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The Hares and Frogs in a Storm


Upon a great storm of wind that blew among the trees and bushes, and made a rustling with the leaves, the Hares (in a certain park where there happened to be plenty of them) were so terribly frighted, that they ran like mad all over the place, resolving to seek out some retreat of more security, or to end their unhappy days by doing violence to themselves. With this resolution they found an outlet where a pale had been broken down, and, bolting forth upon an adjoining common, had not run far before their course was stopped by that of a gentle brook which glided across the way they intended to take. This was so grievous a disappointment, that they were not able to bear it; and they determined rather to throw themselves headlong into the water, let what would become of it, than lead a life so full of dangers and crosses. But, upon their coming to the brink of the river, a parcel of Frogs, which were sitting there, frighted at their approach, leaped into the stream in great confusion, and dived to the very bottom for fear: which a cunning old Puss observing, called to the rest and said, 'Hold, have a care what ye do: here are other creatures, I perceive, which have their fears as well as us: don't then let us fancy ourselves the most miserable of any upon earth; but rather, by their example, learn to bear patiently those inconveniences which our nature has thrown upon us.'


This fable is designed to show us how unreasonable many people are for living in such continual fears and disquiets about the miserableness of their condition. There is hardly any state of life great enough to satisfy the wishes of an ambitious man; and scarce any so mean but may supply all the necessities of him that is moderate. But if people will be so unwise as to work themselves up to imaginary misfortunes, why do they grumble at nature and their stars, when their own perverse minds are only to blame? If we are to conclude ourselves unhappy by as many degrees as there are others greater than we, why then the greatest part of mankind must be miserable, in some degree at least. But, if they who repine at their own afflicted condition, would but reckon up how many more there are with whom they would not change cases, than whose pleasures they envy, they would certainly rise up better satisfied from such a calculation. But what shall we say to those who have a way of creating themselves panics from the rustling of the wind, the scratching of a Rat or Mouse behind the hangings, the fluttering of a Moth, or the motion of their own shadow by moonlight? Their whole life is as full of alarms as that of a Hare, and they never think themselves so happy as when, like the timorous folks in the fable, they meet with a set of creatures as fearful as themselves.