A fox, in life's extreme decay,
Weak, sick, and faint, expiring lay;
All appetite had left his maw,
And age disarmed his mumbling jaw.
His numerous race around him stand
To learn their dying sire's command:
He raised his head with whining moan,
And thus was heard the feeble tone:
'Ah, sons! from evil ways depart:
My crimes lie heavy on my heart.
See, see, the murdered geese appear!
Why are those bleeding turkeys here?
Why all around this cackling train,
Who haunt my ears for chicken slain?
The hungry foxes round them stared,
And for the promised feast prepared.
'Where, sir, is all this dainty cheer?
Nor turkey, goose, nor hen is here.
These are the phantoms of your brain,
And your sons lick their lips in vain.'
'O gluttons!' says the drooping sire,
'Restrain inordinate desire.
Your liqu'rish taste you shall deplore,
When peace of conscience is no more.
Does not the hound betray our pace,
And gins and guns destroy our race?
Thieves dread the searching eye of power,
And never feel the quiet hour.
Old age (which few of us shall know)
Now puts a period to my woe.
Would you true happiness attain,
Let honesty your passions rein;
So live in credit and esteem,
And the good name you lost, redeem.'
'The counsel's good,' a fox replies,
'Could we perform what you advise.
Think what our ancestors have done;
A line of thieves from son to son:
To us descends the long disgrace,
And infamy hath marked our race.
Though we, like harmless sheep, should feed,
Honest in thought, in word, and deed;
Whatever henroost is decreased,
We shall be thought to share the feast.
The change shall never be believed,
A lost good name is ne'er retrieved.'
'Nay, then,' replies the feeble fox,
'(But hark! I hear a hen that clocks)
Go, but be moderate in your food;
A chicken too might do me good.'
The Fables, Volume 1 (1727)
|| The Shepard and the Philosopher
| Fable I
|| The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller
| Fable II
|| The Spaniel and the Cameleon
| Fable III
|| The Mother, the Nurse, and the Fairy
| Fable IV
|| The Eagle, and the Assembly of Animals
| Fable V
|| The wild Boar and the Ram
| Fable VI
|| The Miser and Plutus
| Fable VII
|| The Lion, the Fox, and the Geese
| Fable VIII
|| The Lady and the Wasp
| Fable IX
|| The Bull and the Mastiff
| Fable X
|| The Elephant and the Bookseller
| Fable XI
|| The Peacock, the Turkey, and the Goose
| Fable XII
|| Cupid, Hymen, and Plutus
| Fable XIII
|| The Tame Stag
| Fable XIV
|| The Monkey who had seen the World
| Fable XV
|| The Philosopher and the Pheasants
| Fable XVI
|| The Pin and the Needle
| Fable XVII
|| The Shepherd's Dog and the Wolf
| Fable XVIII
|| The Painter who pleased Nobody and Everybody
| Fable XIX
|| The Lion and the Cub
| Fable XX
|| The Old Hen and the Cock
| Fable XXI
|| The Rat-catcher and Cats
| Fable XXII
|| The Goat without a Beard
| Fable XXIII
|| The Old Woman and her Cats
| Fable XXIV
|| The Butterfly and the Snail
| Fable XXV
|| The Scold and the Parrot
| Fable XXVI
|| The Cur and the Mastiff
| Fable XXVII
|| The Sick Man and the Angel
| Fable XXVIII
|| The Persian, the Sun, and the Cloud
| Fable XXIX
|| The Fox at the point of Death
| Fable XXX
|| The Setting-dog and the Partridge
| Fable XXXI
|| The Universal Apparition
| Fable XXXII
|| The Two Owls and the Sparrow
| Fable XXXIII
|| The Courtier and Proteus
| Fable XXXIV
|| The Mastiffs
| Fable XXXV
|| The Barley-mow and the Dunghill
| Fable XXXVI
|| Pythagoras and the Countryman
| Fable XXXVII
|| The Farmer's Wife and the Raven
| Fable XXXVIII
|| The Turkey and the Ant
| Fable XXXIX
|| The Father and Jupiter
| Fable XL
|| The Two Monkeys
| Fable XLI
|| The Owl and the Farmer
| Fable XLII
|| The Jugglers
| Fable XLIII
|| The Council of Horses
| Fable XLIV
|| The Hound and the Huntsman
| Fable XLV
|| The Poet and the Rose
| Fable XLVI
|| The Cur, the Horse, and the Shepherd's Dog
| Fable XLVII
|| The Court of Death
| Fable XLVIII
|| The Gardener and the Hog
| Fable XLIX
|| The Man and the Flea
| Fable L
|| The Hare and many Friends