The Boar, somewhat nettled at his familiarity, bristled up to him, and
told him, he was surprised to hear him utter so impudent an untruth, and
was just going to show his noble resentment, by giving him a rip in the
flank; but wisely stifling his passion, he contented himself with only
saying--'Go, you sorry beast! I could be amply and easily revenged of
you; but I do not care to foul my tusks with the blood of so base a


Fools are sometimes so ambitious of being thought wits, that they run
great hazards in attempting to show themselves such. This is not the
first Ass, who, after a handsome rebuke from one superior to himself
both in courage and merit, has continued his awkward raillery even to
the last degree of offence. But such a dull creature is so far from
raising himself the least esteem by his ludicrous vein, that he has very
good luck if he escapes with a whole skin. Buffoons, like dwarfs, should
be matched with those of their own level; a man, in sense or stature,
would be ashamed to encounter either of them. But notwithstanding all
this, and though the Boar in the fable is a very good example to men of
generous brave spirits not to give themselves up to passion, nor to be
distempered with thoughts of revenge upon the insolent behaviour of
every Ass that offends them, because their hands would be dishonoured by
the tincture of a base man's blood; yet among human creatures, the
correction of an Ass that would be unseasonably witty, may be performed
with justness and propriety enough, provided it be done in good humour.
The blood of a coward, literally speaking, would stain the character of
a man of honour; when we chastise such wretches, it should be done, if
possible, in the utmost calmness of temper. It takes off something from
the reputation of a great soul, when we see it is in the power of a fool
to ruffle and unsettle it.



A fish called a Tunny being pursued by a Dolphin, and driven with great
violence, not minding which way he went, was thrown by the force of the
waves upon a rock, and left there. His death now was inevitable; but,
casting his eyes on one side, and seeing the Dolphin in the same
condition lay gasping by him.--'Well,' says he, 'I must die, it is true;
but I die with pleasure, when I behold him who is the cause of it
involved in the same fate.'


Revenge though a blind mischievous passion, is yet a very sweet thing:
so sweet, that it can even soothe the pangs and reconcile us to the
bitterness of death. And, indeed, it must be a temper highly
philosophical, that could be driven out of life by any tyrannical unjust
procedure, and not be touched with a sense of pleasure to see the author
of it splitting upon the same rock. When this is allowed, and it is
further considered how easily the revenge of the meanest person may be
executed even upon the highest, it should, methinks, keep people upon
their guard, and prevail with them not to persecute or be injurious to
any one. The moral turpitude of doing wrong is sufficient to influence
every brave honest man, and to secure him from harbouring even the least
thought of it in his breast: but the knave and the coward should weigh
the present argument, and, before they attempt the least injury, be
assured of this truth, that nothing is more sweet, nor scarce any thing
so easy to compass, as revenge.



The birds met together upon a time to choose a king; and the Peacock
standing candidate, displayed his gaudy plumes, and catched the eyes of
the silly multitude with the richness of his feathers. The majority
declared for him, and clapped their wings with great applause: but just
as they were going to proclaim him, the Magpie stepped forth in the
midst of the assembly, and addressed himself thus to the new king--'May
it please your majesty elect, to permit one of your unworthy subjects to
represent to you his suspicions and apprehensions, in the face of this
whole congregation: we have chosen you for our king, we have put our
lives and fortunes into your hands, and our whole hope and dependence is
upon you; if therefore, the Eagle, or the Vulture, or the Kite, should
at any time make a descent upon us, as it is highly probable they will,
may your majesty be so gracious as to dispel our fears, and clear our
doubts, about that matter, by letting us know how you intend to defend
us against them?'--This pithy unanswerable question drew the whole
audience into so just a reflection, that they soon resolved to proceed
to a new choice. But, from that time, the Peacock has been looked upon
as a vain insignificant pretender, and the Magpie esteemed as eminent a
speaker as any among the whole community of birds.


Form and outside, in the choice of a ruler, should not be so much
regarded as the qualities and endowments of the mind. In choosing heads
of corporations, from the king of the land down to the master of a
company, upon every new election it should be inquired into, which of
the candidates is most capable of advancing the good and welfare of the
community; and upon him the choice should fall. But the eyes of the
multitude are so dazzled with pomp and show, noise and ceremony, that
they cannot see things really as they are: and from hence it comes to
pass, that so many absurdities are committed and maintained in the
world. People should examine and weigh the real weight and merit of the
person, and not be imposed upon by false colours and pretences of I know
not what.



The Forester meeting with a Lion one day, they discoursed together for
awhile without differing much in opinion. At last, a dispute happening
to arise about the superiority between a Man and a Lion, the Man,
wanting a better argument, showed the Lion a marble monument, on which
was placed the statue of a man striding over a vanquished Lion.--'If
this,' says the Lion, 'is all you have to say for it, let us be the
carvers, and we will make the Lion striding over the Man.'


Contending parties are very apt to appeal for the truth to records
written by their own side; but nothing is more unfair, and at the same
time insignificant and unconvincing. Such is the partiality of mankind
in favour of themselves and their own actions, that it is almost
impossible to come at any certainty by reading the accounts which are
written on one side only. We have few or no memoirs come down to us of
what was transacted in the world during the sovereignty of ancient Rome,
but what were written by those who had a dependency upon it; therefore
it is no wonder that they appear, upon most occasions, to have been so
great and glorious a nation. What their contemporaries of other
countries thought of them we cannot tell, otherwise than from their own
writers: it is not impossible but they might have described them as a
barbarous, rapacious, treacherous, unpolite people; who, upon their
conquest of Greece, for some time, made as great havoc and destruction
of the arts and sciences, as their fellow plunderers, the Goths and
Vandals, did afterwards in Italy. What monsters would our own
party-zealots make of each other, if the transactions of the times were
to be handed down to posterity by a warm hearty man on either side! and,
were such records to survive two or three centuries, with what
perplexities and difficulties must they embarrass a young historian, as
by turns he consulted them for the characters of his great forefathers!
If it should so happen, it were to be wished this application might be
living at the same time that young readers, instead of doubting to which
they should give their credit, would not fail to remember that this was
the work of a man, that of a lion.



A Stag that had been drinking at a clear spring, saw himself in the
water: and, pleased with the prospect, stood afterwards for some time
contemplating and surveying his shape and features from head to
foot.--'Ah!' says he, 'what a glorious pair of branching horns are
there! how gracefully do those antlers hang over my forehead, and give
an agreeable turn to my whole face! If some other parts of my body were
but proportionable to them, I would turn my back to nobody; but I have a
set of such legs as really makes me ashamed to see them. People may talk
what they please of their conveniencies, and what great need we stand in
of them upon several occasions; but, for my part, I find them so very
slender and unsightly, that I had as lief have none at all.' While he
was giving himself these airs, he was alarmed with the noise of some
huntsmen, and a pack of hounds that had been just laid on upon the
scent, and were making towards him. Away he flies, in some
consternation, and, bounding nimbly over the plain, threw dogs and men
at a vast distance behind him. After which, taking a very thick copse,
he had the ill-fortune to be entangled by his horns in a thicket; where
he was held fast till the hounds came in and pulled him down. Finding
now how it was like to go with him, in the pangs of death he is said to
have uttered these words:--'Unhappy creature that I am! I am too late
convinced, that what I prided myself in has been the cause of my
undoing, and what I so much disliked was the only thing that could have
saved me.'


Perhaps we cannot apply this better than by supposing the fable to be a
parable! which may be thus explained. The Deer, viewing itself in the
water, is a beautiful young lady at her looking-glass. She cannot help
being sensible of the charms which lie blooming in every feature of her
face. She moistens her lips, languishes with her eyes, adjusts every
lock of her hair with the nicest exactness, gives an agreeable attitude
to her whole body; and then, with a soft sigh, says to herself,--'Ah!
how happy might I be, in a daily crowd of admirers, if it were not for
the censoriousness of the age! when I view that face, where Nature, to
give her her due, has been liberal enough of charms, how easy should I
be, if it were not for that slender particular, my honour. The odious
idea of that comes across all my happy moments, and brings a
mortification with it that damps my most flattering tender hopes. Oh!
that there were no such thing in the world!'--In the midst of these
soliloquies she is interrupted by the voice of her lover, who enters her
chamber singing a rigadoon air; and, introducing his discourse in a
familiar easy manner, takes occasion to launch out in praise of her
beauty; sees she is pleased with it, snatches her hand, kisses it in a
transport; and, in short, pursues his point so close, that she is not
able to disengage herself from him. But, when the consequence of all
this approaches, in an agony of grief and shame, she fetches a deep sigh
and says--'Ah! how mistaken have I been! the virtue I slighted might
have saved me; but the beauty I prized so much has been my undoing.'


[Illustration: THE STAG AND THE OX-STALL.]

A Stag, roused out of his thick cover in the midst of the forest, and
driven hard by the hounds, made towards a farm-house, and seeing the
door of an Ox-Stall open, entered therein, and hid himself under a heap
of straw. One of the Oxen, turning his head about, asked him what he
meant by venturing himself in such a place as that was, where he was
sure to meet with his doom?--'Ah!' says the Stag, 'if you will but be so
good as to favour me with your concealment, I hope I shall do well
enough; I intend to make off again the first opportunity.'--Well, he
staid there till towards night; in came the ox-man with a bundle of
fodder, and never saw him. In short, all the servants of the farm came
and went, and not a soul of them smelt any thing of the matter. Nay,
the bailiff himself came according to form, and looked in, but walked
away no wiser than the rest. Upon this the Stag, ready to jump out of
his skin for joy, began to return thanks to the good-natured Oxen,
protesting that they were the most obliging people he had ever met with
in his life. After he had done his compliments, one of them answered him
gravely--'Indeed, we desire nothing more than to have it in our power to
contribute to your escape; but there is a certain person, you little
think of, who has a hundred eyes; if he should happen to come, I would
not give this straw for your life.'--In the interim, home comes the
master himself, from a neighbour's, where he had been invited to dinner;
and, because he had observed the cattle to look but scurvily of late, he
went up to the rack, and asked, why they did not give them more fodder?
then, casting his eyes downward,--'Hey-day!' says he, 'why so sparing of
your litter? pray scatter a little more here. And these cobwebs--but I
have spoke so often, that unless I do it myself--' Thus, as he went on,
prying into every thing, he chanced to look where the Stag's horns lay
sticking out of the straw; upon which he raised a hue-and-cry, called
all his people about him, killed the poor Stag, and made a prize of him.


The moral of this fable is, that nobody looks after a man's affairs so
well as he himself. Servants, being but hirelings, seldom have the true
interest of their master at heart, but let things run on in a negligent
constant disorder; and this, generally, not so much for want of capacity
as honesty. Their heads are taken up with the cultivation of their own
private interest; for the service and promotion of which that of their
master is postponed, and often entirely neglected.

Few families are reduced to poverty and distress merely by their own
extravagance and indulgence in luxury: the inattention of servants
swells every article of expense in domestic œconomy; and the retinue of
great men, instead of exerting their industry to conduce as far as
possible to the increase of their master's wealth, commonly exercise no
other office than that of locusts and caterpillars, to consume and
devour it.


[Illustration: THE DOVE AND THE ANT.]

The Ant, compelled by thirst, went to drink in a clear purling rivulet;
but the current, with its circling eddy, snatched her away, and carried
her down the stream. The Dove, pitying her distressed condition, cropped
a branch from a neighbouring tree, and let it fall into the water, by
means of which the Ant saved herself, and got ashore. Not long after, a
fowler having a design upon the Dove, planted his nets in due order,
without the bird's observing what he was about; which the Ant
perceiving, just as he was going to put his design in execution, she bit
him by the heel, and made him give so sudden a start, that the Dove took
the alarm, and flew away.


One good turn deserves another; and gratitude is excited by so noble and
natural a spirit, that he ought to be looked upon as the vilest of
creatures who has no sense of it. It is, indeed, so very just and
equitable a thing, and so much every man's duty, that, to speak of it
properly, one should not mention it as any thing meritorious, or that
may claim praise and admiration, any more than we should say a man ought
to be rewarded or commended for not killing his father, or forbearing to
set fire to his neighbour's house. The bright and shining piece of
morality, therefore, which is recommended to us in this fable, is set
forth in this example of the Dove, who, without any obligation or
expectation, does a voluntary office of charity to its fellow creature
in distress. The constant uninterrupted practice of this virtue, is the
only thing in which we are capable of imitating the great Author of our
being; whose beloved Son, besides the many precepts he has given to
enforce this duty, used this expression as a common saying, 'It is more
blessed to give than to receive.'


[Illustration: THE LION IN LOVE.]

The Lion, by chance, saw a fair Maid, the forester's daughter, as she
was tripping over a lawn, and fell in love with her. Nay, so violent was
his passion, that he could not live unless he made her his own; so that,
without any more delay, he broke his mind to the father, and demanded
the damsel for his wife. The man, as odd as the proposal seemed at
first, yet soon recollected, that by complying he might get the Lion
into his power; but, by refusing him, should only exasperate and provoke
his rage. Therefore he consented; but told him it must be upon these
conditions: that, considering the girl was young and tender, he must
agree to let his teeth be plucked out, and his claws cut off, lest he
should hurt her, or at least frighten her, with the apprehension of
them. The Lion was too much in love to hesitate; but was no sooner
deprived of his teeth and claws, than the treacherous forester attacked
him with a huge club, and knocked his brains out.


Of all the ill consequences that may attend that blind passion, love,
seldom any prove so fatal as that one, of its drawing people into a
sudden and ill-concerted marriage. They commit a rash action in the
midst of a fit of madness, of which, as soon as they come to themselves,
they may find reason to repent as long as they live. Many an unthinking
young fellow has been treated as much like a savage, in this respect, as
the Lion in the fable. He has, perhaps, had nothing valuable belonging
to him but his estate, and the writings which made his title to it; and,
if he is so far captivated as to be persuaded to part with these, his
teeth and his claws are gone, and he lies entirely at the mercy of madam
and her relations. All the favour he is to expect, after this, is from
the accidental goodness of the family he falls into; which, if it happen
to be of a particular strain, will not fail to keep him in a distant
subjection, after they have stripped him of all his power. Nothing but a
true friendship, and a mutual interest, can keep up reciprocal love
between the conjugal pair; and when that is wanting, and nothing but
contempt and aversion remain to supply the place, matrimony becomes a
downright state of enmity and hostility: and what a miserable case he
must be in, who has put himself and his whole power into the hands of
his enemy, let those consider, who, while they are in their sober
senses, abhor the thoughts of being betrayed into their ruin, by
following the impulse of a blind unheeding passion.



The Tortoise, weary of his condition, by which he was confined to creep
upon the ground, and being ambitious to have a prospect, and look about
him, gave out, that if any bird would take him up into the air, and show
him the world, he would reward him with a discovery of many precious
stones, which he knew were hidden in a certain place of the earth: the
Eagle undertook to do as he desired, and, when he had performed his
commission, demanded the reward; but finding the Tortoise could not make
good his words, he stuck his talons into the softer parts of his body,
and made him a sacrifice to his revenge.


As men of honour ought to consider calmly how far the things which they
promise may be in their power, before they venture to make promises
upon this account, because the non-performance of them will be apt to
excite an uneasiness within themselves, and tarnish their reputation in
the eyes of other people; so fools and cowards should be as little rash
in this respect as possible, lest their impudent forgeries draw upon
them the resentment of those whom they disappoint, and that resentment
makes them undergo smart, but deserved, chastisement. The man who is so
stupid a knave as to make a lying promise where he is sure to be
detected, receives the punishment of his folly unpitied by all that know


Printed by C. WHITTINGHAM, Chiswick.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The header "Fable I" has been added.

Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been preserved except in
obvious cases of typographical error.

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