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“The wisest of the Ancients delivered their Conceptions of the Deity, and

their Lessons of Morality, in Fables and Parables.”


A prodigal thoughtless young Man, who had wasted his whole patrimony in taverns and
gaming-houses, among his lewd idle companions, was taking a melancholy walk near a
brook. It was in the spring, while the hills were yet capped with snow, but it happened
to be one of those clear sunny days which some times occur at that time of the year; and
to make appearances the more flattering, a Swallow which had been invited forth by the
warmth, flew skimming along upon the surface of the water. The Youth observing this,
concluded that the summer was now come, and that he should have little or no occasion
for clothes, so went and pawned them, and ventured the money for one stake more,
among his sharping associates. When this too was gone, like all the rest of his property,
he took12 another solitary walk in the same place as before, but the weather being severe
and frosty, every thing had put on a very different aspect; the brook was frozen over,
and the poor Swallow lay dead upon the bank. At this, the Youth, smarting under the
sense of his own misery, mistakingly reproached the Swallow as the cause of all his
misfortunes: he cried out, oh, unhappy bird, thou hast undone both thyself and me, who
was so credulous as to trust to thy appearance.

THEY who frequent taverns and gaming-houses, and keep bad company, should not
wonder if they are reduced in a very short time to penury and want. The wretched young
fellows who once addict themselves to such a scandalous course of life, scarcely think of
or attend to any thing besides: they seem to have nothing else in their heads but how
they may squander what they have got, and where they may get more when that is gone.
They do not make the same use of their reason as other people, but like the jaundiced
eye, view every thing in a false light, and having turned a deaf ear to all advice, and
pursued their unaltered course until all their property is irrecoverably lost, when at
length misery forces upon them a sense of their situation, they still lay the blame upon
any cause but the right one—their own extravagance and folly; like the Prodigal in the
fable, who would not have considered a solitary occurrence as a general indication of the
season, had not his own wicked desires blinded his understanding.