The Rose And The Snail

A Snail pointed out to a Rose that the only thing that destroyed her beauty were the thorns. The Rose got rid of thorns. The Snail then had a nice meal.

Don’ let down your defenses.


JN Fable 073

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey; Engraving: J. Jackson (1828)

A Snail thus once addressed the Rose,
‘O fairest, thou, and sweetest flow’r,
‘Which Flora bids her charms disclose,
‘And shed her brightness through the bow’r!

‘Pardon, I pray, your humble slave,’
(Pursu’d the Snail with great respect,)
‘One only little fault you have,
‘Which you might easily correct.

‘I mean those sharp and ugly thorns,
‘Which wound who e’er approaches near,
‘Mar ev’ry beauty that adorns,
‘And each admirer fill with fear.

‘Zephyr himself, your faithful lover—
‘How new, how cruel is his case!—
‘Dares only round your beauties hover,
‘And fears to meet your fond embrace.’

The poison caught:—the Rose consented,
And stripp’d herself of every thorn;
But, O! how soon must be repented
The error of that cruel morn!

The guardian thorn no sooner gone,
The Snail became, from humble, free;
Easy and impudent came on,
And mounted the defenceless tree.

Then quickly cankering every leaf,
Each flow’r and opening bud he ate;
And now the Rose perceiv’d with grief,
Her error—but perceiv’d too late!

Her fragrance gone, her beauty blasted,
And fled her young and virgin pride—
Her life was bitter while it lasted,
But soon she faded, droop’d—and died!


Ye Fair, whom snail-like flatt’rers sue,
Mark what the awful moral shows!
Virtue is beauty’s thorn in you—
But, O! be wiser than the Rose.

JN Fable 073a

Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)