History of Literature










Clodius Aesopus


"Aesop's Fables"



Illustrations by H. Weir, J. Tenniel, E. Griset





 

 


 

ĘSOP'S FABLES

 

The Miser.

A Miser had a lump of gold which he buried in the ground, coming to look at the spot every day. One day he found that it was stolen, and he began to tear his hair and loudly lament. A neighbor, seeing him, said: "Pray do not grieve so; bury a stone in the hole, and fancy it is the gold. It will serve you just as well, for when the gold was there you made no use of it."


The Wolf and the Goat.

A Wolf saw a Goat feeding at the summit of a steep precipice, where he had not a chance of reaching her. He called to her, and earnestly besought her to come lower down, lest she should by some mishap get a fall; and he added that the meadows lay where he was standing, and that the herbage was most tender. She replied: "No, my friend, it is not of me you are thinking, but of yourself."

Invitations prompted by selfishness are not to be accepted.


The Bald Knight.

A Bald Knight, who wore a wig, went out to hunt. A sudden puff of wind blew off his hat and wig, at which a loud laugh rang forth from his companions. He joined in the joke by saying: "What marvel that hairs which are not mine should fly from me, when my own have forsaken even the man with whom they were born."

Those who cannot take care of their own, should not be entrusted with the care of another's property.


The Fox and the Wood-Cutter.

A Fox, running before the hounds, came across a Wood-cutter felling an oak, and besought him to show him a safe hiding-place. The Wood-cutter advised him to take shelter in his own hut. The Fox crept in, and hid himself in a corner. The Huntsman came up, with his hounds, in a few minutes, and inquired of the Wood-cutter if he had seen the Fox. He declared that he had not seen him, and yet pointed, all the time he was speaking, to the hut where the Fox lay hid. The Huntsman took no notice of the signs, but, believing his word, hastened forward in the chase. As soon as they were well away, the Fox departed without taking any notice of the Wood-cutter; whereon he called to him, and reproached him, saying: "You ungrateful fellow, you owe your life to me, and yet you leave me without a word of thanks." The Fox replied: "Indeed, I should have thanked you most fervently, if your deeds had been as good as your words."


The Kid and the Wolf.

A Kid, mounted on a high rock, bestowed all manner of abuse upon a Wolf on the ground below. The Wolf, looking up, replied: "Do not think, vain creature, that you annoy me. I regard this ill language as coming not from you, but from the place on which you stand."


The Lion, the Bear, and the Fox.

A Lion and a Bear seized upon a kid at the same moment, and fought fiercely for its possession. When they had fearfully lacerated each other, and were faint from the long combat, they lay down exhausted with fatigue. A Fox who had gone round them at a distance several times, saw them both stretched on the ground, and the Kid lying untouched in the middle, ran in between them, and seizing the Kid, scampered off as fast as he could. The Lion and the Bear saw him, but not being able to get up, said: "Woe betide us, that we should have fought and belabored ourselves only to serve the turn of a Fox!"

It sometimes happens that one man has all the toil, and another all the profit.


The Stag in the Ox-Stall.

A Stag, hardly pressed by the hounds, and blind through fear to the danger he was running into, took shelter in a farm-yard, and hid himself in a shed among the oxen. An Ox gave him this kindly warning: "O unhappy creature! why should you thus, of your own accord, incur destruction, and trust yourself in the house of your enemy?" The Stag replied: "Do you only suffer me, friend, to stay where I am, and I will undertake to find some favorable opportunity of effecting my escape." At the approach of the evening the herdsman came to feed his cattle, but did not see the Stag. The Stag, congratulating himself on his safety, began to express his sincere thanks to the Oxen who had kindly afforded him help in the hour of need. One of them again answered him: "We indeed wish you well, but the danger is not over. There is one other yet to pass through the shed, who has as it were a hundred eyes, and, until he has come and gone, your life is still in peril." At that moment the master himself entered, and having had to complain that his oxen had not been properly fed, he went up to their racks, and cried out: "Why is there such a scarcity of fodder? There is not half enough straw for them to lie on. Those lazy fellows have not even swept the cobwebs away." While he thus examined everything, he spied the antlers of the Stag peeping out of the straw. Summoning his laborers, he ordered that the Stag should be killed.

What is safety for one is not always safety for another.


The Eagle and the Jackdaw.

An Eagle, flying down from his eyrie on a lofty rock, seized upon a lamb, and carried him aloft in his talons. A Jackdaw who witnessed the capture of the lamb, was stirred with envy, and determined to emulate the strength and flight of the Eagle. He flew round with a great whirr of his wings, and settled upon a large sheep, with the intention of carrying it off, but his claws becoming entangled in its fleece, he was unable to release himself, although he fluttered with his feathers as much as he could. The shepherd, seeing what had happened, ran up and caught him. He at once clipped his wings, and, taking him home at night, gave him to his children.

We should not permit our ambition to lead us beyond the limits of our power.


The Three Tradesmen.

A great city was besieged, and its inhabitants were called together to consider the best means of protecting it from the enemy. A Bricklayer present earnestly recommended bricks, as affording the best materials for an effectual resistance. A Carpenter, with equal energy, proposed timber, as providing a preferable method of defense. Upon which a Currier stood up, and said: "Sirs, I differ from you altogether; there is no material for resistance equal to a covering of hides; and nothing so good as leather."

Every man for his trade.


The Dancing Monkeys.

A Prince had some Monkeys trained to dance. Being naturally great mimics of men's actions, they showed themselves most apt pupils; and when arrayed in their rich clothes and masks, they danced as well as any of the courtiers. The spectacle was often repeated with great applause, till on one occasion a courtier, bent on mischief, took from his pocket a handful of nuts, and threw them upon the stage. The Monkeys, at the sight of the nuts, forgot their dancing, and became (as indeed they were) Monkeys instead of actors, and pulling off their masks and tearing their robes, they fought with one another for the nuts. The dancing spectacle thus came to an end, amidst the laughter and ridicule of the audience.

They who assume a character will betray themselves by their actions.


The Ass and the Grasshopper.

An Ass, having heard some Grasshoppers chirping, was highly enchanted; and desiring to possess the same charms of melody, demanded what sort of food they lived on, to give them such beautiful voices. They replied: "The dew." The Ass resolved that he would live only upon dew, and in a short time died of hunger.

Where one may live, another may starve.


The Ass in the Lion's Skin.

An Ass, having put on the Lion's skin, roamed about in the forest, and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met with in his wanderings. At last, meeting a Fox, he tried to frighten him also, but the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice, than he exclaimed: "I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray."

No disguise will hide one's true character.


The Boy Bathing.

A Boy bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a traveler passing by for help. The traveler, instead of holding out a helping hand, stood up unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. "Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray help me now, and scold me afterwards."

Counsel, without help, is useless.


The Cock and the Fox.

The Fox, passing early one summer's morning near a farm-yard, was caught in a springe, which the farmer had planted there for that end. The Cock, at a distance, saw what happened, and, hardly yet daring to trust himself too near so dangerous a foe, approached him cautiously, and peeped at him. Reynard addressed himself to him, with all the designing artifice imaginable. "Dear cousin," says he, "you see what an unfortunate accident has befallen me here, and all upon your account: for, as I was creeping through yonder hedge, in my way homeward, I heard you crow, and was resolved to ask you how you did before I went any farther; but I met with this disaster; and therefore now I must ask you for a knife to cut this string; or, at least, to conceal my misfortune till I have gnawed it asunder." The Cock, seeing how the case stood, made no reply, but posted away as fast as he could, and told the farmer, who came and killed the Fox.

To aid the vicious is to become a partner in their guilt.


The Viper and the File.

A Viper, entering the workshop of a smith, sought from the tools the means of satisfying his hunger. He more particularly addressed himself to a File, and asked of him the favor of a meal. The File replied: "You must indeed be a simple-minded fellow if you expect to get anything from me, who am accustomed to take from every one, and never to give anything in return."

The covetous are poor givers.


The Oxen and the Axle-Trees.

A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of oxen. The axle-trees groaned and creaked terribly, when the oxen, turning round, thus addressed the wheels: "Hallo there! why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we, not you, ought to cry out."

Those who suffer most cry out the least.


The Bear and the Bee-Hives.

A Bear that had found his way into a garden where Bees were kept began to turn over the hives and devour the honey. The Bees settled in swarms about his head, and stung his eyes and nose so much, that, maddened with pain, he tore the skin from his head with his own claws.


The Thrush and the Swallow.

A young Thrush, who lived in an orchard once became acquainted with a Swallow. A friendship sprang up between them; and the Swallow, after skimming the orchard and the neighboring meadow, would every now and then come and visit the Thrush. The Thrush, hopping from branch to branch, would welcome him with his most cheerful note. "O mother!" said he to his parent one day, "never had creature such a friend as I have in this same Swallow."—"Nor ever any mother," replied the parent-bird, "such a silly son as I have in this same Thrush. Long before the approach of winter, your friend will have left you; and while you sit shivering on a leafless bough he will be sporting under sunny skies hundreds of miles away."


The Sensible Ass.

An Old Fellow, in time of war, was allowing his Ass to feed in a green meadow, when he was alarmed by a sudden advance of the enemy. He tried every means in his power to urge the Ass to fly, but in vain. "The enemy are upon us!" said he. "And what will the enemy do?" asked the Ass. "Will they put two pairs of panniers on my back, instead of one?"—"No," answered the Man; "there is no fear of that."—"Why, then," replied the Ass, "I'll not stir an inch. I am born to be a slave; and my greatest enemy is he who gives me most to carry."


The Lion and the Ass.

A Lion and an Ass made an agreement to go out hunting together. By-and-by they came to a cave, where wild goats abode. The Lion took up his station at the mouth of the cave, and the Ass, going within, kicked and brayed, and made a mighty fuss to frighten them out. When the Lion had caught them, the Ass came out and asked him if he had not made a noble fight. "Yes, indeed," said the Lion; "and I assure you, you would have frightened me too, if I had not known you to be an Ass."


The Fox and the Ape.

Upon the decease of the Lion, the beasts of the forest assembled to choose another king. The Ape played so many grimaces, gambols, and antic tricks, that he was elected by a large majority; and the crown was placed upon his head. The Fox, envious of this distinction, seeing, soon after, a trap baited with a piece of meat, approached the new king, and said with mock humility: "May it please your majesty, I have found on your domain a treasure, to which, if you will deign to accompany me, I will conduct you." The Ape thereupon set off with the Fox, and, on arriving at the spot, laid his paw upon the meat. Snap! went the trap, and caught him by the fingers. Mad with the shame and the pain, he reproached the Fox for a false thief and a traitor. Reynard laughed heartily, and said, with a sneer: "You a king, and not understand a trap!"


The Lion and the Wolf.

A Wolf, roaming by the mountain's side, saw his own shadow, as the sun was setting, become greatly extended and magnified, and he said to himself: "Why should I, being of such an immense size, and extending nearly an acre in length, be afraid of the Lion? Ought I not to be acknowledged as King of all the collected beasts?" While he was indulging in these proud thoughts, a Lion fell upon him, and killed him. He exclaimed with a too-late repentance, "Wretched me! this over-estimation of myself is the cause of my destruction."

It is not wise, to hold too exalted an opinion of one's self.


The Miller, his Son and their Ass.

A miller and his Son were driving their Ass to a fair. On the way, they met a troop of girls. "Look there!" cried one of them, "did you ever see such fools, to be trudging along on foot when they might be riding?" The old Man, hearing this, quietly bade his Son get on the Ass, and walked along merrily by his side.

Presently they came to a group of old men in earnest debate. "There!" said one of them, "it proves what I was saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle young rogue riding, while his old father has to walk?—Get down, you scapegrace! and let the old Man rest his weary limbs." Upon this the Father made his Son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children. "Why, you lazy old fellow!" cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad there can hardly keep pace by the side of you." The good-natured Miller immediately took up his Son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a townsman, "is that Ass your own?" "Yes," says the old Man. "Oh! One would not have thought so by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you!" "Anything to please you," said the old Man. So, alighting with his Son, they tied the Ass's legs together, and by the help of a pole endeavored to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge. The people ran out in crowds to laugh at the sight; till the Ass, not liking the noise nor his situation, kicked asunder the cords and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river. Upon this the old Man made the best of his way home with his Son—convinced that, by endeavoring to please every-body, he had succeeded in pleasing nobody, and lost his Ass into the bargain.


The Travelers and the Plane-Tree.

Two Travelers, worn out by the heat of the summer's sun, laid themselves down at noon under the wide-spreading branches of a Plane-tree. As they rested under its shade, one of the Travelers said to the other: "What a singularly useless tree is the Plane. It bears no fruit, and is not of the least service to man." The Plane-tree interrupting him said: "You ungrateful fellows! Do you, while receiving benefits from me, and resting under my shade, dare to describe me as useless, and unprofitable?"

Some men despise their best blessings because they come without cost.


The Tortoise and the Two Ducks.

A Tortoise, becoming tired of her humble home, resolved to visit foreign lands, but she did not know which way to go. She repaired to two Ducks to show her the road, and they told her that the best way to travel was through the air. On her imploring their help, they made her grasp a stick with her mouth, and so they bore her aloft. As they flew along, the gaping people beneath shouted at sight of the spectacle. The vain Tortoise mistook their shouts for applause. "I am surely a queen," said she. But, alas! as she opened her mouth to speak she lost her hold of the stick, and, falling to the ground, was dashed to pieces.

Those who are not able to roam should stay at home.


The Countryman and the Snake.

A Villager found a Snake under a hedge, almost dead with cold. He could not help having a compassion for the poor creature, so he brought it home, and laid it upon the hearth near the fire; but it had not lain there long, before (being revived with the heat) it began to erect itself, and fly at his wife and children. The Countryman, hearing an outcry, and perceiving what the matter was, caught up a mattock, and soon dispatched him, upbraiding him at the same time in these words: "Is this, vile wretch, the reward you make to him that saved your life?"

Kindness to the ungrateful and the vicious is thrown away.


The Madman who Sold Wisdom.

A Madman once set himself up in the market place, and with loud cries announced that he would sell Wisdom. The people at once crowded about him, and some gave him gold for his wares, but they each got only a blow on the ear and a bunch of thread, and were well laughed at by their companions. One of them, however, took it more seriously than the others, and asked a wise sage what it meant. "It means," said the sage, "that if one would not be hurt by a Madman, he must put a bunch of thread over his ears." So the Madman was really selling Wisdom.


The Leopard and the Fox.

A Leopard, being no longer able, by reason of old age, to pursue his prey, feigned illness, and gave out that he would confer great favors upon any animal that would cure him. A cunning Fox heard of the proclamation, and lost no time in visiting the Leopard, first making himself look as much like a physician as he could. On seeing him, the Leopard declared that such a distinguished looking animal could not fail to cure him. This so flattered the Fox that he came near, and at once fell a victim to his vanity, being unable to flee because of the disguise, which fettered his limbs.

Flattery is a dangerous weapon in the hands of an enemy.


The Hare afraid of his Ears.

The Lion, being badly hurt by the horns of a goat, swore in a great rage that every animal with horns should be banished from his kingdom. A silly Hare, seeing the shadow of his ears, was in great fear lest they should be taken for horns, and scampered away.


The Peacock and the Crane.

A Peacock, spreading its gorgeous tail, mocked a Crane that passed by, ridiculing the ashen hue of its plumage, and saying: "I am robed like a king, in gold and purple, and all the colors of the rainbow; while you have not a bit of color on your wings." "True," replied the Crane, "but I soar to the heights of heaven, and lift up my voice to the stars, while you walk below, like a cock, among the birds of the dunghill."

Fine feathers don't make fine birds.


The Mouse and the Weasel.

A little starveling Mouse had made his way with some difficulty into a basket of corn, where, finding the entertainment so good, he stuffed and crammed himself to such an extent, that when he would have got out again he found the hole was too small to allow his puffed-up body to pass. As he sat at the hole groaning over his fate, a Weasel, who was brought to the spot by his cries, thus addressed him: "Stop there, my friend, and fast till you are thin; for you will never come out till you reduce yourself to the same condition as when you entered."


The Fox and the Tiger.

A skillful archer, coming into the woods, directed his arrows so successfully that he slew many wild beasts, and pursued several others. This put the whole savage kind into a fearful consternation, and made them fly to the most retired thickets for refuge. At last, the Tiger resumed courage, and, bidding them not be afraid, said that he alone would engage the enemy; telling them they might depend upon his valor and strength to revenge their wrongs. In the midst of these threats, while he was lashing himself with his tail, and tearing up the ground for anger, an arrow pierced his ribs, and hung by its barbed point in his side. He set up an hideous and loud roar, occasioned by the anguish which he felt, and endeavored to draw out the painful dart with his teeth; when the Fox, approaching him, inquired with an air of surprise who it was that could have strength and courage enough to wound so mighty and valorous a beast! "Ah!" says the Tiger, "I was mistaken in my reckoning: it was that invincible man yonder."

There is always some vulnerable point in the strongest armor.


The Fox and the Turkeys.

A Fox spied some turkeys roosting in a tree. He managed to attract their attention and then ran about the tree, pretended to climb, walked on his hind legs, and did all sorts of tricks. Filled with fear, the Turkeys watched every one of his movements until they became dizzy, and, one by one, fell from their safe perch.

By too much attention to danger, we may fall victims to it.


The Eagle, the Cat, and the Wild Sow.

An Eagle had made her nest at the top of a lofty oak. A Cat, having found a convenient hole, lived with her kittens in the middle of the trunk; and a Wild Sow with her young had taken shelter in a hollow at its foot. The Cat resolved to destroy by her arts this chance-made colony. She climbed to the nest of the Eagle, and said: "Destruction is preparing for you, and for me too. The Wild Sow, whom you may see daily digging up the earth, wishes to uproot the oak, that she may, on its fall, seize our families as food." Then she crept down to the cave of the Sow and said: "Your children are in great danger; for as soon as you shall go out with your litter to find food, the Eagle is prepared to pounce upon one of your little pigs." When night came, she went forth with silent foot and obtained food for herself and her kittens; but, feigning to be afraid, she kept a look-out all through the day. Meanwhile, the Eagle, full of fear of the Sow, sat still on the branches, and the Sow, terrified by the Eagle, did not dare to go out from her cave; and thus they each, with their families, perished from hunger.

Those who stir up enmities are not to be trusted.


The Peacock and the Magpie.

The Birds once met together to choose a king; and, among others, the Peacock was a candidate. Spreading his showy tail, and stalking up and down with affected grandeur, he caught the eyes of the silly multitude by his brilliant appearance, and was elected with acclamation. The Magpie then stepped forth into the midst of the assembly, and thus addressed the new king: "May it please your majesty, elect to permit a humble admirer to propose a question. As our king, we put our lives and fortunes in your hands. If, therefore, the Eagle, the Vulture, and the Kite, should make a descent upon us, what means would you take for our defense?" This pithy question opened the eyes of the Birds to the weakness of their choice and they canceled the election.


The Two Goats.

Two Goats started at the same moment, from opposite ends, to cross a rude bridge that was only wide enough for one to cross at a time. Meeting at the middle of the bridge, neither would give way to the other. They locked horns and fought for the right of way, until they both fell into the torrent below and were drowned.


The Dove and the Ant.

An Ant went to the bank of a river to quench its thirst, and, being carried away by the rush of the stream, was on the point of being drowned. A Dove, sitting on a tree overhanging the water, plucked a leaf, and let it fall into the stream close to her. The Ant, climbing on to it, floated in safety to the bank. Shortly afterwards a bird catcher came close and stood under the tree, and laid his lime-twigs for the Dove, which sat in the branches. The Ant, perceiving his design, stung him in the foot. He suddenly threw down the twigs, and thereupon made the Dove take wing.

The grateful heart will always find opportunities to show its gratitude.


The Eagle and the Beetle.

The Eagle and the Beetle were at enmity together, and they destroyed one another's nests. The Eagle gave the first provocation in seizing upon and in eating the young ones of the Beetle. The Beetle got by stealth at the Eagle's eggs, and rolled them out of the nest, and followed the Eagle even into the presence of Jupiter. On the Eagle making his complaint, Jupiter ordered him to make his nest in his lap; and while Jupiter had the eggs in his lap, the Beetle came flying about him, and Jupiter, rising up unawares to drive him away from his head, threw down the eggs, and broke them.

The weak often revenge themselves on those who use them ill, even though they be the more powerful.


The Mule.

A Mule, frolicsome from want of work and from overmuch corn, galloped about in a very extravagant manner, and said to himself: "My father surely was a high-mettled racer, and I am his own child in speed and spirit." On the next day, being driven a long journey, and feeling very weary, he exclaimed in a disconsolate tone: "I must have made a mistake; my father, after all, could have been only an ass."


The Cat, the Weasel and the Rabbit.

While a Rabbit was absent from his hole one day, a Weasel took possession of it. On the Rabbit's return, seeing the Weasel's nose sticking out, he said: "You must leave this hole immediately. There is only room for one, and it has always belonged to me and my fathers before me." "The more reason that you should give it up now," said the Weasel, "and leave its possession to me." As they could not settle the dispute, they agreed to leave the question of ownership to a wise old Cat, to whom they went without more ado. "I am deaf," said the Cat. "Put your noses close to my ears." No sooner had they done so, than she clapped a paw upon each of them, and killed them both.

The strong are apt to settle all questions by the rule of might.


The Rat and the Frog.

A Rat in an evil day made acquaintance with a Frog, and they set off on their travels together. The Frog, on pretense of great affection, and of keeping his companion out of harm's way, tied the Rat's foot to his own hind-leg, and thus they proceeded for some distance by land. Presently they came to some water, and the Frog, bidding the Rat have good courage, began to swim across. They had scarcely, however, arrived midway, when the Frog took a sudden plunge to the bottom, dragging the unfortunate Rat after him. But the struggling and floundering of the Rat made so great a commotion in the water that it attracted the attention of a Kite, who, pouncing down and bearing off the Rat, carried away the Frog at the same time in his train.

Inconsiderate and ill-matched alliances generally end in ruin; and the man who compasses the destruction of his neighbor, is often caught in his own snare.


The Widow and the Sheep.

There was a certain Widow who had an only Sheep, and, wishing to make the most of his wool, she sheared him so closely that she cut his skin as well as his fleece. The Sheep, smarting under this treatment, cried out: "Why do you torture me thus? What will my blood add to the weight of the wool? If you want my flesh, Dame, send for the Butcher, who will put me out of my misery at once; but if you want my fleece, send for the Shearer, who will clip my wool without drawing my blood."

Economy may be carried too far.


The Man Bitten by a Dog.

A Man who had been bitten by a Dog was going about asking who could cure him. One that met him said: "Sir, if you would be cured, take a bit of bread and dip it in the blood of the wound, and give it to the dog that bit you." The Man smiled, and said: "If I were to follow your advice, I should be bitten by all the dogs in the city."

He who proclaims himself ready to buy up his enemies will never want a supply of them.


The Horse and the Wolf.

A Wolf saw a Horse grazing in a field. Putting on a grave air, he approached him and said: "Sir, you must be very ill; I have some skill as a physician, and if you will tell me where your ailment is, I shall be glad to be of service." Said the horse: "If you will examine my foot, you will find what ails me." But as the wily Wolf approached him, with a kick he sent him flying into the air.


The Goatherd and the Goats.

It was a stormy day, and the snow was falling fast, when a Goatherd drove his Goats, all white with snow, into a desert cave for shelter. There he found that a herd of Wild Goats, more numerous and larger than his own, had already taken possession. So, thinking to secure them all, he left his own Goats to take care of themselves, and threw the branches which he had brought for them to the Wild Goats to browse on. But when the weather cleared up, he found his own Goats had perished from hunger, while the Wild Goats were off and away to the hills and woods. So the Goatherd returned a laughing-stock to his neighbors, having failed to gain the Wild Goats, and having lost his own.

They who neglect their old friends for the sake of new ones, are rightly served if they lose both.


The Goose with the Golden Eggs.

A certain man had the good fortune to possess a Goose that laid him a Golden Egg every day. But dissatisfied with so slow an income, and thinking to seize the whole treasure at once, he killed the Goose, and cutting her open, found her—just what any other goose would be!

Much wants more, and loses all.


The Old Woman and the Wine-Jar.

An Old Woman found an empty jar which had lately been full of prime old wine, and which still retained the fragrant smell of its former contents. She greedily placed it several times to her nose, and drawing it backwards and forwards, said: "O most delicious! How nice must the Wine itself have been when it leaves behind in the very vessel which contained it so sweet a perfume!"

The memory of a good deed lives.


The Ass Carrying Salt.

A certain Huckster who kept an Ass, hearing that Salt was to be had cheap at the sea-side, drove down his Ass thither to buy some. Having loaded the beast as much as he could bear, he was driving him home, when, as they were passing a slippery ledge of rock, the Ass fell into the stream below, and the Salt being melted, the Ass was relieved of his burden, and having gained the bank with ease, pursued his journey onward, light in body and in spirit. The Huckster soon afterwards set off for the sea-shore for some more Salt, and loaded the Ass, if possible, yet more heavily than before. On their return, as they crossed the stream into which he had formerly fallen, the Ass fell down on purpose, and by the dissolving of the Salt, was again released from his load. The Master, provoked at the loss, and thinking how he might cure him of this trick, on his next journey to the coast freighted the beast with a load of sponges. When they arrived at the same stream as before, the Ass was at his old tricks again, and rolled himself into the water; but he found to his cost, as he proceeded homewards, that instead of lightening his burden, he had more than doubled its weight.

The same measures will not suit all circumstances.


The Gnat and the Bull.

A Gnat that had been buzzing about the head of a Bull, at length settling himself down upon his horn, begged his pardon for incommoding him; "but if," says he, "my weight at all inconveniences you, pray say so, and I will be off in a moment." "Oh, never trouble your head about that," says the Bull, "for 'tis all one to me whether you go or stay; and, to say the truth, I did not know you were there."

The smaller the Mind the greater the Conceit.


The Lion and the Gnat.

As a Gnat was buzzing around a Lion, the Lion said to him: "How dare you approach so near? Be off, or I will kill you with the least stroke of my paw." The Gnat, knowing the advantage of his small size, and his alertness, immediately challenged the boaster to combat, and alighting first upon his nose and then upon his tail, made the Lion so furious that he injured himself grievously with his paws. As the Gnat flew away he boasted of his own prowess in thus defeating the King of Beasts without the slightest injury to himself. But, in his carelessness, he flew directly into a spider's web, and the spider instantly seized and killed him.


The Lion, the Ass and the Fox Hunting.

The Lion, the Ass and the Fox formed a party to go out hunting. They took a large booty, and when the sport was ended, bethought themselves of having a hearty meal. The Lion bade the Ass allot the spoil. So, dividing it into three equal parts, the Ass begged his friends to make their choice; at which the Lion, in great indignation, fell upon the Ass and tore him to pieces. He then bade the Fox make a division; who, gathering the whole into one great heap, reserved but the smallest mite for himself. "Ah! friend," says the Lion, "who taught you to make so equitable a division?" "I wanted no other lesson," replied the Fox, "than the Ass's fate."

Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.


The Dog Whose Ears were Cropped.

A Dog complained of the cruelty of her master in cutting off her ears, and was so ashamed of her appearance that she resolved to stay in her kennel with her family. A friendly hunting dog said to her: "If you had been peaceful, and not always fighting, you would have saved your ears and your good looks. If you will fight, it is a kindness to crop your ears, that they may not give your enemy the advantage."


The Wind and the Sun.

A dispute once arose between the Wind and the Sun, which was the stronger of the two, and they agreed to settle the point upon this issue—that whichever of the two soonest made a traveler take off his cloak, should be accounted the more powerful. The Wind began, and blew with all his might and main a blast, cold and fierce as a Thracian storm; but the stronger he blew, the closer the traveler wrapped his cloak around him, and the tighter he grasped it with his hands. Then broke out the Sun. With his welcome beams he dispersed the vapor and the cold; the traveler felt the genial warmth, and as the Sun shone brighter and brighter, he sat down, quite overcome with the heat, and taking off his cloak, cast it on the ground.

Thus the Sun was declared the conqueror; and it has ever been deemed that persuasion is better than force; and that the sunshine of a kind and gentle manner will sooner lay open a poor man's heart than all the threatenings and force of blustering authority.


The Wild Boar and the Fox.

A Wild Boar was whetting his tusks against a tree, when a Fox coming by, asked why he did so; "for," said he, "I see no reason for it; there is neither hunter nor hound in sight, nor any other danger that I can see, at hand." "True," replied the Boar; "but when that danger does arise, I shall have something else to do than to sharpen my weapons."

It is too late to whet the sword when the trumpet sounds to draw it.


The Hunter and the Wolf.

A greedy Hunter one day shot a fine Deer, and ere he could dress it, a pretty Fawn came that way, and an arrow brought it to the ground. A Boar now chanced to be passing, and the Hunter wounded it so that it lay upon the ground as if dead. Not satisfied with this game, he must needs pursue a Partridge that came fluttering near, and while he was doing so the wounded Boar regained enough strength to spring upon him and kill him. A Wolf came that way, and seeing the four dead bodies, said: "Here is food for a month; but I will save the best, and be content to-day with the bow-string." But when he seized the string it loosened the fixed arrow, which shot him through the heart.

The greedy man and the miser cannot enjoy their gains.


The Astronomer.

An Astronomer used to walk out every night to gaze upon the stars. It happened one night that, with his whole thoughts rapt up in the skies, he fell into a well. One who heard his cries ran up to him, and said: "While you are trying to pry into the mysteries of heaven, you overlook the common objects under your feet."

We should never look so high as to miss seeing the things that are around us.


The Bulls and the Frogs.

Two Bulls lived in the same herd, and each aspiring to be the leader and master, they finally engaged in a fierce battle. An old Frog, who sat on the bank of a stream near by, began to groan and to quake with fear. A thoughtless young Frog said to the old one: "Why need you be afraid? What is it to you that the Bulls fight for supremacy?" "Do you not see," said the old Frog, "that one must defeat the other, and that the defeated Bull, being driven from the field, will be forced to stay in the marshes, and will thus trample us to death?"

The poor and weak are often made to suffer for the follies of the great.


The Thief and His Mother.

A Schoolboy stole a horn-book from one of his schoolfellows, and brought it home to his mother. Instead of chastising him, she rather encouraged him in the deed. In course of time the boy, now grown into a man, began to steal things of greater value, until, at last, being caught in the very act, he was brought to the Judge and sentenced to be hung. As he was being led to the scaffold, the mother bowed herself to the ground with grief. A neighbor seeing her thus, said to her: "It is too late for you to moan and sob now. If you had been as much grieved when he committed his first theft, you would have corrected him in time, and thus have saved yourself this sorrowful day."

Nip evil in the bud.


The Man and His Two Wives.

In days when a man was allowed more wives than one, a middle-aged bachelor, who could be called neither young nor old, and whose hair was only just beginning to turn gray, must needs fall in love with two women at once, and marry them both. The one was young and blooming, and wished her husband to appear as youthful as herself; the other was somewhat more advanced in age, and was as anxious that her husband should appear a suitable match for her. So, while the young one seized every opportunity of pulling out the good man's gray hairs, the old one was as industrious in plucking out every black hair she could find, till he found that, between the one and the other, he had not a hair left.

He that submits his principles to the influence and caprices of opposite parties will end in having no principles at all.


The Heifer, the Goat, the Sheep and the Lion.

A Heifer, a Goat, a Sheep, and a Lion formed a partnership, and agreed to divide their earnings. The Goat having snared a stag, they sent for the Lion to divide it for them. The Lion said: "I will make four parts—the first shall be mine as judge; the second, because I am strongest; the third, because I am bravest; and the fourth—I will kill any one who dares touch it."

He who will steal a part will steal the whole.


The Camel and the Travelers.

Two Travelers on a desert saw a Camel in the distance, and were greatly frightened at his huge appearance, thinking it to be some huge monster. While they hid behind some low shrubs, the animal came nearer, and they discovered that it was only a harmless Camel which had excited their fears.

Distance exaggerates dangers.


The Swan and the Goose.

A certain rich man bought in the market a Goose and a Swan. He fed the one for his table, and kept the other for the sake of its song. When the time came for killing the Goose, the cook went to take him at night, when it was dark, and he was not able to distinguish one bird from the other, and he caught the Swan instead of the Goose. The Swan, threatened with death, burst forth into song, and thus made himself known by his voice, and preserved his life by his melody.

Sweet words may deliver us from peril, when harsh words would fail.


The Dolphins and the Sprat.

The Dolphins and the Whales were at war with one another, and the Sprat stepped in and endeavored to separate them. But one of the Dolphins cried out: "We would rather perish in the contest, than be reconciled by you."


The Shepherd and the Sea.

A Shepherd moved down his flock to feed near the shore, and beholding the Sea lying in a smooth calm, he was seized with a strong desire to sail over it. So he sold all his sheep and bought a cargo of Dates, and loaded a vessel, and set sail. He had not gone far when a storm arose; his ship was wrecked, and his Dates and everything lost, and he himself with difficulty escaped to land. Not long after, when the Sea was again calm, and one of his friends came up to him and was admiring its repose, he said: "Have a care, my good fellow, of that smooth surface, it is only looking out for your Dates."


The Bees, the Drones, and the Wasp.

Some Bees had built their comb in the hollow trunk of an oak. The Drones asserted that it was their doing, and belonged to them. The cause was brought into court before Judge Wasp. Knowing something of the parties, he thus addressed them: "The plaintiffs and defendants are so much alike in shape and color as to render the ownership a doubtful matter. Let each party take a hive to itself, and build up a new comb, that from the shape of the cells and the taste of the honey, the lawful proprietors of the property in dispute may appear." The Bees readily assented to the Wasp's plan. The Drones declined it. Whereupon the Wasp gave judgment: "It is clear now who made the comb, and who cannot make it; the Court adjudges the honey to the Bees."

Professions are best tested by deeds.


The Wolf, the Goat and the Kid.

As an old Goat was going forth to pasture, she carefully latched her door, and bid her kid not to open it to any one who could not give this pass-word: "Beware of the Wolf and all his race." A Wolf happened to be passing, and overheard what the old Goat said. When she was gone, he went to the door, and, knocking, said: "Beware of the Wolf and all his race." But the Kid, peeping through a crack, said: "Show me a white paw and I will open the door." As the Wolf could not do this, he had to depart, no better than he came.

Two sureties are better than one.


The Fox and the Hedgehog.

A Fox, while crossing over a river, was driven by the stream into a narrow gorge, and lay there for a long time unable to get out, covered with myriads of horse-flies that had fastened themselves upon him. A Hedgehog, who was wandering in that direction, saw him, and taking compassion on him, asked him if he should drive away the flies that were so tormenting him. But the Fox begged him to do nothing of the sort. "Why not?" asked the Hedgehog. "Because," replied the Fox, "these flies that are upon me now are already full, and draw but little blood, but should you remove them, a swarm of fresh and hungry ones will come, who will not leave a drop of blood in my body."

When we throw off rulers or dependents, who have already made the most of us, we do but, for the most part, lay ourselves open to others, who will make us bleed yet more freely.


The Brazier and His Dog.

A Brazier had a little Dog, which was a great favorite with his master, and his constant companion. While he hammered away at his metals the Dog slept; but when, on the other hand, he went to dinner, and began to eat, the Dog woke up, and wagged his tail, as if he would ask for a share of his meal. His master one day, pretending to be angry, and shaking his stick at him, said: "You wretched little sluggard! what shall I do to you? While I am hammering on the anvil, you sleep on the mat, and when I begin to eat after my toil, you wake up and wag your tail for food. Do you not know that labor is the source of every blessing, and that none but those who work are entitled to eat?"


The Wild Ass and the Lion.

A Wild Ass and a Lion entered into an alliance that they might capture the beasts of the forest with the greater ease. The Lion agreed to assist the Wild Ass with strength, while the Wild Ass gave the Lion the benefit of his greater speed. When they had taken as many beasts as their necessities required, the Lion undertook to distribute the prey, and for this purpose divided it into three shares. "I will take the first share," he said, "because I am king; and the second share, as a partner with you in the chase; and the third share (believe me) will be a source of great evil to you, unless you willingly resign it to me, and set off as fast as you can."

Might makes right.


The Father and His Two Daughters.

A man had two daughters, the one married to a gardener, and the other to a tile-maker. After a time he went to the daughter who had married the gardener, and inquired how she was, and how all things went with her. She said: "All things are prospering with me, and I have only one wish, that there may be a heavy fall of rain, in order that the plants may be well watered." Not long after he went to the daughter who had married the tile-maker, and likewise inquired of her how she fared; she replied: "I want for nothing, and have only one wish, that the dry weather may continue, and the sun shine hot and bright, so that the bricks might be dried." He said to her: "If your sister wishes for rain, and you for dry weather, with which of the two am I to join my wishes?"


The Fir Tree and the Bramble.

A Fir Tree said boastingly to the Bramble: "You are useful for nothing at all, while I am everywhere used for roofs and houses." The Bramble made answer: "You poor creature, if you would only call to mind the axes and saws which are about to hew you down, you would have reason to wish that you had grown up a Bramble, not a Fir Tree."

Better poverty without care, than riches with.


The Fox and the Monkey.

A Monkey once danced in an assembly of the Beasts, and so pleased them all by his performance that they elected him their king. A Fox envying him the honor, discovered a piece of meat lying in a trap, and leading the Monkey to the place where it was, said "that she had found a store, but had not used it, but had kept it for him as treasure trove of his kingdom, and counseled him to lay hold of it." The Monkey approached carelessly, and was caught in the trap; and on his accusing the Fox of purposely leading him into the snare, she replied: "O Monkey, and are you, with such a mind as yours, going to be king over the Beasts?"


The Farmer and His Sons.

A Farmer being on the point of death, wished to insure from his sons the same attention to his farm as he had himself given it. He called them to his bedside, and said: "My sons, there is a great treasure hid in one of my vineyards." The sons, after his death, took their spades and mattocks, and carefully dug over every portion of their land. They found no treasure, but the vines repaid their labor by an extraordinary and superabundant crop.


The Cat and the Birds.

A Cat, hearing that the Birds in a certain aviary were ailing, dressed himself up as a physician, and, taking with him his cane and the instruments becoming his profession, went to the aviary, knocked at the door, and inquired of the inmates how they all did, saying that if they were ill, he would be happy to prescribe for them and cure them. They replied: "We are all very well, and shall continue so, if you will only be good enough to go away, and leave us as we are."


The Stag, the Wolf and the Sheep.

A Stag asked a Sheep to lend him a measure of wheat, and said that the Wolf would be his surety. The Sheep, fearing some fraud was intended, excused herself, saying: "The Wolf is accustomed to seize what he wants, and to run off, and you, too, can quickly out-strip me in your rapid flight. How then shall I be able to find you when the day of payment comes?"

Two blacks do not make one white.


The Raven and the Swan.

A Raven saw a Swan, and desired to secure for himself a like beauty of plumage. Supposing that his splendid white color arose from his washing in the water in which he swam, the Raven left the altars in the neighborhood of which he picked up his living, and took up his abode in the lakes and pools. But cleansing his feathers as often as he would, he could not change their color, while through want of food he perished.

Change of habit cannot alter nature.


The Lioness.

A controversy prevailed among the beasts of the field, as to which of the animals deserved the most credit for producing the greatest number of whelps at a birth. They rushed clamorously into the presence of the Lioness, and demanded of her the settlement of the dispute. "And you," they said, "how many sons have you at a birth?" The Lioness laughed at them, and said: "Why! I have only one; but that one is altogether a thorough-bred Lion."

The value is in the worth, not in the number.

 

 
     
     
 

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