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The Falconer and the Partridge


A falconer having taken a Partridge in his net, the bird begged hard for a reprieve, and promised the man, if he would let him go, to decoy other Partridges into his net.—'No,' replies the Falconer, 'I was before determined not to spare you, but now you have condemned yourself by your own words: for he who is such a scoundrel as to offer to betray his friends to save himself, deserves, if possible, worse than death.'


However it may be convenient for us to like the treason, yet we must be very destitute of honour not to hate and abominate the traitor. And accordingly history furnishes us with many instances of kings and great men who have punished the actors of treachery with death, though the part they acted had been so conducive to their interests as to give them a victory, or perhaps the quiet possession of a throne. Nor can princes pursue a more just maxim than this; for a traitor is a villain of no principles, that sticks at nothing to promote his own selfish ends; he that betrays one cause for a great sum of money, will betray another upon the same account; and therefore it must be very impolitic in a state to suffer such wretches to live in it. Since then this maxim is so good, and so likely at all times to be practised, what stupid rogues must they be who undertake such precarious dirty work! If they miscarry, it generally proves fatal to them from one side or other; if they succeed, perhaps they may have the promised reward, but are sure to be detested, if suffered to live, by the very person that employs them.