'The Sick Kite', an illustration by JVL in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989
The illustration shows Ditchling Church surrounded by trees, most of which were blown down in the storm of 1987. On the right can be seen a half-timbered building known as 'Wing's Place' in West Street. Here is the text of the fable, as told by Samuel Croxall in his celebrated book - Fables of Aesop and Others published in 1722.
A Kite had been sick a long time; and finding there was no Hopes of his Recovery, beg’d of his Mother to go to all the Churches, to try what Prayers and Promises would effect in his behalf. The old Kite replied, Indeed, dear Son, I would willingly undertake anything to save your Life; but I have great reason to despair of you doing any Service in the Way you propose: For, with what Face can I ask any thing of the Gods in Favour of one, whose whole Life has been a continued Scene of Rapine and Injustice, and, who has not scrupled, upon Occasion, to rob the very Altars themselves?
Moral: Little pity is shown to sickly penitents when they have lived the life of a thief.
Text: Samuel Croxall (Fable 29, 1722).
Selected Parallels: Babrius 78. Caxton (Romulus) 1/19. L’Estrange 17. Chambry 168. Perry 324.