The Congregation of Pious Animals

The animals met to offer acknowledgments to Jupiter for the endowments. Jupiter said it wasn’t needed to recite what he already knew and had given them.

The pious should avoid vanity and self-opinion.


JN Fable 084

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: G.W. Bonner (1828)

Once upon a time it is said that an extraordinary fit of piety influenced the animal creation, to offer up their grateful acknowledgments to Jupiter, for the various gifts and endowments he had bestowed upon them; and when assembled, some of the most forward of them, with much seeming humility and thankfulness, professed the deepest sense of the peculiar happy talents and dispositions with which they vainly thought they were blessed. The Peacock returned thanks for the exquisite sweetness of his voice—the Hog for his love of cleanliness—the Viper for his harmless disposition—the Cuckoo for the pleasing variety of his musical notes, and the Goose for the gracefulness of her carriage, and so on.

Jupiter accepted this commendable act of duty, in return for real blessings that they undoubtedly did enjoy; but at the same time informed them, that their being so very particular as to specify those endowments was quite unnecessary, as the particular gifts which each of them had to boast of were best known to himself, who gave them.


It frequently happens that nature, in her freaks, makes men so perverse as to pride themselves highly in thinking they possess those talents, in which every one else can see they are deficient. Even in our acts of piety, we ought to be well aware of vanity and self-opinion, and not arrogantly imagine that we have greater claims to heaven’s promised favour, than many of our neighbours, notwithstanding the appearance of things to our own partial and flattering perception. J. N,