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Aesop's Fables: Sir Roger L'Estrange (1692)

34. AN ANT AND A FLY (Perry 521)

There happen’d a warm Dispute betwixt an Ant and a Fly. Why, where’s the Honour, or the Pleasure in the World,says the Fly, that I have not my Part in? Are not all Temples and Places open to me? Am I not the Taster to Gods and Princes in all their Sacrifices and Entertainments? Am I not serv’d in Gold and Silver? And is not my Meat and Drink still of the best? And all this, without either Money or Pains? I trample upon Crowns, and kiss what Ladies Lips I please. And what have you now to pretend to all this while? Why, says the Ant, you value your self upon the Access you have to the Altars of the Gods, the Cabinets of Princes, and to all publick Feasts and Collations: And what’s all this but the Access of the Intruder, not of a Guest; for People are so far from liking your Company, that they kill ye as fast as they can catch ye. You are a Plague to ‘em where-ever you come. Your very Breath has Maggots in’t, and for the Kiss you brag of, what is it but the Perfume of the last Dunghill you touch’d upon, once remov’d? For my Part, I live upon what’s my own, and work honestly in the Summer to maintain my self in the Winter; whereas the whole Course of your scandalous Life is only cheating or sharping, one half of the Year, and starving the other.
THE MORAL. Here’s an Emblem of Industry, and Luxury, set forth at large; with the sober Advantages, and the scandalous Excesses of the one and of the other.

L'Estrange originally published his version of the fables in 1692. There is a very nice illustrated edition in the Children's Classics series by Knopf: Sir Roger L'Estrange. Aesop - Fables which is available at amazon.com.