The Fables of Phædrus
Men are in the habit of erring through prejudice; and while they stand up in defence of their erroneous notions, are wont to be driven by plain facts to confession of their mistakes.
A rich Man, about to entertain the people with grand shows, invited all, by the promise of a reward, to exhibit whatever new piece of ingenuity any one could. The Performers came to the contest for fame, among whom a Buffoon, well known for his drollery, said that he had a kind of entertainment which had never yet been brought out at any theatre. The rumour, spreading, brought together the whole city; and the places, empty shortly before, sufficed not for the multitude. But as soon as he appeared on the stage, alone, and without any apparatus, any stage-assistants, the very intenseness of expectation produced silence. Suddenly, he dropped down his head towards his bosom, and so well did he imitate the voice of a pig with his own, that they concluded there was a real one under his cloak, and ordered it to be shaken out. This being done, as soon as they found that nothing was discovered, they loaded the Man with many praises, and bestowed upon him the greatest applause.
A Countryman seeing this take place: “Egad,” said he, “he shan’t surpass me;” and immediately gave out that he would do the same thing still better on the following day. A still greater crowd assembled. Prejudice had already taken possession of their minds, and they took their seats, determined to deride, and not as unbiassed spectators. Both Performers come forth. First, the Buffoon grunts away, and excites their applause, and awakens their acclamations. Next, the Countryman, pretending that he concealed a pig beneath his clothes (which, in fact, he did; but quite unsuspected, because they had found none about the other), twitched the ear of the real pig, which he was concealing, and with the pain forced from it its natural cry. The people shouted with one voice that the Buffoon had given a much more exact imitation, and ordered the Countryman to be driven from the stage. On this, he produced the pig itself from the folds of his cloak, and convicting them of their disgraceful mistake by a manifest proof: “Look,” said he, “this shows what sort of judges you are.”
The Fables of Phædrus