'The Sick Kite', an illustration by JVL in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989
The illustration shows Ditchling Church surrounded by trees, most of which were blown down in the storm of 1987. On the right can be seen a half-timbered building known as 'Wing's Place' in West Street. Here is the text of the fable, as told by Samuel Croxall in his celebrated book - Fables of Aesop and Others published in 1722.
A Kite had been sick a long time; and finding there was no
Hopes of his Recovery, beg’d of his Mother to go to all the Churches, to try
what Prayers and Promises would effect in his behalf. The old Kite replied, Indeed,
dear Son, I would willingly undertake anything to save your Life; but I have
great reason to despair of you doing any Service in the Way you propose: For,
with what Face can I ask any thing of the Gods in Favour of one, whose whole
Life has been a continued Scene of Rapine and Injustice, and, who has not
scrupled, upon Occasion, to rob the very Altars themselves?
Moral: Little pity is shown to
sickly penitents when they have lived the life of a thief.
'The Leg of Mutton', an illustration by JVL in Lewis Carroll's
Through the Looking-glass and what Alice Found There, Artists' Choice Editions, 2011.
"You look a little shy; let me introduce you to
that leg of mutton," said the Red Queen. "Alice - Mutton; Mutton - Alice." The leg of mutton got up in the dish and made a little bow
to Alice; and Alice returned the bow, not knowing whether to be
frightened or amused.
"May I give you a slice?" she said, taking up
the knife and fork, and looking from one Queen to the other.
"Certainly not," the Red Queen said, very
decidedly: "it isn't etiquette to cut any one
you've been introduced to. Remove the joint".
'The Dong meets a Jumbly Girl', one of the illustrations by JVL for 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose' in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984 , reissued in 2012, page 12.
Long years ago
The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve they did, -
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd.
Here we see the Dong without his illuminated nose contraption. This is an instance in the poem in which Edward Lear refers back to 'The Jumblies', an earlier poem he had published in 1871. 'The Dong with a Luminous Nose' was written some time later, in August 1875, at San Remo where Lear settled during his last years.
'The Eagle and the Arrow', an illustration by JVL, in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989.
This is a fable about an eagle being shot by an arrow which has been made with feathers that he recognises as his own. The eagle laments his plight, feeling that it is an insult to have died by means of his very own wings - hoist with his own petard, as it were, or caught in his own trap.
Here is Joseph Jacobs' version of the fable:
An Eagle was soaring through the
air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to
death. Slowly it fluttered down to earth, with its life pouring out of it.
Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the
haft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it
cried, as it died, “we often give our enemies the means for our own
Text: Joseph Jacobs, Fable 75 (1894).
Selected parallels: Aeschylus (c525-c456 BC), in a fragment from
his lost Myrmidons, mentioned that
this fable existed before his own time; according to the Scholiast on the Aves of Aristophanes (line 808). La
Fontaine 2/6. L’Estrange 1/48. TMI U161.
Perry 276a (Babrian, Crusius 185). Byron alludes to this fable in his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers.