The Original Fables of La Fontaine/An Animal in the Moon

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XIII

AN ANIMAL IN THE MOON

(Book VII.—No. 18)

Whilst one philosopher tells us that men are constantly the dupes of their own senses, another will swear that the senses never deceive, Both are right. Philosophy truly affirms that the senses will deceive so long as men are content to take upon trust the evidence the senses bring. But if this evidence is weighed, measured, and tested by every available resource of science the senses can deceive no one.

     

In England, not long ago, when a large telescope was levelled to observe the moon, the observer was astounded to see what he took to be some new animal in this lovely planet. Everybody was excited about the marvellous appearance. Something had occurred up above there which, without doubt, must betoken great changes of some sort. Who could tell but that all the dreadful wars that were then convulsing Europe had not been caused by it? The king, who patronised the sciences, hastened to the observatory to see the sight, and see it he did. There was the monster right enough!

And what was it after all?—Nothing but a poor little mouse that had by some unlucky chance got in between the lenses of the telescope. Here was the cause of all the devastating wars! Everybody laughed. . . .