'The Swallow and the Other Birds', an illustration by John Vernon Lord
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.
The Swallow and the Other Birds
A Farmer was sowing his Field with Flax. The swallow observ’d it; and desir’d the other Birds to assist her in picking the Seed up, and destroying it; telling them that Flax was pernicious Material of which the Thread was compos’d, which made the Fowler’s Nets, and by that Means contributed to the Ruin of so many innocent Birds. But the poor Swallow, not having the good Fortune to be regarded, the Flax sprung up and appear’d above the Ground. She then put them in Mind once more of their impending Danger, and wish’d them to pluck it up in the Bud, before it went any further. They still neglected her Warnings; and the Flax grew up into the high Stalk. She yet again desir’d them to attack it, for that it was not yet too late. But all she could get was to be ridicul’d and despis’d for a silly pretending Prophet. The Swallow finding all her Remonstrances avail’d nothing, was resolv’d to leave the Society of such unthinking careless Creatures, before it was too late. So quitting the Woods, she repair’d to the Houses; and forsaking the Conversation of the Birds, has, ever since, made her Abode among the dwellings of Men.
Moral: Nip danger in the bud to avoid a worse situation.
Text: Samuel Croxall (157, 1722).
Selected parallels: La Fontaine 1/8. Caxton, Romulus 1/20. L’Estrange 1/18. Chambry 349. Perry 39 (also see 437 and 437a). TMI J652.2.