Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fable XCVI

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Fab. XCVI.

A Fowler and a Black-Bird.

As a Fowler was Bending his Net, a Black-Bird call’d to him at a distance, and Ask’d him what he was a doing. Why says he, I am laying the Foundations of a City; and so the Birdman drew out of Sight. The Black-Bird Mistrufting Nothing, flew presently to the Bait in the Net, and was taken; and as the Man came running to lay hold of her; Friend, says the Poor Black-Bird, If This be Your Way of Building, You'l have but Few Inhabitants.


There is no Sham so Gross, but it will pass upon a Weak Man that it Pragmatical, and Inquisitive.


This is to Intimate, that where Rulers lay Snares, deal Falsely, and Exercise Cruelty, All goes to Wrack both Publique and Private. All Frauds are Cover'd and Gilded over with Specious Pretences, and Men are Every jot as Easily Impos'd upon, as Birds, Beasts, or Fishes; while the Eagerness of our Appetites Suspends the Exercise of our Reason. A Treat, a Woman, or a Bottle, is the same Thing to Us, that a Worm, a Gudgeon, a Grain of Corn, or a piece of Raw Flesh is to Those Animals. We Snap at the Bait without ever Dreaming of the Hook, the Trap, or the Snare that goes Along with it. Now what's the Difference betwixt Æsop's Pretext here for the Building of a City, and the Cheats that we have heard of, the Saving of a City. The Design was Destruction in Both, and That was for the Event on't too. Religion, Liberty and Property were the Bait: Nay the very Sound of the Words did the Bus'ness, The Common People will Chop like Trouts at an Artificial Fly, and Dare like Larks under the Awe of a Painted Hobby. ’Tis with Men, just as 'tis with Birds and Fishes, There’s not a Mortal of us that will not Bite at some Bait or other, and We are caught as Sillily too, as the Bird was here in the Net.