The compiler praises the Crow for the care it takes in the
rearing of its young, a care which, so he says, is in strong
to the practises of contemporary women who take no pleasure
in their child-rearing, but rather seek by various methods (a hint, perhaps, of contraception) to prevent too many of their children from reaching maturity.
"Who but Man has preached the abandoning of children? Who
but he has devised such harsh customs for fathers? Who made
unequal among the fraternal relationships of Nature?
"Our sons have to yield their place to the isolated fortune of a single rich one. One of them is overwhelmed with the whole paternal inheritance; another deplored the drained and meagre
portion of his patrimony. But did Nature divide the merits of sons? Nature assigns equally to all, that they may have the wherewithall for being born and living.
"This should teach you not to distinguish in their inheritance
between those whom you have made equal by the title of
and whom, indeed, you have given a common existence
by the fact of their birth. You ought not to grudge their having in common a thing to which they were brought as one.
[Trans. T.H. White, The Book of
(1954), pp. 142-3,
with amendments from MS texts. The passage appears in "second
family" MSS, which apparently originated in early 12th century
Northern France and England;
of. F. McCullough, Medieval Latin and French Bestiaries (1960), pp. 34-8. It is however borrowed from St. Ambrose, Hexaemeron!]