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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Latter-Day Fables

By George Thomas Lanigan (1845–1886)

[Born in St. Charles, P. Q., Canada, 1845. Died in Philadelphia, Penn., 1886. Fables, by G. Washington Æsop. 1878.]

A SIMPLETON, having had Occasion to seat himself, sat down on a Pin; whereon he made an Outcry unto Jupiter. A Philosopher, who happened to be holding up a Hitching-Post in the Vicinity, rebuked him, saying, “I can tell you how to avoid hurting yourself by sitting down on Pins, and will, if you will set them up.” The Simpleton eagerly accepting the Offer, the Philosopher swallowed four fingers of the Rum which perisheth, and replied, “Never sit down.” He subsequently acquired a vast Fortune by advertising for Agents, to whom he guaranteed $77 a Week for light and easy Employment at their Homes.

Moral.—The Wise Man saith, “There is a Nigger in the Pence,” but the Fool Sendeth on 50 Cents for Sample and is Taken in.

An Honest Farmer once led his two Turkeys into his Granary and told them to eat, drink, and be merry. One of these Turkeys was wise and one foolish. The foolish Bird at once indulged excessively in the Pleasures of the Stable, unsuspicious of the Future, but the wiser Fowl, in order that he might not be fattened and slaughtered, fasted continually, mortified his Flesh, and devoted himself to gloomy Reflections upon the brevity of Life. When Thanksgiving approached, the Honest Farmer killed both Turkeys, and by placing a Rock in the interior of the Prudent Turkey made him weigh more than his plumper Brother.

Moral.—As we Travel through Life, let us Live by the Way.

A Clam, while passing through a Carpenter’s Shop, encountered a hungry Heron, and (for the Wind was southerly) knowing him from the surrounding Handsaws, modestly withdrew into his Shell. The Heron commented unfavorably upon his conduct for some time and proposed a Mutual Council, but all was of no avail. Finally a Thought struck him, and he denounced the Clam before Heaven as a perjurer and a Horse-Thief. The indignant Clam thereupon imprudently abandoned his Policy of Silence, but, alas! he had hardly opened his Mouth when the Heron swallowed him.

Moral.—Second Thoughts are not Always Best.

A Crow, having secured a Piece of Cheese, flew with its Prize to a lofty Tree, and was preparing to devour the Luscious Morsel, when a crafty Fox, halting at the foot of the Tree, began to cast about how he might obtain it. “How tasteful,” he cried, in well-feigned Ecstasy, “is your Dress; it can not surely be that your Musical Education has been neglected. Will you not oblige—?” “I have a horrid Cold,” replied the Crow, “and never sing without my Music, but since you press me——. At the same time, I should add that I have read Æsop, and been there before.” So saying, she deposited the Cheese in a safe Place on the Limb of the Tree, and favored him with a Song. “Thank you,” exclaimed the Fox, and trotted away, with the Remark that Welsh Rabbits never agreed with him, and were far inferior in Quality to the animate Variety.

Moral.—The foregoing Fable is supported by a whole Gatling Battery of Morals. We are taught (1) that it Pays to take the Papers; (2) that Invitation is not Always the Sincerest Flattery; (3) that a Stalled Rabbit with contentment is better than No Bread, and (4) that the Aim of Art is to Conceal Disappointment.

During the Deluge, as a Shark was conducting a Thanksgiving service for an abundant Harvest, a prudent Patriarch looked out and addressed him thus: “My Friend, I am much struck with your open Countenance; pray come into the Ark and make one of us. The Probabilities are a falling Barometer and Heavy Rains throughout the Region of the Lower Universe during the next Forty Days.” “That is just the sort of Hair-pin I am,” replied the Shark, who had cut several rows of Wisdom Teeth; “fetch on your Deluges.” About six Weeks subsequently the Patriarch encountered him on the summit of Mount Ararat, in very straitened Circumstances.

Moral.—You Can’t pretty much most Always Tell how Things are going to Turn Out Sometimes.