A Hen sat on eggs in am abandoned viper’s nest. A Swallow called her out asking why she would be incubating the eggs of a mortal enemy. Good question!
A good natured man will often assist his own destruction.
A hen finding the eggs of a viper and carefully keeping them warm, nourished them into life. A Swallow, observing what she had done, said, “You silly creature! why have you hatched these vipers which, when they shall have grown, will inflict injury on all, beginning with yourself?’
There was once a foolish Hen, that sat brooding upon a nest of Snakes’ eggs. A Swallow perceiving it, flew to her, and told her what danger she was in. “Be assured,” said she, “you are hatching your own destruction. The moment these young ones see the light, they will turn and wreak their venomous spite upon you.”
A HEN finding some Serpents eggs in a dunghill, sat upon them, with a design to hatch them. A swallow perceiving it, flew towards her, and with some warmth and passion: Are you mad, says she, to sit hovering over a brood of such pernicious creatures, as you do? Be assured, the moment you bring them to light, you are the first they will attack, and wreak their venomous spite upon.
This fable is only to put us in mind, once more, of what we have already, more than once, met with in the course of these fables, that we should never have any thing to do with ill men: no, not even to do them kindnesses. Men of ill principles are a generation of vipers, that ought to be crushed under our feet, and destroyed the first opportunity. Every rogue should be look upon by honest men as a poisonous serpent. It is not sufficient that they avoid and keep clear of him; but, if they have any value for their own safety, they should prosecute and maul him, and render him incapable of ever doing mischief. The man who is occasionally or by accident, one’s enemy, may be mollified by kindness and reclaimed by good usage: such a behaviour, reason and morality both expect from us. But we should ever resolve, if not to suppress, at least to have no dealings with those, whose blood is tinctured with hereditary, habitual villany, and their nature leavened with evil, to such a degree, as to be incapable of a reformation.
Thomas Bewick (The Hen and The Swallow)
A Hen, having found a nest of Serpent’s eggs in a dung-hill, immediately, with a fostering care, sat upon them, with a design to hatch them. A Swallow observing this, flew towards her, and with great earnestness forewarned her of her danger. What! said she, are you mad, to bring forth a brood of such pernicious creatures? Be assured, the instant they are warmed into life, you are the first they will attack and wreak their venomous spite upon: but the Hen persisted in her folly, and the end verified the Swallow’s prediction.
It is too often the hard fortune of many a kind good-natured man in the world to breed up a bird to pick out his own eyes, in despite of all cautions to the contrary; but they who want foresight should hearken to the council of the wise, as this might have the effect of preventing their spending much time and good offices on the undeserving, perhaps to the utter ruin of themselves. It is the duty of all men to act fairly, openly, and honestly, in all their transactions in life; to do justice to all; but to consider well the character of those on whom they would confer favours: for gratitude is one of the rarest as well as the greatest of virtues. The Fable is intended to shew that we should never have any dealings with bad men, even to do them kindnesses. Men of evil principles are a generation of vipers, that ought to be crushed; and every rogue should be looked upon by honest men as a venomous serpent. The man who is occasionally, or by accident, one’s enemy, may be mollified by kindness, and reclaimed by good usage: such a behaviour both reason and morality expect from us: but we should ever resolve, if not to suppress, at least to have no connexion with those whose blood is tinctured with hereditary, habitual villainy, and their nature leavened with evil, to such a degree as to be incapable of a reformation.
There was a foolish hen that sat brooding upon a nest of snakes eggs. A swallow, that observ’d it, went and told her the danger on’t. Little do you think, says she, what you are at this instant a doing, and that you are just now hatching your own destruction; for this good office will be your ruine.
‘Tis the hard fortune of many a good natur’d man to breed up a bird to peck out his own eyes, in despite of all cautions to the contrary.
Gherardo Image from 1480
Gallina et Ova Serpentis
Gallina reperta ova serpentis coepit studiose incubando fovere ut pullos excluderet. Hoc agentem conspicata, hirundo “Stulta!” inquit; “cur in hoc fetu educando operam ponis, qui eductus in te primum omnium iniuriosus est futurus?”