The Cat and Venus
L'Estrange's translation (1692)
A CAT AND VENUS
A young Fellow that was passionately in Love with a Cat made it his humble Suit to Venus to turn Puss into a Woman. The Transformation was wrought in the twinkling of an Eye, and out she comes, a very bucksome Lass. The doating Sot took her home to his Bed; and bad fair for a Litter of Kittens by her that Night: But as the loving Couple lay snugging together, a Toy took Venus in the Head, to try if the Cat had chang’d her Manners with her Shape; and so for Experiment, turn’d a Mouse loose into the Chamber. The Cat, upon this Temptation, started out of the Bed, and without any regard to the Marriage-Joys, made a leap at the Mouse, which Venus took for so high an Affront, that she turn’d the Madam into a Puss again.
THE MORAL. The extravagant Transports of Love, and the wonderful Force of Nature, are unaccountable; the one carries us out of our selves, and the other brings us back again.
Townsend's translation (1887)
The Cat and Venus
A Cat fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.
- Nature exceeds nurture.
The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being to change its nature. Jupiter said "Yes," but Venus said "No." So, to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young couple sat down to the wedding-feast. "See," said Jupiter, to Venus, "how becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a Cat? Surely her nature is changed?"
"Wait a minute," replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and tried to pounce upon the mouse. "Ah, you see," said Venus,
"Nature will out."