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


There was a certain bantering Droll that took a Journey to Delphos, a purpose to try if he could put a Trick upon Apollo. He carry'd a Sparrow in his Hand under his Coat, and told the God, I have something in my Hand, says he, Is it dead or living? If the Oracle should say 'twas dead, he could shew it alive; if living, 'twas but squeezing it, and then 'twas dead. He that saw the Malice of his Heart, gave him this Answer: It shall e'en be which of the two you please; for 'tis in your Choice to have it either the one or the other.
THE MORAL. Presumption leads People to Infidelity in a trice, and so by insensible Degrees to Atheism: For when Men have once cast off a Reverence for Religion, they are come within one Step of laughing at it.

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.