The Sheep a people void of strife


Moderation or The Wolves and the Sheep. a Fable.

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 104-5.

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 136; McGovern & Hinnant, 84-85.


Derives from Aesopic fables in which wolves disguise themselves, lure the sheep to dismiss the dogs, and then devour the sheep, e.g., Rhys, "The Wolves and the Sheep," 33; 1673 Aesop Improved, "Of the Wolf and the Sheep," Bk 2, No 111; Ogilby, "OF the Wolves and the Sheep, No. 31, La Fontaine, "Les Loups et les Brebis," III, 13, 95-6; Mandeville, "The Wolves and the Sheep," 44-5; and L'Estrange's 1692 "A league betwixt the Wolves and the Sheep, No. 45 (closest to Finch's fable due to Tory moral).


Finch adds the contemporary ironic theme of moderation; the wolves counsel moderation as did the non-Jacobite Tory and Whig supporters of William to the "fanatical" Jacobites; the dogs are called off and sheep who listened to these new "doctrines" are the "ruin'd fools." The political context is not explained; without the references it lacks point. It may be, for example, that Anne Finch is satirizing the hypocrisy of Hanover Government which pretended moderation but was harsh and ruthless towards its enemies.


Around the time of Anne Finch's letter to Mrs Arabella Marrow dated October 15, 1715.
Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 8 January 2003