Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)
100. AN OLD MAN AND A LION (Perry 136)
A Person of Quality dream’d one Night that he saw a Lion kill his only
Son, who was, it seems, a generous Cavalier, and a great Lover of the
Chace. This Fancy ran in the Father’s Head to that degree, that he built
his Son a House of Pleasure, on purpose to keep him out of harm’s way;
and spar’d neither Art nor Cost to make a delicious Retreat. This House,
in short, was to be the young Man’s Prison, and the Father made himself
his Keeper. There was a world of Paintings every where up and down, and
among the rest, there was the Picture of a Lion, which stirred the Blood
of the young Man for the Dream sake, and to think that he should now be
a Slave for the Fancy of such a Beast. In this Indignation he made a blow
at the Picture; but striking his Fist upon the Point of a Nail in the
Wall, his Hand cancerated, he fell into a Fever, and soon after died on’t:
So that all the Father’s Precaution could not secure the Son from the
Fatality of dying by a Lion.
THE MORAL. A body may as well lay too little as too much stress upon
a Dream; for some Dreams are monitory, as others are only complexional;
but upon the Main, the less we heed them better; for when that Freak has
once taken possession of a fantastical Head, the Distemper is incurable.
L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a
very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir
Roger L'Estrange. Aesop
- Fables which is available at amazon.com.