Sunday 31 August 2014

'The Old Man with a Ribbon'

'The Old Man with a Ribbon', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984 and 2012, page 7.

Saturday 30 August 2014

'There was an Old Derry Down Derry'

'There was an Old Derry Down Derry', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in The Nonsense Verse of Edward Lear, Jonathan Cape, 1984, page 1.

Friday 29 August 2014

'The Snake and his Tail'

'The Snake and his Tail', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 65.

The text:

The Snake and His Tail
A snake's tale once decided there was no need
For the head to go first. 'It's my turn to lead.'
'Be quiet,' the snake's other members said.
'Wretched appendage, how could you go first
Without the eyes or nose or ears
By which each living creature steers?'
But their arguments didn't prevail
And the rational head lost out to the mindless tail,
The roles were reversed,
And, dragging them blindly along, the tail went first.
When the snake fell into a rocky pit and was almost killed,
The tail which was so self-willed
Began humbly apologising, pleading:
'Save us, please, O head, our master!
The mutiny I raised has ended in disaster.
Put me back at the rear
And I'll obey and you needn't fear
Any more accidents with me leading.'

Moral: Leaders need to have a sense of direction.

Text: James Michie (p65, 1989).

Selected Parallels: Babrius 134. La Fontaine 7/17. Perry 362. Daly 362. Chambry 228. TMI J461.1.1.

Thursday 28 August 2014

'The Fox and the Cock'

'The Cock and the Fox', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 57.

The Text:

The Fox and the Cock who told him that Hounds were near

An experienced old Cock was settling himself to roost upon a high bough, when a Fox appeared under the tree. I am come, said the artful hypocrite, to acquaint you, in the name of all my brethren, that a general peace is concluded between your whole family and ours. Descend immediately, I beseech you, that we may mutually embrace upon so joyful and unexpected an event. 

My good friend, replied the Cock, nothing could be more agreeable to me than this news; and to hear it from you increases my satisfaction. But I perceive two hounds at a distance coming this way who are probably dispatched as couriers with the treaty: as they run very swiftly, and will certainly be here in a few minutes. I will wait their arrival, that we may all four embrace together. 

Reynard well knew, if that was the case, it was no time for him to remain there any longer: pretending therefore to be in great haste - Adieu, said he, for the present; we will reserve our rejoicings to another opportunity: upon which he darted into the woods with all imaginable expedition. 

Old Chanticleer no sooner saw him depart, than he crowed abundantly in the triumph of his artifice: for by a harmless stratagem to disappoint the malevolent intentions of those who are endeavouring to deceive us to our ruin, is not only innocent but laudable.

Moral: Deceiving the deceiver in self-defence doubles the pleasure.

Text: Robert Dodsley (1/46, 1761 [1824])

Selected Parallels:  La Fontaine 2/15. L’Estrange 353. Perry 671 (Fox and Dove).  TMI J1421

Wednesday 27 August 2014

'The Cocks and the Partridge'

'The Cocks and the Partridge', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonthan Cape, 1989, page 53.

The text, in a translation of La Fontaine's version of the fable:

The Cocks and the Partridge
With a set of uncivil and turbulent cocks,
That deserved for their noise to be put in the stocks,
A partridge was placed to be rear’d.
Her sex, by politeness revered,
Made her hope, from a gentry devoted to love,
For the courtesy due to the tenderest dove;
Nay, protection chivalric from knights of the yard.
That gentry, however with little regard
For the honours and knighthood wherewith they were deck’d,
And for the strange lady as little respect,
Her ladyship often most horribly peck’d.
At first, she was greatly afflicted therefor,
But when she had noticed these madcaps at war
With each other, and dealing far bloodier blows,
Consoling her own individual woes. -
‘Entail’d by their customs,’ said she, ‘is the shame;
Let us pity the simpletons rather than blame.
Our Maker creates not all spirits the same;
The cocks and the partridges certainly differ,
By a nature than laws of civility stiffer.
Were the choice to be mine, I would finish my life
In society freer from riot and strife.
But the lord of this soil has a different plan;
His tunnel our race to captivity brings,
He throws us with cocks, after clipping our wings.
’Tis little we have to complain of but man.’

Moral: It is a little easier to endure the taunts of others when they even quarrel among themselves.

Text: Elizur Wright 1841 (La Fontaine 10/8).

Selected Parallels: L’Estrange 84. Chambry 21. Perry 23. TMI J1025.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

'The Ass, the Cock and the Lion'

'The Ass, the Cock and the Lion', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 31

The Text:

The Ass, the Cock and the Lion
AN Ass and a Cock lived in a farm-yard together. One day a hungry Lion passing by and seeing the Ass in good condition, resolved to make a meal of him. Now, they say that there is nothing a Lion hates so much as the crowing of a Cock; and at that moment the Cock happening to crow, the Lion straightway made off with all haste from the spot. The Ass, mightily amused to think that a Lion should be frightened at a bird, plucked up courage and galloped after him, delighted with the notion of driving the king of beasts before him. He had, however, gone no great distance, when the Lion turned sharply round upon him, and made an end of him in a trice.

Moral:  When the powerful are humbled it is only the foolish who presume to think that it will last for long.

Text: Thomas James (182, 1848).

Selected parallels: L’Estrange 1/150. Chambry 269. Perry 82. TMI J952.2.


Monday 25 August 2014

'The Frogs who asked for a King'

'The Frogs who asked for a King', an illustration by John Vernon Lord 
in Aesop's Fables, Jonathan Cape, 1989, page 23.

The Text by Roger L'Estrange (with idiosyncratic spelling in tact):

The Frogs who asked Jupiter for a King
In the days of Old, when the Frogs were All at Liberty in the Lakes, and grown quite Weary of living without Government, they Petition’d Jupiter for a King, to the End that there might be some Distinction of Good and Evil, by Certain Equitable Rules and Methods of Rewards and Punishment. Jupiter, that knew the Vanity of their Hearts, threw them down a Log for their Governour; which upon the first Dash, frighted the whole Mobile of them into the Mudd for the very fear on’t. This Panick Terror kept them in Awe for a while, ’till in good time, one Frog, Bolder than the Rest, put up his Head, and look’d about him, to see how squares went with their New King. Upon This, he calls his Fellow-Subjects together;  Opens the truth of the Case; and Nothing would serve them then, but Riding a-top of him, Insomuch that the Dread they were in before, is now turn’d into Insolence and Tumult. This King they said was too Tame for them, and Jupiter must needs be Entreated to send ’em Another: He did so, but Authors are Divided upon it, whether ’twas a Stork, or a Serpent; though whether of the Two soever it was, he left them neither Liberty, nor Property, but made a Prey of his Subjects. Such was their Condition in fine, that they sent Mercury to Jupiter yet once again for Another King, whose Answer was This: They that will not be Contented when they are Well, must be Patient when Things are Amiss with them; and People had better Rest where they are, than go farther, and fare Worse.

Moral: We should be content to be led by someone who is meek and innocuous rather than suffer the rule of an evil tyrant.

Text: Roger L’Estrange 1/19 (1692)

Selected parallels: Phaedrus 1/2. Caxton, Romulus 2/1. La Fontaine 3/4. Chambry 66. Perry 44. TMI J643.1.