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The Town Mouse/Country Mouse Project

Ogilby's Court Mice

The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse The fables of Aesop paraphras'd in verse

Many versions of the fable have a court mouse instead of a town mouse (I have a special tag for versions of this kind). However, this version alone has lengthy descriptions of court foods and customs which make it a very illuminating glimpse of court life in the 18th century. No other variant, for example, lists deer, sturgeon, or tongue among the town/city/court foods. 

The real outlier here, though, is the degree to which Ogilby imagines how the world must look to mice (courtly mice no less): he describes his protagonists getting lost among "mountains of beef" and "rivers of vinegar." The little details Ogilby provides matter a lot: the mice thank Oberon instead of God (presumably because they're fairyland creatures, I'm not sure) and the court mouse is even given a royal pedigree (She's of Moustapha's line, how droll). 

As a bonus, this version has a very detailed engraving of the dining scene, for those curious what a 18th century palace larder might look like. For this reason, I've also included it in my exhibit of exceptional artwork