The Tortoise and the Hare
My father had a beautiful copy of Fables de la Fontaine full of the most lavish illustrations. Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables were written between 1668 and 1694 and dedicated to the Dauphin (the son of King Louis XIV the sun king). They are considered French classics, full of humour or irony, unexpectedly, perhaps, written for adults but much enjoyed by children
One of these fables is about the Hare and the Tortoise which is very similar to the story by Aesop. The tortoise, tired of being made fun of by the arrogant, pleased with himself hare, challenges him to a race. It is obviously a little puzzling because the hare is so light on his feet and able to cover the ground much more swiftly than the tortoise who is designed neither to move very fast nor very far.
If you remember, the hare leaps away and is so confident that half way through the race he stops and has a snooze. Oblivious of his surroundings, he never notices the tortoise who quietly makes his way past and over the finishing line first.
Every fable works on several levels, enjoying the story and then wondering what it means:
“more haste, less speed” or “perseverance matters”. However, the reason the tortoise won seems to me to be more about the the hare. He was over-confident, too pleased with himself although perhaps there was also a bit of luck in the tortoise’s win. Comments on Aesop’s tales muse that ‘many people have good natural abilities which are ruined by idleness’; Or the hare thought the race was a waste of time whilst nevertheless the tortoise doggedly carried on.
Many fables are seemingly simple yet this one, for example, has been depicted in paintings and in the folklore of many countries. They are part of how we learn about morals, what is right and wrong, what is the “proper behaviour of a person in society,” “pertaining to manners.”
Highclere has never been first out of the starting stalls and we are usually more thoughtful than fashionable. This home has, without doubt, evolved slowly over the centuries and the building and works of art have been collected over many years and by many different personalities.
There is nothing wrong with steadiness and a great pleasure is to be found in bringing the past into today, framing old archives to hang anew on walls. It is an ongoing process. Piles of books are on their way somewhere but may have been in that pile for a few years now. At the moment, of course, all progress is largely in my head given that Highclere sits quietly in a state of suspense in this strange world of the last few weeks. Geordie would nevertheless rather like the pile of books he tripped over this morning to make their way somewhere.
I have a plan to be better organised so that more things have a home rather than simply a “resting place” and had begun to sort out some rooms on the third floor. It always begins with the boring stuff, such as mending windows and sorting electrics before choosing fun paints or the loveliest wallpapers. That is now on hold so I have less incentive to play musical piles of books, cupboards and chairs.
It seems increasingly likely now that I am probably not going to make my way through all the rooms. Exactly like the hare, I have spurts of action and then collapse, either because I have run out of energy, or because of outside pressures. However, doggedly, like the tortoise, I will keep going, which is all anyone can ask of any of us.
Lady Carnarvon, The Tortoise and the Hare, I loved as a child and still do to this day. So many lessons can be learned from Fables and that can make for a better person. Stay healthy and do not get overworked by your chores. Rest.
We keep forgetting about the past don’t we?
Thank you for such a timely post. I feel restless and find myself hand wringing most days with no direction or purpose. Knowing that others are sitting in a stall position both physically and emotionally is an encouragement. I am a producer. My hands must find raw materials and turn it into something beautiful. My garden is turning out lovely flowers but the deer will soon be feasting on the buds. So I’m looking for a more permanent project during this time. Thank you for sharing. I look forward to your blogs each week!
I love reading your Blogs, they remind me of the lovely day we visited Highclere last November even though it was throwing down rain all day. What is a drop of rain compared to our current situation…I thoroughly enjoyed reading your lovely book that I took away from our visit. Stay safe and well, all of you.
Thank you – you too!
As for the deer?…..I spoke to a friend in North Carolina (where the deer population has exploded beyond measure) yesterday and asked what he was doing. “Oh…….about to finish my coffee and go out to spend the day working in my wife’s deer-feeder.” Apparently, they spend about five hundred bucks, every Spring, on new plants, which he dutifully sets out at her command, and which, predictably enough, the deer eat….down to the nubs. I”ve always kept a pack of rowsty terriers, so I’ve never had a problem with deer, except for the time, a couple of years ago, when the dogs corralled one particularly stupid one in the courtyard. I watched from the kitchen-wing (which is one of the wings surrounding the courtyard and, with considerable horror, recalled that I’d left the double french doors to the main block of the old house wide open that morning. Suffice it to say that a hysterical doe can do a lot of damage in a very short time if it gets into your living room and doesn’t have the sense to go out the way she entered.
Bet of luck,
Quail Roost Farm
We have deer too – and further away for the house I focus on the plants they do not eat. Teucrium fruticans, rosa rugosa, sages, salvias lavender and daffodils!
A lovely read. I’m also a little like the hare after being furloughed from work. I can’t stop cleaning, baking, sorting my pantry, running, reading, cutting my hair, painting, taking photographs and writing, I’ve only been away from work for 4 days! I need to be more like the tortoise and to slow down a bit before I drop.
I have been cleaning out – I set myself a room to do properly – I have done one!
I enjoy your weekly inspiration. Slow and steady wins the race.
How lovely. It gave me a new perspective on this story. Thank you.
Thank you for putting a new perspective on my days at this moment in time.
Some days are good others are just filled with anxiety and seem endless.
I also have set myself tasks to work on but they get frozen in time.
Keep safe and well and please continue to inspire us Lady Carnarvon
It is a real test of time isn’t it?
Well we all certainly have plenty of time now to do things like that. Hope you and your family are all doing well during this time.
Thank you for illustrating that Covid-19 is a great leveler, attacking all classes in every country. All of us are probably praying our homes, whether tiny apartment, cottage, or castle, don’t need maintenance until the crisis has passed.
No one wants to invite visitors into our safe havens — neither plumbers, nor interior designers.
God bless our all our homes, the humble and the stately, and those who dwell within.
Bon in Bama
It is masking tape all the way!
Thank you for your posting! I feel inspired to do some sorting at my house now. I appreciate that you have taken on the perspective of the tortoise in these trying times. It makes me feel better about my own tortoise position. Take care and enjoy the sunshine of the day and remember that this too shall pass.
This too shall pass…
Good morning…I agree it is a strange world out there right now. I myself took on some projects . Sorting pictures for example. But then I find myself going down memory lane. Revisiting places I have been with our family and so it goes. My zest to get something done is gone…lol. But in all honesty I allow myself to do that in this time. We deserve it.
What an appropriate moment to speak of the ‘tortoise and the hare.’ In this modern age, we all seem to be the hare, dashing from one thing to the next then arriving home to exhausted to enjoy moments of peace and quiet. With the current state of affairs, it is the perfect opportunity to find the joy of being the tortoise by gearing down, pausing to appreciate, and simply enjoying the peace and serenity of being in the one place we should feel the most at one with ourselves – home. Thank you.
Being a great lover of books I found your post today so fascinating. Being deprived of books as a child I now find myself unable to get rid of a single one. Stacks of books bring such comfort, do they not…
It is such fun to choose new paint or wallpaper, your rooms are so lovely. Stay well and may peace be with you.
I have read all my life, as child in bed under the coves with a torch!
Dear Lady Carnavon,
Thanks for reminding us that « Fable de Jean de La Fontaine ».
Very appropriate in this special time.
Marie Louise Pépin
. Fist time, I see this beautiful engraving of the tortoise and the hare. Audacious in a certain , because the main subjects are viewed as details
It is different – I could not see the participants to start with!!
Such a lovely post, thank you.
Loved the story , very true now
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Greetings from Arkansas! How wonderful to read your post this morning. Your words reminded me of an interview backstage at the Golden Globe awards in 2019. Forty six year old Olivia Colman was asked, What would you say to young people who are trying to make it in the entertainment industry?” I am paraphrasing: She said over there years there have been many times I have been out of work. Her advice was “keep going!” Seems fitting for today. When things don’t go as we have planned, keep going!
And you all too!
And you still have to find time to create new embroidered covers for the hot water bottles. Something you probably been putting off for years.
White paint for the flagpole of course.
Oh my goodness – yes. I must look out the white paint. Straightaway.
Years ago, Mum wanted the hallway painted in SKY BLUE.
Bought some from our local village store and applied it.
“What is it like?” she asked.
Sky Blue? More like battleship grey.
Ok after it dried.
Thank you for bringing back the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. I will recommend it to my sister-in-law for her new granddaughter.
Your running with your energy and then needing a hold is much understood. I guess as long as our intent stays firm, we can accomplish our goals, big or small. Thank you for a good message.
They are good stories – I find I am returning to the anchors of my childhood learning!
That year went by very fast, and I am finally returned to your book on Almina. The era of WWI was so terrifying. I cherish this beautiful biography and thank you for the historical and Amina’s personal stories.
Happy Easter and here’s to some wonderful travelling soon!
Thank you Laura
It does seem curious to me that as we are paused and I have the vast amounts of time at home I had longed for, I cannot seem to find the umpah to get to it, to sort, downsize and clear up my house. Perhaps it is because I work best when on a tight schedule with projects achieved largely because I have less “free” time. I sincerely hope that as the weather warms, we all will return to our original paces safe and sound!
I so agree.
My dear Lady Carnarvon,,
I look forward each month for your emails. They are so interesting.
Sometimes I think that all you do is research your upcoming articles, send them to us, and know for sure that we enjoy every topic.
Happy Easter to ALL who call Highclere there home!
Wishing that I was there,
Amherst, N .Y.
Good morning Lady Carnarvon,
I love your attitude in evolving rooms. Makes Highclere a living, breathing place. Don’t we all like to wear different clothes everyday?
I have a very mundane question. What is the yellow paint on the Orient walls called?
As always, many thanks for lighting up my Mondays!
In Dawsonville Georgia
It is called Papyrus – perfect name. A great colour, it is quite punchy
I am the same way with renovating my normal-sized house! I work a bit, then usually get discouraged and stop. However, think of all you have accomplished! Progress!
Thank you once again for my Monday morning escape. Have a blessed day.
And you too
Anytime we take up a new project – and old rooms with old stuff are probably the most fun! – it’s always in fits and starts. However, finding “old stuff”- letters, drawings, notes, things – that’s what lends to warm and nostalgic memories and sighs. That’s the fun part during this slow time. Good luck in reaching the finishing line in the time you gave yourself.
I don’t give myself a finishing line!!
Your response is well-deserved as a reminder that time is infinite! I smiled when I read it. And an enormous thank-you to HRM Queen Elizabeth for her wonderful and heartfelt talk to not only the UK, but the world. Would that all leaders follow her example. From my English roots I am so glad I saw her speech. And thankful that HRH Prince Charles has recovered.
Isn’t the Queen an extraordinary and calming influence? Not just for the UK but also throughout the world.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
YES, MY LADY THAT’S TRUE. YOUR QUEEN IS EXTRAORDINARY.
RIO CLARO – SP
Good Morning from Canada
Thank you once again Lady Carnarvon for this lovely blog.
I really do appreciate the lovely topics you choose to brighten our day.
Stay safe stay well
Kathleen from Canada
I meant to tell you after your post last week but forgot – we took that beautiful picture of Highclere and are using it as ‘wallpaper’ on the PC. Saw Highclere ‘in person’ about three years ago now.
How many rooms does the castle have, and how many are actually usable? I was there for a tour in 2014 and was bowled over by the experience. What a wonderful life you live!
It is wonderful and at the moment utterly exhausting! There are 250 to 300 rooms – so in the future more fun to be had!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
As the owner of two baby tortoises, I can with confidence say that they move a lot quicker than we might expect! When let out for a chance to explore, we have to watch them as blink, and they’ve either run for the hedge or buried themselves underground!
By the same token, renovating and decorating seems to take forever, but when you look back and consider what you have achieved in a matter of just a few years, you realise the magnitude of the achievement. From the renovations you have shared with us, you should be rightfully proud of the speed and efficiency and style of your work.
Thank you Jane!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It must be unusual to have Highclere so quiet. That quietness is giving you the opportunity to make plans for the future. Sometimes we make progress in fits and starts.
I am doing something of the same. I’m looking at projects that I can and should do since I not rushing to do something else. Cleaning or fixing up provides a sense of control when life is out of control.
I hope you and yours are healthy and safe during this time.
I think when I get through and out of the “treacle” I will enjoy the head space!
Greetings from Fort Worth, Texas! When I was a young girl, an ongoing topic from time to time was a story about a lazy dog who drank spilled gasoline. Grandpa and his grandson were sitting on the front porch when they saw the dog drink gasoline, jump up, and begin chasing cars, running cats up the tree, barking uncontrollably, then running in a circle. Abruptly, the dog laid down on the grass and fell asleep. Grandson asked grandpa, “What’s wrong with your dog?” Grandpa answered, “Well, I reckon he ran out of gas.”
Linda, we’ve never met and I’m sorry to use Lady Carnarvon’s website to respond to you, but that’s one great story!
Dear Lady Carnarvon: Between this lovely post and the Queen’s address on the BBC last night, I am feeling a renewed sense of both tranquility and hope. Thank you for your “steadiness,” a source of calm acceptance that we can always expect from you. The past is indeed a source of strength and resolve.
History does repeat itself. What was known as a plague, is now called a pandemic, God help us be the tortoise …. slow but sure …..
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your posting on the Hare and Tortoise and your thoughts on cleaning, clearing, and renovating during this “topsy-turvy” time.
Our daughter, as Rebel Royalty at UNLV, Las Vegas campus recently recorded a university Story Read “I am NOT a Sleepy Sloth” for all grade school students educating online from home. Asimilar lesson(s) learned.
As for my home state (Michigan), elected officials have even defined “essential” construction projects, and have suspended most recycling programs. Looks like “Spring cleaning” is also on hold.
I do hope though, that in the interim you are attempting to preserve the classic books somehow in digital format. It would be a shame to lose the book bound version treasures.
Until your next blog, stay safe.
Dear Lady Canarvon,
It is nice to hear that even people who own “castles” can suffer from piles of stuff either in need of sorting, or permanently resting in certain spots.
This is a constant source of irritation for my husband as I am kind of a pack rat. And even though it would seem that, under current conditions, I should have more time to do things, I am not getting any more done around the house than I was before the virus hit, even though my reasons for not getting things done, do not include binge watching NetFlix. It just seems that between music, art and fitness ( we are still allowed to walk long distances and ride bikes on trails, and so far, I can get to my horse barn) I am pretty much doing the same as before. In the mean time, my two guest bedrooms keep wanting to be found.
Thank you for yet another great read. I just bought a new “Older” home and I know what you mean about the spurts of energy and then collapse. I have a lot of those. I am still working part time in the medical field, which is exhausting in itself, but very rewarding, so when I do get home I can at least dream of how I am going to move all my stuff around and which room it will go in. Have a perfectly awesome day.
How kind you too!
Dear Lady Carnarvon…
I desperately wish I could come help you, so I could leave MY own piles of books and many other projects behind! I too, have found myself feeling suspended with some days more productive than others. I am just trying to be easy on myself, going with the flow of how the day presents itself and how I am feeling. For the most part, I am productive, but on the days where my energy is flagging, I try to make phone calls to friends and family and find their voices lift me up and our conversations seem to provide a mutual calming spirit. They remind me that though this is a strange time, we are all still here and life will at some point, return to normal as it has when other calamities have come to us.
Unlike other wars, this is a war that requires us to do something we aren’t accustomed to…being still (save for the brave doctors and nurses, caregivers and those putting their lives on the line to keep us fed and cared for… those that have a higher calling and though they may wish it, can’t be still…
God Bless them all.) Nevertheless, for most of us the challenge is to be still and yet feel productive. Our harried and hurried lifestyle doesn’t allow for the stillness of reflection and time to learn new things. We want tangible, instant results for our efforts! However, sometimes things aren’t possible and we must accept the situation for what it is…quieter than normal. But how many times in our hurried lives do we actually wish we had more time to do “this or that?” While we may not be able to pick paint or wallpaper at the moment, there are other things we can do to move our individual trains down the track. That’s my daily challenge and so far, so good… never mind my couch potato status yesterday (the only day so far where I just couldn’t muster anything but a little tv and reading a book…except for foraging in the kitchen!)
I’m trying to use my days in a way that will allow me to look back at this unusual and sometimes fretful time, to see where progress was made. I’m just going to have to recognize that progress may take many forms and may not all be visible, but may occur in a little rearrangement of the clutter in my mind. I’m hoping that some clearing of mental rooms will be just as, if not more productive, than not tripping over my actual books.
So, thank you for keeping us connected and helping us all remember that the beauty in life, in all it’s fullness, will come around again…and that progress in whatever form it takes, is still progress.
Until then, have courage, be well and be safe.
Thank you so much
This is the first post I have read. I very much enjoyed your post. Am reading your book as well. Keep up the good work–we all benefit. Creative activity seems to bring it’s own reward, and a sense of peace.
Your blog is always so enlightening and entertaining. I loved both Aesop & Beatrice Potter as a youth. In fact, as a senior citizen in Upstate New York, I have both on my kindle from which they continue to give me muse. I enjoyed sharing such from you today. Reminds me of the saying “if you snooze you lose”. Stay on top of what’s happening. Re: decor – every room in our home has give aways from other family members. I love the museum of memories and history.
Lady Carnarvon, thank you so much for this post. How much fun it would be to give each of those rooms on the third floor a separate personality and decorate them individually with interesting themes. How many rooms are there and is the third floor all bedrooms? What a great project for these “stat at home” times.
God bless you all and keep you safe!
I was just up there locking up – sometimes I do feel overwhelmed but it is just this time..
No, Thank you It’s Monday and I can count on you to help me get to next Monday. Take good care
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I have visited Highclere Castle in Septembre 1st. 2016. Since then, you kindly keep sending me your nice blogs that I keep since the first one. That day, at Highclere Castle, was magic. Me and my wife were “suddenly”, coming from Lisbon, at Dowton Abbey saga real scenery that we admire very much. I say “magic” because Highclere Castle saloons are so beautiful and the landscape, the big trees, the shadows, gave to us a sensation of great peace, that we keep in our minds until today.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, to remember that marvellous day, I have prepare a tribute to you, that you will receive at the end of this drama that the world is leaving. By the way, try keep save of corona virus.
My best wishes
Eduardo Santisso Gonçalves
Thank you so much – there is peace here isn’t there ? I have just recorded a little video mod stillness for my instagram post this evening. (@highclere_castle)
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I have been cleaning my library for one week… not that it is very big… it is because I have to read a bit before deciding to whom I give some books, which ones I keep to myself and which one I start re-reading on the spot! It is as bad as going through old photo albums…
Thank you for your nice stories!
I hoovered one room in the castle this evening!!
Lady Carnarvon, I was especially intrigued by the photo of the room Surrey and what the finished project may look like. Please post as you progress. The steps are as interesting as the finish! (I’m also interested in Geordie’s response when you casually remark the room may need a new rug;)
May you and yours stay well.
Yes – I thought he might venture that way … the wallpaper is not exactly inexpensive!! I thought I might try to promote one of my books to hasten the wallpaper!!!
Did you live here as a child? All your life?
My husband has been here or around here for ages!Perhaps I had better edit that or he might feel I have made him old
Dear Lady Carnarvon & Our Monday Family,
I have looked forward to your blog more now than ever. It is an encouragement to know we could at least count on hearing from you and enjoying your wit and wisdom.
I am in the category of “at risk seniors”, so I have not even stuck my head outside. I find that ,while there are many things I could or should be doing, I find it difficult to focus on any project. Has anyone else experienced this? My mind jumps from one thought to another. My tasks are often interrupted when I find some old photos or a book or a million things that were set aside for one reason or another. I’m like a dog going for a stroll, and it is suddenly interrupted when he sees a squirrel bounding up in a tree….SQUIRREL!!! Shame on me, so easily distracted. Then you reminded me of the Tortoise…slow and steady wins the race. Thank you! I am not a failure…just slow and steady! At least steady-ish!!!
It is so easy to jump from one thong to another – today I have worked through much admin/computer detail. I this not been much fun and I should make more lists!
On this rainy Southern California Monday, I am excited to read something other than what the news is broadcasting. Looking back to my visit to your home last summer brings me comfort. What has been will be again. I heard a quote by Winston Churchill the other day: “Fear is a reaction, courage is a choice.” Have a restful day!
That is a great quote
GREAT Churchill quote! (Just scribbled that one down!)
Yes he was great too
You are uniquely gifted for this time and for certain assignments, so you may be blessedly relieved of all of the others, for which there is not enough time or energy. I am a poor delegator of duties, and so I take too many things upon myself. I do love the planning and the undertaking of a beautiful project, but I am often stymied by the plethora of books, which I encounter at every turn! Who knew that, what I loved so well, could become an obstacle to living well. So, thank you! I am marching up to remove at least a box or two of books from the shelves. It’s time to share the joy with someone else!
Dear Lady Carnarvon!
What a great way to look at things through La Fontaine! The illustration is such a great play with both, perseverance and slow, but steady. Lovers’ night rendezvous? Is that a full Moon? Intriguing.
Thank you for your Monday writings full of ideas and great thoughts; here is an ancient Bohemian proverb which,I think , goes well with La Fontaine fable: ” Hurry up slowly!”
I like that saying !
“One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Always beautiful words and beautiful pictures that delight and lift one’s spirit.
Wanda, Northern Virginia
[and I notice that the copyright is updated 🙂 ]
I think if we could all exchange houses to do a light clean up or declutter, we’d be working like the Hare beginning his race. For some reason, it seems easier to help someone else to clean or pick up. That’s why I so often find myself volunteering to declutter my daughter’s home (with 3 young kids) while mine sits here with more and more things gathered into “resting places” as this Hare wanders around nowadays to just sit, pray, and ponder, wishing for more normalcy and comfort. I do think this situation is keeping some of us older ones quite overwhelmed, distracted, and “off our game”. My creativity seems to have waned for now but maybe perk up as we all see more light at the end of the tunnel.
Wishing everyone a blessed Easter Week and Resurrection Day of our Lord Jesus. I’m sure hoping to soon witness and celebrate New Life springing up around us all over the world.
Thank you always for the joy and beauty of your Blog!
I enjoyed watching your first installment on Viking TV. During this crisis it’s so comforting to read about and watch you talk about Highclere. For those who haven’t visited your home, seeing you in the library brings back fond memories of the Downton Abbey series and movie. As with the hare and the tortoise tale, stories with a lesson are passed down from generation to generation. My favorite is The Three Little Pigs. I use this story as an example to build a life with strong faith or foundations to withstand challenges like we are experiencing today. Thank you for your uplifting posts and now TV installments with my favorite cruise line!
Thank you! My favourite too
What a thoughtful post using that wonderful well-known tale as the premise. I saw many of my family members as the tortoise, or the hare, or sometimes they are both of them! I completed a large task this morning as if I needed to sprint through it (much like the hare) albeit I didn’t stop until it was completed.
And now I’m inspired to tackle a project that has been needing my attention: MY DESK! I think I’ll be the hare with this one.
It’s nice to know I am not the only one who plods along like a tortoise. I like to be a perfectionist, consequently it takes me a long time to get things right!
I am not a perfectionist at the moment!!!
Dear Lady, I like the contrast between that grand, old, enormous bookcase with carvings and pediments and dentils and the smaller blue one with adjustable shelves. I am moving books, shelves, looms and chairs today. My house has 8 rooms, which makes it a bit simpler.
I adore the care, attention to detail and history, and grace from which you handle your home.
Motivated or paused, it’s lovely. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for another wonderful Monday Letter. My House Rehab continues; this phase is almost done. I do understand the need to pause after each specific task. It’s time to unpack some boxes, sort, repack, and dispose of some items. I tell people that after all the disasters I don’t have much left and I get the side-eye. Personally, 250-300 rooms are a lifetime project in my experience. After all, leaving something for the next generation is the mark of ongoing family contribution to history. I’ve often smiled at the story I heard that the roof was left for your husband to sort out.
I support you 100% in promoting a product to buy wallpaper or a rug for a room. When I was 8 years old my mother schooled me in my personal accounting. I wanted a piano and had to sell an animal from my herd for that purchase.
Time for me to check on phone calls; take care in this time of pandemic.
How I loved this blog-post! Perry and I are desperately missing our grandchildren and cleaning out 40 years of “dreck” while self-isolating (Perry literally used a shovel and a hoe at one point). Your thoughtful slant on the current crisis is a true comfort. Thank you for sharing with all of us.
Wow thank you I am envisioning the hoe!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My recollection of the “moral” from Aesop’s famous fable was that ‘slow and steady wins the race’.
If you take your time and persevere, then you will succeed in what you are doing.
Jean de La Fontaine’s Fables convey a similar message, although as you have written, in that work, the hare conveys an air of total disdain for the race with the tortoise, as illustrated by the verse:
“It seemed such a one-sided race,
To win was almost a disgrace.”
Then there is the less well-known version of “The Tortoise & the Hare” by Roald Dahl, where the Tortoise engages a Rat, who is brilliant engineer but a corrupt businessman, to build him a motor car to be concealed in his shell. After the Rat takes the job (and the Tortoises’s money) he calls the Hare and asks him how much he would pay to know of an evil plot against him. The hare then agrees for the Rat to dump spiky nails across the track, which the Rat does.
The race begins and the Tortoise is way ahead. However, just as he thinks he’s going to win, he drives over the nails and all four tyres of his car go flat. The Hare is thrilled until he too steps on the spiky nails. The Hare and the Tortoise both agree to call the race a draw. Meanwhile, the Ratgoes home and counts all his pay.
The moral is explicitly set out (in no uncertain terms)within the poem itself, as follows:
“So just remember if you can,
Don’t tangle with a business man.
It doesn’t matter who you choose,
They always win, we always lose.
If you were here and I was there,
If you were Tortoise, I was Hare,
We’d both get diddled in the end
By people like our Ratty friend.”
And dear Lady Carnarvon, I think you may be more like a bee than a tortoise or hare, because your home is always a “hive of activity”. Good luck with it all.
Finally, thank you for posting all those beautiful photos, from the beautifully illustrated book of La Fonataine’s Fables to the rooms of Highclere’s third floor, thereby giving your readers a visual insight of rooms not seen on the “tour”.
Regards & best wishes,
Hello Lady Carnarvon,
I enjoy all of your posts but this one reminded me of every story or chore my mom ever gave me. In most stories I remember from my youth they always had a line at the end that said “the moral of the story is”, and as you said we learned social behavior and basic manners from these tales. My parents also used every chore or errand as an opportunity to teach a life lesson. These imparted knowledge which we call common sense, and we could use more of it these days. Thank you for that sweet journey to my childhood. God Bless you all and keep you safe.
I don’t think ipads compare!!!
I certainly agree, there are no substitutes for lessons taught with love and purpose. Ipads and computers can’t teach compassion and respect for others and ourselves!
I always enjoy reading your timely posts. The pictures of Highclere give a sense of peace and harmony with nature, something we lack in life today.Thank you for taking the time to do this each week.
I would love to read a post about what it is like for you to be in any of the rooms — seated on the 3rd floor amidst books to sort, for example — by yourself, in the quiet. What thoughts come to mind? How does it feel? With all the history there, I imagine the house could speak volumes.
…” La memoria es el espejos donde vemos a los ausentes”. Jacinto Benavente (12/08/1866 – 14/07/1954) 88 años Madrid España.-.–Gracias.-
Thank you for a thoughtful post and a happy Easter to you this week.
Wonderful reading! Thank you. I have romanced, that I would have been good (very) in the French Resistance! Yep! And here I stand in a new world! Not quite with the limitations of old! May the lockdown last forever! Holy week blessings to you and your family.
Lady Carnarvon, I wish you and your family a very happy and blessed Easter. I send you my heartfelt best wishes at this special time of year.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I have always loved this story.
I prefer the tortoise, taking things slow, to me more appreciative.
Geordie sounds like my husband once was.
Thank you for bringing this story back to light.
Love old books and fables! Thanks for the reminder of what it means to have to think about the moral of the story. Love Linda Thompson’s comments since she is close to us in San Francisco. My 92 year old Mom is there also and I miss getting in the car to go and spend time with her – I’ll never complain about the traffic again! Love seeing the in progress as well as finished pictures on the rooms – can’t imagine you would ever get to all those rooms! I think I will name our few rooms in the house to give it more character. We are painting rooms currently while we are shut in – and my tiny bathroom is finally getting finishing touches – I may even be able to use the shower soon – HA! Take care and hope you have lots of Highclere Gin to get through this pandemic – our wineries are closed but there is no shortage of wine to drink EVER here in Napa Valley…
Love the history of the fables and the beautiful illustrations. In this time of waiting and living something we have never lived before; it is good to know that we are also learning new things. I am sure your rooms will look great and the wallpaper lovely!