A Fable

In what Dress, or what Manner soever convey'd,
Still Truth will affect, and good Sense will persuade;
Let this for a while with your patience prevail,
From honest old Æsop to hear an old Tale.
As once on a time, in a savoury Chat,
A Fox was profoundly engag'd with a Cat,
With modest Assurance and due Condescension,
His Talents and Parts he thought proper to mention,
And made it by plain Demonstration appear
No Jeopardy he could have reason to fear;
For his Match never yet, as is ev'ry where own'd,
Was for Quickness, and Slyness, and Stratagem found:
Such subtle Devices in Petto had he
For ev'ry Alarm that could possibly be:
In short, let his Foes, be they Dog, be they Man,
Let 'em try to catch him in a Scrape if they can.
Puss heard his Harangue with a Face full of Wonder,
And thought it was decent for her to knock under,
And pay a becoming Respect and Submission
To the Merits and Parts of this great Politician.
Indeed a small Shift, tho' it never yet fail'd her,
One Shift she had ready when Danger assail'd her;
If that should miscarry — but hark, by the By —
The Horns, and the Huntsmen, and Hounds in full Cry!
Puss nimbly whipt up, and sat snug in a Tree;
And, as for the Fox, like the Devil flew He;
But so richly he stunk as they follow'd behind,
And the Hounds they all kept him so close in the Wind,
That without Loss of Time, by his Genius forsaken,
In spite of his Cunning poor Reynard was taken.

Thus the crafty Contriver with Doubles and Fetches,
In his own wife Conceit the whole World overreaches,
And takes it for granted no Mortal can be
So notably artful and clever as He.
By Self-Admiration perpetually cheated,
He wonders to find his Finesses defeated;
Whilst the only sure Way, without further Pretence,
Is Honesty guided by plain Common Sense.
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