Aesop had to prepare a quick meal but needed a candle on a hot day. For that he was hassled but shook it off.
Don’t try to disparage someone on a mission.
AESOP’S master came home, one day, somewhat earlier than usual; and, there happening to be no other slave in the house but Aesop, he was ordered to get supper ready as fast as he could. So away he runs to light a candle, in order to kindle his fire; and the weather being warm, and it wanting a pretty deal of night, he went up and down to several houses, before he could speed. At last, however, he found what he wanted; and, being in haste, he made no scruple of returning directly over the market-place, which was his nearest way home. But as he went along, an impertinent fellow among the crowd caught him by the sleeve, and would fain have been arch upon him. O rare Aesop! says he, what occasion for a candle, old boy? what, are you going to light the sun to bed? Let me alone, says Aesop, I am looking for a man. And having said this, away he scuttled home as fast as he could.
It is not every one who calls himself a man, or bears the appearance of one, that truly deserves the name. If man be a reasonable creature, and none ought to be allowed for such, but those who fully come up to that definition, it is certain one would have occasion for more light than that of the sun, to find them out by. And it is plain that our old philosopher did not take the impertinent fellow in the fable for one: nor, indeed, should such be looked upon as reasonable creatures, who, with empty nonsense, which they call wit, unseasonably interrupt men of thought aud business. When one is disposed to be merry, one may bear with any shallow, flashy buffoonery; as music that is not the most elegant will keep up the spirits when once they are raised: but when the mind happens to be in a serious cast, and is wholly intent upon any matter of importance, nothing is so offensive as a fool or a fiddle.
Aesop having occasion to go out to seek a light to kindle his fire, went from house to house for some time before he could succeed; but having at last got what he wanted, he posted back in haste with his lighted candle in his hand. An impudent Fellow, leaving his companions, caught hold of Aesop by the sleeve, and would fain have shewn off his wit, and been arch upon him. Hey day! oh, rare Aesop! says he, what occasion for a candle, old boy! what, are you going to light the sun to bed? Let me alone, says Aesop, for with it I am looking for an honest man.
It is plain that our old philosopher in the Fable did not take the impertinent fellow for an honest man, and lie gave him to understand that it required a good light to find out one who fully came up to that character; and he might have added, that the world very much abounded with ignorant and impudent ones, who, with their empty nonsense, which they call wit, often unseasonably interrupt men of thought and business: for to those whose minds are wholly intent upon matters of importance, nothing is so offensive as the intrusion of a fool. Men of eminent parts and great natural abilities, make their appearance in the world only now and then. These qualifications are the gift of Providence, and seem to be intended to throw fresh lights on the understandings of mankind; but in all the gradations from these downwards, it is in the power of every one to improve their manners, and integrity is within the reach of those of the meanest capacity, if they will endeavour to amend their lives, and take it for their guide.