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


A Countryman was feeding his Flock by the Sea-side, and it was so delicate a fine Day, that the Smoothness of the Water tempted him to leave his Shepherd’s Business and set up for a Merchant. So that in all haste he puts off his Stock, buys a Bargain of Figs, gets his Freight aboard, and away presently to Sea. It happen’d to be very foul Weather; so that the Mariners were fain to cast their whole Lading over-board, to save themselves and the Vessel. Upon this Miscarriage, our new Merchant-Adventurer betook himself to his old Trade again: And it happen’d one Day, as he was tending his Sheep upon the very same Coast, to be just such a flattering tempting Sea again as that betray’d him before: Yes, yes, says he, When the Devil’s blind: You’d have some more Figs with a Vengeance, would ye?
THE MORAL. Men may be happy in all Estates, if they will but suit their Minds to their Condition. A Shepherd may be as easy in a Cottage, as a Prince in a Palace, with a Mind suited to his Station; but if they will be launching out into Trade, or Business that they do not understand, they have nothing left them to trust to when they are once bewilder’d, but the Hope of some kind Providence to put them in the right way home again.

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.