In the dedication to his translation, Croxall claims (p. iii): "These Fables, my Lord, abound in variety of instruction, moral and political. They furnish us with rules for every station of life; they mark out a proper behaviour for us, both in respect of ourselves and others; and demonstrate to us, by kind of example, every virtue which claims our best regards, and every vice which we are most concerned to avoid."
Fable I: The Cock and the Jewel
A brisk young Cock, in company with two or three Pullets, his mistresses, raking upon a dunghill for something to entertain them with, happened to scratch up a jewel: he knew what it was well enough, for it sparkled with an exceeding bright lustre; but not knowing what to do with it, endeavoured to cover his ignorance under a gay contempt. So, shrugging up his wings, shaking his head, and putting on a grimace, he expressed himself to this purpose: Indeed, you are a very fine thing; but I know not any business you have here. I make no scruple of declaring, that my taste lies quite another way; and I had rather have one grain of dear delicious barley, than all the jewels under the sun.
But still, among the idle sauntering young fellows of the age, who have leisure, as well to cultivate and improve the faculties of the mind, as to dress and embellish the body, how many are there who spend their days in raking after new scenes of debauchery, in comparison of those few who know how to relish more reasonable entertainments! Honest, undesigning good sense is so unfashionable, that he must be a bold man who at this time of day attempts to bring it into esteem.
is the youth who, in the midst of his amorous pursuits, endeavouring to
plunder an outside of bloom and beauty, finds a treasure of impenetrable
virtue concealed within! And why may it not be said, how delighted are
fair sex, when, from among a crowd of empty, frolicsome, conceited admirers,
they find out and distinguish with their good opinion, a man of sense,
with a plain, unaffected person, which, at first sight, they did not like.
Fable II: The Wolf and the Lamb
One hot, sultry day, a Wolf and a Lamb happened to come just at the same time, to quench their thirst in the stream of a clear silver brook, that ran tumbling down the side of a rocky mountain. The Wolf stood upon the higher ground; and the Lamb at some distance from him down the current. However, the Wolf, having a mind to pick a quarrel with him, asked him, What he meant by disturbing the water, and making it so muddy that he could not drink, and at the same time demanded satisfaction. The Lamb, frightened at this threatening charge, told him, in a tone as mild as possible, That, with humble submission, he could not conceive how that could be; since the water which he drank ran down from the Wolf to him, and therefore it could not be disturbed so far up the stream. Be that as it will, replies the Wolf, you are a rascal, and I have been told that you treated me with ill language behind my back, about half a year ago. Upon my word, says the Lamb, the time you mention was before I was born. The Wolf, finding it to no purpose to argue any longer against truth, fell into a great passion, snarling and foaming at the mouth, as if he had been mad; and drawing nearer to the Lamb, Sirrah, says he, if it was not you, it was your father, and that's all one. So he seized one poor, innocent, helpless thing, tore it to pieces, and made of meal of it.
Fable XXXVII: The Belly and the Members
In former days, when the belly and the other parts of the body enjoyed the faculty of speech, and had separate views and designs of their own; each part, it seems, in particular, for himself, and in the name of the whole, took exception at the conduct of the Belly, and were resolved to grant him supplies no longer. They said they thought it very hard, that he should lead an idle good-for-nothing life, spending and squandering away upon his own ungodly guts, all the fruits of their labour; and that, in short, they were resolved for the future to strike off his allowance, and let him shift for himself as well as he could. The hands protested they would not lift up a finger to keep him from starving, and the mouth wished he might never speak again, if he took in the least bit of nourishment for him so long as he lived; and, say the teeth, may we be rotten if ever we chew a morsel for him for the future. This solemn league and covenant was kept as long as anything of that kind can be kept, which was, until each of the rebel members pined away to the skin and bone, and could hold out no longer. Then they found there was no doing without the Belly, and that, as idle and insignificant as he seemed, he contributed as much to the maintenance and welfare of all the other parts, as they did to his.