Aesop's Fables: Yet More Birds

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: Yet More Birds





A Nightingale and a Hawk
As a Nightingale was Singing in a Bush, down comes a Rascally Kite of a Sparrow-Hawk, and whips her off the Bough: The Poor Wretch pleaded for her self, that alas! her Little Carcass was not worth the while, and that there were bigger Birds enough to be found. Well, says the Hawk, but am I so mad, d'ye think. as to part with a Little Bird that I have, for a Great One that I have not? Why then, says she, I'll give you a delicate Song for my Life: No, no, says the Hawk, I want for my Belly, not for my Ears.
A Bird in the Hand is worth Two in the Bush.


The Owl and the Sun
There was a Pinking Owl once upon a very Bright and a Glorious Morning, that sate Sputtering at the Sun, and ask'd him what he meant to stand Staring her in the Eyes at that Rate. Well, says the Sun, but if your Eyes will not bear the Light, what's your Quarrel to my Beams that Shed it? Do you think it a Reasonable Thing that the whole World should be Depriv'd of the Greatest Blessing in Nature, to Gratifie the Folly, the Arrogance and the Infirmity of One Sot?
There is nothing so Excellent, or so Faultless, but Envy and Detraction will find somewhat to say against it.


An Eagle and Rabbets
There was an Eagle that drew a Nest of Rabbets, and carry'd them away to her Young. The Mother-Coney follow-d her with Tears in her Eyes, adjuring her in the Name of all those Powers, that take care of the Innocent and Oppressed, to have Compassion upon her miserable Children: But she, in an Outrage of Pride and Indignation, tears them presently to Pieces. The Coney, upon this, convenes a whole Warren; tells her Story, and advises upon a Revenge: For Divine Justice (says she) will never suffer so barbarous a Cruelty to escape unpunish'd. They debated the Matter, and came to an Unanimous Resolve upon the Question, that there was no Way of paying the Eagle in her kind, but by Undermining the Tree where she Timber'd. So they all fell to work at the Roots of the Tree, and left it so little Foot-hold, that the first Blast of Wind laid if Flat upon the Ground, Nest, Eagles and all. Some of 'em were kill'd by the Fall; Others were eaten up by Birds and Beasts of Prey, and the Coney had the Comfort at last, of destroying the Eagle's Children in Revenge for her Own.
'Tis highly Imprudent, even in the Greatest of Men, unnecessarily to provoke the Meanest, when the Pride of Pharaoh himself was brought down by miserable Frogs and Lice.


An Eagle sets up for a Beauty
It was once put to the Question among the Birds, which of the whole Tribe or sort of 'em was the Greatest Beauty. The Eagle gave her Voice for her self, and Carry'd it. yes, says a Peacock in a soft Voice by the by, You are a great Beauty indeed; but it lyes in your Beak, and in your Talons, that make it Death to Dispute it.
The Veneration that is paid to Great and Powerful Men, is but from the Teeth outward, not from the Heart; and more out of Fear then Love.


An Owl and Little Birds
There goes a Story of an Owl that was advis'd by the Little Birds to build rather among the Boughs and Leaves, as they did, than in Walls and Hollow-Trees; and so they shew'd her a young tender Plant for her Purpose. No, no, says the Owl, those Twigs in Time will come to be Lim'd and then you're all Lost, if you do but touch 'em. The Birds gave little Heed to't, and so went on Playing, and Chirping among the Leaves still, and passing their Time there in Flocks as formerly, till in the Conclusion the Sprigs were all dawb'd with Lime, and the poor Wretches clamm'd and taken. Their Repentance came now too late; but in Memory of this Noable Instance of the Owl's Foresight, the Birds never see an owl to this very Day, but they Flock about her, and follow her, as if it were for a New Lesson. But our Modern Owls have only the Eyes, the Beak and the Plume of the Owls of Athens, without the Wisdom.
Good Counsel is lost upon those that have not the Grace to hearken to't; or do not understand it, or will not embrace and follow it in the proper Season.


An Eagle and a Beetle
A Hare that was hard put to't by an Eagle, took Sanctuary in a Ditch with a Beetle. The Beetle Interceded for the Hare: The Eagle flapt off the former, and devour'd the other. The Beetle took this for an Affront to Hospitality, as well as to herself, and so meditated a Revenge, watch'd the Eagle up to her Nest, follow'd her, and took her Time, when the Eagle was abroad, and so made a shift to roll out the Eggs, and destroy the Brood. The Eagle upon this Disappointment, Timber'd a great deal higher next Bout; the Beetle watch'd her still, and shew'd her the same Trick once again. Whereupon the Eagle made her Appeal to Jupiter, who gave her leave to lay her next Course of Eggs in his own Lap. But the Beetle found out a way to make Jupiter rise from his Throne; so that upon the loosning of his Mantle, the Eggs fell from him at unawares, and the Eagle was a Third time defeated. Jupiter stomach'd the Indignity; but upon hearing the Cause, he found the Eagle to be the Aggressor, and so acquitted the Beetle.
'Tis not for a Generous Prince to countenance Oppression and Injustice, even in his most Darling Favourites.

Next: Insects





(1000 words)





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