A little fish will grow,
If life be spared, a great;
But yet to let him go,
And for his growing wait,
May not be very wise,
As 'tis not sure your bait
Will catch him when of size.
Upon a river bank, a fisher took
A tiny troutling from his hook.
Said he, ''Twill serve to count, at least,
As the beginning of my feast;
And so I'll put it with the rest.'
This little fish, thus caught,
His clemency besought.
'What will your honour do with me?
I'm not a mouthful, as you see.
Pray let me grow to be a trout,
And then come here and fish me out.
Some alderman, who likes things nice,
Will buy me then at any price.
But now, a hundred such you'll have to fish,
To make a single good-for-nothing dish.'
'Well, well, be it so,' replied the fisher,
'My little fish, who play the preacher,
The frying-pan must be your lot,
Although, no doubt, you like it not:
I fry the fry that can be got.'
In some things, men of sense
Prefer the present to the future tense.