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The Leopard and the Fox

The Leopard and the Fox

A Leopard, being no longer able, by reason of old age, to pursue his prey, feigned illness, and gave out that he would confer great favors upon any animal that would cure him. A cunning Fox heard of the proclamation, and lost no time in visiting the Leopard, first making himself look as much like a physician as he could. On seeing him, the Leopard declared that such a distinguished looking animal could not fail to cure him. This so flattered the Fox that he came near, and at once fell a victim to his vanity, being unable to flee because of the disguise, which fettered his limbs.

Flattery is a dangerous weapon in the hands of an enemy.


The Leopard one day took it into his head to value himself upon the great variety and beauty of his spots, and truly he saw no reason why even the Lion should take place of him, since he could not show so beautiful a skin. As for the rest of the wild beasts of the forest, he treated them all, without distinction, in the most haughty disdainful manner. But the Fox being among them, went up to him with a great deal of spirit and resolution, and told him, that he was mistaken in the value he was pleased to set upon himself; since people of judgment were not used to form their opinion of merit from an outside appearance, but by considering the good qualities and endowments with which the mind was stored within.


How much more heavenly and powerful would beauty prove, if it were not so frequently impaired by the affectation and conceitedness of its possessor! If some women were but as modest and unassuming as they are handsome, they might command the hearts of all that behold them: but Nature seemed to foresee, and has provided against such an inconvenience, by tempering its great master-pieces with a due proportion of pride and vanity; so that their power, depending upon the duration of their beauty only, is like to be but of a short continuance; which, when they happen to prove tyrants, is no small comfort to us; and then, even while it lasts, will abate much of its severity by the allay of those two prevailing ingredients. Wise men are chiefly captivated with the charms of the mind; and whenever they are infatuated with a passion for any thing else, it is generally observed that they cease, during that time at least, to be what they were, and are indeed looked upon to be only playing the fool. If the fair ones we have been speaking of have a true ascendant over them, they will oblige them to divest themselves of common sense, and to talk and act ridiculously, before they can think them worthy of the least regard. Should one of these fine creatures be addressed in the words of Juba,

'Tis not a set of features, or complexion,
The tincture of a skin, that I admire.
Beauty soon grows familiar to the lover,
Fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense.
The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex.
True, she is fair; oh, how divinely fair!
But still the lovely maid improves her charms
With inward greatness, unaffected wisdom,
And sanctity of manners.——

The man that should venture the success of a strong passion upon the construction she would put upon such a compliment, might have reason to repent of his conduct.