A Rivulet moved through much beauty and joined a stream. The two in combination flowed through worse conditions and eventually became a Foul Drain. Phew!
Keeping bad company can have fatal effects.
A clear crystal spring which issued from a rock, became a blessing to all the neighbourhood from its coolness and purity, was visited from every quarter of the country by old and young, and so celebrated and venerated for a variety of virtues, that almost miracles were ascribed to its powers; however, having once left its source, it was now to take its chance and run its natural course on the surface of the wide world, far distant from its uncontaminated origin, and be exposed to those annoyances to which every moving object is liable. For long it passed over rough and over smooth and still was clear, and was admired wherever it visited, till at length it chanced to enter within the precincts of a great city, where meeting by accident with another stream, they soon joined company, and this before a due examination of each other had taken place; for it is the nature of innocence and purity to conclude that all others are like themselves: therefore the Rivulet immediately mixed with this new-found acquaintance in the strictest friendship, and on they ran together; but the unfortunate subject of our tale soon found a different life, from that which it had ever before been accustomed to, its progress was no longer through rich meadows adorned with gay flowers, whilst itself reflected from its crystal surface the various beauties of the bright sky. Now it was hid from the sight of man, scorned and condemned to find its dreary way through gloomy caverns under the earth, and when it chanced to appear above-ground, instead of blessings bestowed on it as it passed, curses supplied their place. This fatal change, so strange and new, forced a murmuring lamentation from our pitiable Rivulet; ” Alas! how I am fallen, what have I done to be thus cursed and shunned?” Which was thus answered by its wretched and base companion: “Don’t regard this vulgar abuse, you will become familiarized to it soon, as I have long been: it is solely on account of your friendship with me, whom mankind hate, but I have been so long their scorn that I now disregard it; for I must inform you that I am what they call a Foul Drain, and as all hope of your separation from me is now impossible, being so entirely intermixed, we must quietly be reconciled to our fate and run on together.”
The fatal effects of keeping bad company are incalculable, for were it possible to keep free from catching their base habits, yet the loss of character by the connection is certain, the bulk of the world are much readier to receive a bad report than a good one, and if the best men cannot escape free from censure, what must those expect who give cause?” When character is gone, all sense of shame soon follows, and the door is left open to the free entrance of every vice: indeed vice seems to be the only refuge which the wicked have left them, for being driven off with violence by all who wish or hope to have a claim on good, their only source of support must be from the association of abandoned wretches who live by guilt and infamy. J. N.