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The Talking Beasts   By:

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E text prepared by Al Haines


A Book of Fable Wisdom


Illustrations by Harold Nelson


"Accept, young Prince, the moral lay And in these tales mankind survey; With early virtues plant your breast The specious arts of vice detest."



I. Fables of Aesop. (Greek)

II. Fables of Bidpai. (Indian)

III. Fables from the Hitopadesa. (Sanskrit)

IV. Fables from P. V. Ramaswami Raju. (Indian)

V. Malayan Fables

VI. Moorish Fables

VII. African Fables

VIII. Fables from Krilof. (Russian)

IX. Fables from the Chinese

X. Fables of La Fontaine. (French)

XI. Fables from the Spanish of Carlos Yriarte

XII. Fables of Gay, Cowper, and others. (English)

For Eastern princes, long ago, These fables, grave and gay, Were written as a friendly guide On life's perplexing way. When Rumour came to court and news Of such a book was heard, The monarch languished till he might Secure the Golden Word.

Prince of To day, this little hook A store house is of treasure. Unlock it and where'er you look Is wisdom without measure. 'Twill teach thee of the meed of greed, Of sowing versus reaping, Of that mad haste that makes for waste, And looking before leaping.

'Twill teach thee what is like to hap To self conceit and folly; And show that who begins in sin Will end in melancholy. So take the book and learn of beast And animate creation The lesson that the least may teach, However mean his station.



"Among all the different ways of giving counsel I think the finest and that which pleases the most universally is fable, in whatever shape it appears."


How shall I bring to your mind the time and distance that separate us from the Age of Fable? Think of what seemed to you the longest week of your life. Think of fifty two of these in a year; then think of two thousand five hundred years and try to realize that Aesop sometimes called the Eighth Wise Man lived twenty five centuries ago and made these wonderful tales that delight us to day.

Shakespeare is even yet something of a mystery, although he was born in our own era, less than five hundred years ago; but men are still trying to discover any new facts of his life that might better explain his genius. A greater mystery is grand old Homer, who has puzzled the world for centuries. Scholars are not certain whether the "Iliad" or "Odyssey" are the work of one or more than one mind. Who can say? for the thrilling tales were told probably after the fashion of all the minstrels of his day more than eight hundred years before Christ.

On the background of that dim distant long ago, perhaps two hundred years later than Homer, looms the magnificent figure of another mysterious being Aesop the Greek slave.

Wherever and whenever he lived, and whether, in fact, he ever lived at all, he seems very real to us, even though more than two thousand years have passed. Among all the stories that scholars and historians have told of him sifting through the centuries the true from the false we get a vivid picture of the man. He was born in Greece, probably in Phrygia, about 620 years before Christ. He had more than one master and it was the last, Iadmon, who gave him his liberty because of his talents and his wisdom. The historian Plutarch recounts his presence at the court of Croesus, King of Lydia, and his meeting Thales and Solon there, telling us also that he reproved the wise Solon for discourtesy toward the king. Aesop visited Athens and composed the famous fable of Jupiter and the Frogs for the instruction of the citizens... Continue reading book >>

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