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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)


Mercury had a great Mind once to Learn what Credit he had in the World, and he knew no better Way, than to Put on the Shape of a Man, and take Occasion to Discourse the Matter as by the Bye, with a Statuary: So he went to the House of a Great Master, where, among other Curious Figures, he saw several Excellent Pieces of the Gods. The first he Cheapen’d was a Jupiter, which would have come at a very easy Rate. Well (says Mercury) and what’s the Price of that Juno over there? The Carver set it a little Higher. The next Figure was a Mercury, with his Rod and Wings, and all the Ensigns of his Commission. Why this is as it should be, says he to himself: For here am I in the Quality of Jupiter’s Messenger, and the Patron of Artizans, with all my Trade about me: And now will this Fellow ask me Fifteen Times as much for this as the did t’other: And so he put it to him, what he valued that Piece at: Why truly, says the Statuary, you seem to be a Civil Gentleman, give me but my Price for the other Two, and you shall e’en have That into the Bargain.
THE MORAL. This is to put the Vanity of those Men out of Countenance, that by Setting too high a Value upon themselves, appear by so much the more Despicable to Others.

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.