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

45. A SNAKE AND A FILE (Perry 93)

There was a Snake got into a Smith’s Shop, and fell to licking of a File: she saw the File bloody, and still the bloodier it was, the more eagerly she lick’d it; upon a foolish Fancy, that it was the File that bled, and that she herself had the better on’t. In the Conclusion, when she could lick no longer, she fell to biting; but finding at last she could do no more good upon’t with her Teeth than her Tongue, she fairly left it.
THE MORAL. ‘Tis a Madness to stand biting and snapping at any Thing to no manner of Purpose, more than the gratifying of an impotent Rage, in the fancy of hurting another, when in Truth, we only wound our selves.


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.