The Sheep-Biter

A Shepherd trusted his dog with the sheep. The dog was caught biting and killing sheep and at sentencing for the crime begged for his life. Dog gone.

All criminals must be punished for crimes.

A certain Shepherd had a Dog in whom he placed such great trust, that he would often leave the flock to his sole care. As soon, however, as his master’s back was turned, the Cur, although well fed and kindly treated, used to worry the Sheep, and would sometimes kill one and devour a portion. The man at last found out how much his confidence had been abused, and resolved to hang the Dog without mercy. When the rope was put around his neck, he pleaded hard for his life, and begged his master rather to hang the Wolf, who had done ten times as much harm to the flock as he had. “That may be,” replied the man sternly; “but you are ten times the greater villain for all that. Nothing shall save you from the fate which your treachery deserves.”

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Sheep BiterA CERTAIN Shepherd had a Dog, upon whose fidelity he relied very much; for whenever he had an occasion to be absent himself, he committed the care and tuition of the flock to the charge of his Dog; and, to encourage him to do his duty cheerfully, he fed him constantly with sweet curds and whey; and sometimes threw him a crust or two extraordinary. Yet, notwithstanding this, no sooner was his back turned, but the treacherous cur fell foul upon the flock, and devoured the sheep instead of guarding and defending them. The Shepherd being informed of this, was resolved to hang him; and the Dog, when the rope was about his neck, and he was just going to be tied up, began to expostulate with his master, asking him, why he was so unmercifully bent against him, who was his own servant and creature, and had only committed one or two crimes; and why he did not rather execute revenge upon the Wolf, who was a constant and declared enemy? Nay, replies the Shepherd, it is for that very reason that I think you ten times more worthy of death than he; from him I expected nothing but hostilities, and therefore could guard against him: you I depended upon as a just and faithful servant, and fed and encouraged you accordingly; and therefore your treachery is the more notorious, and your ingratitude the more unpardonable.

THE APPLICATION

No injuries are so bitter and so inexcusable as those which proceed from men whom we trusted as friends, and in whom we placed a confidence. An open enemy, however inveterate, may overpower and destroy us, or perhaps may hurt and afflict us only in some measure; but, as such a treatment cannot surprise us, because we expected no less, neither can it give us half the grief and uneasiness of mind, which we are apt to feel when we find ourselves wronged by the treachery and falsehood of a friend. When the man, whom we trusted and esteemed, proves injurious to us, it is a calamity so cruelly complicated in its circumstances, that it involves us in grief of many folds, and multiplies the sum of our infelicity. At one and ihe same time, we find a foe where we least expected, and lose a friend when we most wanted him; which must be as severe and piercing, as it is sudden and surprising. It is natural, therefore, for our resentment to be in proportion to our sense of such an injury; and that we should wish the punishment of so extraordiuary a crime may be, at least, as great as that which usually attends an ordinary one.