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Mercury had a great Mind to try if Tiresias was so Famous a Diviner as the World took him for, or not. So he went and stole Tiresias's Oxen; and order'd the Matter to be in the Company of Tiresias, as upon Business by the Bye, when the News should be brought him of the Loss of his Oxen. Mercury went to Tiresias in the Shape of a Man; and the Tidings came as Mercury had contriv'd it: Upon this, he took Mercury up to a high Tower, hard by, and bad him look well about him, and tell him what Birds he saw. Why, says Mercury, I see an Eagle upon Wing there, that takes her Course from the Right-hand to the Left. That Eagle (says Tiresias) is nothing to our Purpose; wherefore pray look again once. Mercury stood Gazing a while, and then told Tiresias of a Crow he had discover'd upon a Tree, that was one while looking up into the Air, and another while down towards the Ground: That's enough (says Tiresias) for this Motion of the Crow, is as much as to say, I do Appeal to Heaven, and to Earth, that the Man that is now with Tiresias, can help him to his Oxen again if he pleases.

THE MORAL. This Fable is of a General Application to all Bold and Crafty Thieves and impostors. It serves also to set forth the Vanity of Wizards, Fortune-Tellers, and the like.



A Fisherman had order'd his Net for a Draught, and still as he was gathering it up, he dash'd the Water, to fright the Fish into the Bag. Some of the Neighbourhood that look'd on, told him that he did ill to muddle the Water so, and spoil their Drink. Well (says he) but I must either Spoil your Drink, or have nothing to Eat my self.

THE MORAL. There's no Engaging the Mobile in a Sedition, till their Heads are so muddled first with Frights and Visions, that they can neither See, Hear, nor Understand.


172. AN UNHAPPY MATCH (Perry 95)

There was a Man, a long time ago, that had got a Shrew to his Wife, and there could be no Quiet in the House for her. The Husband was willing however to make the Best of a Bad Game, and so for Experiment sake, he sent her away for a while to her Father’s. When he came a little after to take her Home again, Prithee Sweet-heart (says he) How go Matters in the House where thou hast been? In troth, says she, they go I know not how: But there’s none of the Family, you must know, can endure me: No not so much as the very Hinds and Ploughmen; I could read it in the Faces of them. Ah Wife! Says the Husband, If People that rise Early and come Home Late, and are all Day out of your Sight, cannot be Quiet for ye, what a Case is your poor Husband in, that must Spend his whole Life in your Company?

THE MORAL. When Man and Wife cannot Agree, Prudence will oblige the One, and Modesty the Other, to put all their little Controversies into their Pockets, and make the Best of a Bad Game.


173. A HOUND AND A MASTIFF (Perry 92)

There was a Man had Two Dogs; One for the Chase, T’other to look to the House; and whatever the Hound Took Abroad, the House-Dog had his Part on’t at Home. T’other Grumbled at it, that when he took all the Pains the Mastiff should reap the Fruit of his Labours. Well, says the House-Dog, That’s none of my Fault, but my Master's, that has not Train'd me up to Work for my self, but to Eat what others have Provided for me.

THE MORAL. Fathers and Masters have a great deal to Answer for, if their Children and Servants do not do as they should do.


174. A WOLF AND A KID (Perry 97)

A Wolf spy’d out a Stragling Kid, and pursu’d him. The Kid found that the Wolf was too Nimble for him, and so turn’d and told him: I perceive I am to be Eaten, and I would die as pleasantly as I could: Wherefore, pray give me but one Touch of your Pipe before I go to Pot. The Wolf Play’d, and the Kid Danc’d, and the Noise of the Pipe brought the Dogs in upon him. Well (says the Wolf) this ‘tis when People will be Meddling out of their Profession. My Bus’ness was to play the Butcher, not the Piper.

THE MORAL. When a Crafty Knave is Infatuated, any Silly Wretch may put Tricks upon him.


175. A FOX AND A CRAB (Perry 116)

A Fox that was sharp-set, Surpriz’d a Crab, as he lay out of the Sea upon the Sands, and carried him away. The Crab, when he found that he was to be Eaten, Well (says he) this comes of Meddling where we have Nothing to do; for my Bus’ness lay at Sea, not upon the Land.

THE MORAL. No Body Pities a Man for any Misfortune that Befals him, in Matters out of his Way, Bus’ness, or Calling.


176. A MUSICIAN (Perry 121)

A Man that had a very Coarse Voice, but an Excellent Musick-Room, would be still Practising in that Chamber, for the Advantage of the Eccho. He took such a Conceit upon't, that he must needs be shewing his Parts upon a Publick Theatre, where he Perform'd so very Ill, that the Auditory Hiss'd him off the Stage, and threw Stones at him.

THE MORAL. A Man may Like himself very Well in his Own Glass, and yet the World not Fall in Love with him in Publick. But the Truth on't is, we are Partial in our own Case, and there's no Reading of our Selves but with Other Mens Eyes. 



A Band of Thieves Brake into a House once, and found nothing in’t to carry away, but One Poor Cock. The Cock said as much for Himself as a Cock could say; but Insisted Chiefly upon the Services of his calling People up to their Work, when ‘twas time to Rise. Sirrah (says one of the Thieves) You had better have let that Argument alone; for Your Waking the Family Spoils our Trade, and We are to be Hang’d forsooth your Bawling.

THE MORAL. That which is One Body’s Meat, is Another Body’s Poison; as the Trussing up of Thieves is the Security of Honest Men. One Foolish Word is enough to Spoil a Good Cause, and ’tis many a Man’s Fortune to Cut his Own Throat with his Own Argument.


178. A RAVEN AND A SNAKE (Perry 128)

As a Snake lay Lazing at his Length, in the Gleam of the Sun, a Raven took him up, and flew away with him. The Snake kept a Twisting and a Turning, till he Bit the Raven, and made him Curse himself for being such a Fool, as to meddle with a Purchase that Cost him his Life.

THE MORAL. Nature has made All the Necessaries of Life, Safe and Easie to us, but if we will be Hankering after Things that we neither Want nor Understand, we must take our Fortune, even if Death it self should happen to be in the Case.


179. A CROW AND A RAVEN (Perry 125)

Your Raven has a Reputation in the World for a Bird of Omen, and a kind of small Prophet. A Crow that had Observ’d the Raven’s manner and Way of Delivering his Predictions, sets up for a Foreboder too; nd so gets upon a Tree, and there stands Nodding and Croaking, just over the Heads of some People that were Passing by. They were a little Surpriz’d at first; but so soon as they saw how ‘twas. Come, my Masters (says One of the Company) let’s e’en go forward, for this is but the chattering of a foolish Crow, it signifies Nothing.

THE MORAL. How are Superstitious Men Hagg’d out of their Wits and Senses, with the Fancy of Omens, Forebodings, Old Wives Tales and Visions; and upon a Final Examination of the Matter, nothing at all in the Bottom on’t.


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