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The Husbandman and the Stork


The Husbandman pitched a net in his fields to take the Cranes and Geese which came to feed upon the new-sown corn. Accordingly he took several, both Cranes and Geese; and among them a Stork, who pleaded hard for his life, and, among other apologies which he made, alleged, that he was neither Goose nor Crane, but a poor harmless Stork, who performed his duty to his parents to all intents and purposes, feeding them when they were old, and, as occasion required, carrying them from place to place upon his back.—'All this may be true,' replies the Husbandman; 'but, as I have taken you in bad company, and in the same crime, you must expect to suffer the same punishment.'


If bad company had nothing else to make us shun and avoid it, this, methinks, might be sufficient, that it infects and taints a man's reputation, to as great a degree as if he were thoroughly versed in the wickedness of the whole gang. What is it to me if the thief who robs me of my money gives part of it to build a church? Is he ever the less a thief? Shall a woman's going to prayers twice a day save her reputation, if she is known to be a malicious lying gossip? No, such mixtures of religion and sin make the offence but the more flagrant, as they convince us that it was not committed out of ignorance. Indeed, there is no living without being guilty of some faults, more or less; which the world ought to be good-natured enough to overlook, in consideration of the general frailty of mankind, when they are not too gross and too abundant: but when we are so abandoned to stupidity, and a neglect of our reputation, as to keep bad company, however little we may be criminal in reality, we must expect the same censure and punishment as is due to the most notorious of our companions.