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IN THE FORM OF
FABLES, MIXED WITH PROVERBS AND MORAL
Section 1. Much of the wisdom of former ages has been collected in proverbs ; and, in this compressed and pithy form, it passes among men, like the current coin of the realm. Fables also bave been made to convey many useful truths, and much good advice; but they do it under a mask, as it were, and not directly. For a fable, or feigned tale, is a story which in itself often cannot be true; but which, while we are reading or hearing it, we willingly picture to ourselves, as if it were true, for the sake of the amusing or instructive lesson or moral, as it is called, which it contains.
2. Thus, we are told that a fox, having observed a bunch of grapes hanging on a vine, and having tried, by many a leap, to get at them, but in vain, desisted · at length, and consoled himself by saying—" Well, I dare say, after all, they are sour, and not worth hava ing.” This fable reminds us, that what cannot be cured may be endured. When we find ourselves unable to obtain what we wish, we ought not to fret or vex ourselves about it, but try to forget it, and con
sider that perhaps, though we had it, it would not turn out to be so pleasant and good as we thought it would be.
3. We should also learn to be moderate, and to check our eager desires, if we wish to be happy. A little boy, putting his hand into a narrow mouthed pitcher, where plenty of figs and filberts had been stowed, grasped as many as his fist could possibly hold; but when he tried to pull out his hand again, the straitness of the neck prevented him. As he was unwilling to let go any part of his prize, and yet quite unable to draw out the whole, he burst out into tears, when an honest fellow who stood by, gave him this good advice" Grasp only half the quantity, my boy, and then
will succeed.” So the surest way to gain our ends, is to moderate our desires.
4. Two bees, setting out in search of food, observed a vessel full of liquid honey. One of them instantly plunged into it; but soon his legs and wings became so clogged and fixed, that he was wholly unable to fly away. When he found himself dying of surfeiting and fatigue, he exclaimed—“Oh! how wretched and foolish a creature was I, to undergo such distress, and to give away my life, for a feast so very short in its duration as this !” The other bee had perceived the danger, and wisely denying himself, went off to the fields and the flowers, where he gathered his food with a little more labour indeed, but with health, contentment, and safety.
5. Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other. That is dear bought pleasure which is bought with repentance. It is only by being moderate in our amusements that our relish for them will continue. We should fly to-day the pleasures that
will bite to-morrow, saying to every sinful and dan. gerous allurement "Gentle Eve, I will have none of your fruit." It is, for the most part, easier to prevent an evil than provide a remedy. We must learn, then, to look at the end of things with a prudent caution and foresight; for after-wit is dear bought.
66 Look before you leap,” said the old froy, when advised by her young companion, on a hot sultry day, to plunge into the bottom of a deep pit, in which they saw some water (the thing they were in quest of), but from which they could never have come out again.
6. A lion and a boar, when the weather was very warm, happened to come, both at the same time, to drink at a small fountain. They began instantly to dispute which of them should drink first; and the quarrel was such, that they were just on the point of fighting and destroying each other, when, happening to look about, they saw that the vultures were waiting till the battle should be over, and expecting to feed in a little upon
their dead carcases. On seeing this, they instantly ceased from their rage, and said " It is better for us to be friends, than to give our bodies for food to the birds of prey.” It is indeed foolish to risk one's estate or one's life merely for revenge ; and no boys of spirit or sense should allow themselves, by fighting together, to become a spectacle for the sport of their comrades, or expose themselves in this way to the contempt and derision of all that pass by. He that loves vengeance kills his own comforts; and by taking revenge for an injury, he is but even with his enemy; whereas, in passing it over, he is superior.
7. A lion and a tiger jointly seized on a young fawn, and then fought to decide whose property it should be. At last, through loss of blood, they were both com. pelled to lie down, totally disabled. At that moment, a wily fox, who had been watching the affray, took advantage of their weakness and carried off the fawn, while they could only lament and blame themselves. bitterly, for that rage and pride which had rendered them entirely unable to prevent him.
8. A beur happened to be stung by a bee, and the pain was so acute that, in the madness of revenge, he ran to the bee garden and turned over all the hives.. This only made bad worse, for it brought on him an army of bees which stung him almost to death. He then began to think with himself, how much more prudent it would have been, to have patiently borne one injury, than, by resenting it, to have provoked a thousand. Anger is a short madness; and instead of curing the evil, it tends to increase it. To be angry is to punish myself for the fault of another. It is therefore wise to oppose early the beginnings of passion ; for great may be the flame that a little spark kindleth. The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water. The chink from which it issues at first may be small; but being neglected, it is widened by the stream, till the bank is thrown down, and the flood is at liberty to deluge the whole plain. As the whirlwind in its fury tears up trees, and the earth. quake in its convulsions overturns whole cities ; so the rage of an angry man spreads mischief around him. Do nothing in a passion. Why wilt thou put to sea in the violence of a storm? If it be difficult to rule thine anger, it is wise to prevent it.
Better suffer a great evil, than do a little one. Be more ready to forgive, than to return an injury. Forgive others, not thyself. Treat insolent speeches with silent contempt ; for the contempt of calumny makes it die, whereas
resentment' revives it. Say with the poet—"A wedi bred man will not affront me, and no other can." On the heels of folly treadeth shame, and at the back of anger stands remorse.
9. The golden rule is to do to others as we woull wish to be done to, if we were in their place, and they
A few thoughtless boys, forgetting this rule, as they stood at the side of a pond in which there were some frogs, amused themselves by throwing stones at these harmless creatures, whenever they appeared, till an old frog, popping up its head and addressing the youths, made them ashamed of themselves, by saying
My dear boys, you do not think that, though this may be sport to you,
it is death to us." 10. Never sport with pain and distress in any of your amusements, nor treat even the meanest insect with wanton cruelty ; but cultivate that kind and generous temper, which is eager to do good, and feels for distress, wherever it is beheld. A lion, by accident, laid his paw upon a mouse ; but, the frighted little creature begging hard for her life, he spared her and set her at liberty. Some time after, this same lion, while ranging for his prey, fell into the toils of the hunter. The mouse heard his roarings, knew the voice of her benefactor, and repairing to the spot, gnawed in pieces the meshes of the net; and thus, enabling him to escape, showed that there is no creature so much below another, but he may have it in his power to return a good office. One good turn deserves another, and a friend in need is a friend indeed ; but if we wish to have friends, we must show ourselves friendly. To raise esteem, we must benefit others; and to procure love, we must please them.
11. A dog was crossing a river with a bit of flesh in