The Baldwin Library
JEsop's Fables 1 1 1 A !
' d Together with the Life of iEsop
By s -?s g Mons. De Meziriac.
*hic $** *
Copyright, 1897, by Rand, McNally & Co.
The fables of 2Esop have always been esteemed the best
lessons for youth, as best adapted to convey the most use-
ful maxims, in the most agreeable manner. Accord-
ingly many writers, both in verse and prose, have endea-
vored to clothe them in an English dress. It would ill
become the author of this work to animadvert upon their
labors; but he thinks it may be said with truth, and he
hopes also with modesty, that nothing of this kind which
has been published in prose, can justly discourage him
from the present undertaking.
In forming this collection, he has endeavored to dis-
tinguish the respective compositions of the earlier and
later mythologists; and he trusts it will not be found that
he has often been mistaken in this regulation, though an
error of that kind might perhaps appear of no great im-
portance. His principal aim was to select such Fables as
would make the strongest and most useful impressions
on the minds of youth; and then to offer them in such un-
affected language, as might have some tendency to im-
prove their style. If in this he have at all succeeded, the
work, it is presumed, will not be unserviceable to young
readers, nor wholly unentertaining to persons of maturer
To these he has ventured to add a number of original
Fables; and he offers them to the public with all the
diffidence which ought to accompany every modern pro-
duction, when it appears in conjunction with writings of
established reputation. Indeed, whatever hopes he has,
that the present work may be favorably received, arise
chiefly from the consideration, that he has been assisted
in it by gentlemen of the most distinguished abilities; and
that several, both of the old and the new Fables, are not
written by himself, but by authors, with whom it is an
honor to be connected, and who having condescended to
favor him with their assistance, have given him an op-
portunity of making some atonement for his own defects.
The life of 2Esop prefixed to this collection, is taken
from Mons. de Meziriac, a very learned and ingenious
Frenchman; who being disgusted with the gross for-
geries of Planudes, published in 1632 the best account he
could collect from ancient writers of good authority. But
this little book soon after became so extremely scarce,
that Mons. Bayle, in the first edition of his dictionary,
laments he never could get a sight of it; Dr. Bentley
in his dissertation on 2Esop's Fables makes much the
same complaint; nor does it appear that Sir Roger Le-
strange or Dr. Croxal, ever so much as heard of Meziriac's
name. The work indeed in the original has continued
equally scarce to this day; but an English translation
of it falling into the writer's hands, he has endeavored in
some measure to correct the language; adding notes
from several authors, particularly from Boyle's and Bent-
ley's controversy on the subject; and he is persuaded
that the judicious reader will not condemn him for adopt-
ing it, instead of the fictitious and absurd relation of
THE LIFE OF AESOP.
OF THE PLACE OF HIS BIRTH.
It happened to Homer, the prince of Grecian poets,
that the place of his nativity was never certainly known;
and it would be as difficult to ascertain the country which
gave birth to 2Esop, so much have ancient authors differed
upon this subject also. Some have thought him a Lydian,
born in the city of Sardis, the capital of that kingdom;
others have believed he drew his origin from the island
of Samos. Some have maintained that he was a Thracian,
of the city of Mesembria; but authors are now, for the
most part, agreed, that he was a native of Phrygia,
either of Amorium, or Cotieum, both towns in the same
province. However, as it may be allowable to conjecture
on a point so dubious, I imagine they who have thought
him a Lydian, or a Samian, have grounded their opinion
on the probability of his being born in one of those places
where he spent the greatest part of his life; and it is certain
that during his slavery, his common habitation was in the
island of Samos; and after he was made free, he lived
almost wholly in the court of Croesus, king of Lydia. But
though this opinion is not totally destitute of a plausible
appearance, the probability of his being a Phrygian, as it
is founded on the common consent of many ancient writ-
ers, and supported by the most credible authority, is now
generally received and established.
8 THE LIFE OF JESOP.
It may perhaps be acceptable to some readers, and
not improper in this place, to add a passage from the
learned Mr. Sale, in his notes to the Koran, concerning
the Eastern fabulist Lokman, who has been imagined by
some writers to be the same person with our Esop. The
Arabian writers, says he, affirm that Lokman was the son
of BAuvan, who was the son or grandson of a sister or aunt
of Job; and that he lived several centuries, even to the
time of David, with whom he was conversant in Palestine.
According to the description they give of his person, he
must have been deformed enough; for they say he was of
a black complexion (whence some call him an Ethiopian)
with thick lips, and splay ieet; but in return, he received
from God wisdom and eloquence in a great degree;
which, some pretend, were given him in a vision, on his
making choice of wisdom preferably to the gift of pro-
phecy, either of which were offered him. The generally
of the Mohammedans therefore hold him to have been no
prophet, but only a wise man. As to his condition, they
say he was a slave, but obtained his liberty on the follow-
ing occasion. His master having one day given him a
bitter melon to eat, he paid him such exact obedience as
to eat it all; at which his master being surprised, asked
him, How he could eat so bitter a fruit? To which he
replied, It was no wonder, that he should for once accept
a bitter fruit from the same hand from which he had re-
ceived so many favors. The commentators mention sev-
eral quick repartees of Lokman, which, together with the
circumstances above mentioned, agree so well with what
Maximus Planudes has written of 2Esop, that from thence,
and from the fables attributed to Lokman by the Orien-
tals, the latter has been generally thought to be no other
than the 2Esop of the Greeks. However that be (for I
think the matter will bear a dispute) I am of opinion that
THE LIFE OF &ESOP. 9
Planudes borrowed great part of his life of AEsop from the
traditions he met with in the East concerning Lokman,
concluding them to have been the same person, because
they were both slaves, and supposed to be the writers of
those fables which go under their respective names, and
bear a great resemblance to one another; for it has long
been observed by learned men, that the greater part of
that monk's performance is an absurd romance, and sup-
ported by no evidence of ancient writers.-Sale's Koran,
A collection of Lokman's fables may be found in Er-
penius's Arabic Grammar, between thirty and forty in
number, printed in Arabic, with a Latin translation.
They very much resemble the fables of Esop, and have
most of them been inserted in our collections: particu-
larly, The stag drinking; The old man and death; The
hare and the tortoise; The sun and the wind-all of which
are in Erpenius's collection, under the name of Lokman.
THE LIFE OP a&SOP.
OF HIS PERSON, TALENTS, AND DISPOSITION.
It is allowed by all, that AEsop was a slave from his
youth, and that in this condition, he served several mas-
ters: but I am ignorant where Planudes has authority
for asserting that he was the most deformed of all men
living, exactly resembling Homer's Thersites; I find no
ancient author who thus describes him. What Planudes
adds, that the word .Esop signifies the same with AEthiop,
and was given him on account of the blackness of his vis-
age, may also be very justly contradicted; for though
some grammarians are of opinion, that from the verb
aetho, which signifies to scorch, and from the noun ops,
which signifies visage, the word AEthiop may be formed;
yet we learn from Eustathius, that atho (in the future
zeso) signifies to shine, as well as to burn; and that ops,
with o long, signifies the eye; so that the name AEsop
signifies a man with sparkling eyes. Neither do I give
much credit to the same author, when he says, that Esop
had such an impediment in his tongue, that he could
scarcely utter articulate sounds, as he seems to have at-
tributed this imperfection to him, only to have some
ground for the fabulous account which he afterwards
gives, of Fortune's appearing to him in a dream, and be-
stowing on him the gift of speech. Altogether as void
of probability is the story which Apollonius tells in Philo-
stratus; that Mercury, having distributed to other persons
the knowledge of all the sciences, had nothing left for
2Esop but the art of making fables, with which he en-
THE LIFE OF ESOP. II
dowed him. But a principal reason which prevents me
from assenting to what Planudes advances, is, that it can-
not be supported by authority from any ancient author;
on the contrary, it is asserted in a Greek fragment of his
life, found in the works of Aphthonius, that AEsop had an
excellent disposition, and talents for every thing; and
in particular, a great inclination and aptitude for music,
which is not very consistent with his having a bad voice,
and being dumb.
THE LIFE OF ESOP.
OF HIS CONDITION, AND THE COURSE OF HIS STUDIES.
.Esop's first master, as may be gathered from the be-
forementioned Aphthonius, was Zemarchus, or Demar-
chus, surnamed Caresias, a native and inhabitant of Ath-
ens: and his passing some part of his youth in this famous
city, the mother and nurse of science and polite learning,
was of no small advantage to him. It is probable also,
that his master, perceiving in him a good understand-
ing, agreeable manners, lively genius, and a general
capacity, and finding also that he served him with much
affection and fidelity; it is probable, I say, that he might
take care to get him instructed. It was from Athens then,
as from the fountain head, that he drew the purity of the
Greek language. It was there too that he acquired the
knowledge of moral philosophy, which at that time was
the fashionable study, there being but few persons who
made profession of the speculative sciences, as may be
concluded by the seven sages of Greece, the most cele-
brated men of that age, amongst whom Thales the Mile-
sian alone had the curiosity to inquire into the secrets of
natural philosophy, and into the subtleties of mathemati-
cal learning: the rest were not reputed wise for any other
reason than their publishing certain grave and moral sen-
tences, the truth of which they established and rendered
of some authority by their prudent and virtuous lives.
Esop, indeed, did not follow their method; he wisely
considered, that the meanness of his birth, and his ser-
vile condition, would not permit him to speak with suf-
THE LIFE OF XESOP.
ficient authority in the way of sentence and precept; he
therefore composed fables, which by a narration pleasing
and full of novelty, so charms the minds, even of the most
ignorant, that through the pleasure which they receive
from it, they taste imperceptibly the moral sense which
lies concealed underneath.
I know very well that .Esop was not the inventor of
those fables, in which the use of speech is given to ani-
mals. The honor of this invention, as Quintilian alleges,
is justly due to the poet Hesiod, who in the first book of
his "Works and Days," relates very prettily the fable of
the hawk and the nightingale. Be this as it may, 2Esop
has advanced so far before every competitor, that all fa-
bles of this kind are called 2Esopic, because a great num-
ber of them are of his composing; and the choicest pre-
cepts of moral philosophy are by his means conveyed to
us in this agreeable manner. And indeed, I very Highly
approve the opinion of Apollonius, who maintains that
the fables of 2Esop are much more useful for the instruc-
tion of youth, than the fables of the poets; and his reasons
for this assertion are very pertinent, as may be seen in
Philostratus. But that .Esop composed all his fables
during the time that he was a slave at Athens, I will not
however affirm; I only think it probable, that it was
there he first became enamored of morality, and laid the
plan of teaching the most beautiful and useful maxims of
philosophy, under the veil of fables; which nevertheless
he might not publish till long afterwards, when he had
obtained his freedom, had acquired the reputation of
being one of the wisest and ablest men of Greece, and was
arrived-to great esteem, not only among the common peo-
ple, but even with princes and kings.
THE LIFE OF ESOP.
OF HIS DIFFERENT MASTERS, AND OF HIS FELLOW
SERVANT, THE FAMOUS COURTESAN, RHODOPIS
Let us now resume the thread of our narration. In
process of time, Esop was sold to Xanthus, a native of the
island of Samos; and after he had served him for a cer-
tain time, he Was again disposed of to the philosopher
Idmon, or Jadmon, who was likewise of that country; and
had at the same time for his slave that Rhodopis, who was
afterwards so famous as a courtesan. This woman was
endowed with very extraordinary beauty, and happening
to be carried into Egypt, Charaxus, the brother of Sappho
the poetess, fell so deeply in love with her, that he sold
all he had, and reduced himself to extreme poverty, in
order to redeem and set her at liberty. She afterwards
rose to such eminence in her vocation, and amassed such
heaps of wealth, that of the tithe of her gain, she caused
great numbers of large spits of iron to be made, which
she sent as an offering to the temple of Apollo at Delphi.
And if we may credit certain authors, she amassed such
immense treasures as enabled her to build one of the cele-
brated pyramids of Egypt. So much, by the way, of this
famous courtesan, who was fellow servant with 2Esop
while he lived with Jadmon; to show how these two per-
sons, born in a servile condition, arrived by very different
methods to a more splendid fortune; the one by his merit
and the beauties of his mind, the other by the infamous
traffic of her personal charms.
For the rest, it is certain that it was Jadmon who gave
THE LIFE OF ESOP.
2Esop his liberty; whether as a reward for his faithful
services, or that he was ashamed to keep longer in servi-
tude a person whose superior qualities rendered him more
worthy to command, may be difficult to determine; but
the fact is to be proved, by the express testimony of the
scholiast of Aristophanes, on the comedy of the Birds,
as well as by the authority of Herodotus and Plutarch;
for it follows by necessary consequence from what they
say, as I shall show particularly when I come to speak
of the death of .Esop. Planudes therefore deserves no
credit, when he affirms that Xanthus was the last master
of .Esop, and the person who gave him his liberty. Very
little also must be believed of what he relates concerning
.Esop while he was in the service of Xanthus, as he makes
him say and do so many impertinent and ridiculous
things, that none can receive them for true, without im-
agining jEsop an idle buffoon, rather than a serious
philosopher. And in fine, since nothing of this ridiculous
stuff is to be found in ancient writers, I think one may
with justice affirm, that they are no better than idle tales,
and mere fooleries.
THE LIFE OF 2ESOP.
OF HIS ADVANCEMENT TO THE COURT OF CRCESUS,
KING OF LYDIA, AND OF HIS MEETING THE
SEVEN SAGES THERE.
Whatever may be doubtful in the life of ./Esop, there
is nothing more certain than that after recovering his lib-
erty, he soon acquired a very great reputation amongst
the Greeks, being held in almost equal estimation with
any of the seven sages who flourished at this time, that is,
the fifty-second olympiad. The fame of his wisdom reach-
ing the ears of Crcesus, that monarch sent for him to his
court, admitted him to his friendship, and so obliged
him by his favors that he engaged himself in his service
to the end of his days. His residence in the court of this
mighty king rendered him more polite than most of the
other philosophers of his time; more complaisant to the
humors of princes, and more reconciled to monarchical
government, of which he gave evident proofs on divers
occasions. For instance, when Crcesus had prevailed
with the seven sages to meet in his capital city of Sardis,
after having shown them the magnificence of his court,
and his vast riches, he asked them, Whom they thought
the happiest man of all they had known? Some named
one person, and some another; Solon, in particular, gave
this praise to Tellus, an Athenian, and also to Cleobis and
Biton, Argians; concluding, that no one could be pro-
nounced happy before his death. .Esop, perceiving the
king was not well satisfied with any of their answers,
spoke in his turn, and said: For my part, I am persuaded
that Croesus hath as much pre-eminence in happiness
THE LIFE OF MESOP.
over all other men, as the sea hath over all the rivers. The
king was so pleased with this judgment, that he eagerly
pronounced that sentence, which has continued ever since
a common proverb-"The Phrygian has hit the mark."
When Solon, therefore, took leave of Croesus, who dis-
missed him very coolly, JEsop being sorry that Solon had
spoken to the king with so little complaisance, said to
him, as he accompanied him part of the way, 0 Solon,
either we must not speak to kings, or we must say what
pleases them. On the contrary, answered Solon, we
must either not speak to kings at all, or we must give
them good and useful advice. Another time, as AEsop
was traveling over Greece, either to satisfy his curiosity,
or about the particular affairs of Croesus, it happened that
he passed through Athens, just after Pisistratus had
usurped the sovereign power, and abolished the popular
state; seeing that the Athenians bore the yoke very im-
patiently, longing to recover their liberty, and to rid
themselves of Pisistratus, though his government was
easy and moderate, 2Esop related to them the fable of
the frogs that entreated Jupiter to give them a king, ex-
horting them to submit cheerfully to so good a prince as
Pisistratus, lest in changing they should fall under the
power of some mischievous and cruel tyrant.
THE LIFE OF SESOP.
SOME DETACHED PARTICULARS OF HIS LIFE, AND THE
IMPROBABILITY OF PLANUDES' ACCOUNT OF HIS
TRAVELS INTO EGYPT AND BABYLON.
There are not many other particulars found concerning
1Esop, in authors worthy of credit; except it be that he
once again met with the seven sages of Greece, in the
court of Periander, king of Corinth. However, I dare
not affirm whether it was here, or in some other place,
that, falling into discourse with Chilon, who had asked
him, What God was doing? He answered, that he was
humbling high things, and exalting low. Some also re-
late, that to show how the life of man abounds with mis-
ery, and that one pleasure is accompanied with a thou-
sand pains, 2Esop was wont to say, that Prometheus hav-
ing taken earth to form a man, had tempered and mois-
tened it, not with water, but with tears.
I reject as pure falsehood and invention, all that Pla-
nudes writes of 2Esop's travels into Egypt and Babylon,
because he intermixes stories altogether incredible, and
adds to them certain circumstances, which are repugnant
to the truth of history, or which wholly overturn the order
of time. I shall content myself with alleging two signal
falsities, on which he builds all the rest of his narration.
He says that the king who reigned in Babylon when
AEsop went thither, was called Lycerus. But who has
ever read or heard of such a king? Let the catalogue of all
the kings of Babylon, from Nabonasser to Alexander the
Great, be examined, and you shall not find one amongst
THE LIFE OF ESOP.
them whose name is at all like Lycerus. On the other
hand, by the exactest chronology it will appear, that in
2Esop's time there could be no other king in Babylon, but
Nebuchadnezzar, and his father, Nebopolasser; since Neb-
opotasser reigned one-and-twenty years, and Nebuchad-
nezzar forty-three, who died the same year with AEsop,
being the first of the fifty-fourth olympiad. Neither is
it more possible to believe, that .Esop went into Egypt in
the time of king Nectanebus, as Planudes asserts, since
this king did not begin to reign till two hundred years
after the death of 2Esop: that is to say, in the hundred
and fourth olympiad. And one need not be very learned
in chronology, to be certain, that 'Esop lived partly under
the reign of Apries, and partly under that of his successor
Amasis, kings of Egypt.
THE LIFE OF MESOP.
OF HIS DEATH.
What Planudes relates about the death of 2Esop, comes
nearer to the truth than anything which he has written
concerning his life. However, it is still safer to rely on
what ancient authors have said on the subject, and they
record it thus. 2Esop, being sent by Crcesus to the city
of Delphi, with a large sum of gold, in order to offer mag-
nificent sacrifices to Apollo, and to distribute to each citi-
zen four mina of silver; it happened that differences
arose between him and the townsmen to such a degree,
that he spoke of them in very provoking terms. Among
other things, he reproached them with having hardly any
arable land, and that were it not for the great concourse
of strangers, and the frequent sacrifices that were offered
in their temple, they would soon be reduced to die of
hunger. Not satisfied with offending them in words, he
proceeded to deeds; having performed the sacrifices in
the manner that Croesus had ordered, he sent back the
rest of the money to the city of Sardis, as judging the
Delphians unworthy to partake of the king's liberality.
This irritated them against him to such a degree, that
they consulted how they might be revenged on him, and
conspired by a notorious villainy to take away his life.
They hid amongst his baggage one of the golden vessels
consecrated to Apollo; and as 2Esop departed toward
Phocis, they sent immediate messengers after him, who,
searching his baggage, found the vessel which they them-
selves had there deposited. On this, they presently drag
THE LIFE OF &ESOP.
him to prison, accuse him of sacrilege, and sentence him
to be precipitated from the rock Hyampia, which was
the punishment commonly inflicted on sacrilegious per-
sons. As they were on the point of throwing him off,
in order to deter them from so execrable an act by the
apprehension of divine justice, which suffers no wicked-
ness to go unpunished, he told them the fable of the eagle
and the beetle. But the Delphians, paying no regard to
his fable, pushed him down the precipice. It is recorded,
however, that their land was rendered barren, and that
they were afflicted with many strange distempers, for sev-
eral years afterwards. In this distress they consulted the
oracle, and were answered, that all their miseries were
owing to the unjust condemnation and death of ZEsop.
On this, they caused it to be proclaimed by sound of trum-
pet, at all the public feasts and general meetings of the
Greeks, that if there were any of the kindred of AEsop,
who would demand satisfaction for his death, he was de-
sired to come and exact it of them, in what manner he
pleased. But no one was found that pretended any right
in this affair, till the third generation; when a Samian
presented himself, named Jadmon, grandson of that Jad-
mon, who had been master to .Esop in the island of
Samos; and the Delphians having made him some satis-
faction, were delivered from their calamities. It is said,
that after this time, they transferred the punishment of
sacrilegious persons from the rock Hyampia to that of
Nauplia. From hence it appears, as I hinted above, to be
the opinion of Herodotus and Plutarch, that Jadmon was
the last master of JEsop, and he that set him free, because
otherwise, neither he nor any of his descendants could
have any interest in his death, nor pretend to any right of
seeking reparation, or receiving satisfaction.
THE LIFE OF ESOP.
OF THE HONORS DONE HIM AFTER HIS DEATH.
And now I will readily agree with Planudes, that
3Esop was regretted by the greatest and wisest men of
Greece, who testified to the Delphians how much they
resented his death. But I add, that the Athenians, in
particular, had 2Esop in so much honor, that they erected
for him a magnificent statue in their city; regarding
more the greatness of his personal merit, than the mean-
ness of his race and condition. I further say, that the
opinion which all the world had conceived of his wisdom
and probity, encouraged the poets to make the people be-
lieve that the gods had raised him again to life, as they had
done Tyndarus, Hercules, Glaucus, and Hypolitus. Nay,
some have not scrupled to affirm, that he lived many years
after his resurrection, and fought twice on the side of the
Greeks against the Persians, in the straits of Thermopylae,
which must have been above eighty years after his death.
But these are such manifest absurdities, as confute them-
selves. Neither is it probable, as some have asserted, that
he wrote two books concerning what happened to him
in the city of Delphi, unless it be supposed that he made
two voyages thither, and wrote of the first: for in the last,
it is very improbable he should have any time for such a
work; neither can it be grounded on the testimony of any
author worthy of credit. It is indeed most probable, that
he left nothing in writing but his fables, which, either for
the elegance of the narration, or the usefulness of their
morality, have always been so much esteemed, that many
THE LIFE OF XESOP. 23
of them have preserved themselves in the memories of
men for above two thousand years. Yet I do not assert
that those which Planudes has published are the very
fables which 2Esop wrote, as Planudes has given us too
many occasions to doubt of his sincerity; and also, as he
has omitted in his collection many fables, which ancient
authors have attributed to .Esop. If we could be certain
that it is the genuine work of iEsop, we must doubtless
confess, that we have no writings in prose more ancient,
except the books of Moses, and some others of the Old
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
Whoever undertakes to compose a fable, whether of
the sublimer and more complex kind, as the epic and dra-
matic; or of the lower and more simple, as what has
been called the 2Esopean; must first endeavor to illustrate
some one moral or prudential maxim. To this point the
composition in all its parts must be directed; and this will
lead him to describe some action proper to enforce the
maxim he has chosen. In several respects, therefore, the
greater fable and the less agree. It is the business of
both to teach some particular moral, exemplified by an
action, and this enlivened by natural incidents. Both
alike must be supported by apposite and proper char-
acters, and both be furnished with sentiments and lan-
guage suitable to the characters thus employed. I
would by no means, however, infer, that, to produce one
of these small pieces requires the same degree of genius,
as to form an epic or dramatic Fable. All I would in-
sinuate, is, that the apologue has a right to some share of
our esteem, from the relation it bears to the poems be-
fore mentioned: as it is honorable to spring from a noble
stem, although in ever so remote a branch. A perfect
fable, even of this inferior kind, seems a much stronger
proof of genius than the mere narrative of an event. The
latter indeed requires judgment: the former, together
with judgment, demands an effort of the imagination.
26 AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
Having thus endeavored to procure these little com-
positions as much regard as they may fairly claim, I pro-
ceed to treat of some particulars most essential to their
ON THE TRUTH OR MORAL OF A FABLE.
It is the very essence of a Fable to convey some Moral
or useful Truth, beneath the shadow of an allegory. It
is this chiefly that distinguishes a Fable from a Tale,
and indeed gives it the pre-eminence in point of use and
dignity. A tale may consist of an event either serious or
comic; and, provided it be told agreeably, may be excel-
lent in its kind, though it should imply no sort of Moral.
But the action of a Fable is contrived on purpose to teach
and to imprint some Truth; and should clearly and ob-
viously include the illustration of it, in the very catas-
The Truth to be preferred on this occasion should
neither be too obvious, nor trite, nor trivial. Such would
ill deserve the pains employed in Fable to convey it. As
little also should it be one that is very dubious, dark, or
controverted. It should be of such a nature as to chal-
lenge the assent of every ingenuous and sober judgment;
never a point of mere speculation; but tending to inform
or to remind the reader of the proper means that lead to
The reason why fable has been so much esteemed in all
ages and in all countries, is perhaps owing to the polite
manner in which its maxims are conveyed. The very ar-
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
tide of giving instruction supposes at least a superiority
of wisdom in the adviser; a circumstance by no means
favorable to the ready admission of advice. It is the pe-
culiar excellence of Fable to wave this air of superiority:
it leaves the reader to collect the moral; who, by thus dis-
covering more than is shown him, finds his principle of
self-love gratified, instead of being disgusted. The at-
tention is either taken off from the adviser; or, if other-
wise, we are at least flattered by his humility and address.
Besides, instruction, as conveyed by Fable, does not
only lay aside its lofty mien and supercilious aspect, but
appears dressed in all the smiles and graces which can
strike the imagination, or engage the passions. It pleases
in order to convince; and it imprints its moral so much
the deeper, in proportion as it entertains; so that we may
be said to feel our duties at the very instant that we com-
I am very sensible with what difficulty a Fable is
brought to a strict agreement with the foregoing account
of it. This, however, ought to be the writer's aim. It is
the simple manner in which the Morals of .Esop are in-
terwoven with his Fables, that distinguishes, and gives
him the preference to all other mythologists. His moun-
tain delivered of a mouse, produces the Moral of his Fa-
ble, in ridicule of pompous pretenders; and his crow,
when she drops her cheese, lets fall, as it were by acci-
dent, the strongest admonition against the power of flat-
tery. There is no need of a separate sentence to explain
it; no possibility of impressing it deeper, by that load we
too often see of accumulated reflections. Indeed the Fa-
ble of the Cock and the precious stone is in this respect
very exceptionable. The lesson it inculcates is so dark
and ambiguous, that different expositors have given it
quite opposite interpretations; some imputing the cock's
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
rejection of the diamond to his wisdom, and others to
Strictly speaking then, one should render needless any
detached or explicit moral. 2Esop, the father of this
kind of writing, disclaimed any such assistance. It is the
province of Fable to give it birth in the mind of the per-
son for whom it is intended; otherwise the precept is di-
rect and obvious, contrary to the nature and end of alle-
After all, the greatest fault in any composition (for I
can hardly allow that name to riddles) is obscurity. There
can be no purpose answered by a work that is unintelli-
gible. Annibal Carracci and Raphael himself, rather than
risk so unpardonable a fault, have admitted verbal expla-
nations into some of their best pictures. It must be con-
fessed, that every story is not capable of telling its own
Moral. In a case of this nature, and this only, it should
be expressly introduced. Perhaps also, where the point
is doubtful, we ought to show enough for the less acute,
even at the hazard of showing too much for the more
sagacious; who, for this very reason, that they are more
sagacious, will pardon a superfluity which is such to them
But on these occasions, it has been matter of dispute,
whether the moral is better introduced at the end or be-
ginning of a Fable. 2Esop, as I said before, universally
rejected any separate Moral. Those we now find at the
opening of his Fables, were placed there by other hands.
Among the ancients, Phaedrus; and Gay, among the
moderns, inserted theirs at the beginning; La Motte pre-
fers them at the conclusion; and Fontaine disposes of
them indiscriminately, at the beginning or end, as he feels
convenient. If, amidst the authority of such great names,
AN ESSAY ON FABLE. 29
I might venture to mention my own opinion, I should
rather prefix them as an introduction, than add them
as an appendage. For I would neither pay my reader
nor myself so bad a compliment, as to suppose, after he
had read the Fable, that he was not able to discover its
meaning. Besides, when the Moral of a-Fable is not very
prominent and striking, a leading thought at the begin-
ning puts the reader in a proper track. He knows the
game which he pursues: and, like a beagle on a warm
scent, he follows the sport with alacrity, in proportion to
his intelligence. On the other hand, if he have no pre-
vious intimation of the design, he is puzzled throughout
the Fable; and cannot determine upon its merit without
the trouble of a fresh perusal. A ray of light, imparted
at first, may show him the tendency and propriety of
every expression as he goes along; but while he travels
in the dark no wonder if he stumble or mistake his way.
OF THE ACTION AND INCIDENTS PROPER FOR A
In choosing the action or allegory, three conditions are
altogether expedient. I. It must be clear: that is, it
ought to show without equivocation, precisely and ob-
viously, what we intend should be understood. II. It
must be one and entire. That is, it must not be composed
of separate and independent actions, but must tend in all
its circumstances to the completion of one single event.
III. It must be natural; that is, founded, if not on Truth,
at least on probability; on popular opinion; on that rela-
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
tion and analogy which things bear to one another, when
we have gratuitously endowed them with the human fac-
ulties of speech and reason. And these conditions are
taken from the nature of the human mind; which cannot
endure to be embarrassed, to be bewildered, or to be de-
A Fable offends against perspicuity, when it leaves us
doubtful what Truth the Fabulist intended to convey. We
have a striking example of this. in Dr. Croxall's Fable of
the creaking wheel. A coachman, says he, hearing one
of his wheels creak, was surprised; but more especially,
when he perceived that it was the worst wheel of the
whole set, and which he thought had but little pretence to
take such a liberty. But, upon his demanding the reason
why it did so, the wheel replied, that it was natural for
people who labored under any affliction or calamity to
complain. Who would imagine this Fable designed, as
the author informs us, for an admonition to repress, or
keep our complaints to ourselves; or if we must let our
sorrows speak, to take care it be done in solitude and re-
tirement. The story of this Fable is not well imagined;
at least if meant to support the moral which the author
has drawn from it.
A Fable is faulty in respect to unity, when the several
circumstances point different ways; and do not center,
like so many lines, in one distinct and unambiguous
moral. An example of this kind is furnished by La
Motte in the observation he makes upon Fontaine's two
pigeons. _These pigeons had a reciprocal affection for
each other. One of them showing a desire to travel, was
earnestly opposed by his companion, but in vain. The
former sets out upon his rambles, and encounters a thous-
and unforeseen dangers; while the latter suffers near as
much at home, through his apprehensions for his roving
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
friend. However, our traveler, after many hairbreadth
escapes, -returns at length in safety, and the two pigeons
are, once again, mutually happy in each other's com-
pany. Now the application of this Fable is utterly vague
and uncertain, for want or circumstances to determine
whether the author designed principally to represent the
dangers of the Traveler; his friend's anxiety during his
absence; or their mutual happiness on his return. Where-
as had the traveling pigeon met with no disasters on his
way, but only found all pleasures insipid for want of his
friend's participation; and had he returned from no other
motive than a desire of seeing him again, the whole then
had happily closed in this one conspicuous inference, that
the presence of a real friend is the most desirable of all
The last rule I have mentioned, that a Fable should be
natural, may be violated several ways. It is opposed,
when we make creatures enter into unnatural associa-
tions, Thus the sheep or the goat must not be 'made to
hunt with the lion; and it is yet more absurd, to repre-
sent the lion as falling in love with the forester's daughter.
It is infringed, by ascribing to them appetites and pas-
sions that are not consistent with their known characters;
or else by employing them in such occupations, as are
foreign and unsuitable to their respective natures. A fox
should not be said to long for grapes; a hedge-hog pre-
tend to drive away flies; nor a partridge offer his service
to delve in the vineyard. A ponderous iron and an
earthen vase should not swim together down a river; and
he that should make his goose lay golden eggs, would
show a luxuriant fancy, but very little judgment. In
short, nothing besides the faculty of speech and reason,
which fable has been allowed to confer even upon inani-
mates, must ever contradict the nature of things.
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
Opinions indeed, although erroneous, if they either are,
or have been universally received, ma} afford sufficient
foundation for a Fable. The mandrake, here, may be
made to utter groans, and the dying swan to pour forth
her elegy. The sphinx and the -hcenix, the siren and the
centaur, have all the existence that is requisite for fable.
Nay, the goblin, the fairy, and even the man in the moon,
may have each his province allotted to him, so it be not an
improper one. Here the notoriety of opirion supplies
the place of fact, and in this manner truth may fairly be
deduced from falsehood.
Concerning the incidents proper for Fable, it is a rule
without exception, that they ought always to be few; it
being foreign to the nature of this composition, to admit
.of much variety. Yet a Fable with only one single inci-
dent, may possibly appear too naked. if AEsop and Phae-
drus are herein sometimes too sparing, Fontaine and La
Motte are as often too profuse. In this, as in most other
matters, a medium certainly is best. .n a word, the inci-
dents should not only be few but short; and like those in
the Fables of "the swallow and other birds," "'the miller
and his son," and "the court and country mouse," they
must naturally arise out of the subject, and serve to illus-
trate and enforce the Moral.
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
OF THE PERSONS, CHARACTERS, AND SENTIMENTS
The race of animals first present themselves, as the
proper actors in this little drama. They are indeed a
species that approaches, in many respects, so near to our
own, that we need only lend them speech, in order to pro-
duce a striking resemblance. It would, however, be un-
reasonable to expect a strict and universal similitude.
There is a certain measure and degree of analogy, with
which the most discerning reader will rest contented: for
instance, he will accept the properties of animals, although
necessary and invariable, as the images of our inclina-
tions, though never so free. To require more than this,
were to sap the very foundations of allegory; and even to
deprive ourselves of half the pleasure that flows from
poetry in general.
Solomon sends us to the ant, to learn the wisdom of in-
dustry: and our inimitable ethic poet introduces nature
herself as giving us a familiar kind of counsel.
Thus then to Man the voice of Nature spake:
"Go, from the Creatures thy instructions take-
"There all the forms of social union find,
"And thence, let reason late instruct mankind."
He supposes that animals in their native characters,
without the advantages of speech and reason which are
assigned them by the Fabulists, may in regard to Morals
as well as Arts, become examples to the human race. In-
deed, I am afraid we have so far deviated into fictitious
appetites and fantastic manners, as to find the expediency
of copying from them, that simplicity we ourselves have
34 AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
lost. If animals, in themselves may be thus exemplary,
how much more may they be made instructive, under the
direction of an able Fabulist; who by conferring upon
them the gift of language, contrives to make their instincts
more intelligible and their examples more determinate!
But these are not his only actors. The Fabulist has
one advantage above all other writers whatsoever; as all
the works both of art and nature are more immediately at
his disposal. He has, in this respect, a liberty not allowed
to epic, or dramatic writers;- who are undoubtedly more
limited in the choice of persons to be employed. He has
authority to press into his service, every kind of existence
under heaven: not only beasts, birds, insects, and all the
animal creation; but flowers, shrubs, trees and all the
tribe of vegetables. Even mountains, fossils, minerals,
and the inanimate works of nature discourse articulately
at his command, and act the part which he assigns them.
The virtues, vices, and every property of beings, receive
from him a local habitation and a name. In short he
may personify, bestow life, speech and action on whatever
he thinks proper.
It is easy to imagine what a source of novelty and va-
riety this must open, to a genius capable of conceiving,
and of employing, these ideal persons in a proper man-
ner: what an opportunity it affords him to diversify his
images, and to treat the fancy with change of ob-
jects; while he strengthens the understanding, or regu-
lates the passions, by a succession of Truths. To
raise beings like these into a state of action and intelli-
gence, gives the Fabulist an undoubted claim to that
first character of the poet, a Creator. I rank him not,
as I said before, with the writers of epic or dramatic
poems; but the maker of pins or needles is as much an art-
ist, as an anbhor-smith: and a painter in miniature may
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
show as much skill, as he who paints in the largest pro-
When these persons are once raised, we must carefully
enjoin them proper tasks; and assign them sentiments
and language suitable to their several natures, and respec-
A raven should not be extolled for her voice, nor a
bear be represented with an elegant shape. It were a
very obvious instance of absurdity, to paint a hare, cruel;
or.a wolf, compassionate. An ass were but ill qualified to
be General of an army, though he may well enough serve
perhaps for one of the trumpeters. But so long as popu-
lar opinion allows to the lion, magnanimity; rage, to the
tiger; strength, to the mule; cunning, to the fox; and buf-
foonery, to the monkey; why may not they support the
characters of an Agamemnon, Achilles, Ajax, Ulysses
and Thersites? The truth is, when Moral actions are
with judgment attributed to the brute creation, we scarce
perceive that nature is at all violated by the Fabulist. He
appears, at most, to have only translated their language.
His lions, wolves, and foxes, behave and argue as those
creatures would, had they originally been endowed with
the human faculties of speech and reason.
But greater art is yet required, whenever we personify
inanimate beings. Here the copy so far deviates from
the great lines of nature, that without the nicest care, rea-
son will revolt against'the fiction. However, beings of
this sort, managed ingeniously and with address, recom-
mend the Fabulist's invention by the grace of novelty and
of variety. Indeed the analogy between things natural
and artificial, animal and inanimate, is often so very strik-
ing, that we can, with seeming propriety, give passions
and sentiments to every individual part of existence. Ap-
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
pearance favors the deception. The vine may be enam-
ored of the elm; her embraces testify her passion. The
swelling mountain may, naturally enough, be delivered of
a mouse. The gourd may reproach the pine, and the sky-
rocket, insult the stars. The axe may solicit anew han-
dle of the forest; and the moon, in her female character,
request a fashionable garment. Here is nothing incon-
gruous; nothing that shocks the reader with impropriety.
On the other hand, were the axe to desire a perriwig, and
the moon petition for a pair of new boots; probability
would then be violated, and the absurdity become too
ON THE LANGUAGE OF FABLE.
The most beautiful fables that ever were invented, may
be disfigured by the language in which they are clothed.
Of this, poor 2Esop, in some of his English dresses, af-
fords a melancholy proof. The ordinary style of Fable
should be familiar, but also elegant. Were I to instance
any style that I should prefer on this occasion, it should
be that of Mr. Addison's little tales in the Spectator. That
ease and simplicity, that conciseness and propriety, that
subdued and decent humor he so remarkably discovers
there; seem to have qualified him for a Fabulist, almost
beyond any other writer. But to return.
The Familiar, says Mr. LaMotte, to whose ingenious
essay I have often been obliged in this discourse, is the
general tone, or accent of fable. It was thought suffi-
cient, on its first appearance, to lend the animals our
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
most common language. Nor indeed have they any ex-
traordinary pretensions to the sublime; it being requisite
they should speak with the same simplicity that they
The familiar also is more proper for insinuation, than
the elevated; this being the language of reflection, as the
former is the voice of sentiment. We guard ourselves
against the one, but lie open to the other; and instruction
will always the most effectually sway us, when it appears
least jealous of its rights and privileges.
The familiar style however that is here required, not-
withstanding that appearance of ease which is its char-
acter, is perhaps more difficult to write, than the more
elevated or sublime. A writer more readily perceives
when he has risen above the common language; than he
perceives, in speaking that language, whether he has
made the choice that is most suitable to the occasion; and
it is, nevertheless, upon this happy choice depends all
the charm of the familiar. Moreover, the elevated style
deceives and seduces, although it be not the best chosen;
whereas the familiar can procure itself no sort of respect,
if it be not easy, natural, just, delicate, and unaffected.
A Fabulist must therefore bestow great attention upon
his style: and even labor it so much the more, that it may
appear to have cost him no pains at all.
The authority of Fontaine justifies these opinions in
regard to style. His fables are perhaps the best ex-
amples of the genteel familiar, as Sir Roger L'Estrange
affords the grossest, of the indelicate and low. This
may be familiar, but is also coarse and vulgar; and cannot
fail to disgust a reader that has the least degree of taste
AN ESSAY ON FABLE.
The style of Fable then must be simple and familiar;
and it must likewise be correct and elegant. By the
former, I would advise that it should not be loaded with
figure and metaphor; that the disposition of words be
natural; the turn of sentences, easy; and their construc-
tion, unembarrassed. By elegance, I would exclude all
coarse and privincial terms; all affected and puerile con-
ceits; all obsolete and pedantic phrases. To this I would
adjoin, as the word perhaps implies, a certain finishing
polish, which gives a grace and spirit to the whole; and
which though it has always the appearance of nature
is almost ever the effect of art.
But, notwithstanding all that has been said, there are
some occasions on which it is allowable, and even ex-
pedient, to change the style. The language of a Fable
must rise or fall in conformity to the subject. A lion,
when introduced in his regal capacity, must hold discourse
in a strain somewhat more elevated than a Country-
Mouse. The lioness then becomes his Queen, and the
beasts of the forest are called his subjects; a method that
offers at once to the imagination, both the animal and the
person he is designed to represent. Again, the buffoon-
monkey should avoid that pomp of phrase, which the owl
employs as her best pretense to wisdom. Unless the
style be thus judiciously varied, it will be impossible to
preserve a just distinction of character.
Descriptions, at once concise and pertinent, add a grace
to Fable; but are then most happy, when included in the
action, whereof the Fable of Boreas and the sun affords
us an example. An epithet well chosen is often a descrip-
tion in itself, and so much the more agreeable, as it the
less retards us, in our pursuit of the catastrophe.
I might enlarge much further on the subject, but per-
haps I may appear to have been too diffuse already. Let
AN ESSAY ON FABLE. 39
it suffice to hint, that little strokes of humor, when arising
naturally from the subject, and incidental reflections,
when kept in due subordination to the principal, add a
value to these compositions. These latter however should
be employed very sparingly, and with great address. It
is scarcely enough that they naturally spring out of the
subject; they should be such as to appear necessary and
essential parts of the Fable. And when these embellish-
ments, pleasing in themselves, tend to illustrate the main
. action, they then ,afford that nameless grace remarkable
in Fontaine and some few others, and which persons of
the best discernment will more easily conceive, than they
,Ce mosi worthless persons are generally tle most
THE TREES AND THE BRAMBLE.
The Israelites, ever murmuring and discontented
under the reign of Jehovah, were desirous of having a
king, like the rest of the nations. They offered the
kingdom to Gideon, their deliverer; to him, and to his
posterity after him: he generously refused their offer,
and reminded them that Jehovah was their king. When
Gideon was dead, Abimelech, his son by a concubine,
slew all his other sons to the number of seventy, Joatham
alone escaping; and by the assistance of the Shechem-
ites made himself king. Joatham, to represent to them
their folly, and to show them that the most deserving
are generally the least ambitious, whereas the worth-
less grasp at power with eagerness, and exercise it with
insolence and tyranny, spake to them in the following
Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, so may God
hearken unto you. The Trees, grown weary of the state
of freedom and equality in which God had placed them,
met together to choose and to anoint a king over them:
and they said to the Olive-tree, Reign thou over us.
But the Olive-tree said unto them, Shall I quit my
fatness wherewith God and man is honored, to disquiet
myself with the cares of government, and rule over the
Trees? And they said unto the Fig-tree, Come thou,
and reign over us. But the Fig-tree said unto them,
Shall I bid adieu to my sweetness and my pleasant fruit,
to take upon me the painful charge of royalty, and to be
set over the Trees? Then said the Trees unto the Vine,
Come thou and reign over us. But the Vine said also
unto them, Shall I leave my wine, which honoreth God
and cheereth man, to bring upon myself nothing but
trouble and anxiety, and to become king of the Trees?
We are happy in our present lot: seek some other to
reign over you. Then said all the Trees unto the
Bramble, Come thou and reign over us. And the
Bramble said unto them, I will be your king; come ye
all under my shadow, and be safe; obey me, and I will
grant you my protection. But if you obey me not, out
of the Bramble shall come forth a fire, which shall devour
even the cedars of Lebanon.
3t is better to bear twit? some befects in a milb aub gen.
tie government, than to risk t e greater evils
of tyranny aub oppression.
THE FROGS PETITIONING JUPITER FOR A
As 2Esop was traveling over Greece, he happened to
pass through Athens just after Pisistratus had abolished
the popular state, and usurped a sovereign power; when,
perceiving that the Athenians bore the yoke, though
mild and easy, with much impatience, he related to them
the following fable:
The commonwealth of Frogs, a discontented, variable
race, weary of liberty, and fond of change, petitioned
THE FROGS PETITIONING FOR A KING. 43
Jupiter to grant them a king. The good-natured deity,
in order to indulge this their request, with as little mis-
chief to the petitioners as possible, threw them down a
Log. At first they regarded their new monarch with
great reverence, and kept from him at a most respectful
distance: but perceiving his tame and peaceable disposi-
44 2ESOP'S FABLES.
tion, they by degrees ventured to approach him withi
more familiarity, till at length they conceived for him
the utmost contempt. In this disposition, they renewed
their request to Jupiter, and entreated him to bestow
upon them another king. The Thunderer in his wrath
THE BELLY AND THE MEMBERS.
sent them a Crane, who no sooner took possession of
his new dominions, than he began to devour his subjects
one after another in a most capricious and tyrannical
manner. They were now far more dissatisfied than be-
fore; when applying to Jupiter a third time, they were
dismissed with being told that the evil they complained
of they had imprudently brought upon themselves; and
that they had no other remedy now but to submit to it
We severeig censure that tn otters, wbict we ourselves
practice without scruple.
THE WOLF AND THE SHEPHERDS.
A Wolf, says Plutarch, peeping into a hut, where
a company of Shepherds were regaling themselves with
a joint of mutton; Lord, said he, what a clamor would
these men have raised if they had caught me at such a
Ele folly of wishing to wit44olb our part from the sup-
port of civil government.
THE BELLY AND THE MEMBERS.
Menenius Agrippa, a Roman consul, being deputed
by the senate to appease a dangerous tumult and sedi-
tion of the people, who refused to pay the taxes neces-
sary for carrying on the business of the state, con-
vinced them of their folly by delivering to them the
My friends and countrymen, said he, attend to my
words. It once happened that the members of the
human body, taking some exception at the conduct of
the Belly, resolved no longer to grant him the usual sup-
plies. The Tongue first, in a seditious speech, aggra-
vated their grievances; and after highly extolling the
activity and diligence of the Hands and Feet, set forth
how hard and unreasonable it was, that the fruits of their
labor should be squandered away upon the insatiable
cravings of a fat and indolent paunch, which was en-
tirely useless, and unable to do anything towards help-
ing himself. This speech was received with unanimous
applause by all the members. Immediately the Hands
declared they would work no more; the Feet determined
to carry no farther the load with which they had hith-
THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG.
erto been oppressed; nay, the very Teeth refused to
prepare a single morsel more for his use. In this dis-
tress the Belly besought them to consider maturely, and
not foment so senseless a rebellion. There is none of
you, says he, but may be sensible that whatsoever you
bestow upon me is immediately converted to your use,
and dispersed by me for the good of you all into every
limb. But he remonstrated in vain; for during the
clamors of passion the voice of reason is always unre-
garded. It being therefore impossible for him to quiet
the tumult, he was starved for want of their assistance,
and the body wasted away to a skeleton. The Limbs,
grown weak and languid, were sensible at last of their
error, and would fain have returned to their respective
duty, but it was now too late; death had taken posses-
sion of the whole, and they all perished together.
Mlte sloulb well consider, w4etler tfe removal of a
present evil boes not tenb to produce a greater.
THE FOX AND THE HEDGEHOG.
Aristotle informs us that the following fable was
spoken by AEsop to the Samians, on a debate upon
changing their ministers, who were accused of plun-
dering the commonwealth:
A Fox swimming across a river, happened to be en-
tangled in some weeds that grew near the shore, from
which he was unable to extricate himself. As he lay thus
exposed to whole swarms of flies, who were galling him
and sucking his blood, a Hedgehog, observing his dis-
48 MESOP'S FABLES
tress, kindly offered to drive them away. By no means,
said the Fox; for if these should be chased away, who
are already sufficiently gorged, another more hungry
swarm would succeed, and I should be robbed of every
remaining drop of blood in my veins.
THE FOX AND THE RAVEN.
Wt0erever flatterg gains admission, it seems to banish
THE FOX AND THE RAVEN.
A Fox observing a Raven perched on the branch of a
tree, with a fine piece of cheese in her mouth, immedi-
ately began to consider how he might possess himself of
so delicious a morsel. Dear madam, said he, I am
extremely glad to have the pleasure of seeing you this
morning: your beautiful shape, and shining feathers are
the delight of my eyes; and would you condescend to
favor me with a song? I doubt not but your voice is
equal to the rest of your accomplishments. Deluded
with this flattering speech, the transported Raven opened
her mouth, in order to give him a specimen of her pipe,
when down dropped the cheese: which the Fox imme-
diately snatching up, bore away in triumph, leaving the
Raven to lament her credulous vanity at her leisure.
IDe stoulb always reflect, before we rally anotIer,
wtetter we can bear to 4ave the jest retorteb.
THE FOX AND THE STORK.
The Fox, though in general more inclined to roguery
than wit, had once a strong inclination to play the wag
with his neighbor, the Stork. He accordingly invited her
to dinner in great form; but when it came upon the
table, the Stork found it consisted entirely of different
soups, served up in broad shallow dishes, so that she
could only dip in the end of her bill, but could not pos-
sibly satisfy her hunger. The Fox lapped it up very
readily, and every now and then, addressing himself to
his guest, desired to know how she liked her entertain-
ment; hoped that everything was seasoned to her taste;
and protested he was very sorry to see her eat so spar-
ingly. The Stork, perceiving she was played upon, took
no notice, but pretended to like every dish extremely:
and at parting pressed the Fox so earnestly to return
her visit, that he could not in civility refuse. When the
day arrived, he repaired to his appointment; but to his
great mortification, when dinner appeared, he found it
composed of minced meat, served up in long narrow-
necked glasses; so that he was only tantalized with the
sight of what it was impossible for him to taste. The
Stork thrust in her long bill, and helped herself very
plentifully; then turning to Reynard, who was eagerly
licking the outside of a jar where some sauce had been
spilled-I am very glad, said she, smiling, that you
seem to have so good an appetite; I hope you will make
as hearty a dinner at my table as I did the other day
at yours. Reynard hung down his head, and looked very
THE FOX AND THE STORK.
much displeased. Nay, nay, said the Stork, don't pretend
to be out of humor about the matter: they that cannot
take a jest, should never make one.
To aim at figure by the means either of borroweb wit,
or borroweb money, generally subjects us at
last to tenfolb ribicule.
THE DAW WITH BORROWED FEATHERS.
A pragmatical Jackdaw was vain enough to imagine
that he wanted nothing but the dress to render him as
elegant a bird as the Peacock. Puffed up with this wise
conceit, he plumed himself with a sufficient quantity of
their most beautiful feathers, and in this borrowed garb,
forsaking his old companions, endeavored to pass for a
Peacock. But he no sooner attempted to associate with
these genteel creatures than an affected strut betrayed
the vain pretender. The offended Peacocks, plucking
from him their degraded feathers, soon stripped him of
his gentility, reduced him to a mere Jackdaw, and drove
him back to his brethren; by whom he was now equally
despised, and justly punished with general derision and
THE WOLF AND THE LAMB.
~Dlose wuo bo not feel tfe sentiments of humanity, will
selbom listen to tfe pleas of reason.
THE WOLF AND THE LAMB
A Wolf and a Lamb were accidentally quenching their
thirst together at the same rivulet. The Wolf stood
towards the head of the stream, and the Lamb at some
distance below. The injurious beast, resolved on a quar-
Srel, fiercely demands, How dare you disturb the water
which I am drinking? The poor Lamb, all trembling,
replies, How, I beseech you, can that possibly be the
case, since the current sets from you to me? Discon-
certed by the force of truth, he changes the accusation.
Six months ago, says he, you vilely slandered me. Im-
possible, returns the Lamb, for I was not then born.
No matter; it was your father then, or some of your
relations; and immediately seizing the innocent lamb,
he tore him to pieces.
3t is unjust anb cruel to raise ourselves mirt~ at the
expense of another's peace anb happiness.
THE BOYS AND THE FROGS.
On the margin of a large lake, which was inhabited
by a great number of Frogs, a company of Boys hap-
pened to be at play. Their diversion was duck and drake;
and whole volleys of stones were whirled into the water,
to the great annoyance and danger of the poor terrified
Frogs. At length, one of the most hardy, lifting his
head above the surface of the lake; Ah, dear children,
said he, why will you learn so soon the cruel practices
of your race? Consider, I beseech you, that, though
this may be sport to you, it is death to us.
To raise uncommon expectations, renbers an orbinary
THE MOUNTAIN IN LABOR.
A rumor once prevailed that a neighboring Mountain
was in labor; it was affirmed that she had been heard
to utter prodigious groans; and a general expectation
had been raised that some extraordinary birth was at
hand. Multitudes flocked with much eagerness to be
witnesses of the wonderful event: one expecting her to
be delivered of a giant; another of some enormous mon-
ster; and all were suspended in earnest expectation of
somewhat grand and astonishing. When, after waiting
with great impatience a considerable time, behold! out
crept a little ridiculous.Mouse.
THE MOUNTAIN IN LABOR. 55
To Iely principally upon our own biligence in matters
ttat concern ourselves alone.
THE LARK AND HER YOUNG.
A Lark having built her nest in a field of corn, it grew
ripe before her young were well able to fly. Appre-
hensive for their safety, she enjoined them, while she
went out in order to provide for their subsistence, to
listen very attentively, if they should hear any discourse
concerning the reaping of the field. At her return they
told her, that the farmer and his son had been there, and
had agreed to send to some of their neighbors to assist
them in cutting it down the next day. And so they
depend, it seems,, upon neighbors, said the mother:
very well; then I think we have no occasion to be
afraid of to-morrow. The next day she went out, and
left with them the same injunction as before. When she
returned they acquainted her that the farmer and his
son had again been there, but as none of their neighbors
came, to their assistance, they had deferred reaping till
the next day, and intended to send for help to their
friends and relations. I think we may still venture
another day, says the mother; but, however, be care-
ful as before, to let me know what passes in my ab-
sence. They now.inform her that the farmer and his
son had a third time visited the field, and, finding that
neither friend nor relation had regarded their summons,
they were determined to come the next morning and
cut it down themselves. Nay then, replied the Lark,
it is time to think of removing: for as they now depend
only upon themselves for doing their own business, it
will undoubtedly be performed.
THE STAG DRINKING.
an over'greeby disposition often subjects us to the loss
of wrtat we alreaby possess.
THE DOG AND THE SHADOW.
A hungry Spaniel, having stolen a piece of flesh from
a butcher's shop, was carrying it across a river. The
water being clear, and the sun shining brightly, he saw
his own image in the stream, and fancied it to be an-
other dog, with a more delicious morsel: upon which,
unjustly and greedily opening his jaws to snatch at the
shadow, he lost the substance.
IEfe false estimate we often make in preferring our
ornamental talents to our useful ones.
THE STAG DRINKING.
A Stag quenching his thirst in a clear lake, was struck
with the beauty of his horns, which he saw reflected in
the water. At the same time, observing the extreme
slenderness of his legs; What a pity it is, said he, that
so fine a creature should be furnished with so despicable
a set of spindle shanks! What a truly noble animal I
should be, were my legs in any degree answerable to
Smy horns! In the midst of this soliloquy, he was
alarmed with the cry of a pack of hounds. He imme-
diately flies over the forest, and left his pursuers so far
Behind that he might probably have escaped; but, tak-
ing into a thick wood, his horns were entangled in
the branches, where he was held till the hounds came
up, and tore him in pieces. In his last moments he
58 ESOP'S FABLES.
thus exclaimed: How ill do we judge of our own true
advantages! The legs which I despised would have
borne me away in safety, had not my favorite antlers
betrayed me to ruin.
THE SWALLOW AND OTHER BIRDS.
Some will listen to no conviction but tvwat tbey berive
from fatal experience.
THE SWALLOW AND OTHER BIRDS.
A Swallow, observing a farmer employed in sowing
hemp, called the little birds together, informed them
what he was about, and told them that hemp was the
material from which the nets, so fatal to the feathered
race, were composed: advising them unanimously to
join in picking it up, in order to prevent the conse-
quences. The birds, either dis- \'
believing his information,
or neglecting his ad-
vice, gave themselves no trou-
ble about the matter. In a little time the hemp appeared
above ground: the friendly Swallow again addressed
himself to them, told them it was not yet too late, pro-
vided they would immediately set about the work, be-
fore the seeds had taken too deep root. But they still
rejecting his advice, he forsook their society, repaired
for safety to towns and cities, and there built his habita-
tions and kept his residence. One day, as he was skim-
ming along the street, he happened to see a large parcel
of those very birds, imprisoned in a cage, on the shoul-
ders of a bird-catcher. Unhappy wretches, said he,
you now feel the punishment of your former neglect.
But those, who, having no foresight of their own, de-
spise the wholesome admonitions of their friends, de-
serve the mischiefs which their own obstinacy or negli-
gence brings upon their heads.
3t is tie utmost extent of some men's gratitube to refrain
from oppressing anb injuring tfeir benefactors.
THE WOLF AND THE CRANE.
A Wolf having with too much greediness swallowed a
bone, it unfortunately stuck in his throat; and in the vio-
lence of his pain he applied to several animals, earnestly
entreating them to extract it. None cared to hazard the
dangerous experiment, except the Crane, who, persuaded
by his solemn promises of a gratuity, ventured to thrust
her enormous length of neck down his throat, and suc-
cessfully performed the operation. When claiming the
recompense; See the unreasonableness of some crea-
tures, replied the Wolf: have I not suffered thee safely
to draw thy neck out of my jaws, and hast thou the con-
science to demand a further reward!
THE ASS AND THE LAP-DOG.
Efe folly of attempting to recommend ourselves by a
behavior foreign to our character.
THE ASS AND THE LAP-DOG.
An Ass who lived in the same family with a favorite
Lap-dog, observing the superior degree of affection
which the little minion enjoyed, imagined he had noth-
ing more to do, to obtain an equal share in their good
graces, than to imitate the Lap-dog's playful and endear-
ing caresses. Accordingly, he began to frisk about be-
fore his master, kicking up his heels and braying, in
an awkward affectation of wantonness and pleasantry.
This strange behavior could not fail of raising much
laughter; which the Ass, mistaking for approbation and
encouragement, he proceeded to leap upon his master's
breast, and began very familiarly to lick his face: but
he was presently convinced by the force of a good
cudgel, that what is sprightly and agreeable in one, may
in another be justly censured as rude and impertinent;
and that the surest way to gain esteem is for every one
to act suitably to his own natural genius and character.
We may all neeb the assistance of our inferiors; anb
stoulb by no means consider tle meanest among
t em as w4loIl incapable of returning
THE LION AND THE MOUSE.
A Lion by accident laid his paw upon a poor, innocent
Mouse. The frightened little creature, imagining she
was just going to be devoured, begged hard for her life,
urged that clemency was the fairest attribute of power,
and earnestly entreated his majesty not to stain his illus-
trious claws with the blood of so insignificant an animal:
upon which the Lion very generously set her at liberty.
It happened a few days afterwards that the Lion, rang-
ing for his prey, fell into the toils of the hunter. The
Mouse heard his roarings, knew the voice of her bene-
factor, and immediately repairing to his assistance,
gnawed in pieces the meshes of the net, and by deliver-
ing her preserver convinced him that there is no crea-
ture so much below another but may have it in his
power to return a good office.
THE COUNTRYMAN AND THE SNAKE.
CI(e foll of conferring either power upon tEe misclievz
ous, or favors on tte unbeserving.
THE COUNTRYMAN AND THE SNAKE.
An honest Countryman observed a Snake lying under
a hedge, almost frozen to death. He was moved with
compassion; and bringing it home, he laid it near the
fire, and gave it some new milk. Thus fed and cherished,
the creature presently began to revive: but no sooner
had -he recovered strength enough to do mischief than
he sprung upon the Countryman's wife, bit one of his
children, and, in short, threw the whole family into con-
fusion and terror. Ungrateful wretch! said the Man,
thou hast sufficiently taught me how ill-judged it is to
confer benefits on the worthless and undeserving. So
saying, he snatched up a hatchet and cut the Snake in
(entle means, on many occasions, are more effectual
tfan violent ones.
THE SUN AND THE WIND.
Phoebus and -Eolus had
once a dispute, which of them
could soonest prevail with a
certain Traveler to part with
his cloak. Eolus began the
attack, and assaulted him
with great violence. But the
Man, wrapping his cloak still
closer about him, doubled his
efforts to keep it, and went on
his way. And now Phcebus
darted his warm, insinuating
rays, which, melting
our Traveler by de-
gree s, at length
obliged him to throw
aside that cloak, which
all the rage of 2Eolus
could not compel him
to resign. Learn
hence, said Phoebus to
the blustering god,
that soft and gentle
means will often ac-
complish what force
and fury can never ef-
THE WOLF AND THE MASTIFF.
We are always reabg to censure fortune for tie ill effects
of our own carelessness.
FORTUNE AND THE SCHOOLBOY.
A Schoolboy, fatigued with play, threw himself down
by the brink of a deep pit, where he fell fast asleep. For-
tune happening to pass by, and seeing him in this dan-
gerous situation, kindly gave him a tap on the shoul-
der: My dear child, said she, if you had fallen into
this pit, I should have borne the blame, though in fact
the accident would have been wholly owing to your own
Misfortune, said a celebrated cardinal, is but an-
other word for imprudence. This maxim is by no means
absolutely true; certain, however, it is, that mankind
suffer more evils from their own imprudence than from
events which are not in their power to control.
a mere competence witt liberty, is preferable to servitube
amib tEe greatest affluence.
THE WOLF AND THE MASTIFF.
A lean, half-starved Wolf inadvertently strolled in the
way of a strong, well-fed Mastiff. The Wolf being much
too weak to act upon the offensive, thought it most
prudent to accost honest Towser in a friendly manner:
and among other civilities, very complaisantly congrat-
ulated him on his goodly appearance. Why, yes, re-
turned the Mastiff, I am indeed in tolerable ease; and if
you will follow me, you may soon be altogether in as good
a plight. The Wolf pricked up his ears at the proposal
and requested to be informed what he must do to earn
such plentiful meals. Very little, replied the Mastiff;
only drive away beggars, caress my master, and be civil
to his family. To these conditions the hungry Wolf had
no objection, and very readily consented to follow his
new acquaintance wherever he would conduct him. As
they were trotting along, the Wolf observed that the hair
was worn in a circle round his friend's neck; which
raised his curiosity to inquire what was the occasion of
it? Nothing, answered the Mastiff, or a mere trifle;
perhaps the collar to which my chain is sometimes
fastened. Chain! replied the Wolf, with much sur-
THE WASPS AND THE BEES.
prise; it should seem then that you are not permitted
to rove about where and when you please. Not al-
ways, returned Towser, hanging down his head; but
what does that signify? It signifies so much, re-
joined the Wolf, that I am resolved to have no share in
your dinners: half a meal with liberty, is in my estima-
tion preferable to a full one without.
EIe follu of arrogating to ourselves works of w4icl we
are by no means capable.
THE WASPS AND THE BEES.
Some honey-combs being claimed by a swarm of
Wasps, the right owners protested against their demand,
and the cause was referred to a Hornet. Witnesses being
examined, they deposed that certain winged creatures,
who had a loud hum, were of a yellowish color, and some-
what like Bees, were observed a considerable time hover-
ing about the place where this nest was found. But this
did not sufficiently decide the question; for these char-
acteristics, the Hornet observed, agreed no less with the
Bees than with the Wasps. At length, a sensible old Bee
offered to put the matter upon this decisive issue: Let a
place be appointed, said he, by the court, for the plaintiffs
and defendants to work in: it will then soon appear which
of us are capable of forming such regular cells, and after-
wards of filling them with so delicious a fluid. The Wasps
refusing to agree to this proposal, sufficiently convinced
the judge on which side the right lay, and he decreed the
El.e least considerable of all mankinb are selbom besti-
tute of self-importance.
THE BULL AND THE GNAT.
A conceited Gnat, fully persuaded of his own impor-
tance, having placed himself on the horn of a Bull, ex-
pressed great uneasiness lest his weight should be incom-
modious; and with much ceremony begged the Bull's par-
don for the liberty he had taken; assuring him that he
would immediately remove, if he pressed too hard upon
him. Give yourself no uneasiness on that account, replied
the Bull, I beseech you: for as I never perceived when
you sat down, I shall probably not miss you whenever
you rise up.
Tble great imprubence of an association witi too power-
THE LION AND OTHER BEASTS HUNTING IN
A Leopard, a Lynx, and a Wolf were ambitious of the
honor of hunting with the Lion. His savage majesty
graciously condescended to their desire, and it was agreed
that they should all have an equal share in whatever
might be taken. They scour the forest, are unanimous
in the pursuit, and, after a very fine chase, pull down a
noble stag. It was divided with great dexterity by the
Lynx, into four equal parts; but just as each was going to
THE LION AND OTHER BEASTS. 69
secure his share-Hold, says the Lion, let no one presume
to serve himself, till he hath heard our just and reasonable
claims. I seize upon the first quarter by virtue of my
prerogative; the second I think is due to my superior con-
duct and courage; I cannot forego the third on account
of the necessities of my den; and if any one is inclined to
dispute my right to the fourth, let him speak. Awed by
the majesty of his frown, and the terror of his claws, they
silently withdrew, resolving never to hunt again but with
TZe inbepenbence acquire by inbustry, preferable to the
most splenbib state of vassalage.
THE ANT AND THE FLY.
An Ant and a Fly had once a ridiculous contest about
precedency, and were arguing which of the two was the
more honorable: such disputes most frequently happen
amongst the lowest and most worthless creatures. The
Fly expressed great resentment, that such a poor, crawl-
ing insect should presume to lie basking in the same sun-
shine, with one so much her superior! Thou hast not
surely the insolence, said she, to imagine thyself of an
equal rank with me. I am none of your low mechanic
creatures who live by their industry; but enjoy in plenty,
and without labor, every thing that is truly delicious. I
place myself uncontrolled upon the heads of kings; I kiss
with freedom the lips of beauties; and feast upon the
choicest sacrifices that are offered to the gods. To eat
with the gods, replied the Ant, and to enjoy the favors of
the fair and the powerful, would be great honor indeed,
to one who was an invited or a welcome guest; but an im-
pertinent intruder, who is driven out with aversion and
contempt wherever he appears, has not much cause me-
thinks to boast of his privileges. And as to the honor of
not laboring for your subsistence; here too your boast is
only your disgrace; for hence it is, that one half of the
year you are destitute even of the common necessaries of
life; whilst I, at the same time retiring to the hoarded
granaries, which my honest industry has filled, enjoy
every satisfaction, independent of the favor either of beau-
ties or of kings.
THE BEAR AND THE TWO FRIENDS.
(owarbs are incapable of true frienbstip.
THE BEAR AND THE TWO FRIENDS.
Two Friends, setting out together upon a journey
which led through a dangerous desert, mutually promised
to assist each other, in whatever manner they might be
assaulted. They had not proceeded far, before they per-
ceived a Bear making towards them with great rage.
There were no hopes in flight; but one of them, being
very active, sprung up into a tree; upon which, the
other, throwing himself flat on the ground, held his
breath, and pretended to be dead; remembering to have
heard it asserted that this creature will not prey upon a
lifeless carcass. The Bear came up, and after smelling of
him some time, left him, and went on. When he was
fairly out of sight and hearing, the hero from the tree
calls out-Well, my friend, what said the Bear? He
seemed to whisper you very closely. He did so, replied
the other; and gave me this good piece of advice, never
to associate with a Wretch, who in the hour of danger
will desert his friend.
Little minbs are so much elevateb bg any abvantage gaineb
over their superiors, as to be immebiatelg thrown
off their guarb against a subben change of fortune.
THE LION AND THE GNAT.
Avaunt! thou paltry, contemptible insect! said a proud
Lion one day to a Gnat that was frisking about in the air
near his den. The Gnat, enraged at this unprovoked in-
sult, vowed revenge, and immediately settled upon the
Lion's neck. After having sufficiently teased him in that
quarter, she quitted her station and retired under his bel-
ly; and from thence made her last and most formidable
attack in his nostrils, where stinging him almost to mad-
ness, the Lion at length fell down, utterly spent with rage,
vexation and pain. The Gnat having thus abundantly
gratified her resentment, flew off in great exultation; but
in the heedless transports of her success, not sufficiently
attending to her own security, she found herself in her
retreat unexpectedly entangled in the web of a Spider;
who rushing out instantly upon her, put an end at once
to her triumph and her life.
This fable instructs us never to suffer success so far
to transport us, as to throw us off our guard against a
reverse of fortune.
THE MISER AND HIS TREASURE.
3t is the enjoyment of oabt we possess that alone gives
it any value.
THE MISER AND HIS TREASURE.
A Miser having scraped together a considerable sur of
money, by denying himself the common conveniences of
life, was much embarrassed where to lodge it most se-
curely. After many perplexing debates with himself,
he at length fixed upon a corner in a retired field, where
he deposited his treasure, and with it his heart, in a hole
which he dug for that purpose. His mind was now for
a moment at ease, but he had not proceeded many paces
in his way home, when all his anxiety returned, and he
could not forbear going back to see that everything was
safe. This he repeated again and again, till he was at
last observed by a Laborer who was mending a hedge in
an adjacent meadow. The fellow concluding that some-
thing extraordinary must be the occasion of these fre-
quent visits, marked the spot, and coming in the night in
order to examine it, he discovered the prize, and bore it
off unmolested. Early the next morning, the Miser again
renewed his visit, when finding his treasure gone, he
broke out into the most bitter exclamations. A Traveler,
who happened to be passing by at the same time, was
moved by his complaints to inquire into the occasion of
them. Alas! replied the Miser, I have sustained the most
cruel and irreparable loss! some villain has robbed me of
a sum of money, which I buried under the stone no longer
ago than yesterday. Buried! returned the Traveler, with
surprise, a very extraordinary method truly of disposing
of your riches! Why did you not rather keep them in
your house, that they might be ready for your daily oc-
casions? Daily occasions! resumed the Miser, with an
air of much indignation; do you imagine I so little know
the value of money, as to suffer it to be run away with by
occasions? On the contrary, I had prudently resolved not
to touch a single shilling of it. If that was your wise reso-
lution, answered the Traveler, I see no sort of reason for
your being thus afflicted; it is 'but putting this stone in
the place of your treasure, and it will answer all your pur-
poses full as well.
THE HORSE AND THE STAG.
e wiom we employ to execute our vengeance upon
others, may, aftertarbs, turn iis tanb
THE HORSE AND THE STAG.
Before the use of horses was known in the world, one
of those noble animals, having been insulted by a Stag,
and finding himself unequal to his adversary, applied to a
Man for assistance. The request was easily granted, and
the Man putting a bridle in his mouth, and mounting
upon his back, soon came up with the Stag, and laid him
dead at his enemy's feet. The Horse having thus gratified
his revenge, thanked his auxiliary: And now will I re-
turn in triumph, said he, and reign the undisputed lord of
the forest. By no means, replied the Man; I shall have
occasion .for your services, and you must go home with
me. So saying, he led him to his hovel, where the un-
happy steed spent the remainder of his days in a laborious
servitude; sensible, too late, that, how pleasing soever re-
venge may appear, it always costs more to a generous
mind than the purchase is worth,
&afat when we are going to encounter difficulties, we
sfoulb bepenb more upon our own strength than
the assistance of our neighbors.
THE FOX AND THE GOAT.
A Fox and a Goat traveling together, in a very sultry
day, found themselves exceedingly thirsty, when looking
round the country in order to discover a place where they
might probably meet with water, they at length described
a clear spring at the bottom of a pit. They both eagerly
descended, and having sufficiently allayed their thirst, it
was time to consider how they should get out. Many
expedients for that purpose were mutually proposed, and
rejected. At last the crafty Fox cried out with great joy,
I have a thought just struck into my mind, which I am
confident will extricate us out of our difficulty; do you,
said he to the Goat, only rear yourself up upon your hind
legs, and rest your fore feet against the side of the pit. In
this posture, I will climb up to your head, from whence I
shall be able, with a spring, to reach the top; and when I
am once there, you are sensible it will be very easy for
me to pull you out by the horns. The simple goat liked
the proposal well; and immediately placed himself as
directed: by means of which the Fox, without much dif-
ficulty, gained the top. And now, said the Goat, give
me the assistance you promised. Thou old fool, replied
the Fox, hadst thou but half as much wit as beard, thou
wouldst never have believed that I would hazard my own
life to save thine. However, I will leave with thee a piece
of advice, which may be of service to thee hereafter, if
thou shouldst have the good fortune to make thy escape:
Never venture into a pit again, before thou hast well con-
sidered how to get out of it.
THE OLD MAN AND DEATH. 77
ZITen unber calamity may seem to wish for )eat4, but
they selbom bib him welcome wuen be stares
them in the face.
THE OLD MAN AND DEATH.
A feeble old Man, quite spent with carrying a burthen
of sticks, which with much labor he had gathered in a
neighboring wood, called upon Death to release him from
the fatigues he en-
dured. Death hear- l
ing the invocation,
was immediately at '
asked him what he \
*wanted. Frightened and trembling at the unexpected
appearance-O good sir! said he, my burthen had like to
have slipped from me, and being unable to recover it my-
self, I only implored your assistance to lay it on my shoul-
THE COURT AND COUNTRY-MOUSE.
IEat even poverty wi t peace is preferable to tfe greatest
affluence amibst anxiety.
THE COURT AND COUNTRY-MOUSE.
A contented Country-mouse had once the honor to re-
ceive a visit from an old acquaintance belonging to the
Court. The Country-mouse, extremely glad to see her
guest, very hospitably set before her the best cheese and
bacon which her cottage afforded, and as to their bever-
age, it was the purest water from the spring. The repast
was homely indeed, but the welcome hearty: they sat and
chatted away the evening together very agreeably, and
then retired in peace and quietness each to her little cell.
The next morning when the guest was to take her leave,
she kindly pressed her country friend to accompany her;
setting forth in very pompous terms the great elegance
and plenty in which they lived at court. The Country-
mouse was easily prevailed upon, and they set out to-
gether. It was late in the evening when they arrived at
the palace; however, in one of the rooms, they found the
remains of a sumptuous entertainment. There were
creams, and jellies, and sweetmeats; and every thing, in
short, of the most delicate kind: the cheese was Parmesan,
and they wetted their whiskers in exquisite champagne.
But before they had half finished their repast, they were
alarmed with the barking and scratching of a lap-dog;
then the mewing of a cat frightened them almost to death;
by and by, a whole train of servants burst into the room,
and everything was swept away in an instant. Ah! my
dear friend, said the Country-mouse, as soon as she had
recovered courage enough to speak, if your fine living
80 ISOP'S FABLES.
is thusinterrupted with fears and 'dangers, let me retfifin
to my plain food, and my peaceful cottage; for what is
elegance, without ease; or plenty, with an aching heart?
Ug B~~su q.~s ~~B--s --
I ~- LL 1_
THE FARMER, CRANES, AND STORK.
C4te surest way to gain our enbs is to moderate our
THE BOY AND THE FILBERTS.
A certain Boy, as Epictetus tells the fable, put his hand
into a pitcher, where great plenty of figs and filberts were
deposited; he grasped as many as his fist could possibly
hold, but when he endeavored to pull it out, the narrow-
ness of the neck prevented him. Unwilling to lose any of
them, but unable to draw out his hand, he burst into
tears, and bitterly bemoaned his hard fortune. An honest
fellow who stood, by, gave him this wise and reasonable
advice: Grasp only half the quantity, my boy, and you
will easily succeed.
losee w4o keep bab company must often expect to suffer
for the misbehavior of ttleir companions.
THE FARMER, THE CRANES, AND THE STORK.
A Stork was unfortunately drawn into company with
.some Cranes, who were just setting out on a party of
pleasure, as they called it, which in truth was torob the
fish-ponds of a neighboring Farmer. Our simple Stork
agreed to make one; and it so happened, that they were
all taken in the act. The Cranes, having been old of-
fenders, had very little to say for themselves, and were
presently dispatched; but the Stork pleaded hard for his
life; he urged that it was his first fault, that he was not
naturally addicted to sealing fish, that he was famous for
piety toward his parents, and in short, for many other
virtues. Your piety and virtue, said the Farmer, may for
aught I know be exemplary; but your being in company
with thieves renders. it very suspicious, and you must
therefore submit with patience to share the same punish-
ment with your companions.
~fe courage of meeting beat in an honorable cause is
more commendable tfan ang abbress or artifice me
can make use of to evabe it.
THE OAK AND THE WILLOW.
A conceited Willow had once the vanity to challenge
his mighty neighbor the Oak, to a trial of strength. It
was to be determined by the next storm, and .olus was
addressed by both parties, to exert his most powerful
efforts. This was no sooner asked than granted; and a
violent hurricane arose: when the pliant Willow, bending
from the blast, or shrinking under it, evaded all its force;
while the generous Oak, disdaining to give way, opposed
THE OAK AND THE WILLOW.
its fury, and was torn up by the roots. Immediately the
Willow began to exult, and to claim the victory: when
thus the fallen Oak interrupted his exultation: Callest
thou this a trial of strength? Poor wretch! not to thy
strength, but weakness; not to thy boldly facing danger,
but meanly skulking from it, thou owest thy present
safety. I am an oak, though fallen; thou still a willow,
though unhurt; but who, except so mean a wretch as thy-
self, would prefer an ignominious life, preserved by craft
or cowardice, to the glory of meeting death in a brave
We sooulb immediately decline all commerce witf a per.
son we finb to be a bouble-bealer.
THE SATYR AND THE TRAVELER.
A poor man traveling in the depth of winter, through a
dreary forest, no, inn to receive him, no human creature to
befriend or comfort him, was in danger of being'starved
to death. At last, however, he came to the cave of a Satyr,
where he entreated leave to rest a while, and shelter him-
self from the inclemency of the weather. The Satyr very
civilly complied with his request. The man had no soon-
er entered, than he began to blow his fingers. His host,
surprised at the novelty of the action, was curious to
know the meaning of it. I do it, said the Traveler, to
warm my frozen joints, which are benumbed with cold.
Presently the Satyr having prepared a mess of hot gruel
to refresh his guest, the man found it necessary to blow
his porridge, too. What, inquired the Satyr, is not your
gruel hot enough? Yes, replied the Traveler, too hot;
THE FARMER AND THE STAG.
and I blow it to make it cooler. Do you so? quoth the
Satyr; then get out of my cave as fast as you can, for I
desire to have no communication with a creature, that
blows hot and cold with the same breath.
Some expect tfe tIanks tIat are bue to a civility, wtiile
they endeavor clanbestinely to undermine
ttfe value of it.
THE FARMER ANDTHE STAG.
A Stag, who had left at some distance a pack of hounds,
came up to a Farmer, and desired he would suffer him to
hide himself in a little coppice which joined to his house.
The Farmer, on condition that he would forbear to enter
a field of wheat, which lay before him, and was now ready
for the sickle, immediately gave him leave, and promised
not to betray him. The squire with his train instantly
appeared, and inquiring whether he had not seen the
Stag; No, said the Farmer, he has not passed this way, I
assure you; but, in order to curry favor at the same time
with his worship, he pointed slyly with his finger to the
place where the poor beast lay concealed. This, how-
ever, the sportsman, intent on his game, did not observe,
but passed on with his dogs across the very field. As
soon as the Stag perceived they were gone, he prepared
to steal off, without speaking a word. Methinks, cried
the Farmer, you might thank me, at least, for the refuge I
have afforded you; Yes, said the Stag, and had your
hands been as honest as your tongue, I certainly should;
but all the return that a double dealer has to expect, is a
just indignation and contempt.
86 ESOP'S FABLES.
te silly ambition to vie witt our superiors, in regarb
to outwarb figure rather taan iniarb accomplist
ments, is often tfe cause of utter ruin.
THE FROG AND THE OX.
A Frog being wonderfully struck with the size and
majesty of an Ox that was grazing in the marshes, could
THE FROG AND THE OX.
not forbear endeavoring to expand herself to the same
portly magnitude. After puffing and swelling for some
time: What think you, sister, said she, will this do?
Far from it. Will this? By no means. But this
surely will. Nothing like it. In short, after many ridicu-
lous efforts to the same fruitless purpose, the simple frog
burst her skin, and miserably expired upon the spot.
ICZere is no error too extravagant for prepossession aub
THE MIMIC AND THE COUNTRYMAN.
Men often judge wrong from some foolish prejudice;
and whilst they persist in the defence of their mistakes,
are sometimes brought to shame by incontestible evi-
A certain wealthy patrician, intending to treat the
Roman people with some theatrical entertainments, pub-
lished a reward to any one who could furnish out a new
or uncommon diversion. Excited by emulation, the
artists assembled from all parts; among whom, a Mimic
well known for his arch wit, gave out that he had a kind
of entertainment that had never yet been produced upon
This report being spread about, brought the whole city
together. The theater could hardly contain the number
of spectators. And when the artist appeared alone upon
the stage, without any apparatus, without any prompter
or assistant, curiosity and suspense kept the spectators
in a profound silence.
On a sudden the performer thrust down his head into
his bosom, and mimicked the squeaking of a young pig
so naturally, that the audience insisted upon it, he had a
real pig under his cloak, and ordered him to be searched.
Which being done, when nothing appeared, they loaded
the man with encomiums and honored him with the most
A country fellow observing what passed-Faith, says
he, I can do better than he; and immediately gave out
that he would perform the same thing much better the
THE MIMIC AND THE COUNTRYMAN.
next day. Accordingly, greater crowds assemble: pre-
possessed, however, in favor of the first artist, they sit pre-
pared to laugh at the clown, rather than to judge fairly of
They both came out upon the stage. The Mimic grunts
away first, is received with vast applause, and the loudest
acclamations. Then the Countryman, pretending that he
concealed a little pig under his clothes (which in fact he
did), plucked the ear of the animal, and by the pain forced
him to utter his natural cry. The people exclaimed aloud
that the first performer had imitated the pig much more
naturally, and would have hissed the Countryman off the
stage; but producing the real pig from his bosom, and
convincing them, by a visible proof, of their ridiculous
error; See, gentlemen, says he, what pretty sort of judges
3t is ever bangerous to be long conversant tvit4 persons
of a bab cEaracter.
THE DOG AND THE CROCODILE.
As a Dog was coursing the banks of the Nile, he grew
thirsty, but fearing to be seized by the monsters of that
river, he would not stop to satiate his thirst, but lapped as
he ran. A Crocodile, raising his head above the surface
of the water, asked him, Why he was in such a hurry?
he had often, he said, wished for his acquaintance, and
should be glad to embrace the present opportunity. You
do me great honor, said the Dog, but it is to avoid such
companions as you that I am in so much haste.
Ca false estimate of our own abilities ever exposes us to
ribicule, anb sometimes to banger.
THE EAGLE AND THE CROW.
An Eagle, from the top of a high mountain, made a
stoop at a lamb, pounced upon it, and bore it away to
her young. A Crow, who had built her nest in a cedar
near the foot of the rock, observing what passed, was am-
bitious of performing the same exploit; and, darting from
her nest, fixed her talons in the fleece of another lamb.
But neither able to move her prey, nor disentangle her
feet, she was taken by the shepherd, and carried away
for his children to play with; who eagerly inquiring what
bird it was,-An hour ago, said he, she fancied herself an
Eagle; however, I suppose she is by this time convinced
that she is but a Crow,
THE COCK AND THE FOX.
To retort tbe artifice employeb against us is an allow
able part of self-befence.
THE COCK AND THE FOX.
An experienced old Cock was setting himself to roost
upon a high bough, when a Fox appeared under the tree.
I am come, said the artful hypocrite, to acquaint you in
the name of all my brethren, that a general peace is con-
cluded between us and your whole family. Descend im-
mediately, I beseech you, that we may mutually embrace
upon so joyful and unexpected an event. My good
friend, replied the Cock, nothing could be more agreeable
to me than this news; and to hear it from you increases
my satisfaction. But I spy two greyhounds at a dis-
tance coming this way, who are probably dispatched as
couriers with the treaty; as they run very swiftly, and
will certainly be here in a few minutes, I will wait their
arrival, that we may all four embrace together. Reynard
well knew that if this was the case, it was no time for him
to remain there any longer; pretending, therefore, to be
in great haste, Adieu, said he, for the present; we will
reserve our rejoicings to another opportunity; upon
which he darted into the woods with all imaginable ex-
pedition. Old Chanticleer no sooner saw him depart,
than he crowed abundantly in the triumph of his artifice,
for by a harmless stratagem to disappoint the malevolent
intentions of those who are endeavoring to deceive us to
our ruin, is not only innocent but laudable.
3t were more prudent to acquiesce unber an injury from
a single person, taan by an act of vengeance to bring
upon us the resentment of a wfIole community.
THE BEAR AND THE BEES.
A Bear happened to be stung by a Bee, and the pain
was so acute that in the madness of revenge he ran into
the garden, and overturned the hive. This outrage pro-
voked their anger to a high degree, and brought the fury
of the whole swarm upon him. They attacked him with
such violence, that his life was in danger, and it was with
the utmost difficulty that he made his escape, wounded
from head to tail. In this desperate condition, lamenting
his misfortune, and licking his sores, he could not forbear
reflecting, how much more advisable it had been to have
patiently acquiesced under one injury, than thus, by an
unprofitable resentment, to have provoked a thousand.
THE BEE AND THE SPIDER.
avarice often misses its point through the means it uses
to secure it.
THE ASS AND HIS MASTER.
A diligent Ass, that had long served a severe master,
daily loaded beyond his strength, and kept but at very
short commons, happened one day in his old age to be op-
pressed with a burden of earthen-ware. His strength
being much impaired, and the road deep and uneven, he
unfortunately made a trip, and unable to recover himself,
fell down and broke all the vessels to pieces. His Master,
transported with rage, began to beat him with great vio-
lence, and without mercy. To whom the poor Ass, lifting
up his head as he lay on the ground, strongly remonstrat-
ed: Unfeeling wretch! to thy own avaricious cruelty in
first pinching me of food, and then loading me beyond my
strength, thou owest the misfortune which thou so un-
justly imputest to me.
2eitfer ingenuity nor learning is entitIeb to regarb but
in proportion as tfey contribute to tte
happiness of life.
THE BEE AND THE SPIDER.
The Bee and the Spider once entered into a warm de-
bate which was the better artist. The Spider urged her
skill in the mathematics; and asserted that no one was
half so well acquainted as herself with the construction of
lines, angles, squares, and circles; that the web she daily
wove was a specimen of art inimitable by any other crea-
ture in the universe; and besides, that her works were de-
rived from herself alone, the product of her own bowels;
whereas the boasted honey of the Bee was stolen from ev-
ery herb and flower of the field; nay, that she had obliga-
tions even to the meanest weeds. To this the Bee replied,
that she was in hopes the art of extracting honey from the
meanest weeds, would at least have been allowed her as
an excellence; and that as to her stealing sweets from the
herbs and flowers of the field, her skill was there so con-
spicuous, that no flower ever suffered the least diminu-
tion of its fragrance from so delicate an operation. Then,
as to the Spider's vaunted knowledge in the construction
of lines and angles, she believed she might safely rest the
merits of her cause on the regularity alone of her combs;
but since she could add to this the sweetness and excel-
lence of her honey, and the various purposes for which
her wax was employed, she had nothing to fear from a
comparison of her skill with that of the weaver of a flimsy
cobweb; for the value of every art, she observed, is chiefly
to be estimated by its use.
le fomenter of mischief is at least as culpable as le
wlo puts it in execution.
A Trumpeter in a certain army happened to be taken
prisoner. He was ordered immediately to execution, but
pleaded in excuse for himself, that it was unjust a person
should suffer death, who, far from an intention of mischief,
did not even wear an offensive weapon. So much the
rather, replied one of the enemy, shalt thou die; since
without any design of fighting thyself, thou excitest others
to the bloody business; for he that is the abettor of a bad
action, is at least equally guilty with him that commits it.
3t is ever imprubent to join interests wit those mtso are
able to impose upon us their omn conditions.
THE SNAKE AND THE HEDGE-HOG.
By the entreaties of a Hedge-hog half starved with cold,
a Snake was once persuaded to receive him into her cell.
He was no sooner entered, than his prickles began to be
very uneasy to his companion; upon which, the Snake
desired he would provide himself another lodging, as she
found her apartment was not large enough to accommo-
date both. Nay, said the Hedge-hog, let them that are
uneasy in their situation exchange it; for my own part, I
am very well contented where I am; and if you are not,
you are welcome to remove whenever you think proper.
Fortune, without thie concurrence of vice, cannot effectuz
ally bestrog our happiness; whereas vice, without tfe
4elp of fortune, can make us miserable to the last
VICE AND FORTUNE.
Fortune and Vice, according to Plutarch, had once a
violent contest, which of them had it most in their power
to make mankind unhappy. Fortune boasted that she
could take from men every external good, and bring upon
them every external evil. Be it so, replied Vice; but this
is by no means sufficient without my assistance; whereas
without yours, I am able to render them completely mis-
erable; nay, in spite, too, of all your endeavors to make
THE FARMER AND HIS SONS.
W1Patever fancy may determine, tie stanbing value of
all things is in proportion to tleir use.
The gods, say the heathen mythologists, have each of
them their favorite tree. Jupiter preferred the oak,
Venus the myrtle, and Phoebus the laurel; Cybele the
pine, and Hercules the poplar. Minerva, continues the
mythologist, surprised that they should choose barren
trees, asked Jupiter the reason. It is, said he, to prevent
any suspicion that we confer the honor we do them, for
the sake of their fruit. Let folly suspect what it pleases,
returned Minerva; I shall not scruple to acknowledge,
that I make choice of the olive for the usefulness of its
fruit. 0 daughter, replied the father of the gods, it is
with justice that men esteem thee wise; for nothing is
truly valuable that is not useful.
Znbustry is itself a treasure.
THE FARMER AND HIS SONS.
A wealthy old Farmer, who had for some time been de-
clining in his health, perceiving that he had not many
days to live, called his sons together to his bedside. My
dear children, said the dying man, I leave it with you as
my last injunction, not to part with the farm which has
been in our family for these hundred years; for, to dis-
close to you a secret which I received from my father,
and which I now think proper to communicate to you,
there is a treasure hid somewhere in the grounds; though
I never could discover the particular spot where it lies
concealed. However, as soon as the harvest is got in,
spare no pains in the search, and I am well assured you
will not lose your labor. The wise old man was no soon-
er laid in his grave, and the time he mentioned arrived,
than his sons went to work, and with great vigor and
alacrity turned up again and again every foot of ground
belonging to their farm; the consequence of which was, al-
though they did not find the object of their pursuit, that
their lands yielded a far more plentiful crop than those of
their neighbors. At the end of the year, when they were
settling their accounts, and computing their extraordi-
nary profits, I would venture a wager, said one of the
brothers more acute than the rest, that this was the con-
cealed wealth my father meant. I am sure, at least, we
have found by experience, that Industry is itself a trea-
CC total neglect is the best return the generous can make
to the scurrility of tfe base.
THE LION AND THE ASS.
A conceited Ass had once the impertinence to bray
forth some contemptuous speeches against the Lion. The
suddenness of the insult, at first raised some emotions of
wrath in his breast; but turning his head and perceiving
from whence it came, they immediately subsided, and he
very sedately walked on, without deigning to honor the
contemptible creature, even so much as with an angry
THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS.
___ -- _.
~t~e necessity of pursuing te dictates of one's reason in-
steab of attempting to please all mankinb.
THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THEIR ASS.
A Miller and his Son were driving their Ass to market,
in order to sell him. That he might get thither fresh and
in good condition, they drove him on gently before them.
They had not gone far, when they met a company of trav-
elers. Sure, say they, you are mighty careful of your
Ass; methinks one of you might as well get up and ride, as
let him walk on at his ease, while you trudge after him on
foot. In compliance with this advice, the old man set his
Son upon the beast. They had scarce advanced a quarter
of a mile further, when they met another company. You
lazy booby, said one of the party, why don't you get down,
and let your poor father ride? Upon this, the old man
made his son dismount, and got up himself. In this man-
ner they had not marched many furlongs, when a third
company began to insult the father. You hard-hearted,
unnatural wretch, say they, how can you suffer that poor
lad to wade through the dirt, while you like an alderman
ride at your ease? The good-natured Miller stood cor-
rected, and immediately took his son up behind him.
And now, the next man they
met exclaimed with more ve-
hemence and indignation than
all the rest. Was there
A^ -- A
ever such a couple of lazy boobies! to overload in so un-
comfortable a manner a poor dumb creature, who is far
less able to carry them than they are to carry him! Any-
thing to please you, said the old man; we can but try.