The Fly And The Trout

A Fly was rejoicing while gliding over a stream one summer’s day. Too bad, as the stream had a hungry Trout who had a good meal of the Fly.

Going after forbidden fruit may lead to disaster.


JN Fable 020

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

As near a stream one summer’s day,
Sooth’d by the murm’ring current’s play,
The insects glided on;
Behold! of largest growth, a Fly
Adown the stream came glist’ning by.
The smaller flies among.

In sportive air it spread the sail,
And o’er the rest, the flying gale
It caught with seeming pride;
Swiftly it skims the crystal waves,
Now in the purling eddy laves,
Now smoothly on would glide.

What joy! it said, or seem’d to say,
Thus on the sparkling stream to play,
And quit the fields of air;
How dull, because on wings they rise,
Is yonder crowd of vulgar flies,
To float forever there!

Stlll let the timid, sordid crew,
The same old beaten track pursue,
Nor tempt one new delight;
I dare to live, to live I know,
And grasp at ev’ry joy below;
No fancied ills affright.

While thus he tun’d his idle song,
Borne by the crystal stream along,
A Trout descried the prize;
And upwards darting, swift as thought,
The vain, the boasting insect caught;
The boasting insect dies.


Mark well this tale, and in thy breast
Deep be the lesson there imprest,
How health and life to save;
The wretch who quits the path asaign’d
To taste forbidden joy, shall find
New ways to reach the grave.

JN Fable 020a

Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)