A Fox and a Raven
A Certain Fox ſpyd out a Raven upon a Tree with a Morſel in his mouth, that let his Chops a watering; but how to come at it was the Queſtion. Ah thou Bleſſed Bird! (ſays he) the Delight of Gods, and of Men! and ſo he lays himſelf forth upon the Gracefulneſs of the Ravens Perſon, and the Beauty of his Plumes; His Admirable Gift of Augury, &c. And now, ſays the Fox, If thou hadſt but a Voice anſwerable to the reſt of thy Excellent Qualities, the Sun in the Firmament could not ſhew the World ſuch Another Creature. This Nauſeous Flattery ſets the Raven immediately a Gaping as Wide as ever he could ſtretch, to give the Fox a taſte of his Pipe; but upon the Opening of his Mouth, he drops his Breakfaſt, which the Fox preſently Chopt up, and then bad him remember, that whatever he had ſaid of his Beauty, he had ſpoken Nothing yet of his Brains.
There's hardly any man Living that may not be wrought upon more or leſs by Flattery: For we do all of us Naturally Overween in our Own Favour: But when it comes to be Apply'd once to a Vain Fool, it makes him forty times an Arranter Sot than he was before.
This Fable ſhews us the Danger and the Nature of Flattery. It calls Good Things by ill Names, and ill by Good; but it will never be out of Credit, ſo long as there are Knaves to Give it, and Fools to Take it. It is never more Pernicious than in the Courts of Great Princes, becauſe a good deal of it looks like Duty; as in private Caſes, it carries a face of Friendſhip. The way to Riſe is to Pleaſe, and whatever is gotten by't, comes by Treachery. 'Tis a Deſign that endangers both Body, Soul, and Eſtate; and not One Man of a Million that's Proof againſt it. But Great and Good Men will rather look for their Character in the Writings and Precepts of the Philoſophers, than in the Hyperboles of their Flatterers. For they know very well that Wiſe Books are the Only True Friends.
There's a Fawning, Crafty Knave, and a Vain, Eaſie Fool, well met, in this Fable of the Fox and the Raven; which is no more at laſt, than One fort of Raſcal Cajoling Another; And then to ſhew us, both that Impudence will ſtick at Nothing, and that a Self Conceited Fop will ſwallow Any thing, the Raven's Beauty forſooth, and his Voice are the Topiques, that Reynard has made choice of to Dilate upon. The two main Ends of Flattery, are Profit, or Safety, though there are many others too that are leſs Principal; but in ſome reſpect or other, Reducible to theſe Heads. The One is too Mercenary, and the Other too Servile, for a man of Worth. There are alſo ſeveral ſorts and degrees of it under this Diviſion; and divers ways of Addreſs and Application. But Flattery is Flattery ſtill, and the Moral extends to All.