Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fable CCIX

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3937579Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists — Fable CCIX: A Woman and her MaidsRoger L'Estrange

Fab. CCIX.

A Woman and her Maids.

IT was the Way of a Good Housewisely Old Woman, to call up her Maids Every Morning just at the Cock-Crowing. The Wenches were loth to Rise so soon, and so they laid their Heads together, and Kill'd the Poor Cock: for, say they, if it were not for his Waking our Dame, she would not Wake us: But when the Good Womans Clock was gone, she’d Mistake the Hour many times, and call ’em up at Midnight: So that instead of Mending the Matter, they found themselyes in a Worse Condition Now then Before.


One Error makes way for Another. First, we Complain of small things: Then we Shift, and insead of Mending the Matter, we find it Worse, till it comes at last to the Tinker’s Work of Stopping One Hole, and ma- king Ten.


'TIS a Common Thing for People that are Uneasy, to fly to Remedies that are Worse then the Disease; Wherefore Men should Deliberate before they Resolve; and say to Themselves, This we suffer at Present, and This or That we Propose to Get by such and such a Change; and so set the One against the Other. The Wenches were call’d up too Early, they thought, and so for fear of having too Little Sleep, they ran the Risque of having no Sleep at all. And it fares much at the same Rate in Publique Grievances that it does in Private; When rather then bear the Importunity of a Flea-biting, we are apt to run our selves Hand over Head into a Bed of Scorpions; which is such another kind of an Expedient, as if a Body should Beat out his Brains to Cure the Head-Ach. Flesh and Bloud is Naturally Impatient of Restraint; beside the Itch and Curiosity that we have, to ts Prying and Searching into Forbidden Secrets; and to see (as one says) What Good is in Evil. 'Tis Natural to us to be Weary of what we have, and still to be Hankering after something or other that we have Not: And so our Levity Pushes us on from One Vain Desire to Another, in a Regular Vicissitude, and Succession of Cravings and Satiety. We want (as I say) what we have not, and grow Sick on't when we have it. Now the Wise Man Clears the Whole Matter to us, in Pronouncing All things under the Sun (That is to say, the Pomp, the Pleasures, and the Enjoyments of This World) to be Vanity of Vanities, and All, Vanity. The Truth of it is, we Govern our Lives by Fancy, rather then by Judgment. We Mistake the Reasons of Things, and Impute the Issue of them to Wrong Causes. So that the Lesson given us here, is Preceptive to us, not to do any thing but upon due Consideration. The Wenches Kill'd the Cock for calling them up so soon, whereas the Crowing of the Cock was the Cause, in Truth, that they were call'd up no sooncr.