Aesop's Fables: Apes

These fables are part of the Aesop's Fables (English) unit. Story source: Story source: Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists by Roger L'Estrange (1692).


Aesop's Fables: Apes
An Ape and her Two Brats

There was an Ape that had Twins. She doted upon one of them, and did not much care for t'other. She took a sudden Fright once, and in a Hurry whips up her Darling under her Arm, and carries the Other a Pick-a-pack upon her Shoulders.

In this haste and maze, down she comes, and beats out her Favourite's Brains against a Stone; but that which she had at her Back came off safe and sound.

Fondlings are commonly unfortunate.


An Ape and a Mountebank

There was a Mountebank Trick'd up as Fine as a Lord; a certain Ape, that had a Mind to set up for a Beau, spies him out, and nothing would serve him, but he must have a Suit and Dress after the same Pattern; he press'd the Quack so hard for't, that at last he told him plainly, "Upon condition," says he, "that you shall wear a Silver Chain about your neck, I'll give ye the very Fellow on't; for you'll be running away with your Livery else."

Jack agrees to't, and is presently rigg'd out in his Gold and Silver Lace, with a Feather in's Cap, and as Figures go now a-days, a very pretty Figure he made in the World, I can assure ye; though upon Second Thoughts, when the heat of the Vanity was over, he grew Sick of his Bargain; for he found that he had sold his Liberty for a Fools Coat.

'Tis with us in our Lives, as with the Indians in their Trade, that truck Gold and Pearl, for Beads and Glasses. We part with the Blessings of Both Worlds for Pleasures, Court-Favours, and Commissions; and at last, when we have sold our selves to our Lust, we grow Sick of our Bargain.


An Ape and a Fox

Upon the Decease of a Lion of late famous Memory, the Beasts met in Council to chuse a King. There were several put up; but one was not of Make for a King, another wanted either Brains, or Strength, or Stature, or Humour, or something else; but in fine, the Buffoon-Ape with his Grimaces and Gamboles carry’d it form the Field by I know not how many Voices.

The Fox (being one of the Pretenders) stomach’d it extremely to see the Choice go against him, and presently rounds the New-elect in the Ear, with a piece of secret Service that he could do him.

"Sir," he says, "I have discover’d some hidden Treasure yonder; but ‘tis a Royalty that belongs to your Majesty, and I have nothing to do with it."

So he carry’d the Ape to take possession: And what should this Treasure be, but a Bait in a Ditch. The Ape lays his Hand upon’t, and the Trap springs and catches him by the Fingers.

"Ah, thou perfidious Wretch!" cries the Ape.

"Or thou simple Prince, rather," replies the Fox. "You are a Governour of others, with a vengeance, that han’t Wit enough to look at your own Fingers."

Governours should be Men of Business, rather than Pleasure. There’s one great Folly in making an ill Choice of a Ruler, and another in the Acceptance of it; for it exposes Authority to Scorn.


The Dancing Apes

A Certain Aegyptian King endow's a Dancing-School for the Institution of Apes of Quality: and when they came to be perfect in their Lessons, they were Dress'd up after the best Manner, and so brought forth for a Spectacle upon the Stage. As they were in the middle of their Gambols, some Body threw a Handful of Apples among them, that set them presently together by the Ears upon the Scramble, without any Regard in the World to the Business in Hand, or to the Dignity of their Education.

The Force of Nature is infinitely beyond that of Discipline and Imitation.


The Kingdom of Apes

Two Men took a Voyage together into the Kingdom of Apes; the one a Trimmer, the other a Plain Dealer. They were taken into Custody, and carried to the Prince of the Country, as he sat in State, and a Mighty Court about him.

"Well," says the King to the Trimmer, "look me in the Face now, and say, what you do take me to be?"

"A Great Emperor, undoubtedly," says the Trimmer.

"Well," says his Majesty once again, "and what d'ye take all these People about me for?"

"Why Sir," says he, "I take them for your Majesties Nobility and Great Officers."

The Prince was wonderfully pleas'd with the Civility and Respect of the Man and Order'd him a Bushel of Pippins, as a singular Mark of his Royal Favour. His Majesty after this, put the same Questions to the Plain Dealer, who fell to computing with Himself that if his Companion had gotten a Reward for a Damn'd Lye, certainly he should have twice as much for a Plain Honest Truth; and so he told the King Bluntly, that he took him for a very Extraordinary Ape, and all those People about him for his Trusty and Well-beloved Counsellors and Cozens: But the Poor Man Paid dearly for his Simplicity; for upon a Signal from the Emperor, the whole Band of Apes fell Tooth and Nail upon him, and tore him one Limb from another.

Where the Rules and Measures of Policy are Perverted, there must needs Ensue a Failure of Justice, and a Corruption of Manners: And in a Kingdom of Apes, Buffoons may well put in for Commission-Officers.

Next: Foxes





(900 words)




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