The Sorrel Mare And Her Master

A Sorrel Mare was favorite. Eventually worn out, she was sold to servants and then as a carriage horse. Master was in an accident and recognized the mare.

Don’t cast out old friends; let them live in dignity.


JN Fable 071

Sketch: James Northcote; Wood drawing: William Harvey (1828)

Amongst the stud of a famous Fox-hunter, a beautiful Sorrel Mare was his greatest favourite. She carried him over hedge and ditch, and never failed to bring him in at the death. At length worn out more by hard work than by years, the Sorrel Mare was dismissed from the immediate service of her master, to become the hack of the servants. In this situation she was brought so low in the course of a few years, that the servants would not condescend to ride her any longer, and poor Sorrel was sold, by her master in person, to a Horse-dealer, notwithstanding a supplicating look (for she was too mild to remonstrate) to be indulged in the run of his park, during the remainder of her days.

Some months after, this squire was summoned post-haste to London, and it happened that in one of the stages, his postchaise was overturned by the falling of the shaft-horse. Our squire was taken out of the carriage most severely bruised by the accident, and bitterly cursing the wretched horse which was the cause of it. The expiring animal just raised her head, and looking in his face, with a plaintive tone, meekly said, “Had I been allowed the run of thy park, this unfortunate accident perhaps had never befallen thee;” and to his great confusion the Foxhunter then saw that it was really poor sorrel, who had been sold for a post-horse and thus harassed to death.


There is nothing which betrays a morose temper and depraved mind more than cruelty to animals, and plainly shows what such hearts are capable of if they had but the power. Surely it is the vilest and most cowardly species of ingratitude, as it is inflicted on those from whom we can fear no resentment in return for our barbarity, and who are without a friend to espouse their cause.

This kind of ingratitude has been feelingly noticed by Phaedrus to his friend Philetus, the poet having been repaid with neglect, or worse usage, for services done in his youth, by those who were afterwards able to afford him a better recompence.

Wrongs and ingratitude are not only against the voice of nature itself, but oftentimes carry their punishment along with them, and by an unforeseen and hidden train of events, are retorted on the head of the guilty; and if by no other means, conscience and deep remorse often avenge the crime upon the delinquent by his own hands. The Egyptians of all vices, most abhorred ingratitude, in which (as Tully saith) all wickedness is contained.

There is not any thing where there is less danger of excess than in the indulgence of gratitude.