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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)


There was a Country Fellow at work a sowing his grounds, and a Swallow (being a Bird famous for Providence and Foresight) call'd a company of little Birds about her, and bade 'em take good notice what that Fellow was a doing. You must know (says the Swallow) that all the Fowlers Nets and Snares are made of Hemp or Flax, and that's the Seed that he is now a sowing. Pick it up in time, for fear of what may come on't. In short, they put it off, till it took root; and then again, till it was sprung up into the Blade: Upon this, the Swallow told 'em once for all, that it was not yet too late to prevent the Mischief, if they would but bestir themselves, and set heartily about it; but finding that no heed was given to what she said, she e'en bade adieu to her old Companions in the Woods, and so betook herself to a City-Life, and to the Conversation of Men. This Flax and Hemp came in time to be gather'd and wrought, and it was this Swallow's Fortune to see several of the very same Birds that she had forewarned, taken in Nets made of the very Stuff she told them of. They came at last to be sensible fo the folly of slipping their Opportunity; but they were lost beyond all Redemption first.
THE MORAL. Wise Men read Effects in their Causes; but Fools will not believe them till 'tis too late to prevent the Mischief. Delay in these Cases is mortal.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.