A Dog and a Shadow.
AS a Dog was croſſing a River, with a Morſel of Good Fleſh in his Mouth, he ſaw (as he thought) Another Dog under the Water, upon the very ſame Adventure. He never conſider'd that the One was only the Image of the Other; but out of a Greedineſs to get Both, he Chops at the Shadow, and Loſes the Subſtance.
All Covet, All Loſe; which may ſerve for a Reproof to Thoſe that Govern their Lives by Fancy and Appetite, without Conſulting the Honor, and the Juſtice of the Caſe.
This is the Caſe of Unreaſonable, and Inſatiable Deſires; as in Love, Ambition, and the Like; where People are ſtill reaching at More and More, till they loſe All in the Concluſion.
There are more Meanings of Subſtance and Shadow; of Miſtaking One for T'other; and Loſing All by Chopping at More; than the Bare Senſe and Letter of the Dog, the Fleſh, and the Image here in the Fable. Under theſe Heads are comprehended all Inordinate Deſires, Vain Hopes, and Miſerable Diſappointments. What ſhall we ſay of thoſe that ſpend their Days in Gaping after Court Favours and Preferments; Servile Flatteries; and Slaviſh Attendances? that Live, and Entertain themſelves upon Bleſſings in Viſion? (For Fair Words and Promiſes, are no more than Empty Appearances) What is all This, but Sacrificing a Man's Honour, Integrity, Liberty, Reaſon, Body, Soul, Fortune, and All for Shadows? We place our Truſt in Things that have no Being; Diſorder our Minds, Diſcompoſe our Thoughts, Entangle our Eſtates, and Sell our ſelves, in One Word, for Bubbles. how wretched is the Man that does not know when he's Well, but paſſes away the Peace and Comfort of his Life, for the Gratifying of a Fantaſtical Appetite, or Humour! Nay, and he Miſſes his Aim, even in That too, while he Squanders away his Intereſt, and Forfeits his Diſcretion, in the Purſuit of One Vanity after Another. Ambition is a Ladder that reaches from Earth to Heaven; and the Firſt Round is but ſo many Inches in a Man's way toward the Mounting of All the Reſt. He's never well till he's at the Top, and when he can go no Higher, he muſt either Hang in the Air, or Fall; For in This Caſe, he has nothing above him to Aſpire to, nor any Foot Hold left him to come down by. Every Man has what's Sufficient, at Hand, and in Catching at more than he can carry away, he loſes what he Had. Now there's Ingratitude, as well as Diſappointment, in All theſe Rambling and Extravagant Motions: Beſide, that Avarice is always Beggerly; for He that Wants has as good as Nothing. The Deſire of More and More, riſes by a Natural Gradation to Moſt, and after that to All; Till in the Concluſion we find our ſelves Sick and Weary of All that's poſſible to be had; ſollicitous for ſomething elſe, and then when we have ſpent our Days in the Queſt of the Meaneſt of Things and at the