Excerpt from The Fables of Aesop: Translated Into English
He that a fool doth very wisely hit Doth very foolishly, although he smart, Not to seem senseless of the bob if not, The Wise man's folly is anatomised, Even by the squandering glances of the fool, Addison, writing in ... the Spectator, has well summed up the advantage of fables. There is nothing, he says, which we receive with so much reluctance as advice. We look Upon the man who gives it us as offering' an affront to our under standing, and treating us like children or idiots. We consider the instruction as an implicit censure, and the zeal which any one shows for our good on such an occasion as a piece of pre sumption or impertinence. The truth of it is, the person who pretends to advise does, in that particular, exercise a superiority over us, and can have no other reason for it but that, in com paring us with himself, he thinks us defective, either in our conduct or our understanding. For these reasons there is nothing so difficult as the art of making advice agreeable; and, indeed, all the writers, both ancient and modern, have distinguished themselves among one another according to the perfection at which they have arrived in this art. How many devices have been made use of to render this bitter potion palatable? Some convey their instructions to us in the best chosen words, others in the most harmonious numbers, some in points of wit, and others in short proverbs.
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