The Fables of Æsop, the celebrated ancient philosopher

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THE

FABLES OF AESOP

THE CELEBRATED ANCIENT PHILOSOPHER.


PAISLEY:

PRINTED BY CALDWELL AND SON, 2, NEW STREET.

1839


THE COCK AND THE JEWEL

A brisk young Cock, raking upon a dunghill for something to peek, happened to scrape up a jewel. He knew very well what it was, but not knowing what to do with it, he turned it over and over in a contemptuous manner, shook his head, and putting on a grimace, expressed himself to this purpose: "Indeed you are a fine thing, but I know not any business you have here: I make no scruple of declaring, that my taste lies quite another way; and I had rather have one grain of dear delicious barley, than all the jewels under the sun."

MORAL

A wise man judges not of things by appearances.

THE JACKDAW AND THE PIGEONS.

A Jackdaw, observing that the Pigeons in a certain dovecot lived well, and wanted for nothing, white-washed his feathers, and went and lived with them. The Pigeons, not knowing the cheat, forbore to give him any disturbance. But at last he began to chatter, when the the Pigeons, discovering what he was, obliged him to fly back to the Jackdaws; but they did not know him in his discoloured feathers, and so drove him off likewise; so that he who had endeavoured to he more than he had a right to, was not permitted to be any thing at all.

MORAL.

Make not unfounded pretensions; profess to be only what you are.

THE WOLF AND THE LAMB.

A Wolf and a Lamb came to quench their thirst at a stream. The Wolf asked the Lamb what he meant by disturbing the water? and demanded satisfaction. The Lamb said that could not be, since the water ran down from the Wolf to him. ‘Be that as it will,’ said the Wolf, ‘you spoke ill of me, behind my back, about a year ago.” The Lamb replied that at that time he was not born. Unable to face truth, the Wolf said in a passion, 'Sirrah, if it was not you it was your father, and that’s all one.' So seizing the Lamb he devoured it.

MORAL.

An ill disposed man seldom fails to find a cause of dispute.

THE OLD HOUND.

An old hound who had been an excellent good one in his time, had at last by reason of years, become feeble and unserviceable. However, being in the field one day, he happened to be the first that came up with the game, but his decayed teeth prevented him from keeping his hold of it, and it escaped. His master, being in a passion, was going to strike him. ‘Ah do not strike your old servant,’ said the dog, 'It is not my heart or inclination but my strength that fails me. If what I am now displeases you, pray don't forget what I have been.’

MORAL.

It is a sad thing to be treated unkindly by the man you have served.

THE FOX AND THE SICK LION.

It was reported that the Lion was sick, and the beasts were made to believe, that they could not make their court better than by visiting him. Most of them went but the Fox was not among the number, upon which the Lion sends a Jackall to ask him why he never came to see him. “Why,” replied the Fox, “I have been several times on my way to kiss his hand, but seeing the print of my fellow subjects' feet at his cave all pointing forwards, I dared not enter it.” The Lion’s illness was only a sham, the easier to devour the beasts.

MORAL.

When an enemy makes fine professions, we have need of caution.

THE STAG LOOKING INTO THE WATER

A Stag saw himself in a clear spring, and surveyed his figure from head to foot with great pleasure. ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘what a glorious pair of branching horns is there! but I have a set of such legs as makes me ashamed to see them.’ While he was giving himself these airs, he was alarmed with the noise of some huntsmen and hounds that

were making towards him. Starting off, he threw dogs and men far behind him; but his horns were caught in a thicket, and held him till the hounds took him. At death he uttered these words, ‘Alas! what I prided myself in has ruined me, & what I disliked might have saved me.

Moral.— Vanity takes delight in what often proves injurious.

THE WOOD AND THE CLOWN.

A country fellow came one day into the wood, and looked about him with some concern , upon which the trees asked what he wanted. He replied that he only wanted a piece of wood to make a handle to his hatchet. Since that was all, it was voted unanimously that he should have a piece of good tough ash. But he had no sooner received and fitted it for the purpose, than he began to fell down the noblest trees in all the forest. The Oak, it is said, spoke thus to the Beech, 'We must take it for our pains, as we brought it on ourselves.'

MORAL.

He that gives a sword to an enemy may expect it turned on himself.

THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP.

The Wolves and the Sheep had been a long time in a state of war together; at last a treaty of peace was concluded, and hostages were to be delivered on both sides far security. The Wolves proposed that the Sheep should give up their dogs, and that they would deliver up their young ones. The proposal was immediately agreed to, but no sooner executed than the young Wolves began to howl for want of their dams. The old ones cried out that the treaty was broken, and so fell on the sheep, who being without the dogs, they easily devoured.

MORAL.

A dishonest man will make an opportunity to cheat if he find not one.

THE HORSE AND THE LION.

A Lion seeing a plump horse had a mind to eat a bit of him, but knew not bow to get at him. At last he gave himself out for a physician who could cure any malady incident to beasts—hoping by this means, to get an opportunity to execute his design. The horse, as if he suspected nothing, asked his advice regarding a thorn he had got in his foot. The Lion desired he might see the foot, upon which the Horse lifted up one of his hind legs, and while the Lion pretended to be examining his hoof, gave him a kick in the face which stunned him.

MORAL.

He that playeth a wily trick, often beguileth himself.

THE THIEVES AND COCK

A band of thieves once broke a house, and found not any thing in it worth while to take but a poor Cock. The Cock said as much for himself as a Cock could say; but he spoke chiefly of the great use he was of to raise folk soon to go to their work. Rogue! says one of the thieves, you had been wise for yourself not to have spoke to us of that as one of your good qualities; for when you crow and wake all the folks so soon, that spoils all our trade, as we do most when they

are asleep, and your often bawling makes us run a risk of being hung.

MORAL.

It is truly a good thing rightly to guide our tongue.

THE FOX AND THE GRAPES.

A Fox, having travelled a long way one sultry day in summer, at last arrived at a beautiful vineyard, and being exceedingly tired and hungry, he resolved to rest himself for a short time, and try to get something to satisfy his appetite. On casting his eyes around the place, he perceived, at a short distance, a vine heavily laden with ripe Grapes; but nailed up to a trellis so high that he leaped till he could leap no longer, without getting at them. ‘Let who will take them!’ says he,‘they are but green and sour, so I’ll let them alone.’

MORAL.

We call that bad which we most desire, if we cannot attain to it.

THE MOUNTAINS IN LABOUR.

A report was spread over the country far and wide, that the Mountains were in labour, and it was asserted that they had been heard to give utterance to several dreadful groans. Those credulous people who had hard of it, came flocking around the place in great astonishment, in order to see what extraordinary birth would be produced by the Mountains. After they had waited for a considerable length of time in anxious expectation, and the patience of the multitude was nearly exhausted, out crept a little Mouse.

MORAL.

Do not rely upon a man's professions whom you have never tried.

THE WOLF, THE FOX, AND THE APE.

The Wolf indicted the Fox for felony, before the Ape, who upon that occasion, was appointed special judge of the cause. The Fox gave in his answer to the Wolf’s accusation, and denied the fact. So after a fair hearing on both sides, the Ape gave his judgment in the following manner. Addressing the Wolf, he said, ‘I am of opinion that you never lost the goods you sue for;' and to the Fox he said, ‘There is no question but that you have stolen what is laid to your charge, at least.' The court was dismissed with this public censure.

MORAL.

A bad character will turn out against you, but a good one is a fortune.

THE OLD MAN AND DEATH.

A poor feeble Old Man, having gone to gather a few sticks, was crawling homeward with his bundle; but owing to the length of the way and the weight of his load, he sank under it, and as he sat on the ground, called on Death to ease him of his troubles. Death no sooner heard him than he came and demanded what he wanted. The poor old creature, not thinking Death so near, and frightened with his terrible aspect, answered, trembling, 'That having let his bundle fall, he had made bold to call on him for help, and that was all he wanted.'

MORAL.

The true way to take from death its terrors, is to lead a virtuous life.

THE WOLF AND THE CRANE.

A Wolf, after devouring his prey, felt a bone stick in his throat, which was so painful that he went about offering a reward to any one who should take it out. At last the Crane, tempted with the reward, undertook the business, but first made the Wolf confirm his promise. So the Crane, venturing his long neck into the Wolf's throat, plucked out the bone, and expected the reward. The Wolf, turning his eyes disdainfully towards him, said, ‘I might have bit off your head when it was in my mouth, and yet you are not contented.’

MORAL.

He who trusts an unprincipled fellow may smart for his folly.

THE OLD WOMAN AND HER MAIDS.

An Old Woman having about her a parcel of idle maids, obliged them to rise every morning at the cock crowing. The Maids, looking upon this as a hardship, resolved to put a stop to the growing evil and so cut off the Cock’s head, thinking that they might afterwards lie securely in bed, and indulge themselves in their laziness. The careful mistress, however, soon frustrated their design. She immediately ordered a bell to be brought to her, which she regularly rung at midnight, and obliged her lazy maids to get out of their beds.

MORAL.

It is good to be industrious, for laziness is often punished with want.

THE TRUSTY DOG.

A Thief who intended to rob a house one night when the family were asleep, threw a piece of bread to a dog that was set to watch it. The dog, suspecting his design, would not be pacified by any such means. ‘Hark ye/ said he to the Thief, ‘if you intend to stop my mouth from barking for the good of my master, you are in a great mistake, for that sudden expression of kindness from you warns me to be on my guard, that you may not make any gain by my negligence. The Thief, seeing his scheme fail, sneaked off.

MORAL.

A sudden kindness pleases fools, but lays trains in vain for the wise.

THE HARPER.

A Fellow that used to play upon his harp, and sing to it in little ale-houses, made a shift, by the help of the narrow confined walls, to please the dull sots who heard him; from hence he entertained an ambition of showing his parts upon the public theatre, where he fancied he could not fail to acquire a great reputation and large fortune in a very short time. He accordingly made a trial, but the spaciousness of the place so deadened both his voice and instrument, that they were not heard, and he was universally hissed off the stage.

MORAL.

Every one ought to be content to move in his own sphere.

THE OLD MAN AND HIS SONS.

An Old Man had many sons, who, in disregard of their father’s authority, had many quarrels. At last, called them together, he took a short bundle of sticks and desired them, one by one, to try and break it. They all tried in vain, the sticks being closely bound together. The father then untied the bundle, and gave a single stick to each of his sons, which they broke with great ease. ‘My sons,' said the old man, ‘if you keep conjoined in the bonds of love no one will can hurt you; but if brotherly ties are broke, you will easily be overcome.

MORAL.

Discard is exceedingly odious among members of the same family.

THE FOX AND MASK

A Fox was one day strolling about at his ease, looking for something with which to amuse himself. At last he fell in with an actor’s mask, and ‘never having seen any thing of the kind before, he made a halt with the intention of giving it a proper examination. After having turned it over and over for some time, and seen that it was only a sham face, he threw it away with contempt, and was heard to say, 'Thou senseless thing, what noble part canst thou support? thou hast a head, but where are thy brains?

MORAL

Beauty without sense, is despicable; or, manners make the man.

THE KID AND THE WOLF.

A sportive young Kid, intent upon pleasure, got mounted up on a high rock, from which he looked around on all sides with great self-conceit. While in this situation, he observed a Wolf passing below, which he began to load with all manner of reproaches. The Wolf, upon hearing these, looked up, and seeing from whom they came, answered the Kid in the following words:— 'Do not value yourself upon thinking that you mortify me; for I take this ill language as not coming from you, but from your place of safety'.

MORAL.

It is cowardly to abuse a person because you are safe from reply

THE BOY AND HIS MOTHER.

A little Boy, while at school, stole a book, and brought it to his mother, who gave him an apple for his pains. When he grew up he committed greater robberies, but was at last taken, tried, and condemned to death. When ascending the scaffold, he desired to see his mother, which request was granted; and while he seemed to be whispering something of importance, he bit off her ear. Then turning to the people who were shocked at his cruelty, he said, ‘She deserves all this, for if she had chid me in my infancy, I bad not come to this end.'

MORAL.

It is exceedingly dangerous to overlook the first faults of a child

THE PARTRIDGE AND THE COCKS.

A tertain mau having: taken a Partridge, plucked ita wings, and turned it into a little yard, where he kept game Cocks. The Cocks made the poor bird lead a sad life, continually pecking and driving it away from the meat. This treatment made the Partridge conclude they were the most uncivil people he had ever met with. But observing how frequently they fought with each other, he comforted himself with this reflection: That it was no wonder they were so cruel to him, since there was so much animosity among themselves.

MORAL.

None need expect kindness from those who feel not for their kindred

THE ASS AND THE LITTLE DOG.

The Ass, observing how great a favourite the Little Dog was with his master, and for no other reason that he could perceive, than skipping about, wagging his tail, and leaping up into his master's lap, was resolved to imitate his conduct, in order to procure for himself the same favours. Accordingly, on seeing his master coming home, the Ass ran frisking about him, and raising himself on his hind legs, pawed against his breast with a most loving air. This forced the man to call on one of his servants, who with a stick ended the Ass's frolic.

MORAL.

A man who is fit one profession or trade, may be unfit for another.

THE EAGLE AND THE FOX.

An Eagle, looking out for food to her young, picked up a Fox’s cub that lay basking in the sun. The aid Fox, coming home at the time, implored the Eagle, with tears, to spare her cub. The Eagle would not consent, but carried it off to her nest on the top of a high tree, thinking herself safe from the revenge of the Fox. That subtle creature, however, ran to a fire which some country people had kindled in the open air, and seizing a firebrand ran with it to the tree, which so terrified the Eagle that she delivered up the young Fox safe and sound.

MORAL.

Sooner or later punishment overtakes the guilty.

THE TORTOISE AND THE EAGLE.

The Tortoise, weary of his condition, by which he was confined to the ground, and being ambitious to have a prospect, and look about him, gave out, that if any bird would take him up into the air,and show him the world, he would reward him with the discovery of many precious stones, which he knew were hidden in a certain place of the earth. The Eagle undertook to do as he desired; and when he had accomplished it, demanded the reward, which the Tortoise refusing, he struck his talons in the soft parts of his body, anti killed him.

MORAL

When a man breaks his promise he must abide by the consequence.

THE CROW AND THE PITCHER.

A Crow, ready to die with thirst, flew with joy to a pitcher, which he beheld at some distance. When he came, he found water in it indeed, but so near the bottom, that with all his stooping and straining he was not able to reach it; he then tried to overturn the pitcher, that so, at least, he might get a little of it; but his strength was not sufficient for this. At last, seeing some pebbles lie near the place, he cast them one by one into the pitcher, and thus by degrees raised the water to the very brim, and satisfied his thirst.

MORAL.

True wisdom, when one plan fails, will try another.

THE BOASTING TRAVELLER.

One who had come home from being abroad, was giving an account of his travels; and among other places, said he had been at Rhodes, where he bad so distinguished himself in leaping, that not a Rhodian could come near him. He was taking some pains to convince them of it by oaths and protestations; upon which one of the company rising up, told him he need not give himself so much trouble about it, since the simplest way was to perform the leap over again. The boaster, not liking this proposal, sat down, and had no more to say for himself.

MORAL.

Truth cannot be shamed, but a liar is sure to be disgraced in the end.

THE LION AND THE FORESTER.

The Forester one day meeting a Lion, they discoursed together for a while, without differing much in opinion. At last, a dispute happening to arise about the point of superiority between a man and a Lion. The man, in want of a better argument, showed the Lion a marble monument, on which was placed the statue of a man striding over a vanquished Lion. The Lion, who saw the weakness of the argument, said, ‘Pray, who drew the picture? Let us be the carvers, and we will make the Lion striding over the man.’

MORAL.

Some people are little to be credited when speaking of themselves.

THE GEESE AND THE CRANES.

A certain Farmer had a beautiful field of Corn, of which he took great care, and had it well fenced in. A flock of Geese and a parcel of Cranes having got into it unobserved, were feasting at their ease on the choicest of the grain. The owner of the field, however, with his servants, happening to pass soon after, surprised the flock in the very act. The Geese made many attempts to get off, but being fat and full bodied, most of them were sufferers: the Cranes, being thin and light, flew easily away.

MORAL.

Associating with evil companions often brings a man into danger.

THE WAGGONER AND HERCULES.

As a Waggoner was driving his team, his waggon wheels sunk into a hole, and stuck fast. The poor man immediately fell upon his knees, and prayed to Hercules that he would help him to get his waggon out of the hole again. Hercules, hearing his solicittion, gave him the following answer: ‘Thou fool, if thou wouldst whip thy horses, and put forth thine own exertions by setting thy shoulders to the wheels, thou mightest help thyself; but if thou art really unable, then call upon Hercules, he will help thee.

MORAL.

Lazy wishes never do a man any service.

THE FIR TREE AND THE BRAMBLE.

A tall Fir Tree that stood towering up in the midst of the forest, was so proud of his dignity, that he overlooked the little shrubs that grew beneath him. A Bramble desired to know what he meant by such haughty conduct? ‘Because,’ says the Fir Tree, ‘I think myself the first tree, for beauty and rank, of any in the forest.’
‘This may be true,’ replied the bramble, ‘but when the woodman has marked you out for public use, and the axe is at your root, I am mistaken if you would not change condition with the worst of us.'

MORAL.

Self-conceit is ridiculous, and seldom escapes being exposed.

THE FOX AND THE GOAT.

A Fox having tumbled, by chance, into a well, bad been casting about a long while, how he should get out again. At last, a Goat came to the place, and wanting to drink, asked Reynard whether the water was good? ‘Good! says Reynard, 'aye, so sweet, that I am afraid I have surfeited myself, I have drunk so abundantly.' The Goat, upon this, without any more ado, leapt in; and the Fox, taking the advantage of his horns, as nimbly leapt out, leaving the poor Goat at the bottom of the well to shift for himself.

MORAL.

A man may be brought into danger by a stranger’s advice.

THE EAGLES AND THE CROWS.

An Eagle and a Crow, inhabitants of the same forest, happened to change nests: the consequence was that they nursed each other’s offspring for their own. The young Crows, being taught by their new parents the Eagles, soon learned to fly upwards, and soar through the clouds with ease. The poor Eaglets were not so fortunate under their new tutors. As soon as they were able to leave the rest, and go abroad, having no other example to imitate, they never attained to any thing beyond the habits of the Crows.

MORAL.

The finest qualities will degenerate if the mind be not cultivated.

THE SWALLOW AND OTHER BIRDS.

The Swallow, observing a Farmer sowing his field with flax, desired the other birds to assist her in destroying the seed, as it was of it the fowler made his nets. The Swallow was not regarded, and the flax appeared above the ground. When it was in the bud she reminded them of their danger, and again when grown up into the high stalk, but they would not listen to her. Finding her remonstances unheeded, she resolved to leave the society of the birds, and has ever since that time made her abode among the dwellings of men.

MORAL.

If friends will not listen to your warning, then take care of yourself.

THE PROUD FROG.

An Ox, grazing in a meadow, chanced to set his foot among a parcel of young Frogs, and trod one of them to death. The rest informed their mother when she came home, saying, that the beast that did it was the hugest creature that ever they saw in their lives.
'Was it so big?’, says the old Frog, swelling herself up to a great degree. ‘Oh! bigger by a vast deal,’ say they. ‘And so big,' says she, straining yet more. ‘Indeed, mamma, if you were to burst, you would never be so big.’ Again she strove, and burst herself indeed.

MORAL.

A contest is always ruinous, which is not upon even terms.

THE LION AND THE MOUSE.

A Lion, while reposing under a shady oak, was awakened by a company of scrambling mice running over his back. Starting up, be clapped his paw upon one of them, when the little suppliant implored him to spare his life, which the Lion was pleased to grant. Not long after, the Lion chanced to be taken in the toils of the hunters, and not being able to disengage himself, he set up a loud roar. The Mouse, hearing his voice, repaired to the place, and with his little teeth cut through the toils, and set the royal brute at liberty.

MORAL.

We never know the value of a friend until we want him.

THE FOWLER AND THE RING DOVE.

A Fowler spied a Ring-dove in the branches of a tree, and intended to kill it. He clapped the piece to his shoulder, and took his aim accordingly; but just as he was going to pull the trigger, an adder which he had tied upon under the grass, stung him so painfully in the leg, that he was forced to quit his design, and throw down his gun. The poison immediately affected his whole body, and it began to mortify, on perceiving which he owned, that destruction had justly come upon him while contriving the death of another.

MORAL.

He ought to walk warily who has laid snares for his neighbour.

MERCURY AND THE WOODMAN.

A Man felling a tree in a river aide, let his hatchet fall into the water, when Mercury, appeared unto him, and learning the matter, dived to the bottom, and brought up first a golden hatchet and then a silver one, but the man said neither of them were his. He then brought up the man’s own hatchet, which he took thankfully, and Mercury, pleased with his honesty, gave him the other two also. Another man hearing of this, went to cut there, and let his hatchet sink. Mercury came again and brought up a golden hatchet, which the man said was his; but for telling such a lie, Mercury neither gave him it, nor let him have his own.

MORAL. - Honesty is the best policy.

THE MAN AND HIS GOOSE.

A certain man had a Goose that laid him a golden egg every day; but not contented with this which rather increased than abated his avarice, he was resolved to kill the Goose and cut up her belly, so that he might come at the inexhausible treasure which he fancied she had within her. He did so, and to his great disappointment found nothing.

MORAL.

Avarice is often its own punishment.

THE DOG AND HIS SHADOW

A Dog was once crossing a little rivulet, with a piece of flesh in his mouth. Seeing his own shadow in the stream, and believing it to be another dog who was also carrying a piece of flesh, he could hot forbear making a catch at it. He, however, was so far from getting any thing by his greedy design, that in snatching at the other dog’s meat, he let drop the piece he carried in his own mouth, which immediately sunk to the bottom, end was irrecoverably lost.

MORAL.

He that aims at too much, often loses all.

THE ASS AND THE LION HUNTING

The Lion desired the Ass to hide in a thicket, and to bray in the most frightful manner possible. 'By this means,' says he, 'you will rouse all the beasts, while I stand at the outlets, and take them as hey are making off.” Accordingly the Ass brayed, and the timorous beasts scoured off, when the Lion, at his post, devoured them. Being satisfied, he told the Ass to stop, who asked how he liked it. 'So well’ said the Lion, ‘that I myself had been afraid had I not known.'

MORAL.— He who hunts for another may have a laugh for his pains

THE HUSBANDMAN AND THE STORK.

A Husbandman set not to take the Cranes and Geese which came to feed upon the new-sown corn. He took several, both Cranes and Geese, and with them a Stork, who pleaded hard for his life, alleging that he was neither Goose nor Crane, but a harmless Stork, who performed his duty to his parents, and fed them when they were old. 'All this may be true', replied the farmer, ‘but as I have taken you in bad company, and in the same crime, you must suffer with them.’

MORAL.

If a man be found with knaves, his character is of little use to him.

THE PEACOCK AND THE CRANE

The Peacock and the Crane one day by chance met together in the same place. The haughty Peacock erected his tail, displayed his gaudy plumes, and looked with contempt upon the Crane, as some mean ordinary person. The Crane took occasion to say that Peacocks were very fine birds, indeed; but that be thought it a much nobler thing to be able to rise and soar above the clouds, than to strut about upon the ground, and stand to be gazed at by children.

MORAL

Under a splendid outside, is often found a very worthless fellow.

THE FOX AND THE CROW

A Crow having stolen a piece of cheese, flew up into a tree with it. A Fox, observing it, came and began to compliment the Crow upon her beauty. 'Your feathers,’ says he, 'are of a most delicate white, and what a fine shape and graceful turn of body is there! If your voice is a fine as your complexion, which I have no doubt it is, no bird need compete with you.' The Crow to set him right, began to sing, and dropping the cheese, the Fox chopped it up, and trotted off.

MORAL.

They are indeed fools who give up a real good for a few sweet words.

THE HUSBANDMAN AND HIS SONS.

A Husbandman, at the point of death, desirous that his Sons would follow the profession of agriculture made use of this expedient to induce them to it. 'My Sons,’ said he ‘all I have to leave you is my farm and vineyard; and I charge you to beep them, for if I have any treasure, it is buried somewhere within a foot of the surface.' This made the sons, at their father’s death, dig every inch of the ground for the prize, which made it yield a real treasure in the form of a plentiful crop.

MORAL — Industry is a true source of happiness and wealth.


This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.