In a test a Cat was turned into a young maiden. She found a young man and were to be wed. At the wedding Venus released a Mouse and the maiden chased it.
Nature exceeds nurture.
[The Eliot/Jacobs version of this fable is similar enough to be included here.]
The gods were once disputing whether it was possible for a living being to change its nature. Jupiter said “Yes,” but Venus said “No.” So, to try the question, Jupiter turned a Cat into a Maiden, and gave her to a young man for a wife. The wedding was duly performed and the young couple sat down to the wedding-feast. “See,” said Jupiter, to Venus, “how becomingly she behaves. Who could tell that yesterday she was but a Cat? Surely her nature is changed?”
“Wait a minute,” replied Venus, and let loose a mouse into the room. No sooner did the bride see this than she jumped up from her seat and tried to pounce upon the mouse. “Ah, you see,” said Venus, “Nature will out.”
A Young Man became so fond of his Cat, that he made her his constant companion, and used to declare that if she were a woman he would marry her. Venus at length, seeing how sincere was his affection, gratified his wishes, and changed the Cat into a young and blooming woman. They were accordingly married; but at night, hearing a Mouse in the room, the young bride sprang from the arms of her husband, caught the Mouse, and killed it. Venus, angry at this behaviour, and seeing that under the form of a Woman there was still hidden the nature of a Cat, determined that form and nature should no longer disagree, and changed her back again to a Cat.
Samuel Croxall (The Young Man and his Cat)
A CERTAIN young Man used to play with a Cat; of which he grew so fond, that at last he fell in love with it, and to such a degree, that he could rest neither night nor day for the excess of his passion. At last he prayed to Venus, the goddess of beauty, to pity him, and relieve his pain. The good-natured goddess was propitious, and heard his prayers; before he rose up from kneeling, the Cat, which he held in his arms, was transformed into a beautiful girl. The youth was transported with joy, and married her that very day. At night they went to bed, and as the new bride lay encircled in the embraces of her amorous husband, she unfortunately heard a mouse behind the hangings, and sprung from his arms to pursue it. Venus, offended to see her sacred rites profaned by such an indecent behaviour; and perceiving that her new convert, though a woman in outward appearance, was a Cat in her heart, she made her return to her old form again, that her manners and person might be agreeable to each other.
People, as to their manners and behaviour, take a strong bias from custom and education, but a much stronger from nature. Her laws are so strong, that it is in vain for us to go to oppose them: we may refine and improve, but can never totally alter her works.
Upon this account it is, that we oftentimes see silly, awkward blockheads displaying their idiotism and folly through all their ensigns of dignity; for some natures are so coarse and rustic, that all the embroidery of a court cannot conceal them. Doubtless such people were intended by nature for nothing above driving hogs to a fair, and laughing at the jokes of a country merry andrew [clown]. Fortune has found them worthy of her favours, and given them a lift out of the mire: but they do not fail to give frequent indications of their true composition, by a thousand little dirty actions. A fine equipage and a great estate may raise a man to an exalted station, and procure a respect to his outward person; notwithstanding which, it may so happen, that every time he speaks and acts, he cannot help playing the fool for the blood of him.
A cat fell in love with a handsome young man, and entreated Venus to change her into the form of a woman. Venus consented to her request and transformed her into a beautiful damsel, so that the youth saw her and loved her, and took her home as his bride. While the two were reclining in their chamber, Venus wishing to discover if the Cat in her change of shape had also altered her habits of life, let down a mouse in the middle of the room. The Cat, quite forgetting her present condition, started up from the couch and pursued the mouse, wishing to eat it. Venus was much disappointed and again caused her to return to her former shape.
Nature exceeds nurture.
Thomas Bewick (The Young Man and His Cat)
A certain Young Man used to play with a beautiful Cat, of which he grew so fond, that at last he fell in love with it to such a degree, that he could rest neither night nor day for the excess of his passion. In this condition he prayed to Venus, the goddess of beauty, to pity and relieve his pain. The good-natured goddess was propitious, and heard his prayers; and the Cat, which he held in his arms, was instantly transformed into a beautiful Young Woman. The Youth was transported with joy, and married her that very day. At night, while they were in bed, the bride unfortunately heard a mouse behind the hangings, and sprang from the arms of her lover to pursue it: the Youth was ashamed, and Venus offended, to see her sacred rites thus profaned by such unbecoming behaviour; and perceiving that her new convert, though a woman in outward appearance, was a Cat in her heart, she caused her to return to her old form again, that her manners and person might be suitable to each other.
This Fable, however extravagant and unnatural in its composition, is intended to depicture and check the blind instinctive ardour of the passion of love, the transports of which cover all imperfections, so that its devotees consider neither quality nor merit. It is like an idol of our own creating, which we fashion into whatever figure or shape we please, and then run mad for it. The Fable also shews that
"No charm can raise from dirt a grov'ling mind;"
And that people of a low turn of spirit and mean education, cannot change their principles by changing their situation: for in the midst of splendour and magnificence, they still retain the same narrow sentiments, and seldom fail to betray, by some dirty action, their original baseness, which no embroidery can conceal; and though fortune has been pleased to lift them out of the mire, we still see the silly awkward blockheads displaying their lack of mind and education through all their ensigns of dignity. If any thing more need be added, it can only be with a view of more plainly putting inexperienced youth on their guard against making inconsiderate connections, lest they take a Cat into their bosom, instead of an amiable consort and companion for life.
A young fellow that was passionately in love with a cat made it his humble suit to Venus to turn puss into a woman. The transformation was wrought in the twinkling of an eye, and out she comes, a very bucksome lass. The doting sot took her home to his bed; and bad fair for a litter of kittens by her that night: but as the loving couple lay snugging together, a toy took Venus in the head, to try if the cat had chang’d her manners with her shape; and so for experiment, turn’d a mouse loose into the chamber. The cat, upon this temptation, started out of the bed, and without any regard to the marriage-joys, made a leap at the mouse, which Venus took for so high an affront, that she turned the madam into a puss again.
The extravagant transports of lore, and the wonderful force of nature, are unaccountable; the one carries us out of our selves, and the other brings us back again.
Feles et Venus
Feles quaedam delicium erat formosi cuiusdam adolescentis, Veneremque oravit ut in feminam mutaret. Dea, miserta cupiditatis adolescentuli, convertit felem in puellam. Quam, cum longe speciosa esset, amator domum abduxit. Venus, experiri cupiens si, mutata facie, mutasset et mores, in medium constituit murem. Quem cum illa aspexit, oblita formae, murem ut caperet persecuta est. Qua super re indignata, Venus denuo eam in priorem felis formam mutavit.
Fabula innuit quod homo nequam, licet personam mutet, mores tamen retinet eosdem.