Fables Ancient and Modern
There was mouse that lived in the country; I dare say at Horace‘s farm that he was so fond of; for Horace lived at a pretty white house with green window-shutters; he had a large garden of vegetables and flowers with a fine fish pond in front; and behind beautiful serpentine walk through a wood. This mouse had a cousin that lived in town. I believe; his home was at the palace of Maecenas, the emperor’s prime minister of state, that was built with pillars of marble, and ceilings of stucco-work. Now, though the house where the country-mouse lived was only a sort of cottage, a little better than the ordinary cottages round it, yet he loved his relations and friends, as much as the best mouse that wore a head and he begged and prayed his town cousin to come some day and take a dinner with him. The town-mouse consented. When the visitor came, the country-mouse showed him all he had to show, the fish-pond, and the garden, and the wood, and how prettily the white house looked with the green window-shutters. They sat down to dinner. The host had ranged all the provisions in a hollow tree, that they might be sure not to be disturbed. He placed a nice soft cushion of moss for his guest, and set before him a little piece of bacon, and morsel of beef that had been boiled for soup, and a bit of cheese, and a golden pippin. The country-mouse sat in a lower place, and ate nothing but a crust of bread, and a piece of the hard rind of cheese, leaving all the rest for his cousin. He was as polite to his visitor as a mouse could he, and hoped he would be able to make dinner, and assured him that the cheese was made of the finest cream, and the pippin was fresh gathered. The city-mouse however, made a miserable meal, he could not relish such country fare. After dinner he asked his entertainer very gravely, how he could be content to waste his life in such wretch ed hole? Consider, said the town-mouse, you are now young and should enjoy yourself. You should see men and cities. When once you know the world, you will despise this rustic life as much as do. The town mouse gave the country-mouse such an account of what fine thing it was to go to court, that at last he consented to go back with him to the palace of Maecenas on the Esquiline hill. a long and weary journey they had of it; and, though a man would have walked it in three or four hours, a mouse was obliged to sleep one night on the road. They got to Rome the next night, and crept silently and softly to the town-mouse’s home. The country mouse was out of his senses to see what fine home it was. The rooms were almost as large and lofty as a church; the walls were adorned with looking-glasses and guilding; and immense chandeliers of silver hung from the ceiling. I confess, says he,I begin to think Horace’s farm was but miserable hole. I thought, answered the town-mouse, I should bring you to your senses. He then led his visitor into the room where Maecenas and his friends had dined. The mice climbed up upon the table. There was nothing left but the dessert; but such dessert! There were pine-apples, and ice-creams, and melons, and grapes, and preserves, and perfumes, and sugar in abundance. The town-mouse felt himself at home. The country-mouse frisked about as if he had been mad. He had never seen such a sight in his life. Why, here, said he, are provisions enough to last Horace for month. He was so long smelling and examining the different plates, that he had not tasted a bit, when the door burst open. It was the butler and five or six footmen, who were come to clear away the dessert, and prepare every thing for their master’s supper. With them pranced in couple of fine Italian grey-hounds. But, what was worst of all, at the heels of the grey-hounds, came jumping along, the largest tom-cat you ever saw. The mice were terribly frightened, and scampered away as fast as they could. But the walls of the marble dining-hall were so well fitted, that there was not a chink for so much as a spider to hide himself. It was almost a miracle that the mice escaped, and at last got to a dark, dirty hole in some wainscot, where the town-mouse was accustomed to sleep. Come, said he to his guest, I dare say you are tired; you will stay snug here to-night. Not minute, said the country-mouse, that can help As soon as the room is once more quiet, I will take my leave of cities and ministers of state for-ever. I dare say I shall not recover the fright I have been in for a fortnight. Give me temperate life and a safe one. I shall thank you, the longest day have to live, for the lesson you have taught me.I shall go home now and know better than I did before, the blessings of hollow tree and crust of bread.