On the Migration of Fables

A Lecture Delivered at the Royal Institution, on Friday, June 3, 1870
  • Jon R. Stone


“Count not your chickens before they be hatched” is a well-known proverb in English, and most people, if asked what was its origin, would probably appeal to La Fontaines delightful fable, La Laitière et le Pot au Lait.1 We all know Perrette, lightly stepping along from her village to the town, carrying the milk-pail on her head, and in her day-dreams selling her milk for a good sum, then buying a hundred eggs, then selling the chickens, then buying a pig, fattening it, selling it again, and buying a cow with a calf. The calf frolics about, and kicks up his legs—so does Perrette, and, alas!, the pail falls down, the milk is spilt, her riches gone, and she only hopes when she comes home that she may escape a flogging from her husband.


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© Jon R. Stone 2002

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  • Jon R. Stone

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