A Miller and a Rat discuss the theft of grain. The Rat lost.
A Miller took a huge over-grown Rat in his meal tub; and there was he laying the law to him about the lewdness of his life and conversation, and the abominable sin of stealing; but your thieving says he, is now come home to ye, and I shall e’n leave honest: Puss here to reckon with ye for all your rogueries. Alas Sir, says the poor Rat, I make no Trade on’t; and the miserable pittance that I take, is only from hand to mouth, and out of pure necessity to keep life and soul together: as the Rat pleaded hunger on the one hand, the Miller threw the matter of conscience and honesty in his teeth on the other, and preach’d to him upon the topick of a political convenience, in making such pilfering knaves examples for the publick good. Well, sir, says the Rat once again, but pray will you consider for your own sake, that this is your own case; and that you and I are both corn merchants, and of the same fraternity; nay, and that for one grain that I take, you take a thousand. This is not language, cries the Miller, in a rage, for an honest man to bear; but the best on’t is sirrah, your tongue’s no slander: so he turn’d the Cat loose upon him to do that which we call in the world an execution of justice.
‘Tis a piece of market policy, for people of a trade to bear hard one upon another, when it comes once to the question betwixt a couple of knaves, which is the honester man of the two.