Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]


One day a country mouse in his poor

home Received an ancient friend, a mouse

from Rome. The host, though close and careful, to a

guest Could open still; so now he did his best. He spares not oats or vetches; in his

chaps Raisins he brings, and nibbled bacon

scraps, Hoping by varied dainties to entice His town-bred guest, so delicate and nice. Who condescended graciously to touch Thing after thing, but never would take

much, While he, the owner of the mansion, sate On threshed-out straw, and spelt and

darnels ate. At length the town mouse cries, “I

wonder how You can live here, friend, on this hill's

rough brow! Take my advice, and leave these ups

and downs, This hill and dale, for humankind and

towns. Come, now, go home with me; remember,

all Who live on earth are mortal, great and

small. Then take, good sir, your pleasure while

you may; With life so short, 'twere wrong to lose

a day." This reasoning made the rustic's head

turn round; Forth from his hole he issues with a

bound, And they two make together for their


At ease upon a couch with crimson

dressed, Then nimbly moves in character of host, And offers in succession boiled and roast; Nay, like a well-trained slave, each wish

prevents, And tastes before the titbits he presents. The guest, rejoicing in his altered fare, Assumes in turn a genial diner's air, When, hark, a sudden banging of the

door! Each from his couch is tumbled on the

floor. Half dead, they scurry round the room,

poor things, While the whole house with barking

mastiffs rings. Then says the rustic, “It may do for you, This life, but I don't like it; so, adieu. Give me my hole, secure from all alarms; I'll prove that tares and vetches still

have charms."


The following is the Androcleš story as retold

by Jacobs. Scholars think this fable is clearly oriental in its origin, constituting as it does a sort of appeal to tyrannical rulers for leniency toward their subjects.

ANDROCLES A Slave named Androcles once escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about there he

came upon a Lion lying down moaning A very similar tale, “Of the Remembrance and groaning. At first he turned to flee, of Benefits,” is in the Gesta Romanorum but finding that the Lion did not pursue

(Tale 104). The most striking use of the him, he turned back and went up to

fable in modern literature is in George him. As he came near, the Lion put

Bernard Shaw's play Androcles. It will out his paw, which was all swollen and

be instructive to compare the force of bleeding, and Androcles found that a

Day's rather heavy and slow telling of

the story with that of the concise, unelabohuge thorn had got into it, and was

rated version by Jacobs. causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion,

ANDROCLES AND THE LION who was soon able to rise and lick the

THOMAS DAY hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion took Androcles to his cave, and There was a certain slave named every day used to bring him meat from Androcles, who was so ill-treated by his which to live. But shortly afterwards master that his life became insupportable. both Androcles and the Lion were cap- Finding no remedy for what he suffered, tured, and the slave was sentenced to he at length said to himself, "It is be thrown to the Lion, after the latter better to die than to continue to live had been kept without food for several in such hardships and misery as I am days. The Emperor and all his Court obliged to suffer. I am determined therecame to see the spectacle, and Androcles fore to run away from my master. If I was led out into the middle of the arena. am taken again, I know that I shall be Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, punished with a cruel death; but it is and rushed bounding and roaring towards better to die at once than to live in his victim. But as soon as he came near misery. If I escape, I must betake myto Androcles he recognized his friend, and self to deserts and woods, inhabited only fawned upon him, and licked his hands by wild beasts; but they cannot use me like a friendly dog. The Emperor, sur- more cruelly than I have been used by prised at this, summoned Androcles to

my fellow-creatures. Therefore I will him, who told him the whole story. rather trust myself with them than conWhereupon the slave was pardoned and tinue to be a miserable slave." freed, and the Lion let loose to his Having formed this resolution, he took native forest.

an opportunity of leaving his master's Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.

house, and hid himself in a thick forest,

which was at some miles' distance from 214

the city. But here the unhappy man

found that he had only escaped from one The preceding fable is here given in the form

kind of misery to experience another. used in Thomas Day's very famous, but

He wandered about all day through a probably little read, History of Sandford and Merton. (See No. 380.) Day's use

vast and trackless wood, where his flesh of the story is probably responsible for its

was continually torn by thorns and modern popularity. Jacobs points out

brambles. He grew hungry, but could that it dropped out of Æsop, although it

find no food in this dreary solitude. was in some of the medieval fable books. ' At length he was ready to die with fatigue, and lay down in despair in a large As soon as the beast felt himself thus cavern which he found by accident. relieved, he began to testify his joy and

This unfortunate man had not lain gratitude by every expression within his long quiet in the cavern, before he heard power. He jumped about like a wanton a dreadful noise, which seemed to be the spaniel,, wagged his enormous tail, and roar of some wild beast, and terrified licked the feet and hands of his physician. him very much. He started up with a Nor was he contented with these demondesign to escape and had already reached strations of kindness; from this moment the mouth of the cave when he saw Androcles became his guest; nor did the coming towards him a lion of prodi-lion ever sally forth in quest of prey withgious size, who prevented any possibility out bringing home the produce of his of retreat. The unfortunate man then chase and sharing it with his friend. In believed his destruction to be inevitable; this savage state of hospitality did the but, to his great astonishment, the beast man continue to live during the space of advanced towards him with a gentle pace, several months. At length, wandering without any mark of enmity or rage, and unguardedly through the woods, he met uttered a kind of mournful voice, as if with a company of soldiers sent out to he demanded the assistance of the man. apprehend him, and was by them taken

Androcles, who was naturally of a prisoner and conducted back to his masresolute disposition, acquired courage

ter. The laws of that country being very from this circumstance, to examine his severe against slaves, he was tried and monstrous guest, who gave him sufficient found guilty of having fled from his masleisure for that purpose. He saw, as the ter, and, as a punishment for his prelion approached him, that he seemed to tended crime, he was sentenced to be limp upon one of his legs and that the torn in pieces by a furious lion, kept foot was extremely swelled as if it had many days without food to inspire him been wounded. Acquiring still more for- with additional rage. titude from the gentle demeanor of the When the destined moment arrived, beast, he advanced up to him and took the unhappy man was exposed, unarmed, hold of the wounded paw, as a surgeon in the midst of a spacious area, enclosed would examine a patient. He then per- on every side, round which many thouceived that a thorn of uncommon size sand people were assembled to view the had penetrated the ball of the foot and mournful spectacle. was the occasion of the swelling and Presently a dreadful yell was heard, lameness he had observed. Androcles which struck the spectators with horror; found that the beast, far from resenting and a monstrous lion rushed out of a den, this familiarity, received it with the which was purposely set open, and darted greatest gentleness and seemed to invite forward with erected mane, and flaming him by his blandishments to proceed. eyes, and jaws that gaped like an open He therefore extracted the thorn, and, sepulchre. — A mournful silence instantly pressing the swelling, discharged a con- prevailed! All eyes were turned upon siderable quantity of matter, which had the destined victim, whose destruction been the cause of so much pain and now appeared inevitable. But the pity uneasiness.

of the multitude was soon converted into astonishment, when they beheld the lion, , his body so tightly that Boreas spent

, instead of destroying his defenceless prey, his remaining force in vain. crouch submissively at his feet; fawn The Sun, dispelling the clouds that had upon him as a faithful dog would do gathered, then darted his genial beams upon his master, and rejoice over him on the Traveler's head. Growing faint as a mother that unexpectedly recovers with the heat, the Man flung off his coat her offspring. The governor of the town, and ran for protection to the nearest who was present, then called out with a shade. loud voice and ordered Androcles to Mildness governs more than anger. explain to them this unintelligible mystery, and how a savage beast of the

216 fiercest and most unpitying nature should

The following brief fable has given us one thus in a moment have forgotten his of the best known expressions in common innate disposition, and be converted into

speech, "killing the goose that lays the a harmless and inoffensive animal.

golden eggs.” People who never heard of Androcles then related to the assembly Æsop know what that expression means. every circumstance of his adventures in It is easy to connect the fable with our the woods, and concluded by saying that

“get rich quick” craze. (Compare with the very lion which now stood before them

No. 254.) had been his friend and entertainer in

THE GOOSE WITH THE the woods. All the persons present were

GOLDEN EGGS astonished and delighted with the story, to find that even the fiercest beasts are

A certain Man had a Goose that laid capable of being softened by gratitude and him a golden egg every day. Being of moved by humanity; and they unani

a covetous turn, he thought if he killed mously joined to entreat for the pardon of

his Goose he should come at once to the the unhappy man from the governor of

source of his treasure. So he killed her the place. This was immediately granted and cut her open, but great was his disto him, and he was also presented with

may to find that her inside was in no the lion, who had in this manner twice

way different from that of any other saved the life of Androcles.


Greediness overreaches itself. 215 THE WIND AND THE SUN

217 A dispute once arose between the North The most successful of modern literary fabuWind and the Sun as to which was the

lists was the French poet Jean de la Fon

taine (1621-1695). Seeing a Traveler

A famous critic has stronger of the two.

said that his fables delight the child with on his way, they agreed to try which

their freshness and vividness, the student could the sooner get his cloak off him.

of literature with their consummate art, and The North Wind began, and sent a

the experienced man with their subtle refurious blast, which, at the onset,

flections on life and character. He drew nearly tore the cloak from its fasten

most of his stories from Æsop and other ings; but the Traveler, seizing the sources. While he dressed the old fables in garment with a firm grip, held it round the brilliant style of his own day, he still

[ocr errors]

succeeded in being essentially simple and “No, friends," cried he, turning the direct. A few of his 240 fables may be hanging body around so that they might used to good effect with children, though see what it was; “but it is the way to they have their main charm for the more

serve Wolves, even though they be sophisticated older reader. (See Nos. 234,

dressed in Sheep's clothing." 241, and 242.) The best complete translation is that made in 1841 by Elizur

The credit got by a lie lasts only till the truth

comes out. Wright, an American scholar. The following version is from his translation. Notice

219 that La Fontaine has changed the goose

THE HARE AND THE to a hen.


The Hare one day laughed at the Tor

toise for his short feet, slowness, and LA FONTAINE How avarice loseth all,

awkwardness. By striving all to gain,

“Though you may be swift as the I need no witness call

wind," replied the Tortoise goodBut him whose thrifty hen,

naturedly, "I can beat you in a As by the fable we are told,

race." Laid every day an egg of gold.

The Hare looked on the challenge as a “She hath a treasure in her body,"

great joke, but consented to a trial of Bethinks the avaricious noddy.

speed, and the Fox was selected to act He kills and opens- vexed to find

as umpire and hold the stakes. All things like hens of common kind.

The rivals started, and the Hare, of Thus spoil'd the source of all his riches,

course, soon left the Tortoise far behind. To misers he a lesson teaches.

Having reached midway to the goal, In these last changes of the moon,

she began to play about, nibble the young How often doth one see

herbage, and amuse herself in many ways. Men made as poor as he

The day being warm, she even thought

she would take a little nap in a shady By force of getting rich too soon!

spot, for she thought that if the Tortoise 218

should pass her while she slept, she could THE WOLF IN SHEEP'S easily overtake him again before he CLOTHING

reached the end. A Wolf wrapped himself in the skin of The Tortoise meanwhile plodded on, a Sheep and by that means got admission unwavering and unresting, straight into a sheep-fold, where he devoured towards the goal. several of the young Lambs. The Shep- The Hare, having overslept herself, herd, however, soon found him out and started up from her nap and was surhung him up to a tree, still in his disguise. prised to find that the Tortoise was

Some other Shepherds, passing that nowhere in sight. Off she went at full way, thought it was a Sheep hanging, speed, but on reaching the winning-post, and cried to their friend, “What, brother! found that the Tortoise was already there, is that the way you serve Sheep in this waiting for her arrival. part of the country?”

Slow and steady wins the race.

« AnteriorContinuar »