A dog and a cat living together got along fine – except when food was involved.
Thomas Bewick (The Dog and The Cat)
Never were two creatures happier together than a Dog and a Cat, reared in the same house from the time of their birth. They were so kind, so gamesome, and diverting, that it was half the entertainment of the family to see the gambols and love tricks that passed between them. Still it was observed, that at mealtimes, when scraps fell from the table, or a tit-bit was thrown to them, they would be snarling and spitting at one another like the bitterest foes.
This Fable is too true a picture of the practices and friendships of the world. We first enter into agreeable conversations, contract likings, and form close intimacies and connections, which one would think nothing could ever break up; but clashing interests at length come in the way, and dissolve the charm. An unreasonable desire to engross more than we can enjoy, is the bone of contention, which in greater or less degrees sets mankind together by the ears. A jealous thought, a mistaken word or look, is then sufficient to cancel all former bonds: the league is broken, and the farce concludes like the Dog and the Cat in the Fable, with biting and scratching out one another’s eyes. The same kind of over-grasping selfishness which operates so powerfully upon and blinds individuals, may with equal truth be charged against all public associations or societies of men, from the greatest to the least, when they are under the influence of that mistaken patriotism, which, instead of applying its powers to the improvement of what they already possess, seeks aggrandizement by engrossing the colonies or privileges of their less powerful neighbours.