Porcupine, Snake, and Company

Despite an agreement with the snakes to share, the porcupine defended not sharing with his quills. Ouch.

Hasty partnerships may be repented of.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children (The Porcupine and The Snakes)

A Porcupine was looking for a good home. At last he found a little sheltered cave, where lived a family of Snakes. He asked them to let him share the cave with them, and the Snakes kindly consented.

The Snakes soon wished they had not given him permission to stay. His sharp quills pricked them at every turn, and at last they politely asked him to leave.

“I am very well satisfied, thank you,” said the Porcupine. “I intend to stay right here.” And with that, he politely escorted the Snakes out of doors. And to save their skins, the Snakes had to look for another home.


Give a finger and lose a hand.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall (The Porcupine and the Snakes)

Croxall - Porcupine and SnakesA PORCUPINE, wanting to shelter himself, desired a nest of Snakes to give him admittance into their cave. They were prevailed upon, and let him in accordingly; but were so annoyed with his sharp prickly quills that they soon repented of their easy compliance, and entreated the Porcupine to withdraw, and leave them their hole to themselves. No, says he; let them quit the place that don’t like it; for my part I am well enough satisfied as I am.


Whittingham - Porcupine and Snake

C. Whittingham (1814)

Some people are of so brutish, inhospitable tempers, that there is no living with them, without greatly incommoding ourselves. Therefore, before we enter into any degree of friendship, alliance, or partnership, with any person whatever, we should thoroughly consider his nature and qualities, his circumstances and his humour. There ought to be something in each of these respects totally and correspond with our own measures, to suit our genius, and adapt itself to the size and proportion of our desires; otherwise our associations, of whatever kind, may prove the greatest plagues of our life. Young men are very apt to run into this error; and being warm in all their passions, throw open their arms at once, and admit into greatest intimacy persons whom they know little of, but by false and uncertain lights. Thus they sometimes receive a viper into their bosom, instead of a friend, and take a porcupine for a consort, with whom they are obliged to cohabit, though she may prove a thorn in their sides as long as they live. A true friend is one, of the greatest blessings in life; therefore, to be mistaken or disappointed of such, enjoyment, when we hope to be in full possession of it, must be a great mortification. So that we cannot be too nice and scrupulous in our choice of those, who are to be our companions for life; for they must have but a poor shallow notion of friendship, who intended to take it, like a lease, for a term of years only. In a word, the doctrine which this fable speaks, is to prepare us against being injured or deceived by rash combination of any sort. The manners of the man we desire for a friend, of the woman we like fur a wife, of the person whom we would jointly manage and concert measures for the advancement of our temporal interest, should be narrowly and cautiously inspected, before we embark with them in the same vessel, lest we should alter our mind when it is too late, and think of regaining the shore, after we have launched out of our depth.

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Porcupine and Snakes

Ernest Griset (1874)

A Porcupine, seeking for shelter, desired some Snakes to give him admittance into their cave. They accordingly let him in, but were afterwards so annoyed by his sharp, prickly quills, that they repented of their easy compliance, and entreated him to withdraw and leave them their hole to themselves. “No,” said he, “let them quit the place that don’t like it; for my part, I am very well satisfied as I am.”

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual

Porcupine and Snake

Going shares with the Snakes, Porcupine
Said “the best of the bargain is mine;”
Nor would he back down.
When the snakes would disown
The agreement his quills made them sigh.

Hasty partnerships may be repented of.