Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fables II and III

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Fab. II
A Cat and a Cock.

IT was the hard Fortune once of a Cock, to call into the Clutches of a Cat. Puss had a Months Mind to be upon the Bones of him, but was not willing to pick a Quarrel however, without some plausible Color for’t. Sirrah (says she) what do you keep such a bawling, and screaming a Nights for, that no body can sleep near you? Alas, says the Cock, I never wake any body, but when ’tis time for People to rise, and go about their Business. Nay, says the Cat, and then there never was such and incestuous Rascal: Why, you make no more Conscience of Lying with your own Mother, and your Sisters― In truth, says the Cock again, that’s only to provide Eggs for my Master and Mistress. Come, come, says Puss, without any more ado, ’tis time for me to go to Breakfast, and Cats don’t live upon Dialgoues; at which word she gave him a Pinch, and so made an end, both of the Cock, and of the Story.

Fab. III.
A Wolf and a Lamb.

AS a Wolf was lapping at the Head of a Fountain, he spy’d a Lamb, paddling at the same time, a good way off down the Stream. The Wolf had no sooner the Prey in his Eye, but away he runs open-mouth to’t. Villain (says he) how dare you lye muddling the Water that I’m a drinking? Indeed, says the poor Lamb, I did not think that my drinking there below, could have foul’d your Water so far above. Nay, says t’other, you’ll never leave your chopping of Logick, till your Skin’s turn’d over your Ears, as your Fathers was, a matter of six Months ago, for prating at this fawcy rate; you remember it full well, Sirrah. If you’ll believe me, Sir, (quoth the innocent Lamb, with fear and trembling) I was not come into the World then. Why thou Impudence, cries the Wolf, hast thou neither Shame, nor Conscience? But it runs in the Blood of your whole Race, Sirrah, to hate our Family; and therefore since Fortune has brought us together so conveniently, you shall e’en pay some of your Fore-Fathers Scores before you and I part; and so without any more ado, he leapt at the Throat of the miserable helpless Lamb, and tore him immediately to pieces.

The Moral of the Two Fables above.

’Tis an Easie Matter to find a Staff to Beat a Dog. Innocence is no Protection against the Arbitrary Cruelty of a Tyrannical Power: But Reason and Conscience are yet sso Sacred, that the Greatest Villanies are still Contenanc’d under that Cloak and Color.

REFLEXION.

Pride and Cruelty never want a Pretence to do Mischief. The Plea of Not Guilty goes for Nothing against Power: For Accusing is Proving, where Malice and Force are Joyn’d in the Prosecution.

When Innocence is to be oppress’d by Might, Arguments are foolish things; nay, the very Merits, Virtues, and good Offices of the Person accus’d, are improv’d to his Condemnation: As the Industry and Watchfulness of the Cock here, in the calling of People out of their Beds to work when ’tis time to rise, is turn’d upon him as a Crime. Nay, such is the Confidence of a spightful Cruelty, that People shall be charg’d (rather than fail) with things utterly impossible, and wholly foreign to the Matter in question. The Lamb it self shall be made malicious. And what is this now, but the lively Image of a perverse Reason of State, set up in opposition to Truth and Justice; but under the August Name and Pretence, however of Both? As Loyalty, for the purpose, shall be call’d Rebellion, and the Exercise of the most Necessary Powers of Government, shall pass for Tyranny and Oppression. Decency of Religious Worship shall be made Superstition; Tenderness of Conscience shall be call’d Phanaticism, Singularity and Faction; and the very Articles of the Christian Faith shall be condemn’d for Heresie. Villanies have not the same Countenance, when there are Great Interests, Potent Mediations, Presents, Friends, Advocates, Plausible COlours, and Flourishes of Wit, and Rhetorique, Interpos’d betwixt the Sight and the Object. There are ways of Deceiving the Eyes, as well as of Blinding them; so that the Cause of the Innocent must be Remitted at last to the Great and Final Decision, where there is no longer any Place for Passion, Partiality, Corruption, or Error. But as to the Business of This World, when the Cocks and the Lambs lie at the Mercy of Cats and Wolves, they must never expect better Quarter; especially where the Hearts Blood of the One, is the Nourishment and Entertainment of the Other.