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The Fox and the Wolf


The Wolf having laid in store of provision, kept close at home, and made much of himself. The Fox observed this, and thinking it something particular, went to visit him, the better to inform himself of the truth of the matter. The Wolf excused himself from seeing him, by pretending he was very much indisposed. All this did but confirm the Fox in his suspicions: so away he goes to a shepherd, and made discovery of the Wolf; telling him, he had nothing else to do but to come with a good weapon and knock him on the head as he lay in his cave. The shepherd followed his directions, and killed the Wolf. The wicked Fox enjoyed the cave and provisions to himself, but enjoyed them not long; for the same shepherd passing afterwards by the same hole, and seeing the Fox there, dispatched him also.


This fable seems to be directed against the odious trade of informing. Not that giving information against criminals and enemies of the public is in itself odious, for it is commendable; but the circumstances and manner of doing it oftentimes make it a vile and detestable employment. He that accuses another merely for the sake of the promised reward, or in hopes of getting his forfeited estate, or with any other such mercenary view, nay, even to save his own life, whatever he gets by the bargain, is sure to lose his reputation: for, indeed, the most innocent company is not safe with such a one in it, nor the neighbourhood secure in which he lives. A villain of his stamp, whose only end is getting, will as soon betray the innocent as the guilty: let him but know where there is a suspected person, and propose the reward, and he will scarce fail to work the suspicion up to high-treason, or be at a loss to give sufficient proofs of it. We have no small comfort concerning this sort of people, when we consider how improbable it is that they should thrive or prosper long in their ill-gotten possessions. For he that can betray another for the sake of a little pelf, must be a man of such bad principles, that it cannot be for the interest of any community to suffer him to live long in it. Besides, he himself will not be contented with one single villany; and there is no fear but he will provoke justice to hurl down upon his head at least as great a calamity as he, by his malicious information, has brought upon another.