A fox tried hard to get a roosting Hen out of a barn but the Hen knew better than to come down to her doom. Good show.
Beware of interested friendships.
[Note: These fables are basically the same as those on the page The Hen and The Fox which have the Hen in a tree rather than a barn.]
Samuel Croxall (The Hen and the Fox)
A Fox, having crept into an out-house, looked up and down, seeking what he might devour: and at last spied a Hen sitting upon the uppermost perch, so high, that he could by no means come at her. He then had recourse to his old stratagem: Dear cousin, says he, addressing himself to the Hen, how do you do? I heard that you were ill, and kept within; at which I was so concerned, that I could not rest till I came to see you. Pray, how is it with you now? let me feel your pulse a little; indeed you do not look well at ail. He was running on after this impudent fulsome manner, when the Hen answered him from the roost, Truly, cousin Reynard, you are in the right on’t; I never was in more pain in my life: I must beg your pardon for being so free as to tell you, that I see no company; and you must excuse me too for not coming down to you; for, to say the truth, my condition is such, that I fear I should catch my death, if I should do it.
There are some people in the world, whose address and conversation are so impertinent, so shocking, and disagreeable, that it is doing penance, and suffering a kind or bodily pain, to be in their company. When these familiar fools with their repeated ofticiousness ask us how we do, no wonder if we are really sick; for how can we be well when they are near us? they either mean nothing, and are vain, silly inapertinents, whom we abhor or cover some evil purpose under a disguise of nauseous palpable flattery, and therefore are to be treated with reserve and caution. A man who sees through flattery, is indeed free from the danger of it. But he should not be satisfied with that. If he is a public-spirited man, he ought to discountenance and expose the person that practises it, to prevent it from flourishing abroad, and hurting those who may not be weary enough to discern, or staunch enough to resist its attacks. The men of flattery, as they are, in some degree or other, a common mischief, ought to be treated as common enemies: and as it is generally their design to delude and impose upon others, if we can be before-hand with, and disappoint them, we shall act, if not generously, yet, however, fairly and discreetly.
Thomas Bewick (The Hen and The Fox)
A Fox having crept into an out-house, looked up and down, seeking what he might devour, and at last spied a Hen perched up so high, that he could by no means come at her. My dear friend, says he, how do you do? I heard that you were ill, and kept within; at which I was so concerned, that I could not rest till I came to see you. Pray how is it with you now? Let me feel your pulse a little: indeed you do not look well at all. He was running on after this fulsome manner, when the Hen answered him from the roost, Truly, friend Reynard, you are judging rightly, for I never was in more pain in my life: I must beg your pardon for being so free as to tell you that I see no company; and you must excuse me too for not coming down to you, for, to say the truth, my condition is such, that I fear I should catch my death by it.
It is generally the design of hypocritical persons to delude and impose upon others, with an eye to derive some benefit to themselves, when they pretend to feel a flattering anxiety for their welfare; or sometimes they may perhaps, with impertinent folly, mean no more than merely to mock and befool men who are weak enough to become their dupes. In both cases they are enemies to truth and sincerity, which adorn and tend so greatly to promote the happiness of society, and they ought to be exposed as such. For although men of penetration see through the pretence, and escape its dangers, yet the weak, the vain, and the unsuspicious are put off their guard, and have not discernment enough to shun the trap so pleasingly baited. The Fable also furnishes a hint against hypocritical legacy hunters, whose regard is generally of the same nature as that of the Fox for the Hen.
A HUNGRY fox, in quest of prey,
Into an out-house found his way.
When looking round with skilful search,
He ‘spied a hen upon a perch.
Thought Reynard, “What’s the reason why
They place her on a roost so high?
I know not what the use can be,
Unless it’s out of spite to me.”
As thus he thought, the hen awoke,
When thus to her sly Reynard spoke.
“Dear madam, I’m concern’d to hear,
You’ve been unwell for half a year;
I could not quell my strong desire
After your welfare to inquire;
But pray come down and take the air;
You’ll ne’er get well while sitting there;
I’m sure it will not hurt your cough,
—Do give me leave to help you off.”
“I thank you, sir,” the hen replied,
“I’d rather on my roost abide;
‘Tis true enough I’ve been unwell,
And am so now, the truth to tell;
And am so nervous, you must know,
I dare not trust myself below,
And therefore say to those who call,
I see no company at all;
For from my perch should I descend,
I’m certain in my death ‘twould end;
As then, I know, without presumption,
My cough would end in a consumption.”
Thus cunning people often find
Their crafty overtures declined
By prudent people, whom they thought,
For want of wit, would soon be caught.
JBR Collection (The Hen and The Fox)
A Fox having crept into an outhouse, looked up and down for something to eat, and at last spied a Hen sitting upon a perch so high, that he could by no means come at her. He therefore had recourse to an old stratagem. “Dear cousin,” said he to her, “How do you do? I heard that you were ill, and kept at home; I could not rest, therefore, till I had come to see you. Pray let me feel your pulse. Indeed, you do not look well at all.” He was running on in this impudent manner, when the Hen answered him from the roost, “Truly, clear Reynard, you are in the right. I was seldom in more danger than I am now. Pray excuse my coming down; I am sure I should catch my death if I were to.”The Fox, finding himself foiled, made off, and tried his luck elsewhere.
Crane Poetry Visual
The Hen roosted high on her perch;
Hungry Fox down below, on the search,
Coaxed her hard to descend
She replied, “Most dear friend!
I feel more secure on my perch.”
Beware of interested friendships.