'The Fox with a cropped Tail', an illustration by John Vernon Lord
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 149.
The Fox with a cropped Tail
A CUNNING old fox, of plundering habits,
Great crauncher of fowls, great catcher of rabbits,
Whom none of his sort had caught in a nap,
Was finally caught in somebody’s trap.
By luck he escaped, not wholly and hale,
For the price of his luck was the loss of his tail.
Escaped in this way, to save his disgrace,
He thought to get others in similar case.
One day that the foxes in council were met,
‘Why wear we,’ said he, ‘this cumbering weight,
Which sweeps in the dirt wherever it goes?
Pray tell me its use, if anyone knows.
If the council will take my advice,
We shall dock off our tails in a trice.’
‘Your advice may be good,’ said one on the ground;
‘But ere I reply, pray turn yourself round.’
Whereat such a shout from the council was heard,
Poor bob-tail, confounded, could say not a word.
To urge the reform would have wasted his breath.
Long tails were the mode till the day of his death.
Moral: Distrust those who give advice out of self-interest, particularly when they try to turn a defect into a fashion.
Text: Elizur Wright (La Fontaine 5/5, 1841).
Selected Parallels: La Fontaine 5/5. L’Estrange 101. Chambry 41. Perry 17. Daly 17. TMI J758.1.