The Ant And The Caterpillar

A working Ant berated a slow-moving Caterpillar, saying how much better he was. The Caterpillar came back as a Butterfly and the Ant changed his tune.

Don’t burn bridges; you don’t know when you might need them.


JN Fable 050

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: J. Jackson (1828)

As an Ant of his talents superiorly vain,
Was trotting with consequence over the plain;
A Worm, in his progress remarkably slow,
Cry’d ‘Bless your good worship, wherever you go!
‘I hope your great mightiness won’t take it ill,
‘I pay my respects from an hearty good will.’
With a look of contempt and ineffable pride,
‘Begone! you vile reptile, his Antship replied;
‘Go, go and lament your contemptible state,
‘But first—look at me—see—my limbs, how complete!
‘I guide all. my motions with freedom and ease,
‘I run backward and forward, and turn when I please;
‘Of nature (grown weary,) thou shocking essay!
‘I spurn you thus from me;—crawl out of my way.’
The reptile insulted, and vext to the soul,
Crept onwards, and hid himself close in his hole;
But nature determin’d to end his distress,
Soon sent him abroad in a Butterfly’s dress.
Ere long, the proud Ant was repassing the road,
(Fatigu’d from the harvest, and tugging his load,)
The beau on a violet bank he beheld,
Whose vesture, in glory, a monarch’s excell’d;
His plumage expanded!—’twas rare to behold,
So lovely a mixture of purple and gold.
The Ant, quite amaz’d at a figure so gay,
Bow’d low with respect, and was trudging away:
‘Stop, friend,’ says the Butterfly, ‘don’t be surpris’d,
‘I once was the reptile you spurn’d and despis’d;
‘But now I can mount,—in the sun-beams I play,
‘While you must forever drudge on in your way.