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

57. A STAG AND A HORSE (Perry 269)

Upon a Dispute betwixt a Stag and a Horse about a Piece of Pasture, the Stag got the better on’t, and beat the other out of the Field. The Horse, upon this Affront, advis’d with a Man what Course to take; who told him, that if he would submit to be bridled and saddled, and take a Man upon his Back with a Lance in his Hand, he would undertake to give him the Satisfaction of a Revenge. The Horse came to his Terms and for the gratifying of a present Passion, made himself a Slave all the Days of his Life. Stesichorus made use of this Fable to divert the Himerenses from chusing Phalaris the Tyrant for their General. This horse’s Case, says he, will be yours, if you go on with your Proposals. ‘Tis true, you’ll have your Revenge, but you’ll lose your Liberties: Upon which Words the Motion fell.
THE MORAL OF THE TWO FABLES ABOVE. Let every Man make a true Measure of himself, what he is able to do, and what not, before he comes to any peremptory Resolution how to proceed. He is a Madman, that to avoid a present and less Evil, runs blindfold into a greater; and for the gratifying of a froward Humour, makes himself a Slave all the Days of his Life.

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.