Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fable VII

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Fab. VII.

A Lion, an Ass, &c. a Hunting.

A Lion, an Ass, and some other of their Fellow-Forresters, went a Hunting one day; and every one to go share and share-like in what they took. They pluck'd down a Stag, and cut him up into so many Parts; but as they were entering upon the Dividend, Hands off says the Lion: This Part is mine by the Privilege of my Quality: This, because I'll have it in spite of your Teeth: This again, because I took most Pains for't; and if you Dispute the Fourth, we must e'en Pluck a Crow about it. So the Confederates Mouths were all stopt, and they went away as mute as Fishes.

The Moral.

There’s no Entring into Leagues or Partnerships, with those that are either too Powerful, or too Crafty for us. He that has the Staff in his Hand will be his Own Carver. Bought Wit is Best.


Saving the Incongruity of making the Ass a Beast of Prey, we are to learn from hence the Danger of Unequal Alliances; where the Poor and the Weak lye at the Mercy of the Rich and the Powerful; and no Remedy but Patience and Resignation.

People should have a care how they Engage themselves in Partnerships with Men that are too Mighty for them, whether it be in Mony, Pleasure, or Bus’ness, Find out something, says a Court-Minion, and then upon the Discovery, he lays hand on’t for himself. So Says, and so Does the Lion here to the Ass and his Companions. Now this is only a Stateway of Fishing with Cormorants. Men in Power, Plunge their Clyents into the Mud, with a Ring about their Necks; So that let them bring up what they will, nothing goes down with them that they shall be ever the Better for. And when they come in Conclusion to Cast up the Profit and Loss of the Purchase, or the Project; what betwixt Force, Interest, and Good Manners, the Adventurer scapes well if he can but get off at last with his Labor for his Pains.

Ambition, and the Insatiable Thirst of Mony, Greatness, and Glory, know no other Bounds of Justice or Confidence, than the Measure of a Corrupt Appetite. Services are paid with Smoak and Fair Words; and there goes a World of Unprofitable Ceremony to the Mortifying of an Honest Man. Promises and Protestations are only Passages of Course, and meer Expletives; that in the Construction of Civility, and Good Breeding, signifie no more than [Your Humble Servant Sir.] All, in short, that the Lion says and does, in this Instance, is but according to the Practice of Men in Power in a thousand other Cases.