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

38. A HORSE AND AN ASS (Perry 565)

In the Days of old, when Horses spoke Greek and Latin, and Asses made Syllogisms, there happen’d an Encounter upon the Road, betwixt a proud pamper’d Jade in the full Course of his Carriere, and a poor creeping Ass, under a heavy Burden, that had chopt into the same Track with him. Why, how now Sirrah, says he, d’ye not see by these Arms and Trappings, to what Master I belong? And, d’ye not understand that when I have that Master of mine upon my Back, the whole Weight of the State rests upon my Shoulders? Out of the Way thou slavish insolent Animal, or I’ll tread thee to dirt. The wretched Ass immediately slunk aside, with this envious Reflection betwixt his Teeth, [What would I give to change Conditions with that happy Creature there.] This Fancy would not out of the Head of him, ‘till it was his hap some few Days after to see this very Horse doing Drudgery in a common dung Cart. Why how now Friend (says the Ass) how comes this about? Only the Chance of the War, says the other: I was a Soldier’s Horse, you must know; and my Master carried me into a Battle, where I was shot, hack’d and maim’d; and now you have here before your Eyes the Catastrophe of my Fortune.
THE MORAL. The Folly, and the Fate of Pride and Arrogance. The Mistake of placing Happiness in any Thing that may be taken away, and the Blessing of Freedom in a mean Estate.

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.