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The Stag at the Pool



A Stag that had been drinking at a clear spring, saw himself in the water; and, pleased with the sight, stood long contemplating and surveying his shape and features from head to foot. "Ah!" says he, "what a glorious pair of branching horns are there! How gracefully do those antlers hang over my forehead, and give an agreeable turn to my whole face! If some other parts of my body were but in proportion to them, I would turn my back to nobody; but I have a set of such legs as really make me ashamed to see them. People may talk what they please of their conveniences, and what great need we stand in of them, upon several occasions; but, for my part, I find them so very slender and unsightly that I had as lief have none at all."

While he was giving himself these airs, he was alarmed with the noise of some huntsmen and a pack of hounds that had been just laid on upon the scent, and were making towards him.

Away he flees in some consternation, and, bounding nimbly over the plain, threw dogs and men at a vast distance behind him. After which, taking a very thick copse, he had the ill-fortune to be entangled by his horns in a thicket, [91]where he was held fast, till the hounds came in and pulled him down. Finding now how it was likely to go with him, in the pangs of death, he is said to have uttered these words:—"Unhappy creature that I am! I am too late convinced that what I prided myself in has been the cause of my undoing, and what I so much disliked was the only thing that could have saved me."


Beauty often becomes a snare and ruin, while solid virtue, though unadorned, gains respect. The latter, too, will mature with age, while the former will surely fade.

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