The Eagle and The Jackdaw

An Eagle was bothered by a Daw who made up attributes to praise the Eagle in order to curry favor. Didn’t work. Eagle saw through it and kicked the Daw out.

False praise leads to disaster.


NorthcoteNorthcote

JN Fable 035

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: H. White (1828)

A stately Eagle, the despotic sovereign of the feathered race, was frequently annoyed by a pert Jackdaw, who endeavoured to ingratiate himself in his opinion by the most absurd and gross flattery. One time in particular, he ran on in his usual fulsome manner, praising the Eagle for every perfection of which he was not possessed, concluding this to be the way to gain his favour, when the royal Bird, whose keen perception was not thus to be deceived by a fawning sycophant, surveyed him with a mixture of rage and contempt, saying, “Are there no valuable qualities you could find in me to praise with truth, or are you so hard put to it, that you must perforce heap on me all those virtues which you know I am without? Fly from my sight, or I shall instantly be your destruction.”

Application

There is nothing so disgusting to a man of sense, as a high-flown panegyric; and a fulsome dedication is the most scandalous of all libels. It does not only pronounce a man to be a fool to his face, but publishes him for a coxcomb to the world also, and he signs and seals the certificate in the very sufferance of it.

JN Fable 035a

Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: S. Slader (1828)