Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/Fable CCVIII

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
3937494Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists — Fable CCVIII: An Ass to JupiterRoger L'Estrange


An Ass to Jupiter.

A Certain Ass that serv'd a Gard’ner, and did a great deal of Work for a very Little Meat, fell to his Prayers for Another Master. Jupiter Granted his Request, and turn'd him over to a Potter, where he found Clay and Tile so much a Heavyer Burden then Roots and Cabbage, that he went to his Prayers once again for Another Change. His next Master was a Tanner; and there, over and above the Encrease of his Work, the very Trade went against his Stomach: For (says he) I have been only Pinch'd in my Flesh, and Well Rib-Roasted sometimes under my Former Masters; but I'm In now for Skin and All.

The Moral.

A Man that is ever Shifting and Changing, is not, in truth, so Weary of his Condition, as of Himself; And He that still Carries about him the Plague of a Restless Mind, can never be pleas'd.


'TIS a High Point of Prudence for any Man to be Content with his Lot. For ‘tis Forty to One that he that Changes his Condition out of a Present Impatience and Dissatisfaction, when he has try’d a New one, Wishes for his Old One again; and Briefly the more we shift the Worse Commonly we Are. This Arises from the Inconstancy of our Minds, and One Prayer does but make way for Another. Those People, in fine, that are Destin'd to Drudgery may well Change thar Masters; but never their Condition.

He that finds himself in any Distress either of Carcass or of Fortune, should do well to Deliberate upon the Matter, before he Prays for, or Resolves upon a Change. As for Example now, what is it that Troubles me? Is there any Help for't or no: What do I want? Is it Matter of Necessity or Superfluity? Where am I to look for't? How shall I come at it? &c.

Now All our Grievances are either of Body or of Mind, or (in Complication) of Both, and either the Remedy is in our Own Power, or it is not. There are some Things that we cannot do for our selves without the Help of Others: There are some Things again that Other People Cannot do for Us, nor are they any way else to be done but by Our selves. In the One Case we are to seek abroad for Relief, and in the Other, Whoever Consults his Reason, and his Duty, will find a Certain Cure at Home: So that it goes a Great way in the Philosophy of Humane Life, to Understand the Just Measures of what we are Able to do, and what we are Oblig’d to do, in Distinction from the Contrary; for Otherwise we shall spend our Days with Æsop's Ass in Hunting after Happiness: where it is not to be found, without ever Looking for't where it is, 'Tis allow'd us, to be senfible of Broken Limbs, and Discated Bodies: And Common Prudence sends us to Surgeons and Physicians, to Piece, and Patch them up again. But in These Cases we Examine the Why, the What, and the How of Things, and Propose Means Accommodate to the End. 'Tis Natural to be Mov'd with Pain, and as Natural to Seek Relief; And it is well done at last, to do That which Nature bids us do; But for Imaginary Evils, Every Man may be his Own Doctor. They are Bred in our Affections, and we may Ease our selves, If the Question had been a Spavin, or a Gall'd Back, and the Ass had Petition'd to Jupiter for Another Farryer, it might have been a very Reasonable Request. Now if he had but Pitch'd upon such or such a Particular Master, it might have done well enough too: But to grow Weary of One Master, or of One Condition, and then to be presently Wishing in General Terms for Another: This is only an Inconsiderate Ejaculation thrown off at Random, without either Aim or Reason. Upon the Whole Matter, it is but laying our own Faults at the Door of Nature and Providence, while we Impute the Infirmities of our Minds to the Hardship of our Lot.

To proceed according to the Distribution of my Matter; it is much with Us in This Cafe, as it was with the Man that fell from his Horse and could not get up again. He was sure he was Hurt, he said, but could not tell Where. That is to say, first our Grievances are Fantastical where they are not Corporal. 2ly, It is Another Error in us, that in All our Fantastical Disappointments, we have Recourse to Fantastical Remedies. 3ly. Providience has Allotted Every Man a Competency for his State and Bus'ness. All beyond it is Superfluous, and there will be Grumbling without End, if we come to reckon upon't, that we want This or That because we Have it Not, instead of Acknowledging that we Have This or That, and that we want Nothing. These Things duly Weigh'd, what can be more Providential then the Blesling of having an Antidote within our selves against all the Strokes of Fortune! That is to say, in the Worst of Extremities, we have yet the Comfort left us of Constancy, Patience, and Resignation.

'Tis not for a Wise and an Honest Man, to stand Expostulating with the Nature of Things. As for Instance, Why should not I be This or That, or be so or so, as well as He or T'other? But I should rather say to my self after This manner. Am not I the Creature of an Almighty Power; and is it not the Same Power and Wisdom that Made and Order'd The World, that has Assign’d me this Place, Rank or Station in’t? This Body, This Soul, This every Thing? What I am, I must be, and there’s no Contending with Invincible Necessity; No Disputing with an Incomprehensible Wisdom: To say Nothing of the Impiety of Appealing from an Inexplicable Goodness. If I can Mend my Condition by any Warrantable Industry and Vertue, the Way is Fair and Open; And That's a Priviledge that Every Reasonable Creature has in his Commission: But without Fixing upon some Certain Scope, and Prescribing Just and Honourable Ways to't, there’s Nothing to be done. 'Tis a Wicked Thing to Repine; and 'tis as Bootless, and Uneasy too; for One Restless Thought, Begets, and Punishes Another. We are not so Miserable in our Own Wants, as in what Others Enjoy: And then our Levity is as Great a Plague to us as our Envy, so that we need Nothing more then we have, but Thankfulness, and Submission, to make us Happy. It was not the Ground of the Asses Complaint, that it was Worse with Him then with Other Asses; but because he was an Ass: And he was not so Sick of his Master, as of his Work. His Fortune was well enough for such an Animal, so long as he kept himself within his Proper Sphere and Bus‘ness: But if the Stones in the Wall will be taking upon them to Reproach the Builder; and if Nothing will please People unless they be Greater then Nature ever Intended them; What can they Expect, but the Asses Round of Vexatious Changes, and Experiments; and at last, when they have made Themselves Weary and Ridiculous, e'en glad to set up their Rest upon the very Spot were they Started.