Fables of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists/The Life of Æsop/Chapter V

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Cap. V.

Æsop's Answer to a Gard'ner.

Some Two or Three Dayes after the Encounter above mentioned, Xanthus took Æsop a long with him to a Garden to buy some Herbs, and the Gard'ner seeing him in the Habit of a Philosopher, told him the Admiration he was in, to find how much faster Those Plants shot up that Grow of their own Accord, then Those that he set Himself, though he took never so much Care about them. Now you that are a Philosopher, Pray will you tell me the meaning of This? Xanthus had no better answer at hand, then to tell him, That Providence would have it so: Whereupon Æsop brake out into a Loud Laughter. Why how now Ye slave You, says Xanthus, what do you Laugh at? Æsop took him aside and told him, Sr I Laugh at your Master, that Taught You no better: for what signifies a Gen'ral Answer to a Particular Question? And 'tis no News Neither that Providence orders All Things: But if you'l turn him over to me, You shall see I'le give him another sort of Resolve. Xanthus told the Gard'ner, that it was below a Philosopher to Busy his head about such Trifles; but says he, If you have a Curiosity to be better Inform'd, you should do well to ask my Slave here, and see what hele say to you. Upon This, the Gard'ner put the Question to Æsop, Who gave him this Answer. The Earth is in the Nature of a Mother to what She brings forth of her Self out of her own Bowels; Whereas She is only a kind of a Step-Dame, in The Production of Plants that are Cultivated and Assisted by The Help and Industry of Another: so that it's Natural for her, to Withdraw her Nourishment from the One, towards The Reliefe of the Other. The Gard'ner, upon this, was so well satisfied, That he would take no Mony for his Herbs, and desired Æsop to make Use of his Garden for the future, as if it were his own.

There are several Stories in Planudes, that I shall pass over in this Place (says Camerarius) as not worth the while: Particularly The Fables of the Lentills, the Bath, the Sows Feet, and several Little Tales and Jests that I take to be neither well Lay'd, nor well put together; Neither is it any matter, in Relations of this Nature, Whether they be True or False, but if they be Proper and Ingenious; and so contriv'd, that the Reader or the Hearer may be the better for them, That's as much as is required: Wherefore I shall now Commit to Writing Two Fables or Stories, One about the bringing his Mistress home again, when she had left her Husband; Which is drawn from the Modell of a Greek History set out by Pausanias in his Description of Beotia; The Other, upon the Subject of a Treat of Neates Tongues, which was taken from Bias, as we have it from Plutarch in his Convivium Septem Sapientum.