FAB. CCLXIII. A Fox and a Knot of Gossips.
A Fox that was taking a Walk one Night Cross a Village spy'd a Bevy of Iolly, Gossipping Wenches, making Merry o∣ver a Dish of Pullets. Why Ay, says he; Is not this a Brave World now? A Poor Innocent Fox cannot so much as Peep in∣to a Hen-Roost, though but to Keep Life and Soul together, and what a Bawling do you make on't presently with your Dogs, and your Bastards! And yet You your selves can lie Stuffing your Guts here with your Hens, and your Capons, and not a Word of the Pudding. How now Bold-Face, crys an Old Trot. Sirrah, we Eat our Own Hens, I'd have you know; and what you Eat, you Steal.
There are Men of Prey as well as Beasts of Prey, that Account Rapine as good a Title as Propriety.
THIS gives us to Understand, first, that a Man may do what he will with his Own; but he has Nothing to do with the Propriety of Another Body. 2dly, That People may do any Thing with Impunity where there's No body to call 'em to Account for't; And that which is Death for One to do is Lawful for Another.
There are several Starts of Fancy, that Off-hand look well enough; but bring them to the Test, and there's Nothing in 'em. The Foxes Reproach here upon the Gossips, was a Frolique Pleasant enough; but without any Colour, or Congruity of Reason; and the Fallacy lies, from the same Thing done by several Persons, to the same Right of Doing it; though un∣der Circumstances so Different, that there's no Parity at all betwixt them upon the Collation. This Freak has somewhat of the Air in't of the Young Fellow's Conceit to his Father, when he took him Ruffling his Grand-mo∣ther. Why may not I lie with your Mother, says he, as well as You lie with Mine? These Foxes should do well to Consider, that High-Way-Men, and Other Criminals have as much to say for themselves, where there's a Breach of Law, and Common Justice in the Case. This Instance of the Fox and the Gossips, comes to the Old Proverb; that One may better Steal a Horse then Another look over the Hedge.