A hungry Lion brushed aside a Snake with his paw. The Snake, angered, bit the Lion with deadly venom. Snake pointed out even small enemies can hurt.
Any enemy is a bad enemy.
A lordly Lion who was seeking for his prey, by chance saw a Snake basking in the sun, when, being rather sharpset by hunger, and disappointed in his object, he, with a haughty air, spurned the grovelling reptile with his paw, as not being agreeable to his stomach. But the enraged Snake turned on him, and giving him a mortal sting, thus addressed the expiring hero of the forest: “Die, imperious tyrant! and let thy example show that no strength or power is sufficient at all times to screen a despot from destruction, but that even reptiles, when provoked, may be the cause of his annihilation.”
[Note: The Northcote fable is the same fable as in the JBR Collection above. Only the illustrations and Application associated with the fable in the Northcote book are displayed here.]
It is very impolitic, as well as inhuman, to insult any person, be he ever so much beneath us; and whoever is so unguarded as to take such liberties, must not think it strange if he meets with reprisals. And no men are more unwilling to bear with jests, than those who are the most forward in forcing them on others. In respect to haughty pride, it is not only uneasy, but unsafe also; for it has the powerful justice of heaven, and the watchful envy of men to encounter at the same time. In a word, humility is a virtue that never goes without a blessing.
There is no state of life that has not some mixture of good and evil in it, and the highest pitch of fortune is not exempt from dangers, cares, and fears; so that at last it may be brought to this conclusion, that our safety and our happiness must depend on the prudence and propriety of our conduct. Despise not an enemy, though ever so weak; but consider that the Lion may perish by the sting of an Asp. J. N.