Sunday, August 29, 2010

L'Estrange: A City and a Country Mouse

There goes an old Story of a Country-Mouse that invited a City-Sister of hers to a Country Collation, where she spar’d for nothing that the Place afforded; as mouldy Crusts, Cheese-Parings, musty Oatmeal, rusty Bacon, and the like. Now the City-Dame was so well bred, as seemingly to take all in good part; but yet at last, Sister (says she, after the civilest Fashion) why will you be miserable when you may be happy? Why will you lie pining and pinching your self in such a lonesome starving Course of Life as this is, when ‘tis but going to Town along with me; to enjoy all the Pleasures and Plenty that your Heart can wish? This was a Temptation the Country-Mouse was not able to resist; so that away they trudg’d together, and about Midnight got to their Journey’s End. The City-Mouse shewed her Friend the Larder, the Pantry, the Kitchen, and other Offices where she laid her Stores; and after this, carried her into the Parlour, where they found, yet upon the Table, the Relicks of a mighty Entertainment of that very Night. The City-Mouse carv’d her Companion of what she liked best, so to’t they fell upon a Velvet Couch together. The poor Bumpkin, that had never seen nor heard of such Doings before, bless’d her self at the Change of Condition, when (as ill luck would have it) all of a sudden the Doors flew open, and in comes a Crew of roaring Bullies, with their Wenches, their Dogs, and their Bottles, and put the poor Mice to their wit’s end how to save their Skins; the Stranger especially, that had never been at this sport before: but she made a shift however for the present to slink into a Corner, where she lay trembling and panting till the Company went their way. So soon as ever the House was quiet again; Well! My Court-Sister, says she, if this be the way of your Town-Gamboles, I’ll e’en back to my Cottage, and my mouldy Cheese again; for I had much rather lie knabbing of Crusts, without either Fear or Danger, in my own Hole, than be Mistress of the whole World with perpetual Cares and Alarms.

The Difference of a Court and Country Life. The Delights, Innocence, and Security of the one, compar’d with the Anxiety, the Lewdness, and the Hazards of the other.

Source: L'Estrange 10. Notice that for L'Estrange, each mouse is "she," but in the illustration below each mouse is clearly a "he."

Mures Duo

Click here for a SLIDESHOW of all J. M. Conde's color Aesop illustrations.
M0196 Perry352

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