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The Frog and the Fox

Illustration 148

The Frog and the Fox

Let  us our own defects amend,

Ere to guide others we pretend.

A sallow, wrinkl'd, spotted frog,

To turn physician left the bog.

"He every malady could cure,"

He said, "that animals endure."

"First on yourself your science show,"

Says Reynard: "that the world may know

Your skill and knowledge, pray begin

Of those foul spots to clear your skin:

For while you look so sick and pale,

To vend your drugs you'll ne'er prevail."


A Frog, leaping out of a lake, and taking the advantage of a rising ground, made proclamation to all the beasts of the forest, that he was an able physician, and, for curing all manner of distempers, would turn his back to no person living. This discourse, uttered in a parcel of hard, cramp words, which nobody understood, made the beasts admire his learning, and give credit to every thing he said. At last the Fox, who was present, with indignation asked him, how he could have the impudence, with those thin lantern-jaws, that meagre pale phiz, and blotched spotted body, to set up for one who was able to cure the infirmities of others.


A sickly, infirm look, is as disadvantageous in a physician, as that of a rake in a clergyman, or a sheepish one in a soldier. If this moral contains any thing further, it is, that we should not set up for rectifying enormities in others, while we labour under the same ourselves. Good advice ought always to be followed, without our being prejudiced upon account of the person from whom it comes: but it is seldom that men can be brought to think us worth minding, when we prescribe cures for maladies with which ourselves are infected. "Physician, heal thyself," is too scriptural not to be applied upon such an occasion; and, if we would avoid being the jest of an audience, we must be sound, and free from those diseases of which we would endeavour to cure others. How shocked must people have been to hear a preacher, for a whole hour, declaim against drunkenness, when his own infirmity has been such, that he could neither bear nor forbear drinking; and, perhaps, was the only person in the congregation who made the doctrine at that time necessary! Others too have been very zealous in exploding crimes, for which none were more suspected than themselves: but let such silly hypocrites remember, that they whose eyes want couching, are the most improper people in the world to set up for oculists.