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Full text of "Fables of La Fontaine"




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THE WOLF AND THE STORK. 



FABLES OF LA FONTAINE. 



WITH ILL USTBATI0N8 






FROM DESIGNS BY 



J. J. GRAiTDVILLE. 



fcySife 




TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH 



By ELIZTTR WEIGHT, ja, 



£ pyri 



NEW YORK : 

JAMES MILLER, PUBLISHER, 

779 Broadway. 



TQ i?" 
EsVYt 

|871 



Copyright, 

1879, 

By James Miller. 



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PREFACE 



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•g |MM@@| UMAN nature, when fresh from the 



9 
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I© <3 

I©® 89 



©^ hand of God, was full of poetry. Its 
sociality could not be pent within 
the bounds of the actual. To the 
lower inhabitants of air, earth, and 
^j|j water, — and even to those elements 
m@m® m®m®. themselves, in all their parts and 
forms, — it gave speech and reason. The skies it peopled 
with beings, on the noblest model of which it could have 
any conception — to wit, its own. The intercourse of these 
beings, thus created and endowed, — from the deity kindled 
into immortality by the imagination, to the clod personified 
for the moment, — gratified one of its strongest propensities ; 
for man may well enough be defined as the historical ani- 
mal. The faculty which, in after ages, was to chronicle 



ii FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. 

the realities developed by time, had at first no employment 
out to place on record the productions of the imagination. 
Hence, fable blossomed and ripened in the remotest an- 
tiquity. We see it mingling itself with the primeval history 
of all nations. It is not improbable that many of the 
narratives which have been preserved for us, by the bark 
or parchment of the first rude histories, as serious matten. 
of fact, were originally apologues, or parables, invented to 
give power and wings to moral lessons, and afterwards 
modified, in their passage from mouth to mouth, by the 
well-known magic of credulity. The most ancient poets 
graced their productions with apologues. Hesiod's fable 
of the Hawk and the Nightingale is an instance. The 
fable or parable was anciently, as it is even now, a favorite 
weapon of the most successful orators. When Jotham 
would show the Shechemites the folly of their ingratitude, 
he uttered the fable of the Fig-Tree, the Olive, the Vine, 
and the Bramble. When the prophet Nathan would 
oblige David to pass a sentence of condemnation upon 
himself in the matter of Uriah, he brought before him 
the apologue of the rich man who, having many sheep, 
took away that of the poor man who had but one. When 
Joash, the king of Israel, would rebuke the vanity of 
Amaziah, the king of Judah, he referred him to the fable 
of the Thistle and the Cedar. Our blessed Savior, the 
best of all teachers, was remarkable for his constant use 
of parables, which are but fables — we speak it with reve- 
rence — adapted to the gravity of the subjects on which 
ne discoursed. And, in profane history, we read that 
Stesichorus put the Himerians on their guard against the 
yranny of Phalaris by the fable of the Horse and the 
Stair- Cyrus, for the instruction of kings, told the story 



FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. iii 

af the fisher obliged to use his nets to take the fish that 
turned a deaf ear to the sound of his flute. Menenius 
Agrippa, wishing to bring back the mutinous Roman peo- 
ple from Mount Sacer, ended his harangue with the fable 
of the Belly and the Members. A Ligurian, in order to 
dissuade King Comanus from yielding to the Phocians a 
portion of his territory as the site of Marseilles, introduced 
into his discourse the story of the bitch that borrowed 
a kennel in which to bring forth her young, but, when 
they were sufficiently grown, refused to give it up. 

In all these instances, we see that fable was a mere 
auxiliary of discourse — an implement of the orator. Such, 
probably, was the origin of the apologues which now form 
the bulk of the most popular collections. iEsop, who lived 
about six hundred years before Christ, so far as we can 
reach the reality of his life, was an orator who wielded 
the apologue with remarkable skill. From a servile condi- 
tion, he rose, by the force of his genius, to be the counsellor 
of kings and states. His wisdom was in demand far and 
wide, and on the most important occasions. The pithy 
apologues which fell from his lips, which, like the rules 
of arithmetic, solved the difficult problems of human con- 
duct constantly presented to him, were remembered when 
the speeches that contained them were forgotten. He 
seems to have written nothing himself; but it was not 
long before the gems which he scattered began to be 
gathered up in collections, as a distinct species of literature. 
The great and good Socrates employed himself, while in 
prison, in turning the fables of iEsop into verse. Though 
but a few fragments of his composition have come down 
to us, he may, perhaps, be regarded as the father of fable, 
considered as a distinct art. Induced by his example. 



iv FABLE AND THE FABULISTS 

many Greek poets and philosonhers tried their hands in it. 
Archilocus, Alcaeus, Aristotle, Plato, Diodorus, Plutarch, 
and Lucian, have left us specimens. Collections of fables 
bearing the name of iEsop became current in the Greek 
language. It was not, however, till the year 1447, that 
the large collection which now bears his name was put 
forth in Greek prose by Planudes, a monk of Constantino- 
ple. This man turned the life of iEsop itself into a fable ; 
and La Fontaine did it the honor to translate it as a preface 
to his own collection. Though burdened with insufferable 
puerilities, it is not without the moral that a rude and 
deformed exterior may conceal both wit and worth. 

The collection of fables in Greek verse by Babrias 
was exceedingly popular among the Romans. Jt was the 
favorite book of the Emperor Julian. Only six of these 
fables, and a few fragments, remain ; but they are sufficient 
to show that their author possessed all the graces of style 
which befit the apologue. Some critics place him in the 
Augustan age ; others make him contemporary with Mos- 
chus. His work was versified in Latin, at the instance 
of Seneca ; and Quinctilian refers to it as a reading-book 
for boys. Thus, at all times, these playful fictions have 
been considered fit lessons for children, as well as for men, 
who are often but grown-up children. So popular were 
the fables of Babrias and their Latin translation, during 
the Roman empire, that the work of Phaedrus was hardly 
noticed. The latter was a freedman of Augustus, and wrote 
in the reign of Tiberius. His verse stands almost unrivalled 
for its exquisite elegance and compactness ; and posterity 
has abundantly avenged him for the neglect of contempo- 
raries. La Fontaine is perhaps more indebted to Phaedrus 
than to any other of his predecessors ; and, especially in 



FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. V 

the first six books, his style has much of the same curious 
condensation. When the seat of the empire was transferred 
to Byzantium, the Greek language took precedence of the 
Latin ; and the rhetorician Aphtonius wrote forty fables in 
Greek prose, which became popular. Besides these col- 
lections among the Romans, we find apologues scattered 
through the writings of their best poets and historians, and 
embalmed in those specimens of their oratory which have 
eome down to us. 

The apologues of the Greeks and Romans were brief, 
pithy, and epigrammatic, and their collections were without 
any principle of connection. But, at the same time, 
though probably unknown to them, the same species of 
literature was flourishing elsewhere under a somewhat dif- 
ferent form. It is made a question, whether iEsop, through 
the Assyrians, with whom the Phrygians had commercial 
relations, did not either borrow his art from the Orientals, 
or lend it to them. This disputed subject must be left to 
those who have a taste for such inquiries. Certain it is, 
however, that fable flourished very anciently with the peo- 
ple whose faith embraces the doctrine of metempsychosis. 
Among the Hindoos, there are two very ancient collections 
of fables, which differ from those which we have already 
mentioned, in having a principle of connection throughout. 
They are, in fact, extended romances, or dramas, in which 
all sorts of creatures are introduced as actors, and in which 
there is a development of sentiment and passion as well 
as of moral truth, the whole being wrought into a system 
of morals particularly adapted to the use of those called 
to govern. One of these works is called the Pontcha 
Tantra, which signifies " Five Books," or Pentateuch. It 
is written in prose. The other is called the Hitopathsa, 



vi FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. 

or " Friendly Instruction," and is written in verse. Both 
are in the ancient Sanscrit language, and bear the name 
of a Brarain, Vishnoo Sarmah, as the author. Sir William 
Jones, who is inclined to make this author the true iEsop 
of the world, and to doubt the existence of the Phrygian, 
gives him the preference to all other fabulists, both in 
regard to matter and manner. He has left a prose trans- 
lation of the Hitopadesa, which, though it may not fully 
sustain his enthusiastic preference, shows it not to be entire- 
ly groundless. We give a sample of it, and select a fable 
which La Fontaine has served up as the twenty-seventh 
of his eighth book. It should be understood that the fable, 
with the moral reflections which accompany it, is taken 
from the speech of one animal to another. 

" Frugality should ever be practised, but not excessive parsi- 
mony ; for see how a miser was killed by a bow drawn by 
himself!" 

" How was that ? " said Hiranyaca. 

"In the country of Calyanacataca," said Menthara, "lived a 
mighty hunter, named Bhairaza, or Terrible. One day he went, 
in search of game, into a forest on the mountains Vindhya ; when, 
having slain a fawn, and taken it up, he perceived a boar of 
tremendous size ; ho therefore threw the fawn on the ground, 
and wounded the boar with an arrow; the beast, horribly roaring, 
rushed upon him, and wounded him desperately, so that he fell, 
like a tree stricken with an axe. 

"In the mean while, a jackal, named Lougery, was roving in 
search of food; and, having perceived the fawn, the hunter, and 
the boar, all three dead, he said to himself, < What a noble pro- 
vision is here made for me!' 

"As the pains of men assail them unexpectedly, so their 
pleasures come in the same manner; a divine power strongly 
operates in both. 



FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. vii 

•"Be it so; the flesh of these three animals will sustain me 
a whole month, or longer. 

" ' A man suffices for one month ; a fawn and a boar, for two ; 
a snake, for a whole day; and then I will devour the bowstring.' 
When the first impulse of his hunger was allayed, he said, ' This 
flesh is not yet tender; let me taste the twisted string, with which 
the horns of this bow are joined.' So saying, he began to gnaw 
it; but, in the instant when he had cut the string, the severed bow 
leaped forcibly up, and wounded him in the breast, so that he 
departed in the agonies of death. This I meant, when I cited the 
verse, Frugality should ever be practised, &c." 

"What thou givest to distinguished men, and what thou eatest 
every day — that, in my opinion, is thine own wealth: whose is 
the remainder, which thou hoardest?" 

Works of Sir William Jones, Vol. VI., p. 36. 

It was one of these books which Chosroes, the king 
of Persia, caused to be translated from the Sanscrit into 
the ancient language of bis country, in the sixth century 
of the Christian era, sending an embassy into Hindostan 
expressly for that purpose. Of the Persian book a trans- 
lation was made, in the time of the Calif Mansour, in the 
eighth century, into Arabic. This Arabic translation it is 
which became famous under the title of " The Book of 
Calila and Dimna, or the Fables of Bidpa'i." Calila and 
Dimna are the names of two jackals that figure in the 
history, and Bidpa'i is one of the principal human interlocu- 
tors, who came to be mistaken for the author. This re- 
markable book was turned into verse by several of tlr 
Arabic poets, was translated into Greek, Hebrew, Latin, 
modern Persian, and, in the course of a few centuries, 
either directly or indirectly, into most of the languages of 
modern Europe. 



viii FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. 

Forty-one of the unadorned and disconnected fables 
of iEsop were also translated into Arabic at a period 
somewhat more recent than the Hegira, and passed by the 
name of the " Fables of Lokman." Their want of poet- 
ical ornament prevented them from acquiring much popu- 
larity with the Arabians ; but they became well known in 
Europe, as furnishing a convenient text-book in the study 
of Arabic. 

The Hitopadesa, the fountain of poetic fables, with its 
innumerable translations and modifications, seems to have 
had the greatest charms for the Orientals. As it passed 
down the stream of time, version after version, the orna- 
ment and machinery outgrew the moral instruction, till it 
gave birth, at last, to such works of mere amusement as 
the " Thousand and One lights." 

Fable slept, with other things, in the dark ages of 
Europe. Abridgments took the place of the large collec- 
tions, and probably occasioned the entire loss of some of 
them. As literature revived, fable was resuscitated. The 
crusades had brought European mind in contact with the 
Indian works which we have already described, in their 
Arabic dress. Translations and imitations in the European 
tongues were speedily multiplied. The " Romance of the 
Fox," the work of Perrot de Saint Cloud, one of the most 
successful of these imitations, dates back to the thirteenth 
century. It found its way into most of the northern lan- 
guages, and became a household book. It undoubtedly 
had great influence over the taste of succeeding ages, shed- 
ding upon the severe aud satirical wit of the Greek and 
Roman literature the rich, mellow light of Asiatic poetry. 
The poets of that age were not confined, however, to 
fables from the Hindoo scurce. Marie de France, also, 



FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. i x 

in the thirteenth century, versified one hundred of the fables 
of iEsop, translating from an English collection, which 
does not now appear to be extant. Her work is entitled 
the Ysopet, or " Little jEsop." Other versions, with the 
same title, were subsequently written. It was in 1447 that 
Planudes, already referred to, wrote in Greek prose a col- 
lection of fables, prefacing it with a life of iEsop, which, 
for a long time, passed for the veritable work of that 
ancient. In the next century, Abstemius wrote two hun- 
dred fables in Latin prose, partly of modern, but chiefly 
of ancient invention. At this time, the vulgar languages 
had undergone so great changes, that works in them of 
two or three centuries old could not be understood, and. 
consequently, the Latin became the favorite language of 
authors. Many collections of fables were written in it, 
both in prose and verse. By the art of printing, these 
works were greatly multiplied ; and again the poets under- 
took the task of translating them into the language of the 
people. The French led the way in this species of litera- 
ture, their language seeming to present some great advan- 
tages for it. One hundred years before La Fontaine, 
Corrozet, Guillaume Gueroult, and Philibeit Hegemon, had 
written beautiful fables in verse, which it is supposed La 
Fontaine must have read and profited by, although they 
had become nearly obsolete in his time. It is a remarkable 
fact, that these poetical fables should so soon have been 
forgotten. It was soon after their appearance that the 
languages of Europe attained their full development; and, 
at this epoch, prose seems to have been universally pre- 
ferred to poetry. So strong was this preference, that 
Ogilby, the Scotch fabulist, who had written a collection 
of fables in English verse, reduced them to prose on the 



X FABLE AND THE FABULISTS. 

occasion of publishing a more splendid edition in 1668. 
It seems to have been the settled opinion of the critics 
of that age, as it has, indeed, been stoutly maintained since, 
that the ornaments of poetry only impair the force of the 
fable — that the Muses, by becoming the handmaids of 
old iEsop, part with their own dignity without conferring 
any. on him. \La Fontaine has made such an opinion 
almost heretical. In his manner there is a perfect origi- 
nality, and an immortality every way equal to that of the 
matter which he gathered up from all parts of the great 
storehouse of human experience. His fables are like pure 
gold enveloped in solid rock-crystal. In English, a few 
of the fables of Gay, of Moore, and of Cowper, may be 
compared with them in some respects, but we have nothing 
resembling them as a whole. Gay, who has done more 
than any other, though he has displayed great power of 
invention, and has given his verse a flow worthy of his 
master, Pope, lias yet fallen far behind La Fontaine in 
the general management of his materials. His fables are 
all beautiful poems, but few of them are beautiful fables. 
His animal speakers do not sufficiently preserve their ani- 
mal characters. It is quite otherwise with La Fontaine. 
His beasts are made most nicely to observe all the pro- 
prieties not only of the scene in which they are called to 
speak, but of the great drama into which they are from 
time to time introduced. His work constitutes a harmo- 
nious whole. To those who read it in the original, it is 
one of the few which never cloy the appetite. As in the 
poetry of Burns, you are apt to think the last verse you 
read of him the best. V 







TO MONSEIGNEUR 



THE DAUPHIN 




sing the heroes of old iEsop's line. 
Whose tale, though false when 

strictly we define, 
Containeth truths it were not ill 

to teach. 



4 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

With me all natures use the gift of speech ; 
Yea, in my work, the very fishes preach, 
And to our human selves their sermons suit. 
' Fis thus to come at man I use the brute. 

Son of a Prince the favorite of the skies, 
On whom the world entire hath fixed its eyes, 
Who hence shall count his conquests by his days, 
And gather from the proudest lips his praise, 
A louder voice than mine must tell in song 
What virtues to thy kingly line belong. 
I seek thine ear to gain by lighter themes, 
Slight pictures, decked in magic nature's beams ; 
And if to please thee shall not be my pride, 
Til gain at least the praise of having tried. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



TO MADAM D£ MONTESPAN. 



The apologue is from the immortal gods ; 
Or, if the gift of man it is, 
Its author merits apotheosis. 

Whoever magic genius lauds 
Will do what in him lies 

To raise this art's inventor to the skies. 
It hath the potence of a charm, 
On dulness lays a conquering arm, 
Subjects the mind to its control, 
And works its will upon the soul. 
O lady, armed with equal power, 
If e'er, within celestial bower, 
With messmate gods reclined, 
My muse ambrosially hath dined, 
Lend me the favor of a smile 
On this her playful toil. 

If you support, the tooth of time will shun, 

And let my work the envious years outrun. 
If authors would themselves survive, 
To gain your suffrage they should strive, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

On you my verses wait to get their worth ; 
To you my beauties all will owe their birth, — 
For beauties you will recognize 
Invisible to other eyes. 
Ah ! who can boast a taste so true, 
Of beauty or of grace, 
In either thought or face ? 
I or words and looks are equal charms in you. 
Upon a theme so sweet, the truth to tell, 
My muse would gladly dwell : 
But this employ to others I must yield ; — 
A greater master claims the field. 
For me, fair lady, 'twere enough 
Your name should be my wall and roof. 
Protect henceforth the favored book 
Through which for second life I look. 
In your auspicious light, 
These lines, in envy's spite, 
Will gain the glorious meed, 
That all the world shall read. 
? Tis not that I deserve such fame ; — 
I only ask in Fable's name, 
(You know what credit that should claim ;) 
And, if successfully I sue, 
A fane will be to Fable due, — 
A thing I would not build — except for you. 



\ v 








U*^I31L^ I* a 13 81** 



THE ANIMALS SICK OF THE PLAGUE. 




he sorest ill that Heaven hath 
Sent on this lower world in wrath, — - 
The plague, (to call it by its name,) 
One single day of which 
Would Pluto's ferryman enrich, — 
Waged war on beasts, both wild and tame, 
SglStf They died not all, but all were sick; 
N^ No hunting now, by force or trick, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To save what might so soon expire. 

No food exeited their desire ; 

Nor wolf nor fox now wateiied to slay 

The innocent and tender prey. 
The turtles fled ; 

So love and therefore joy were dead. 

The lion council held, and said : 

My friends, I do believe 

This awful scourge, for which we grieve, 

Is for our sins a punishment 

Most righteously by Heaven sent. 

Let us our guiltiest beast resign, 

A sacrifice to wrath divine. 

Perhaps this offering, truly small, 

May gain the life and health of all. 

By history we find it noted 

That lives have been just so devoted. 

Then let us all turn eyes within, 

And ferret out the hidden sin. 

Himself let no one spare nor flattei , 

But make clean conscience in the matter. 
For me, my appetite has played the glutton 
- Too much and often upon mutton. 

What harm had e'er my victims done ? 
I answer, truly, None. 

Perhaps, sometimes, by hunger pressed, 

Pve eat the shepherd with the rest. 

I yield myself, if need there be ; 

And jet I think, in equity, 
Each should confess his sins with me ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For laws of right and justice cry, 
The guiltiest alone should die. 

Sire, said the fox, your majesty 
Is humbler than a king should be, 
And over-squeamish in the case. 

What ! eating stupid sheep a crime ? 

No, never, sire, at any time. 
It rather was an act of grace, 
A mark of honor to their race 
And as to shepherds, one may swear, 

The fate your majesty describes, 
Is recompense less full than fair 

For such usurpers o'er our tribes. 

Thus Renard glibly spoke, 
And loud applause from flatterers broke. 
Of neither tiger, boar, nor bear, 
Did any keen inquirer dare 
To ask for crimes of high degree ; 

The fighters, biters, scratchers, all 
From every mortal sin were free ; 

The very dogs, both great and small, 
Were saints, as far as dogs could be. 

The ass, confessing in his turn, 
Thus spoke in tones of deep concern : — 
I happened through a mead to pass ; 
The monks, its owners, were at mass ; 
Keen hunger, leisure, tender grass, 
And add to these the devil too, 
All tempted me the deed to do. 



10 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



I browsed -the bigness of my tongue; 
Since truth must out, I own it wrong. 
On this, a hue and cry arose, 
As if the beasts were all his foes : 
A wolf, haranguing lawyer-wise, 
Denounced the ass for sacrifice — 
The bald-pate, scabby, ragged lout, 
By whom the plague had come, no doubt. 
His fault was judged a hanging crime. 

What ! eat another's grass ? O shame ! 
The noose of rope and death sublime, 

For that offence, were all too tame ! 

And soon poor Grizzle felt the same. 

Thus human courts acquit the strong, 
And doom the weak, as therefore wrong. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. n 



THE ILL-MARRIED. 

If worth and beauty always wedded were, 

To-rnorrow I would seek a wife ; 
But since divorce has* come between the pair, 
Fair forms not being homes of souls as fair, 
Excuse my choice of single life. 

Of married folks a multitude 

I've seen, but still have never rued 

Or longed to quit my solitude. 

Yet of our race almost four quarters 

Brave Hymen's torch — intrepid martyrs. 

Four quarters, also, soon repent — 

Too late, however, to recant. 

My tale makes one of these poor fellows, 
Who sought relief from marriage vows, 
Send back again his tedious spouse, 

Contentious, covetous, and jealous. 
With nothing pleased or satisfied, 
This restless, comfort-killing bride 
Some fault in every one descried. 
Her good man went to bed too soon, 



12 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Or lay in bed till almost noon. 
Too cold, too hot, — too black, too white, 
Were on her tongue from morn till night. 
The servants mad and madder grew ; 
The husband knew not what to do. 
'Twas, Dear, you never think or care ; 
And, Dear, that price we cannot bear ; 
And, Dear, you never stay at home ; 
And, Dear, I wish you would just come ; — 
Till, finally, such ceaseless dearing 
Upon her husband's patience wearing, 
Back to her sire's he sent his wife, 
To taste the sweets of country life : 
To dance at will the country jigs, 
And feed the turkeys, geese, and pigs. 
In course of time, he hoped his bride 
Might have her temper mollified ; 
Which hope he duly put to test. 

His wife recalled, said he, 
How went with you your rural rest, 

From vexing cares and fashions free ? 
Its peace and quiet did you gain, — 
Its innocence without a stain ? 

Enough of all, said she ; but then, 

To see those idle, worthless men 
Neglect the flocks, it gave me pain. 
I told them, plainly, what 1 thought, 
And thus their hatred quickly bought ; 
For which I do not care — not J . 
Ah, madam, did her spouse reply, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 13 

If still jour temper 's so morose, 
And tongue so virulent, that those 
Who only see you morn and night 
Are quite grown weary of the sight, 
What, then, must be your servants' case, 
Who needs must see you, face to face, 

. Throughout the day ? 
And what must be the harder lot 
Of him, I pray, 

Whose days and nights 
With you must be by marriage rights ? 
Return you to your father's cot. 

If I recall you in my life, 

Or even wish for such a wife, 
Let Heaven, in my hereafter, send 
Two such, to tease me, without end ! 





THE RAT RETIRED FROM THE WORLD. 

The sage Levantines have a tale 

About a rat that weary grew 
Of all the cares which life assail, 

And to a Holland cheese withdrew. 
His solitude was there profound, 
Extending through his world so round. 
Our hermit lived on that within ; 
And soon his industry had been 
With claws and teeth so good, 
That, in his novel hermitage, 
He had in store, for wants of age, 
i3oth house and livelihood. 
What more could any rat desire ? 
He grew fair, fat, and round. 
God's blessings thus redound 
To those who in His vows retire. 
One day this personage devout, 
Whose kindness none might doubt, 
Was asked, by certain delegates 
That came from Rat-United-States, 



I 




THE RAT RETIRED PROM THE WORLD. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. ^ 15 

For some small aid, for they 
To foreign parts were on their way, 
For succor in the great cat-war. 
Ratopolis beleaguered sore, 

Their whole republic drained and poor, 
No morsel in their scrips they bore. 

Slight boon they craved, of succor sure 
In days at utmost three or four. 
My friends, the hermit said, 
To worldly things I'm dead. 
How can a poor recluse 
To such a mission be of use ? 
What can he do but pray 
That God will aid it on its way ? 
And so, my friends, it is my prayer 
That God will have you in his care. 
His well-fed saintship said no more, 
But in their faces shut the door. 
What think you, reader, is the service 

For which 1 use this niggard rat ? 
To paint a monk ? No, but a dervise. 

A monk, I think, however fat, 

Must be more bountiful than that. 




H 



THE HERON. 



One day, — no matter when or where,— 
A long-legged heron chanced to fare 

By a certain river's brink, 

With his long, sharp beak 

Helved on his slender neck ; — 
'Twas a fish-spear, you might think. 
The water was clear and still, 
The carp and the pike there at will 

Pursued their silent fun, 

Turning up, ever and anon, 

A golden side to the sun. 
With ease might the heron have made 
Great profits in his fishing trade. 
So near came the scaly fry, 
They might be caught by the passer-by. 
But he thought he better might 
Wait for a better appetite — 
For he lived by rule, and could not eat, 
Except at his hours, the best of meat. 
Anon his appetite returned once more; 
So, approaching again the shore, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 17 

He saw some tench taking their leaps, 
Now and then, from their lowest deeps. 
With as dainty a taste as Horace's rat, 
He turned away from such food as that. 
What, tench for a heron ! poh ! 
1 scorn the thought, and let them go. 
The tench refused, there came a gudgeon ; 
For all that, said the bird, I budge on. 
I'll ne'er open my beak, if the gods please, 
For such mean little fishes as these. 
He did it for less ; 
For it came to pass, 
That not another fish could he see : 
And, at last, so hungry was he, 
That he thought it of some avail 
To find on the bank a single snail. 
Such is the sure result 
Of being too difficult. 
Would you be strong and great, 
Learn to accommodate. 
Get what you can, and trust for the rest ; 
The whole is oft lost by seeking the best. 
Above all things, beware of disdain, 
Where, at most, you have little to gain. 
The people are many that make 
Every day this sad mistake. 
'Tis not for the herons I put this case, 
Ye featherless people, of the human race. 
— List to another tale as true, 
And you'll hear the lesson brought home to you. 




) 



THE MAID. 



A certain maid, as proud as fair, 

A husband thought to find 

Exactly to her mind — 
Well-formed and young, genteel in air, 
Not cold nor jealous ; — mark this well. 
Whoe'er would wed this dainty belle 
Must have, besides, rank, wealth, and wit, 
And all good qualities to fit — 
A man 'twere difficult to get. 
Kind Fate, however, took great care 
To grant, if possible, her prayer. 
There came a-wooing men of note ; 

The maiden thought them all, 

By half, too mean and small. 
They marry me ! the creatures dote : — 

Alas ! poor souls ! their case 1 pity. 
(Here mark the bearing of the beauty.) 

Some were less delicate than witty ; 
Some had the nose too short or long ; 
In others something else was wrong ; 
Which made each in the maiden's eyes 
An altogether worthless prize. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 19 

Profound contempt is aye the vice 
Which springs from being over-nice. 
Thus were the great dismissed ; and then 
Came offers from inferior men. 
The maid, more scornful than before, 

Took credit to her tender heart 
For giving them an open door. 

They think me much in haste to part 
With independence ! God be thanked, 

My lonely nights bring no regret ; 

Nor shah I pine, or greatly fret, 
Should I with ancient maids be ranked. 
Such were the thoughts that pleased the fair : 
Age made them only thoughts that were. 
Adieu to lovers : — passing years 
Awaken doubts and chilling fears. 
Regret, at last, brings up the train. 
Day after day she sees, with pain, 
Some smile or charm take final flight, 
And leave the features of a " fright," 
Then came a hundred sorts of paint ; 
But still no trick, nor ruse, nor feint, 
Availed to hide the cause of grief, 
Or bar out Time, that graceless thief. 
A house, when gone to wreck and ruin, 
May be repaired and made a new one. 
Alas ! for ruins of the face 
No such rebuilding e'er takes place. 
Her daintiness now changed its tune ; 
Her mirror told her, Marry soon ; 



20 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

So did a certain wish within, 
With more of secrecy than sin, — 
A Avish that dwells with even prudes, 
Annihilating solitudes. 
This maiden's choice was past belief, 
She soothing down her restless grief, 
And smoothing it of every ripple 
By marrying a cripple. 



THE MULE BOASTING OF HIS GENEALOGY. 

A prelate's mule of noble birth was proud, 
And talked, incessantly ani loud, 
Of nothing but his dam, the mare, 

Whose mighty deeds by him recounted were, — 

This had she done, and had been present there,- - 
By which her son made out his claim 
To notice on the scroll of Fame. 

Too proud, when young, to bear a doctor's pill ; 
When old, he had to turn a mill. 
As there they used his limbs to bind, 
His sire, the ass, was brought to mind. 

Misfortune, were its only use 
The claims of folly to reduce, 
And bring men down to sober reason, 
Would be a blessing in it? season. 



THE LION'S COURT. 

His lion majesty would know, one day, 
What bestial tribes were subject to his sway. 
He therefore gave his vassals, all, 
By deputies, a call, 
Despatching every where 
A written circular, 
Which bore his seal, and did import 
His majesty would hold his court 
A month most splendidly ; — 
A feast would open his levee, 
Which done, Sir Jocko's sleight 
Would give the court delight. 
By such sublime magnificence 
The king would show his power immense. 

Now were they gathered all 

Within the royal hall — 
And such a hall ! The charnel scent 
Would make the strongest nerves relent. 
The bear put up his paw to close 
The double access of his nose. 
The act had better been omitted ; 
His throne at once the monarch quitted, 
And sent to Pluto's court the bear, 
To show his delicacy there 



22 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The ape approved the cruel deed, 
A thorough flatterer by breed. 
He praised the prince's wrath and claws ; 
He praised the odor and its cause. 
Judged by the fragrance of that cave, 
The amber of the Baltic wave, 
The rose, the pink, the hawthorn bank, 
Might with the vulgar garlic rank. 
The mark his flattery overshot, 
And made him share poor Bruin's lot, 
This lion playing, in his way, 
The part of Don Caligula. 
The fox approached. Now, said the king, 
Apply your nostrils to this thing, 
And let me hear, without disguise, 
The judgment of a beast so wise. 
The fox replied, Your majesty will please 
Excuse — and here he took good care to sneeze ; — 
Afflicted with a dreadful cold, 
Your majesty need not be told 
My sense of smell is mostly gone. 
From danger thus withdrawn, 

He teaches us the while, 

That one, to gain the smile 
Of kings, must hold the middle place 
'Twixt blunt rebuke and fulsome praise ; 
And sometimes use, with easy grace, 
The language of the Norman race.* 

* The Normans are proverbial among the French for the oracular 
non-committal of their responses. Vn JYormand, says the proverb, 
a son dit ct son didlt. 




THE VULTURES AND THE PIGEONS. 



Mars once made havoc in the air : 
Some cause aroused a quarrel there 
Among the birds ; — not those that sing, 
The courtiers of the merry Spring, 
And by their talk, in leafy bovvers, 
Of loves they feel, enkindle ours ; 
Nor those which Cupid's mother yokes 
To whirl on high her golden spokes ; 
But naughty hawk and vulture folks, 
Of hooked beak and talons keen. 
The carcass of a dog, 'tis said, 
Had to this civil carnage led. 
Blood rained upon the swarded green, 
And valiant deeds were done, I ween. 
But time and breath would surely fail 
To give the fight in full detail ; 
Suffice to say, that chiefs were slain, 
And heroes strowed the sanguine plain, 
Till old Prometheus, in his chains, 
Began to hope an end of pains. 
'Twas sport to see the battle rage, 
And valiant hawk with hawk engage ; 



24 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

'Twas pitiful to see them fall, — 

Torn, bleeding, weltering, gasping, all. 

Force, courage, cunning, all were plied ; 

Intrepid troops on either side 

No effort spared to populate 

The dusky realms of hungry Fate. 

This woful strife awoke compassion 

Within another feathered nation, 
Of iris neck and tender heart. 

They tried their hand at mediation — 
To reconcile the foes, or part. 

The pigeon people duly chose 

Ambassadors, who worked so well 
As soon the murderous rage to quell, 

And staunch the source of countless woes. 

A truce took place, and peace ensued. 
Alas ! the people dearly paid 
Who such pacification made ! 

Those cursed hawks at once pursued 

The harmless pigeons, slew and ate, 

Till towns and fields were desolate. 

Small prudence had the friends of peace 

To pacify such foes as these ! 

The safety of the rest requires 
The bad should flesh each other's spears : 

Whoever peace with them desires 
Had better set them by the ears. 




THE COACH AND THE FLY. 

Upon a sandy, uphill road, 

Which naked in the sunshine glowed, 

Six lusty horses drew a coach. 
Dames, monks, and invalids, its load, 
On foot, outside, at leisure trode. 
The team, all weary, stopped and blowed : 

Whereon there did a fly approach, 
And, with a vastly business air, 

Cheered up the horses with his buzz, — 
Now pricked them here, now pricked them there, 

As neatly as a jockey does, — 
And thought the while — he knew 'twas so — 
He made the team and carriage go, — 
On carriage-pole sometimes alighting — 
Or driver's nose — and biting. 
And when the whole did get in motion, 
Confirmed and settled in the notion, 
He took, himself, the total glory, — 
Hew back and forth in wondrous hurry, 



26 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And, as he buzzed about the cattle, 

Seemed like a sergeant in a battle, 

The files and squadrons leading on 

To where the victory is won. 

Thus charged with all the commonweal, 

This single fly began to feel 

Responsibility too great, 

And cares, a grievous, crushing weight ; 

And made complaint that none would aid 

The horses up the tedious hill — 
The monk his prayers at leisure said — 

Fine time to pray ! — the dames, at will, 
Were singing songs — not greatly needed ! 

Thus in their ears he sharply sang, 

And notes of indignation rang, — 
Notes, after all, not greatly heeded. 
Erelong the coach was on the top : 
Now, said the fly, my hearties, stop 
And breathe ; — I've got you up the hill , — 

And, Messrs. Horses, let me say, 
I need not ask you if you will 

A proper compensation pay. 

Thus certain ever-bustling noddies 
Are seen in every great affair : — 

Important, swelling, busy-bodies, 
And bores 'tis easier to bear 

Than chase them from their needless care. 



THF WOUF AND THE DOG. 

A prowling wolf, whose shaggy skin 
(So strict the watch of dogs had been) 

Hid little but his bones, 
Once met a mastiff dog astray. 
A prouder, fatter, sleeker Tray, 

No human mortal owns. 
Sir Wolf, in famished plight, 

Would fain have made a ration 

Upon his fat relation ; 
But then he first must fight ; 

And well the dog seemed able 

To save from wolfish table 
His carcass snug and tight. 

So, then, in civil conversation 

The wolf expressed his admiration 
Of Tray's fine case. Said Tray, polite! 
Yourself, good sir, may be as sightly, 
Quit but the woods, advised by me. 
For all your fellows here, I see, 
Are shabby wretches, lean and gaunt, 
Belike to die of haggard want. 
With such a pack, of course it follows, 
One fights for every bit he swallows. 



28 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Come, then, with me, and share 
On equal terms our princely fare. 
But what with you 
Has one to do ? 
Inquires the wolf. Light work indeed, 
Replies the dog; you only need 
To bark a little now and then, 
To chase off duns and beggar men, 
To fawn on friends that come or go forth, 
Your master please, and so forth ; 
For which you have to eat 
All sorts of well-cooked meat — 
Cold pullets, pigeons, savory messes — 
Besides unnumbered fond caresses. 
The wolf, by force of appetite, 
Accepts the terms outright, 
Tears glistening in his eyes. 
But, faring on, he spies 

A galled spot on the mastiff's neck. 
What's that? he cries. O, nothing but a speck. 
A speck? Ay, ay; 'tis not enough to pain me; 
Perhaps the collar's mark by which they chain me. 
Chain ! chain you ! What ! run you not, then, 
Just where you please, and when ? 
Not always, sir; but what of that? 
Enough for me, to spoil your fat ! 
It ought to be a precious price 
Which could to servile chains entice ; 
For me, I'll shun them while I've wit. 
So ran Sir W r o!f 5 and runneth yet. 



£.*!._; 




THE WOLF AND THE DOG. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 29 

THE WOLF ACCUSING THE FOX BEFORE 
THE MONKEY. 

A wolf, affirming his belief, 

That he had suffered by a thief, 
Brought up his neighbor fox — 

Of whom it was by all confessed, 

His character was not the best — 
To fill the prisoner's box. 

As judge between these vermin, 

A monkey graced the ermine ; 

And truly other gifts of Themis 
Did scarcely seem his ; 

For while each party plead his cause, 

Appealing boldly to the laws, 

And much the question vexed, 

Our monkey sat perplexed. 

Their words and wrath expended, 

Their strife at length was ended ; 

When, by their malice taught, 

The judge this judgment brought: — 
Your characters, my friends, I long have known. 

As on this trial clearly shown ; 
And hence I fine you both — the grounds at iaige 

To state, would little profit — 
V r ou wolf, in short, as bringing groundless charge, 

You fox, as guilty of it. 

Come at it right or wrong, the judge opined 
No other than a villain could be lined. 



THE DAIRYWOMAN AND THE POT OF MILK. 

A pot of milk upon her cushioned crown, 
Good Peggy hastened to the market town ; 
Short clad and light, with speed she went, 
Not fearing any accident ; 

Indeed, to be the nimbler tripper, 

Her dress that day, 

The truth to say, 
Was simple petticoat and slipper. 

And, thus bedight, 

Good Peggy, light, — 
Her gains already counted, — 

Laid out the cash 

At single dash, 
Which to a hundred eggs amounted. 

Three nests she made, 

Which, by the aid 
Of diligence and care, were hatched. 

To raise the chicks, 

I'll easy fix, 
Said she, beside our cottage thatched. 

The fox must get 

More cunning yet, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 31 

Or leave enough to buy a pig. 

With little care, 

And any fare, 
He'll grow quite fat and big ; 

And then the price 

Will be so nice, 
For which the pork will sell ! 

'Twill go quite hard 

But in our yard 
I'll bring a cow and calf to dwell — 

A calf to frisk among the flock ! 
The thought made Peggy do the same ; 
And down at once the milk-pot came, 

And perished with the shock. 
Calf, cow, and pig, and chicks, adieu ! 
Your mistress' face is sad to view ; — 
She gives a tear to fortune spilt ; 
Then, with the downcast look of guilt, 
Home to her husband empty goes. 
Somewhat in danger of his blows. 

Who buildeth not, sometimes, in air, 
His cots, or seats, or castles fair ? 
From kings to dairywomen, — all, — 
The wise, the foolish, great and small, — 
Each thinks his waking dream the best. 
Some flattering error fills the breast : 
The world, with all its wealth, is ours, 
Its honors, dames, and loveliest bowers. 



32 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Instinct with valor, when alone, 
I hurl the monarch from his throne ; 
The people, glad to see him dead, 
Elect me monarch in his stead, 
And diadems rain on my head 
Some accident then calls me back, 
And I'm no more than simple Jack ! 



THE CURATE AND THE CORPSE. 

I s 

A dead man going slowly, sadly, 

To occupy his last abode, 
A curate by him, rather gladly, 

Did holy service on the road. 
Within a coach the dead was borne, 
A robe around him, duly worn, 
Of which, I wot, he was not proud — 
That ghostly garment called a shroud. 
In summer's blaze and winter's blast, 
That robe is changeless — 'tis the last. 
The curate, with his priestly dress on, 

Recited all the church's prayers, 
The psalm, the verse, response, and lesson, 

In fullest style of such affairs. 
Sir Corpse, we beg you, do not fear 
A lack of such things on your bier ; 
They'll give abundance every way, 
Provided only that you pay. 
The Reverend John Cabbage pate 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 33 

Watched o'er the corpse, as if it were 

A treasure, needing guardian care ; 

And all the while his looks, elate, 
This language seemed to hold : — 

The dead will pay so much in gold, 

So much in lights of molten wax, 

So much in other sorts of tax : 
With all he hoped to buy a cask of wine, 
The best which thereabouts produced the vine. 
A pretty niece, on whom he doted, 
And eke his chambermaid, should be promoted, 
By being newly petticoated. 

The coach, upset and dashed to pieces, 

Cut short these thoughts of wine and nieces! 

There lay poor John, with broken head, 

Beneath the coffin of the dead ! 

H4s rich parishioner in lead 
Drew on the priest the doom 

Of riding with him to the tomb ! 

The Pot of Milk, and fate 

Of Curate Cabbagepate, 

As emblems, do but give 

The history of most that live. 



THE OLD MAN AND THE ASS. 



An old man, riding on his ass, 
Had found a spot of thrifty grass, 
And there turned loose his weary beast. 
Old Grizzle, pleased with such a feast, 
Flung up his heels, and capered round, 
Then rolled and rubbed upon the ground, 
And frisked, and browsed, and brayed, 
And many a clean spot made. 
Armed men came on them as he fed : 
Let's fly, in haste the old man said. 
And wherefore so ? the ass replied. 
With heavier burdens will they ride ? 

No, said the man, already started. 

Then, cried the ass, as he departed, 

I'll stay, and be — no matter whose; 

Save yon yourself, and leave me loose. 

But let me tell you, ere you go, 

(I speak plain French, you know,) 

My master is my only foe. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 35 



THE MAN WHO RAN AFTER FORTUNE, AND THE 
MAN WHO WAITED FOR HER ON HIS BED. 

Who joins not with his restless race 
To give Dame Fortune eager chase ? 
O, had I but some lofty perch, 

From which to view the panting crowd 

Of care-worn dreamers, poor and proud, 
As on they hurry in the search, 
From realm to realm, o'er land and water, 
Of Fate's fantastic, fickle daughter ! 
Ah ! slaves sincere of flying phantom ! 

Just as their goddess they would clasp, 

The jilt divine eludes their grasp, 
And flits away to Bantam ! 
Poor fellows! I bewail their lot. 

And here's the comfort of my ditty ; 
For fools the mark of wrath are not 

So much, I'm sure, as pity. 
That man, say they, and feed their hope, 
Raised cabbages — and now he's pope ! 
Don't we deserve as rich a prize ? 
Ay, richer ? But hath Fortune eyes ? 
And then the popedom, is it worth 

The price that must be given ? — 
Repose ? — the sweetest bliss of earth, 

And, ages since, of gods in heaven ? 



36 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

'Tis rarely Fortune's favorites 
Enjoy this cream of all delights. 
Seek not the dame, and she will you — 
A truth which of her sex is true. 

Snug in a country town 

A pair of friends were settled down. 

One sighed unceasingly to find 

A fortune better to his mind, 

And, as he chanced his friend to meet, 

Proposed to quit their dull retreat. 

No prophet can to honor come, 

Said he, unless he quits his home ; 

Let's seek our fortune far and wide. 

Seek, if you please, his friend replied ; 

For one, I do not wish to see 

A better clime or destiny. 

] leave the search and prize to you ; 

Your restless humor please pursue ; 

You'll soon come back again. 

I vow to nap it here till then. 

The enterprising, or ambitious, 

Or, if you please, the avaricious, 

Betook him to the road. 
The morrow brought him to a place 
The flaunting goddess ought to grace 

As her particular abode — 
I mean the court whereat he staid, 
And plans for seizing Fortune laid. 
lie rose, and dressed, and dined, and went to bed, 

Exactly as the fashion led : 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



37 



In short, he did whatever he could, 

But never found the promised good. 

Said he, Now somewhere else I'll try — 

And jet I failed I know not why ; 

For Fortune here is much at home , 

To this and that 1 see her come, 

Astonishingly kind to some. 

And, truly, it is hard to see 

The reason why she slips from me. 

'Tis true, perhaps, as I've been told, 

That spirits here may be too bold. 

To courts and courtiers all I bid adieu ; 

Deceitful shadows they pursue. 

The dame has temples in Surat ; 

I'll go and see them — that is flat. 

To say so was t' embark at once. 

O, human hearts are made of bronze ! 

His must have been of adamant, 

Beyond the power of Death to daunt, 

Who ventured first this route to try, 

And all its frightful risks defy. 

'Twas more than once our venturous wight 

Did homeward turn his aching sight, 

When pirates, rocks, and calms, and storms, 

Presented death in frightful forms — 

Death sought with pains on distant shores, 

Which, soon as wished for, would have come, 
Had he not left the peaceful doors 

Of his despised but blessed home. 
Arrived, at length, in Hindostan, 



The people told our wayward man 



38 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

That Fortune, ever void of plan. 
Dispensed her favors in Japan. 
And on he went, the weary sea 
His vessel bearing lazily. 

This lesson, taught by savage men. 
Was after all his only gain : — 
Contented in thy country stay, 
And seek thy wealth in nature's way. 
Japan refused to him, no less 
Than Hindostan, success ; 
And hence his judgment came to make 
His quitting home a great mistake. 

Renouncing his ungrateful course, 
He hastened back with all his force ; 
And when his village came in sight, 
His tears were proof of his delight. 
Ah, happy he, exclaimed the wight, 
Who, dwelling there with mind sedate, 
Employs himself to regulate 
His ever-hatching, wild desires ; 
W T ho checks his heart when it aspires 
To know of courts, and seas, and glory, 
More than he can by simjjle story ; 
Who seeks not o'er the treacherous wave- 
More treacherous Fortune's willing slave - 
The bait of wealth and honors fleeting, 
Held by that goddess, aye retreating. 
Henceforth from home I budge no more ! 

Pop on his sleeping friend's he came, 

Thus purposing against the dame, 
And found her sitting at his door. 




THE TWO COCKS. 



I' wo cocks in peace were living, when 
A war was kindled by a hen. 
O love, thou bane of Troy ! 'twas thine 
The blood of men and gods to shed 
Enough to turn the Xanthus red 

As old Port wine ! 
And long the battle doubtful stood ; 

(I mean the battle of the cocks ;) 

They gave each other fearful shocks : 
The fame spread o'er the neighborhood, 
And gathered all the crested brood. 
And Helens more than one, of plumage bright, 
Led off the victor of that bloody fight. 

The vanquished, drooping, fled, 

Concealed his battered head, 

And in a dark retreat 

Bewailed his sad defeat. 

His loss of glory and the prize 
His rival now enjoyed before his eyes. 



40 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

While this he every day beheld, 

His hatred kindled, courage swelled ; 

He whet his beak, and flapped his wings, 

And meditated dreadful things. 

Waste rage ! His rival flew upon a roof 

And crowed to give his victory proof. — 

A hawk this boasting heard. 
Now perished all his pride, 
As suddenly he died 

Beneath that savage bird. 

In consequence of this reverse, 
The vanquished sallied from his hole, 
And took the harem, master sole, 

For moderate penance not the worse. 
Imagine the congratulation, 

The proud and stately leading, 

Gallanting, coaxing, feeding, 
Of wives almost a nation. 

'Tis thus that Fortune loves to flee 

The insolent by victory. 

We should mistrust her when we beat. 

Lest triumph lead us to defeat. 



THE INGRATITUDE AND INJUSTICE OF MEN 
TOWARDS FORTUNE. 

A trader on the sea to riches grew ; 
Freight after freight the winds in favor blew ; 
Fate steered him clear ; gulf, rock, nor shoal 
Of all his bales exacted toll. 
Of other men the powers of chance and storm 
Their dues collected in substantial form ; 
While smiling Fortune, in her kindest sport, 
Took care to waft his vessels to their port. 
His partners, factors, agents, faithful proved ; 
His goods — tobacco, sugar, spice — 
Were sure to fetch the highest price. 
By fashion and by folly loved, 
His rich brocades and laces, 
And splendid porcelain vases, 
Enkindling strong desires, 
Most readily found buyers. 
In short, gold rained where'er he went — 
Abundance, more than could be spent — 
Dogs, horses, coaches, downy bedding — 
His very fasts were like a wedding. 
A bosom friend, a look his table giving, 
Inquired whence came such sumptuous living. 
Whence should it come, said he, superb of brow, 
But from the fountain of my knowing how ? 



42 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

1 owe it simply to my skill and care 
In risking only where the marts will bear. 
And now, so sweet his swelling profits were, 
He risked anew his former gains : 
Success rewarded not his pains — 
His own imprudence was the cause. 
One ship, ill-freighted, went awreck ; 
Another felt of arms the lack, 
When pirates, trampling on the laws, 
O'ercame, and bore it off a prize ; 

A third, arriving at its port, 
Had failed to sell its merchandise, — 

The style and folly of the court 
Not now requiring such a sort. 
His agents, factors, failed ; — in short, 
The man himself, from pomp and princely cheer. 
And palaces, and parks, and dogs, and deer, 
Fell down to poverty most sad and drear. 
His friend, now meeting him in shabby plight. 
Exclaimed, And whence comes this to pass ? 
From Fortune, said the man, alas ! 
Console yourself, replied the friendly wight ; 
For, if to make you rich the dame denies, 
She can't forbid you to be wise. 

What faith he gained, I do not wis ; 
1 know, in every case like this, 
Each claims the credit of his bliss. 

And with a heart ingrate 
Imputes his misery to Fate. 



THE FORTUNE-TELLERS. 



'Tis oft from chance opinion takes its rise, 
And into reputation multiplies. 

This prologue finds pat applications 
In men of all this world's vocations ; 
For fashion, prejudice, and party strife, 
Conspire to crowd poor justice out of life. 
What can you do to counteract 
This reckless, rushing cataract ? 
'Twill have its course for good or bad, 
As it, indeed, has always had. 
A dame in Paris played the Pythoness 
With much of custom, and, of course, success. 
Was any trifle lost, or did 

Some maid a husband wish, 
Or wife of husband to be rid, 

Or either sex for fortune fish, 
Resort was had to her with gold, 
To get the hidden future told. 
Her art was made of various tricks, 
Wherein the dame contrived to mix, 



44 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

With much assurance, learned terms. 
Now, chance, of course, sometimes confirms ; 
And just as often as it did, 
The news was anything but hid. 
In short, though, as to ninety-nine per cent., 
The lady knew not what her answers meant, 
Borne up by ever-babbling Fame, 
An oracle she soon became. 
A garret was this woman's home, 
Till she had gained of gold a sum 
That raised the station of her spouse — 
Bought him an office and a house. 
As she could then no longer bear it, 
Another tenanted the garret. 
To her came up the city crowd, — 
Wives, maidens, servants, gentry proud, — 
To ask their fortunes, as before ; 
A Sibyl's cave was on her garret floor : 
Such custom had its former mistress drawn, 
It lasted even when herself was gone. 
It sorely taxed the present mistress' wits 
To satisfy the throngs of teasing cits. 
I tell your fortunes ! joke, indeed ! 
Why, gentlemen, I cannot read ! 
What can you, ladies, learn from me, 
Who never learned my A, B, C ? 
Avaunt with reasons ! tell she must, — 

Predict as if she understood, 
And lay aside more precious dust 
Than two the ablest lawvers could. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 45 

The stuff that garnished out her room — 
Four crippled chairs, a broken broom — 
Helped mightily to raise her merits, — 
Fnll proof of intercourse with spirits! 
Had she predicted e'er so truly, 
On floor with carpet covered duly, 

Her word had been a mockery made 
The fashion set upon the garret. 
Doubt that ! none bold enough to dare it ! 

The other woman lost her trade. 

All shopmen know the force of signs, 
And so, indeed, do some divines. 
In palaces, a robe awry 
Has sometimes set the wearer hi^h : 

O 7 

And crowds his teaching will pursue 
Who draws the greatest listening crew 
Ask, if you please, the reason why. 




46 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE CAT, THE WEASEL, AND THE YOUNG RABBIT. 

John Rabbit's palace under ground 
Was once by Goody Weasel found. 
She, sly of heart, resolved to seize 
The place, and did so at her ease. 
She took possession while its lord 
Was absent on the dewy sward, 
Intent upon his usual sport, 
A courtier at Aurora's court. 
When he had browsed his fill of clover, 
And cut his pranks all nicely over, 
Home Johnny came to take his drowse, 
All snug within his cellar-house. 
The weasel's nose he came to see, 

Outsticking through the open door. 
Ye gods of hospitality ! 

Exclaimed the creature, vexed sore, 
Must I give up my father's lodge ? 

Ho ! Madam Weasel, please to budge, 
Or, quicker than a weasel's dodge, 

I'll call the rats to pay their grudge ! 
The sharp-nosed lady made reply, 
That she was first to occupy. 
The cause of war was surely small — 
A house where one could only crawl ! 
And though it were a vast domain, 

Said she, I'd like to know what will 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 47 

Could grant to John perpetual reign, 

The son of Peter or of Bill, — 
More than to Paul, or even me. 
John Rabbit spoke — great lawyer he — 
Of custom, usage, as the law, 

Whereby the house, from sire to son, 
As well as all its store of straw, 

From Peter came at length to John. 
Who could present a claim so good 
As he, the first possessor, could ? 
Now, said the dame, let's drop dispute, 

And go before Raminagrobis, 
Who'll judge, not only in this suit, 

But tell us truly whose the globe is. 
This person was a hermit cat, 

A cat that played the hypocrite, 
A saintly mouser, sleek and fat, 

An arbiter of keenest wit. 
John Rabbit in the judge concurred, 

And off went both their case to broach 
Before his majesty, the furred. 

Said Clapperclaw, My kits, approach, 
And put your noses to my ears ; 
I'm deaf, almost, by weight of years. 
And so they did, not fearing aught. 

The good apostle, Clapperclaw, 

Then laid on each a well-armed paw, 
And both to an agreement brought, 

By virtue of his tusked jaw. 
This brings to mind the fate 
Of little kings before the great. 




THE HEAD AND THE TAIL OF THE SERPENT. 



Two parts the serpent has — 

Of men the enemies — 

The head and tail : the same 

Have won a mighty fame, 
Next to the cruel Fates ; — 

So that, indeed, hence 

They once had great debates 

About precedence. 
The first had always gone ahead ; 
The tail had been forever led ; 
And now to Heaven it prayed, 

And said, 
O, many and many a league, 

Dragged on in sore fatigue, 

Behind his back I go. 
Shall he forever use me so? 
Am I his humble servant? 
No. Thanks to God most fervent ! 

His brother I was born, 

And not his slave forlorn. 

The self-same blood in both, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 49 

I'm just as good as he : 

A poison dwells in me 
As virulent as doth * 
In him. In mercy, heed 

And grant me this decree, 
That I in turn may lead — . 

My brother follow me. 
My course shall be so wise 
That no complaint shall rise. 

With cruel kindness Heaven granted 
The very thing he blindly wanted : 
To such desires of beasts and men, 
Though often deaf, it was not then. 

At once this novel guide, 
That saw no more in broad daylight 
Than in the murk of darkest night, 
His powers of leading tried, 
Struck trees, and men, and stones, and bricks, 
And led his brother straight to Styx. 
And to the same unlovely home, 
Some states by such an error come. 

* An ancient mistake in natural history. 





AN ANIMAL IN THE MOON.* 

While one philosopher affirms 

That by our senses we're deceived, 

Another swears, in plainest terms, 
The senses are to be believed. 
The twain are right. Philosophy 
Correctly calls us dupes whene'er 

Upon mere senses we rely ; 

But when we wisely rectify 
The raw report of eye or ecu, 

By distance, medium, circumstance, 

In real knowledge we advance. 

These things hath nature wisely planned — 

Whereof the proof shall be at hand. 

I see the sun : its dazzling glow 

Seems but a hand-breadth here below ; 

But should I see it in its home, 

That azure, star-besprinkled dome, 



* This fable is founded on a fact which occurred in the experience 
of the astronomer Sir Paul Neal, a member of the Royal Society o f 
London. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 51 

Of all the universe the eye, 
Its blaze would fill one half the sky. 
The powers of trigonometry 
Have set my mind from blunder free. 
The ignorant believe it flat ; 
] make it round, instead of that. 
I fasten, fix, on nothing ground it, 
And send the earth to travel round it. 
In short, I contradict my eyes, 
And sift the truth from constant lies. 
The mind, not hasty at conclusion, 
Resists the onset of illusion, 
Forbids the sense to get the better, 
And ne'er believes it to the letter. 
Between my eyes, perhaps too ready, 

And ears as much or more too slow, 
A judge with balance true and steady, 

I come, at last, some things to know. 
Thus when the water crooks a stick, 
My reason straightens it as quick — 
Kind Mistress Reason — foe of error, 
And best of shields from needless terror. 
The creed is common with our race, 
The moon contains a woman's face. 
True ? No. Whence, then, the notion, 
From mountain top to ocean ? 
The roughness of that satellite, 

Its hills and dales, of every grade, 

Effect a change of light and shade 
Deceptive to our feeble sight : 



52 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

So that, besides the human faee, 
All sorts oi creatures one might trace, 
Indeed, a living beast, 1 ween, 
Has lately been by England seen. 
All duly placed the telescope, 
And keen observers full of hope. 
An animal entirely new, 
In that fair planet, came to view. 
Abroad and fast the wonder flew ; — 
Some change had taken place on high, 
Presaging earthly changes nigh ; 
Perhaps, indeed, it might betoken 
The wars that had already broken 
Out wildly o'er the continent. 
The king to see the wonder went : 
(As patron of the sciences, 
No right to go more plain than his.) 
To him, in turn, distinct and clear, 
This lunar monster did appear. — 
A mouse, between the lenses caged, 
Had caused these wars, so fiercely waged ! 
No doubt the happy English folks 
Laughed at it as the best of jokes. 
How soon will Mars afford the chance 
For like amusements here in France ! 
He makes us reap broad fields of glory. 
Our foes may fear the battle-ground ; 
For us, it is no sooner found, 
Than Louis, with fresh laurels crowned, 
Bears higher up our country's story. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 53 

The daughters, too, of Memory, — 
The Pleasures and the Graces, — 
Still show their cheering faces : 
We wish for peace, but do not sigh. 
The English Charles the secret knows 
To make the most of his repose. 
And more than this, he'll know the way, 
By valor working sword in hand, 
To bring his sea-encircled land 
To share the fight it only sees to-day. 
Yet, could he bat this quarrel quell, 
What incense-clouds would grateful swell ! 
What deed more worthy of his fame ! * 
Augustus, Julius — pray, which Caesar's name 
Shines now on story's page with purest flame ? 
O people happy in your sturdy hearts ! 
Say, when shall Peace pack up these bloody darts, 
And send us all, like you, to softer arts ? 

* This fable appears to have been composed about the beginning of 
the year 1677. The European powers then found themselves exhausted 
by war, and desirous of peace. England, the only neutral, became, of 
course, the arbiter of the negotiations which ensued at Nimeguen. All 
the belligerent parties invoked her mediation. Charles II., however, 
felt himself exceedingly embarrassed by his secret connections with 
Louis XIV., which made him desire to prescribe conditions favorable to 
that monarch ; while, on the other hand, he feared the people of Eng- 
land, if, treacherous to her interests, he should fail to favor the nations 
allied and combined against France. 



54 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE TORRENT AND THE RIVER. 



With mighty rush and roar, 
Adown a mountain steep 
A torrent tumbled, — swelling o'er 

Its rugged banks, — and bore 
Vast ruin in its sweep. 
The traveller were surely rash 
To brave its whirling, foaming dash. 
But one, by robbers sorely pressed, 
Its terrors haply put to test. 
They were but threats of foam and sound. 
The loudest where the least profound. 
With courage from his safe success, 
His foes continuing to press, 

He met a river in his course : 
On stole its waters, calm and deep, 
So silently they seemed asleep, 
All sweetly cradled, as I ween, 
In sloping banks, and gravel clean, — 

They threatened neitiier man nor horse. 
Both ventured ; but the noble steed, 
That saved from robbers by his speed, 
From that deep water could not save ; 
Both went to drink the Stygian wave; 
Both went to cross, (but not to swim,) 
Where reigns a monarch stern and grim, 
Far other streams than ours. 




THE RAT AND THE ELEPHANT. 

One's own importance to enhance, 

Inspirited by self-esteem, 
Is quite a common thing in France ; 

A French disease it well might seem. 
The strutting cavaliers of Spain 
Are in another manner vain. 
Their pride has more insanity, 
More silliness our vanity. 
Let's shadow forth our own disease — 
Well wor f h a hundred tales like these. 

A rat, of quite the smallest size, 
Fixed on an elephant his eyes, 
And jeered the beast of high descent 
Because his feet so slowly went. 
Upon his back, three stories high, 
There sat, beneath a canopy, 
A certain sultan of renown, 

His dog, and cat, and concubine, 
His parrot, servant, and his wine, 
All pilgrims to a distant town. 



56 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The rat professed to be amazed 

That all the people stood and gazed 

With wonder, as he passed the road, 

Both at the creature and his loud. 

As if, said he, to occupy 

A little more of land or sky 

Made one, in view of common sense, 

Of greater worth and consequence ! 

What see ye, men, in this parade, 

That food for wonder need be made ? 

The bulk which makes a child afraid ? 

In truth, 1 take myself to be, 

In all respects, as good as he. 

And further might have gone his vaunt ; 

But, darting down, the cat 

Convinced him that a rat 
Is smaller than an elephant. 





^ii^ILia VSR 8 IB* 



'V 



* 



DEATH AND THE DYING. 




eath never taketh by surprise 
The well prepared, to wit, the wise — 
P They knowing of themselves the time 

To meditate the final change of clime. 

That time, alas ! embraces all 
Which into hours and minutes we divide; 

There is no part, however small, 
That from this tribute one can hide. 



58 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The very moment, oft, which bids 
The heirs of empire see the light 

Is that which shuts their fringed lids 
In everlasting night. 

Defend yourself by rank and wealth, 

Plead beauty, virtue, youth, and health, — 
Unblushing Death will ravish all ;, 

The world itself shall pass beneath his pall. 

No truth is better known ; but, truth to say, 
No truth is oftener thrown away. 

A man, well in his second century, 

Complained that Death had called him suddenly; 
Had left no time his plans to fill, 
To balance books, or make his will. 

Death, said he, d'ye call it fair, 
Without a warning to prepare, 
To take a man on lifted leg ? 

O, wait a little while, I beg. 
My wife cannot be left alone ; 

1 must set out my nephew's son ; 
And let me build my house a wing, 
Before you strike, O cruel king ! 

Old man, said Death, one thing is sure, — 

My visit here's not premature. 

Hast thou not lived a century ? 

Dar'st thou engage to find for me, 

In Paris' walls, two older men ? 

Has France, among her millions, ten ? 

Thou say'st I should have sent thee word 

Thy lamp to trim, thy loins to gird ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 59 

And then my coming had been meet — 
Thy will engrossed, 
Thy house complete ! 

Did not thy feelings notify ? 

Did not they tell thee thou must die ? 

Thy taste and hearing are no more ; 

Thy sight itself is gone before ; 

For thee the sun superfluous shines, 

And all the wealth of Indian mines. 

Thy mates I've shown thee dead or dying. 

What's this, indeed, but notifying? 

Come on, old man, without reply ; 
For to the great and common weal 

It doth but little signify 

Whether thy will shall ever feel 
The impress of thy hand and seal. 

And Death had reason, — ghastly sage ! 

For surely man, at such an age, 

Should part from life as from a feast, 

Returning decent thanks, at least, 

To Him who spread the various cheer, 

And unrepining take his bier ; 

For shun it long no creature can. 

Repinest thou, gray-headed man ? 

See younger mortals rushing by 

To meet their death without a sigh — 

Death full of triumph and of fame, 

But in its terrors still the same. — 

But, ah ! my words are thrown away ! 

Those most like Death most dread his sway. 



THE COBBLER AND THE FINANCIER, 



V 



A cobbler sang from morn till night ; 

'Twas sweet and marvellous to hear. 

His trills and quavers told the ear 
Of more contentment and delight, 
Enjoyed by that laborious wight, 
Than e'er enjoyed the sages seven, 
Or any mortals short of heaven. 
His neighbor, on the other hand, 
With gold in plenty at command, 
But little sang, and slumbered less — 
A financier of great success. 
If e'er he dozed at break of day, 
The cobbler's song drove sleep away ; 
And much he wished that Heaven had made 
Sleep a commodity of trade, 
In market sold, like food and drink, 
So much an hour, so much a wink. 
At last, our songster did he call 
To meet him in his princely hall. 
Said he, Now, honest Gregory, 
What may your yearly earnings be ? 



' 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 61 

My yearly earnings ! faith, good sir, 

I never go, at once, so far, 

The cheerful cobbler said, 

And queerly scratched his head, — 

I never reckon in that way, 

But cobble on from day to day, 
Content with daily bread. 
Indeed! Well, Gregory, pray, 
What may your earnings be per day ? 
Why, sometimes more and sometimes less. 
The worst of all, 1 must confess, 
(And but for which our gains would be 
A pretty sight, indeed, to see,) 
Is that the days are made so many 
In which we cannot earn a penny — 
The sorest ill the poor man feels : 
They tread upon each other's heels, 
Those idle days of holy saints! 

And though the year is shingled o'er, 

The parson keeps a-finding more ! 
With smiles provoked by these complaints, 
Replied the lordly financier, 

I'll give you better cause to sing. 
These hundred pounds I hand you here 

Will make you happy as a king. 
Go, spend them with a frugal heed ; 
They'll long supply your every need. 
The cobbler thought the silver more 
Than he had ever dreamed, before, 
The mines for ages could produce, 
Or world, with all its people, use. 



62 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



He took it home, and there did hide, 

And with it laid his joy aside. 

No more of song, no more of sleep, 
But cares, suspicions in their stead, 
And false alarms, by fancy fed. 

His eyes and ears their vigils keep, 

And not a cat can tread the floor 

But seems a thief slipped through the door. 
At last, poor man ! 
Up to the financier he ran, — 

Then in his morning nap profound : 
O, give me back my songs, cried he, 
And sleep, that used so sweet to be, 

And take the money, every pound! 





J) 

THE LION. THE WOLR AND THE FOX 

A lion, old and impotent with gout, 
Would have some cure for age found out. 
Impossibilities, on all occasions, 
With kings, are rank abominations. 
This king, from every species, — 

For each abounds in every sort, — 
Called to his aid the leeches. 

They came in throngs to court, 
From doctors of the highest fee 
To nostrum-quacks without degree, — 
Advised, prescribed, talked learnedly ; 

But with the rest 
Came not Sir Cunning Fox, M. D. 
Sir Wolf the royal couch attended, 

And his suspicions there expressed. 
Forthwith his majesty, offended, 
Resolved Sir Cunning Fox should come, 
And sent to smoke him from his home. 
He came, was duly ushered in, 
And, knowing where Sir Wolf had been, 
Said, Sire, your royal ear 
Has been abused, I fear, 



g4 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

By rumors false and insincere ; 
To wit, that I've been self-exempt 
From coming here, through sheer contempt. 
But, sire, I've been on pilgrimage, 

By vow expressly made, 

Your royal health to aid, 
And, on my way, met doctors sage, 
In skill the wonder of the age, 

Whom carefully I did consult 

About that great debility 

Termed in the books senility, 
Of which you fear, with reason, the result. 
You lack, they say, the vital heat, 
By age extreme become effete. 
Drawn from a living wolf, the hide 
Should warm and smoking be applied. 
The secret's good, beyond a doubt, 
For nature's weak, and wearing out. 
Sir Wolf, here, won't refuse to give 
His hide to cure you, as I live. 
The king was pleased with this advice. 
Flayed, jointed, served up in a trice, 
Sir Wolf first wrapped the monarch up, 
Then furnished him whereon to sup. 

Beware, ye courtiers, lest ye gain, 
By slander's arts, less power than pain ; 
For in the world where ye are living, 
A pardon no one thinks of giving. 




THE WOMEN AND THE SECRET. 

There's nothing like a secret weighs ; 

Too heavy 'tis for women tender ; 
And, for this matter, in my days, 

I've seen some men of female gender. 

To prove his wife, a husband cried, 
(The night, he knew, the truth would hide,) 
O Heavens ! what's this ? O dear — 1 beg — 
I'm torn — O ! O ! I've laid an e^ ! 
An egg ? Why, yes, it's gospel-true. 
Look here — see — feel it, fresh and new ; 
But, wife, don't mention it, lest men 
Should laugh at me, and call me hen ; 

Indeed, don't say a word about it. 
On this, as other matters, green and young, 

The wife, all wonder, did not doubt it, 
And pledged herself by Heaven to hold her tongue. 
Her oath, however, fled the light 
As quick as did the shades of night. 



66 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Before Dan Phoebus waked to labor, 
The dame was off to see a neighbor. 
My friend, she said, half whispering, 
There's come to pass the strangest thing — 
If you should tell, 'twould turn me out of door : 
My husband's laid an egg as big as four ! 
As you would taste of heaven's bliss, 
Don't tell a living soul of this. 
I tell ! why, if you knew a thing about me, 
You wouldn't for an instant doubt me ; 

Your confidence I'll ne'er abuse. 
The layer's wife went home relieved ; 

The other broiled to tell the news ; 
You need not ask if she believed. 
A dame more busy could not be ; 
In twenty places, ere her tea, 
Instead of one egg, she said three ! 

Nor was the story finished here : 
A gossip, still more keen than she, 

Said four, and spoke it in the' ear — 
A caution truly little worth, 
Applied to all the ears on earth. 
Of eggs the number, thanks to Fame, 

As on from mouth to mouth she sped, 

Had grown a hundred, soothly said, 
Ere Sol had quenched his golden flame ! 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 67 



THE DOG THAT CARRIED HIS MASTER'S DINNER. 

Our eyes are not made proof against the fair, 
Nor hands against the touch of gold. 

Fidelity is sadly rare, 
And has been from the days of old. 

Well taught his appetite to check, 
And do full many a handy trick, 
A dog was trotting light and quick, 

His master's dinner on his neck. 
A temperate, self-denying dog was he, 
More than with such a load he liked to be. 
But still he was, while many such as we 
Would not have scrupled to make free. 
Strange that to dogs a virtue you may teach, 
Which, do your best, to men you vainly preach ! 
This dog of ours, thus richly fitted out, 
A mastiff met, who wished the meat, no doubt. 
To get it was less easy than he thought ; 

The porter laid it down, and fought. 

Meantime some other dogs arrive : — 

Such dogs are always thick enough, 

And, fearing neither kick nor cuff, 
Upon the public thrive. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Our hero, thus d'ermatched and pressed, - 

The meat in danger manifest, — 

Is fain to share it with the rest ; 

And, looking very calm and wise, 

No anger, gentlemen, he cries : 

My morsel will myself suffice ; 

The rest shall be your welcome prize. 

With this, the first his charge to violate, 

He snaps a mouthful from his freight. 

Then follow mastiff, cur, and pup, 

Till all is cleanly eaten up. 

Not sparingly the party feasted, 

And not a dog of all but tasted. 

In some such manner men abuse 
Of towns and states the revenues. 
The sheriffs, aldermen, and mayor, 
Come in for each a liberal share. 
The strongest gives the rest example : 
'Tis sport to see with what a zest 
They sweep and lick the public chest 
Of all its funds, however ample, 
[f any common weal's defender 
Should dare to say a single word, 
He's shown his scruples are absurd, 
And finds it easy to surrender — 
Perhaps, to be the first offender. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE JOKER AND THE FISHES. 

Some seek for jokers ; I avoid. 
A joke must be, to be enjoyed, 
Of wisdom's words, bj wit employed. 
God never meant for men of sense, 
The wits that joke to give offence. 

Perchance of these I shall be able 

To show you one preserved in fable. 

A joker, at a banker's table, 

Most amply spread to satisfy 

The height of Epicurean wishes, 
Had nothing near but little fishes. 

So, taking several of the fry, 

He whispered to them very nigh, 

And seemed to listen for reply. 

The guests much wondered what it meant, 

And stared upon him all intent. 

The joker, then, with sober face, 

Politely thus explained the case : — - 

A friend of mine, to India bound, 
Has been, I fear, 
Within a year, 

By rocks or tempests wrecked and drowned. 

I asked these strangers from the sea 

To tell me where my friend might be. 



70 LA FOXTAIXE'S FABLES. 

But all replied they were too young 
To know the least of such a matter — 
The older fish could tell me better. 

Pray, may I hear some older tongue ? 
What relish had the gentlefolks 
For such a sample of his jokes, 
Is more than I can now relate. 
They put, I'm sure, upon his plate, 
A monster of so old a date, 
He must have known the names and fate 
Of all the daring voyagers, 
Who, following the moon and stars, 
Have, by mischances, sunk their bones 
Within the realms of Davy Jones ; 
And who, for centuries, had seen, 
Far down within the fathomless, 
Where whales themselves are sceptreless. 
The ancients in their halls of green. 




A , 




THE RAT AND THE OYSTER. 



A country rat, of little brains, 

Grown weary of inglorious rest, 
Left home, with all its straws and grains. 

Resolved to know beyond his nest. 
When peeping through the nearest fence, 
How big the world is! how immense! 
He cried ; there rise the Alps, and that 
Is doubtless famous Ararat. 
His mountains were the works of moles, 
Or dirt thrown up in digging holes! 
Some days of travel brought him where 
The tide had left the oysters bare. 
Since here our traveller saw the sea, 
He thought these shells the ships must be. 
My father was, in truth, said he, 

A coward and an ignoramus; 
He dared not travel: as for me, 

I've seen the ships and ocean famous ; 

Have crossed the deserts without drinking, 

And many dangerous streams, unshrinking; 

Such things I know from having seen and felt them. 

And, as he went, in tales he proudly dealt them, 



72 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Not. being of those rats whose knowledge 
Comes by their teeth on books in college. 
Among the shut-up shell-fish, one 
Was gaping widely at the sun ; 
It breathed, and drank the air's perfume. 
Expanding like a flower in bloom. 

Both white and fat, its meat 

Appeared a dainty treat. 
Our rat, when he this shell espied, 
Thought for his stomach to provide. 
If not mistaken in the matter, 
Said he, no meat was ever fatter, 
Or in its flavor half so fine, 
As that on which to-day I dine. 
Thus full of hope, the foolish chap 

Thrust in his head to taste, 
And felt the pinching of a trap — 

The oyster closed in haste. 

We're first instructed, by this case, 
That those to whom the world is new 
Are wonder-struck at every view; 

And, in the second place, 
That the marauder finds his match, 
And he is caught who thinks to catch. 




THE LION AND THE HUNTER. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 73 



THE BEAK AND THE AMATEUR GARDENER. 

A certain mountain bear, unlicked and rude, 

By fate confined within a lonely wood, — 

A new Bellerophon, whose life, 

Knew neither comrade, friend, nor wife, — 

Became insane; for reason, as we term it, 

Dwells never long with any hermit. 

5 Tis good to mix in good society, 

Obeying rules of due propriety; 

And better yet to be alone ; 

But both arc ills when overdone. 

No animal had business where 

All grimly dwelt our hermit bear; 

Hence, bearish as he was, he grew 

Heart-sick, and longed for something new. 

While he to sadness was addicted, 
An aged man, not far from there, 

Was by the same disease afflicted. 
A garden was his favorite care, — 
Sweet Flora's priesthood, light and fair, 

And eke Pomona's — ripe and red 

The presents that her fingers shed. 

These two employments, true, are sweet, 

When made so by some friend discreet, 



74 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The gardens, gayly as they look, 
Talk not, (except in this my book ;) 
So, tiring of the deaf and dumb, 
Our man one morning left his home 
Some company to seek, 
That had the power to speak. — 
The bear, with thoughts the* same, 
Down from his mountain came ; 
And in a solitary place, 
They met each other face to face. 
It would have made the boldest tremble; 
What did our man ? To play the Gascon 
The safest seemed. He put the mask on, 
His fear contriving to dissemble. 
The bear, unused to compliment, 
Growled bluntly, but with good intent : — 
Come home with me. The man replied, 
Sir Bear, my lodgings, nearer by, 
In yonder garden, you may spy, 
Where, if you'll honor me the while, 
We'll break our fast in rural style. 
I've fruits and milk, — unworthy fare, 
It may be, for a wealthy bear : 
But then I offer what I have. 
The bear accepts with visage grave, 
But not unpleased; and, on their way, 
They grow familiar, friendly, gay. 
Arrived, you see them side by side, 
As if their friendship had been tried 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 75 

To a companion so absurd, 
Blank solitude were well preferred ; 
Yet, as the bear scarce spoke a word, 
The man was left quite at his leisure 
To trim his garden at his pleasure. 
Sir Bruin hunted — always brought 
His friend whatever game he caught ; 
But chiefly aimed at driving flies — 
Those bold and shameless parasites, 
That vex us with their ceaseless bites — 
From off our gard'ner's face and eyes. 
One day, while, stretched upon the ground. 
The old man lay in sleep profound, 
A fly, that buzzed around his nose, — 
And bit it sometimes, I suppose, — 
Put Bruin sadly to his trumps. 
At last, determined, up he jumps : — 
I'll stop thy noisy buzzing now, 
Says he ; I know precisely how. 
No sooner said than done. 
He seized a paving-stone ; 
And by his modus operandi 
Did both the fly and man die. 

A foolish friend may cause more woe 
Than could, indeed, the wisest foe. 




THE TWO FRIENDS. 



'Two friends, in Monomotapa, 

Had all their interests combined. 

Their friendship, faithful and refined, 
Our country can't exceed, do what it may. 

One night, when potent Sleep had laid 

All still within our planet's shade, 

One of the two gets up, alarmed, 
Runs over to the other's palace, 
And hastily the servants rallies. 

His startled friend, quick armed, 
With purse and sword his comrade meets, 
And thus right kindly greets : — 

Thou seldom com'st at such an hour ; 
I take thee for a man of sounder mind 
Than to abuse the time for sleep designed. 

Hast lost thy purse by Fortune's power ? 
Here's mine. Hast suffered insult, or a blow ? 
I've here my sword — to avenge it let us go. 

No, said his friend, no need I feel 

Of either silver, gold, or steel ; 

I thank thee for thy friendly zeal. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 77 

In sleep I saw thee rather sad, 

And thought the truth might be as bad; 

Unable to endure my fear, 

That eursed dream has brought me here. 

Which think you, reader, loved the most ? 
If doubtful this, one truth may be proposed: 
There's nothing sweeter than a real friend : 
Not only is he prompt to lend — 
An angler delicate, he fishes 
The very deepest of your wishes. 
And spares your modesty the task 
His friendly aid to ask. 
A dream, a shadow, wakes his fear, 
When pointing at the object dear. 





THE HOG, THE GOAT, AND THE SHEEP. 

A goat, a sheep, and porker fat, 
All to the market rode together. 

Their own amusement was not that 
Which caused their journey thither. 
Their coachman did not mean to "set them down" 
To see the shows and wonders of the town. 

The porker cried, in piercing squeals, 

As if with butchers at his heels. 

The other beasts, of milder mood, 

The cause by no means understood. 

They saw no harm, and wondered why 

At such a rate the hog should cry. 

Hush there, old piggy, said the man, 

And keep as quiet as you can. 

What wrongjiave you to squeal about, 

And raise this devilish, deafening shout ? 

These stiller persons at your side 

Have manners much more dignified. 
Pray, ha^e you heard 
A single word 

Come from that gentleman in wool ? 

That proves him wise. It proves him fool, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



79 



The testy hog replied; 

For did he know 

To what we go, 
He'd cry almost to split his throat; 
So would her ladyship the goat. 
They only think to lose with ease, 
The goat her milk, the sheep his fleece : 
They're, may be, right ; but as for me, 
This ride is quite another matter. 
Of service only on the platter, 
My death is quite a certainty. 
Adieu, my dear old piggery ! 
The porker's logic proved at once 
Himself a prophet and a dunce. 



Hope ever gives a present ease, 

But fear beforehand kills : 
The wisest he who least foresees 
Inevitable ills. 



V 




80 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 









THYRSIS AND AMARANTH. 

FOR MADEMOISELLE DE SILLERY. 

1 had the Phrygian quit, 
Charmed with Italian wit ; * 
But a divinity 
Would on Parnassus see 
A fable more from me. 
Such challenge to refuse, 
Without a good excuse, 
Is not the way to use 
Divinity or muse. 

Especially to one 
Of those who truly are. 
By force of being fair, 
Made queens of human will, 

A thing should not be done 
In all respects so ill. 
For, be it known to all, 
From Sillery the call 
Has come for bird, and beast, 
And insects, to the least, 

* Referring to his Tales, in which he had borrowed many subjects 
from Boccaccio. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. gl 

To clothe their thoughts sublime 

In this my simple rhyme. 

In saying Sillery, 

All's said that need to be. 

Her claim to it so good, 

Few fail to give her place 

Above the human race : 
How could they, if they would ? 

Now come we to our end : — 

As she opines, my tales 
Are hard to comprehend ; 

For even genius fails 
Some things to understand ; 
So let us take in hand 
To make unnecessary, 
For once, a commentary. 
Come shepherds now, — and rhyme we afterwards 
The talk between the wolves and fleecy herds. 

To Amaranth, the young and fair, 
Said Thyrsis, once, with serious air, — 
O, if you knew, like me, a certain ill 
With which we men are harmed, 
As well as strangely charmed, 
No boon from Heaven your heart could like it fill ! 
Please let me name it in your ear, — 
A harmless word, — you need not fear. 
Would I deceive you ? you, for whom I bear 
The tenderest sentiments that ever were ? 



82 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Then Amaranth replied, 
What is its name ? I beg you, do not hide. 
Tis love. — The word is beautiful; reveal 
Its signs and symptoms, how it makes one feel. — 
Its pains are ecstasies. So sweet its stings, 
The nectar-cups and incense-pots of kings, 
Compared, are flat, insipid tilings. 
One strays all lonely in the wood — 
Leans silent o'er the placid flood, 
And there, with great complacency, 
A certain face can see — 
'Tis not one's own — but image fair, 
Retreating, 
Fleeting, 
Meeting, 
Greeting, 
Following every Avhere. 
For all the rest of human kind, 
One is as good, in short, as blind. 
There is a shepherd wight, I ween, 
Well known upon the village green, 
Whose voice, whose name, whose turning of the hinge 
Excites upon the cheek a richer tinge — 
The thought of whom is signal for a sigh — 
The breast that heaves it knows not why — 
Whose face the maiden fears to see, 
Yet none so welcome still as he. — 
Here Amaranth cut short his speech : 
O ! O ! is that the evil which you preach ? 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To me, I think, it is no stranger, 
I must have felt its power and danger. 
Here Thjrsis thought his end was gained, 
When further, thus, the maid explained : 
'Tis just the very sentiment 
Which I have felt for Clidamant ! 
The other, vexed and mortified, 
Now bit his lips, and nearly died. 

Like him are multitudes, who, when 

Their own advancement they have meant, 

Have played the game of other men. 



83 





THE FROG THAT WISHED TO BE AS BIG 
AS THE OX. 

The tenant of a bog, 
An envious little frog, 
Not bigger than an eg<£, 
A stately bullock spies, 
And, smitten with his size, 
Attempts to be as big. 
With earnestness and pains, 
She stretches, swells, and strains, 
And says, Sis Frog, look here ! see me ! 
Is this enough ? No, no. 
Well, then, is this? Poh ! poh ! 
Enough ! you don't begin to be. 
And thus the reptile sits, 
Enlarging till she splits. 
The world abounds in people not more w T ise ; 
The village mansion with the palace vies ; 
The little princes ape the great ; 
The gentry live in princely state ; 
And, really, there is no telling 
How much great men set little ones a swelling. 




THE HORSE WISHING TO BE REVENGED UPON 
THE STAG. 



The horses have not always been 

The humble slaves of men. 

When, in the far-off past, 
The fare of gentlemen was mast, 
And even hats were never felt, 
Horse, ass, and mule in forests dwelt. 
Nor saw one then, as in these ages, 

So many saddles, housings, pillions ■ 
Such splendid equipages, 

With golden-lace postilions ; 
Such harnesses for cattle, 
To be consumed in battle ; 
As one saw not so many feasts, 
And people married by the priests. 
The horse fell out, within that space, 

With the antlered stag, so fleetly made 
He could not catch him in a race, 

And so he came to man for aid. 



86 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Man first his suppliant bitted; 
Then, on his back well seated, 
Gave chase with spear, and rested not 
Till to the ground the foe he brought. 
This done, the honest horse, quite blindly, 
Thus thanked his benefactor kindly : — 
Dear sir, I'm much obliged to you ; 
I'll back to savage life. Adieu ! 
O, no, the man replied; 
You'd better here abide ; 
I know too well your use. 
Here, free from all abuse, 
Remain a liege to me, 
And large your provender shall be 
Alas ! good housing or good cheer, 
That costs one's liberty, is dear. 
The horse his folly now perceived, 
But quite too late he grieved. 
No grief his fate could alter ; 
His stall was built, and there he lived, 
And died there in his halter. 
Ah ! wise, had he one small offence forgot ! 
Revenge, however sweet, is dearly bought 
By that one good, which gone, all else is nought. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 87 



»1 

THE FUNERAL OF THE LIONESS. 

The lion's consort died : 
Crowds, gathered at his side, 
Must needs console the prince, 
And thus their loyalty evince 
By compliments of course, 
Which make affliction worse. 
Officially he cites 
His realm to funeral rites, 
At such a time and place ; 
His marshals of the mace 
Would order the affair. 
Judge you if all came there. 
Meantime, the prince gave way 
To sorrow, night and day. 
With cries of wild lament 
His cave he well nigh rent. 
And from his courtiers, far and near, 
Sounds imitative you might hear. 

The court a country seems to me, 
Whose people are no matter what, — 
Sad, gay, indifferent, or not, — 

As suits the will of majesty ; 

Or, if unable so to be. 



88 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Their task it is to seem it all — 
Chameleons, monkeys, great and small. 
'Twould seem one spirit serves a thousand bodies - 
A paradise, indeed, for soulless noddies. 

But to our tale again : 
The stag graced not the funeral train; 
Of tears his cheeks bore not a stain ; 
For how could such a thing have been, 
When death avenged him on the queen, 
Who, not content with taking one, 
Had choked to death his wife and son ? 
The tears, in truth, refused to run. 
A ilatterer, who watched the while. 
Affirmed that he had seen him smile. 
If, as the wise man somewhere saith, 
A king's is like a lion's wrath, 
What should King Lion's be but death ? 
The stag, however, could not read ; 
Hence paid this proverb little heed, 
And walked, intrepid, towards the throne ; 
When thus the king, in fearful tone : — 

Thou caitiff of the wood ! 
Presum'st to laugh at such a time ? 
Joins not thy voice the mournful chime ? 

We suffer not the blood 
Of such a wretch profane 
Our sacred claws to stain. 
Wolves, let a sacrifice be made , 
Avenge your mistress' awful shade. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Sire, did the stag reply, 
The time for tears is quite gone by ; 
For in the flowers, not far from here, 
Your worthy consort did appear ; 
Her form, in spite of my surprise, 
I could not fail to recognize. 

My friend, said she, beware 
Lest funeral pomp about my bier, 

When I shall go with gods to share, 
Compel thine eye to drop a tear. 

With kindred saints I rove 

In the Elysian grove, 

And taste a sort of bliss 

Unknown in worlds like this. 
Still, let the royal sorrow flow 
I ts proper season here below ; 

'Tis not un pleasing, 1 confess. 
The king and court scarce hear him out. 
Up goes the loud and welcome shout — 
A miracle ! an apotheosis ! 
And such at once the fashion is. 
So far from dying in a ditch, 
The stag retires with presents rich. 

Amuse the ear of royalty 
With pleasant dreams and flattery, — 
No matter what you may have done, 
Nor yet how high its wrath may run, — 
The bait is swallowed — ohject won. 






THE HOROSCOPE. 






On death we mortals often run, 
Just by the roads we take to shun. 

A father's only heir, a son, 

Was over-loved and doted on 

So greatly, that astrology 

Was questioned what his fate might be. 

The man of stars this eaution gave — 

That, until twenty years of age, 

No lion, even in a eage, 
The boy should see, — his life to save. 
The sire, to silence every fear 
About a life so very dear, 
Forbade that any one should let 
His son beyond his threshold get. 
Within his palace walls, the boy 
Might all that heart could wish enjoy — 
Might with his mates walk, leap, and run, 
And frolic in the wildest fun. 
When come of age to love the chase, 

That exercise was oft depicted 
To him as one that brought disgrace, 

To which but blackguards were addicted. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 91 

But neither warning nor derision 
Could change his ardent disposition. 
The youth, fierce, restless, full of blood, 
Was prompted by the boiling flood 
To love the dangers of the wood. 
The more opposed, the stronger grew 
His mad desire. The cause he knew 
For which he was so closely pent ; 

And as, where'er he went, 
In that magnificent abode, 
Both tapestry and canvass showed 
The feats he did so much admire, 
A painted lion roused his ire. 
Ab, monster ! cried he, in his rage, 
'Tis you that keep me in my cage. 

With that, he clinched his fist, 

To strike the harmless beast — 

And did his hand empale 

Upon a hidden nail ! 

And thus this cherished head, 

For which the healing art 

But vainly did its part, 
Was hurried to the dead 

By caution blindly meant 

To shun that sad event. 

The poet iEschylus, 'tis said, 

By much the same precaution bled. 

A conjurer foretold 
A house would crush him in its fall ; — 



92 L A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Forth sallied he, though old, 
From town and roof-protected hall, 
And took his lodgings, wet or dry, 
Abroad, beneath the open sky. 
An eagle, bearing through the air 
A tortoise for her household fare, 
Which first she wished to break, 
The creature dropped, by sad mistake, 

Plump on the poet's forehead bare, 
As if it were a naked rock — 
To iEschylus a fatal shock ! 

From these examples, it appears, 
This art, if true in any wise, 

Makes men fulfil the very fears 
Engendered by its prophecies. 
But from this charge I justify, 
By branding it a total lie. 
I don't believe that Nature's powers 
Have tied her hands, or pinioned ours, 
By marking on the heavenly vault 
Our fate, without mistake or fault. 
That fate depends upon conjunctions 
Of places, persons, times, and tracks, 

And not upon the functions 
Of more or less of quacks. 
A king and clown beneath one planet's nod 
Are born ; one wields a sceptre, one a hod. 
But it is Jupiter that wills it so ! 

And who is he ? A soulless clod. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 93 

How can he cause such different powers to flow 
U pon the aforesaid mortals here below ? 
And how, indeed, to this far distant ball 
Can he impart his energy at all ? — 
How pierce the ether deeps profound, 
The sun, and globes that whirl around ? 
A mote might turn his potent ray 
Forever from its earthward way. 
Will find it, then, in starry cope, 
The makers of the horoscope ? 
The war with which all Europe's now afflicted — 
Deserves it not by them toVe been predicted ? 
Yet heard we not a whisper of it, 
Before it came, from any prophet. 
The suddenness of passion's gush, 
Of wayward life the headlong rush, — 
Permit they that the feeble ray 
Of twinkling planet, far away, 
Should trace our winding, zigzag course ? 
And yet this planetary force, 
As steady as it is unknown, 
These fools would make our guide alone — 
Of all our varied life the source ! 
Such doubtful facts as I relate — 
The petted child's and poet's fate — 
Our argument may well admit. 

The blindest man that lives in France 
The smallest mark would doubtless hit — 
Once in a thousand times — by chance. 




THE ASS AND THE DOG. 

Dame Nature, our respected mother, 
Ordains that we should aid each other. 

The ass this ordinance neglected, 
Though not a creature ill-affected. 
Alon£ the road a do£ and he 
One master followed silently. 
Their master slept : meanwhile, the ass 
Applied his nippers to the grass, 
Much pleased in such a place to stop, 
Though there no thistle he could crop. 
He would not be too delicate, 
Nor spoil a dinner for a plate, 
Which, but for that, his favorite dish, 
Were all that any ass could wish. 

My dear companion, Towser said, — ■ 
'Tis as a starving dog I ask it, — 
Pray lower down your loaded basket, 

And let me get a piece of bread. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 95 

No answer — not a word ! — indeed, 
The truth was, our Arcadian steed 
Feared lest, for every moment's flight, 
His nimble teeth should lose a bite. 
At last, I counsel you, said he, to wait 

Till master is himself awake, 

Who then, unless I much mistake, 
Will give his dog the usual bait. 
Meanwhile, there issued from the wood 
A creature of the wolfish brood, 
Himself by famine sorely pinched. 
At sight of him, the donkey flinched, 
And begged the dog to give him aid. 
The dog budged not, but answer made, — 
I counsel thee, my friend, to run, 
Till master's nap is fairly done ; 
There can, indeed, be no mistake, 
That he will very soon awake ; 
Till then, scud off with all your might ; 
And should he snap you, in your flight, 
This ugly wolf — why, let him feel 
The greeting of your well-shod heel. 
I do not doubt, at all, but that 
Will be enough to lay him flat. 

But ere he ceased, it was too late; 

The ass had met his cruel fate. 

Thus selfishness we reprobate. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE P ASH AW AND THE MERCHANT. 

A trading Greek, for want of law, 
Protection bought of a pashaw ; 
And like a nobleman he paid, 
Much rather than a man of trade — - 
Protection being, Turkish-wise, 
A costly sort of merchandise. 
So costly was it, in this case, 
The Greek complained, with tongue and face. 

Three other Turks, of lower rank, 
Would guard his substance as their own, 

And all draw less upon his bank, 
Than did the great pashaw alone. 
The Greek their offer gladly heard, 
And closed the bargain, with a word. 
The said pashaw was made aware, 
And counseled, with a prudent care, 
These rivals to anticipate, 
By sending them to heaven's gate, 
As messengers to Mahomet — 
Which measure should he much delay, 
Himself might go the self-same way, 
By poison offered secretly, 
Sent on, before his time, to be 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 97 

Protector to such arts and trades 
As flourish in the world of shades. 
On this advice, the Turk — no gander — 
Behaved himself like Alexander.* 
Straight to the merchant's, firm and stable, 
He went, and took a seat at table. 
Such calm assurance there was seen, 
Both in his words and in his mien, 
That e'en that weasel-sighted Grecian 
Could not suspect him of suspicion. 
My friend, said he, 1 know you've quit me, 
And some think caution would befit me, 
Lest to despatch me be your plan : 
But, deeming you too good a man 
To injure either friends or foes 
With poisoned cups or secret blows, 
I drown the thought, and say no more. 
But, as regards the three or four 
Who take my place, 
I crave your grace 
To listen to an apologue. 

A shepherd, with a single dog, 

Was asked the reason why 
He kept a dog, whose least supply 
Amounted to a loaf of bread 
For every day. The people said 

* Who took the medicine presented to him by his physician Philip, 
the moment after he had received a letter announcing that that very 
man designed to poison him. — Arrian, L. II. Chap. XIV. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

He'd better give the animal 

To guard the village seignior's hall : 

For him, a shepherd, it would be 

A thriftier economy 

To keep small curs, say two or three, 

That would not cost him half the food, 

And yet for watching be as good. 

The fools, perhaps, forgot to tell 

If they would fight the wolf as well. 

The silly shepherd, giving heed, 

Cast off his dog of mastiff breed, 

And took three dogs to watch his cattle, 

Which ate far less, but fled in battle. 

His flock such counsel lived to rue, 

As, doubtlessly, my friend, will you. 

If wise, my aid again you'll seek — 

And so, persuaded, did the Greek. 

Not vain our tale, if it convinces 
Small states that 'tis a wiser thing 
To trust a single powerful king, 

Than half a dozen petty princes. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 99 



THE USE OF KNOWLEDGE. 

Between two citizens 
A controversy grew. 
The one was poor, bat much he knew : 
The other, rich, with little sense, 
Claimed that, in point of excellence, 
The merely wise should bow the knee 
To all such moneyed men as he. 
The merely fools, he should have said ; 
For why should wealth hold up its head, 
When merit from its side hath fled ? 
My friend, quoth Bloated-purse 
To his reverse, 
You think yourself considerable. 
Pray, tell me, do you keep a table ? 
What comes of this incessant reading, 
In point of lodging, clothing, feeding ? 
It gives one, true, the highest chamber, 
One coat for June and for December, 
His shadow for his sole attendant, 
And hunger always in th' ascendant. 
What profits he his country, too, 
Who scarcely ever spends a sou ? 
Will, haply, be a public charge ? 
Who profits more the state at large, 



100 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Than he whose luxuries dispense 
Among the people wealth immense? 
We set the streams of life a flowing ; 
We set all sorts of trades a going. 
The spinner, weaver, sewer, vender, 
And many a wearer, fair and tender, 
All live and flourish on the spender — 
As do, indeed, the reverend rooks, 
Who waste their time in making books. 
These words, so full of impudenee, 
Received their proper recompense. 
The man of letters held his peace, 
Though much he might have said with ease. 
A war avenged him soon and well ; 
In it their common city fell. 
Both fled abroad ; the ignorant, 
By fortune thus brought down to want, 
Was treated every where with scorn, 
And roamed about, a wretch forlorn ; 
Whereas the scholar, every where, 
Was nourished by the public care. 

Let fools the studious despise ; 
There's nothing lost by being wise 



MM \ I Ik 







3* ji i*j & E3 i^aiBsju'o 



THE FAITHLESS DEPOSITARY. 




hanks to Memory's daughters nine, 
Animals have graced my line : 

Higher heroes in my story 

Might have won me less of glory. 
Wolves, in language of the sky, 

Talk with dogs throughout my verse ; 
Beasts with others shrewdly vie, 

Representing characters : 



102 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Fools ill furs not second hand, 
Sages hoofed or feathered, stand : 
Fewer truly are the latter, 
More the former — ay, and fatter. 

Flourish also in my scene 
Tyrants, villains, mountebanks, 
Beasts incapable of thanks, 
Beasts of rash and reckless pranks, 

Beasts of sly and flattering mien ; 

Troops of liars, too, I ween. 
As to men, of every age, 
All are liars, saith the sage. 
Had he writ but of the low, 
One could hardly think it so ; 
But that human mortals, all, 
Lie like serpents, great and small, 
Had another certified it, 
I, for one, should have denied it, 
He who lies in iEsop's way, 
Or like Homer, minstrel gray, 
Is no liar, sooth to say. 
Charms that bind us like a dream, 

Offspring of their happy art, 
Cloked in fiction, more than seem 

Truth to offer to the heart. 
Both have left us works which I 
Think unworthy e'er to die. 
Liar call not him who squares 
All his ends and aims with theirs ; 

But from sacred truth to vary, 

Like the false depositary, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 103 

Is to be, by every rule, 
Both a liar and a fool. 
The story goes : 

A man of trade, 
In Persia, with his neighbor made 
Deposit, as he left the state, 
Of iron, say a hundred weight. 
Returned, said he, My iron, neighbor. 
Your iron ! you have lost your labor ; 
I grieve to say it, — 'pon my soul, 
A rat has eaten up the whole. 
My men were sharply scolded at, 
But yet a hole, in spite of that, 

Was left, as one is wont to be 

In every barn or granary, 
By which crept in that cursed rat. 
Admiring much the novel thief, 
The man affected full belief. 

Erelong his faithless neighbor's child 
He stole away, — a heavy lad, — 
And then to supper bade the dad, 
Who thus plead off in accents sad : — 
It was but yesterday I had 

A boy as fine as ever smiled, 
An only son, as dear as life, 
The darling of myself and wife. 
Alas ! we have him now no more, 
And every joy with us is o'er. 
Replied the merchant, Yesternight, 

By evening's faint and dusky ray, 



104 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

1 saw a monstrous owl alight, 
And bear jour darling son away 
To yonder tottering ruin gray. 
Can I believe you, when you say 
An owl bore off so large a prey ? 
How could it be ? the father cried ; 
The thing is surely quite absurd ; 
My son with ease had killed the bird. 
The how of it, the man replied, 
Is not my province to decide ; 
I know I saw your son arise, 
Borne through the air before my eyes. 
Why should it seem a strange affair, 
Moreover, in a country where 
A single rat contrives to eat 
A hundred pounds of iron meal, 
That owls should be of strength to lift ye 
A booby boy that weighs but fifty ? 
The other plainly saw the trick, 
Restored the iron very quick, 
And got, with shame as well as joy, 
Possession of his kidnapped boy. 

The like occurred two travellers between. 
One was of those 
Who wear a microscope, I ween, 
Each side the nose. 
Would you believe their tales romantic, 
Our Europe, in its monsters, beats 
The lands that feel the tropic heats, 
Surcharged with all that is gigantic. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



105 



This person, feeling free 
To use the trope hyperbole, 
Had seen a cabbage with his eyes 
Exceeding any house in size. 
And I have seen, the other cries, 
Resolved to leave his fellow in the lurch, 
A pot that would have held a church. 
Why, friend, don't give that doubting look, — 
The pot was made your cabbages to cook. 
This pot-discoverer was a wit ; 
The iron-monger, too, was wise. 
To such absurd and ultra lies 
Their answers were exactly fit. 
'Twere doing honor overmuch, 
To reason or dispute with such. 
To overbid them is the shortest path, 
And less provocative of wrath. 




JUPITER AND THE THUNDERBOLTS. 

Said Jupiter, one day, 

As on a cloud he la}', 

Observing all our crimes, 

Come, let us change the times, 

By leasing out anew 

A world whose wicked crew 

Have weaned out our grace. 

And cursed us to our face. 

Hie hellward, Mercury ; 

A Fury bring to me, 

The direst of the three. 

Race nursed too tenderly ! 

This day your doom shall be. 
E'en while he spoke their fate, 
His wrath began to moderate. 



O kings, with whom his will 
Hath lodged our good and ill. 
Your wrath and storm between 
One night should intervene. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 107 

The god of rapid wing 

And lip unfaltering 

To sunless regions sped, 

And met the sisters dread. 

To grim Tisiphone 

And pale Megaera, he 

Preferred, as murderess, 

Alecto, pitiless. 
This choice so roused the fiend, 

By Pluto's beard she swore 

The human race no more 
Should be by handfuls gleaned, 

But in one solid mass 
Th' infernal gates should pass. 
But Jove, displeased with both 
The Fury and her oath, 
Despatched her back to hell. 

And then a bolt he hurled, 

Down on a faithless world, 
Which in a desert fell. 

Aimed by a father's arm, 

It caused more fear than harm. 

(All fathers strike aside.) 

What did from this betide ? 

Our evil race grew bold, 

Resumed their wicked tricks, 

Increased them manifold, 

Till, all Olympus through, 

Indignant murmurs flew. 

When, swearing by the Styx, 



108 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The sire that rules the air 
Storms promised to prepare 
More terrible and dark, 
Which should not miss their mark. 
A father's wrath it is ! 
The other deities 
All in one voice exclaimed; 
And, might the thing be named, 
Some other god would make 
Bolts better for our sake. 
This Vulcan undertook. 
His rumbling forges shook 
And glowed with fervent heat, 
While Cyclops blew and beat. 
Forth from the plastic flame 
Two sorts of bolts there came. 
Of these, one misses not : 
'Tis by Olympus shot, — 
That is, the gods at large. 
The other, bearing wide, 
Hits mountain-top or side, 
Or makes a cloud its targe. 
And this it is alone 
Which leaves the father's throne. 




THE FALCON AND THE CAPON. 

You often hear a sweet, seductive call : 
If wise, you hasten towards it not at ail, — 
And, if you heed my apologue, 
You act like John de Nivelle's dog.* 

A capon, citizen of Mans, 
Was summoned from a throng 
To answer to the village squire, 
Before tribunal called the fire. 

The matter to disguise, 

The kitchen sheriff wise 
Cried, Biddy — Biddy — Biddy ! — 
But not a moment did he — 

This Norman and a halff — 
The smooth official trust. 
Your bait, said he, is dust, — 

And I'm too old for chaff. 



* A dog which, according to the French proverb, ran away when hia 
master called him. 

i Though the Normans are proverbial for their shrewdness, the 
French have, nevertheless, a proverb that they come to Paris to be 
hanged. Hence La Fontaine makes his capon, who knew how to 
Bhun a similar fate, le Normand el demi — the Norman and a half. 



HO LA FONTAINES FABLES. 

Meantime, a falcon, on his perch, 
Observed the flight and search. 
In man, by instinct or experience, 
The capons have so little confidence, 
That this was not without much trouble caught, 
Though for a splendid supper sought. 
To lie, the morrow night, 
In brilliant candle light, 
Supinely on a dish 
Midst viands, fowl, and fish, 
With all the ease that heart could wish — 
This honor, from his master kind, 
The fowl would gladly have declined. 
Outcried the bird of chase, 
As in the weeds he eyed the skulker's face, — 
Why, what a stupid, blockhead race! — 
Such witless, brainless fools 
Might well defy the schools. 
For me, I understand 
To chase at word 
The swiftest bird, 
Aloft, o'er sea or land ; 
At slightest beck, 
Returning quick 
To perch upon my master's hand. 
There, at his window he appears — 
He waits thee — hasten — hast no ears ? 
Ah ! that 1 have, the fowl replied ; 
But what from master might betide ? 
Or cook, with cleaver at his side ? 




THE FOX AND« THE GRAPES. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. HI 

Return you may for such a call, 

But let me fly their fatal hall ; 

And spare your mirth at my expense : 

Whate'er I lack, 'tis not the sense 

To know that all this sweet-toned breath 

Is spent to lure me to my death. 

If you had seen upon the spit 

As many of the falcons roast 

As I have of the capon host, 
You would not thus reproach my wit. 



THE FOX AND THE GRAPES. 

A fox, almost with hunger dying, 
Some grapes upon a trellis spying, 
To all appearance ripe, clad in 

Their tempting russet skin, 
Most gladly would have eat them ; 
But since he could not get them, 

So far above his reach the vine, — 
They're sour, he said ; such grapes as these 
The dogs may eat them if they please ! 

Did he not better than to whine ? 



112 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE CAT AND THE RAT. 

Four creatures, wont to prowl, — 

Sly Grab-and-Snateh, the cat, 
Grave Evil-bode, the owl, 
Thief Nibble-stitch, the rat, 
And Madam Weasel, prim and fine, — 
Inhabited a rotten pine. 
A man their home discovered there, 
And set, one night, a cunning snare. 
The cat, a noted early-riser, 
AVent forth, at break of day, 
To hunt her usual prey. 

Not much the wiser 
For morning's feeble ray, 
The noose did suddenly surprise her. 
Waked by her strangling cry, 
Gray Nibble-stitch drew nigh : 
As full of joy was he 
As of despair was she, 
For in the noose he saw 
His foe of mortal paw. 
Dear friend, said Mrs. Grab-and-Snatch, 
Do, pray, this cursed cord detach. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. H3 

I've always known your skill, 

And often your good will ; 
Now help me from this worst of snares, 
In which I fell at unawares. 

'Tis by a sacred right. 

You, sole of all your race, 
By special love and grace, 

Have been my favorite — 
The darling of my eyes. 

'Twas ordered by celestial cares, 
No doubt ; I thank the blessed skies, 

That, going out to say my prayers, 
As cats devout each morning do, 
This net has made me pray to you. 
Come, fall to work upon the cord. 
Replied the rat, And what reward 

Shall pay me, if I dare ? 

Why, said the cat, I swear 

To be your firm ally : 

Henceforth, eternally, 

These powerful claws are yours, 

Which safe your life insures. 
I'll guard from quadruped and fowl ; 
I'll eat the weasel and the owl. 

Ah, cried the rat, you fool ! 
I'm quite too wise to be your tool. 
He said, and sought his snug retreat, 
Close at the rotten pine-tree's feet, 
Where plump he did the weasel meet ; 
Whom shunning by a happy dodge, 
He climbed the hollow trunk to lodge ; 



114 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And there the savage owl he saw. 
Necessity became his law, 
And down he went, the rope to gnaw. 
Strand after strand in two he bit, 
And freed, at last, the hypocrite. 
That moment came the man in sight 
The new allies took hasty flight. 

A good while after that, 

Our liberated cat 

Espied her favorite rat, 
Quite out of reach, and on his guard. 
My friend, said she, I take your shyness hard ; 
Your caution wrongs my gratitude ; 

Approach, and greet your stanch ally. 

Do you suppose, dear rat, that I 
Forget the solemn oath 1 mewed ? 
Do I forget, the rat replied, 
To what your nature is allied ? 

To thankfulness, or even pity, 

Can cats be ever bound by treaty.' 1 ' 

Alliance from necessity 

Is safe just while it has to he. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. H5 



EDUCATION. 







La pluck and Caesar brothers were, descended 
From dogs by Fame the most commended, 
Who falling, in their puppyhood, 
To different masters anciently, 
One dwelt and hunted in the boundless wood ; 
From thieves the other kept a kitchen free. 
At first, each had another name ; 
But, by their bringing up, it came, 
While one improved upon his nature, 
The other grew a sordid creature, 

Till, by some scullion called Lapluck, 
The name ungracious ever stuck. 

To high exploits his brother grew, 
Put many a stag at bay, and tore 
Full many a trophy from the boar ; 
In short, him first, of all his crew, 
The world as Caesar knew; 
And care was had, lest, by a baser mate, 
His noble blood should e'er degenerate. 
Not so with his neglected brother ; 
He made whatever came a mother ; 
And, by the laws of population, 
His race became a countless nation — 
The common turnspits throughout France . 
Where danger is, they don't advance : — 
Precisely the antipodes 
Of what we call the Caesars, these ! 



116 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Oft fells the son below his sire's estate ; 
Through want of care all things degenerate. 
For lack of nursing Nature and her gifts, 
What crowds from gods become mere kitchen thrifts ! 



THE TWO DOGS AND THE DEAD ASS. 

The Virtues should be sisters, hand in hand, 
Since banded brothers all the Vices stand ; 

When one of these our hearts attacks, 
All come in file ; there only lacks, 

From out the cluster, here and there, 
A mate of some antagonizing pair, 
That can't agree the common roof to share. 
But all the Virtues, as a sisterhood, 
Have scarcely ever in one subject stood. 

We find one brave, but passionate ; 

Another prudent, but ingrate. 

Of beasts, the dog may claim to be 

The pattern of fidelity ; 

But, for our teaching little wiser, 
He's both a fool and gormandizer. 
For proof, I cite two mastiffs, that espied 
A dead ass floating on a water wide. 

The distance growing more and more, 

Because the wind the carcass bore, — 

My friend, said one, your eyes are best ; 

Prav let them on the water rest : 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. H7 

What thing is that 1 seem to see ? 
An ox, or horse ? what can it be ? 
Hey ! cried his mate ; what matter winch, 
Provided we could get a flitch ? 
It doubtless is our lawful prey : 
The puzzle is to find some way 
To get the prize ; for wide the space 
To swim, with wind against your face.* 
Let's drink the flood ; our thirsty throats 
Will gain the end as well as boats 
The water swallowed, by and by 
We'll have the carcass, high and dry — 
Enough to last a week, at least. 
Both drank as some do at a feast ; 
Their breath was quenched before their thirst, 
And presently the creatures burst ! 

And such is man. Whatever he 
May set his soul to do or be, 
To him is possibility. 

How many vows he makes ! 

How many steps he takes ! 
How does he strive, and pant, and strain, 
Fortune's or Glory's prize to gain ! 
If round my farm off well I must, 
Or fill my coffers with the dust, 
Or master Hebrew, science, history, — 
I make my task to drink the sea. 

* Did La Fontaine, to enhance the folly of these dogs, make them 
bad judges of the course of the wind, or did he forget what he had 
said a few lines above? — En. 



118 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

One spirit's projects to fulfil, 

Four bodies would require ; and still 

The work would stop half done ; 
The lives of four Methuselahs, 
Placed end to end for use, alas ! 

Would not suffice the wants of one. 



THE MAN AND THE FLEA. 

Impertinent, we tease and weary Heaven 
With prayers which would insult mere mortals even 
'Twould seem that not a god in all the skies 
From our affairs must ever turn his eyes, 
And that the smallest of our race 
Could hardly eat, or wash his face, 
Without, like Greece and Troy for ten years' space 
Embroiling all Olympus in the case. 

A flea some blockhead's shoulder bit, 
And then his clothes refused to quit. 
O Hercules, he cried, you ought to purge 
The world of this far worse than hydra scourge. 
O Jupiter, what are your bolts about, 
They do not put these foes of mine to rout ? 

To crush a flea, this fellow's fingers under, 

The gods must lend the fool their club and thunder. 




JHE WALLET. 



From heaven, one day, did Jupiter proclaim, 

Let all that live before my throne appear, 
And there, if any one hath aught to blame, 
In matter, form, or texture of his frame, 

He may bring forth his grievance without, fear. 
Redress shall instantly be given to each. 
Come, monkey, now, first let us have your speech. 
You see these quadrupeds, your brothers ; 
Comparing, then, yourself with others, 

Are you well satisfied ? And wherefore not ? 
Said Jock. Haven't I four trotters with the rest? 
Is not my visage comely as the best? 

But this, my brother Bruin, is a blot 
On thy creation fair. 
And sooner than be painted, I'd be shot, 

Were I, great sire, a bear. 
The bear approaching, doth he make complaint i 
Not he ; — himself he lauds without restraint. 

The elephant he needs must criticise ; 

To crop his ears and stretch his tail were wise; 

A creature he of huge, misshapen size. 



120 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The elephant, though famed as beast judicious, 
While on his own account he had no wishes, 
Pronounced dame whale too big to suit his taste ; 
Of flesh and fat she was a perfect waste. 
The little ant, again, pronounced the gnat too wee; 
To such a speck, a vast colossus she. 
Each censured by the rest, himself content, 
Back to their homes all living things were sent. 
Such folly liveth yet with human fools. 
For others lynxes, for ourselves but moles, 
Great blemishes in other men we spy, 
Which in ourselves we pass most kindly by. 
As in this world we're but way-farers, 
Kind Heaven has made us wallet- bearers. 
The pouch behind our own defects must store, 
The faults of others lod^e in that before. 





DEMOCRITUS AND THE PEOPLE OF ABDERA. 



How do I hate the tide of vulgar thought ! 
Profane, unjust, with childish folly fraught, 
It breaks and bends the rays of truth divine, 
And by its own conceptions measures mine. 
Famed Epicurus' master tried 
The power of this unstable tide. 
His country said the sage was mad — 

The simpletons! But why? — 
No prophet ever honor had 

Beneath his native sky. 
Democritus, in truth, was wise ; 
The mass were mad, with faith in lies. 

So far this error went, 

That all Abdera sent 

To old Hippocrates 

To cure the sad disease. 
Our townsman, said the messengers. 
Appropriatejy shedding tears, 
Hath lost his wits ! Democritus, 
By study spoiled, is lost to us. 
Were he but filled with ignorance, 
We should esteem him less a dunce* 



122 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

He saith that worlds like this exist, 
An absolutely endless list, — 
And peopled, even, it may be, 
With countless hosts as wise as we ! 
But, not contented with such dreams, 
His brain with viewless " atoms " teems, 
Instinct with deathless life, it seems. 
And, never stirring from the sod below, 
He weighs and measures all the stars ; 

And, while he knows the universe, 
Himself he doth not know. 
Though now his lips he strictly bars, 

He once delighted to converse. 
Come, godlike mortal, try thy art divine 
Where traits of worst insanity combine. 

Small faith the great physician lent, 
But still, perhaps more readily, he went. 

And mark what meetings strange 
Chance causes in this world of change ! 

Hippocrates arrived in season, 

Just as his patient (void of reason !) 
Was searching whether reason's home, 
In talking animals and dumb, 
Be in the head, or in the heart, 
Or in some other local part. 
All calmly seated in the sha^le, 
Where brooks their softest music made, 
He traced, with study most insane, 
The convolutions of a brain ; 
And at his feet lay many a scroll — 
The works of sages on the soul. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



123 



Indeed, so much absorbed was he, 
His friend, at first, he did not see. 
A pair so admirably matched, 
Their compliments erelong despatched. 
In time and talk, as well as dress, 
The wise are frugal, I confess. 
Dismissing trifles, they began 
At once with eagerness to scan • 
The life, and soul, and laws of man ; 
Nor stopped till they had travelled o'er all 
The ground, from physical to moral. 
My time and space would fail, 
To give the full detail. 

But I have said enough to show 
How little 'tis the people know. 
How true, then, goes the saw abroad — 
Their voice is but the voice of God ! 




124 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE WOLF AND THE HUNTER. 

Thou lust of gain, — foul fiend, whose evil eyes 
Regard as nought the blessings of the skies, — 
Must 1 forever battle thee in vain ? 
How long demandest thou to gain 
The meaning of my lessons plain ? 
Will constant getting never cloy ? 
Will man ne'er slacken to enjoy ? 
Haste, friend ; thou hast not long to live : 
Let me the precious word repeat, 
And listen to it, 1 entreat ; 
A richer lesson none can give — 
The sovereign antidote for sorrow — 
ENJOY.— 1 will.— But when?— To-morrow.- 
Ah ! death may take you on the way , 
Why not enjoy, I ask, to-day ? 
Lest envious fate your hopes ingulf, 
As once it served the hunter and the wolf. 
The former, with his fatal bow, 
A noble deer had laid full low : 
A fawn approached, and quickly lay 
Companion of the dead, 
For side by side they bled. 
Could one have wished a richer prey ? 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 125 

Such luck had been enough to sate 

A hunter wise and moderate. 
Meantime a boar, as big as e'er was taken, 
Our archer tempted, proud, and fond of bac n. 

Another candidate for Styx, 

Struck by his arrow, foams and kicks. 

But strangely do the shears of Fate 

To cut his cable hesitate. 

Alive, yet dying, there he lies, 

A glorious and a dangerous prize. 

And was not this enough ? Not quite 

To fill a conqueror's appetite ; 

For, ere the boar was dead, he spied 

A partridge by a furrow's side — 

A trifle to his other game. 
Once more his bow he drew ; 

The desperate boar upon him came, 
And in his dying vengeance slew : 
The partridge thanked him as she flew. 

Thus much is to the covetous addressed ; 
The miserly shall have the rest. 

A wolf, in passing, saw that woful sight. 

O Fortune, cried the savage, with delight, 
A fane to thee I'll build outright ! 
Four carcasses ! how rich ! but spare — 
I'll make them last — such luck is rare, 
(The miser's everlasting plea.) 
They'll last a month, for — let me see — 



126 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



One, two, three, four — the weeks are four, 
If I can count — and some days more. 
Well, two days hence 
And I'll commence. 
Meantime, the string upon this bow 

I'll stint myself to eat ; 
For by its mutton-smell 1 know 

'Tis made of entrails sweet. 
His entrails rued the fatal weapon, 
Which, while he heedlessly did step on, 
The arrow pierced his bowels deep, 
And laid him lifeless on the heap. 

Hark, stingy souls! insatiate leeches! 
Our text this solemn duty teaches, — 
Enjoy the present ; do not wait 
To share the wolf's or hunter's fate. 




THE YOUNG WIDOW. 



A husband's death brings always sighs; 

The widow sobs, sheds tears — then dries. 

Of Time the sadness borrows wings , 

And Time returning pleasure brings. 

Between the widow of a year 

And of a day, the difference 
Is so immense, 

That very few who see her 

Would think the laughing dame 

And weeping one the same. 

The one puts on repulsive action, 

The other shows a strong attraction. 
The one gives up to sighs, or true or false ; 
The same sad note is heard, whoever calls. 

Her grief is inconsolable, 

They say ; not so our fable, 

Or, rather, not so says the truth. 

To other worlds a husband went 
And left his wife in prime of youth. 
Above his dying couch she bent, 



128 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And cried, My love, O wait for me ! 
My soul would gladly go with thee ! 

(But yet it did not. go.) 
The fair, one's sire, a prudent man, 
Checked not the current of her woe. 

At last he kindly thus began : — 
My child, your grief should have its bound. 
What boots it him beneath the ground 
That you should drown your charms ? 

Live for the living, not the dead. 

I don't propose that you be led 
At once to Hymen's arms ; 
But give me leave, in proper time, 
To rearrange the broken chime 
With one who is as good, at least, 
In all respects, as the deceased. 
Alas ! she sighed, the cloister vows 
Befit me better than a spouse. 
The father left the matter there. 
About one month thus mourned the fair; 
Another month, her weeds arranged ; 
Each day some robe or lace she changed, 
Till mourning dresses served to grace, 
And took ol ornament the place. 

The frolic band of loves 

Came flocking back like doves. 

Jokes, laughter, and the dance, 

The native growth of France, 

Had finally their turn ; 

And thus, by night and morn, 




THE COCK, THE CAT, AND THE YOUNG MOUSE. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 129 

She plunged, to tell the truth, 
Deep in the fount of Youth. 
Her sire no longer feared 
The dead so much endeared; 
But, as he never spoke, 
Herself the silence broke : — 
Where is that youthful spouse, said she, 
Whom, sir, you lately promised me ? 



THE WOLF AND THE STOltK. 

The wolves are prone to play the glutton. 

One, at a certain feast, 'tis said, 
So stuffed himself with lamb and mutton, 

He seemed but little short of dead. 
Deep in his throat a bone stuck fast. 

Well for this wolf, who could not speak, 
That soon a stork quite near him passed. 
By signs invited, with her beak 
The bone she drew 
With slight ado, 
And for this skilful surgery 
Demanded, modestly, her fee. 
Your fee! replied the wolf, 
In accents rather gruff; 
And is it not enough 
Your neck is safe from such a gult t 
Go, for a wretch in grate, 
Nor tempt again your fate ! 



130 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE COCKEREL, THE CAT, AND THE 
YOUNG MOUSE. 

A youthful mouse, not up to trap, 
Had almost met a sad mishap. 
The story hear him thus relate, 

With great importance, to his mother : — 
[ passed the mountain bounds of this estate, 
And off was trotting on another, 
Like some young rat with nought to do 
But see things wonderful and new, 
When two strange creatures came in view. 
The one was mild, benign, and gracious ; 
The other, turbulent, rapacious, 
With voice terrific, shrill, and rough, 
And on his head a bit of stuff 
That looked like raw and bloody meat, 
Raised up a sort of arms, and beat 
The air, as if he meant to fly, 
And bore his plumy tail on high. 

A cock, that just began to crow, 
As if some nondescript, 
From far New Holland shipped, 
Was what our mousling pictured so. 
He beat his arms, said he, and raised his voice, 

And made so terrible a noise, 
That I, who, thanks to Heaven, mayjustly boast 
Myself as bold as any mouse, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 131 

Scud off, (his voice would even scare a ghost !) 
And cursed himself and all his house ^ 
For, but for him, I should have staid, 
And doubtless an acquaintance made 
With her who seemed so mild and good. 
Like us, in velvet cloak and hood, 
She wears a tail that's full of grace, 
A very sweet and humble face, — 
No mouse more kindness could desire, — 
And jet her eye is full of fire. 
I do believe the lovely creature 
A friend of rats and mice by nature. 
Her ears, though, like herself, they're bigger, 
Are just like ours in form and figure. 
To her I was approaching, when, 
Aloft on what appeared his den, 
The other screamed, — and off I fled. 
My son, his cautious mother said, 
That sweet one was the cat, 
The mortal foe of mouse and rat, 
Who seeks by smooth deceit, 
Her appetite to treat. 
So far the other is from that, 

We yet may eat 

His dainty meat ; 
Whereas the cruel cat, 
Whene'er she can, devours 
No other meat than ours. 

Remember while you liv? 

It is by looks that men deceive. 




s u 



THE FOX, THE MONKEY, AND THE ANIMALS. 

Left kingless by the lion's death, 

The beasts once met, our story saith, 

Some fit successor to install. 
Forth from a dragon-guarded, moated place, 
The crown was brought, and, taken from its case, 

And being tried by turns on all, 

The heads of most were found too small ; 

Some horned were, and some too big ; 
Not one would fit the regal gear. 

Forever ripe for such a rig, 

The monkey, looking very queer, 

Approached with antics and grimaces, 

And, after scores of monkey faces, 
With what would seem a gracious stoop, 
Passed through the crown as through a hoop. 

The beasts, diverted with the thing, 

Did homage to him as their king. 

The fox alone the vote regretted, 

But yet in public never fretted. 

When he his compliments had paid 

To royalty, thus newly made. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 133 

Great sire, I know a place, said he, 

Where lies concealed a treasure, 
Which, by the right of royalty, 

Should bide your royal pleasure. 
The king lacked not an appetite, 

For such financial pelf, 
And, not to lose his royal right, 

Ran straight to see it for himself. 
It was a trap, and he was caught. 
Said Renard, Would you have it thought, 
You ape, that you can fill a throne, 
And guard the rights of all, alone, 
Not knowing how to guard your own ? 

The beasts all gathered from the farce, 
That stuff for kings is very scarce. 





THE TWO DOVES. 



^ 



Two doves once cherished for each other 
The love that brother hath for brother. 
But one, of scenes domestic tiring, 
To see the foreign world aspiring, 

Was fool enough to undertake 

A journey long, o'er land and lake. 

What plan is this ? the other cried ; 

Wouldst quit so soon thy brother's side ? 

This absence is the worst of ills ; 

Thy heart may bear, but me it kills. 

Pray, let the dangers, toil, and care, 
Of which all travellers tell, 
Your courage somewhat quell. 

Still, if the season later were — 

O wait the zephyrs ! — hasten not — 
Just now the raven, on his oak, 
In hoarser tones than usual spoke. 

My heart forebodes the saddest lot, — 

The falcons, nets — Alas, it rains ! 

My brother, are thy wants supplied — 
Provisions, shelter, pocket-guide, 

And all that unto health pertains ? 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 135 

These words occasioned some demur 

In our imprudent traveller. 

But restless curiosity 

Prevailed at last ; and so said he, — 

The matter is not worth a sigh ; 

Three days, at most, will satisfy, 

And then, returning, I shall tell 

You all the wonders that befell, 

With scenes enchanting and sublime 
Shall sweeten all our coming time. 
Who seeth nought, hath nought to say. 
My travel's course, from day to day, 
Will be the source of great delight. 
A store of tales I shall relate, — 
Say there 1 lodged at such a date, 
And saw there such and such a sight. 
You'll think it all occurred to you. — 
On this, both, weeping, bade adieu. 
Away the lonely wanderer flew. — 
A thunder-cloud began to lower ; 
He sought, as shelter from the shower, • 
The only tree that graced the plain, 
Whose leaves ill turned the pelting rain. 
The sky once more serene above, 
On flew our drenched and dripping dove, 
And dried his plumage as he could. 
Next, on the borders of a wood, 
He spied some scattered grains of wheatj 
Which one, he thought, might safely eat; 
For there another dove he saw. — 
Ho felt the snare around him draw ! 



136 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

This wheat was but a treacherous bait 
To lure poor pigeons to their fate. 
The snare had been so long in use, 
With beak and wings he struggled loose ; 
Some feathers perished while it stuck ; 
But, what was worst in point of luck, 
A hawk, the crudest of foes, 
Perceived him clearly as he rose, 
Off dragging, like a runaway, 
A piece of string. The bird of prey 
Had bound him, in a moment more, 
Much faster than he was before, 
But from the clouds an eagle came, 
And made the hawk himself his game, 
/By war of robbers profiting, 
The dove for safety plied the wing, 
And, lighting on a ruined wall, 
Believed his dangers ended all. 
A roguish boy had there a sling, 
(Age pitiless, 
We must confess,) 
And, by a most unlucky fling, 
Half killed our hapless dove ; 
Who now, no more in love 
With foreign travelling, 
And lame in leg and wing, 

Straight homeward urged his crippled flight, 

Fatigued, but glad, arrived at night, 

In truly sad and piteous plight. 
The doves rejoined, I leave you all to say, 

What pleasure might their pains repay. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 137 

Ah, happy lovers, would you roam ? — 
Pray, let it not be far from home. 
To each the other ought to be 

A world of beauty ever new ; 
In each the other ought to see 

The whole of what is good and true. 

Myself have loved : nor would I then, 
For all the wealth of crowned men, 
Or arch celestial, paved with gold, 
The presence of those woods have sold, 
And fields, and banks, and hillocks, which 
Were by the joyful steps made rich, 
And smiled beneath the charming eyes 
Of her who made my heart a prize — 
To whom I pledged it, nothing loath, 
And sealed the pledge with virgin oath. 
Ah', when will time such moments bring again ? 
To me are sweet and charming objects vain — 
My soul forsaking to its restless mood ? 
O, did my withered heart but dare 

To kindle for the bright and good, 
Should not I find the charm still there ? 
Is love, to me, with things that were ? 



-8^ 



THE SERPENT AND THE FILE. 

A serpent, neighbor to a smith, 

(A neighbor bad to meddle with.) 

Went, through his shop, in search of food, 

But nothing found, 'tis understood, 

To eat, except a file of steel, 

Of which he tried to make a meal. 

The file, without a spark of passion, 

Addressed him in the following fashion . — 

Poor simpleton ! you surely bite 

With less of sense than appetite ; 

For ere from me you gain 

One quarter of a grain, 
You'll break your teeth from ear to ear. 
Time's are the only teeth I fear. 

This tale concerns those men of letters, 
Who, good for nothing, bite their betters. 
Their biting so is quite unwise. 
Think you, ye literary sharks, 
Your teeth will leave their marks 
Upon the deathless works you criticise ? 

Fie ! fie ! fie, men ! 
To you they're brass — they're steel — they're 
diamond. 




viia*&ai vasstto 



THE LION IN LOVE. 



TO MADEMOISELLE DE SEVIGNE. 




evigne, type ot every grace 
In female form and face, 
In your regardlessness of men, 
Can you show favor when 
The sportive fable craves your 

ear, 
And see, unntoved by fear., 
A lion's haughty heart 
Thrust through by Love's audacious dart ? 
Strange conqueror, Love ! And happy he. 
And strangely privileged and free, 
Who only knows by story 
Him and his feats of glory ! 



140 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

If on this subject you are wont 
To think the simple truth too blunt. 
The fabulous may less affront ; 
Which now, inspired with gratitude, 
Yea, kindled into zeal most fervent, 
Doth venture to intrude 
Within your maiden solitude, 
And kneel, your humble servant. — 
In times when animals were speakers, 
Among the quadrupedal seekers 
Of our alliance 
There came the lions. 
And wherefore not ? for then 
They yielded not to men 
In point of courage or of sense, 
Nor were in looks without pretence. 
A high-born lion, on his way 
Across a meadow, met one day 
A shepherdess, who charmed him so, 
That, as such matters ought to go, 
He sought the maiden for his bride. 
Her sire, it cannot be denied, 
Had much preferred a son-in-law 
Of less terrific mouth and paw. 
It was not easy to decide — 
The lion might the gift abuse — 
? Twas not quite prudent to refuse. 
And if refusal there should be, 
Perhaps a marriage one w T ould see, 
Some morning, made clandestinely. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 141 

For, over and above 
The fact that she could bear 
With none but males of martial air, 

The lady was in love 
With him of shaggy hair. 
Her sire, much wanting cover 
To send away the lover, 
Thus spoke : — My daughter, sir, 
Is delicate. I fear to her 

Your fond caressings 

Will prove rough blessings. 

To banish all alarm 

About such sort of harm, 
Permit us to remove the cause. 
By filing -off your teeth and claws. 
In such a case, your royal kiss 
Will be to her a safer bliss, 

And to yourself a sweeter ; 
Since she will more respond 
To those endearments fond 

With which you greet her. 
The lion gave consent at once, 
By love so great a dunce ! 
Without a tooth or claw now view him — 

A fort with cannon spiked. 
The dogs, let loose upon him, slew him, 
All biting safely where they liked. 

O, tyrant Love ! when held by you, 
We may to Prudence bid adieu. 




THE SCHOOL-BOY, THE PEDANT, AND THE OWNER 
OF A GARDEN. 

A boy, who savored of his school, — 
A double rogue and double fool, — 

By youth and by the privilege 
Which pedants have, by ancient right, 

To alter reason and abridge, — 
A 'neighbor robbed, with fingers light, 
Of flowers and fruit. This neighbor had, 
Of fruits that make the autumn glad, 
The very best — and none but he. 
Each season brought, from plant and tree, 
To him its tribute ; for, in spring, 
His was the brightest blossoming;. ' 
One day, he saw our hopeful lad 
Perched on the finest tree he had, 
Not only stuffing down the fruit, 
But spoiling, like a Vandal brute, 
The buds that play advance-courier 
Of plenty in the coming year. 
The branches, too, he rudely tore, 

And carried things to such a pass, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 143 

The owner sent his servant o'er 
To tell the master of his class. 

The latter came, and came attended 
By all the urchins of his school, 
And thus one plunderer's mischief mended 
By pouring in an orchard-full. 
It seems the pedant was intent 
On making public punishment, 
To teach his boys the force of law, 
And strike their roguish hearts with awe. 
The use of which he first must show 
From Virgil and from Cicero, 

And many other ancients noted, 
From whom, in their own tongues, he quoted. 

So long, indeed, his lecture lasted, 

While not a single urchin fasted, 

That, ere its close, their thievish crimes 
Were multiplied a hundred times. 

I hate all eloquence and reason 
Expended plainly out of season. 
Of all the beasts that earth have cursed 

While they have fed on't, 
The school-boy strikes me as the worst — 
Except the pedant. 
The better of these neighbors two 
For me, I'm sure, would never do. 



itaJ" 




THE SCULPTOR AND THE STATUE OF JUPITER. 

A block of marble was so fine, 
To buy it did a sculptor hasten. 

What shall my chisel, now 'tis mine — 
A god, a table, or a basin ? 

A god, said he, the thing shall be ; 

I'll arm it, too, with thunder. 
Let people quake, and bow the knee 

With reverential wonder. 

So well the cunning artist wrought 
All things within a mortal's reach, 

That soon the marble wanted nought 
Of being Jupiter, but speech. 



Indeed, the man whose skill did make 
Had scarcely laid his chisel down, 

Before himself began to quake, 
And fear his manufacture's frown. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 145 

And even this excess of faith 

The poet once scarce fell behind, 

The hatred fearing, and the wrath, 
Of gods the product of his mind. 

This trait we see in infancy 

Between the baby and its doll, 
Of wax or china, it may be — 

A pocket stuffed, or folded shawl. 

Imagination rules the heart : 

And here we find the fountain head 

From whence the pagan errors start, 
That o'er the teeming nations spread. 

With violent and flaming zeal, 

Each takes his own chimera's part ; 

Pygmalion doth a passion feel 
For Venus chiseled by his art. 

All men, as far as in them lies, 

Create realities of dreams. 
To truth our nature proves but ice ; 

To falsehood, fire it seems. 




THE MOUSE METAMORPHOSED INTO A MAID. 

A mouse once from an owl's beak fell ; 

I'd not have picked it up, I wis ; 
A Bramin did it : very well ; 

Each country has its prejudice. 
The mouse, indeed, was sadly bruised. 
Although, as neighbors, we are used 
To be more kind to many others, 
The Bramins treat the mice as brothers. 
The notion haunts their heads, that when 
The soul goes forth from dying men, 
It enters worm, or bird, or beast, 
As Providence or Fate is pleased ; 
And on this mystery rests their law, 
Which from Pythagoras they're said to draw. 
And hence the Bramin kindly prayed 
To one who knew the wizard's trade, 
To give the creature, wounded sore, 
The form in which it lodged before. 
Forthwith the mouse became a maid, 
Of years about iifteen ; 
-A lovelier was never seen. 
She would have waked, I ween, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 147 

In Priam's son, a fiercer flame 

Than did the beauteous Grecian dame. 

Surprised at such a novelty, 

The Bramin to the damsel cried, 
Your choice is free ; 
For every he 
Will seek you for his bride. 
Said she, Am I to have a voice ? 
The strongest, then, shall be my choice. 
O sun ! the Bramin cried, this maid is thine, 
And thou shalt be a son-in-law of mine. 
No, said the sun, this murky cloud, it seems, 
In strength exceeds me, since he hides my beams ; 
And him 1 counsel you to take. 
Again the reverend Bramin spake — 
O cloud, on-flying with thy stores of water, 
Pray, wast thou born to wed my daughter ? 
Ah, no, alas ! for, you may see, 
The wind is far too strong for me. 
My claims with Boreas' to compare, 
I must confess, I do not dare. 
O wind, then cried the Bramin, vexed, 
And wondering what would hinder next, — 
Approach, and, with thy sweetest air, 
Embrace — possess — the fairest fair. 
The wind, enraptured, thither blew ; — 
A mountain stopped him as he flew, 
To him now passed the tennis-ball, 
And from him to a creature small. 
Said he, I'd wed the maid, but that 
I've had a quarrel with the rat. 



148 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

A fool were I to take the bride 
From one so sure to pierce my side. 
The rat ! It thrilled the damsel's ear ; 
The name at once seemed sweet and dear. 
The rat ! 'Twas one of Cupid's blows ; 
The like full many a maiden knows ; 
But all of this beneath the rose. 

One smacketh ever of the place 
Where first he showed the world his face. 
Thus far the fable's clear as light ; 
But, if we take a nearer sight, 
There lurks within its drapery 
Somewhat of graceless sophistry ; 

For who, that worships e'en the glorious sun. 

Would not prefer to wed some cooler one ? 

And doth a flea's exceed a giant's might, 

Because the former can the latter bite ? 
And, by the rule of strength, the rat 
Had sent his bride to wed the cat ; 
From cat to dog, and onward still 
To wolf or tiger, if you will : 
Indeed, the fabulist might run 
A circle backward to the sun. — 
But to the change the tale supposes, — 
In learned phrase, metempsychosis. 
The very thing the wizard did 

Its falsity exposes — 
If that indeed were ever hid. 
According to the Bramins' plan, 
The proud, aspiring soul of man 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 149 

And souls that dwell in humbler forms 

Of rats and mice, and even worms, 

All issue from a common source, 

And, hence, they are the same of course. — 

Unequal but by accident 

Of organ and of tenement, 

They use one pair of legs, or two, 

Or e'en with none contrive to do, 

As tyrant matter binds them to. 

Why, then, could not so fine a frame 

Constrain its heavenly guest 
To wed the solar flame ? 

A rat her love possessed. 

In all respects, compared and weighed, 
The souls of men and souls of mice 

Quite different are made, — 
Unlike in sort as well as size. 
Each fits and fills its destined part 

As Heaven doth well provide ; 
Nor witch, nor fiend, nor magic art, 

Can set their laws aside. 




150 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE OYSTER AND THE LITIGANTS. 

Two pilgrims on the sand espied 

An oyster thrown up by the tide. 

In hope, both swallowed ocean's fruit ; 

But ere the fact there came dispute. 

While one stooped down to take the prey, 

The other pushed him quite away. 

Said he, 'twere rather meet 

To settle which shall eat. 
Why, he who first the oyster saw 
Should be its eater, by the law ; 
The other should but see him do it. 
Replied his mate, if thus you view it, 
Thank God, the lucky eye is mine. 
But I've an eye not worse than thine, 
The other cried, and will be cursed, 
If, too, I didn't see it first. 
You saw it, did you ? Grant it true, 
I saw it then, and felt it too. 
Amidst this sweet affair, 

Arrived a person very big, 

Ycleped Sir Nincom Periwig. 
They made him judge, — to set the matter square 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 151 

Sir Nincom, with a solemn face, 
Took up the oyster and the case : 
In opening both, the first he swallowed, 
And, in due time, his judgment followed. 
Attend : the court awards you each a shell 
Cost free ; depart in peace, and use them well. 
Foot up the cost of suits at law, 
The leavings reckon and awards, 
The cash you'll see Sir Nincom draw, 
And leave the parties — purse and cards. 

THE FOOL WHO SOLD WISDOM. 

Of fools come never in the reach ; 

No rule can I more wisely teach. 

Nor can there be a better one 

Than this, — distempered heads to shun. 

We often see them, high and low. 
They tickle e'en the royal ear, 
As privileged and free from fear 
They hurl about them joke and jeer, 

At pompous lord or silly beau. 

A fool, in town, did wisdom cry ; 
The people, eager, flocked to buy. 

Each for his money got, 

Paid promptly on the spot, 

Besides a box upon the head, 

Two fathoms' length of thread. 
The most were vexed — but quite in vain ; 
The public only mocked their pain. 



152 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The wiser they who nothing said, 

But pocketed the box and thread. 

To search the meaning of the thing 

Would only laughs and hisses bring. 

Hath reason ever guarantied 

The wit of fools in speech or deed ? 

'Tis said of brainless heads in France, 

The cause of what they do is chance. 

One dupe, however, needs must know 

What meant the thread, and what the blow ; 

So asked a sage, to make it sure. 

They're both hieroglyphics pure, 

The sage replied, without delay ; 

All people well advised will stay 

From fools this fibre's length away, 

Or get — I hold it sure as fate — 

The other symbol on the pate. 

So far from cheating you of gold, 

The fool this wisdom fairly sold. 





THE MONKEY AND THE LEOPARD. 



A monkey and a Jeopard were 
The rivals at a country fair. 
Each advertised his own attractions. 
Said one, Good sirs, the highest place 
My merit knows ; for, of his grace, 
The king hath seen me face to face ; 
And, judging by his looks and actions, 
I gave the best of satisfactions. 
When 1 am dead, 'tis plain enough, 
My skin will make his royal muff. 
So richly is it streaked and spotted, 
So delicately waved and dotted, 
Its various beauty cannot fail to please. 
And, thus invited, every body sees ; 
But soon they see, and soon depart. 
The monkey's show-bill to the mart 
His merits thus sets forth the while, 
All in his own peculiar style : — 
Come, gentlemen, I pray you, come ; 
In magic arts I am at home. 



154 LA FONTAINES FABLES. 

The whole variety in which 
My neighbor boasts himself so rich, 
Is to his simple skin confined, 
While mine is living in the mind. 
Your humble servant, Monsieur Gille, 
The son-in-law to Tickleville, 
Pope's monkey, and of great renown, 
Is now just freshly come to town, 
Arrived in three bateaux, express, 

Your worships to address ; 
For he can speak, you understand ; 
Can dance, and practise sleight of hand ; 
Can jump' through hoops, and balance sticks ; 
In short, can do a thousand tricks ; 

And all for blancos six — 

Not, messieurs, for a sou. 
And, if you think the price won't do, 
When you have seen, then he'll restore 
Each man his money at the door. 

The ape was not to reason blind ; 
For who in wealth of dress can find 
Such charms as dwell in wealth of mind ? 
One meets our ever-new desires, 
The other in a moment tires. 

Alas ! how many lords there are, 
Of mighty sway and lofty mien, 

Who, like this leopard at the fair, 
Show all their talents on the skin ! 




THE ACORN AND THE PUMPKIN. 

God's works are good. This truth to prove, 
Around the world I need not move ; 

I do it by the nearest pumpkin. 
This fruit so large, on vine so small, 

Surveying once, exclaimed a bumpkin — 
What could He mean who made us all ? 
He's left this pumpkin out of place. 
If I had ordered in the case, 
Upon that oak it should have hung — 
A noble fruit as ever swung 
To grace a tree so firm and strong. 
Indeed, it was a great mistake, 
As this discovery teaches, 
That I myself did not partake 
His counsels whom my curate preaches. 
All things had then in order come ; 

This acorn, for example, 
Not bigger than my thumb, 
Had not disgraced a tree so ample. 
The more I think, the more I wonder 

To see outraged proportion's laws, 



156 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



And that without the slightest cause ; 
God surely made an awkward blunder. 
With such reflections proudly fraught, 
Our sage grew tired of mighty thought, 
And threw himself on Nature's lap, 
Beneath an oak, to take his nap. 
Plump on his nose, by lucky hap, 
An acorn fell : he waked, and in 
The matted beard that graced his chin, 
He found the cause of such a bruise 
As made him different language use. 
O! O! he cried; 1 bleed! I bleed! 
And this is what has done the deed ! 
But, truly, what had been my fate, 
Had this had half a pumpkin's weight ! 
f see that God had reasons good, 
And all his works well understood. 
Thus home he went in humbler mood. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 157 



NOTHING TOO MUCH. 

Look where we will throughout creation, 
We look in vain for moderation. 
There is a certain golden mean, 
Which nature's sovereign Lord, I ween, 
Designed the path of all forever. 
Doth one pursue it ? Never. 
E'en things which by their nature bless, 
Are turned to curses by excess. 

The grain, best gift of Ceres fair, 
Green waving in the genial air, 
By overgrowth exhausts the soil ; 

By superfluity of leaves 

Defrauds the treasure of its sheaves, 
And mocks the busy farmer's toil. 
Not less redundant is the tree, 
So sweet a thing is luxury. 
The grain within due bounds to keep, 
Their Maker licenses the sheep 
The leaves excessive to retrench. 

In troops they spread across the plain, 

And, nibbling down the hapless grain, 
Contrive to spoil it, root and branch. 



158 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

So, then, with license from on high, 
The wolves are sent on sheep to prey ; 
The whole the greedy gluttons slay ; 

Or, if they don't, they try. 
Next, men are sent on wolves to take 

The vengeance now condign : 
In turn the same abuse they make 

Of this behest divine. 

Of animals, the human kind ^\y^ 
Are to excess the most inclined. 
On low and high we make the charge, ■ 
Indeed, upon the race at large. 
There liveth not the soul select 
That sinneth not in this respect. 
Of " Nought too much," the fact is, 
All preach the truth, — none practise. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 159 



THE WAX-CANDLE. 

From bovvers of gods the bees came down to man. 

On Mount Hymettus, first, they say, 

They made their home, and stored away 

The treasures which the zephyrs fan. 
When men had robbed these daughters of the sky, 
And left their palaces of nectar dry, — 

Or, as in French the thing's explained, 

When hives were of their honey drained, — 
The spoilers 'gan the wax to handle, 
And fashioned from it many a candle. 
Of these, one, seeing clay, made brick by fire, 
Remain uninjured by the teeth of time, 

Was kindled into great desire 
For immortality sublime. 

And so this new Empedocles 

Upon the blazing pile one sees, 

Self-doomed by purest folly 

To fate so melancholy. 

The candle lacked philosophy. 

All things are made diverse to be. 

To wander from our destined tracks — 
There cannot be a vainer wish. 

But this Empedocles of wax, 
That melted in the chafing-dish, 

Was truly not a greater fool 

Than he of whom we read at school. 




JUPITER AND THE PASSENGER. 

How danger would the gods enrich, 

If we the vows remembered which 

It drives us to ! But, danger past. 

Kind Providence is paid the last.— > 

No earthly debt is treated so. 

Now, Jove, the wretch exclaims, will wait ; 

He sends no sheriff to one's gate, 

Like creditors below ; 

But let me ask the dolt 

What means the thunderbolt. 



A passenger, endangered by the sea, 
Had vowed a hundred oxen good 
To him who quelled old Terra's brood. 
He had not one : as well might he 
Have vowed a hundred elephants. 
Arrived on shore, his good intents 
Were dwindled to the smoke which rose 
An offering merely for the nose, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 161 

From half a dozen beefless bones. 
Great Jove, said he, behold my vow ! 
The fumes of beef thou breathest now 

Are all thy godship ever owns : 
From debt I therefore stand acquitted. 
With seeming smile, the god submitted, 
But not long after caught him well, 
By sending him a dream, to tell 

Of treasure hid. Off ran the hV, 

As if to quench a house on fire, 
And on a band of robbers fell. 
As but a crown he had that day, 

He promised them of sterling gold 

A hundred talents, truly told ; 
Directing where concealed they lay, 
In such a village on their way. 
The rogues so much the tale suspected, 
Said one, If we should suffer you to, 
You'd cheaply get us all detected. 

Go, then, and bear your gold to Pluto. 



162 LA FONTAINES FABLES. 



THE CAT AND THE FOX. 

The cat and fox, when saints were all the rage, 
Together went on pilgrimage. 
Arch hypocrites and swindlers, they, 
By sleight of face and sleight of paw, 
Regardless both of right and law, 
Contrived expenses to repay, 
By eating many a fowl and cheese, 
And other tricks as bad as these. 
Disputing served them to beguile 
Their road of many a weary mile. 
Disputing ! but for this resort, 
The world would go to sleep, in short. 
Our pilgrims, as a thing of course, 
Disputed till their throats were hoarse. 

Then, dropping to a lower tone, 
They talked of this, and talked of that, 
Till Renard whispered to the cat, 

You think yourself a knowing one : 
How many cunning tricks have you ? 
For I've a hundred, old and new, 
All ready in my haversack. 
The cat replied, -I do not lack, 
Though with but one piovided. 




THE FOX AND THE CAT. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 163 

And, truth to honor, for that matter, 
I hold it than a thousand better. 

In fresh dispute they sided; 
And loudly were they at it, when 
Approached a mob of dogs and men. 
Now, said the cat, your tricks ransack, 
And put your cunning brains to rack, 
One life to save ; I'll show you mine — 
A trick, you see, for saving nine. 
With that, she climbed a lofty pine. 
The fox his hundred ruses tried, 

And yet no safety found. 
A hundred times he falsified 

The nose of every hound — 
Was here, and there, and every where, 

Above, and under ground ; 
But yet to stop he did not dare. 
Pent in a hole, it was no joke 
To meet the terriers or the smoke. 
So, leaping into upper air, 
He met two dogs, that choked him there. 

Expedients may be too many, 
Consuming time to choose and try. 

On one, but that as good as any, 
'Tis best in danger to rely. 



164 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE KITE AND THE NIGHTINGALE. 

A noted thief, the kite, 

Had set a neighborhood in fright, 

And raised the clamorous noise 

Of all the village boys, 

When, by misfortune, — sad to say, — 

A nightingale fell in his way. 

Spring's herald begged him not to eat 

A bird for music — not for meat. 

O spare ! cried she, and I'll relate 

The crime of Tereus and his fate, — 

What's Tereus ? Is it food for kites ? — 

No, but a king, of female rights 

The villain spoiler, whom I taught 

A lesson with repentance fraught , 

And, should it please you not to kill, 

My song about his fall 
Your very heart shall thrill, 

As it, indeed, does all. — 
Replied the kite, A pretty thing, 
When I am faint and famishing. 
To let you go and hear you sing ! — 
Ah, but I entertain the king ! — 
Well, when he takes you, let him hear 

Your tale, full wonderful, no doubt; 

For me, a kite, I'll go without. 
An empty stomach hath no ear. 




i^insiLiB a*a®s^o 



THE MILLER, HIS SON, AND THE ASS. 



TO M. DE MAUCKOIX 




ecause the arts are plainly birthright matter 
For fables we to ancient Greece are debtors 
But still this field could not be reaped so cleai 
As not to let us, later comers, glean. 
The fiction-world hath deserts yet to dare, 
And, daily, authors make discoveries there. 
I'd fain repeat one which our man of song, 
Old Malherbe, told one day to young Racar 



166 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Of Horace they the rivals and the heirs, 
Apollo's pets, — my masters, I should say, — 
Sole by themselves were met, I'm told, one day, 
Confiding each to each their thoughts and cares. 
Racan begins : — Pray end my inward strife, 
For well you know, my friend, what's what in life, 
Who through its varied course, from stage to stage, 
Have stored the full experience of age ; 
What shall I do ? 'Tis time I chose profession. 
You know my fortune, birth, and disposition 
Ought I to make the country my resort, 
Or seek the army, or to rise at court ? 
There's nought but mixeth bitterness with charms ; 
War hath its pleasures ; hymen, its alarms. 
'Twere nothing hard to take my natural bent, — 
But I've a world of people to content. 
Content a w r orld ! old Malherbe cries ; who can, sir r 
Why, let me tell a story ere I answer. 

A miller and his son, I've somewhere read, 

The first in years, the other but a lad, — 

A fine, smart boy, however, I should say, — 

To sell their ass went to a fair one day. 

In order there to get the highest price, 

They needs must keep their donkey fresh and nice ; 

So, tying fast his feet, they swung him clear, 

And bore him hanging like a chandelier. 

Alas ! poor, simple-minded country fellows ! 

The first that sees their load, loud laughing, bellows 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 167 

What farce is this to split good people's sides ? 
The most an ass is not the one that rides ! 
The miller, much enlightened by this talk, 
Untied his precious beast, and made him walk. 
The ass, who liked the other mode of travel, 
Brayed some complaint at trudging on the gravel; 
Whereat, not understanding well the beast, 
The miller caused his hopeful son to ride, 
And walked behind, without a spark of pride. 
Three merchants passed, and, mightily displeased, 
The eldest of these gentlemen cried out, 
Ho there ! dismount, for shame, you lubber lout, 
Nor make a foot-boy of your gray-beard sire ; 
Change places, as the rights of age require, 
To please you, sirs, the miller said, I ought. 
So down the young and up the old man got. 
Three girls next passing, What a shame, says* one, 
That boy should be obliged on foot to run, 
While that old chap, upon his ass astride, 
Should play the calf, and like a bishop ride ! 
Please save your wit, the miller made reply, 
Tough veal, my girls, the calf as old as I. 
But joke on joke repeated changed his mind ; 
So up he took, at last, his son behind. 
Not thirty yards ahead, another set 
Found fault. The biggest fools I ever met, 
Says one of them, such burdens to impose. 
The ass is faint and dying with their blows. 
Is this, indeed, the mercy which these rustics 
Show to their honest, faithful, old domestics % 



168 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

If to the fair these lazy fellows ride, 
'Twill be to sell thereat the donkey's hide ! 
Zounds ! cried the miller, precious little brains 
Hath he who takes, to please the world, such pains ; 
But since we're in, we'll try what can be done. 
So off the ass they jumped, himself and son, 
And, like a prelate, donkey marched alone. 
Another man they met. These folks, said he ? 
Enslave themselves to let their ass go free — 
The darling brute ! If I might be so bold, 
I'd counsel them to have him set in gold. 
Not so went Nicholas his Jane to woo, 
Who rode, we sing, his ass to save his shoe. 
Ass ! ass ! our man replied ; we're asses three ! 
I do avow myself an ass to be ; 
But since my sage advisers can't agree, 

Their words henceforth shall not be heeded ; 

I'll suit myself. And he succeeded. 

For you, choose army, love, or court ; 
In town, or country, make resort ; 
Take wife, or cowl ; ride you, or walk ; 
Doubt not but tongues will have their talk. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 169 



THE HUSBAND, THE WIFE, AND THE THIEF. 

A man that loved, — and loved his wife, — 
Still led an almost joyless life. 
No tender look, nor gracious word, 
Nor smile that, coming from a bride, 
Its object would have deified, 
E'er told her doting lord 
The love with which he burned 
Was in its kind returned. 
Still, unrepining at his lot, 
This man, thus tied in Hymen's knot, 
Thanked God for all the good he got. 
But why ? If love doth fail to season 

Whatever pleasures Hymen gives, 
I'm sure I cannot see the reason 
Why one for him the happier lives. 

However, since his wife 

Had ne'er caressed him in her life, 

He made complaint of it one night. 

The entrance of a thief 

Cut short his tale of grief, 

And gave the lady such a fright, 

She shrunk from dreaded harms 
Within her husband's arms. 



170 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Good thief, cried he, 
This joy so sweet I owe to thee : 
Now take, as thy reward, 
Of all that owns me lord, 
Whatever suits thee, save my spouse ; 
Ay, if thou pleasest, take the house. 
As thieves are not remarkably 
O'erstocked with modesty, 
This fellow made quite free. 

From this account it doth appear, 
The passions all are ruled by fear.^/ 
Aversion may be conquered by it, 
And even love may not defy it. 
But still some cases there have been 
Where love hath ruled the roast, I ween. 
That lover witness, highly bred, 
Who burnt his house above his head, 
And all to clasp a certain dame, 
And bear her harmless through the flame. 
This transport through the fire, 
I own, I much admire ; 
And, for a Spanish soul, reputed coolish, 
I think it grander even than 'twas foolish.* 



* La Fontaine here refers to the adventure of the Spanish Count 
Villa Medina with Elizabeth of France, wife of Philip IV. of Spain. 
The former, having invited the Spanish court to a splendid entertain- 
ment in his palace, had it set on fire, that he might personally rescue 
the said lady from its flames. 




THE TREASURE AND THE TWO MEN. 

man whose credit failed, and, what was worse, 
/. -Who lodged the devil in his purse, — 
That is to say, lodged nothing there, — 
By sell-suspension in the air, 
Concluded his accounts to square, 
Since, should he not, he understood, 
From various tokens, famine would — 
A death for which no mortal wight 
Had ever yet an appetite. 
A ruin, crowned with ivy green, 
Was of his tragedy the scene. 
His hangman's noose he duly tied, 
And then to drive a nail he tried ; — 
But by his blows the wall gave way, 

Now tremulous and old, 
Disclosing to the light of day 

A sum of hidden gold. 
He clutched it up, and left Despair 
To struggle with his halter there. 
Nor did the much delighted man 
E'en stop to count it as he ran. 



172 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

But, while he went, the owner came, 
Who loved it with a secret flame, 
Too much indeed for kissing, — 
And found his money — missing ! 
O Heavens ! he cried, shall 1 
Such riches lose, and still not die ? 
Shall I not hang ? — as I, in fact, 
Might justly do if cord I lacked , 
But now, without expense, I can ; 
This cord here only lacks a man. 
The saving was no saving clause ; 

It suffered not his heart to falter, 
Until it reached its final pause 

As full possessor of the halter. — 
5 Tis thus the miser often grieves. 
Who e'er the benefit receives 
Of what he owns, he never must — 

Mere treasurer for thieves, 

Or relatives, or dust. 
But what say we about the trade 
In this affair by Fortune made ? 
Why, what but that it was just like her ? 

fn freaks like this delighteth she 

The shorter any turn may be, 
The better it is sure to strike her. 
It fills that goddess full of glee 
A self-suspended man to see ; 
And that it does especially, 
When made so unexpectedly. 




THE MONKEY AND THE CAT. 



THE MONKEY AND THE CAT. 

Sly Bertrand and Ratto in company sat, 
(The one was a monkey, the other a cat,) 
Co-servants and lodgers : 
More mischievous codgers 
Ne'er messed from a platter, since platters were flat. 
Was any thing wrong in the house or about it, 
The neighbors were blameless, — no mortal could 

doubt it; 
For Bertrand was thievish, and Ratto, so nice, 
More attentive to cheese than he was to the mice. 
One day the two plunderers sat by the fire, 
Where chestnuts were roasting, with looks of desire. 
To steal them would be a right noble affair. 
A double inducement our heroes drew there — 
'T would benefit them, could they swallow their fill, 
And then 'twould occasion to somebody ill. 
Said Bertrand to Ratto, My brother, to-day 
Exhibit your powers in a masterly way, 
And take me these chestnuts, I pray, 
Which, were I but otherwise fitted 
(As I am ingeniously witted) 



174 L A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For pulling things out of the flame, 

Would stand but a pitiful game. 
'Tis done, replied Ratto, all prompt to obey ; 
And thrust out his paw in a delicate way. 

First giving the ashes a scratch, 

He opened the coveted batch ; 

Then lightly and quickly impinging, 

He drew out, in spite of the singeing, 
One after another, the chestnuts at last, — 
While Bertrand contrived to devour them as fast. 

A servant girl enters. Adieu to the fun. 

Our Ratto was hardly contented, says one. — - 

No more are the princes, by flattery paid 
For furnishing help in a different trade, 
And burning their fingers to bring 
More power to some mightier king. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 175 



THE SHEPHERD AND HIS FLOCK. 

What ! shall I lose them one by one, 

This stupid, coward throng ? 
And never shall the wolf have done ? 

They were at least a thousand strong, 
But still they've let poor Robin fall a prey ! 
Ah, woe's the day ! 

Poor Robin Wether lying dead ! 

He followed for a bit of bread 
His master through the crowded city, 

And would have followed, had he led, 
Around the world. O ! what a pity ! 

My pipe, and even step, he knew ; 

To meet me when I came, he flew ; 
In hedge-row shade we napped together; 

Alas, alas, my Robin Wether ! 
When Willy thus had duly said 
His eulogy upon the dead, 
And unto everlasting fame 
Consigned poor Robin Wether's name, 
He then harangued the flock at large, 

From proud old chieftain rams 

Down to the smallest lambs, 
Addressing them this weighty charge, — 



176 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Against the wolf, as one, to stand, 
In firm, united, fearless band, 

By which they might expel him from their land. 
Upon their faith, they would not flinch, 
They promised him, a single inch. 

We'll choke, said they, the murderous glutton 

Who robbed us of our Robin Mutton. 

Their lives they pledged against the beast, 
And Willy gave them all a feast. 
But evil Fate, than Phoebus faster, 
Ere night, had brought a new disaster : 
A wolf there came. By nature's law, 
The total flock were prompt to run ; 
And yet 'twas not the wolf they saw, 

But shadow of him, from the setting sun. 

Harangue a craven soldiery, 
What heroes they will seem to be ! 
But let them snuff the smoke of battle, 
Or even hear the ramrods rattle, 
Adieu to all their spunk and mettle ; 
Your own example will be vain, 
And exhortations, to retain 
The timid cattle. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 177 



THE SWAN AND THE COOK. 

The pleasures of a poultry yard 
Were by a swan and gosling shared. 
The swan was kept there for his looks, 
The thrifty gosling for the cooks, — 
The first the garden's pride, the latter 
A greater favorite on the platter. 
They swam the ditches, side by side, 
And oft in sports aquatic vied, 
Plunging, splashing far and wide, 
With rivalry ne'er satisfied. 

One day the cook, named Thirsty John, 
Sent for the gosling, took the swan, 
In haste his throat to cut, 
And put him in the pot. 
The bird's complaint resounded 

In glorious melody ; 
Whereat the cook, astounded 
His sad mistake to see, 
Cried, What! make soup of a musician! 
Please God, I'll never set such dish on. 
No, no ; I'll never cut a throat 
That sings so sweet a note. 

'Tis thus, whatever peril may alarm us, 
Sweet words will never harm us. 




THE WOLVES AND THE SHEEP. 



By-gone a thousand years of war, 

The wearers of the fleece 

And wolves at last made peace ; 
Which both appeared the better for; 
For if the wolves had now and then 

Eat up a straggling ewe or wether. 
As often had the shepherd men 

Turned wolf-skins into leather. 
Fear always spoiled the verdant herbage, 
And so it did the bloody carnage. 
Hence peace was sweet ; and, lest it should be riven 
On both sides hostages were given. 
The sheep, as by the terms arranged, 
For pups of wolves their dogs exchanged ; 

Which being done above suspicion, 

Confirmed and sealed by high commission. 
What time the pups were fully grown, 
And felt an appetite for prey, 
And saw the sheepfold left alone, 

The shepherds all away, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



179 



They seized the fattest lambs they could, 
And, choking, dragged them to the wood 
Of which by secret means apprized, 
Their sires, as is surmised, 
Fell on the hostage guardians of the sheep, 
And slew them all asleep. 
So quick the deed of perfidy was done, 
There fled to tell the tale not one ! 

From which we may conclude 
That peace with villains will be rued. 
Peace in itself, 'tis true, 
May be a good for you ; 
But r tis an evil, nathless, 
When enemies are faithless. 




PHILOMEL AND PROGNE. 

From home and city spires, one day, 

The swallow Progne flew away, 
And sought the bosky dell 
Where sang poor Philomel. 
My sister, Progne said, how do you do ? 
'Tis now a thousand years since you 
Have been concealed from human view. 
I'm sure I have not seen your face 

Once since the times of Thrace. 
Pray, will you never quit this dull retreat? 
Where could I find, said Philomel, so sweet] 

What ! sweet ! cried Progne — sweet to waste 

Such tones on beasts devoid of taste, 

Or on some rustic, at the most ! 

Should you by deserts be engrossed ? 

Come, be the city's pride and boast. 

Besides, the woods remind of harms 

That Tereus, in them, did your charms. 
Alas ! replied the bird of song, 
The thought of that so cruel wrong 
Makes me, from age to age, 
Prefer this hermitage ; 

For nothing like the sight of men 

Can call up what I suffered then. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 181 



THE WOMAN DROWNED. 

1 hate that saying, old and savage, 
" 'Tis nothing but a woman drowning." 
That's much, I say. What grief more keen should 
have edge 
Than loss of her, of all our joys the crowning? 
Thus much suggests the fable I am borrowing. 
A woman perished in the water, 
Where, anxiously and sorrowing, 
Her husband sought, her, 
To ease the grief he could not cure, 
By honored rites of sepulture. 
It chanced that near the fatal spot, 
Along the stream which had 
Produced a death so sad, 
There walked some men that knew it not 
The husband asked if they had seen 
His wife, or aught that hers had been. 
One promptly answered, No : 
But search the stream below : 
It must have borne her in its flow. 



1Q2 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

No, said another ; search above. 

In that direction 
She would have floated, by the love 

Of contradiction. 

This joke was truly out of season ; — 
1 don't propose to weigh its reason. 
But whether such propensity 

The sex's fault may be, 
Or not, one thing is very sure, 
Its own propensities endure. 
Up to the end they'll have their will, 
And, if it could be, further still. 



THE LION BEATEN BY THE MAN. 

A picture once was shown, 
In which one man, alone, 
Upon the ground had thrown 
A lion fully grown. 

Much gloried at the sight the rabble. 

A lion thus rebuked their babble : — 

That you have got the victory there, 
There is no contradiction. 

But, gentles, possibly you are 
The dupes of easy fiction. 
Had we the art of making pictures, 
Perhaps our champion had lick'd yours ! 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 183 



THE WEASEL IN THE GRANARY. 

A weasel through a hole contrived to squeeze, 
(She was recovering from disease,) 
. Which led her to a farmer's hoard. 
There lodged, her wasted form she cherished ; 
Heaven knows the lard and victuals stored 
That by her gnawing perished ! 
Of which the consequence 
Was sudden corpulence, 
A week or so was past, 
When, having fully broken fast, 

A noise she heard, and hurried 
To find the hole by which she came, 
And seemed to find it not the same ; 

So round she ran, most sadly flurried ; 
And, coming back, thrust out her head, 
Which sticking there, she said, 
This is the hole ; there can't be blunder : 
What makes it now so small, I wonder, 
Where, but the other day, 1 passed with ease ? 
A rat her trouble sees, 
And cries, But with an emptier belly ; 
You entered lean, and lean must sally. 

What I have said to you 
Has eke been said to not a few, 
Who, in a vast variety of cases, 
Have ventured into such like places. 



184 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE CAT AND THE OLD RAT. 

A story-writer of our sort 

Historifies, in short, 

Of one that may be reckoned 

A Rodilard the Second, — 

The Alexander of the cats, 

The Attila, the scourge of rats, 

Whose fierce and whiskered head 

Among the latter spread, 

A league around, its dread; 

Who seemed, indeed, determined 

The world should be unvermined. 
The planks with props more false than slim, 
The tempting heaps of poisoned meal, 
The traps of wire and traps of steel, 
Were only play compared with him. 
At length, so sadly were they scared, 
The rats and mice no longer dared 

To show their thievish faces 

Outside their hiding-places, 
Thus shunning all pursuit ; whereat 
Our crafty General Cat 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 185 

Contrived to hang himself, as dead, 
Beside the wall, with downward head, 
Resisting gravitation's laws 
By clinging with his hinder claws 
To some small bit of string. 
The rats esteemed the thing 
A judgment for some naughty deed, 
Some thievish snatch. 
Or ugly scratch , 
And thought their foe had got his meed 
By being hung indeed. 
With hope elated all 
Of laughing at his funeral, 
They thrust their noses out in air ; 
And now to show their heads they dare, 
Now dodging back, now venturing more ; 
At last, upon the larder's store 
They fall to filching, as of yore. 
A scanty feast enjoyed these shallows ; 
Down dropped the hung one from his gallows, 
And of the hindmost caught. 
Some other tricks to me are known, 
Said he, while tearing bone from bone, 

By long experience taught ; 
The point is settled, free from doubt, 
That from your holes you shall come out. 
His threat as good as prophecy 
Was proved by Mr. Mildandsly ; 
For, putting on a mealy robe, 
He squatted in an open tub, 



18Q LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And held his purring and his breath ; — 
Out came the vermin to their death. 
On this occasion one old stager, 
A rat as gray as any badger, 
Who had in battle lost his tail, 
Abstained from smelling at the meal ; 
And cried, far off, Ah ! General Cat, 
I much suspect a heap like that ; 
Your meal is not the thing, perhaps, 
For one who knows somewhat of traps ; 
Should you a sack of meal become, 
I'd let you be, and stay at home. 

Well said, I think, and prudently, 
By one who knew distrust to be 
The parent of security. 







w>.JY<l!P 




THE SHEPHERD AND THE SEA. 



A shepherd, neighbor to the sea, 
Lived with his flock contentedly. 
His fortune, though but small, 
Was safe within his call. 
At last some stranded kegs of gold 
Him tempted, and his flock he sold, 
Turned merchant, and the ocean's waves 
Bore all his treasure — to its caves. 
Brought back to keeping sheep once more, 
But not chief shepherd, as before, 
When sheep were his that grazed the shore, 
He who, as Cory don or Thyrsis, 
Might once have shone in pastoral verses, 
Bedecked with rhyme and metre, 
Was nothing now but Peter. 
But time and toil redeemed in full 
Those harmless creatures rich in wool ; 
And as the lulling winds, one day, 
The vessels wafted with a gentle motion, 
Want you, he cried, more money, Madam Ocean 1 



188 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Address yourself to some one else, 1 pray; 
You shall not get it out of me ; 
I know too well your treachery. 

This tale's no fiction, but a fact, 

Which, by experience backed, 

Proves that a single penny, 
At present held, and certain, 

Is worth five times as many 
Of Hope's beyond the curtain ; 
That one should be content with his condition, 
And shut his ears to counsels of ambition, 
More faithless than the wreck-strown sea, and which 
Doth thousands beggar where it makes one rich, — 
Inspires the hope of wealth, in glorious forms, 
And blasts the same with piracy and storms. 





THE MAN AND THE ADDER. 



You villain ! cried a man who found 
An adder coiled upon the ground, 
To do a very grateful deed 
For all the world, I shall proceed. 
On this the animal perverse 
(I mean the snake ; 
Pray don't mistake 
The human for the worse) 
Was caught and bagged, and, worst of all, 
His blood was by his captor to be spilt 
Without regard to innocence or guilt. 
Howe'er, to show the why, these words let fall 
His judge and jailer, proud and tall : — 
Thou type of all ingratitude ! 

All charity to hearts like thine 
Is folly, certain to be rued. 
Die, then, 
Thou foe of men ! 
Thy temper and thy teeth malign 
Shall never hurt a hair of mine. 
The muffled serpent, on his side, 
The best a serpent could, replied, — 



190 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

If all this world's ingrates 

Must meet with such a death, 
Who from this worst of fates 
Could save his breath ? 
Upon thyself thy law recoils ; 
I throw myself upon thy broils, 
Thy graceless revelling on spoils ; 
If thou but homeward cast an eye, 
Thy deeds all mine will justify. 
But strike : my life is in thy hand ; 
Thy justice, all may understand, 
Is but thy interest, pleasure, or caprice : — 
Pronounce my sentence on such laws as these. 
But give me leave to tell thee, while I can, 
The type of all ingratitude is man. 
By such a lecture somewhat foiled, 
The other back a step recoiled, 
And finally replied, — 
Thy reasons are abusive, 
And wholly inconclusive. 
I might the case decide 
Because to me such right belongs ; 
But let 's refer the case of wrongs. 
The snake agreed; they to a cow referred it, 
Who, being called, came graciously and heard it. 
Then, summing up, What need, said she 
In such a case, to call on me ? 
The adder 's right, plain truth to bellow ; 
For years I've nursed this haughty fellow, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 191 

Who, but for me, had long ago 

Been lodging with the shades below. 

For him my milk has had to flow, 
My calves, at tender age, to die. 

And for this best of wealth, 

And often reestablished health, 

What pay, or even thanks, have I ? 

Here, feeble, old, and worn, alas ! 

Pm left without a bite of grass. 
Were I but left, it might be weathered, 
But, shame to say it, I am tethered. 
And now my fate is surely sadder 
Than if my master were an adder, 

With brains within the latitude 

Of such immense ingratitude. 

This, gentles, is my honest view ; 

And so I bid you both adieu. 
The man, confounded and astonished 
To be so faithfully admonished, 

Replied, What fools to listen, now, 

To this old, silly, dotard cow ! 

Let 's trust the ox. Let 's trust, replied 

The crawling beast, well gratified. 
So said, so done ; 

The ox, with tardy pace, came on, 

And, ruminating o'er the case, 

Declared, with very serious face, 

That years of his most painful toil 

Had clothed with Ceres' gifts our soil — 

Her gifts to men — but always sold 

To beasts for higher cost than gold ; 



192 L A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And that for this, for his reward, 

More blows than thanks returned his lord ; 

And then, when age had chilled his blood, 

And men would quell the wrath of Heaven, 
Out must be poured the vital flood, 

For others' sins, all thankless given. 
So spake the ox ; and then the man : — 

Away with such a dull declaimer ! 
Instead of judge, it is his plan 

To play accuser and defamer. 
A tree was next the arbitrator, 
And made the wrong of man still greater. 
It served as refuge from the heat, 
The showers, and storms, which madly beat ; 
It grew our gardens' greatest pride, 
Its shadow spreading far and wide, 
And bowed itself with fruit beside. 
But yet a mercenary clown 
With cruel iron chopped it down. 
Behold the recompense for which, 
Year after year, it did enrich, 
With spring's sweet flowers, and autumn's fruits, 
And summer's shade, both men and brutes, 
And warmed the hearth with many a limb 
Which winter from its top did trim. 
Why could not man have pruned and spared, 
And with itself for ages shared ? 
Much scorning thus to be convinced, 

The man resolved his cause to gain. 
Quoth he, My goodness is evinced 

By hearing this, 'tis very plain ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 193 

Then flung the serpent, bag and all, 
With fatal force, against a wall. 

So ever is it with the great, 
With whom the whim doth always run 

That Heaven all creatures doth create 
For their behoof, beneath the sun — 
Count they four feet, or two, or none. 
If one should dare the fact dispute, 
He's straight set down a stupid brute. 
Now, grant it so, — such lords among, 
What should be done, or said, or sung? 
At distance speak, or hold jour tongue. 



THE DOCTORS. 

The selfsame patient put to test. 
Two doctors, Fear-the-worst and Hope-the-best. 
The latter hoped ; the former did maintain 
The man would take all medicine in vain. 
By different cures the patient was beset, 
But erelong canceled nature's debt, 

While nursed 
As was prescribed by Fear-the-worst. 
But over the disease both triumphed still. 

Said one, I well foresaw his death. 
Yes, said the other, but my pill 

W : ould certainly have saved his breath. 



THE TORTOISE AND THE TWO DUCKS. 

A light-brained tortoise, anciently, 
Tired of her hole, the world would see. 
Prone are all such, self-banished, to roam — 
Prone are all cripples to abhor their home. 
Two ducks, to whom the gossip told 
The secret of her purpose bold, 

Professed to have the means whereby 
They could her wishes gratify. 
Our boundless road, said they, behold ! 
It is the open air ; 
And through it we will bear 
You safe o'er land and ocean. 
Republics, kingdoms, you will view, 
And famous cities, old and new ; 

And get of customs, laws, a notion, — 
Of various wisdom various pieces, 
As did, indeed, the sage Ulysses. 
The eager tortoise waited not 
To question what Ulysses got, 
But closed the bargain on the spot. 
A nice machine the birds devise 
To bear their pilgrim through the skies* 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



195 



Athwart her mouth a stick they throw : 
Now bite it hard, and don't let go, 
They say, and seize each duck an end, 
And, swiftly flying, upward tend. 
It made the people gape and stare 

Beyond the expressive power of words, 
To see a tortoise cut the air, 

Exactly poised between two birds. 
A miracle, they cried, is seen ! 
There goes the flying tortoise queen ! 
The queen ! ('twas thus the tortoise spoke ;) 
I'm truly that, without a joke. 
Much better had she held her tongue ; 
For, opening that whereby she clung, 
Before the gazing crowd she fell, 
And dashed to bits her brittle shell. 

Imprudence, vanity, and babble, 

And idle curiosity, 
An ever-undivided rabble, 

Have all the same paternity. 




196 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE FISHES AND THE CORMORANT. 

No pond nor pool within his haunt 
But paid a certain cormorant 
Its contribution from its fishes, 
And stocked his kitchen with good dishes. 
Yet, when old age the bird had chilled, 
His kitchen was less amply filled. 
All cormorants, however gray, 
Must die, or for themselves purvey. 
But ours had now Lecome so blind, 
His finny prey he could not find ; 
And, having neither hook nor net, 
His appetite was poorly met. 
What hope, with famine thus infested ? 

Necessity, whom history mentions 

A famous mother of inventions, 
The following stratagem suggested : — 
He found upon the water's brink 
A crab, to which said he, My friend, 
A weighty errand let me send ; 

Go quicker than a wink — 

Down to the fishes sink, 




THE TORTOISE AND THE TWO DUCKS. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 197 

And tell them they are doomed to die ; 

For, ere eight days have hastened by, 

Its lord will fish this water dry. 
The crab, as fast as she could scrabble, 
Went down, and told the scaly rabble. 
What bustling, gathering, agitation ! 
Straight up they send a deputation 

To wait upon the ancient bird. 

Sir Cormorant, whence hast thou heard 
This dreadful news ? And what 

Assurance of it hast thou got ? 

How such a danger can we shun ? 

Pray tell us, what is to be done ? 

Why, change your dwelling-place, said he. 

What, change our dwelling ! How can we ? 

O, by your leave, I'll take that care, 

And, one by one, in safety bear 
You all to my retreat : 
The path's unknown 

To any feet, 
Except my own. 

A pool, scooped out by Nature's hands, 

Amidst the desert rocks and sands, 

Where human traitors never come, 

Shall save your people from their doom. 

The fish republic swallowed all, 

And, coming at the fellow's call, 

Were singly borne away to stock 

A pond beneath a lonely rock ; 



198 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And there good prophet cormorant, 
Proprietor and bailiff sole, 
From narrow water, clear and shoal, 
With ease supplied his daily want, 
And taught them, at their own expense, 
That heads well stored with common sense 
Give no devourers confidence. — 
Still did the change not hurt their case, 
Since, had they staid, the human race, 
Successful by pernicious art, 
Would have consumed as large a part. 
What matters who your flesh devours, 
Of human or of bestial powers ? 
In this respect, or wild or tame, 
All stomachs seem to me the same : 
The odds is small, in point of sorrow, 
Of death to-day, or death to-morrow. 



\V i'-? ----; ,!<_,,/ 




4^ 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 199 



THE BURIER AND HIS COMRADE. 

A close-fist had his money hoarded 

Beyond the room his till afforded. 

His avarice aye growing ranker, 

(Whereby his mind of course grew blanker J 

He was perplexed to choose a banker ; 
For banker he must have, he thought, 
Or all his heap would come to nought. 
I fear, said he, if kept at home, 
And other robbers should not come, 
It might be equal cause of grief 
That I had proved myself the thief. 
The thief! Is to enjoy one's pelf 
To rob or steal it from one's self? 

My friend, could but my pity reach you. 

This lesson I would gladly teach you, — 
That wealth is weal no longer than 
Diffuse and part with it you can : 
Without that power, it is a woe. 
Would you for age keep back its flow t 
Age buried 'neath its joyless snow? 
With pains of getting, care of got 
Consumes the value, every jot, 
Of gold that one can never spare. 
To take the load of such a care, 
Assistants were not very rare. 



200 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The earth was that which pleased him best. 
Dismissing thought of all the rest, 
He with his friend, his trustiest, — 
A sort of shovel-secretary, — 
Went forth his hoard to bury. 
Safe done, a few days afterward, 
The man must look beneath the sward — 
When, what a mystery ! behold 
The mine exhausted of its gold ! 
Suspecting, with the best of cause, 
His friend was privy to his loss, 
He bade him, in a cautious mood, 
To come as soon as well he could, 
For still some other coins he had, 
Which to the rest he wished to add. 
Expecting thus to get the whole, 
The friend put back the sum he stole, 
Then came with all despatch. 
The other proved an overmatch: 
Resolved at length to save by spending, 
His practice thus most wisely mending, 
The total treasure home he carried — 
No longer hoarded it or buried. 

Chapfallen was the thief, when gone 
He saw his prospects and his pawn. 

From this it may be stated, 

That knaves with ease are cheated. 




THE WOLF AND THE SHEPHERDS. 

A wolf, replete 
With humanity sweet, 

(A trait not much suspected,) 
On his cruel deeds, 
The fruit of his needs, 

Profoundly thus reflected. 

I'm hated, said he, 

As joint enemy, 
By hunters, dogs, and clowns. 

They swear I shall die, 

And their hue and cry 
The very thunder drowns. 



My brethren have fled, 
With price on the head, 

From England's merry land. 
King Edgar came out, 
And put them to rout, 

With many a deadly band. 



202 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And there's not a squire 
But blows up the fire 

By hostile proclamation ; 
Nor a human brat 
Dares cry, but that 

Its mother mocks my nation. 

And all for what ? 

For a sheep with the rot, 
Or scabby, mangy ass, 

Or some snarling cur, 

With less meat than fur, 
On which I've broken fast ! 

Well, henceforth I'll strive 
That nothing alive 

Shall die to quench my thirst; 
No lambkin shall fall, 
Nor puppy, at all, 

To glut my maw accurst. 
With grass I'll appease, 
Or browse on the trees, 

Or die of famine first. 

What of carcass warm ? 

Is it worth the storm 
Of universal hate ? 

As he spoke these words, 

The lords of the herds, 
All seated at their bait, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 203 

He saw ; and observed 

The meat which was served 
Was nought but roasted lamb ! 

O ! O ! said the beast, 

Repent of my feast — 
All butcher as I am — 

On these vermin mean, 

Whose guardians e'en 
Eat at a rate quadruple ! — 

Themselves and their dogs, 

As greedy as hogs, 
And I, a wolf, to scruple ! 

Look out for your wool ! 

I'll not be a fool, 
The very pet I'll eat ; 

The lamb the best looking, 

Without any cooking, 
I'll strangle from the teat; 

And swallow the dam, 

As well as the lamb, 
And stop her foolish bleat. 

Old Hornie, too, — rot him, — 

The sire that begot him 
Shall be among my meat ! 

Well-reasoning beast ! 
Were we sent to feast 
On creatures wild and tame ? 



204 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And shall we reduce 
The beasts to the use 
Of vegetable game ? 

Shall animals not 
Have flesh-hook or pot, 

As in the age of gold ? 
And we claim the right, 
In the pride of our might, 

Themselves to have and hold? 

O, shepherds that keep 
Your folds full of sheep, 

The wolf was only wrong 
Because, so to speak, 
His jaws were too weak 

To break jour palings strong. 




p^ 




" ■ v .; ;; 



WJ113ILI3 IFHSSttQ 



THE LION 




ome time ago, a sultan Leopard, 
By means of many a rich escheat, 
Had many an ox in meadow, sweet, 
And many a stag in forest, fleet, 
And (what a savage sort of shepherd !) 
Full many a sheep upon the plains, 
That lay within his wide domains 
Not far away, one morn, 
There was a lion born. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Exchanged high compliments of state, 
As is the custom with the great, 
The sultan called his vizier Fox, 
Who had a deeper knowledge-box, 
And said to him, This lion's whelp you dread ; 
What can he do, his father being dead? 
Our pity rather let him share, 
An orphan so beset with care. 
The luckiest lion ever known, 
If, letting conquest quite alone, 
He should have power to keep his own. 
• Sir Ren a id said, 
And shook his head, 
Such orphans, please your majesty, 
Will get no pity out of me. 
We ought to keep within his favor, 
Or else with all our might endeavor 
To thrust him out of life and throne, 
Ere yet his claws and teeth are grown. 
There's not a moment to be lost. 

His horoscope I've cast; 
He'll never quarrel to his cost ; 
But then his friendship fast 
Will be to friends of greater worth 
Than any lion's e'er on earth. 
Try then, my liege, to make it ours, 
Or else to check his rising powers. 

The warning fell in vain. 
The sultan slept ; and beasts and men 
Did so, throughout his whole domain, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 207 

Till lion's whelp became a lion. 
Then came at once the tocsin cry on, 
Alarm and fluttering consternation. 
The vizier called to consultation, 

A sigh escaped him as he said, 

Why all this mad excitement now, 
When hope is fled, no matter how ? 

A thousand men were useless aid, — 

The more, the worse, — since all their power 

Would be our mutton to devour. 

Appease this lion ; sole he doth exceed 

The helpers all that on us feed. 

And three hath he, that cost him nought — 

His courage, strength, and watchful thought. 

Quick send a wether for his use : 
If not contented, send him more ; 

Yes, add an ox, and see you choose 
The best our pastures ever bore. 

Thus save the rest. — But such advice 

The sultan spurned, as cowardice. 

And his, and many states beside, 

Did ills, in consequence, betide. 

However fought this world allied, 

The beast maintained his power and pride. 

If you must let the lion grow, 

Don't let him live to be your foe. 




208 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE SPIDER AND THE SWALLOW. "V 

O Jupiter, whose fruitful brain, 
By odd obstetrics freed from pain, 
Bore Pallas, erst my mortal foe, 
Pray listen to my tale of woe. 
This Progne takes my lawful prey. 
As through the air she cuts her way, 
And skims the waves in seeming play, 
My flies she catches from my door, — 

Yes, mine — I emphasize the word, — 

And, but for this accursed bird, 
My net would hold an ample store ; 
For I have woven it of stuff 
To hold the strongest strong enough. — 
'Twas thus, in terms of insolence, 
Complained the fretful spider, once 

Of palace-tapestry a weaver, 

But then a spinster and deceiver, 
That hoped within her toils to bring 
Of insects all that ply the wing. 
The sister swift of Philomel, 
Intent on business, prospered well ; 
In spite of the complaining pest, 
The insects carried to her nest — 




THE SPIDER AND THE SWALLOW. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 209 

Nest pitiless to suffering flies — 
Mouths gaping aye, to gormandize, 

Of young ones clamoring, 
And stammering, 
With unintelligible cries. 
The spider, with but head and feet, 

And powerless to compete 

Witli wings so fleet, 

Soon saw herself a prey. 
The swallow, passing swiftly by, 

Bore web and all away, 
The spinster dangling in the sky ! 

Two tables hath our Maker set 
For all that in this world are met. 
To seats around the first 
The skilful, vigilant, and strong are beckoned : 

Their hunger and their thirst 
The rest must quell with leavings at the second. 




210 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

THE PARTRIDGE AND THE COCKS. 

With a set of uncivil and turbulent cocks, 
That deserved for their noise to he put in tin 4 stocks, 
A partridge was placed to he reared. 
Her sex, by politeness revered, 
Made her hope, from a gentry devoted to love. 
For the courtesy due to the tenderest dove ; 
Nay, protection chivalric from knights of the yard. 
That gentry, however, with little regard 
For the honors and knighthood wherewith they 

were decked, 
And for the strange lady as little respect, 
Her ladyship often most horribly pecked. 
At first, she was greatly afflicted therefor, 
But when she had noticed these madcaps at war 
With each other, and dealing far bloodier blows, 
Consoling her own individual woes, — - 
Entailed by their customs, said she, is the shame ; 
Let us pity the simpletons, rather than blame. 
Our Maker creates not all spirits the same ; 
The cocks and the partridges certainly differ, 
By a nature than laws of civility stiffer. 
Were the choice to be mine, I would finish my life 
In society freer from riot and strife. 

But the lord of this soil has a different plan , 
His tunnel our race to captivity brings, 
He throws us with cocks, after clipping our wings. 

'Tis little we have to complain of but man. - 



THE SHEPHERD AND THE KING. 

-Two demons at their pleasure share our being — 
- The cause of Reason from her homestead fleeing; 
No heart but on their altars kindleth flames. 
If you demand their purposes and names, 
^ The one is Love, the other is Ambition. v 
Of far the greater share this takes possession, 

For even into love it enters, 
Which I might prove ; but now my story centres 
Upon a shepherd clothed with lofty powers : 
The tale belongs to older times than ours. 

A king observed a flock, wide spread 
Upon the plains, most admirably fed, 
Overpaying largely, as returned the years, 
Their shepherd's care, by harvests for his shears. 
Such pleasure in this man the monarch took, — 
Thou meritest, said he, to wield a crook 
O'er higher flock than this ; and my esteem 
O'er men now makes thee judge supreme. 
Behold our shepherd, scales in hand, 
Although a hermit and a wolf or two, 
Resides his flock and dogs, were all he knew ! 
Well stocked with sense, all else upon demand 
Would come of course, and did, we understand. 



212 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

His neighbor hermit came to him to say, 

Am I awake ? Is this no dream, I pray ? 

You favorite ! you great ! beware of kings ; 
Their favors are but slippery things, 

Dear-bought ; to mount the heights to which they call, 

Is but to court a more illustrious fall. 

You little know to what this lure beguiles. 

My friend, I say, Beware. The other smiles. 
The hermit adds, See how 

The court has marred your wisdom even now! 
That purblind traveller I seem to see, 
Who, having lost his whip, by strange mistake, 

Took for a better one a snake ; 
But, while he thanked his stars, brimful of glee, 

Outcried a passenger, God shield your breast ! 

Why, man, for life, throw down that treacherous 
pest, 

That snake ! — It is my whip. — A snake, I say: 

What selfish end could prompt my warning, pray ? 

Think you to keep your prize ? — And wherefore not ? 
My whip was worn ; Pve found another new : 
This counsel grave from envy springs in you.— 

The stubborn wight would not believe a jot, 
Till warm and lithe the serpent grew, 
And, striking with his venom, slew 
The man almost upon the spot. 
And as to you, I dare predict 
That something worse will soon afflict. 

Indeed ? What worse than death, prophetic hermit? 

Perhaps the compound heartache I may term it. 



LA FONTAINES FABLES. 213 

And never was there truer prophecy. 
Full many a courtier pest, by many a lie, 

Contrived, and many a cruel slander, 
To make the king suspect the judge awry 

in both ability and candor. 
Cabals were raised, and dark conspiracies, 
Of men that felt aggrieved by his decrees. 
With wealth of ours he hath a palace built, 
Said they. The king, astonished at his guilt, 
His ill-got riches asked to see. 
He found but mediocrity, 
Bespeaking strictest honesty. 
So much for his magnificence. 
Anon, his plunder was a hoard immense 
Of precious stones that filled an iron box, 
All fast secured by half a score of locks. 
Himself the coffer oped, and sad surprise 
Befell those manufacturers of lies. 
The opened lid disclosed no other matters 
Than, first, a shepherd's suit in tatters, 
And then a cap and jacket, pipe and crook, 
And scrip, mayhap with pebbles from the brook 
O treasure sweet, said he, that never drew 
The viper brood of envy's lies on you ! 
[ take you back, and leave this palace splendid, 
As some roused sleeper doth a dream that's ended 
Forgive me, sire, this exclamation. 
In mounting up, my fall 1 had foreseen, 
Yet loved the height too well ; for who hath been 
Of mortal race, devoid of all ambition? 



214 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE FISHES AND THE SHEPHERD WHO PLAYED 
THE FLUTE. 

Thyrsis — who for his Annette dear 

Made music with his flute and voice, 
Which might have roused the dead to hear, 
. And in their silent graves rejoice — 
Sang once the livelong day, 
In the flowery month of May, 
Up and down a meadow brook, 
While Annette fished with line and hook. 
But ne'er a fish would bite ; 
So the shepherdess's bait 
Drew not a fish to its fate, 
From morning dawn till night. 
The shepherd, who, by his charming songs, 
Had drawn savage beasts to him in throngs, 
And done with them as he pleased to, 
Thought that he could serve the fish so. 
O citizens, he sang, of this water, 

Leave your Naiad in her grot profound ; 
Come and see the blue sky's lovely daughter, -v 
Who a thousand times more will charm you : 
Fear not that her prison will harm you, 
Though there you should chance to get bound. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 215 

? Tis only to us men she is cruel V 
You she will treat kindly ; 
A snug little pond she'll find ye, 
Clearer than a crystal jewel, 
Where you may all live and do well ; 
Or, if bv chance some few 
Should rind tneir late 
Concealed in the bait, 
The happier still are you , 
For envied is the death that's met 
At the hands of sweet Annette. 
This eloquence not effecting 
The object of his wishes, 
Since it failed in collecting 
The deaf and dumb fishes, — 
His sweet preaching wasted, 
His honeyed talk untasted, 
A net the shepherd seized, and, pouncing 

With a fell scoop at the scaly fry, 
He caught them ; and now, madly flouncing, 
At the feet of his Annette they lie ! 

O ye shepherds, whose sheep men are, 
To trust in reason never dare. 
The arts of eloquence sublime 

Are not within your calling ; 
Your fish were caught, from oldest time, 

By dint of nets and hauling. 



THE TWO PAHROTS THE KING, AND HIS SON 

Two parrots lived, a sire and son, 
On roa stings from a royal fire. 
Two demigods, a son and sire, 
These parrots pensioned for their fun. 
Time tied the knot of love sincere : 
The sires grew to each other dear ; 
The sons, in spite of their frivolity, 
Grew comrades boon, in joke and jollity ; 
At mess they mated, hot or cool ; 
Were fellow-scholars at a school, — 
Which did the bird no little honor, since 
The boy, by king begotten, was a prince. 
By nature fond of birds, the prince, too, petted 
A sparrow, which delightfully coquetted. 

These rivals, both of unripe feather, 
One day were frolicking together : 
As oft befalls such little folks, 
A quarrel followed from their jokes. 
The sparrow, quite uncircumspect, 
Was by the parrot sadly pecked ; 
With drooping wing and bloody head, 
His master picked him up for dead, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 217 

And, being quite too wroth to bear it, 
In heat of passion killed his parrot. 

When this sad piece of news he heard. 
Distracted was the parent bird. 
His piercing cries bespoke his pain ; 
But cries and tears were all in vain. 
The talking bird had left the shore ; * 
In short, he, talking now no more, 
Caused such a rage to seize his sire, 
That, lighting on the prince in ire, 

He put out both his eyes, 
And fled for safety, as was wise. 
The bird a pine for refuge chose, 
And to its lofty summit rose ; 
There, in the bosom of the skies. 
Enjoyed his vengeance sweet, 
And scorned the wrath beneath his feet, 
Out ran the king, and cried, in soothing rone. 
Return, dear friend ; what serves it to bemoan? 
Hate, vengeance, mourning, let us both onni. 
For me, it is no more than fit 
To own, though with an aching heart, 
The wrong is wholly on our part. 
Th' aggressor truly was my son — 
My son ? no ; but by Fate the deed was done. 
Ere birth of Time, stern Destiny 
Had written down the sad decree, 
That by this sad calamity 
Your child should cease to live, and mine to sec. 

* " Stygia natabatjam frigida cymba." — Virg. 



218 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Let both, then, cease to mourn ; 
And you, back to your cage return. 

Sire king, replied the bird, 
Think you that, after such a deed, 
I ought to trust your word ? 
You speak of Fate ; by such a heathen creed 
Hope you that I shall be enticed to bleed ? 
But whether Fate or Providence divine 

Gives law to things below, 
'Tis writ on high, that on this waving pine, 
Or where wild forests grow, 
My days I finish, safely, far 
From that which ought your love to mar, 
And turn it all to hate. 
Revenge, I know, 's a kingly morsel, 
And ever hath been part and parcel 
Of this your godlike state, 
fou would forget the cause of grief; 
Suppose 1 grant you my belief, — 
? Tis better still to make it true, 
By keeping out of sight of you. 
Sire king, my friend, no longer wait 
For friendship to be healed ;...., 
' But absence is the cure of hate, 
As 'tis from love the shield. 




THE LIONESS AND THE BEAR. 

The lioness had lost her young ; 

A hunter stole it from the vale ; 
The forests and the mountains rung 

Responsive to her hideous wail. 
Nor night, nor charms df sweet repose, 
Could still the loud lament that rose 

From that grim forest queen. 
No animal, as you might think, 
With such a noise could sleep a wink. 
A bear presumed to intervene. 

One word, sweet friend, quoth she, 
And that is all, from me. 
The young that through your teeth have passed, 
In file unbroken by a fast, 

Had they nor dam nor sire ? 
They had them both. Then 1 desire, 
Since all their deaths caused no such grievous riot, 
While mothers died of grief beneath your fiat, 
To know why you yourself cannot be quiet ? 
I quiet? — I ! — a wretch bereaved ! 
My only son ! — such anguish be relieved ! 



220 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

No, never ! All for me below 
Is but a life of tears and woe ! — 



But say, why doom yourself to sorrow so ? 

Alas ! 'tis Destiny that is my foe. 

Such language, since the mortal fall, 

Has fallen from the lips of all. 

Ye human wretches, give your heed ; 

For your complaints there's little need, ->/ 
Let him who thinks his own the hardest case, 

Some widowed, childless Hecuba behold, 

Herself to toil and shame of slavery sold, 
And he will own the wealth of heavenly grace. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 221 



THE TWO ADVENTURERS AND THE TALISMAN. 

No flowery path to glory leads. 
This truth no better voucher needs 
Than Hercules, of mighty deeds. 
Few demigods the tomes of fable 
Reveal to us as being able 
Such weight of task-work to endure : 
In history, 1 find still fewer. 

One such, however, here behold — 
A knight by talisman made bold, 
Within the regions of romance, 
To seek adventures with the lance. 
There rode a comrade at his side, 
And as they rode they both espied 
This writiug on a post : — 
"Would'st see, sir valiant knight, 
A thing whereof the sight 
No errant yet can boast ? 
Thou hast this torrent but to ford, 
And, lifting up alone 
The elephant of stone 
Upon its margin shored, 
Upbear it to the mountain's brow, 
Round which, aloft before thee n r ,w, 



222 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The misty chaplets wreath - — 

Not stopping once to breathe." 

One knight, whose nostrils bled, 

Betokening courage fled, 
Cried out, What if that current's sweep 
Not only rapid be, but deep ! 
And grant it crossed, — pray, why encumber 
One's arms with that unwieldy lumber, 

An elephant of stone ? 
Perhaps the artist may have done 
His work in such a way, that one 

Might lug it twice its length ; 
But then to reach yon mountain top, 
And that without a breathing stop, 

Were surely past a mortal's strength — 
Unless, indeed, it be no bigger 
Than some wee, pygmy, dwarfish figure, 
Which one would head a cane withal ; — 
And if to this the case should fall, 
The adventure's honor would be small ! 
This posting seems to me a trap, 
Or riddle for some greenish chap ; 

{ therefore leave the whole to you. 
The doubtful reasoner onward hies. 
With heart resolved, in spite of eyes. 

The other boldly dashes through ; 
Nor depth of flood nor force 
Can stop his onward course. 
He finds the elephant of stone ; 
He lifts it all alone ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 223 

Without a breathing stop, 
He bears it to the top 
Of that steep mount, and seeth there 
A high-walled city, great and fair. 
Out-cried the elephant — and hushed 
But forth in arms the people rushed. 
A knight less bold had surely fled ; 
But he, so far from turning back, 
His course right onward sped, 

Resolved himself to make attack, 
And die but with the bravest dead. 
Amazed was he to hear that band 
Proclaim him monarch of their land, 
And welcome him, in place of one 
Whose death had left a vacant throne '. 
In sooth, he lent a gracious ear, 
Meanwhile expressing modest fear, 
Lest such a load of royal care 
Should be too great for him to bear. 
And so, exactly, Sixtus said, 

When first the pope's tiara pressed his head 
(Though, is it such a grievous thing 
To be a pope, or be a king ?) 

But days were few before they read it 

That with but little truth he said it. 

Blind Fortune follows daring blind. 

Oft executes the wisest man, 
Eie yet the wisdom of his mind 

Is tasked his means or end to scan. 




THE RABBITS. 



AN ADDRESS TO THE DUKE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD. 



While watching man in all his phases, 
And seeing that, in many cases, 

He acts just like the brute creation, — 
I've thought the lord of all these races 
Of no less failings showed the traces 

Than do his lieges in relation ; 
And that, in making it, Dame Nature 
Hath put a spice in every creature 
From off the self-same spirit-stuff — 
Not from the immaterial, 
But what we call ethereal, 

Refined from matter rough. 
An illustration please to hear. 
Just on the still frontier 
Of either day or night, — 
Or when the lord of light 
Reclines his radiant head 
Upon his watery bed, 
Or when he dons the gear, 
To drive a new career, — 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 225 

While jet with doubtful sway 
The hour is ruled 'twixt night and day, — 
Some border forest-tree I climb ; 
And, acting Jove, from height sublime 

My fatal bolt at will directing, 

I kill some rabbit unsuspecting. 
The rest that frolicked on the heath, 
Or browsed the thyme with dainty teeth, 

With open eye and w r atchful ear, 
Behold, all scampering from beneath, 

Instinct with mortal fear. 
All, frightened simply by the sound, 
Hie to their city under ground. 
But soon the danger is forgot, 
And just as soon the fear lives not : 
The rabbits, gayer than before, 
1 see beneath my hand once more ! 

Are not mankind well pictured here ? 
By storms asunder driven, 
They scarcely reach their haven. 
And cast their anchor, ere 
They tempt the same dread shocks 
Of tempests, waves, and rocks. 
True rabbits, back they frisk 
To meet the self-same risk ! 

I add another common case. 

When dogs pass through a place 



226 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Beyond their customary bounds, 
And meet with others, curs or hounds, 
Imagine what a holiday ! 
The native dogs, whose interests centre 
In one great organ termed the venter, 

The strangers rush at, bite, and bay ; 
With cynic pertness tease and worry, 
And chase them off their territory. 
So, too, do men. Wealth, grandeur, glory, 
To men of office or profession, 
Of every sort, in every nation, 
As tempting are, and sweet, 
As is to dogs the refuse meat. 
With us, it is a general fact, 
One sees the latest-come attacked, 

And plundered to the skin. 
Coquettes and authors we may view, 

As samples of the sin ; 
For woe to belle or writer new ! 
The fewer eaters round the cake, 
The fewer players for the stake, 
The surer each one's self to take. 
A hundred facts my truth might test ; 
But shortest works are always best. 
In this I but pursue the chart 
Laid down by masters of the art ; 
And, on the best of themes, I hold, 
The truth should never all be told. 
Hence, here my sermon ought to close. 
O thou, to whom my fable owes 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 227 

Whate'er it has of solid worth, — ■ 

Who, great by modesty as well as birth, 

Hast ever counted praise a pain, — 

Whose leave I could so ill obtain 

That here your name, receiving homage, 

Should save from every sort of damage 

My slender works — which name, well known 
To nations, and to ancient Time, 

All France delights to own, 
Herself more rich in names sublime 
Than any other earthly clime ; — 
Permit me here the world to teach 

That you have given my simple lhyme 
The text from which it dares to preach. 




228 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE MERCHANT, THE NOBLE, THE SHEPHERD AND 
THE KING'S SON. 

Fouk voyagers to parts unknown, 
On shore, not far from naked, thrown 
By furious waves, — a merchant now undone, 
A noble, shepherd, and a monarch's son, — 
Brought to the lot of Belisarius,* 
Their wants supplied on alms precarious. 
To tell what fates, and winds, and weather, 
Had brought these mortals all together, 
Though from far distant points abscinded, 
Would make my tale long-winded. 
Suffice to say, that, by a fountain met 

In council grave, these outcasts held debate. 
The prince enlarged, in an oration set, 
Upon the miseries that befall the great. "i 

* Belisarius was a great general, who, having commanded the armies 
of the emperor, and lost the favor of his master, fell to such a point of 
destitution that he asked alms upon the highways. — Note of La 
Fontaine. 

The touching story of the fall of Belisarius, of which painters and 
poets have made so much, is entirely false, as may be seen by consult- 
ing Gibbon's ''• Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire," chap, xliii. 

En, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 229 

The shepherd deemed it best to cast 
Off thought of all misfortune past, 
And each to do the best he could, 
In efforts for the common weal. 
Did ever a repining mood, 

He added, a misfortune heal ? 
Toil, friends, will take us back to Rome, 
Or make us here as good a home. 
A shepherd so to speak ! a shepherd ? What ! 
As though crowned heads were not, 
By Heaven's appointment fit, 
The sole receptacles of wit ! 
As though a shepherd could be deeper, 
In thought or knowledge, than his sheep are ! 
The three, howe'er, at once approved his plan, 
Wrecked as they were on shores American. — > v ^-- 
I'll teach arithmetic, the merchant said, — 
Its rules, of course, well seated in his head, — 
For monthly pay. The prince replied, And 1 
Will teach political economy. 
And I, the noble said, in heraldry 
Well versed, will open for that branch a school — 
As if, beyond a thousand leagues of sea, 
That senseless jargon could befool! 
My friends, you talk like men, 
The shepherd cried, but then 
The month has thirty days ; till they are spent, 
Are we upon your faith to keep full Lent ? 
The hope you give is truly good ; 
But, ere it comes, we starve for food ! 



230 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



^ray tell me, if you can divine, 
On what, to-morrow, we shall dine ; 
Or tell me, rather, whence we may 
Obtain a supper for to-day. 
This point, if truth should be confessed, 
Is first, and vital to the rest. 
Your science short in this respect, 
My hands shall cover the defect. — 
This said, the nearest woods he sought 
And thence for market fagots brought, 
Whose price that day, and eke the next, 
Relieved the company perplexed — 
Forbidding that, by fasting, they should go 
To use their talents in the world below. 

We learn, from this adventure's course, 
There needs but little skill to get a living. 
Thanks to the gifts of Nature's giving, 

Our hands are much the readiest resource. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 231 

THE COUNTRYMAN AND THE SERPENT. 

A countryman, as iEsop certifies, 
A charitable man, but not so wise, 
One day in winter found, 
Stretched on the snowy ground, 
A chilled or frozen snake, 
As torpid as a stake, 
And, if alive, devoid of sense. 
He took him up, and bore him home, 

And, thinking not what recompense 
For such a charity would come, 
Before the fire he stretched him, 
And back to being fetched him. 
The snake scarce felt the genial heat 
Before his heart with native malice beat. 
He raised his head, thrust out his forked tongue, 
Coiled up, and at his benefactor sprung. 
Ungrateful wretch ! said he, is this the way 

My care and kindness you repay ? 
Now you shall die. With that his axe he takes. 
And with two blows three serpents makes. 
Trunk, head, and tail were separate snakes ; 
And, leaping up with all their might, 
They vainly sought to reunite. 

'Tis good and lovely to be kind ; 
But charity should not be blind ; 
For as to wretchedness ingrate, 
You cannot raise it from its wretched state. 



THE SICK LION AND THE FOX. 

Sick in his den, we understand, 
The king of beasts sent out command 
That of his vassals every sort 
Should send some deputies to court — 
With promise well to treat 
Each deputy and suite ; 
On faith of lion, duly written, 
None should be scratched, much less be bitten. 
The royal will was executed, 
And some from every tribe deputed ; 
The foxes, only, would not come. 
One thus explained their choice of home : — 
Of those who seek the court, we learn, 

The tracks upon the sand 

Have one direction, and 
Not one betokens a return. 
This fact begetting some distrust, 
His majesty at present must 
Excuse us from his great levee. 

His plighted word is good, no doubt ; 
But while how beasts get in we see, 

We do not see how they get out. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 233 



THE FOWLER, THE HAWK, AND THE LARK. 

From wrongs of wicked men we draw 

Excuses for our own : — 
Such is the universal law. 

Would you have mercy shown, 

Let yours be clearly known. 

A fowler's minor served to snare 
The little tenants of the air. 
A lark there saw her pretty face, 
And was approaching to the place. 

A hawk, that sailed on high 

Like vapor in the sky, 
Came down, as still as infant's breath, 
On her who sang so near her death. 
She thus escaped the fowler's steel, 
The hawk's malignant claws to feel. 

While in his cruel way, 

The pirate plucked his prey, 
Upon himself the net was sprung. 
O fowler, prayed he in the hawkish tongue, 

Release me in thy clemency ! 

I never did a wrong to thee. 

The man replied, 'Tis true ; 

And did the lark to you ? 



THE MOGUL'S DREAM. 

Long since, a Mogul saw, in dream, 

A vizier in Elysian bliss ; 
No higher joy could be or seem, 

Or purer, than was ever his. 
Elsewhere was dreamed of by the same 
A wretched hermit wrapped in flame, 
Whose lot e'en touched, so pained was he, 
The partners of his misery. 
Was Minos mocked ? or had these ghosts, 
By some mistake, exchanged their posts ? 
Surprise at this the vision broke ; 
The dreamer suddenly awoke. 

Some mystery suspecting in it, 

He got a wise one to explain it. 
Replied the sage interpreter, 
Let not the thing a marvel seem : 
There is a meaning in your dream : 

If J have aught of knowledge, sir, 
It covers counsel from the gods. 
While tenanting these clay abodes, 
This vizier sometimes gladly sought 
The solitude that favors thought ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 235 

Whereas, the hermit, in his cot, 
Had longings for a vizier's lot. 
To this interpretation dared I add, 

The love of solitude I would inspire. 
It satisfies the heart's desire 
With unencumbered gifts and glad — 
Heaven-planted joys, of stingless sweet, 
Aye springing up beneath our feet. 

Solitude, whose secret charms I know - ■ 
Retreats that I have loved — when shall 1 go 
To taste, far from a world of din and noise, 
Your shades so fresh, where silence has a voice? 
When shall their soothing gloom my refuge be ? 

When shall the sacred Nine, from courts afar, 

And cities with all solitude at war, 
Engross entire, and teach their votary 
The stealthy movements of the spangled nights, 
The names and -virtues of those errant lights 
Which rule o'er human character and fate ? 
Or, if not born to purposes so great, 
The streams, at least, shall win my heartfelt thanks, 
While, in my verse, I paint their flowery banks. 
Fate shall not weave my life with golden thread, 
Nor 'neath rich fret-work, on a purple bed, 
Shall I repose, full late, my care-worn head. 

But will my sleep be less a treasure ? 

Less deep, thereby, and full of pleasure ? 

1 vow it, sweet and gentle as the dew, 
Within those deserts sacrifices new ; 

And when the time shall come to yield my breath, 
Without remorse I'll join the ranks of Death 




THE LION, THE MONKEY, AND THE TWO ASSES 

The lion, for his kingdom's sake, 
In morals would some lessons take, 
And therefore called, one summer's day, 
The monkey, master of the arts, 
An animal of brilliant parts, 

To hear what he could say. 
Great king, the monkey thus began, 
To reign upon the wisest plan 
Requires a prince to set his #eal, 
And passion for the public weal, 
Distinctly and quite high above 
A certain feeling called self-love,"" 

The parent of all vices, 

In creatures of all sizes. 
To will this feeling from one's breast away, 
Is not the easy labor of a day ; 
'Tis much to moderate its tyrant sway. 
By that your majesty august 
Will execute your royal trust 
From folly free and aught unjust. 

Give me, replied the king, 

Example of each thing. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 237 

Each species, said the sage, — 
And I begin with ours, — = 

Exalts its own peculiar powers * 
Above sound reason's gauge. 
Meanwhile, all other kinds and tribes 
As fools and blockheads it describes, 

With other compliments as cheap. 
But, on the other hand, the same 

Self-love inspires a beast to heap 
The highest pyramid of fame 
For every one that bears his name ; 
Because he justly deems such praise 
The easiest way himself to raise. 
'Tis my conclusion in the case, 

That many a talent here below 
Is but cabal, or" sheer grimace, — 

The art of seeming things to know — 
An art in which perfection lies 
More with the ignorant than wise. 

Two asses tracking, t'other day, 
Of which each in his turn 
Did incense to the other burn, 
Quite in the usual way, — 
I heard one to his comrade say, 
My lord, do you not find 
The prince of knaves and fools 
To be this man, who boasts of mind 
Instructed in his schools ? 



238 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

With wit unseemly and profane, 

He mocks our venerable race — 
Oir each of his who lacketh brain 
Bestows our ancient surname, ass ! 
And, with abusive tongue portraying, 
Describes our laugh and talk as braying ! 
These bipeds of their folly tell us, 
While thus pretending to excel us. 
No, 'tis for you to speak, my friend, 
And let their orators attend. 
The braying is their own, but let them be : 
We understand each other, and agree, 
And that's enough. As for your song, 
Such wonders to its notes belong, 
The nightingale is put to shame, 
And Lambert loses half his fame. 
My lord, the other ass replied, 
Such talents in yourself reside, 
Of asses all, the joy and pride. 
These donkies, not quite satisfied 
With scratching thus each other's hide, 
Must needs the cities visit, 
Their fortunes there to raise, 
By sounding forth the praise, 
Each, of the other's skill exquisite. 
Full many, in this age of ours, — 
Not only among asses, 
But in the higher classes, 
Whom Heaven hath clothed with higher powers,- 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



239 



Dared they but do it, would exalt 
A simple innocence from fault, 
Or virtue common and domestic, 
To excellence majestic. 
I Ve said too much, perhaps ; but I suppose 
Your majesty the secret won't disclose, 
Since 'twas your majesty's request that I 

This matter should exemplify. 
How love of self gives food to ridicule, 
J've shown. To prove the balance of my rule, 
That justice is a sufferer thereby, 
A longer time will take. — 
'Twas thus the monkey spake. 
But my informant does not state, 
That e'er the sage did demonstrate 
The other point, more delicate. 
Perhaps he thought none but a fool 
A lion would too strictly school. 





THE WOLF AND THE FOX. 



Why iEsop gave the palm of cunning, 
O'er flying animals and running, 
To Renard Fox, I cannot tell, 
Though 1 have searched the subject well. 
Hath not Sir Wolf an equal skill 
In tricks and artifices shown, 
When he would do some life an ill, 
Or from his foes defend his own ? 
I think he hath; and, void of disrespect, 
I might, perhaps, my master contradict : 
V"et here's a case in which the burrow-lodger 
Was palpably, I own, the brightest dodger. 
One night he spied within a well, 
Wherein the fullest moonlight fell, 

What seemed to him an ample cheese. 
Two balanced buckets took their turns 
When drawers thence would fill their urns. 

Our fox went down in one of these, 
By hunger greatly pressed to sup, 
And drew the other empty up. 




THE WOLF AND THE FOX. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 241 

Convinced at once of his mistake, 
And anxious for his safety's sake, 
He saw his death was near and sure, 

Unless some other wretch in need 
The same moon's image should allure 

To take a bucket and succeed 

To his predicament, indeed. 
Two days passed by, and none approached the well ; 
Un halting Time, as is his wont, 
Was scooping from the moon's full front, 
And, as he scooped, Sir Renard's courage fell. 
His crony wolf, of clamorous maw, 
Poor fox at last above him saw, 
And cried, My comrade, look you here ! 
See what abundance of good cheer ! 
A cheese of most delicious zest ! 
Which Faunus must himself have pressed, 
Of milk by heifer Io given. 
If Jupiter were sick in heaven, 
The taste would bring his appetite. 
I've taken, as you see, a bite ; 
But still for both there is a plenty. 
Pray take the bucket that I've sent ye , 
Come down, and get your share. 
Although, to make the story fair, 
The fox had used his utmost care, 
The wolf (a fool to give him credit) 
Went down because his stomach bid it — 

And by his weight pulled up 
Sir Renard to the top. 



242 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

We need not mock this simpleton, 
For we ourselves such deeds have done. 
Our faith is prone to lend its ear 
To aught which we desire or fear. 



THE PEASANT OF THE DANUBE. 

To judge no man by outside view, 
Is good advice, though not quite new. 
Some time ago, a mouse's fright 
Upon this moral shed some light. 

I have for proof at present, 
With iEsop and good Socrates, 
Of Danube's banks a certain peasant, 
Whose portrait, drawn to life, one sees, 
By Marc Aurelius, if you please. 
The first are well known, far and near; 
I briefly sketch the other here. 
The crop upon his fertile chin 
Was any thing but soft or thin ; 
Indeed, his person, clothed in hair, 
Might personate an unlicked bear. 
Beneath his matted brow there lay 
An eye that squinted every way ; 
A crooked nose and monstrous lips he bore, 
And goat-skin round his trunk he w*ore, 
With bulrush belt. And such a man as this is 
Was delegate from towns the Danube kisses, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 243 

When not a nook on earth there lingered 
By Roman avarice not fingered. 

Before the senate thus he spoke : — 
Romans and senators who hear, 

I, first of all, the gods invoke, 

The powers whom mortals justly fear, 

That from my tongue there may not fall 

A word which I may need recall. 

Without their aid, there enters nought 
To human hearts of good or just : 

Whoever leaves the same unsought, 
Is prone to violate his trust ; 

The prey of Roman avarice, 

Ourselves are witnesses of this. 

Rome, by our crimes, our scourge has grown, 

More than by valor of her own. 

Romans, beware lest Heaven, some day, 

Exact for all our groans the pay, 

And, arming us, by just reverse, 

To do its vengeance, stern, but meet, 

Shall pour on you the vassals' curse, 
And place your necks beneath our feet ! 
And wherefore not ? For, are you better 

Than hundreds of the tribes diverse 
Who clank the galling Roman fetter ? 

What right gives you the universe ? 

Why come and mar our quiet life ? 

We tilled our acres free from strife ; 

In arts our hands were skilled to toil, 

As well as o'er the generous soil. 



244 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

What nave you taught the Germans brave ? 

Apt scholars, had but they 

Your appetite for sway, 
They might, instead of you, enslave, 

Without your inhumanity. 
That which your praetors perpetrate 
On us, as subjects of your state, 
My powers would fail me to relate. 
Profaned their altars and their rites, 
The pity of your gods our lot excites. 
Thanks to your representatives, 
In you they see but shameless thieves, 
Who plunder gods as well as men, 
By sateless avarice insane. 
The men that rule our land from this 
Are like the bottomless abyss. 
To satisfy their lust of gain, 
Both man and nature toil in vain. 
Recall them ; for indeed we will 
Our fields for such no longer till. 
From all our towns and plains we fly 
For refuge to our mountains high. 
We quit our homes and tender wives, 
To lead with savage beasts our lives — 
No more to welcome into day 
A progeny for Rome a prey. 
And as to those already born — 

Poor, helpless babes forlorn ! — 
We wish them short career in time. 
Your praetors force us to the crime. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 245 

Are they our teachers ? Call them home, — 

They teach but luxury and vice, — 
Lest Germans should their likes become, 

In fell, remorseless avarice. 
Have we a remedy at Rome ? 

I'll tell you here how matters go. 

Hath one no present to bestow, 

No purple for a judge or so, 
The laws for him are deaf and dumb ; 

Their minister has aye in store 

A thousand hindrances or more. 

I'm sensible that truths like these 
Are not the things to please. 
I've done. Let death avenge you here 
Of my complaint, a little too sincere. 

He said no more ; but all admired 

The thought with which his speech was fired ; 

The eloquence and heart of oak 

With which the prostrate savage spoke. 
Indeed, so much were all delighted, 
As due revenge, the man was knighted. 

The praetors were at once displaced, 

And better men the office graced. 

The senate, also, by decree, 
Besought a copy of the speech, 

Which might to future speakers be 
A model for the use of each. 

Not long, howe'er, had Rome the sense 

To entertain- such eloquence. 



246 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



'Tis thus, by crystal fount, my muse hath sung, 
Translating into heavenly tongue 
Whatever came within my reach, 

From hosts of beings borrowing nature's speech. 
Interpreter of tribes diverse, 

I've made them actors on my motley stage ; 
For in this boundless universe 

There's none but talketh, simpleton or sage. 

More eloquent at home than in my verse, 

If some should find themselves by me the worse, 

And this my work prove not a model true, 
To that which I at least rough-hew 

Succeeding hands will give the finish due. 
Ye pets of those sweet sisters nine, 
Complete the task that I resign ; 
The lessons give, which doubtless I've omitted, 
With wings by these inventions nicely fitted. 

But you're already more than occupied ; 

For while my muse her harmless work hath plied, 
All Europe to our sovereign yields, 
And learns, upon her battle-fields, 
To bow before the noblest plan 
That ever monarch formed, or man. 
Thence draw those sisters themes sublime, 
With power to conquer Fate and Time. 



Stofe 




H*J1I3&I3 H*II18S^* 



THE TWO RATS, THE FOX, AND THE EGG. 



ADDRESS TO MADAM DE LA SABLIERE. 




ou, Iris, 'twere an easy task to praise ; 
But you refuse the incense of my lays. 
In this you are unlike all other mortals, 
Who welcome all the praise that seeks their portals; 
Not one who is not soothed by sound so sweet. 
For me to blame this humor were not meet, 
By gods and mortals shared in common, 
And, in the main, by lovely woman. 



248 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

That drink, so vaunted by the rhyming trade, 
That cheers the god who deals the thunder-blow, 
And oft intoxicates the gods below, — 
The nectar, Iris, — is of praises made. 
You taste it not. But, in its place, 
Wit, science, even trifles, grace 
Your bill of fare ; but, for that matter, 
The world will not believe the latter. 

Well, leave the world in unbelief. 

Still, science, trifles, fancies light as air, 

I hold, should mingle in a bill of fare, 

Each giving each its due relief; 

As, where the gifts of Flora fall, 

On different flowers we see 

Alight the busy bee, 
Educing sweet from all. 
Thus much premised, don't think it strange, 
Or aught beyond my muse's range, 
If e'en my fables should infold, 
Among their nameless trumpery, 
The traits of a philosophy 
Far-famed as subtile, charming, bold. 
They call it new — the men of wit ; 
Perhaps you have not heard of it.* 
My verse will tell you what it means : — 
They say that beasts are mere machines ; 

* Madam de la Sabliere was one of the most learned women of the 
age in which she lived, and knew more of the philosophy of Descartes, 
in which she was a believer, than our poet; but she dreaded the repu- 
tation of a " Blue-stocking,' and for this reason La Fontaine addresses 
lier as if she might be ignorant of the Cartesian theory. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 249 

That, in their doings, every thing 
Is done by virtue of a spring — 
No sense, nor soul, nor notion, 
But matter merely — set in motion ; — 
Just such the watch in kind, 
Which joggeth on, to purpose blind. 
Now ope, and read within its breast — 
The place of soul is by its wheels possessed. 
One moves a second, that a third, 
Till finally its sound is heard. 
And now the beast, our sages say, 
Is moved precisely in this way. 
An object strikes it in a certain place : 
The spot thus struck, without a moment's space, 
To neighboring parts the news conveys : 
Thus sense receives it through the chain, 
And takes impression. — How ? Explain. — 
Not I. They say, by sheer necessity, 
From will as well as passion free, 
The animal is found the thrall 
Of movements which the vulgar call 
Joy, sadness, pleasure, pain, and love — 
The cause extrinsic and above. — 
Believe it not. What's this I hold ? 
Why, sooth, it is a watch of gold — 
Its life, the mere unbending of a spring. 
And we ? — are quite a different thing. 
Hear how Descartes — Descartes, whom all applaud, 
Whom pagans would have made a god, 
Who holds, in fact, the middle place 
'Twixt ours and the celestial race, 



250 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

About as does the plodding ass 
From man to oyster as you pass — 
Hear how this author states the case : 
Of all the tribes to being brought 
By our Creator out of nought, 
I only have the gift of thought. 
Now, Iris, you will recollect 
We were by older science taught 
That when brutes think, they don't reflect, 
Descartes proceeds beyond the wall, 
And says they do not think at all. 

This you believe with ease ; 
And so could I, if I should please. 
Still, in the forest, when, from morn 
Till midday, sounds of dog and horn 
Have terrified the stag forlorn ; — 
When he has doubled forth and back, 
And labored to confound his track, 
Till tired and spent with efforts vain — 
An ancient stag, of antlers ten ; — 
He puts a younger in his place, 
All fresh, to weary out the chase. — 
What thoughts for one that merely grazes 
The doublings, turnings, windings, mazes, 
The substituting fresher bait, 
Were worthy of a man of state — 
And worthy of a better fate ! 
To yield to rascal dogs his breath 
Is all the honor of his death. 
And when the partridge danger spies, 
Before her brood have strength to rise, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 251 

She wisely counterfeits a wound, 
And drags her wing upon the ground — 
Thus, from her home, beside some ancient log, 
Safe drawing off the sportsman and his dog ; 
And while the latter seems to seize her, 

The victim of an easy chase — 

Your teeth are not for such as me, sir, 

She cries, 

And flies, 

And laughs the former in his face. 

Far north, 'tis said, the people live 
In customs nearly primitive ; 
That is to say, are bound 
In ignorance profound : — 
I mean the people human ; 
For animals are dwelling there 
With skill such buildings to prepare 

As could on earth but few men. 
Firm laid across the torrent's course, 
Their work withstands its mighty force, 
So damming it from shore to shore, 

That, gliding smoothly o'er, 
In even sheets the waters pour. 
Their work, as it proceeds, they grade and bevel, 
Or bring it up to plumb and level ; 
First lay their logs, and then with mortar smear, 
As if directed by an engineer. 
Each labors for the public good ; 
The old command, the youthful brood 
Cut down, and shape, and place the wood. 



252 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Compared with theirs, e'en Plato's model state 
Were but the work of some apprentice pate. 
Such are the beaver folks, who know 
Enough to house themselves from snow, 
And bridge, though they can swim, the pools. 
Meanwhile, our kinsmen are such fools, 
In spite of their example, 
They dwell in huts less ample, 
And cross the streams by swimming, 
However cold and brimming ! 
Now, that the skilful beaver 
Is but a body void of spirit, 
From whomsoever I might hear it, 
I would believe it never. 

But I go further in the case. 
Pray listen while I tell 
A thing which lately fell 
From one of truly royal race.* 
A prince beloved by Victory, 
Tne north's defender, here shall be 
My voucner and your guaranty ; 
Whose mighty name alone 
Commands the sultan's throne, 
The King whom Poland calls her own. 
This king declares (kings cannot lie, we hear) 
That, on his own frontier, 
Some animals there are 
Engaged in ceaseless war ; 

* John Sobicflki. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 253 

From age to age the quarrel runs. 
Transmitted down from sires to sons; 
(These beasts, he says, are to the fox akin ;) 
And with more skill no war hath been, 
By highest military powers, 
Conducted in this age of ours. 
Guards, piquets, scouts, and spies, 
And ambuscade that hidden lies, 
The foe to capture by surprise, 
And many a shrewd appliance 
Of that pernicious, cursed science, 
The daughter of the Stygian wave, 
And mother harsh of heroes brave, 
Those military creatures have. 
To chant their feats a bard we lack, 
Till Death shall give us Homer back. 

And should he such a wonder do, 
And, while his hand was in, release 
Old Epicurus' rival* too, 
What would the latter say to facts like these ? 
Why, as I've said, that nature does such things 
In animals by means of springs ; 
That Memory is but corporeal ; 

And that to do the things arrayed 
So proudly in my story all, 
The animal but needs her aid. 
At each return, the object, so to speak, 
Proceeds directly to her store 

* Descartes. 



254 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

With keenest optics — there to seek 

The image it had traced before, 
Which, found, proceeds forthwith to act 
Just as at first it did, in fact, 
By neither thought nor reason backed. 
Not so with us, beasts perpendicular ; 
With us kind Heaven is more particular. 
Self-ruled by independent mind, 
We're not the sport of objects blind, 
Nor e'en to instinct are consigned. 
I walk ; I talk ; I feel the sway 
Of power within 
This nice machine -V 
It cannot but obey. 
This power, although with matter linked, 
Is comprehended as distinct. 
Indeed, 'tis comprehended better, 
In truth and essence, than is matter. 
O'er all our arts it is supreme. 
But how doth matter understand 
Or hear its sovereign lord's command ? 
Here doth a difficulty seem : 

I see the tool obey the hand ; 
But then the hand, who guideth it ? 
Who guides the stars, in order fit ? 
Perhaps each mighty world, 
Since from its Maker hurled, 
Some angel may have kept in custody. 
However that may be, 
A spirit dwells in such as we p 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 255 

It moves our limbs ; we feel its mandates now ; 
We see and know it rules, but know not how : 

Nor shall we know, indeed, 
Till in the breast of God we read. 
And, speaking in all verity, 
Descartes is just as ignorant as we ; 
In things beyond a mortal's ken, 
He knows no more than other men. 
But, Iris, I confess to this, 

That in the beasts of which I speak 

Such spirit it were vain to seek, 
For man its only temple is. 

Yet beasts must have a place 

Beneath our godlike race, 

Which no mere plant requires 

Although the plant respires. 

But what shall one reply 
To what I next shall certify ? 
Two rats, in foraging, fell on an egg, — 
For gentry such as they 
A genteel dinner every way ; 
They needed not to find an ox's leg. 
Brimful of joy and appetite, 

They were about to sack the box. , 
So tight without the aid of locks, 
When suddenly there came in sight 
A personage — Sir Pullet Fox. 
Sure, luck was never more untoward 
Since Fortune was a vixen froward ! 



256 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

How should they save their egg and bacon ? 

Their plunder couldn't then be bagged ; 
Should it in forward paws be taken, 

Or rolled along, or dragged ? 

Each method seemed impossible, 

And each was then of danger full. 
Necessity, ingenious mother, 
Brought forth what helped them from their pother. 
As still there was a chance to save their prey, — 
The spunger yet some hundred yards away, — 
One seized the egg, and turned upon his back, 
And then, in spite of many a thump and thwack, 
That would have torn, perhaps, a coat of mail, 

The other dragged him by the tail. 

Who dares the inference to blink, 

That beasts possess wherewith to think ? 

Were I commissioned to bestow 
This power on creatures here below, 
The beasts should have as much of mind 
As infants of the human kind. 
Think not the latter from their birth ? 
It hence appears there are on earth 
That have the simple power of thought 
Where reason hath no knowledge wrought. 

And on this wise an equal power I'd yield 

To all the various tenants of the field ; 

Not reason such as in ourselves we find, 
But something more than any mainspring blind. 

A speck of matter I would subtilize 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 257 

Almost beyond the reach of mental eyes ; — 
An atom's essence, one might say, 
An extract of a solar ray, 
More quick and pungent than a flame of fire, — 

For if of flame the wood is sire, 

Cannot the flame, itself refined, 

Give some idea of the mind ? 
Comes not the purest gold 
From lead, as we are told ? 

To feel and choose, my work should soar — 

Unthinking judgment — nothing more. 
No monkey of my manufacture 
Should argue from his sense or fact, sure : 

But my allotment to mankind 

Should be of very different mind. 
We men should share in double measure, 
Or rather have a twofold treasure ; — 

The one the soul, the same in all 

That bear the name of animal — 

The sages, dunces, great and small, 

That tenant this our teeming ball ; — 
The other, still another soul, 

Which should to mortals here belong 

In common with the angel throng $~^ v - 
Which, made an independent whole, 

Could pierce the skies to worlds of light, 

Within a point have room to be, — 

Its life a morn, sans noon or night, 

Exempt from all destructive change, — 

A thing as real as 'tis strange. 



258 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Jn infancy this child of day 
Should glimmer but a feeble ray. 
Its earthly organs stronger grown, 
The beam of reason, brightly thrown, 
Should pierce the darkness, thick and gross, 
That holds the other, prisoned close. 



THE MICE AND THE OWL. 

Beware of saying, Lend an ear 
To something marvellous or witty. 

To disappoint your friends who hear, 
Is possible, and were a pity. 

But now a clear exception see, 

Which I maintain a prodigy — 
A thing which, with the air of fable, 
Is true as is the interest table. 

A pine was by a woodman felled, 

Which ancient, huge, and hollow tree 

An owl had for his palace held — 
A bird the Fates had kept in fee, 
Interpreter to such as we. 
Within the caverns of the pine, 
With other tenants of that mine, 
Were found full many footless mice, 
But well provisioned, fat, and nice. 
The bird had bit off all their feet, 
And fed them there with heaps of wheat. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 259 

That this owl reasoned, who can doubt ? 
When to the chase he first went out, 
And home alive the vermin brought, 
Which in his talons he had caught, 
The nimble creatures ran away. 
Next time, resolved to make them stay, 
He cropped their legs, and found, with pleasure; 
That he could eat them at his leisure ; 
It were impossible to eat 
Them all at once, did health permit. 
His foresight equal to our own, 
In furnishing their food, was shown. 
Now, let Cartesians, if they can, 

Pronounce this owl a mere machine. ^ 
Could springs originate the plan 
Of maiming mice, when taken lean, 
To fatten for his soup-tureen ? 
If reason did no service there, 
I do not know it any where. 

Observe the course of argument : 
These vermin are no sooner caught than gone : 
They must be used as soon, 'tis evident ; 
But this to all cannot be done. 
And then, for future need, 
I might as well take heed. 
Hence, while their ribs 1 lard,. 
I must from their elopement guard. 
But how ? — A plan complete ! — 
I'll clip them of their feet ! 



260 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Now, find me, in jour human schools, 

A better use of logic's tools ! 
Upon jour faith, what different art of thought 
Has Aristotle or his followers taught?* 



* La Fontaine, in a note, asserts that the subject of this fable, however 
marvellous, was a fact which was actually observed. His commentators, 
however, think the observers must have been in some measure .mistaken ; 
and I agree with them. — Ed. 



THE APE. 

There is an ape in Paris, 

To which was given a wife : 
Like man j a one that marries, 
This ape, in brutal strife, 
Soon beat her out of life. 
Their infant cries, — perhaps not fed, — 

But cries, I ween, in vain ; 
The father laughs : his wife is dead, 
And he has other loves again*-- / 
Which he will also beat, I think, — 
Returned from tavern drowned in drink. 

For aught that's good, jou need not look 

Among the imitative tribe ; 
A monkej be it, or what makes a book — 

The worse, I deem — the aping scribe. 




THE CAT AND THE TWO SPARROWS. 

TO MONSEIGNEUR THE DUKE DE BOURGOGNE. 

Contemporary with a sparrow tame 
There lived a cat ; from tenderest age, 
Of both, the basket and the cage 
Had household gods the same. 
The bird's sharp beak full oft provoked the cat, 
Who played in turn, but with a gentle pat, 
His wee friend sparing with a merry laugh, 
Not punishing his faults by half. 

In short, he scrupled much the harm, 
Should he with points his ferule arm. 
The sparrow, less discreet than he, 
With dagger beak made very free. 
Sir Cat, a person wise and staid, 
Excused the warmth with which he played ; 
For 'tis full half of friendship's art 
To take no joke in serious part. 
Familiar since they saw the light, 

Mere habit kept their friendship good ; 
Fair play had never turned to fight, 
Till, of their neighborhood. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Another sparrow came to greet 
Old Ratto grave and saucy Pete. 
Between the birds a quarrel rose, 

And Ratto took his side. 
A pretty stranger, with such blows 

To beat our friend ! he cried. 
A neighbor's sparrow eating ours ! 
Not so, by all the feline powers. 
And quick the stranger he devours. 

Now, truly, saith Sir Cat, 
I know how sparrows taste by that. 
Exquisite, tender, delicate ! 
This thought soon sealed the other's fate. 
But hence what moral can I bring ? 
For, lacking that important thing, 
A fable lacks its finishing. 
I seem to see of one some trace, 
But still its shadow mocks my chase. 
Yours, prince, it will not thus abuse: 
For you such sports, and not my muse. 
In wit, she and her sisters eight 
Would fail to match you with a mate. 





THE FOX WITH HIS TAIL CUT OFF. 



THE MISER AND THE MONKEY. 



o 



A man amassed. The thing we know 
Doth often to a frenzy grow. 
No thought had he but of his minted gold — 
Stuff void of worth when unemployed, I hold. 
Now, that this treasure might the safer be, 

Our miser's dwelling had the sea 
As guard on every side from every thief. 
With pleasure very small in my belief, r^y/"^ 
But very great in his, he there 
Upon his hoard bestowed his care. 

No respite came of everlasting 

Recounting, calculating, casting ; 
For some mistake would always come 
To mar and spoil the total sum. 
A monkey there, of goodly size, — 
And than his lord, I think, more wise, — 
Some doubloons from the window threw, 
And rendered thus the count untrue. 

The padlocked room permitted 

Its owner, when he quitted, 
To leave his money on the table. 

One day, bethought this monkey wise 

To make the whole a sacrifice 
To Neptune on his throne unstable. 

I could not well award the prize 



264 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Between the monkey's and the miser's pleasure 

Derived from that devoted treasure. 
With some, Don Bertrand would the honor gain, 
For reasons it were tedious to explain. 
One day, then, left alone, 
That animal, to mischief prone, 
Coin after coin detached, 
A gold jacobus snatched, 
Or Portuguese doubloon, 
Or silver ducatoon, 
Or noble, of the English rose, 
And flung with all his might 
Those discs, which oft excite 
The strongest wishes mortal ever knows. 
Had he not heard, at last, 
The turning of his master's key, 
The money all had passed 
The same short road to sea ; 
And not a single coin but had been pitched 
Into the gulf by many a wreck enriched. 

Now, God preserve full many a financier 
Whose use of wealth may find its likeness here. 




THE TWO GOATS. 



Since goats have browsed, by freedom fired. 
To follow fortune they've aspired. 
To pasturage they're wont to roam 
Where men are least disposed to come. 
If any pathless place there be, 

Or cliff, or pendent precipice, 
5 Tis there ^ they cut their capers free : 
There's nought can stop these dames, 1 wis 

Two goats, thus self-emancipated, — 
The white that on their feet they wore 
Looked back to noble blood of yore, — 

Once quit the lowly meadows, sated, 
And sought the hills, as it would seem : 

In search of luck, by luck they met 
Each other at a mountain stream. 

As bridge a narrow plank was set, 
On which, if truth must be confest, 
Two weasels scarce could go abreast. 
And then the torrent, foaming white, 
As down it tumbled from the height, 
Might well those Amazons affright. 



266 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

But maugre such a fearful rapid, 

Both took the bridge, the goats intrepid ! 
I seem to see our Louis Grand 
And Philip IV. advance 
To the Isle of Conference, 
That lies 'twixt Spain and France, 
Each sturdy for his glorious land. 
Thus each of our adventurers goes, 
Till foot to foot, and nose to nose, 
Somewhere about the midst they meet. 
And neither will an inch retreat. 

For why ? they both enjoyed the glory 

Of ancestors in ancient story. 
The one, a goat of peerless rank 
Which, browsing on Sicilian bank, 
The Cyclop gave to Galataea ; 
The other famous Am althaea, 
The goat that suckled Jupiter, 
As some historians aver. 
For want of giving back, in troth, 
A common fall involved them both — 
A common accident, no doubt, 
On Fortune's changeful route. 




TO MONSE1GNEUR THE DUKE DE BOURGOGNE, 



VHO HAD REQUESTED OF M. DE LA FONTAINE A FABLE WHICH 
SHOULD BE CALLED " THE CAT AND THE MOUSE " 



To please a youthful prince, whom Fame 

A temple in my writings vows, 
What fable answers to the name, 
" The Cat and Mouse ? " 



Shall I in verse the fair present, 

With softest look but hard intent, 

Who serves the hearts her charms entice 

As does the cat its captive mice ? 

Or make my subject Fortune's sport? 

She treats the friends that make her court, 

And follow closest her advice, 

As treats the cat the silly mice. 

Shall I for theme a king select 

Who sole, of all her favorites, 
Commands the goddess's respect ? 

For whom she from her wheel alights ? 



268 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Who, never stayed by foes a trice, 
Whene'er they blc*k his way, 
Can with the strongest play 

As doth the cat with mice ? 

Insensibly, while casting thus about, 
Quite anxious for my subject's sake, 
A theme I meet, and, if I don't mistake, 

Shall spoil it, too, by spinning out. 

The prince will treat my muse, for that, 
As mice are treated by the cat. 



THE COCK AND THE PEARL. 

A cock scratched up, one day, 

A pearl of purest ray, 
Which to a jeweller he bore. 

I think it fine, he said, 
ut yet a crumb of bread 
To me were worth a great deal more. 

So did a dunce inherit 

A manuscript of merit, 
Which to a publisher he bore. 

'Tis good, said he, I'm told, 

Yet any coin of gold 
To me were worth a great deal more. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE OLD CAT AND THE YOUNG MOUSE, 

A young and inexperienced mouse 

Had faith to try a veteran cat, — ■ 

Raminagrobis, death to rat, 
And scourge of vermin through the house, - 
Appealing to his clemency 

With reasons sound and fair. 
Pray let me live ; a mouse like, me 

It were not much to spare. 
Am I, in such a family, 
A burden ? Would my largest wish 
Our wealthy host impoverish ? 
A grain of wheat will make my meal ; 
A nut will fat me like a seal. 
I'm Jean at present: please to wait, 
And for your heirs reserve my fate. 

The captive mouse thus spake. 
Replied the captor, You mistake ; 
To me shall such a thing be said ? 
Address the deaf! address the dead! 
A cat to pardon ! — old one, too ! 
Why, such a thing I never knew. 

Thou victim of my paw, 

By well-established law, 



270 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Die, as a mousling should, 
And beg the sisterhood, 
Who ply the thread and shears, 
To lend thy speech their ears. 
Some other like repast 
My heirs may find, or fast. 
He ceased. The moral's plain. 
Youth always hopes its ends to gain, 
Believes all spirits like its own : 
Old age is not to mercy prone. 



THE EARTHEN POT AND THE IRON POT. 

An iron pot proposed 

To an earthen pot a journey. 
The latter was opposed, 

Expressing the concern he 
Had felt about the danger 
Of going out a ranger. 
He thought the kitchen hearth 
The safest place on earth 
For one so very brittle. 
For thee, who art a kettle, 
And hast a tougher skin, 
There's nought to keep thee in. 
I'll be thy body-guard, 

Replied the iron pot ; 
If any thing that's hard 

Should threaten thee a jot, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



271 



Between you 1 will go, 

And save thee from the blow. 

This offer him persuaded. 

The iron pot paraded 

Himself as guard and guide 

Close at his cousin's side. 

Now, in their tripod way, 

They hobble as they may ; 

And eke together bolt 

At every little jolt, — 

Which gives the crockery pain ; 
But presently his comrade hits 
So hard, he dashes him to bits, 

Before he can complain. 

Take care that you associate 
With equals only, lest your fate 
Between these pots should find its mate. 




THE BAT, THE BUSH, AND THE DUCK. 

A bush, duck, and bat, having found that in trade 
Confined to their country small profits were made, 
Into partnership entered to traffic abroad,. 
Their purse, held in common, well guarded from 

fraud. 
Their factors and agents, these trading allies 
Employed where they needed, as cautious as wise : 
Their journals and legers, exact and discreet. 
Recorded by items expense and receipt. 
All throve, till an argosy, on its way home, 
With a cargo worth more than their capital sum, 
In attempting to pass through a dangerous strait, 
Went down with its passengers, sailors, and freight, 
To enrich those enormous and miserly stores, 
From Tartarus distant but very few doors. 
Regret was a thing which the firm could but feel ; 
Regret was the thing they were slow to reveal ; 
For the least of a merchant well knows that the 

weal 
Of his credit requires him his loss to conceal. 
But that which our trio unluckily suffered 
Allowed no repair, and of course was discovered. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 273 

No money nor credit, 'twas plain to be seen 
Their heads were now threatened with bonnets of 

green * ; 
And, the facts of the case being every where known, 
No mortal would open his purse with a loan. 
Debts, bailiffs, and lawsuits, and creditors gruff, 
At the crack of day knocking, 
(Importunity shocking!) 
Our trio kept busy enough. 
The bush, ever ready and on the alert, 
Now caught all the people it could by the skirt : — 
Pray, sir, be so good as to tell, if you please, 
If you know whereabout the old villanous seas 
Have hid all our goods which they stole t'other 

night. 
The diver, to seek them, went down out of sight. 
The bat didn't venture abroad in the day, 
And thus of the bailiffs kept out of the way. 

Full many insolvents, not bats, to hide so, 
Nor bushes, nor divers, I happen to know, 
But even grand seigniors, quite free from all cares, 
By virtue of brass, and of private backstairs. 



* Such as insolvent debtors were anciently required (o wear, in 
France, after making cession of their effects, in order to escape im- 
prisonment. — Ed. 



274 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE QUARREL OF THE DOGS AND CATS, AND 
THAT OF THE CATS AND MICE. 

Enthroned by an eternal law, 
Hath Discord reigned throughout the universe. 
In proof, I might from this our planet draw 
A thousand instances diverse. 
Within the circle of our view, 
This queen hath subjects not a few. 
Beginning with the elements, 

It is astonishing to see 
How they have stood, to all intents, 

As wrestlers from eternity. 
Besides these four great potentates, 

Old stubborn earth, fire, flood, and air, 
How many other smaller states 
Are waging everlasting war ! 
In mansion decked with frieze and column, 

Dwelt dogs and cats in multitudes ; 
Decrees, promulged in manner solemn, 
Had pacified their ancient feuds. 
Their lord had so arranged their meals and labors, 
And threatened quarrels with the whip, 
That, living in sweet cousinship 
They edified their wondering neighbors. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 275 

At last, some dainty plate to lick. 

Or profitable bone to pick, 

Bestowed by some partiality, 

Broke up the smooth equality. 

The side neglected were indignant 

At such a slight malignant. 
Some writers make the whole dispute begin 
^ With favors to a bitch while lying in. 

Whatever the cause, the altercation 

Soon grew a perfect conflagration. 
In hall and kitchen, dog and cat 
Took sides with zeal for this or that. 

New rules upon the cat side falling 

Produced tremendous caterwauling. 
Their advocate, against such rules as these, 
Advised recurrence to the old decrees. 
They searched in vain, for, hidden in a nook, 
The thievish mice had eaten up the book. 

Another quarrel, in a trice, 

Made many sufferers with the mice ; 

For many a veteran whiskered-face, 
With craft and cunning richly stored, 

And grudges old against the race, 
Now watched to put them to the sword ; 
Nor mourned for this that mansion's lord. 



Resuming our discourse, we see 
No creature from opponents free. 
'Tis nature's law for earth and sky ; 
'Twere vain to ask the reason why ; 



276 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

.-God's works are good, — I cannot doubt it, — 
/ And that is all I know about it. 

1 know, however, that the cause 
Which hath our human quarrels brought, 
Three quarters of the time, is nought ^/^ 

That will be, is, or ever was. 
Ye veterans, in state and church, 

At threescore years, indeed, 

It seems there still is need 
To give you lessons with the birch ! 



THE LION GROWN OLD. 

A lion, mourning, in his age, the wane 
Of might once dreaded through his wild domain, 
Was mocked, at last, upon his throne, 
By subjects of his own, 
Strong tii rough his weakness grown. 
The horse his head saluted with a kick ; 
The wolf snapped at his royal hide ; 
The ox, too, gored him in the side ; 
The unhappy lion, sad and sick, 
Could hardly growl, he was so weak. 

In uncomplaining, stoic pride, 
He waited for the hour of fate, 
Until the ass approached his gate ; 
Whereat, This is too much, he saith , 
I willingly would yield my breath ; 
But, ah ! thy kick is double death! 




THE WOLF AND THE FOX. 

Whence comes it that there liveth not 
A man contented with his lot ? 
Here's one who would a soldier be, 
Whom soldiers all with envy see. 

A fox to be a wolf once sighed. 

With disappointments mortified, 

Who knows but that, his wolfship cheap. 

The wolf himself would be a sheep? 

I marvel that a prince is able, 

At eight, to put the thing in fable ; 

While f, beneath my seventy snows, 

Forge out, with toil and time, 

The same in labored rhyme, 

Less striking than his prose. 

The traits which in his work we meet, 
A poet, it must be confessed, 
Could not have half so well expressed : 

He bears the palm as more complete. 



278 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

'Tis mine to sing it to the pipe ; 

But I expect that when the sands 
Of Time have made my hero ripe, 

He'll put a trumpet in my hands. 



My mind but little doth aspire 
To prophecy ; but yet it reads 
On high, that soon his glorious deeds 
Full many Homers will require — 
Of which this age produces few. 
But, bidding mysteries adieu, 
I try my powers upon this fable new. 

Dear wolf, complained a hungry fox, 
A lean chick's meat, or veteran cock's, 
Is all I get by toil or trick: 
Of such a living I am sick. 
With far less risk, you've better cheer ; 
A house you need not venture near, 
But I must do it, spite of fear. 
Pray, make me master of your trade, 
And let me by that means be made 
The first of all my race that took 
Fat mutton to his larder's hook : 
Your kindness shall not be repented. 
The wolf quite readily consented. 
I have a brother, lately dead ; 
Go fit his skin to yours, he said. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 279 

'Twas done ; and then the wolf proceeded : 
Now mark you well what must be done, 
The dogs that guard the flock to shun. 
The fox the lessons strictly heeded. 
At first, he boggled, in his dress ; 
But awkwardness grew less and less, 
Till perseverance gave success. 
His education scarce complete, 
A flock, his scholarship to greet. 

Came rambling out that way. 
The new-made wolf his work began, 
Amidst the heedless nibblers ran, 

And spread a sore dismay. 
Such terror did Patroclus spread, 

When on the Trojan camp and town, 
Clad in Achilles' armor dread, 
He valiantly came down. 
The matrons, maids, and aged men 
All hurried to the temples then. — 
The bleating host now surely thought 
That fifty wolves were on the spot : 

Dog, shepherd, sheep, all homeward fled, 
And left a single sheep in pawn, 
Which Renard seized when they were gone, 

But, ere upon his prize he fed, 
There crowed a cock near by, and down 
The scholar threw his prey and gown, 
That he might run that way the faster — 
Forgetting lessons, prize, and master. 



280 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

How useless is the art of seeming ! 

Reality, in every station, 
Is through its cloak at all times gleaming, 

And bursting out on fit occasion. 

Young prince, to your unrivalled wic, 
My muse gives credit, as is fit, 
For what she here hath labored with — 
The subject, characters, and pith. 



THE MOUNTAIN IN LABOR. 

A mountain was in travail pang ; 

The country with her clamor rang. 
Out ran the people all, to see, 
Supposing that the birth would be 
A city, or at least a house. 
It was a mouse ! 

In thinking of this fable, 

Of story feigned and false, 
But meaning veritable, 
My mind the image calls 
Of one who writes, " The war I sing 
\Vhieh Titans waged against the Thunder-king.'" 
As on the sounding verses ring, 
What will be brought to birth ? 
Why, dearth. 




S>J1SXL^ ^HIBQlSo 



AGAINST THE HARD TO SUIT. 




ere I a pet of fair Calliope, 

I would devote the gifts conferred on me 

To dress in verse old iEsop's lies divine ; 

For verse, and they, and truth, do well combine 

But, not a favorite on the Muses' hill, 

I dare not arrogate the magic skill 

To ornament these charming stories. 

A bard might brighten up their glories, 



282 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

No doubt. I try — what one more wise must do. 
Thus much I have accomplished hitherto ; — 
By help of my translation, 
The beasts hold conversation 

In French, as ne'er they did before. 

Indeed, to claim a little more, 

The plants and trees, with smiling features, 

Are turned by me to talking creatures. 

Who says that this is not enchanting ? 

Ah, say the critics, hear w r hat vaunting 

From one whose work, all told, no more is 

Than half a dozen baby-stories. 
Would you a theme more credible, my censors, 
In graver tone, and style which now and then soars? 
Then list ! For ten long years the men of Troy, 
By means that only heroes can employ, 
Had held the allied hosts of Greece at bay, — 
Their minings, batterings, stormings, day by day, 
Their hundred battles on the crimson plain, 
Their blood of thousand heroes, all in vain, — 
When, by Minerva's art, a horse of wood, 
Of lofty size, before their city stood, 
Whose flanks immense the sage Ulysses hold, 
Brave Diomed, and Ajax fierce and bold, 
Whom, with their myrmidons, the huge machine 
Would bear within the fated town unseen, 
To wreak upon its very gods their rage — 
Unheard-of stratagem, in any age, 
Which well its crafty authors did repay 

Enough, enough, our critic folks will say ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 283 

Your period excites alarm, 
Lest you should do your lungs some harm ; 
And then your monstrous wooden horse, 
With squadrons in it, at their ease, 
Is even harder to endorse 
Than Renard cheating Raven of his cheese. 
And, more than that, it fits you ill 
To wield the old heroic quill. 
Well, then, a humbler tone, if such your will is. 
Long sighed and pined the jealous Amaryllis 
For her Alcippus, in the sad belief, 
None, save her sheep and dog, would know her grief 
Thyrsis, who knows, among the willows slips, 
And hears the gentle shepherdess's lips 
Beseech the kind and gentle zephyr 

To bear these accents to her lover 

Stop, says my censor : 
To laws of rhyme quite irreducible, 
That couplet needs again the crucible ; 
Poetic men, sir, 
Must nicely shun the shocks 
Of rhymes unorthodox. 
A curse on critics ! hold your tongue ! 
Know I not how to end my song ? 
Of time and strength what greater waste 
Than my attempt to suit your taste ? 

/-Some men, more nice than wise, 
( There's nought that satisfies 



284 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE LOBSTER AND HER DAUGHTER. 

The wise, sometimes, as lobsters do, 
To gain their ends, back foremost go. 
It is the rower's art ; and those 
Commanders who mislead their foes, 
Do often seem to aim their sight 
Just where they don't intend to smite. 
My theme, so low, may yet apply 
To one whose feme is very high, 
Who finds it not the hardest matter 
A hundred-headed league to scatter. 
What he will do, what leave undone, 
Are secrets with unbroken seals, 
Till victory the truth reveals. 
Whatever he would have unknown 
Is sought in vain. Decrees of Fate 
Forbid to check, at first, the course 
Which sweeps at last with torrent force. 
One Jove, as ancient fables state, 
Exceeds a hundred gods in weight. 
So Fate and Louis would seem able 
The universe to draw, 
Bound captive to their law. — 
But come we to our fable. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



285 



A mother lobster did her daughter chide : 
For shame, my daughter ! can't you go ahead ? 

And how go you yourself, the child replied ; 
Can 1 be but by your example led ? 

Head foremost should I, singularly, wend, 
While all my race pursue the other end ? 
She spoke with sense: for better or for worse. 
Example has a universal force. 
To some it opens wisdom's door, 
But leads to folly many more. 
Yet, as for backing to one's aim, 
When properly pursued 
The art is doubtless good, 
At least in grim Bellona's game. 





THE EAGLE AND THE MAGPIE. 



The eagle, through the air a queen, 
And one far different, I ween, 
In temper, language, thought, and mien, — 
The magpie, — once a prairie crossed. 

The by-path where they met was drear, 
And Madge gave up herself for lost , 

But, having dined on ample cheer, 

The eagle bade her, Never fear ; 
You're welcome to my company ; 
For if the king of gods can be 

Full oft in need of recreation, — 
Who rules the world, — right well may I, 

Who serve him in that high relation f 
Amuse me, then, before you fly. 
Our cackler, pleased, at quickest rate 
Of this and that began to prate. 
Not he of whom old Flaccus writes, 
The most impertinent of wights, 

Or any babbler, for that matter, 

Could more incontinently chatter. 
At last she offered to make known — 
A better spy had never flown — 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



287 



All things, whatever she might see, 

In travelling from tree to tree. 

But, with her offer little pleased, 

Nay, gathering wrath at being teased,- — 

For such a purpose, never rove, 

Replied th' impatient bird of Jove. 

Adieu, my cackling friend, adieu ; 

My court is not the place for you : 

Heaven keep it free from such a bore. 

Madge flapped her wings, and said no more. 

^Tis far less easy than it seems 

An entrance to the great to gain. 
The honor oft hath cost extremes 

Of mortal pain. 
The craft of spies, the tattling art, 
And looks more gracious than the heart, 

Are odious there; 
But still, if one would meet success, 
Of different parishes the dress 
He, like the pie, must wear. 





THE KING, THE KITE AND THE FALCONER. 

TO HIS AUGUST HIGHNESS, MONSE1GNEUR THE PRINCE DE CONTI. 

The gods, for that themselves are good, 

The like in mortal monarchs would. 

The prime of royal rights is grace ; 

To this e'en sweet revenge gives place. 

So thinks your highness, while your wrath 

Its cradle for its coffin hath. 

Achilles no such conquest knew — 

In this a hero less than you. 

That name, indeed, belongs to none, 

Save those who have, beneath the sun, 

Their hundred generous actions done. 

The golden age produced such powers. 

But truly few this age of ours. 

The men who now the topmost sit, 

Are thanked for crimes which they omit. 
For you, unharmed by such examples, 
A thousand noble deeds are winning temples, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. gg 

Wherein Apollo, by the altar-fire, 
Shall strike your name upon his golden lyre. 
The gods await you in their azure dome ; 
One age must serve for this your lower home. 
One age entire with you would Hymen dwell : 
O that his sweetest spell 

For you a destiny may bind 

By such a period scarce confined ! 
The princess and yourself no less deserve. 

Her charms as witnesses shall serve ; 

As witnesses, those talents high 

Poured on you by the lavish sky, 

Outshining all pretence of peers 
Throughout your youthful years. 

A Bourbon seasons grace with wit : 
To that which gains esteem, in mixture fit, 

He adds a portion from above 
Wherewith to waken love. 
To paint your joy — my task is less sublime : 

1 therefore turn aside to rhyme 

What did a certain bird of prey. 

A kite, possessor of a nest antique, 

Was caught alive one day. 

It was the captor's freak 

That this so rare a bird 
Should on his sovereign be conferred. 
The kite, presented by the man of chase, 
With due respect, before the monarch's face. 



290 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

If oar account is true, 
Immediately flew 
And perched upon the royal nose. 
What ! on the nose of majesty ? 
Ay, on the consecrated nose did he. 
Had not the king his sceptre and his crown ? 
Why, if lie had, or had not, 'twere all one : 
The royal nose, as if it graced a clown, 

Was seized. The things by courtiers done, 
And said, and shrieked, 'twere hopeless to relate. y 
The king in silence sate ; 
An outcry, for a sovereign king, 
Were quite an unbecoming thing. 
The bird retained the post where he had fastened ; 
No cries nor efforts his departure hastened. 

His master called, as in an agony of pain, 
Presented lure and fist, but all in vain. 
It seemed as if the cursed bird, 
With instinct most absurd, 
In spite of all the noise and blows, 
Would roost upon that sacred nose ! 
The urging off of courtiers, pages, master, 
But roused his will to cling the faster. 
At last he quit, as thus the monarch spoke : 
Give egress hence, imprimis, to this kite, 
And, next, to him who aimed at our delight. 
From each his office we revoke. 
The one as kite we now discharge ; ■ 
The other, as a forester at large. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 291 

As in our station it is fit, 
We do all punishment remk. 
The court admired. The courtiers praised the deed 
In which themselves did but so ill succeed. — 
Few kings had taken such a course. 
The fowler might have fared far worse ; 
His only crime, as of his kite, 
Consisted in his want of light 
About the danger there might be 
In coming near to royalty. 
Forsooth, their scope had wholly been 
Within the woods. Was that a sin ? — 
By Pilpay this remarkable affair 

Is placed beside the Ganges' flood. 
No human creature ventures, there, 
To shed of animals the blood : 
The deed not even royalty would dare. 

Know we, they say, — both lord and liege, — 
This bird saw not the Trojan siege ? 
Perhaps a hero's part he bore, 
And there the highest helmet wore. 
What once he was, he yet may be. 
Taught by Pythagoras are we, 
•-That we our forms with animals exchange ; 
We're kites or pigeons for a while, 
Then biped plodders on the soil ; 
And then 
As volatile, again 
The liquid air we range. — 



292 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Now, since two versions of this tale exist, 
I'll give the other, if you list. 
A certain falconer had caught 
A kite, and for his sovereign thought 
The bird a present rich and rare. 

It may be once a century 
Such game is taken from the air ; 

For 'tis the pink of falconry. 
The captor pierced the courtier crowd, 

With zeal and sweat, as if for life : 
Of such a princely present proud, 

His hopes of fortune sprang full rife ; 
When, slap, the savage made him feel 
His talons newly armed with steel, 
By perching on his nasal member, 
As if it had been senseless timber. 
Outshrieked the wight ; but peals of laughter, 
Which threatened ceiling, roof, and rafter, 
From courtier, page, and monarch broke : 
Who had not laughed at such a joke ? 
For me, so prone am I to such a sin, 
An empire had not held me in. 
I dare not say, that, had the pope been there, 
He would have joined the laugh sonorous ; 
But sad the king, I hold, who should not dare 
To lead, for such a cause, in such a chorus. 
The gods are laughers. Spite of ebon brows, 
Jove joins the laugh which he allows. 
As history saith, the thunderer's laugh went up 
When limping Vulcan served the nectar cup 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 293 

Whether or not immortals here are wise, 
Good sense, I think, in my digression lies. 
For, since the moral's what we have in view, 
What could the falconer's fate have taught us new? 
Who does not notice, in the course of things, 
More foolish falconers than indulgent kings c 



THE ARBITER, THE ALMONER, AND THE HERMIT. 

Three saints, for their salvation jealous, 
Pursued, with hearts alike most zealous, 

By routes diverse, their common aim. 
^Vll highways lead to Rome : the same 

Of heaven our rivals deeming true, 
Each chose alone his pathway to pursue. 
Moved by the cares, delays, and crosses, 
Attached to suits by legal process, 
One gave himself as judge, without reward, 
For earthly fortune having small regard. 

Since there are laws, to legal strife 

Man damns himself for half his life." 
For half ? — Three fourths ! — perhaps the whole ! 

The hope possessed our umpire's soul, 
That on his plan he should be able 
To cure this vice detestable. — 
The second chose the hospitals. 

I give him praise : to solace pain 

Is charity not spent in vain, 
While men in part are animals. 



294 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The sick — for things went then as now they go — 
Gave trouble to the almoner, I trow. 
Impatient, sour, complaining ever, 
As racked by rheum, or parched with fever, — 
His favorites are such and such ; 
With them he watches over-much, 

And lets us die, they say. — 
Such sore complaints from day to day 
Were nought to those that did await 
The reconciler of debate. 
His judgments suited neither side; 
Forsooth, in either party's view, 
He never held the balance true, 
But swerved in every cause he tried. 

Discouraged by such speech, the arbiter 
Betook himself to see the almoner. 
As both received but murmurs for their fees, 
They both retired, in not the best of moods, 
To break their troubles to the silent woods, 
And hold communion with the ancient trees. 
There, underneath a rugged mountain, - 
Beside a clear and silent fountain, 
A place revered by winds, to sun unknown, 
They found the other saint, who lived alone. 
Forthwith they asked his sage advice. 
Your own, he answered, must suffice ; 
Who but yourselves your wants should know I 
To know one's self, is, here below, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 295 

The first command of the Supreme. 
Have you obeyed, among the bustling throngs 3 
Such knowledge to tranquillity belongs ; 

Elsewhere to seek were fallacy extreme. 
Disturb the water — do you see your face ? 
See we ourselves within a troubled breast I 

A murky cloud, in such a case, 

Though once it were a crystal vase ! 

But, brothers, let it simply rest, 
And each shall see his features there impressed. 
For inward thought a desert home is best. 

Such was the hermit's answer brief ; 
And, happily, it gained belief. 

But business, still, from life must not be stricken. 

HSince men will doubtless sue at law, and sicken, 
Physicians there must be, and advocates, — 
Whereof, thank God, no lack the world awaits, 
While wealth and honors are the well-known baits. 
Yet, in the stream of common wants when thrown, 
What busy mortal but forgets his own ? 
O, you who give the public all your care, 
Be it as judge, or prince, or minister, 
Disturbed by countless accidents most sinister, 
By adverse gales abased, debased by fair, — 

-Yourself you never see, nor see you aught. 
Comes there a moment's rest for serious thought, 
There comes a flatterer too, and brings it all tov 
nought. 



296 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

This lesson seals our varied page * 
O, may it teach from age to age ! 

To kings 1 give it, to the wise propose. 

Where could my labors better close ? 



THE SUN AND THE FROGS. 

Rejoicing on their tyrant's wedding-day, 
The people drowned their care in drink ; 
While from the general joy did iEsop shrink, 

And showed its folly in this way. 
The sun, said he, once took it in his head 

To have a partner for his bed. 
From swamps, and ponds, and marshy bogs, 
Up rose the wailings of the frogs. 
What shall we do, should he have progeny ? 
Said they to Destiny ; 
One sun we scarcely can endure, 
And half a dozen, we are sure, 
Will dry the very sea. 
Adieu to marsh and fen ! 
Our race will perish then, 
Or be obliged to fix 
Their dwelling in the Styx ! 
For such a humble animal, 
The frog, I take it, reasoned well. 




THti FOX, THE FLIES, AND THE HEDGEHOG. 

A fox, old, subtle, vigilant, and sly, — 
By hunters wounded, fallen in the mud, — 
Attracted, by the traces of his blood, 
That buzzing parasite, the fly. 
He blamed the gods, and wondered why 
The Fates so cruelly should wish 
To feast the fly on such a costly dish. 
What ! light on me ! make me its food ! 
Me, me, the nimblest of the wood ! 
How long has fox-meat been so good ? 
What serves my tail ? Is it a useless weight ? 
Go, — Heaven confound thee, greedy reprobate !- 
And suck thy fill from some more vulgar veins ! 
A hedgehog, witnessing his pains, 
(This fretful personage 
Here graces first my page,) 
Desired to set him free 
From such cupidity. 
My neighbor fox, said he, 
My quills these rascals shall empale. 
And ease thy torments without fail. 



298 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Not for the world, my friend! the fox replied. 

Pray let them finish their repast. 
These flies are full. Should they be set aside, "\ 

New, hungrier swarms would finish me at last. 

Consumers are too common here below, 
In court and camp, in church and state, we know. 
Old Aristotle's penetration 
Remarked our fable's application ; 
It might more clearly in our nation. 
The fuller certain men are fed, 
The less the public will be bled. 



THE WORDS OF SOCRATES. 

A house was built by Socrates 
That failed the public taste to please. 

Some blamed the inside ; some, the out ; and all 
Agreed that the apartments were too small. 

Such rooms for him, the greatest sage of Greece ! 
I ask, said he, no greater bliss 
Than real friends to fill e'en this. 
And reason had good Socrates 
To think his house too large for these. 
A crowd to be your friends will claim, 

Till some unhandsome test you bring. 
There's nothing plentier than the name ; 
There's nothing rarer, than the thing. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



LOVE AND FOLLY. 

Love bears a world of mystery — 
His arrows, quiver, torch, and infancy ; 
'Tis not a trifling work to sound 
A sea of science so profound : 
And, hence, t' explain it all to-day 
Is not my aim, but, in my simple way, 
To show how that blind archer lad 

(And he a god !) came by the loss of sight, 
And eke what consequence the evil had, 
Or good, perhaps, if named aright — 
A point I leave the lover to decide, 
As fittest judge, who hath the matter tried. 
Together, on a certain day, 
Said Love and Folly were at play : 
The former yet enjoyed his eyes. 
Dispute arose. Love thought L wise 
Before the council of the gods to go, 
Where both of them by birth held stations ; 
But Folly, in her lack of patience, 

Dealt on his forehead such a blow 
As sealed his orbs to all the light of heaven. 
Now Venus claimed that vengeance should be given 
And by what force of tears yourselves may guess 
The woman and the mother sought redress. 



300 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The gods were deafened with her cries — 
Jove, Nemesis, the stern assize 
Of Orcus, — all the gods, in short, 
From whom she might the boon extoit. 
The enormous wrong she well portrayed - 
Her son a wretched groper made, 
An ugly staff his steps to aid ! 
For such a crime, it would appear, 
No punishment could be severe : 
The damage, too, must be repaired. 

The case maturely weighed and cast, 
The public weal with private squared : 
s Poor Folly was condemned, at last, 
By judgment of the court above, 
To serve for aye as guide to Love. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 301 



FORTUNE AND THE BOY. 

Beside a well, uncurbed and deep, 
A schoolboy laid him down to sleep : 
(Such rogues can do so any where.) 
If some kind man had seen him there, 
He would have leaped as if distracted ; 
But Fortune much more wisely acted ; 
For, passing by, she softly waked the child, 
Thus whispering in accents mild : — 
I save your life, my little dear, 
And beg you not to venture here 
Again, for, had you fallen in, 
I should have had to bear the sin ; 
But I demand, in reason's name, 
If for your rashness I'm to blame. 
With this the goddess went her way. 
I like her logic, I must say. 
There takes place nothing on this planet, 
But Fortune ends, whoe'er began it. 
In all adventures, good or ill, 
We look to her to foot the bill. 
Has one a stupid, empty pate, 
That serves him never till too late? 
He clears himself by blaming Fate 



302 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE RAVEJN, THE GAZELLE, THE TORTOISE, AND 
THE RAT. 



TO MADAM DE LA 3ABLIERE. 



A temple I reserved you, in my rhyme : 
It might not be completed but with time. 
Already its endurance I had grounded 
Upon this charming art, divinely founded ; 
And on the name of that divinity 
For whom its adoration was to be. 
These words I should have written o'er its gate — 
To Iris is this palace consecrate; 
Not her who served the queen divine ; 
For Juno's self, and he who crowned her bliss, 
Had thought it for their dignity, I wis, 
To bear the messages of mine. 
Within the dome the apotheosis 
Should greet th' enraptured sight — 
All heaven, in pomp and order meet, 
Conducting Iris to her seat 
Beneath a canopy of light ! 
The walls would amply serve to paint her life, — - 
A matter sweet, indeed, but little rife 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 303 

In those events, which, ordered by the Fates, 
Cause birth, or change, or overthrow of states. 
The innermost should hold her image, — 

Her features, smiles, attractions there, — 

Her art of pleasing without care, — 
Her loveliness, that's sure of homage. 
Some mortals, kneeling at her feet, — 
Earth's noblest heroes, — should be seen ; 
Ay, demigods, and even gods, I ween : 

(The worshipped of the world thinks meet. 
Sometimes, her altar to perfume.) 

Her eyes, so far as that might be, 
/Her soul's rich jewel should illume ; 

Alas ! but bow imperfectly ! 
For could a heart that throbbed to bless 
Its friends with boundless tenderness, — 
Or could that heaven-descended mind 
Which, in its matchless beauty, joined 
The strength of man with woman's grace, — 
Be given to sculptor to express ? 
O Iris, who canst charm the soul, 
Nay, bind it with supreme control, — 

Whom as myself I can but love, — 
(Nay, not that word : as I'm a man, 
Your court has placed it under ban, 

And we'll dismiss it,) pray approve 
My filling up this hasty plan ! 
This sketch has here received a place, 
A simple anecdote to grace, 
•-Where friendship shows so sweet a face, 



304 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

That in its features you may find 
Somewhat accordant to your mind. 
Not that the tale may kings beseem ; 
But he who winneth your esteem 
Is not a monarch, placed above 
The need and influence of love, 
But simple mortal, void of crown, 
That would for friends his life lay down — 
Than which I know no friendlier act. 
Four animals, in league compact, 
Are now to give our noble race 
A useful lesson in the case. 

Rat, raven, tortoise, and gazelle, 
Once into firmest friendship fell. 
'Twas in a home unknown to man 
That they their happiness began. 

But safe from man there's no retreat : 
Pierce you the loneliest wood, 
Or dive beneath the deepest flood, 
Or mount you where the eagles brood, — 

His secret ambuscade you meet. 
The light gazelle, in harmless play, 
Amused herself abroad one day, 
When, by mischance, her track was found 
And followed by the baying hound — 
That barbarous tool of barbarous man — 
From which far, far away she ran. 

At meal-time, to the others 

The rat observed, — My brothers, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 305 

How happens it that we 
Are met to-day but three ? 
Is Miss Gazelle so little steady ? 
Hath she forgotten us already ? 
Out cried the tortoise, at the word, — 
Were I, as Raven is, a bird, 

I'd fly this instant from my seat, 
And learn what accident, and where, 
Hath kept away our sister fair, — 

Our sister of the flying feet ; 
For of her heart, dear rat, 
It were a shame to doubt of that. 

The raven flew ; 
He spied afar, — the face he knew, — 
The poor gazelle entangled in a snare. 
In anguish vainly floundering there. 
Straight back he turned, and gave the alarm ; 
/HBor to have asked the sufferer now, 

The why and wherefore, when and how, 
She had incurred so great a harm, — 
And lose in vain debate 
"""^he turning-point of fate, 
As would the master of a school, — 
He was by no means such a fool. 
On tidings of so sad a pith, 
The three their council held forthwith. 
By two it was the vote 
To hasten to the spot 
Where lay the poor gazelle. 
Our friend here in his shell, 
I think, will do as well 



306 L A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To guard the house, the raven said ; 

For, with his creeping pace, 

When would he reach the place ? 

Not till the deer were dead. 

Eschewing more debate, 

They flew to aid their mate, 

That luckless mountain roe. 

The tortoise, too, resolved to go. 

Behold him plodding on behind, 

And plainly cursing, in his mind, 
The fate that left his legs to lack, 
And glued his dwelling to his back. 
The snare was cut by Rongemail, 
(For so the rat they rightly hail.) 
Conceive their joy yourself you may. 
Just then the hunter came that way, 
And, Who hath filched my prey ? 

Cried he, upon the spot 

Where now his prey was not, — ■ 

A hole hid Rongemail ; 

A tree, the bird as well ; 

The woods, the free gazelle. 

The hunter, well nigh mad, 
To find no inkling could be had, 
Espied the tortoise in his path, 
And straightway checked his wrath. 

Why let my courage flag 
Because my snare has chanced to miss ? 
I'll have a supper out of this. 

He said, and put it in his bag. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 307 

And it had paid the forfeit so, 
Had not the raven told the roe, 
Who from her covert came, 
Pretending to be lame. 
The man, right eager to pursue, 
Aside his wallet threw, 
Which Rongemail took care 
To serve as he had done the snare ; 

Thus putting to an end 
The hunter's supper on his friend. 
'Tis thus sage Pil pay's tale I follow. 
Were I the ward of golden-haired Apollo, 
It were, by favor of that god, easy — 
And surely for your sake — 
As long a tale to make 
As is the Iliad or Odyssey. 
Gray Rongemail the hero's part should play, 
Though each would be as needful in his way. 
He of the mansion portable awoke 
Sir Raven, by the words he spoke, 
To act the spy, and then the swift express. 
The light gazelle alone had had th' address 
The hunter to engage, and furnish time 
For Rongemail to do his deed sublime. 
Thus each his part performed. Which wins the 

prize ? 
The heart, so far as in my judgment lies. 




THE WOODS AND THE WOODMAN. 

A certain wood-chopper lost or broke 
From his axe's eye a bit of oak. 
The forest must needs be somewhat spared 
While such a loss was being repaired. 
Came the man at last, and humbly prayed 
That the woods would kindly lend to him — 
A moderate loan — a single limb, 
Whereof might another helve be made, 
And his axe should elsewhere drive its trade. 
O, the oaks and firs that then might stand, 
A pride and a joy, throughout the land, 
For their ancientness and glorious charms ! 
The innocent Forest lent him arms ; 
But bitter indeed was her regret ; 
For the wretch, his axe new-helved and whet, 
Did nought but his benefactress spoil 
Of the finest trees that graced her soil ; 
And ceaselessly was she made to groan, 
Doing penance for that fatal loan. 

^Behold the world-stage and its actors, 
Where benefits hurt benefactors ! — 



' LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 309 

A weary theme, and full of pain ; 
For where's the shade' so cool and sweet, 
Protecting strangers from the heat, 
But might of such a wrong complain ? 
Alas ! I vex myself in vain : 
Ingratitude, do what 1 will, 
Is sure to be the fashion still. 



THE FOX AND THE BUST 

^The great are like the maskers of the stage ; 
Their show deceives the simple of the age. 
For all that they appear to be they pass, 
With only those whose type 's the ass^^v^ 
The fox, more wary, looks beneath the skin, 
And looks on every side, and, when he sees 

That all their glory is a semblance thin, 
He turns, ajid saves the hinges of his knees, 
With such a speech as once, 'tis said, 
He uttered to a hero's head. 
A bust, somewhat colossal in its size, 
Attracted crowds of wondering eyes. 
The fox admired the sculptor's pains ; 
y -"^Fine head, said he, but void of brains! 

The same remark to many a lord applies.^/ 




THE FOX, THE WOLF, AND THE HORSE. 

A fox, though young, by no means raw, 
Had seen a horse — the first he ever saw : 
Ho ! neighbor wolf, said he to one quite green, 
A creature in oui>meadow I have seen, — 
Sleek, grand ! I seem to see him yet, — 
The finest beast I ever met. 
Is he a stouter one than we r 
The wolf demanded, eagerly. 
Some picture of him let me see. 
If I could paint, said fox, I should delight 
T J anticipate your pleasure at the sight ; 
But come ; who knows ? perhaps it is a prey 
By fortune offered in our way. 
They went. The horse, turned loose to graze, 
Not liking much their looks or ways, 
Was just about to gallop off. 
Sir, said the fox, your humble servants, we 
Make bold to ask you what your name may be. 

The horse, an animal with brains enough, 
Replied, Sirs, you yourselves may read my name ; 
My shoer round my heel hath writ the same. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 3H 

The fox excused himself for want of knowledge 

Me, sir, my parents did not educate, — 
' So poor, a hole was their entire estate. 
My friend, the wolf, however, taught at college, 
Could read it were it even Greek. 

The wolf, to flattery weak, 
Approached, to verify the boast ; 
For which, four teeth he lost. 
The high-raised hoof came down with such a blow : 
As laid him bleeding on the ground full low. 
My brother, said the fox, this shows how just 

What once was taught me by a fox of wit, — 
.—Which on thy jaws this animal hath w T rit, — 
" All unknown things the wise mistrust." 



THE BIRD WOUNDED BY AN ARROW. 

A bird, with plumed arrow shot, 
In dying case deplored her lot: 
Alas ! she cried, the anguish of the thought ! 
This ruin partly by myself was brought ! 
Hard-hearted men ! from us to borrow 
What wings to us the fatal arrow ! 
But mock us not, ye cruel race, 
For you must often take our place. 

I The work of half the human brothers 
nJs making arms against the others. 



312 L A FONTAIXE'S FABLES. 



THE DOVE AND THE ANT. 

The same instruction we may get 
From another couple, smaller jet. 

A dove came to a brook to drink, 

When, leaning o'er its crumbling brink, 

An ant fell in, and vainly tried, 

In this to her an ocean tide, 

To reach the land ; whereat the dove, 

With every living thing in love, 

Was prompt a spire of grass to throw her, 

By which the ant regained the shore. 

A barefoot scamp, both mean and sly, 
Soon after chanced this dove to spy ; 
And, being armed with bow and arrow, 
The hungry codger doubted not 
The bird of Venus, in his pot, 
Would make a soup before the morrow. 
Just as his deadly bow he drew, 
Our pismire stung his heel. 
Roused by the villain's squeal, 
The dove took timely hint, and flew 
Far from the rascal's coop ; — 
And with her flew his soup. 



THE SCYTHIAN PHILOSOPHER. 

A Scythian philosopher austere, 
Resolved his rigid life somewhat to cheer, 
Performed the tour of Greece, saw many things, 
But, best, a sage, — one such as Virgil sings, — 
A simple, rustic man, that equaled kings ; 
From whom the gods would hardly bear the palm, 
Like them unawed, content, and calm.^^^^ 
His fortune was a little nook of land ; 
And there the Scythian found him, hook in hand, 
His fruit-trees pruning. Here he cropped 
A barren branch, there slashed and lopped, 
Correcting Nature every where, 
Who paid with usury his care. 
Pray, why this wasteful havoc, sir ? — 
So spoke the wondering traveller ; — 
Can it, I ask, in reason's name, 
Be wise these harmless trees to maim ? 
Fling down that instrument of crime, 
And leave them to the scythe of Time. 
Full soon, unhastened, they will go 
To deck the banks of streams below. 
Replied the tranquil gardener, 
1 humbly crave your pardon, sir ; 



314 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Excess is all my hook removes, 

By which the rest more fruitful proves. 

The philosophic traveller, — 
Once more within his country cold, — 
Himself of pruning-hook laid hold, 
And made a use most free and bold ; 

Prescribed to friends, and counseled neighbors, 

To imitate his pruning labors. 

The finest limbs he did not spare, 

But pruned his orchard past all reason, 

Regarding neither time nor season, 
Nor taking of the moon a care. 
All withered, drooped, and died. 

This Scythian 1 set beside 
The indiscriminating Stoic. 
The latter, with a blade heroic, 
Retrenches, from his spirit sad, 
Desires and passions, good and bad. 
Not sparing e'en a harmless wish. 
Against a tribe so Vandalish 
With earnestness I here protest. 

They maim our hearts ; they stupefy 

Their strongest springs, if not their best ; 

They make us cease to live before we die. ,-~4 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 315 



THE ELEPHANT AND THE APE OF JUPITER. 

'Twixt elephant and beast of horned nose 
About precedence a dispute arose, 
Which they determined to decide by blows. 
The day was fixed, when came a messenger 
To say the ape of Jupiter 
Was swiftly earthward seen to bear 
His bright caduceus through the air. 
This monkey, named in history Gill, 

The elephant at once believed 
• A high commission had received 
To witness, by his sovereign's will, 
The aforesaid battle fought. 
Uplifted by the glorious thought, 
The beast was prompt on Monsieur Gill to wait, 
But found him slow, in usual forms of state, 
His high credentials to present. 
The ape, however, ere he went, 
Bestowed a passing salutation. 
His excellency would have heard 
The subject matter of legation : 
But not a word ! 
His fight, so far from stirring heaven, — 
The news was not received there, even ! 



316 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

What difference sees the impartial skj 

Between an elephant and fly ? 
Our monarch, doting on his object, 
Was forced himself to break the subject. 

My cousin Jupiter, said he, 
Will shortly, from his throne supreme, 

A most important combat see, 
For all his court a thrilling theme. 
What combat ? said the ape, with serious face. 
Is't possible you should not know the case % — 
The elephant exclaimed — not know, deal sir, 
That Lord Rhinoceros disputes 
With me precedence of the brutes ? 
That Elephantis is at war 
With savage hosts of Rhinocer ? 
You know these realms, not void of fame \ 
I joy to learn them now by name, 
Returned Sir Gill, for, first or last, 
No lisp of them has ever passed, 
Throughout our dome so blue and vast. 
Abashed, the elephant replied, 

What came you, then, to do? — 
Between two emmets to divide 
A spire of grass in two. 
W r e take of all a care ; 
And, as to your affair, 
Before the gods, who view with equal eyes 
The small and great, it hath not chanced to rise. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 317 



THE FOX AND THK TURKEYS. 

Against a robber fox, a tree 

Some turkeys served as citadel. 
That villain, much provoked to see 
Each standing there as sentinel, 
Cried out, Such witless birds 

At me stretch out their necks, and gobble ! 

No, by the powers! I'll give them trouble. 
He verified his words. 
The moon, that shined full on the oak, 
Seemed then to help the turkey folk. 
But fox, in arts of siege well versed, 
Ransacked his bag of tricks accursed. 
He feigned himself about to climb; 
Walked on his hinder legs sublime ; 

Then death most aptly counterfeited, 

And seemed anon resuscitated. 
A practiser of wizard arts 
Could not have filled so many parts. 
In moonlight he contrived to raise 
His tail, and make it seem a blaze : 
And countless other tricks like that. 
Meanwhile, no turkey slept or sat. 



318 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Their constant vigilance at length, 

As hoped the fox, wore out their strength. 

Bewildered by the rigs he run, 

They lost their balance one by one. 

As Renard slew, he laid aside, 

Till nearly half of them had died ; 

Then proudly to his larder bore, 

And laid them up, an ample store. 

A foe, by being over-heeded, 
Has often in his plan succeeded. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 319 



THE FOOL AND THE SAGE. 

A fool pursued, with club and stone, 
A sage, who said, My friend, well done t 
Receive this guinea for your pains ; 
They well deserve far higher gains. 
The workman 's worthy of his hire, 
'Tis said. There comes a wealthy squire, 
Who hath wherewith thy works to pay ; 
To him direct thy gifts, and they 
Shall gain their proper recompense. 

Urged by the hope of gain, 

Upon the wealthy citizen 
The fool repeated the offence. 
His pay this time was not in gold. 
Upou the witless man 

A score of ready footmen ran, 
And on his back, in full, his wages told. 

In courts, such fools afflict the wise , 
They raise the laugh at your expense. 
To check their babble, were it sense 

Their folly meetly to chastise ? 

Perhaps 'twill take a stronger man. 

Then make them worry one who can. 



320 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE ENGLISH FOX. 



TO MADAM HARVEY. 



Sound reason and a tender heart 
With thee are friends that never part. 
A hundred traits might swell the roll ; — 
Suffice to name thy nobleness of soul , 
Thy power to guide both men and things , 
Thy temper open, bland and free, 
A gift that draweth friends to thee, 
To which thy firm affection clings, 
Unmarred by age or change of clime, 
Or tempests of this stormy time ; — 
All which deserve, in highest lyric, 
A rich and lofty panegyric : 
But no such thing wouldst thou desire, 
Whom pomp displeases, praises tire. 
Hence mine is simple, short, and plain , 
Yet, madam, I would fain 
Tack on a word or two 
Of homage to your country due, — 
A country well beloved by you. 

With mind to match the outward case, 
The English are a thinking race. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 321 

They pierce all subjects through and through ; 
Well armed with facts, they hew their way, 
-And give to science boundless sway. 
Quite free from flattery, I say, 
Your countrymen, for penetration, 
Must bear the palm from every nation ; 
For e'en the dogs they breed excel 
Our own in nicety of smell. 
Your foxes, too, are cunninger, 
As readily we may infer 
From one that practised, 'tis believed, 
A stratagem the best conceived. 
The wretch, once, in the utmost strait 
By dogs of nose so delicate, 
Approached a gallows, where, 
A lesson to like passengers, 
Or clothed in feathers or in furs, 
Some badgers, owls, and foxes, pendent were 
Their comrade, in his pressing need, 
Arranged himself among the dead. 
I seem to see old Hannibal. — v^~ 
Outwit some Roman general, 
And sit securely in his tent, 
The legions on some other scent. 
But certain dogs, kept back 
To tell the errors of the pack, 
Arriving where the traitor hung, 
A fault in fullest chorus sung. 
Though by their bark the welkin rung, 
Their master made them hold the tongue, 



322 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Suspecting not a trick so odd. 
Said he, The rogue's beneath the sod. 
My dogs, that never saw such jokes, 
Won't bark beyond these honest folks. 

The rogue would try the frick again. 
He did so to his cost and pain. 
Again with dogs the welkin rings ; 
Again our fox from gallows swings ; 
But though he hangs with greater faith, 
This time, he does it to his death. 

So uniformly is it true, 

A stratagem is best when new.r 
The hunter, had himself been hunted, 
So apt a trick had not invented ; 
Not that his wit had been deficient ; — 

With that, it cannot be denied, 
Your English folks are well-provisioned ; - 
But wanting love of life sufficient, 

Full many an Englishman has died. 

One word to you, and I must quit 
My much-inviting subject : 
A long eulogium is a project 
For which my lyre is all unfit. 
The song or verse is truly rare, 
Which can its meed of incense bear, 
And yet amuse the general ear, 
Or wing its way to lands afar. 
Your prince once told you, I have heard, 
(An able judge, as rumor says,) 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



323 



That he one dash of love preferred ^v^ 
To all a sheet could hold of praise. 
Accept — 'tis all I crave — the offering 
Which here my muse has dared to bring — 
Her last, perhaps, of earthly acts ; 
She blushes at its sad defects. 
Still, by your favor of my rhyme, 
Might not the self-same homage please, the while, 
The dame who fills your northern clime 
With winged emigrants sublime 

From Cytherea's isle ? 
By this, you understand, I mean 
Love's guardian goddess, Mazarin.-v 




324 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE SUN AND THE FROGS 

Long from the monarch of the stars 

The daughters of the mud received 
Support and aid ; nor dearth nor wars, 

Meanwhile, their teeming nation grieved. 
They spread their empire far and wide 
Through every marsh, by every tide. 
The queens of swamps — I mean no more 

Than simply frogs (great names are cheap) - 
Caballed together on the shore, 

And cursed their patron from the deep, 
And came to be a perfect bore. 
Pride, rashness, and ingratitude, 
The progeny of fortune good, 
Soon brought them to a bitter cry, — 
The end of sleep for earth and sky. 
Their clamors, if they did not craze, 
Would truly seem enough to raise 
All living things to mutiny 
Against the power of Nature's eye. 
The sun, according to their croak, 
Was turning: all the world to smoke. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 325 

It now behoved to take alarm. 

And promptly powerful troops to arm. 

Forthwith in haste they sent 
Their croaking embassies : 

To all their states they went, 
And all their colonies. 

To hear them talk, the all 
That rides upon this whirling ball. 
Of men and things, was left at stake 
Upon the mud that skirts a lake ! 
The same complaint, in fens and bogs, 

Still ever strains their lungs ; 
And yet these much-complaining frogs 

Had better hold their tongues ; 
For, should the sun in anger rise, 
And hurl his vengeance from the skies. 
That kingless, half aquatic crew 
Their impudence would sorely rue. 





THE LEAGUE OF THE RATS. 



A mouse was once in mortal fear 
Of a cat that watched her portal near, 
What could be done in such a case ? 
With prudent care she left the catship, 
And courted, with a humble grace, 
A neighbor of a higher race, 
Whose lordship — 1 should say, his ratship - 
Lay in a great hotel : 
And who had boasted oft, 'tis said, 
Of living wholly without dread. 
Well, said this braggart, well, 
Dame Mouse, what should I do ? 

Alone I cannot rout 
The foe that threatens you. 
I'll rally all the rats about, 
And then I'll play him such a trick ! 
The mouse her courtesy dropped, 
And off the hero scampered quick, 
Nor till he reached the buttery stopped, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 327 

Where scores of rats were clustered, 

In riotous extravagance 
All feasting at the host's expense. 
To him, arriving there much flustered, 
Indeed, quite out of breath, 
A rat among the fe asters saith, 
What news ? what news ? I pray you, speak. 
The rat, recovering breath to squeak, 
Replied, To tell the matter in a trice, 
It is, that we must promptly aid the mice ; 
For old Raminagrab is making 
Among their ranks a dreadful quaking. 
This cat, of cats the very devil, 
When mice are gone, will do us evil. 
True, true, said each and all ; 
To arms ! to arms ! the cry and call. 
Some ratties by their fears 
Were melted e'en to tears. 
It mattered not a whisk, 
Nor checked the valor brisK. 
Each took upon his back 
Some cheese in haversack, 
And roundly swore to risk 
His carcass in the cause. 
They marched as to a feast, 
Not flinching in the least, — 
But quite too late, for in his jaws 
The cat already held the mouse. 
They rapidly approached the house — 



328 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



To save their friend, beyond a doubt. 
Just then the cat came growling out, 
The mouse beneath his whiskered nose, 
And marched along before his foes. 
At such a voice, our rats discreet, 

Foreboding a defeat, 
Effected, in a style most fleet, 

A fortunate retreat. 
Back hurried to his hole each rat, 
And afterwards took care to shun the cat. 







A^A\ a/ 

A- A. AA'A; 




V4H3&I9 ??ltR3?£o 



THE COMPANIONS OF ULYSSES. 



TO MONSKIGNEUR THE DUKE DE BOURGOGNE. 




ear prince, a special favorite of the skies, 
I Pray let my incense from your altars rise : 
With these her gifts if rather late my muse, 
My age and labors must her fault excuse. 
My spirit wanes, while yours beams on the si; 
At every moment with augmented light : 
It does not go, — it runs, — it seems to fly ; 
And he from whom it draws its traits so Wis) 



330 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

[n war a hero, burns to do the same. 
No lack of his that, with victorious force, 
His giant strides mark not his glory's course : 
Some god retains: our sovereign I might name ; 
Himself no less than conqueror divine, 
Whom one short month made master of the Rhine 
ft needed then upon the foe to dash ; 
Perhaps, to-day, such generalship were rash. 
But hush, — they say the Loves and Smiles 
Abhoi a speech spun out in miles ; 

And of such deities your court 
Is constantly composed, in short. 
Not but that other gods, as meet, 
There hold the highest seat ; 
For, free and lawless as the rest may seem, 
Good Sense and Reason bear a sway supreme. 
Consult these last about the case 
Of certain men of Grecian race, 
Who, most unwise and indiscreet, 
Imbibed such draughts of poison sweet 
As changed their form and brutified. 
Fen years the heroes at Ulysses' side 

Had been the sport of wind and tide. 
At last those powers of w T ater 
The sea-worn wanderers bore 
To that enchanted shore 
Where Circe reigned, Apollo's daughter. 

She pressed upon their thirsty lips 
Delicious drink, but full of bane : 

Their reason, at the first light sips. 
Laid down the sceptre of its reign. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 331 

Then took their forms and features 
/The lineaments of various creatures. 
/ To bears and lions some did pass, 
Or elephants, of ponderous mass ; 
While not a few, I ween, 
In smaller forms were seen, — 
In such, for instance, as the mole. 
Of all, the sage Ulysses sole 
Had wit to shun that treacherous bowl. 
With wisdom, and heroic mien, 
And fine address, he caused the queen 
To swallow, on her wizard throne, 
A poison somewhat like her own. 
A goddess, she to speak her wishes dared, 
And hence, at once, her love declared. 
Ulysses, truly too judicious 
To lose a moment so propitious, 
Besought that Circe would restore 
His Greeks the shapes that first they wore. 
Replied the nymph, But will they take them back ? 
Go make the proffer to the motley pack. 

Ulysses ran, both glad and sure : 
That poisonous cup, cried he, hath yet its cure ; 
And here I bring what ends your shame and pain. 
Will you, dear friends, be men again ? 
Pray speak, for speech is now restored. 
,,No, said the lion, — and he roared, — 
My head is not so void of brains ! 
Renounce shall I my royal gains ? 
I've claws and teeth, to tear my foes to bits, 



332 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And more than that, I'm king. 
Am I such gifts away to fling, 
To be but one of Ithaca's mere cits ? 
Jn rank and file perhaps 1 might bear arms. 
In such a change I see no charms. — 
Ulysses passes to the bear : — 
How changed, my friend, from what you were ! 
How sightly once, how ugly now ! 
Humph ! truly, how ? — 
/ N Growled Bruin, in his way — 
How else than as a bear should be, 1 pray ? 
Who taught your stilted highness to prefer 
One form to every other, sir ? 
Doth yours possess peculiar poweis 
The merits to decide, of ours ? 
With all respect, I shall appeal my case 
To some sweet beauty of the bearish race. 
Please pass it by, if you dislike my face. 
I live content and free from care ; 
And, well remembering what we were, 

I say it, plain and flat, 
I'll change to no such state as that. 
Next to the wolf the princely Greek 
With flattering hope began to speak : — 
Comrade, I blush, I must confess, 
To hear a gentle shepherdess 

Complaining to the echoing rocks 
Of that outrageous appetite 

Which drives you, night by night, 
To prey upon her flocks. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 333 

You had been proud to guard her fold 
In your more honest life of old. 
Pray quit this wolfs hip, now you can, 
And leave the woods an honest man. 
But is there one ? the wolf replied : 
Such man, 1 own, I never spied. 
You treat me as a ravenous beast, 
But what are you ? To say the least, 
You would yourself have eat the sheep, 
Which, eat by me, the village weep. 
Now, truly on your faith confess, 
^--"NShould I, as man, love flesh the less t 

Why, man, not seldom, kills his very brother ; -- 

What, then, are you but wolves to one another ? 
Now, every thing with care to scan, 
And rogue with rogue to rate, 

/--I'd better be a wolf than man, 

And need not change my state. 
Thus all did wise Ulysses try, 
And got from all the same reply, 

As well from great as small. 
Wild liberty was dear to all ; 
To follow lawless appetite 
They counted their supreme delight. 
All banished from their thought and care 
The glorious praise of actions fair. 
Where passion led, they thought their course was free, 

Self-bound, their chains they could not see. 

Prince, 1 had wished for you a theme to choose, 
Where I might mingle pleasantry with use ; 



334 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And I should meet with your approving voice, 
No doubt, if I could make such choice. 

At last, Ulysses' crew 

Were offered to my view. 
And there are like them not a few, 
Who may for penalty await 

Your censure and your hate. 



THE CARTER IN THE MIRE. 



^Xi 



-The Phaeton who drove a load of hay 

Once found his cart bemired. 
Poor man ! the spot was far away 

From human help — retired, 
In some rude country place, 
In Brittany, as near as I can trace, 

Near Quimper Corentin, — 

A town that poet never sang, — 
Which Fate, they say, puts in the traveller's path, 
When she would rouse the man to special wrath. 
May Heaven preserve us from that route ! 
But to our carter, hale and stout : — 
Fast stuck his cart ; he swore his worst, 

And, filled with rage extreme, 
The mud-holes now he cursed, 

And now he cursed his team, 
And now his cart and load, — 
Anon, the like upon himself bestowed. 
Upon the god he called, at length, 
Most famous through the world for strength. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 335 

O, help me, Hercules! cried he; 
For if thy back of yore 
This burly planet bore, 
Thy arm can set me free. 
This prayer gone up, from out a cloud there broke 
A voice which thus in godlike accents spoke : — 
The suppliant must himself bestir,— n 
Ere Hercules will aid confer. 
Look wisely in the proper quarter, 

To see what hindrance can be found ; 
Remove the execrable mud and mortar, 
Which, axle-deep, besets thy wheels around. 
Thy sledge and crowbar take, 
And pry me up that stone, or break ; 
Now fill that rut upon the other side. 
Hast done it ? Yes, the man replied. 
Well, said the voice, I'll aid thee now ; 
Take up thy whip. I have. ...but, how ? 
My cart glides on with ease ! 
I thank thee, Hercules. 
Thy team, rejoined the voice, has light ado ; 
So help thyself, and Heaven will help tfeee too 



336 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



DAPHNIS AND ALCIMADURE. 

AN IMITATION OF THEOCRITUS. 
TO MADAM DE LA MESANGERE. 

Offspring of her to whom, to-day, 
While from thy lovely self away, 
A thousand hearts their homage pay,* 
Besides the throngs whom friendship binds to please, 
And some whom love presents thee on their knees ! 
A mandate which I cannot thrust aside 
Between you both impels me to divide 
Some of the incense which the dews distil 
Upon the roses of a sacred hill, 
And which, by secret of my trade, 
Is sweet and most delicious made. 
To you I say, .... but all to say 
Would task me far beyond my day ; 
I need judiciously to choose ; 
Thus husbanding my voice and muse, 



* Madam de la Mesangere was the daughtrr o*" Madam dc la 
Sablier* 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 337 

Whose strength and leisure soon will fail. 
I'll only praise your tender heart, and hale, 
Exalted feelings, wit, and grace, 
In which there's none can claim a higher place, 
Excepting her whose praise is your entail. 
Let not too many thorns forbid to touch 
These roses — I may call them such — 
If Love should ever say as much. 
By him it will be better said, indeed ; 
And them who his advices will not heed, 
Scourge fearfully will he, 
As you shall shortly see. 

A blooming miracle of yore 

Despised his godship's sovereign power ; 

They called her name Alcimadure. 

A haughty creature, fierce and wild, 

She sported, Nature's tameless child. 

Rough paths her wayward feet would lead 

To darkest glens of mossy trees ; 
Or she would dance on daisied mead, 

With nought of law but her caprice. 
A fairer could not be, 
Nor crueler, than she. 
Still charming in her sternest mien, — 

E'en when her haughty look debarred,—- 
What had she been to lover, in 

The fortress of her kind regard ! 
Daphnis, a high-born shepherd swain, 
Had loved this maiden to his bane. 



338 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Not one regardful look or smile, 
Nor e'en a gracious word, the while, 
Relieved the fierceness of his pain. 
Overwearied with a suit so vain, 
His hope was but to die ; 
No power had he to fly. 
He sought, impelled by dark despair, 
The portals of the cruel fair. 
\las ! the winds his only listeners were ! 
The mistress gave no entrance there — 
No entrance to the palace where, 
Ingrate, against her natal day, 
She joined the treasures sweet and gay 
In garden or in Avild-w r ood grown, 
To blooming beauty all her own. 

I hoped, he cried, 
Before your eyes I should have died ; 
But, ah ! too deeply I have Avon your hate ; 
Nor should it be surprising news 
To me, that you should now refuse 

To lighten thus my cruel fate. 
My sire, when I shall be no more, 
Is charged to lay your feet before 
The heritage your heart neglected. 
With this my pasturage shall be connected, 
My trusty dog, and all that he protected ; 
And, of my goods Avhich then remain, 
My mourning friends shall rear a fane. 
There shall your image stand, midst rosy bowers. 
Reviving through the ceaseless hours 
An altar built of living flowers. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 339 

Near by, my simple monument 
^- Shall this short epitaph oresent : 
A Here Daphnis died of love. Stop, passenger, 
And say thou, with a falling tear, 
This youth here fell, unable to endure 
The ban of proud Alcimadure." 

He would have added, but his heart 
Now felt the last, the fatal dart. 
Forth marched the maid, in triumph decked, 
And of his murder little recked. 
In vain her steps her own attendants checked, 
And plead 
That she, at least, should shed, 
Upon her lover dead, 

Some tears of due respect. 
The rosy god, of Cytherea born, 
She ever treated with the deepest scorn : 
Contemning him, his laws, and means of damage, 
She drew her train to dance around his image, 
When, woful to relate, 
The statue fell, and crushed her with its weight ! 
A voice forth issued from a cloud, — 
And echo bore the words aloud 

Throughout the air wide spread, — 
" Let all now love — the insensible is dead." 
Meanwhile, down to the Stygian tide 

The shade of Daphnis hied, 
And quaked and wondered there to meet 
The maid, a ghostess, at his feet. 



340 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

All Erebus awakened wide, 
To hear that beauteous homicide 
Beg pardon of the swain who died, 
For being deaf to love confessed, 
As was Ulysses to the prayer 
Of Ajax, begging him to spare. 
Or as was Dido's faithless guest. 



THE ASS DRESSED IN THE LION'S SKIN. 

Clad in a lion's shaggy hide, 
An ass spread terror far and wide, 
And, though himself a coward brute, 
Put all the world to scampering rout ; 

But, by a piece of evil luck, 

A portion of an ear outstuck, 

Which soon revealed the error 

Of all the panic-terror. 
Old Martin did his office quick. 
Surprised were all who did not know the trick. 

To see that Martin, at his will, 

Was driving lions to the mill ! 

In France, the men are not a few 
Of whom this fable proves too true ; 
Whose valor chiefly doth reside 
In coat they wear and horse they ride. 




■* 



THE RAVEN AND THE FOX.' 



Perched on a lofty oak, 
Sir Raven held a lunch of cheese ; 
Sir Fox, who smelt it in the breeze, 

Thus to the holder spoke : — 
Ha ! how do you do, Sir Raven ? 
Well,' your coat, sir, is a brave one! 
So black and glossy, on my word, sir, 
With voice to match, you were a bird, sir, 
Well fit to be the Phoenix of these days. 
Sir Raven, overset with praise, 
Must show how musical his croak. 
Down fell the luncheon from the oak ; 
Which snatching up, Sir Fox thus spoke . - 
The flatterer, my good sir, 
Aye liveth on his listener ; 
Which lesson, if you please, 
Is doubtless worth the cheese. 
A bit too late, Sir Raven swore 
The rogue should nevei cheat him more. 



THE TWO MULES. 



Two mules were bearing on their backs, 
One, oats ; the other, silver of the tax. 
The latter, glorying in his load. 
Marched proudly forward on the road ; 
And, from the jingle of his bell, 
'Twas plain he liked his burden well. 
But in a wild-wood glen • 
A band of robber men 
Rushed forth upon the twain. 

Well with the silver pleased, 
The) 7 by the bridle seized 
The treasure-mule so vain. 
Poor mule ! in struggling to repel 
His ruthless foes, he fell 
Stabbed through ; and, with a bitter sighing, 
He cried, Is this the lot they promised me ? 
My humble friend from danger free, 
While, weltering in my gore, I'm dying? 

My friend, his fellow-mule replied, 
It is not well to have one's work too high. 
[f thou hadst been a miller's drudge, as I, 
Thou wouldst not thus have died. 




THE SWALLOW AND THE LITTLE BIRD& 

By voyages in air, 
With constant thought and care, 
Much knowledge had a swallow gained, 
Which she for public use retained. 
The slightest storms she well foreknew, 
And told the sailors, ere they blew. 
A farmer sowing hemp once having found, 
She gathered all the little birds around, 
And said, My friends, the freedom let me take 
To prophesy a little, for your sake, 
Against this dangerous seed. 
Though such a bird as I 
Knows how to hide or fly, 
You birds a caution need. 
See you that waving hand ? 
It scatters on the land 
Wliat well may cause alarm. 
'Twill grow to nets and snares, 
To catch you unawares, 
And work you fatal harm ! 



344 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Great multitudes, I fear, 
Of you, my birdies dear, 
That falling seed, so little, 
Will bring to cage or kettle ! 
But though so perilous the plot, 
You now may easily defeat it ; 

All lighting on the seeded spot, 
Just scratch up every seed and eat it. 
The little birds took little heed, 
So fed were they with other seed. 
Anon the field was seen 
Bedecked in tender green. 
The swallow's warning voice was heard again ; 
My friends, the product of that deadly grain, 
Seize now, and pull it root by root, 
Or surely you'll repent its fruit. 
False, babbling prophetess, says one, 
You'd set us at some pretty fun ; 
To pull this field a thousand birds are needed, 
While thousands more with hemp are seeded. 

The crop now quite mature, 
The swallow adds, Thus far I've failed of cure; 
I've prophesied in vain 
Against this fatal grain : — 
It's grown. And now, my bonny birds, 
Though you have disbelieved my words 
Thus far, take heed, at last, — 
When you shall see the seed time past, 
And men, no crops to labor for, 
On birds shall wage their cruel war, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 345 

With deadly net and noose ; 
Of flying then beware, 
Unless you take the air, 
Like woodcock, crane, or goose. 
But stop ; you're not in plight 
For such adventurous flight, 
O'er desert waves and sands, 
In search of other lands. 
Hence, then, to save your precious souls, 
Remaineth but to say, 
'Twill be the safest way 
To chuck yourselves in holes. 
Before she had thus far gone, 
The birdlings, tired of hearing, 
And laughing more than fearing, 
Set up a greater jargon 
Than did ; before the Trojan slaughter. 
The Trojans round old Priam's daughter. 
And many .a bird, in prison grate, 
Lamented soon a Trojan fate. 

'Tis thus we heed no instincts but our own ; 
Believe no evil, till the evil's done. 



346 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

THE CITY RAT AND THE COUNTRY RAT. 

A city rat, one night, 

Did with a civil stoop 
A country rat invite 

To end a turtle soup. 

Upon a Turkey carpet 

They found the table spread, 

And sure 1 need not harp it 
How well the fellows fed. 

The entertainment was 

A truly noble one ; 
But some unlucky cause 

Disturbed it when begun. 

It was a slight rat-tat, 

That put their joys to rout ; 

Out ran the city rat ; 

His guest, too, scampered out. 

Our rats but fairly quit, 

The fearful knocking ceased. 

Return we, cried the cit, 
To finish there our feast. 

No, said the rustic rat ; 

To-morrow dine with me. 
I'm not offended at 

Your feast so grand and free, — 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 347 



THE WOLF AND THE LAMB. 



That innocence is not a shield, 
A story teaches, not the longest. 

The strongest reasons always yield 
To reasons of the strongest. 

A lamb her thirst was slaking 

Once at a mountain rill. 
A hungry wolf was taking 
His hunt for sheep to kill, 
When, spying on the streamlet's brink 
This sheep of tender age, 
He howled in tones of rage, 
How dare you roil my drink ? 
Your impudence 1 shall chastise ! 
Let not your majesty, the lamb replies, . 

Decide in haste or passion; 
For, sure, 'tis difficult to think 
In what respect or fashion 
My drinking here could roil your drink, 
For I've no fare resembling ; 
But then I eat at leisure, 
And would not swap for pleasure 
So mixed with fear and trembling. 



348 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Since on the stream your majesty now faces 
I'm lower down, full twenty paces. 

You roil it, said the wolf; and, more, I know 
You cursed and slandered me, a year ago. 
0' no ! how could I such a thing have done i — 
A lamb that has not seen a year, 
A suckling of its mother dear ? 
Your brother then. But brother 1 have none. 
Well, well, what's all the same, 
'Twas some one of your name. 
Sheep, men, and dogs, of every nation, 
Are wont to stab my reputation, 
As I have truly heard. 
Without another word, 
He made his vengeance good, — 
Bore off the lambkin to the wood, 
And there, without a jury, 
Judged, slew, and ate her in his fury. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 34Q 



THE MAN AND HIS IMAGE. 

TO M. THE DUKE DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD. 

A man, who had no rivals in the love 

Which to himself he bore, 
Esteemed his own dear beauty far above 

What earth had seen before. 
More than contented in his error, 
He lived the foe of every mirror. 
Officious fate, resolved our lover 
From such an illness should recover, 
Presented always to his eyes 
The mute advisers which the ladies prize ; 
Mirrors in parlors, inns, and shops, — 
Mirrors the pocket furniture of fops, — 
Mirrors on every lady's zone, 
From which his face reflected shone. 
What could our dear Narcissus do ? 
From haunts of men he now withdrew, 
On purpose that his precious shape 
From every mirror might escape. 
But in his forest glen alone, 

Apart from human trace, 



350 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

A watercourse, 

Of purest source, 
While with unconscious gaze 
He pierced its waveless face, 

Reflected back his own. 
Incensed with mingled rage and fright, 
He seeks to shun the odious sight ; 
But yet that mirror sheet, so clear and still, 
He cannot leave, do what he will. 

Ere this, my story's drift you plainly see. 
From such mistake there is no mortal free. 
That obstinate self-lover 
The human soul doth cover ; 
The mirrors follies are of others, 
In which, as all are genuine brothers, 
Each soul may see to life depicted 
Itself with just such faults afflicted ; 
And by that charming, placid brook, 
Needless to say, 1 mean your Maxim Book 





THE DRAGON WITH MANY HEADS, AND THE 
DRAGON WITH MANY TAILS. 



An envoy of the Porte Sublime, 
As history says, once on a time, 
Before th' imperial German court 
Did rather boastfully report 
The troops commanded by his master's firman, 
As being a stronger army than the German : 
To which replied a Dutch attendant, 
Our prince has more than one dependant 
Who keeps an army at his own expense. 
The Turk, a man of sense, 
Rejoined, I am aware 
What power your emperor's servants share. 
It brings to mind a tale both strange and true, 
A thing which once, myself, I chanced to view. 
I saw come darting through a hedge, 
Which fortified a rocky ledge, 
A hydra's hundred heads ; and in a trice 
My blood was turning into ice. 
But less the harm than terror, — 
The body came no nearer ', 



352 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Nor could, unless it had been sundered 

To parts at least a hundred. 

While deeply musing on this sight, 

Another dragon came to light, 

Whose single head avails 

To lead a hundred tails ; 
And, seized with juster fright, 

I saw him pass the hedge, — 

Head, body, tails, — a wedge 
Of living and resistless powers. — 
The other was your emperor's force ; this ours. 




SIM0N1DES PRESERVED BY THE GODS. 

Three sorts there are, as Malherbe says, 
Which one can never overpraise — 
The gods, the ladies, and the king ; 
And I, for one, endorse the thing. 
The heart, praise tickles and entices ; 
Of fair one's smile, it oft the price is. 
See how the gods sometimes repay it. 
Simonides — the ancients say it — 
Once undertook, in poem lyric, 
To write a wrestler's panegyric ; 
Which ere he had proceeded far in, 
He found his subject somewhat barren. 
No ancestors of great renown, 
His sire of some unnoted towm, 
Himself as little known to fame, 
The wrestler's praise was rather tame. 
The poet, having made the most of 
Whate'er his hero had to fyoast of, 
Digressed, by choice that was not all luck's, 
To Castor and his brother Pollux ; 
Whose bright career was subject ample, 
For wrestlers, sure, a good example. 
Our poet fattened on their story, 
Gave every tight its place and glory, 



354 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES, 

Till of his panegyric words 
These deities had got two thirds. 

All done, the poet's fee 

A talent was to be. 
But when he comes his bill to settle, 
The wrestler, with a spice of mettle, 
Pays down a third, and tells the poet, 
The balance they may pay who owe it. 
The gods than I are rather debtors 
To such a pious man of letters. 
But still I shall be greatly pleased 
To have your presence at my feast, 
Among a knot of guests select, 
My kin, and friends I most respect. 
More fond of character than coffer, 
Simonides accepts the offer. 
While at the feast the party sit, 
And wine provokes the flow of wit, 
It is announced that at the gate 
Two men, in haste that cannot wait, 
Would see the bard. He leaves the table, 
No loss at all to'ts noisy gabble. 
The men were Leda's twins, who knew 
What to a poet's praise was due, 
And, thanking, paid him by foretelling 
The downfall of the wrestler's dwelling. 
From which ill-fated pile, indeed. 
No sooner was the poet freed, 
Than, props and pillars failing, 
Which held aloft the ceiling 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 355 

So splendid o'er them, 
It downward loudly crashed, 
The plates and flagons dashed, 
And men who bore them ; 
And, what was worse, 
Full vengeance for the man of verse, 
A timber broke the wrestler's thighs, 
And wounded many otherwise. 
The gossip Fame, of course, took care 
Abroad to publish this affair. 
A miracle ! the public cried, delighted. 
No more could god-beloved bard be slighted. 
His verse now brought him more than double, 
With neither duns, nor care, nor trouble. 
Whoe'er laid claim to noble birth 
Must buy his ancestors a slice, 
Resolved no nobleman on earth 

Should overgo him in the price. 
From which these serious lessons flow : — 
Fail not your praises to bestow 
On gods and godlike men. Again, 
To sell the product of her pain 
Is not degrading to the muse. 
Indeed, her art they do abuse, 
Who think her wares to use, 
And yet a liberal pay refuse. 
Whate'er the great confer upon her, 
They're honored by it while they honor. 
Of old, Olympus and Parnassus 
In friendship heaved their sky-crowned masses. 




THE THIEVES AND THE ASS. 

Two thieves, pursuing their profession, 

Had of a donkey got possession, 
Whereon a strife arose, 
Which went from words to blows. 

The question was, to sell or not to sell ; 

But while our sturdy champions fought it well, 
Another thief, who chanced to pass, 
With ready wit, rode off the ass. 

This ass is, by interpretation, 
Some province poor, or prostrate nation, 
The thieves are princes this and that, 
On spoils and plunder prone to fat, — 
As those of Austria, Turkey, Hungary. 
(Instead of two, I've quoted three — 
Enough of such commodity.) 
These powers engaged in war all, 
Some fourth thief stops the quarrel, 

According all to one key 

By riding off the donkey. 




DEATH AND THE UNFORTUNATE. 

A poor unfortunate, from day to day, 
Called Death to take him from this world away, 
O Death, he said, to me how fair thy form ! 
Come quick, and end for me life's cruel storm. 
Death heard, and, with a ghastly grin, 
Knocked at his door, and entered in. 
With horror shivering, and affright, 
Take out this object from my sight, 

The poor man loudly cried ; 
Its dreadful looks I can't abide ; 
O stay him, stay him ; let him come no nigher ; 
O Death ! O Death ! I pray thee to retire. 

A gentleman of note 
In Rome, Maecenas, somewhere wrote : — 
Make me the poorest WTetch that begs, 
Sore, hungry, crippled, clothed in rags, 
In hopeless impotence of arms and legs ; 
Provided, after all, you give 
The one sweet liberty to live, 
I'll ask of Death no greater favor 
Than just to stay away forever. 




DEATH AND THE WOODMAN. 

A poor wood-chopper, with his fagot load, 
Whom weight of years, as well as load, oppressed, 
Sore groaning in his smoky hut to rest, 
Trudged wearily along his homeward road. 
At last his wood upon the ground he throws, 
And sits him down to think o'er all his woes. 
To joy a stranger, since his hapless birth, 
What poorer wretch upon this rolling earth ? 
No bread sometimes, and ne'er a moment's rest ; 
Wife, children, soldiers, landlords, public tax, 
All wait the swinging of his old, worn axe, 
And paint the veriest picture of a man unblest. 
On Death he calls. Forthwith that monarch grim 
Appears, and asks what he should do for him. 
Not much, indeed ; a little help I lack 
To put these fagots on my back. 

Death ready stands all ills to cure, 

But let us not his cure invite. 
Than die, 'tis better to endure, — 

Is both a manly maxim and a right. 




THE MAN BETWEEN TWO AGES, AND HiS TWO 
MISTRESSES. 

A man of middle age, whose hair 

Was bordering on the gray, 
Began to turn his thoughts and care 

The matrimonial way. 

By virtue of his ready, 

A store of choices had he 
Of ladies bent to suit his taste ; 
On which account he made no haste. 
To court well was no trifling art. 
Two widows chiefly gained his heart ; 
The one yet green, the other more mature, 
Who found for nature's wane in art a cure. 
These dames, amidst their joking and caressing 

The man they longed to wed, 
Would sometimes set themselves to dressing 

His party-colored head. 

Each aiming to assimilate 

Her lover to her own estate, 

The older piecemeal stole 

The black hair from his poll. 



360 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



While eke, with fingers light, 

The young one stole the white. 
Between them both, as if by scald, 
His head was changed from gray to bald. 
For these, he said, your gentle pranks, 
I owe you, ladies, many thanks. 

By being thus well shaved, 

I less have lost than saved. 

Of Hymen, yet, no news at hand, 
1 do assure ye. 

By what I've lost, I understand 
It is in your way, 

Not mine, that I must pass on. 

Thanks, ladies, for the lesson. 





THE FOX AND THE STORK. 




THE FOX AND THE STORK. 

Old Mister Fox was at expense, one day, 

To dine old Mistress Stork. 
The fare was light, was nothing, sooth to saj', 

Requiring knife and fork. 
That sly old gentleman, the dinner-giver, 
Was, you must understand, a frugal liver. 
This once, at least, the total matter 
Was thinnish soup served on a platter, 
For madam's slender beak a fruitless puzzle, 
Till all had passed the fox's lapping muzzle. 
But little relishing his laughter, 
Old gossip Stork, some few days after, 
Returned his Foxship's invitation. 
Without a moment's hesitation, 
He said he'd go, for he must own he 
Ne'er stood with friends for ceremony. 
And so, precisely at the hour, 
He hied him to the lady's bower, 
Where, praising her politeness, 
He finds her dinner right nice. 



362 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Its punctuality and plenty, 

Its viands, cut in mouthfuls dainty, 

Its fragrant smell, were powerful to excite, 

Had there been need, his foxish appetite. 

But now the dame, to torture him, 

Such wit was in her, 

Served up her dinner 
In vases made so tall and slim. 
They let their owner's beak pass in and out, 
But not, by any means, the fox's snout ! 

All arts without avail, 

With drooping head and tail, 
As ought a fox a fowl had cheated, 
The hungry guest at last retreated. 

Ye knaves, for you is this recital, 
You'll often meet Dame Stork's requital. 





THE BOY AND THE SCHOOLMASTER. 

Wise counsel is not always wise, 
As this my tale exemplifies. 
A boy, that frolicked on the banks of Seine, 
Fell in, and would have found a watery grave, 
Had not that hand that planteth ne'er in vain 
A willow planted there, his life to save. 
While hanging by its branches as he might, 
A certain sage preceptor came in sight ; 
To whom the urchin cried, Save, or I'm drowned. 
The master, turning gravely at the sound, 
Thought proper for a while to stand aloof, 
4nd give the boy some seasonable reproof. 
You little wretch ! this comes of foolish playing. 
Commands and precepts disobeying. 
A naughty rogue, no doubt, you are, 
Who thus requite your parents' care. 
Alas ! their lot I pity much, 
Whom fate condemns to watch o'er such. 
This having coolly said, and more, 
He pulled the drowning lad ashore. 



364 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

This story hits more marks than you suppose. 
All critics, pedants, men of endless prose, — 
Three sorts so richly blessed with progeny, 
The house is blessed that doth not lodge any,- 
May in it see themselves from head to toes. 
No matter what the task, 

Their precious tongues must teach ; 
Their help in need you ask, 

You first must hear them preach. 



THE LION AND THE HUNTER. 

A braggart, lover of the chase, 
Had lost a dog of valued race, 
And thought him in a lion's maw. 
He asked a shepherd whom he saw, 
Pray show me, man, the robber's place, 
And Pll have justice in the case. 
'Tis on this mountain side, 
The shepherd man replied. 
The tribute of a sheep I pay, 
Each month, and where I please I stray. 
Out leaped the lion, as he spake, 

And came that way, with agile feet. 

The braggart, prompt his flight to take, 

Cried, Jove, O grant a safe retreat ! 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 365 

A danger close at hand 

Of courage is the test. 
It shows us who will stand — 

Whose legs will run their best. 



THE HORNETS AND THE BEKS. 

The artist by his work is known. 

A piece of honey-comb, one day, 
Discovered as a waif and stray, 
The hornets treated as their own. 
Their title did the bees dispute, 
And brought before a wasp the suit. 
The judge was puzzled to decide, 
For nothing could be testified, 
Save that around this honey-comb 
There had been seen, as if at home, 
Some longish, brownish, buzzing creatures, 
Much like the bees in wings and features. 
But what of that ? for marks the same, 
The hornets, too, could truly claim. 

Between assertion and denial, 

The wasp, in doubt, proclaimed new trial ; 

And, hearing what an ant-hill swore, 

Could see no clearer than before. 

What use, I pray, of this expense ? 

At last exclaimed a bee of sense. 



366 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

We've labored months in this affair, 
And now are only where we were. 
Meanwhile the honey runs to waste : 
'Tis time the judge should show some haste. 
The parties, sure, have had sufficient bleeding, 
Without more fuss of scrawls and pleading. 
Let's set ourselves at work, these drones and we, 
And then ail eyes the truth may plainly see, 
Whose art it is that can produce 
The magic cells, the nectar juice. 
The hornets, flinching on their part, 
Show that the work transcends their art. 
The wasp at length their title sees, 
And gives the honey to the bees. 

Would God that suits at law with us 

Might all be managed thus ! 
That we might, in the Turkish mode, 
Have simple common sense for code ! 
They then were short and cheap affairs, 
Instead of stretching on like ditches, 
Ingulfing in their course all riches, — ■ 
The parties leaving, for their shares, 
The shells (and shells there might be moister) 
From which the court has sucked the oyster ! 




THE OAK AND THE REED. 

The oak, one day, addressed the reed : — 

To you ungenerous indeed 

Has nature been, my humble friend, 

With weakness aye obliged to bend. 

The smallest bird that flits in air 

Is quite too much for you to bear ; 

The slightest wind that wreaths the lake 

Your ever-trembling head doth shake. 

The while, my towering form 

Dares with the mountain top 

The solar blaze to stop, 

And wrestle with the storm. 
What seems to you the blast of death, 
To me is but a zephyr's breath. 
Beneath my branches had you grown, 

That spread far round their friendly bower, 
Less suffering would your life have known, 
Defended from the tempest's power. 
Unhappily, you oftenest show 

In open air your slender form. 
Along the marshes, wet and low, 

That fringe the kingdom of the storm 



368 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To you, declare I must, 
Dame Nature seems unjust. 
Then modestly replied the reed, 
Your pity, sir, is kind indeed, 
But wholly needless for my sake. 
The wildest wind that ever blew 
Is safe to me, compared with you. 
I bend, indeed, but never break. 
Thus far, I own, the hurricane 
Has beat your sturdy back in vain ; 
But wait the end. Just at the word, 
The tempest's hollow voice was heard. 
The North sent forth her fiercest child, 
Dark, jagged, pitiless, and wild. 
The oak, erect, endured the blow ; 
The reed bowed gracefully and low. 
But, gathering up its strength once more, 
In greater fury than before, 

The savage blast 

O'erthrew, at last, 
That proud, old, sky-encircled head, 
Whose feet entwined the empire of the dead ! 




VilE&IB IFICSig^* 



THE WOODMAN AND MERCURY. 



TO M. THE CHEVALIER DE BOUILLON. 




our taste has served my work to 

guide ; 
To gain its suffrage I have tried. 
You'd have me shun a care too nice, 
Or beauty at too dear a price, 
Or too much effort, as a vice. 
My taste with yours agrees : 
Such effort cannot please ; 



370 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And too much pains about the polish 

Is apt the substance to abolish ; 

Not that it would be right or wise 

The graces all to ostracize. 

You love them much when delicate ; 

Nor is it left for me to hate. 

As to the scope of iEsop's plan, 

I fail as little as I can. 

If this my rhymed and measured speech 

Availeth not to please or teach, 

I own it not a fault of mine ; 

Some unknown reason I assign. 
With little strength endued 
For battles rough and rude, 

Or with Herculean arm to smite, 

I show to vice its foolish plight. 

In this my talent wholly lies ; 

Not that it does at all suffice. 

My fable sometimes brings to view 

The face of vanity purblind 

With that of restless envy joined ; 
And life now turns upon these pivots two. 

Such is the silly little frog 

That aped the ox upon her bog. 

A double image sometimes shows 

How vice and folly do oppose 

The ways of virtue and good sense ; 

As lambs with wolves so grim and gaunt, 

The silly fly and frugal ant. 
Thus swells my work — a comedy immense - 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 371 

Its acts unnumbered and diverse, 

Its scene the boundless universe. 

Gods, men, and brutes, all play their part 

In fields of nature or of art, 

And Jupiter among the rest. 

Here comes the god who 's wont to bear 

Jove's frequent errands to the fair, 

With winged heels and haste ; 
But other work 's in hand to-day. 

A man that labored in the wood 
Had lost his honest livelihood ; 
That is to say, 

His axe was gone astray. 

He had no tools to spare ; 

This wholly earned his fare. 

Without a hope beside, 

He sat him down and cried, 
Alas, my axe ! where can it be ? 
O Jove ! but send it back to me, 
And it shall strike good blows for thee. 
His prayer in high Olympus heard, 
Swift Mercury started at the word. 
Your axe must not be lost, said he : 
Now will you know it when you see I 
An axe I found upon the road. 
With that an axe of gold he showed. 
Is't this? The woodman answered, Nay. 
An axe of silver, bright and gay, 
Refused the honest woodman too. 
At last the finder brought to view 



372 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

An axe of iron, steel, and wood. 

That's mine, he said, in joyful mood ; 

With that I'll quite contented be. 

The god replied, I give the three, 

As due reward of honesty. 

This luck when neighboring choppers knew, 

They lost their axes, not a few, 

And sent their prayers to Jupiter 

So fast, he knew not which to hear. 

His winged son, however, sent 

With gold and silver axes, went. 

Each would have thought himself a fool 

Not to have owned the richest tool. 

But Mercury promptly gave, instead 

Of it, a blow upon the head. 

With simple truth to be contented, 

Is surest not to be repented; 

But still there are who would 

With evil trap the good, — 

Whose cunning is but stupid, 

For Jove is never duped. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 373 



THE LION AND THE RAT. 



To show to all jour kindness, it behoves : 
There's none so small but you his aid may need 
I quote two fables for this weighty creed, 
Which either of them fully proves. 
From underneath the sward 
A rat, quite off his guard, 
Popped out between a lion's paws. 
The beast of royal bearing 
Showed what a lion was 
The creature's life by sparing; — 
A kindness well repaid ; 
For, little as you would have thought 
His majesty would ever need his aid, 
It proved full soon 
A precious boon. 
Forth issuing from his forest glen, 

T ? explore the haunts of men, 
In lion net his majesty was caught, 
Fiom which his strength and rage 
Served not to disengage. 
The rat ran up, with grateful gleu, 
Gnawed off a rope, and set him free. 

By time and toil we sever 

What strength and rage could never. 




THE BAT AND THE TWO WEASELS. 

A blundering bat once stuck her head 
Into a wakeful weasel's bed ; 
Whereat the mistress of the house, 

A deadly foe of rats and mice, 

Was making ready in a trice 
To eat the stranger as a mouse. 

What ! do you dare, she said, to creep in 
The very bed 1 sometimes sleep in, 
Now, after all the provocation 
I've suffered from your thievish nation ? 
Are you not really a mouse, 
That gnawing pest of every house, 
Your special aim to do the cheese ill ? 
Ay, that you are, or I'm no weasel. 

I beg your pardon, said the bat ; 
My kind is very far from that. 
What ! I a mouse ! Who told you such a lie ? 

Why, ma'am, I am a bird ; 

And, if you doubt my word, 
Just see the wings with which I fly. 
Long live the mice that cleave the sky ! 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 375 

These reasons had so fair a show, 

The weasel let the creature go. 

By some strange fancy led, 

The same wise blunderhead, 

But two or three days later, 

Had chosen for her rest 

Another weasel's nest, 

This last, of birds a special hater. 

New peril brought this step absurd. 
Without a moment's thought or puzzle, 
Dame weasel oped her peaked muzzle 

To eat th' intruder as a bird. 
Hold ! do not wrong me, cried the bat; 
I'm truly no such thing as that. 
Your eyesight strange conclusions gathers. 
What makes a bird, I pray? Its feathers. 

I'm cousin of the mice and rats. 

Great Jupiter confound the cats ! 
The bat, by such adroit replying, 
Twice saved herself from dying. 

And many a human stranger 

Thus turns his coat in danger ; 
And sings, as suits where'er he goes, 
God save the king ! — or, save his foes ! 



THE WOLF AND THE LEAN DOG. 

A troutling, some time since,* 
Endeavored vainly to convince 

A hungry fisherman 
Of his unfitness for the frying-pan. 
That controversy made it plain 

That letting go a good secure, 
In hope of future gain, 

Is but imprudence pure. 
The fisherman had reason good — 
The troutling did the best he could - 

Both argued for their lives. 
Now, if my present purpose thrives, 
I'll prop my former proposition 
By building on a small addition. 
A certain wolf, in point of wit 
The prudent fisher's opposite, 
A dog once finding far astray, 
Prepared to take him as ms prey. 

The dog his leanness plead ; 

Your lordship, sure, he said, 

* See Book V. Fable III. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 377 

Cannot be very eager 

To eat a dog so meagre. 
To wait a little do not grudge : 
The wedding of my master's only daughter 
Will cause of fatted calves and fowls a slaughter ; 
And then, as you yourself can judge, 
I cannot help becoming fatter. 
The wolf, believing, waived the matter, 
And so, some days therefrom, 

Returned with sole design to see 

If fat enough his dog might be. 
The rogue was now at home : 
He saw the hunter through the fence. 

My friend, said he, please wait ; 
I'll be with you a moment hence, 

And fetch our porter of the gate. 
This porter was a dog immense, 
That left to wolves no future tense. 

Suspicion gave our wolf a jog, — 
It might not be so safely tampered. 

My service to your porter dog, 
Was his reply, as off he scampered. 
His legs proved better than his head, 
And saved him life to learn his trade. 



378 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE LION AND THE GNA'l. 

Go, paltry insect, nature's meanest brat ! 
Thus said the royal lion to the gnat. 
The gnat declared immediate war. 
Think you, said he, your royal name 
To me worth caring for ? 
Think you I tremble at your power or fame ? 
The ox is bigger far than you ; 
Yet him I drive, and all his crew. 
This said, as one that did no fear owe, 

Himself he blew the battle charge, 
Himself both trumpeter and hero. 
At first he played about at large, 
Then on the lion's neck, at leisure, settled, 
And there the royal beast full sorely nettled. 
With foaming mouth, and flashing eye, 
He roars. All creatures hide or fly, — 
Such mortal terror at 
The work of one poor gnat ! 
With constant change of his attack, 
The snout now stinging, now the back, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 379 

And now the chambers of the nose ; 
The pygmy fly no mercy shows. 
The lion's rage was at its height , 
His viewless foe now laughed outright, 
When on his battle-ground he saw, 
That every savage tooth and claw 
Had got its proper beauty 
By doing bloody duty ; 
Himself, the hapless lion, tore his hide, 
A nd lashed with sounding tail from side to side 
Ah ! bootless blow, and bite, and curse ! 
He beat the harmless air, and worse ; 
For, though so fierce and stout, 
By effort wearied out, 
He fainted, fell, gave up the quarrel. 
The gnat retires with verdant laurel. 
Now rings his trumpet clang 
As at the charge it rang:. 
But while his triumph note he blows, 
Straight on our valiant conqueror goes 
A spider's ambuscade to meet, 
And make its web his winding-sheet. 

We often have the most to fear 
From those we most despise ; 

Again, great risks a man may clear, 
Who by the smallest dies. 



380 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE ASS LOADED WITH SPONGES, AND THE ASS 
LOADED WITH SALT. 



A man, whom 1 shall call an ass-eteer, 
His sceptre like some Roman emperor bearing, 

Drove on two coursers of protracted ear, 
The one, with sponges laden, briskly faring ; 
The other lifting legs 
As if he trod on eggs, 
With constant need of goading, 
And bags of salt for loading. 
O'er hill and dale our merry pilgrims passed, 
Till, coming to a river's ford at last, 
They stopped quite puzzled on the shore. 
Our asseteer had crossed the stream before ; 
So, on the lighter beast astride, 

He drives the other, spite of dread, 
Which, loath indeed to go ahead, 
Into a deep hole turns aside, 
And, facing right about, 
Where he went in, comes out ; 
For duckings two or three 
Had power the salt to melt, 
So that the creature felt 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



381 



His burdened shoulders free. 
The sponger, like a sequent sheep, 
Pursuing through the water deep, 

Into the same hole plunges 
♦Himself, his rider, and the sponges. 
All three drank deeply: asseteer and ass 
For boon companions of their load might pass ; 
Which last became so sore a weight, 
The ass fell down, 
Belike to drown, 
His rider risking equal fate. 
A helper came, no matter who. 
The moral needs no more ado — 
That all can't act alike, — 
The point I wished to strike. 








THE ASTROLOGER WHO STUMBLED INTO A WEJJ. 

To an astrologer who fell 
Plump to the bottom of a well, 
Poor blockhead ! cried a passer by, 
Not see jour feet, and read the sky ? 

This upshot of a story will suffice 
To give a useful hint to most ; 
For few there are in this our world so wise 
As not to trust in star or ghost, 
Or cherish secretly the creed 
That men the book of destiny may read. 
This book, by Homer and his pupils sung, 
What is it, in plain common sense, 
But what was chance those ancient folks among, 
And with ourselves, God's providence ? 
Now, chance doth bid defiance 
To every thing like science ; 

'Twere wrong, if not, 
To call it hazard, fortune, lot — 
Things palpably uncertain. 
But from the purposes divine, 
The deep of infinite design, 
Who boasts to lift the curtain ? 
Whom but himself doth God allow 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 383 

To read his bosom thoughts, and how ? 
Would he imprint upon the stars sublime 
The shrouded secrets of the night, of time ? 
And all for what ? To exercise the wit 
Of those who on astrology have writ ? 
To help us shun inevitable ills ? 
To poison for us even pleasure's rills ? 
The choicest blessings to destroy, 
Exhausting, ere they come, their joy ? 
Such faith is worse than error — 'tis a crime. 
The sky-host moves and marks the course of time ; 
The sun sheds on our nicely-measured days 
The glory of his night-dispelling rays ; 
And all from this we can divine 
Is, that they need to rise and shine, — 
To roll the seasons, ripen fruits, 
And cheer the hearts of men and brutes. 
How tallies this revolving universe 
With human things, eternally diverse ? 
Ye horoscopers, waning quacks, 
Please turn on Europe's courts your backs, 
And, taking on your travelling lists 
The bellows- blowing alchemists, 
Budge off together to the land of mists. 
But I've digressed. Return we now, bethinking 
Of our poor star-man, whom we left a drinking. 
Besides the folly of his lying trade, 
This man the type may well be made 

Of those who at chimeras stare 
When they should mind the things that are. 




THE HARE AND THE FROGS. 

Once in his bed deep mused the hare, 
(What else but muse could he do there ?) 
And soon by gloom was much afflicted ; — 
To gloom the creature's much addicted. 
Alas! these constitutions nervous, 
He cried, how wretchedly they serve us ! 
We timid people, by their action, 
Can't eat nor sleep with satisfaction ; 
We can't enjoy a pleasure single, 
But with some misery it must mingle. 
Myself, for one, am forced by cursed fear 
To sleep with open eye as well as ear. 
Correct yourself, says some adviser. 
Grows fear, by such advice, the wiser ? 
Indeed, I well enough descry 
That men have fear, as well as I. 
With such revolving thoughts our hare 
- Kept watch in soul-consuming care. 
A passing shade, or leaflet's quiver 
Would give his blood a boiling fever. 




THE HARE AND THE PROGS. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 385 

Full soon, his melancholy soul 
Aroused from dreaming doze 
By noise too slight for foes, 
He scuds in haste to reach his hole. 
He passed a pond ; and from its border bogs, 
Plunge after plunge, in leaped the timid frogs. 
Aha ! I do to them, I see, 
He cried, what others do to me. 
The sight of even me, a hare, 
Sufiiceth some, I find, to scare. 
And here, the terror of my tramp 
Hath put to rout, it seems, a camp. 
The trembling fools ! they take me for 
The very thunderbolt of war ! 
I see, the coward never skulked a foe 
That might not scare a coward still belov*'. 





THE CAT METAMORPHOSED INTO A WOMAN 

A bachelor caressed his cat, 

A darling fair and delicate ; 

So deep in love, he thought her mew 

The sweetest voice he ever knew. 

By prayers, and tears, and magic art, 

The man got Fate to take his part ; 

And, lo ! one morning at his side 

His cat, transformed, became his bride. 

In wedded state our man was seen 

The fool in courtship he had been. 

No lover e'er was so bewitched 

By any maiden's charms 
As was this husband, so enriched 

By hers within his arms. 
He praised her beauties, this and that, 
And saw there nothing of the cat. 

In short, by passion's aid, he 

Thought her a perfect lady. 

'Twas night : some carpet-gnawing mice 
Disturbed the nuptial joys. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 387 

Excited by the noise, 
The bride sprang at them in a trice. 

The mice were scared and fled. 

The bride, scarce in her bed, 
The gnawing heard, and sprang again, — 

And this time not in vain, 
For, in this novel form arrayed, 
Of her the mice were less afraid. 
Through life she loved this mousing course, 
So great is stubborn nature's force. 

In mockery of change, the old 
Will keep their youthful bent. 

When once the cloth has got its fold, 
The smelling pot its scent, 

In vain your efforts and your care 

To make them other than they are. 

To work reform, do what you will, 

Old habit will be habit still. 
Nor fork* nor strap can mend its manners, 
Nor cudgel-blows beat down its banners. 
Secure the doors against the renter, 
And through the windows it will enter. 

* Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. — Hor. 




THE COCK AND THE FOX. 

Upon a tree there mounted guard 
A veteran cock, adroit and cunning, 
When to the roots a fox up running, 
Spoke thus, in tones of kind regard : — 
Our quarrel, brother, 's at an end ; 
Henceforth I hope to live your friend ; 
For peace now reigns 
Throughout the animal domains. 
I bear the news: — come down, I pray, 

And give me the embrace fraternal; 
And please, my brother, don't delay. 

So much the tidings do concern all, 
That I must spread them far to-day. 
Now you and yours can take your walks 
Without a fear or thought of hawks. 
And should you clash with them or others, 
In us you'll find the best of brothers ; — 
For which you may, this joyful night, 
Your merry bonfires light. 
But, first, let's seal the bliss 
With one fraternal kiss. 




THE COCK AND THE FOX. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



389 



Good friend, the cock replied, upon my word, 
A better thing I never heard ; 
And doubly I rejoice 
To hear it from jour voice ; 
And, really, there must be something in it, 
For yonder come two greyhounds, which, T flatter 
Myself, are couriers on this very matter. 

They come so fast, they'll be here in a minute. 
I'll down, and all of us will seal the blessing 
With general kissing and caressing. 
Adieu, said fox ; my errand's pressing ; 
I'll hurry on my way, 
And we'll rejoice some other day. 
So off the fellow scampered, quick and light, 
To gain the fox-holes of a neighboring height, 
Less happy in his stratagem than flight. 
The cock laughed sweetly in his sleeve ; — 
'Tis doublv sweet deceiver to deceive. 




THE ORACLE AND THE ATHEIST. 

That man his Maker can deceive, 

Is monstrous folly to believe. 
The labyrinthine mazes of the heart 
Are open to his eyes in every part. 
Whatever one may do, or think, or feel, 
From Him no darkness can the thing conceal. 
A pagan once, of graceless heart and hollow, 

Whose faith in gods, Pm apprehensive, 

Was quite as real as expensive, 
Consulted, at his shrine, the god Apollo, 

Is what I hold alive, or not? 

Said he, — a sparrow having brought, 
Prepared to wring its neck, or let it fly, 
As need might be, to give the god the lie. 
Apollo saw the trick 
And answered quick, 

Dead or alive, show me your sparrow, 
And cease to set for me a trap 
Which can but cause yourself mishap. 

1 see afar, and far I shoot my arrow. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 391 



THE MISER WHO HAD LOST HIS TREASURE. 

'Tis use that constitutes possession. 

I ask that sort of men, whose passion 
It is to get and never spend, 
Of all their toil what is the end ; 

What they enjoy of all their labors 

Which do not equally their neighbors ? 

Throughout this upper mortal strife, 

The miser leads a beggars life. 

Old iEsop's man of hidden treasure 
May serve the case to demonstrate. 

He had a great estate, 
But chose a second life to wait 

Ere he began to taste its pleasure. 

This man, whom gold so little blessed, 

Was not possessor, but possessed. 

His cash he buried under ground, 

Where only might his heart be found ; 

It being, then, his sole delight 

To ponder of it day and night, 

And consecrate his rusty pelf, 

A sacred offering, to himself. 

In all his eating, drinking, travel, 
Most wondrous short of funds he seemed ; 
One would have thought he little dreamed 

Where lay such sums beneath the gravel. 



392 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

A ditcher marked his coming to the spot, 

So frequent was it, 
And thus at last some little inkling got 
Of the deposit. 
He took it all, and babbled not. 

One morning, ere the dawn, 

Forth had our miser gone 
To worship what he loved the best, 
When, lo ! he found an empty nest ! 
Alas ! what groaning, wailing, crying ! 
What deep and bitter sighing ! 

His torment makes him tear 

Out by the roots his hair. 

A passenger demandeth why 

Such marvellous outcry. 
They've got my gold ! it's gone — it's gone ! 
Four gold! pray where? — Beneath this stone. 
Why, man, is this a time of war, 
That you should bring your gold so far ? 
You'd better kept it in your drawer ; 
And I'll be bound, if once but in it, 
You could have got it any minute. 
At any minute ! Ah, Heaven knows 
That cash comes harder than it goes ! 
I touched it not. — Then have the grace 
To explain to me that rueful face, 

Replied the man ; for, if 'tis true 
You touched it not, how plain the case, 
That, put the stone back in its place, 

And all will be as well for you. 




THE RAVEN WISHING TO IMITATE THE EAGLE. 



The bird of Jove bore off a mutton, 

A raven being witness. 
That weaker bird, but equal glutton, 

Not doubting of his fitness 
To do the same with ease, 
And bent his taste to please, 
Took round the flock his sweep, 
And marked among the sheep, 
The one of fairest flesh and size, 
A real sheep of sacrifice — 
A dainty titbit bestial, 
Reserved for mouth celestial. 
Our gormand, gloating round, 

Cried, Sheep, I w r onder much 

Who could have made you such. 
You're far the fattest I have found ,* 
I'll take you for my eating. 
And on the creature bleating 



394 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



He settled down. Now, sooth to say, 
This sheep would weigh 

More than a cheese ; 
And had a fleece 
Much like that matting famous 
Which graced the chin of Polyphemus ; 
So fast it clung to every claw, 
It was not easy to withdraw. 
The shepherd came, caught, caged, and, to their joy, 
Gave croaker to his children for a toy. 

Ill plays the pilferer the bigger thief; 
One's self one ought to know ; — in brief, 
Example is a dangerous lure ; 
Death strikes the gnat, where flies the wasp secure. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 395 



THE PEACOCK COMPLAINING TO JUNO. 

The peacock to the queen of heaven 
Complained in some such words : — 

Great goddess, you have given 

To me, the laughing-stock of birds, 

A voice which fills, by taste quite just, 
All nature with disgust ; 

Whereas that little paltry thing, 

The nightingale, pours from her throat 
So sweet and ravishing a note, 
She bears alone the honors of the spring. 

In anger Juno heard, 
And cried, Shame on you, jealous bird ! 
Grudge you the nightingale her voice, 
Who in the rainbow neck rejoice, 
Than costliest silks more richly tinted, 
In charms of grace and form unstinted, — 
Who strut in kingly pride, 
Your glorious tail spread wide 
With brilliants which in sheen do 
Outshine the jeweller's bow-window ? 



396 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Is there a bird beneath the blue 
That has more charms than you ? 

No animal in every thing can shine. 

By just partition of our gifts divine, 

Each has its full and proper share; 

Among the birds that cleave the air, 
The hawk 's a swift, the eagle is a brave one, 
For omens serves the hoarse old raven, 
The rook 's of coming ills the prophet ; 

And if there's any discontent, 
I've heard not of it. 

Cease, then, your envious complaint ; 

Or I, instead of making up your lack, 

Will take your boasted plumage from your back. 





THE LION AND THE ASS HUNTING. 



The king of animals, with royal grace, 
Would celebrate his birthday in the chase. 
'Twas not with bow and arrows 
To slay some wretched sparrows ; 
The lion hunts the wild boar of the wood, 
The antlered deer and stags, the fat and good. 
This time, the king, t' insure success, 
Took for his aid-de-camp an ass, 
A creature of stentorian voice, 
That felt much honored by the choice. 
The lion hid him in a proper station, 
And ordered him to bray, for his vocation, 
Assured that his tempestuous cry 
The boldest beasts would terrify, 
And cause them from their lairs to fly. 
And, sooth, the horrid noise the creature made 
Did strike the tenants of the wood with dread; 



398 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And, as they headlong fled, 

All fell within the lion's ambuscade. 
Has not my service glorious 
Made both of us victorious ? 
Cried out the much-elated ass. 

Yes, said the lion ; bravely brayed ! 
Had I not known yourself and race, 

I should have been myself afraid ! 
If he had dared, the donkey 
Had shown himself right spunky 

At this retort, though justly made ; 
For who could suffer boasts to pass 
So ill-befitting to an ass ? 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE WILL EXPLAINED BY jESOP. 

If what old story says of jEsop 's true, 

The oracle of Greece he was, 
And more than Areopagus he knew, 

With all its wisdom in the laws. 
The following tale gives but a sample 
Of what has made his fame so ample. 
Three daughters shared a father's purse, 

Of habits totally diverse. 
The first, bewitched with drinks delicious ; 
The next, coquettish and capricious ; 
The third, supremely avaricious. 

The sire, expectant of his fate, 

Bequeathed his whole estate, 

In equal shares, to them, 

And to their mother just the same, — 

To her then payable, and not before, 

Each daughter should possess her part no more. 

The father died. The females three 

Were much in haste the will to see. 

They read and read, but still 

Saw not the willer's will. 



400 -LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For could it well be understood 
That each of this sweet sisterhood, 
When she possessed her part no more, 
Should to her mother pay it o'er ? 
'Twas surely not so easy saying 
How lack of means would help the paying. 
What meant their honored father, then ? 
Th' affair was brought to legal men, 
Who, after turning o'er the case 
Some hundred thousand different ways, 
Threw down the learned bonnet, 
Unable to decide upon it ; 
And then advised the heirs, 
Without more thought, t' adjust affairs. 
As to the widow's share, the counsel say, 
We hold it just the daughters each should pay 
One third to her upon demand, 
Should she not choose to have it stand 
Commuted as a life annuity, 
Paid from her husband's death, with due congruity 
The thing thus ordered, the estate 
Is duly cut in portions three. 
And in the first they all agree 
To put the feasting-lodges, plate, 
Luxurious cooling mugs, 
Enormous liquor jugs, 
Rich cupboards, — built beneath the trellised vine, — 
The stores of ancient, sweet Malvoisian wine, 
The slaves to serve it at a sign ; 

In short, whatever, in a great house, 
There is of feasting apparatus 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 401 

The second part is made 
Of what might help the jilting trade — 
The city house and furniture, 
Exquisite and genteel, be sure, 
The eunuchs, milliners, and laces, 
The jewels, shawls, and costly dresses. 
The third is made of household, stuff, 
More vulgar, rude, and rough < — 
Farms, fences, flocks, and fodder, 
And men and beasts to turn the sod o'er. 
This done, since it was thought 
To give the parts by lot 
Might suit, or it might not, 
Each paid her share of fees dear, 
And took the part that pleased her. 
'Tvvas in great Athens town, 
Such judgment gave the gown. 
And there the public voice 
Applauded both the judgment and the choice. 
But iEsop well was satisfied 
The learned men had set aside, 
In judging thus the testament, 
The very gist of its intent. 
The dead, quoth he, could he but know of it, 
Would heap reproaches on such Attic wit 
What ! men who proudly take their place 
As sages of the human race, 
Lack they the simple skill 
To settle such a will ? 
This said, he undertook himself 
The task of portioning the pelf; 



402 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

And straightway gave each maid the part 
The least according to her heart — 
The prim coquette, the drinking stuff. 

The drinker, then, the farms and cattle ; 
And on the miser, rude and rough, 
The robes and lace did iEsop settle ; 
For thus, he said, an early date 
Would see the sisters alienate 
Their several shares of the estate. 
No motive now in maidenhood to tarry, 
They all would seek, post haste, to marry ; 
And, having each a splendid bait, 
Each soon would find a well-bred mate ; 
And, leaving thus their father's goods intact, 
Would to their mother pay them all, in fact, — 
Which of the testament 
Was plainly the inient. 
The people, who had thought a slave an ass, 
Much wondered how it came to pass 
That one alone should have more sense 
Than all their men of most pretense. 




tt 41 IB ft 111 is^aiss^a 



THE SHEPHERD AND THE LION. 




F fables judge not by their face ; 
They give the simplest brute a teacher's place. 
Bare precepts were inert and tedious things; 
The story gives them life and wings. 
But story for the story's sake 

Were sorry business for the wise ■ 
As if, for pill that one should taiie 
You gave the sugary disguise. 



404 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For reasons such as these. 
Full many writers great and good 
Have written in this frolic mood, 
And made their wisdom please. 
But tinseled style they all have shunned with care ; 
With them one never sees a word to spare. 
Of Phaedrus some have Warned the brevity, 
While JEsop uses fewer words than he. 
A certain Greek, however, beats 
Them both in his laconic feats. 
Each tale he locks in verses four ; 
The well or ill I leave to critic lore. 
At iEsop's side to see him let us aim, 
Upon a theme substantially the same. 
The one selects a lover of the chase ; 
A shepherd comes, the other's tale to grace. 
Their tracks I keep, though either tale may grow 
A little in its features as I go. 

The one which iEsop tells is nearly this : — 
A shepherd from his flock began to miss, 
And longed to catch the stealer of his sheep. 
Before a cavern, dark and deep, 
Where wolves retired by day to sleep, 
Which he suspected as the thieves, 
He set his trap among the leaves ; 
And, ere he left the place, 
He thus invoked celestial grace : — 
O king of all the powers divine, 
against the rogue but grant me this delight, 
'1 nat this my trap may catch him in my sight, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 405 

And I, from twenty calves of mine, 

Will make the fattest thine. 
But while the words were on his tongue, 
Forth came a lion great and strong. 
Down crouched the man of sheep, and said, 
With shivering fright half dead, 
Alas ! that man should never be aware 
Of what may be the meaning of his prayer ! 
To catch the robber of my flocks, 
O king of gods, I pledged a calf to thee : 
If from his clutches thou wilt rescue me, 
I'll raise my offering to an ox. 

'Tis thus the master-author tells the story. 
Now hear the rival of his glory. 



406 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE MEMBERS AND THE BELLY. 

Perhaps, had I but shown due loyalty, 
This book would have begun with royalty, 
Of which, in certain points of view, 
Boss* Belly is the image true, 
In whose bereavements all the members share; 
Of whom the latter once so weary were, 
As all due service to forbear, 
On what they called his idle plan 
Resolved to play the gentleman, 
And let his lordship live on air. 
Like burden-beasts, said they. 
We sweat from day to day ; 
And all for whom, and what ? 
Ourselves we profit not. 
Our labor has no object but one, 
That is, to feed this lazy glutton 
We'll learn the resting trade 
By his example's aid. 

* A word probably more familiar to hod-carriers than tt. Vr'cog^a 
pliers ; qu. derived from the French bosseman, or the English boatswain, 
pronounced bos'n? It denotes a "master" of some practical "art." 
Master Belly, says Rabelais, was the first Master of Arts in the world. 
-Ed. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 407 

So said, so done ; all labor ceased ; 
The hands refused to grasp, the arms to strike ; 
All other members did the like. 
Their boss might labor if he pleased ! 
It was an error which they soon repented, 
With pain of languid poverty acquainted. 
The heart no more the blood renewed, 
And hence repair no more accrued 
To ever-wasting strength ; 
Whereby the mutineers, at length, 
Saw that the idle belly, in its way, 
Did more for common benefit than they. 

For royalty our fable makes, 

A thing that gives as well as takes. 

Its power all labor to sustain, 
Nor for themselves turns out their labor vain. 
It gives the artist bread, the merchant riches ; 
Maintains the diggers in their ditches* 
Pays man of war and magistrate ; 

Supports the swarms in place, 

That live on sovereign grace ; 
In short, is caterer for the state. 

Menenius told the story well, 
When Rome, of old, in pieces fell, 

The commons parting from the senate. 

The ills, said they, that we complain at 
Are, that the honors, treasures, power, and dignity, 

Belong to them alone ; while we 



408 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



Get nought our labor for 
But tributes, taxes, and fatigues of war. 
Without the walls the people had their stand 
Prepared to march in search of other land, 
When by this noted fable 
Menenius was able 
To draw them, hungry, home 
To duty and to Rome.* 



* According to our republican notions of government, these people 
were somewhat imposed upon. Perhaps the fable finds a more appro- 
priate application in the relation of employer to employed. 1 leave 
the fabulists and the political economists to settle the question between 
them — Ed. 





TOE WOLF TURNED SHEPHERD. 



THE WOLF TURNED SHEPHERD. 



A wolf, whose gettings from the flocks 

Began to be but few, 
Bethought himself to play the fox 

In character quite new. 
A shepherd's hat and coat he took, 
A cudgel for a crook, 
Nor e'en the pipe forgot ; 
And more, to seem what he was not, 
Himself upon his hat he wrote, 
I'm Willie, shepherd of these sheep. 

His person thus complete, 

His crook in upraised feet, 
The impostor Willie stole upon the keep. 
The real Willie, on the grass asleep, 

Slept there, indeed, profoundly, 
His dog and pipe slept, also, soundly; 

His drowsy sheep around lay, 

As for the greatest number. 
Much blessed the hypocrite their slumber, 



410 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



And hoped to drive away the flock, 
Could he the shepherd's voice but mock. 

He thought undoubtedly he could. 
He tried ; the tone in which he spoke, 

Loud echoing from the wood, 

The plot and slumber broke ; 

Sheep, dog, and man awoke. 

The wolf, in sorry plight, 

In hampering coat bedight, 

Could neither run nor fight. 

There's always leakage of deceit, 
Which makes it never safe to cheat. 
Whoever is a wolf had better 
Keep clear of hypocritic fetter. 





THE FROGS ASKING A KING. 



A certain commonwealth aquatic, 
Grown tired of order democratic, 
By clamoring in the ears of Jove, erTecteo 
Its being to a monarch's power subjected. 
Jove flung it down, at first, a king pacific, 
Who nathless fell with such a splash terrific, 
The marshy folks, a foolish race and timid, 
Made breathless haste to get from him hid. 
They dived into the mud beneath the water, 
Or found among the reeds and rushes quarter. 
And long it was they dared not see 
The dreadful face of majesty, 
Supposing that some monstrous frog 
Had been sent down to rule the bog. 
The king was really a log, 
Whose gravity inspired with awe 

The first that, from his hiding-place 
Forth venturing, astonished, saw 
The royal blockhead's face. 



412 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

With trembling and with fear, 
At last he drew quite near. 
Another followed, and another jet, 
Till quite a crowd at last were met ; 
Who, growing fast and strangely bolder, 
Perched soon upon the royal shoulder. 
His gracious majesty kept still, 
And let his people work their will. 

Clack, clack ! what din beset the ears of Jove ! 

We want a king, the people said, to move ! 
The god straight sent them down a crane, 

Who caught and slew them without measure, 

And gulped their carcasses at pleasure ; 
Whereat the frogs more wofully complain. 

What ! what ! great Jupiter replied ; 

By your desires must 1 be tied ? 

Think you such government is bad ? 

You should have kept what first you had ; 

Which having blindly failed to do, 

It had been prudent still for you 

To let that former king suffice, 

More meek and mild, if not so wise. 

With this now make yourselves content, 

Lest for your sins a worse be sent. 




Tklb bOX AND THE GOAT. 



A fox once journeyed, and for company 

A certain bearded, horned goat had he ; 

Which goat no further than his nose could see. 

The fox was deeply versed in trickery. 
These travellers did thirst compel 
To seek the bottom of a well. 
There, having drank enough for two, 
Says fox, My friend, what shall we do ? 
'Tis time that we were thinking 
Of something else than drinking. 
Raise you your feet upon the wall, 
And stick your horns up straight and tall; 
Then up your back I'll climb with ease, 
And draw you after, if you please. 
Yes, by my beard, the other said, 
'Tis just the thing. I like a head 
Well stocked with sense, like thine. 
Had it been left to mine, 
I do confess, 
1 never should have thought of this. 



414 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



So Renard clambered out, 
And, leaving there the goat, 
Discharged his obligations 
By preaching thus on patience : — 
Had Heaven put sense thy head within, 
To match the beard upon thy chin, 
Thou wouldst have thought a bit, 
Before descending such a pit. 
I'm out of it ; good by : 
With prudent effort try 
Yourself to extricate. 
For me, affairs of state 
Permit me not to wait. 

Whatever way you wend, 
Consider well the end. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 415 



THE EAGLE, THE WILD SOW, AND THE CAT. 

A certain hollow tree 
Was tenanted by three. 
An eagle held a lofty bough, 
The hollow root a wild wood sow, 
A female cat between the two. 
All busy with maternal labors, 
They lived awhile obliging neighbors. 
At last the cat's deceitful tongue 
Broke up the peace of old and young. 
Up climbing to the eagle's nest, 
She said, with whiskered lips compressed, 
Our death, or, what as much we mothers fear 
That of our helpless offspring dear, 

Is surely drawing near. 
Beneath our feet, see you not how 
Destruction's plotted by the sow ? 
Her constant digging, soon or late, 
Our proud old castle will uproot. 
And then — O, sad and shocking fate ! — 
She'll eat our young ones as the fruit ! 
Were there but hope of saving one, 
'T would soothe somewhat my bitter moan. 



416 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Thus leaving apprehensions hideous, 
Down went the puss perfidious 
To where the sow, no longer digging, 
Was in the very act of pigging. 

Good friend and neighbor, whispered she, 
I warn you on your guard to be. 
Your pigs should you but leave a minute, 
This eagle here will seize them in it. 
Speak not of this, I beg, at all, 
Lest on my head her wrath should fall. 
Another breast with fear inspired, 
With fiendish joy the cat retired. 
The eagle ventured no egress 
To feed her young, the sow still less. 
Fools they, to think that any curse 
Than ghastly famine could be worse ! 
Both staid at home, resolved and obstinate, 
To save their young ones from impending fate, - 
The royal bird for fear of mine, 
For fear of royal claws the swine. 
All died, at length, with hunger, 
The older and the younger; 
There staid, of eagle race or boar, 
Not one this side of death's dread door ; — 
A sad misfortune, which 
The wicked cats made rich. 
O, what is there of hellish plot 
The treacherous tongue dares not ! 
Of all the ills Pandora's box outpoured, 
Deceit, I think, is most to be abhorred. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 417 



THE CAMEL AND THE FLOATING STICKS. 

The first who saw the humpbacked camel 

Fled off for life ; the next approached with care ; 
The third with tyrant rope did boldly dare 
The desert wanderer to trammel. 

Such is the power of use to change 
The face of objects new and strange ; 
Which grow, by looking at, so tame, 
They do not even seem the same. 
And since this theme is up for our attention, 
A certain watchman I will mention, 
Who, seeing something far 
Away upon the ocean, 
Could not but speak his notion 
That 'twas a ship of war. 
Some minutes more had past, — 
A bomb-ketch 'twas without a sail, 
And then a boat, and then a bale, 
And floating sticks of wood at last ! 

Full many things on earth, I wot, 
Will claim this tale, — and well they may; 
They're something dreadful far away, 

But near at hand — they're not. 




THE DRUNKARD AND HIS WIFE. 



Each has his fault, to which he clings 

In spite of shame or fear. 
This apophthegm a story brings, 
To make its truth more clear. 
A sot had lost health, mind, and purse ; 
And, truly, for that matter, 
Sots mostly lose the latter 
Ere running half their course. 
When wine, one day, of wit had tilled the room, 
His wife enclosed him in a spacious tomb. 
There did the fumes evaporate 
At leisure from his drowsy pate. 
When he awoke, he found 
His body wrapped around 
With grave-clothes, chill and damp, 
Beneath a dim, sepulchral lamp. 
How 's this ? My wife a widow sad ?' 
He cried, and I a ghost ? Dead ? dead t 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 419 

Thereat his spouse, with snaky hair, 
And robes like those the Furies wear, 
With voice to fit the realms below, 

Brought boiling caudle to his bier — 

For Lucifer the proper cheer ; 
By which her husband came to know — 
For he had heard of those three ladies — 
Himself a citizen of Hades. 

What may your office be ? 

The phantom questioned he. 
I'm server up of Pluto's meat, 
And bring his guests the same to eat. 
Well, says the sot, not taking time to think, 
And don't you bring us any thing to drink ? 




420 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE GOUT AND THE SPIDER. 

When Nature angrily turned out 
Those plagues, the spider and the gout, — 
See you, said she, those huts so meanly built, 
These palaces so grand and richly gilt ? 
By mutual agreement fix 
Your choice of dwellings ; or if not, 
To end th' affair by lot, 
Draw out these little sticks. 
The huts are not for me, the spider cried ; 

And not for me the palace, cried the gout; 
For there a sort of men she spied 
Called doctors, going in and out, 
From whom she could not hope for ease. 
So hied her to the huts the fell disease, 
And, fastening on a poor man's toe, 
Hoped there to fatten on his woe, 
And torture him, fit after fit, 
Without a summons e'er to quit, 

From old Hippocrates. 
The spider, on the lofty ceiling, 
As if she had a life-lease feeling, 
Wove wide her cunning toils, 
Soon rich with insect spoils. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 421 

A maid destroyed them as she swept the room 
Repaired, again they felt the fatal broom. 
The wretched creature, every day, 
From house and home must pack away. 
At last, her courage giving out, 
She went to seek her sister gout, 

And in the field descried her, 
Quite starved : more evils did betide her 
Than e'er befell the poorest spider — 
Her toiling host enslaved her so, 
And made her chop, and dig, and hoe ! 

(Says one, Kept brisk and busy, 

The gout is made half easy.) 
O, when, exclaimed the sad disease, 

Will this my misery stop? 
O, sister spider, if you please, 

Our places let us swop. 

The spider gladly heard, 

And took her at her word, — 
And flourished in the cabin-lodge, 
Not. forced the tidy broom to dodge. 
The gout, selecting her abode 

With an ecclesiastic judge, 
Turned judge herself, and, by her code, 

He from his couch no more could budge. 
The salves and cataplasms Heaven knows, 
That mocked the misery of his toes ; 
While aye, without a blush, the curse 
Kept driving onward, worse and worse. 
Needless to say, the sisterhood 
Thought their exchange both wise and good. 



422 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE FLY AND THE ANT. 

A fly and ant upon a sunny bank, 
Discussed the question of their rank. 

Jupiter ! the former said, 
Can love of self so turn the head, 

That one so mean and crawling, 

And of so low a calling, 
To boast equality shall dare 
With me, the daughter of the air ? 
In palaces I am a guest, 
And even at thy glorious feast. 
Whene'er the people that adore thee 

May immolate for thee a bullock, 
I'm sure to taste the meat before thee. 

Meanw T hile this starveling, in her hillock, 
Is living on some bit of straw 
Which she has labored home to draw. 
But tell me now, my little thing, 
Do you camp ever on a king, 
An emperor, or lady ? 

1 do, and have full many a play-day 
On fairest bosom of the fair, 

And sport myself upon her hair. 
Come, now, my hearty, rack your brain 
To make a case about vour grain. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 423 

Well, have you done ? replied the an . 

You enter palaces, I grant, 

And for it get right soundly cursed. 

Of sacrifices, rich and fat, 
Your taste, quite likely, is the first ; — 

Are they the better off for that? 
You enter with the holy train ; 
So enters many a wretch profane. 
On heads of kings and asses you may squat , 
Deny your vaunting — I will not ; 
But well such impudence, I know, 
Provokes a sometimes fatal blow. 
The name in which your vanity delights 
Is owned as well by parasites, 
And spies that die by ropes — as you soon will 
By famine or by ague-chill, 

When Phoebus goes to cheer 

The other hemisphere, — 
The very time to me most dear. 

Not forced abroad to go 

Through wind, and rain, and snow, 
My summer's work I then enjoy, 
And happily my mind employ, 
From care by care exempted. 
By which this truth I leave to you, 
That by two sorts of glory we are tempted. 

The false one and the true. 
Work waits, time flies ; adieu : — 

This gabble does not fill 

My granary or till. 



424 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES- 



THE GARDENER AND HIS LORD. 

A lover of gardens, half cit and half clown, 

Possessed a nice garden beside a small town ; 

And with it a held by a live hedge enclosed, 

Where sorrel and lettuce, at random disposed, 

A little of jasmine, and much of wild thyme, 
Grew gayly, and all in their prime 
To make up Miss Peggy's bouquet, 
The grace of her bright wedding day. 

For poaching in such a nice rield — 'twas a shame; 

A foraging, cud-chewing hare was to blame. 
Whereof the good owner bore down 
This tale to the lord of the town. 

Some mischievous animal, morning and night, 

In spite of my caution, comes in for his bite. 

He laughs at my cunning-set dead-falls and snares; 

For clubbing and stoning as little he cares. 

I think him a wizard. A wizard ! the coot ! 

I'd catch him if he were a devil to boot! 

The lord said, in haste to have sport for his hounds, 

Pll clear him, 1 warrant you, out of your grounds; 

To-morrow I'll do it without any fail. 

The thing thus agreed on, all hearty and hale, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 425 

The lord and his party, at crack of the dawn, 
With hounds at their heels cantered over the lawn. 
Arrived, said the lord in his jovial mood, 
We'll breakfast with you, if your chickens are £Ood. 
That lass, my good man, I suppose is your daughter: 
No news of a son-in-law ? Any one sought her ? 
No doubt, by the score. Keep an eye on the docket, 
Eh ? Dost understand me ? T speak of the pocket. 
So saying, the daughter he graciously greeted, 
And close by his lordship he bade her be seated ; 
Avowed himself pleased with so handsome a maid, 
And then with her kerchief familiarly played, — 
Impertinent freedoms the virtuous fair 
Repelled with a modest and lady-like air, — 
So much that her father a little suspected 
The girl had already a lover elected. 
Meanwhile in the kitchen what bustling and 

cooking ! 
For what are your hams ? They are very good 

looking. 
They're kept for your lordship. I take them, said he ; 
Such elegant flitches are welcome to me. 
He breakfasted finely; — his troop, with delight, — 
Dogs, horses, and grooms of the best appetite. 
Thus he governed his host in the shape of a guest, 
Unbottled his wine, and his daughter caressed. 
To breakfast, the huddle of hunters succeeds, 
The yelping of dogs and the neighing of steeds, 
All cheering and fixing for wonderful deeds ; 
The horns and the bugles make thundering din ; 
Much wonders our gardener what it can mean. 



426 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

The worst is, his garden most wofully fares ; 
Adieu to its arbors, and borders, and squares ; 
Adieu to its succory, onions, and leeks; 
Adieu to whatever good cookery seeks. 

Beneath a great cabbage the hare was in bed, 
Was started, and shot at, and hastily fled. 
Off went the wild chase, with a terrible screech, 
And not through a hole, but a horrible breach, 
Which some one had made, at the beck of the lord, 
Wide through the poor hedge ! 'Twould have been 

quite absurd 
Should lordship not freely from garden go out, 
On horseback, attended by rabble and rout. 

Scarce suffered the gard'ner his patience to wince, 
Consoling himself — 'Twas the sport of a prince; 
While bipeds and quadrupeds served to devour, 
And trample, and waste, in the space of an hour, 
Far more than a nation of foraging hares 
Could possibly do in a hundred of years. 

Small princes, this story is true, 

When told in relation to you. 
In settling your quarrels with kings for your tools, 
You prove yourselves losers and eminent fools. 




THE ASS AND THE LITTLE DOG. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 427 



THE ASS AND THE LITTLE DUG. 

One's native talent from its course 

Cannot be turned aside by force ; 

But poorly apes the country clown 

The polished manners of the town. 

Their Maker chooses but a few 

With power of pleasing to imbue ; 

Where wisely leave it we, the mass, — 

Unlike a certain fabled ass, 
That thought to gain his master's blessing 
By jumping on him and caressing. 

What! said the donkey in his heart ; 

Ought it to be that puppy's part 
To lead his useless life 

In full companionship 
With master and his wife, 
While I must bear the whip ? 

What doth the cur a kiss to draw ? 

Forsooth, he only gives his paw ! 

If that is all there needs to please, 

I'll do the thing myself, with ease 



428 ^ FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Possessed with this bright notion,— 
His masjter sitting on his chair, 
At leisure in the open air, — 

He ambled up, with awkward motion, 
And put his talents to the proof; 
Upraised his bruised and battered hoof, 
And, with an amiable mien, 
His master patted on the chin, 
The action gracing with a word — 
The fondest bray that e'er was heard ! 
O, such caressing was there ever ? 
Or melody with such a quaver? 

Ho ! Martin ! here ! a club, a club bring! 
Out cried the master, sore offended. 

So Martin gave the ass a drubbing, — 
And so the comedy was ended. 




THE BATTLE OF THE RAJ'S AND THE WEASEU3 

The weasels live, no more than cats, 
On terms of friendship with the rats ; 
And, were it not that these 
Through doors contrive to squeeze 
Too narrow for their foes, 
The animals long-snouted 
Would long ago have routed, 
And from the planet scouted, 
Their race, as I suppose. 

One year it did betide, 

Wlien they were multiplied, 

An army took the field 

Of rats, with spear and shield, 

Whose crowded ranks led on 

A king named Ratapon. 

The weasels, too, their banner 
Unfurled in warlike manner. 



430 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

As Fame her trumpet sounds, 

The victory balanced well ; 

Enriched were fallow grounds 

Where slaughtered legions fell t 
But by said trollop's tattle, 
The loss of life in battle 
Thinned most the rattish race 
In almost every place ; 
And finally their rout 
Was total, spite of stout 
Artarpax and Psicarpax, 
And valiant Meridarpax,* 
Who, covered o'er with dust. 
Long time sustained their host 
Down sinking on the plain. 
Their efforts were in vain ; 
Fate ruled that final hour, 
(Inexorable power!). 
And so the captains fled 
As well as those they led ; 
The princes perished all. 
The undistinguished small 
In certain holes found shelter, 
In-crowding, helter skelter; 
But the nobility 
Could not go in so free, 
Who proudly had assumed 
Each one a helmet plumed ; — 

* Names of rats, invented by Homer. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 431 

We know not, truly, whether 
For honor's sake the feather, 
Or foes to strike with terror; 
But, truly, 'twas their error. 
Nor hole, nor crack, nor crevice 

Will let their head-gear in ; 
While meaner rats in bevies 

An easy passage win ; — 
So that the shafts of fate 
Do chiefly hit the great. 

A feather in the cap 
Is oft a great mishap. 
An equipage too grand 
Comes often to a stand 
Within a narrow place. 
The small, whate'er the case, 
With ease slip through a strait, 
Where larger folks must wait. 




y^>r 




THE MONKEY AND THE DOLFHIN. 

It was a custom of the Greeks 

For passengers o'er sea to carry 
Both monkeys full of tricks 

And funny dogs to make them merry. 
A ship, that had such things on deck, 
Not far from Athens, went to wreck. 
But for the dolphins, all had drowned. 

They are a philanthropic fish, 
Which fact in Pliny may be found ; — 

A better voucher who could wish ? 
They did their best on this occasion. 

A monkey even, on their plan, 
Well nigh attained his own salvation ; 

A dolphin took him for a man, 
And on his dorsal gave him place. 
So grave the silly creature's face 
That one might well have set him down 
That old musician of renown.* 



Arlon. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 433 

The fish had almost reached the land, 

When, as it happened, — what a pity! — 
He asked, Are you from Athens grand ? 

Yes ; well they know me in that city. 
If ever you have business there, 

I'll help you do it, for my kin 

The highest offices are in. 
My cousin, sir, is now lord mayor. 
The dolphin thanked him, with good grace, 
Both for himself and all his race, 
And asked, You doubtless know Piraeus, 
Where, should we come to town, you'll see 'us ; 
Piraeus ? yes, indeed I know ; 
He was my crony long ago. 
The dunce knew not the harbor's name, 
And for a man's mistook the same. 

The people are by no means few, 
Who never went ten miles from home, 
Nor know their market-town from Rome, 

Yet cackle just as if they knew. 
The dolphin laughed, and then began 
His rider's form and face to scan, 
And found himself about to save 
From fishy feasts, beneath the wave, 
A mere resemblance of a man. 
So, plunging down, he turned to find 
Some drowning wight of human kind 



434 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

THE MAN AND THE WOODEN GOD. 

A pagan kept a god of wood, — 

A sort that never hears, 

Though furnished well with ears, — 
From which he hoped for wondrous good. 
The idol cost the board of three ; 

So much enriched was he 

With vows and offerings vain, 
With bullocks garlanded and slain : 

No idol ever had, as that, 

A kitchen quite so full and fat. 
But all this worship at his shrine 
Brought not from this same block divine 
Inheritance, or hidden mine, 

Or luck at play, or any favor. 

Nay, more, if any storm whatever 
Brewed trouble here or there, 
The man was sure to have his share, 

And suffer in his purse, 
Although the god fared none the worse. 
At last, by sheer impatience bold, 
The man a crowbar seizes, 
His idol breaks in pieces, 
And finds it richly stuffed with gold. 
How's this ? Have I devoutly treated, 
Says he, your godship, to be cheated ? 
Now leave my house, and go your way, 
And search for altars where you may. 
You're like those natures, dull and gross, 
From which comes nothing but by blows. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 435 



THE TWO BULLS AND THE FROG. 



Two bulls engaged in shocking battle, 

Both for a certain heifer's sake, 
And lordship over certain cattle; 
A frog began to groan and quake. 
But what is this to you ? 
Inquired another of the croaking crew. 
Why, sister, don't you see, 
The end of this will be, 
That one of these big brutes will yield, 
And then be exiled from the field ? 
No more permitted on the grass to feed, 
He'll forage, through our marsh, on rush and reed ; 
And, while he eats or chews the cud, 
Will trample on us in the mud. 
Alas ! to think how frogs must suffer 
By means of this proud lady heifer ! 
This fear was not without good sense. 
One bull was beat, and much to their expense ; 
For, quick retreating to their reedy bower, 
He trod on twenty of them in an hour. 

Of little folks it oft has been the fate 
To suffer for the follies of the great. 



436 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE FROG AND THE RAT. 

They to bamboozle are inclined, 

Saith Merlin, who bamboozled are. 
The word, though rather unrefined, 
Has jet an energy we ill can spare ; 
So by its aid I introduce my tale. 
A well-fed rat, rotund and hale, 
Not knowing either Fast or Lent, 
Disporting round a frog-pond went. 
A frog approached, and, with a friendly greeting, 

Invited him to see her at her home, 
And pledged a dinner worth his eating, — 

To which the rat was nothing loath to come 
Of words persuasive there was little need : 
She spoke, however, of a grateful bath ; 
Of sports and curious wonders on their path; 
Of rarities of flower, and rush, and reed : 
One day he would recount with glee 
To his assembled progeny 
The various beauties of these places, 
The customs of the various races, 
And laws that sway the realms aquatic, 
(She did not mean the hydrostatic !) 
One thing alone the rat perplexed, — 
He was but moderate as a swimmer. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 437 

The frog this matter nicely fixed 
By kindly lending him her 

Long paw, which with a rush she tied 

To his ; and off they started, side by side. 

Arrived upon the lakelet's brink, 

There was but little time to think. 
The frog leaped in, and almost brought her 
Bound guest to land beneath the water. 

Perfidious breach of law and right ! 
She meant to have a supper warm 
Out of his sleek and dainty form. 

Already did her appetite 

Dwell on the morsel with delight. 

The gods, in anguish, he invokes ; 

His faithless hostess rudely mocks; 

He struggles up, she struggles down. 
A kite, that hovers in the air, 
Inspecting every thing with care, 

Now spies the rat belike to drown, 
And, with a rapid wing, 
Upbears the wretched thing, 

The frog, too, dangling by the string ! 

The joy of such a double haul 

Was to the hungry kite not small. 

It gave him all that he could wish — 

A double meal of flesh and fish. 

The best contrived deceit 

Can hurt its own contriver, 
And perfidy doth often cheat 

Its author's purse of every stiver. 



438 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE EARS OF THE HARE. 

Some beast with horns did gore 

The lion : and that sovereign dread, 
Resolved to suffer so no more, 

Straight banished from his realm, 'tis said, 
All sorts of beasts with horns — 
Ptams, bulls, goats, stags, and unicorns. 
Such brutes all promptly fled. 
A hare, the shadow of his ears perceiving, 

Could hardly help believing 
That some vile spy for horns would take them, 
And food for accusation make them. 
Adieu, said he, my neighbor cricket ; 
I take my foreign ticket. 
My ears, should I stay here, 
Will turn to horns, I fear ; 
And were they shorter than a bird's, 
I fear the effect of words. 
These horns ! the cricket answered ; why, 
God made them ears ; who can deny ? 
i r es, said the coward, still they'll make them horns, 
And horns, perhaps, of unicorns! 

In vain shall I protest, 
With all the learning of the schools; 
My reasons they will send to rest 
In th' Hospital of Fools. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 439 



THE ANIMALS SENDING TRIBUTE TO ALEXANDER 

A fable flourished with antiquity 
Whose meaning 1 could never clearly see. 
Kind reader, draw the moral if you're able ; 
I give you here the naked fable. 
Fame having bruited that a great commander, 
A son of Jove, a certain Alexander, 
Resolved to leave nought free on this our ball, 
Had to his footstool gravely summoned all 
Men, quadrupeds, and nullipeds, together 
With all the bird-republics, every feather. — 
The goddess of the hundred mouths, I say, 
Thus having spread dismay, 
By widely publishing abroad 
This mandate of the demigod, 
The animals, and all that do obey 
Their appetite alone, mistrusted now 
That to another sceptre they must bow 
Far in the desert met their various races, 
All gathering from their hiding-places. 
Discussed was many a notion. 
At last, it was resolved, on motion, 



440 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To pacify the conquering banner, 

By sending homage in, and tribute. 
With both the homage and its manner 

They charged the monkey, as a glib brute ; 
And, lest the chap should too much chatter, 
In black on white they wrote the matter. 

Nought but the tribute served to fash, 

As that must needs be paid in cash. 

A prince, who chanced a mine to own, 

At last, obliged them with a loan. 
The mule and ass, to bear the treasure, 
Their service tendered, full of pleasure; 
And then the caravan was none the worse, 
Assisted by the camel and the horse. 

Forthwith proceeded all the four 

Behind the new ambassador, 
And saw, erelong, within a narrow place, 
Monseigneur Lion's quite unwelcome face. 

Well met, and all in time, said he ; 

Myself your fellow-traveller will be. 

I went my tribute by itself to bear ; 

And though 'tis light, I well might spare 
The unaccustomed load. 

Take each a quarter, if you please, 

And I will guard you on the road, 
More free and at my ease — 

In better plight, you understand, 

To fight with any robber band. 
A lion to refuse, the fact is, 
Is not a very usual practice: 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 441 

So in he comes, for better and for worse 

Whatever he demands is done, 

And, spite of Jove's heroic son, 
He fattens freely from the public purse. 

While wending on their way, 

They found a spot, one day, 
With waters hemmed, of crystal sheen ; 
Its carpet, flower-besprinkled green; 

Where pastured at their ease 
Both flocks of sheep and dainty heifers, 

And played the cooling breeze — 
The native land of all the zephyrs. 

No sooner is the lion there 
Than of some sickness he complains. 

Says he, You on your mission fare. 
A fever, with its thirst and pains, 
Dries up my blood, and bakes my brains; 

And I must search some herb, 

Its fatal power to curb. 
For you, there is no time to waste ; 
Pay me my money, and make haste. 

The treasures were unbound, 

And placed upon the ground. 
Then, with a look which testified 
His royal joy, the lion cried, 
My coins, good heavens, have multiplied ! 
And see the young ones of the gold 
As big already as the old ! 
The increase belongs to me, no doubt , 
Ana eagerlv he took it out! 



442 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

'Twas little staid beneath the lid ; 
The wonder was that any did. 
Confounded were the monkey and his suite, 
And, dumb with fear, betook them to their way, 
And bore complaint to Jove's great son, they say — 
Complaint without a reason meet ; 
For what could he ? Though a celestial scion, 
He could but fight, as lion versus lion. 

When corsairs battle, Turk with Turk, 
They're not about their proper work. 



THE ASS CARRYING RELICS. 

An ass, with relics for his load, 
Supposed the worship on the road 

Meant for himself alone, 
And took on lofty airs, 

Receiving as his own, 

The incense and the prayers. 
Some one, who saw his great mistake, 
Cried, Master Donkey, do not make 

Yourself so big a fool. 
Not you they worship, but. your pack ; 
They praise the idols on your back, 

And count yourself a paltry tool. 

'Tis thus a brainless magistrate 
Is honored for his robe of state. 



^jxiums »ai 



THE GRASSHOPPER AND THE ANT. 




- *:\, 



grasshopper gay 
Sang the summer away, 
And found herself poor 
By the winter's first roar. 
Of meat or of bread, 
Not a morsel she had ; 
So a begging she went, 
To her neighbor the ant, 



444 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



For the loan of some wheat, 

Which would serve her to eat 
Till the season came round. 

I will pay you, she saith, 

On an animal's faith. 
Double weight in the pound 
Ere the harvest be bound. 

The ant is a friend 

(And here she might mend) 

Little given to lend. 
How spent you the summer ? 

Quoth she, looking shame 

At the borrowing dame. 
Night and day to each comer 

I sang, if you please. 

You sang ! I'm at ease ; 
For 'tis plain at a glance, 
Now, ma'am, you must dance. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 445 



THE SICK STAG. 

A stag, where stags abounded, 
Fell sick, and was surrounded 
Forthwith by comrades kind, 
All pressing to assist, 
Or see, their friend, at least, 
And ease his anxious mind — 
An irksome multitude. 
Ah, sirs ! the sick was fain to cry, 
Pray leave me here to die, 

As others do, in solitude. 
Pray, let your kind attentions cease, 
Till death my spirit shall release. 
But comforters are not so sent : 
On duty sad full long intent, 
When Heaven pleased, they went, 
But not without a friendly glass ; 
That is to say, they cropped the grass 
And leaves which in that quarter grew, 
From which the sick his pittance drew. 
By kindness thus compelled to fast, 
He died for want of food at last. 
The men take off no trifling dole 
Who heal the body or the soul. 
Alas the times ! do what we will, 
They have their payment, cure or kill. 



446 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE WOLF, THE GOAT, AND THE KID. 

As went the goat her pendent dugs to fill, 
And browse the herbage of a distant hill, 
She latched her door, and bid, 
With matron care, her kid ; — 
My daughter, as you live, 
This portal don't undo 
To any creature who 
This watchword does not give : 
" Deuce take the wolf and all his race ! M 
The wolf was passing near the place 
By chance, and heard the words with pleasure, 
And laid them up as useful treasure ; 
And, hardly need we mention, 
Escaped the goat's attention. 
No sooner did he see 
The matron off, than he, 
With hypocritic tone and face, 
Cried out before the place, 
" Deuce take the wolf and all his race ! " 



LA FONTAINE S FABLES. 447 

Not doubting thus to gain admission. 
The kid, not void of all suspicion, 
Peered through a crack, and cried, 

Show me white paw before 

You ask me to undo the door. 
The wolf could not, if he had died, 

For wolves have no connection 

With paws of that complexion. 
So, much surprised, our gormandizer 
Retired to fast till he was wiser. 
How would the kid have been undone 

Had she but trusted to the word 

The wolf by chance had overheard ! 
Two sureties better are than one ; 

And caution's worth its cost, 

Though sometimes seeming lost. 




448 ^ A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE WOLF, THE MOTHER, AND HER CHILD. 

This wolf another brings to mind, 

Who found dame Fortune more unkind, 
In that the greedy, pirate sinner, 
Was balked of life as well as dinner. 

As saith our tale, a villager 

Dwelt in a by, unguarded place ; 

There, hungry, watched our pillager 
For luck and chance to mend his case. 

For there his thievish eyes had seen 

All sorts of game go out and in — 

Nice sucking calves, and lambs, and sheep , 
And turkeys by the regiment, 
With steps so proud, and necks so bent, 

They'd make a daintier glutton weep. 

The thief at length began to tire 

Of being gnawed by vain desire. 

Just then a child set up a cry : 

Be still, the mother said, or I 

Will throw you to the wolf, you brat ! 

Ha, ha ! thought he, what talk is that ? 

The gods be thanked for luck so good ! 

And ready at the door he stood, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 449 

When soothingly the mother said, 

Now cry no more, my little dear; 

That naughty wolf, if he comes here, 
Your dear papa shall kill him dead. 
Humph ! cried the veteran mutton-eater. 

Now this, now that ? Now hot, now cool ? 
Is this the way they change their metre ? 

' And do they take me for a fool ? 
Some day, a nutting in the wood, 
That young one yet shall be my food. 
But little time has he to dote 

On such a feast ; the dogs rush out 
And seize the caitiff by the throat ; 

And country ditchers, thick and stout, 
With rustic spears and forks of iron, 
The hapless animal environ. 
What brought you here, old head? cried one, 

He told it all, as I have done. 
Why, bless my soul ! the frantic mother said,— 

You, villain, eat my little son ! 
And did I nurse the darling boy, 
Your fiendish appetite to cloy ? 
With that they knocked him on the head. 
His feet and scalp they bore to town, 

To grace the seigneur's hall, 

Where, pinned against the wall, 
This verse completed his renown : — ' 
" Ye honest wolves, believe not all 
That mothers say, when children squall ! " 



/450 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE BITCH ANJ) HER FRIEND. 



A bitch, that felt her time approaching. 

And had no place for parturition, 
Went to a female friend, and, broaching 
Her delicate condition, 
Got leave herself to shut 
Within the other's hut. 
At proper time the lender came 
Her little premises to claim. 
The bitch crawled meekly to the door, 
And humbly begged a fortnight more. 
Her little pups, she said, could hardly walk. 
In short, the lender yielded to her talk. 
The second term expired, the friend had come 
To take possession of her house and home*. 
The bitch, this time, as if she would have bit her 
Replied, I'm ready, madam, with my litter, 
To go when you can turn me out. 
Her pups, you see, were fierce and stout. 
The creditor, from whom a villain borrows, 
Will fewer shillings get again than sorrows. 
If you have trusted people of this sort, 
You'll have to plead, and dun, and fight; in short, 
If in your house you let one step a foot, 
He'll surely step the other in to boot. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 451 



THE OLD MAN AND HIS SONS. 

All power is feeble with dissension : 
For this I quote the Phrygian slave. 

If aught J add to his invention, 
It is our manners to engrave, 

And not from any envious wishes ; — 

I'm not so foolishly ambitious. 

Phaedrus enriches oft his story, 

In quest — I doubt it not — of glory ; 

Such thoughts were idle in my breast. 
An aged man, near going to his rest, 
His gathered sons thus solemnly addressed : — 
To break this bunch of arrows you may try ; 
And, first, the string that binds them I untie. 
The eldest, having tried with might and main, 

Exclaimed, This bundle I resign 

To muscles sturdier than mine. 
The second tried, and bowed himself in vain. 
The youngest took them with the like success. 
All were obliged their weakness to confess. 
Unharmed the arrows passed from son to son ; 
Of all they did not break a single one. 
Weak fellows! said their sire, I now must show 
What in the case my feeble strength can do. 



452 -L^A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

They laughed, and thought their father but in joke, 
Till, one by one, they saw the arrows broke. 
See concord's power, replied the sire ; as long 
As you in love agree, you will be strong. 
I go, my sons, to join our fathers good ; 
Now promise me to live as brothers should, 
And soothe by this your dying father's fears. 
Each strictly promised with a flood of tears. 
Their father took them by the hand, and died ; 
And soon the virtue of their vows was tried. 

Their sire had left a large estate 

Involved in lawsuits intricate. 

Here seized a creditor, and there 

A neighbor levied for a share. 

At first the trio nobly bore 

The brunt of all this legal war. 

But short their friendship as 'twas rare. 
Whom blood had joined — and small the wonder! — 
The force of interest drove asunder; 

And, as is wont in such affairs, 

Ambition, envy, were coheirs. 

In parceling their sire's estate, 

They quarrel, quibble, litigate, 

Each aiming to supplant the other. 

The judge, by turns, condemns each brother. 

Their creditors make new assault, 

Some pleading error, some default. 

The sundered brothers disagree, 

lor counsel one, have counsels three. 
All lose their wealth ; and now their sorrows 
Bring fresh to mind those broken arrows. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 453 



THE EYE OF THE MASTER. 

A stag took refuge from the chase 

Among the oxen of a stable. 

Who counseled him, as saith the fable, 
To seek at once some safer place. 
My brothers, said the fugitive, 
Betray me not, and, as I live, 
The richest pasture I will show, 
That e'er was grazed on, high or low ; 
Your kindness you will not regret, 
For well some day I'll pay the debt. 

The oxen promised secrecy. 
Down crouched the stag, and breathed more free. 
At eventide they brought fresh hay, 
As was their custom day by day; 
And often came the servants near, 
As did indeed the overseer, 
But with so little thought or care, 
That neither horns, nor hide, nor hair 
Revealed to them the stag was there. 
Already thanked the wild-wood stranger 
The oxen for their treatment kind, 
And there to wait made up his mind, 
Till he mi°;ht issue free from danger. 



454 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Replied an ox, that chewed the cud, 
Your case looks fairly in the bud ; 
But then I fear the reason why 
Is, that the man of sharpest eye 
Hath not yet come his look to take. 
I dread his coming, for your sake ; 
Your boasting may be premature : 
Till then, poor stag, you're not secure. 
'Twas but a little while before 
The careful master oped the door. 

How's this, my boys ? said he ; 
These empty racks will never do. 
Go, change this dirty litter too. 

More care than this I want to see 

Of oxen that belong to me. 
Well, Jim, my boy, you're young and stout: 
What would it cost to clear these cobwebs out 1 
And put these yokes, and names, and traces, 
All as they should be, in their places ? 
Thus looking round, he came to see 
One head he did not usually. 

The stag is found ; his foes 

Deal heavily their blows. 

Down sinks he in the strife ; 

No tears can save his life. 
They slay, and dress, and salt the beast, 
And cook his flesh in many a feast, 
And many a neighbor gets a taste. 

As Phsedrus says it, pithily, 

The master's is the eye to see : — 

I add the lover's, as for me. 




THE LARK AND HER YOUNG ONES, WITH THE 
OWNER OF A FIELD. 

" Depend upon yourself alone, " 

Has to a common proverb grown. 
'Tis thus confirmed in iEsop's way : — 
The larks to build their nests are seen 
Among the wheat, crops young and green ; 

That is to say, 
What time all things, dame Nature heeding, 
Betake themselves to love and breeding — 
The monstrous whales and sharks 
Beneath the briny flood, 
The tigers in the wood, 
And in the fields, the larks. 
One she, however, of these last, 
Found more than half the spring-time past 
Without the taste of spring-time pleasures ; 
When firmly she set up her will 
That she would be a mother still, 
And resolutely took her measures ; — 
First, got herself by Hymen matched ; 
Then built her nest, laid, sat, and hatched 
All went as well as such things could. 
The wheat crop ripening ere the brood 
Were strong enough to take their flight, 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Aware how perilous their plight, 

The lark went out to search for food, 
And told her young to listen well, 
And keep a constant sentinel. 
The owner of this field, said she, 
Will come, I know, his grain to see. 
Hear all he says ; we little birds 
Must shape our conduct by his words. 

No sooner was the lark away, 
Than came the owner with his son. 
This wheat is ripe, said he : now run 
And give our friends a call 
To bring their sickles all, 
• And help us, great and small, 

To-morrow, at the break of day. 
The lark, returning, found no harm, 
Except her nest in wild alarm. 
Says one, We heard the owner say, 

Go, give our friends a call 
To help, to-morrow, break of day. 

Replied the lark, If that is all, 
We need not be in any fear, 
But only keep an open ear. 
As gay as larks, now eat your victuals. — 
They ate and slept — the great and littles. 
The dawn arrives, but not the friends ; 
The lark soars up, the owner wends 
His usual round to view his land. 
This grain, says he, ought not. to stand. 
Our friends do wrong ; and so does he 
Who trusts that friends will friendly be. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 457 

My son, go call our kith and kin 
To help us get our harvest in. 

This second order made 
The little larks still more afraid. 
He sent for kindred, mother, by his son ; 
The work will now, indeed, be done. 

No, darlings ; go to sleep ; 

Our lowly nest we'll keep. 
With reason said, for kindred there came none 
Thus, tired of expectation vain, 
Once more the owner viewed his grain. 
My son, said he, we're surely fools 
To wait for other people's tools ; 
As if one might, for love or pelf, 
Have friends more faithful than himself! 
Engrave this lesson deep, my son. 
And know you now what must be done ? 
We must ourselves our sickles bring, 
And, while the larks their matins sing, 
Begin the work ; and, on this plan, 
Get in our harvest as we can. 
This plan the lark no sooner knew, 
Than, Now's the time, she said, my chicks; 
And, taking little time to fix, 

Away they flew ; 
All, fluttering, soaring, often grounding, 
Decamped without a trumpet sounding. 



THE LITTLE FISH AND THE FISHER. 



A little fish will grow, 

If life be spared, a great ; 
But jet to let him go, 

And for his growing wait, 
May not be very wise, 

As 'tis not sure your bait 
Will catch him when of size. 
Upon a river bank, a fisher took 
A tiny troutling from his hook. 
Said he, 'Twill serve to count, at least, 
As the beginning of my feast ; 
And so I'll put it with the rest. 
This little fish, thus caught, 
His clemency besought. 
What will your honor do with me ? 
I'm not a mouthful, as you see. 
Pray let me grow to be a trout, 
And then come here and fish me out. 
Some alderman, who likes things nice, 
Will buy me then at any price. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 459 

But now, a hundred such you'll have to fish, 
To make a single good-for-nothing dish. 
Well, well, be it so, replied the fisher : 
My little fish, who play the preacher, 
The frying-pan must be your lot, 
Although, no doubt, you like it not : 
1 fry the fry that can be got. 

in some things, men of sense 
Prefer the present to the future tense. 



THE HEN WITH THE GOLDEN FGGS. 

How avarice loseth all, 

By striving all to gain, 
1 need no witness call 

But him whose thrifty hen, 
As by the fable we are told, 
Laid every day an egg of gold. 
She hath a treasure in her body, 
Bethinks the avaricious noddy. 
He kills and opens — vexed to find 
All things like hens of common kind. 
Thus spoiled the source of all his riches, 
To misers he a lesson teaches. 

In these last changes of the moon, 

How often doth one see 

Men made as poor as he 
By force of getting rich too soon ! 



THE OLD WOMAN AND HER TWO SERVANTS 

A beldam kept two spinning maids, 
Who plied so handily their trades, 
Those spinning sisters down below 
Were bunglers when compared with these. 

No care did this old woman know, 
But giving tasks as she might please. 
No sooner did the god of day 

His glorious locks enkindle, 
Than both the wheels began to play. 

And from each whirling spindle 
Forth danced the thread right merrily, 
And back was coiled unceasingly. . 
Soon as the dawn, I say, its tresses showed, 
A graceless cock, most punctual, crowed. 
The beldam roused, more graceless yet, 

In greasy petticoat bedight, 

Struck up her farthing light, 
And then forthwith the bed beset, 
Where deeply, blessedly did snore 
Those two maid-servants, tired and poor. 




THE FOWL WITH THE GOLDEN EGGS. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 461 

One oped an eye, an arm one stretched, 
And both their breath most sadly fetched, 
This threat concealing in the sigh — 
That cursed cock shall surely die. 
And so he did ; — they cut his throat, 
And put to sleep his rousing note. 
And yet this murder mended not 
The cruel hardship of their lot; 
For now the twain were scarce in bed 
Before they heard the summons dread. 
The beldam, full of apprehension 
Lest oversleep should cause detention, 
Ran like a goblin through her mansion. 

Thus often, when one thinks 
To clear himself from ill, 

His effort only sinks 
Him in the deeper still. 

The beldam, acting for the cock, 

Was Scylla for Chary bdis' rock. 




462 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE FOX WITH HIS TAIL CUT OFF. 

A cunning old fox, of plundering habits, 
Great crauncher of fowls, great catcher of rabbits, 
Whom none of his sort had caught in a nap, 
Was finally caught in somebody's trap. 
By luck he escaped, not wholly and hale, 
For the price of his luck was the loss of his tail. 
Escaped in this way, to save his disgrace, 
He thought to get others in similar case. 
One day that the foxes in council were met, 
Why wear we, said he, this cumbering weight, 
Which sweeps in the dirt wherever it goes? 
Pray tell me its use, if any one knows. 
If the council will take my advice, 
We shall dock off our tails in a trice. 
Your advice may be good, said one on the ground , 
But, ere I reply, pray turn yourself round ; 
Whereat such a shout from the council was heard, 
Poor bob-tail, confounded, could say not a word. 
To urge the reform would have wasted his breath . 
Long tails were the mode till the day of his death 




^x. 



DISCORD. 

The goddess Discord, having made, on high, 
Among the gods a general grapple, 
And thence a lawsuit, for an apple, 
Was turned out, bag and baggage, from the sky. 
The animal called man, with open arms, 
Received the goddess of such naughty charms,*^ 
Herself and Whether-or-no, her brother, 
With Thine-and-mine, her stingy mother. 
In this, the lower universe, 
Our hemisphere she chose to curse : 
For reasons good she did not please 
To visit our antipodes — 
Folks rude and savage like the beasts, 
Who, wedding free from forms and priests, 
In simple tent or leafy bower, 
Make little work for such a power. 
That she might know exactly where 
Her direful aid was in demand, 
Renown flew courier through the land, 
Reporting each dispute with care ; 
Then she, outrunning Peace, was quickly there ; 



464 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



And if she found a spark of ire, 
Was sure to blow it to a fire. 
At length, Renown got out of patience 
At random hurrying o'er the nations, 
And, not without good reason, thought 
A goddess, like her mistress, ought 
To have some fixed and certain home, 
To which her customers might come 
For now they often searched in vain. 
With due location, it was plain 
She might accomplish vastly more, 
And more in season than before. 
To find, howe'er, the right facilities, 
Was harder then than now it is ; 
For then there were no nunneries. 

So, Hymen's inn at last assigned, 
Thence lodged the goddess to her mind. 





THE FOX WITH HIS TAIL CUT OFF. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 465 



THE HORSE AND THE WOLF. 

A wolf, what time the thawing breeze 
Renews the life of plants and trees, 
And beasts go forth from winter lair 
To seek abroad their various fare, — 
A wolf, I say, about those days, 
In sharp lookout for means and ways, 
Espied a horse turned out to graze. 
His joy the reader may opine. 
Once got, said he, this game were fine ; 
But if a sheep, 'twere sooner mine. 
I can't proceed my usual way ; 
Some trick must now be put in play. 
This said, 

He came with measured tread, 
As if a healer of disease, — 
Some pupil of Hippocrates, — 
And told the horse, with learned verbs, 
He knew the power of roots and herbs, - 
Whatever grew about those borders, — 

And, not at all to flatter 

Himself in such a matter, 

Could Cure of all disorders. 



466 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

If he, Sir Horse, would not conceal 

The symptoms of his case, 
He, Doctor Wolf, would gratis heal ; 
For that to feed in such a place, 

And run about untied, 
Was proof, itself, of some disease, 

As all the books decide. 
I have, good doctor, if you please, 
Replied the horse, as I presume, 
Beneath my foot an aposthume. 
My son, replied the learned leech, 
That part, as all our authors teach, 
Is strikingly susceptible 
Of ills which make acceptable 
What you may also have from me — 
The aid of skilful surgery ; 
Which noble art, the fact is, 
For horses of the blood I practise. 
The fellow, with this talk sublime, 
Watched for a snap the fitting time. 
Meanwhile, suspicious of some trick, 

The wary patient nearer draws, 
And gives his doctor such a kick, 

As makes a chowder of his jaws. 
Exclaimed the wolf, in sorry plight, 
I own those heels have served me right. 

I erred to quit my trade, 
As I will not in future. 

Me nature surely made 
For nothing but a butcher. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 467 



THE PLOUGHMAN AND HIS SONS. 

The farmer's patient care and toil 
Are oftener wanting than the soil. 

A wealthy ploughman, drawing near his end, 
Called in his sons, apart from every friend, 
And said, When of your sire bereft, 
The heritage our fathers left 
Guard well, nor sell a single field. 
A treasure in it is concealed : 
The place, precisely, I don't know, 
But industry will serve to show. 
The harvest past, Time's forelock take, 
And search with plough, and spade, and rake 
Turn over every inch of sod, 
Nor leave unsearched a single clod. 
The father died. The sons — and not in vain — 
Turned o'er the soil, and o'er again ; 
That year their acres bore 
More grain than e'er before. 
Though hidden money found they none, 
Yet had their father wisely done, 
To show, by such a measure, 
That toil itself is treasure. 



THE HARE AND THE PARTRIDGE. 

Beware how you deride 
The exiles from life's sunny side : 

To you is little known 
How soon their case may be your own. 
On this, sage iEsop gives a tale or two, 
As in my verses I propose to do. 
A field in common share 
A partridge and a hare, 
And live in peaceful state, 
Till, woful to relate, 
The hunters' mingled cry 
Compels the hare to fly. 
He hurries to his fort, 
And spoils almost the sport 
By faulting every hound 
That yelps upon the ground. 
At last his reeking heat 
Betrays his snug retreat. 

Old Tray, with philosophic nose, 

SnufTs carefully, and grows 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

So certain, that he cries, 

The hare is here : bow, wow ! 
And veteran Ranger now, — 
The dog that never lies, — 
The hare is gone, replies. 
Alas ! poor, wretched hare, 
Back comes he to his lair, 
To meet destruction there ! 
The partridge, void of fear, 
Begins her friend to jeer: — 
You bragged of being fleet ; 
How serve you, now, jour feet ? 
Scarce has she ceased to speak, — 
The laugh yet in her beak, — 
When comes her turn to die. 
From which she could not fly. 
She thought her wings, indeed, 
Enough for every need ; 
But, in her laugh and talk, 
Forgot the cruel hawk i 




470 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE EAGLE AND THE OWL. 

The eagle and the owl, resolved to cease 
Their war, embraced in pledge of peace. 
On faith of king, on faith of owl, they swore 
That they would eat each other's chicks no moie. 

But know you mine ? said Wisdom's bird. 
Not I, indeed, the eagle cried. 
The worse for that, the owl replied : 

I fear your oath 's a useless word ; 
I fear that you, as king, will not 
Consider duly who or what : 

You kings and gods, of what 's before ye, 

Are apt to make one category. 

Adieu, my young, if you should ment them ! 

Describe them, then, or let me greet them, 

And, on my life, I will not eat them, 

The eagle said. The owl replied, 

My little ones, I say with pride, 

For grace of form cannot be matched, — 

The prettiest birds that e'er were hatched * 

By this you cannot fail to know them ; 

? Tis needless, therefore, that I show them. 




THE EAGLE AND THE OWL. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 471 

Pray don't forget, but keep this mark in view, 
Lest fate should eurse my happy nest by you. 
At length God gives the owl a set of heirs, 
And while at early eve abroad he fares, 
In quest of birds and mice for food, 
Our eagle haply spies the brood, 
As on some craggy rock they sprawl, 
Or nestle in some ruined wall, 
(But which it matters not at all,) 
And thinks them ugly little frights, 
Grim, sad, with voice like shrieking sprites. 
These chicks, says he, with looks almost infernal, 
Can't be the darlings of our friend nocturnal. 
I'll sup of them. And so he did, not slightly : — 
He never sups, if he can help it, lightly. 
The owl returned ; and, sad, he found 
Nought left but claws upon the ground. 
He prayed the gods above and gods below 
To smite the brigand who had caused his woe. 
Quoth one, On you alone the blame must fall ; 
Or rather on the law of nature, 
Which wills that every earthly creature 
Shall think its like the loveliest of all. 
You told the eagle of your young ones' graces ; 
You gave the picture of their faces: — 
Had it of likeness any traces? 




THE LION GOING TO WAK. 

The lion had an enterprise in hand ; 

Held a war-council, sent his provost-marshal, 
And gave the animals a call impartial — 

Each, in his way, to serve his high command. 
The elephant should carry on his back 
The tools of war, the mighty public pack, 
And fight in elephantine way and form ; 
The bear should hold himself prepared to storm ; 
The fox all secret stratagems should lix ; 
The monkey should amuse the foe by tricks. 
Dismiss, said one, the blockhead asses, 

And hares, too cowardly and fleet. 
No, said the king ; I use all classes ; 

Without their aid my force were incomplete. 
The ass shall be our trumpeter, to scare 
Our enemy. And then the nimble hare 
Our royal bulletins shall homeward bear. 

A monarch provident and wise 
Will hold his subjects all of consequence, 

And know in each what talent lies. 
There's nothing useless to a man of sense. 



THE BEAR AND THE TWO COMPANIONS. 

Two fellows, needing funds, and bold, 
A bearskin to a furrier sold, 
Of which the bear was living still, 
But which they presently would kill — 

At least, they said they would. 

Afld, if their word was good, 
It was a king of bears — an Ursa Major — 

The biggest bear beneath the sun. 
Its skin, the chaps would wager, 

Was cheap at double cost ; 

'Twould make one laugh at frost — 

And make two robes as well as one. 
Old Dindenaut,* in sheep who dealt, 
Less prized his sheep, than they their pelt — 

(In their account 'twas theirs, 

But in his own, the bear's.) 
By bargain struck upon the skin, 
Two days at most must bring it in. 
I'orth went the two. More easy found than got, 
The bear came growling at them on the trot. 



* Vide Rabelais, Pantagrucl, Book IV. Chap. viii. 



474 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Behold our dealers both confounded, 

As if by thunderbolt astounded ! 
Their bargain vanished suddenly in air; 
For who could plead his interest with a bear ? 

One of the friends sprung up a tree ; 

The other, cold as ice could be, 
Fell on his face, feigned death, 
And closely held his breath, — 

He having somewhere heard it said 

The bear ne'er preys upon the dead. 

Sir Bear, sad blockhead, was deceived — 

The prostrate man a corpse believed; 

But, half suspecting some deceit, 

He feels and snuffs from head to fe^t, 
And in the nostrils blows. 

The body 's surely dead, he thinks. 

I'll leave it, says he, for it stinks; 
And off into the woods he goes. 

The other dealer, from his tree 

Descending cautiously, to see 

His comrade lying in the dirt, 
Consoling, says, It is a wonder 
That, by the monster forced asunder, 

We're, after all, more scared than hurt. 

But, addeth he, what of the creature's skin ? 

He held his muzzle very near ; 

What did he whisper in your ear ? 

He gave this caution, — "Never dare 

Again to sell the skin of bear 

Its owner has not ceased to wear." 



PHOEBUS AND BOREAS. 

Old Boreas and the sun, one day, 
Espied a traveller on his way, 
Whose dress did happily provide 
Against whatever might betide. 
The time was autumn, when, indeed, 
All prudent travellers take heed. 
The rains that then the sunshine dash, 
And Iris with her splendid sash, 
Warn one who does not like to soak 
To wear abroad a good thick cloak. 
Our man was therefore well bedight 
With double mantle, strong and tight. 
This fellow, said the wind, has meant 
To guard from every ill event ; 
But little does he wot that I 

Can blow him such a blast 

That, not a button fast, 
His cloak shall cleave the sky. 
Come, here's a pleasant game, Sir Sun ! 

Wilt play ? Said Phoebus, Doue ! 

We'll bet between us here 

Which first will take the gear 

From off this cavalier. 



476 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

Begin, and shut away 
The brightness of my ray. 
Enough. Our blower, on the bet, 
Swelled out his pursy form 
With all the stuff for storm — 
The thunder, hail, and drenching wet, 
And all the fury he could muster ; 
Then, with a very demon's bluster, 
He whistled, whirled, and splashed, 
And down the torrents dashed, 
Full many a roof uptearing 

He never did before, 
Full many a vessel bearing 

To wreck upon the shore, — 
And all to doff a single cloak. 
But vain the furious stroke ; 
The traveller was stout, 
And kept the tempest out, 
Defied the hurricane, 
Defied the pelting rain ; 
And as the fiercer roared the blast, 
His cloak the tighter held he fast. 
The sun broke out, to win the bet ; 
He caused the clouds to disappear, 
Refreshed and warmed the cavalier, 
And through his mantle made him sweat, 
Till off it came, of course, 
In less than half an hour ; 
And yet the sun saved half his power. — 
So much doth mildness more than force. 



fUPITER AND THE FARMER. 



Of yore, a farm had Jupiter to rent ; 
To advertise it, Mercury was sent. 
The farmers, far and near, 
Flocked round, the terms to hear : 
And, calling to their aid 
The various tricks of trade, 
One said, 'twas rash a farm to hire 
Which would so much expense require ; 
Another, that, do what you would, 
The farm would still be far from good. 
While thus, in market style, its faults were told 
One of the crowd, less wise than bold, 

Would give so much, on this condition, 
That Jove would yield him altogether 
The choice and making of his weather, — 

That, instantly on his decision, 
His various crops should feel the power 
Of heat or cold, of sun or shower. 



478 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



Jove yields. The bargain closed, our man 

Rains, blows, and takes the care 

Of all the changes of the air, 
On his peculiar, private plan. 

His nearest neighbors felt it not, 

And all the better was their lot. 

Their year w T as good, by grace divine ; 

The grain was rich, and full the vine. 

The renter, failing altogether, 
The next year made quite different weather; 

And yet the fruit of all his labors 

Was far inferior to his neighbors'. 
What better could he do ? To Heaven 

He owns at last his want of sense, 
And so is graciously forgiven. 

Hence we conclude that Providence 
Knows better what we need 
Than we ourselves, indeed. 




LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 479 



THE STAG SEEING HIMSELF IN THE WATER. 

Beside a placid, crystal flood, 
A stag admired the branching wood 
That high upon his forehead stood, 
But gave his Maker little thanks 
For what he called his spindle shanks. 
What limbs are these for such a head ! — 
So mean and slim ! with grief he said. 
My glorious head o'ertops 
The branches of the copse ; 
My legs are my disgrace. 
As thus he talked, a bloodhound gave him chase. 
To save his life he flew 
Where forests thickest grew. 
His horns, — pernicious ornament! — 
Arresting him where'er he went, 
Did unavailing render 

What else, in such a strife, 
Had saved his precious life — 
His legs, as fleet as slender. 
Obliged to yield, he cursed the gear 
Which nature gave him every year. 

Too much the beautiful we prize ; 
The useful, often, we despise : 
Yet oft, as happened to the stag, 
The former doth to ruin drag. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 
THE SATYR AND THE TRAVELLER. 

Within a savage forest grot 

A satyr and his chips 
Were taking down their porridge hot : 

Their cups were at their lips. 

You might have seen, in mossy den, 
Himself, his wife, and brood. 

They had not tailor-clothes, like men, 
But appetites as good. 

In came a traveller, benighted, 

All hungry, cold, and wet ; 
Who heard himself to eat invited 

With nothing like regret. 

He did not give his host the pain 

His asking to repeat ; 
But first he blew with might and main 

To give his fingers heat. 

Then in his steaming porridge dish 

He delicately blew. 
The wondering satyr said, 1 wish 

The use of both I knew. 

Why, first, my blowing warms my hand, 
And then it cools my porridge. 

Ah ! said his host, then understand 
I cannot give you storage. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 481 

To sleep beneath one roof with you, 

I may not be so bold. 
Far be from me that mouth untrue 

Which blows both hot and cold. 

THE STAG AND TFIE VINE 

A stag, by favor of a vine, 

Which grew where suns most genial shine, 

And formed a thick and matted bower 

Which might have turned a summer shower, 

Was saved from ruinous assault. 

The hunters thought their dogs at fault, 

And called them off. In danger now no more, 

The stag, a thankless wretch and vile, 
Began to browse his benefactress o'er. 
The hunters, listening the while, 
The rustling heard, came back 
With all their yelping pack, 
And seized him in that very place 
This is, said he, but justice, in my case. 
Let every black ingrate 
Henceforward profit by my fate. 
The dogs fell to — 'twere wasting breath 
To pray those hunters at the death. 
They left, and we will not revile 'em, 
A warning for profaners of asylum. 




482 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE. 

To win a race, the swiftness of a dart 

Availeth not without a timely start. 
The hare and tortoise are my witnesses. 
Said tortoise to the swiftest thing that is, 
PJ1 bet that you'll not reach so soon as I 

The tree on yonder hill we spy. 
So soon ! Why, madam, are you frantic ? 
Replied the creature, with an antic ; 

Pray take, your senses to restore, 

A grain or two of hellebore. 
Say, said the tortoise, what you will ; 
1 dare you to the wager still. 

'Twas done ; the stakes were paid, 

And near the goal tree laid — 
Of what, is not a question for this place, 
Nor who it was that judged the race. 
Our hare had scarce five jumps to make, 
Of such as he is wont to take, 
When, starting just before their beaks, 

He leaves the hounds at leisure, 
Thence till the kalends of the Greeks, 

The sterile heath to measure. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 483 

Tims having time to browse, and doze, 
And list which way the zephyr blows, 
He makes himself content to wait, 
And let the tortoise go her gait 
In solemn, senatorial state. 
She starts ; she moils on, modestly and lowly, 
And with a prudent wisdom hastens slowly; 
But he, meanwhile, the victory despises, 

Thinks lightly of such prizes. 

Believes it for his honor 
To take late start and gain upon her. 

So, feeding, sitting at his ease, 

He meditates of what you please, 

Till his antagonist he sees 

Approach the goal; then starts, 

Away like lightning darts • 

But vainly does he run , 
The race is by the tortoise won. 

Cries she, My senses do I lack ? 
What boots your boasted swiftness now ? 
You're beat! and yet, you must allow, 

I bore my house upon my back. 



484 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE ASS AND HIS MASTERS. 

A gardener's ass complained to Destiny 
Of being made to rise before the dawn. 
The cocks their matins have not sung, said he, 

Ere I am up and gone. 
And all for what ? To market herbs, it seems 
Fine cause, indeed, to interrupt my dreams! 
Fate, moved by such a prayer, 
Sent him a currier's load to bear, 
Whose hides so heavy and ill scented were, 

They almost choked the foolish beast. 
I wish me with my former lord, he said ; 
For then, whene'er he turned his head, 
If on the watch, I caught 
A cabbage-leaf, which cost me nought. 
But, in this horrid place, I find 
No chance or windfall of the kind ; — 
Or if, indeed, I do, 
The cruel blows I rue. 
Anon it came to pass 
He was a collier's ass. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



485 



Still more complaint. What now? said Fate, 
Quite out of patience. 
If on this jackass I must wait, 
What will become of kings and nations ? 
Has none but he aught here to tease him ? 
Have I no business but to please him ? 
And Fate had cause ; — for all are so. 
Unsatisfied while here below, 
Our present lot is aye the worst. 
Our foolish prayers the skies infest. 
Were Jove to grant all we request, 
The din renewed, his head would burst. 




486 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE CHARLATAN. 

The world has never lacked its charlatans, 
More than themselves have lacked their plans. 
One sees them on the stage at tricks 
Which mock the claims of sullen Styx. 
What talents in the streets they pest! 
One of them used to boast 
Such mastership of eloquence 
That he could make the greatest dunce 
Another Tully Cicero 
In all the arts that lawyers know. 
Ay, sirs, a dunce, a country clown, 
The greatest blockhead of your town, — 
Nay more, an animal, an ass, — 
The stupidest that nibbles grass, — 
Needs only through my course to pass, 
And he shall wear the gown 
With credit, honor, and renown. 
The prince heard of it, called the. man, thus spake ; 

My stable holds a steed 

Of the Arcadian breed, 
Of which an orator I wish to make. 
Well, sire, you can. 
Replied our man. 

At once his majesty 

Paid the tuition fee. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 487 

Ten years must roll, and then the learned ass 
Should his examination pass, 

According to the rules 

Adopted in the schools ; 
If not, his teacher was to tread the air, 
With haltered neck, above the public square, — 
His rhetoric bound on his back, 
And on his head the ears of jack. 
A courtier told the rhetorician, 

With bows and terms polite, 

He would not miss the sight 
Of that last pendent exhibition; 
For that his grace and dignity 
Would well become such high degree ; 
And, on the point of being hung, 
He would bethink him of his tongue, 
And show the glory of his art, — 
The power to melt the hardest heart, — 

And wage a war with time 

By periods sublime — 
A pattern speech for orators thus leaving, 
Whose work is vulgarly called thieving. 

Ah ! was the charlatan's reply, 

Ere that, the king, the ass, or 1, 

Shall, one or other of us, die. 
And reason good had he ; 
We count on life most foolishly, 
Though hale and hearty we may be. 
In each ten years, death cuts down one in three 



488 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

THE DOG WHOSE EARS WERE CROPPED. 

What have 1 done, I'd like to know, 
To make my master maim me so ? 
A pretty figure I shall cut ! 
l^rom other dogs I'll keep, in kennel shut. 
Ye kings of beasts, or rather tyrants, ho ! 
Would any beast have served you so ? 
Thus Growler cried, a mastiff young ; — 
The man, whom pity never stung, 
Went on to prune him of his ears. 
Though Growler whined about his losses, 
He found, before the lapse of years, 
Himself a gainer by the process ; 
For, being by his nature prone 
To fight his brethren for a bone, 
He'd oft come back from sad reverse 
With those appendages the worse. 
All snarling dogs have ragged ears. 

The less of hold for teeth of foe, 

The better will the battle go. 

When, in a certain place, one fears 
The chance of being hurt or beat, 
He fortifies it from defeat. 

Besides the shortness of his ears, 
See Growler armed against his likes 
With gorget full of ugly spikes. 
A wolf would find it quite a puzzle 
To get a hold about his muzzle. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 4g9 



THE HORSE AND THE ASS. 

In such a world, all men, of every grade, 
Should each the other kindly aid; 
For, if beneath misfortune's goad 
A neighbor falls, on you will fall his load. 

There jogged in company an ass and horse; 
Nought but his harness did the last endorse; 
The other bore a load that crushed him down, 

And begged the horse a little help to give, 
Or otherwise he could not reach the town. 
This prayer, said he, is civil, I believe ; 
One half this burden you would scarcely feel. 
The horse refused, flung up a scornful heel, 
And saw his comrade die beneath the weight; — 
And saw his wrong too late ; 
For on his own proud back 
They put the ass's pack, 
And over that, beside, 
They put the ass's hide. 



490 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE HEIFER, THE GOAT, AND THE SHEEP, IN 
COMPANY WITH THE LION. 

The heifer, the goat, and their sister the sheep, 
Compacted their earnings in common to keep, 
'Tis said, in time past, with a lion, who swayed 
Full lordship o'er neighbors, of whatever grade. 
The goat, as it happened, a stag having snared, 
Sent off to the rest, that the beast might be shared. 
All gathered ; the lion first counts on his claws, 
And says, We'll proceed to divide with our paws 
The stag into pieces, as fixed by our laws. 

This done, he announces part first as his own ; 

'Tis mine, he says, truly, as lion alone. 

To such a decision there's nought to be said, 

As he who has made it is doubtless the head. 
Well, also, the second to me should belong ; 
'Tis mine, be it known, by the right of the strong 
Again, as the bravest, the third must be mine. 
To touch but the fourth whoso maketh a sign, 
I'll choke him to death 
In the space of a breath ! 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 491 



THE FARMER, THE DOG, AND THE FOX. 

The wolf and fox are neighbors strange : 
I would not build within their range. 
The fox once eyed with strict regard, 
From day to day, a poultry-yard ; 
But though a most accomplished cheat, 
He could not get a fowl to eat. 
Between the risk and appetite, 
His rogueship's trouble was not slight. 
Alas ! quoth he, this stupid rabble 
But mock me with their constant gabble* 
I go and come, and rack my brains, 
And get my labor for my pains. 
Your rustic owner, safe at home, 
Takes all the profits as they come : 
He sells his capons and his chicks, 
Or keeps them hanging on his hook, 
All dressed and ready for his cook ; 
But I, adept in arts and tricks, 
Should I but catch the toughest crovver, 
Should be brimful of joy, and more. 
O Jove supreme, why was I made 
A master of the fox's trade ? 
By all the higher powers and lower, 
I swear to rob this chicken-grower ! 



492 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE GODS WISHING TO INSTRUCT A SON OF 
JUPITER. 

fOR MONSEIGNEUR THE DUKE DU MAINE. 

To Jupiter was born a son, 
Who, conscious of his origin, 
A godlike spirit had within. 
To love, such age is little prone ; 
Yet this celestial boy 
Made love his chief employ, 
And was beloved wherever known. 
In him both love and reason 
Sprang up before their season. 
With charming smiles and manners winning, 
Had Flora decked his life's beginning, 
A.s an Olympian became : 
Whatever lights the tender flame, — 
A heart to take and render bliss, — 
Tears, sighs, in short the whole were his 
Jove's son, he should of course inherit 
A higher and a nobler spirit 
Than sons of other deities. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 493 

It seemed as if by Memory's aid — 

As if a previous life had made 
Experiment and hid it — 

He plied the lover's hard-learned trade, 
So perfectly he did it. 

Still Jupiter would educate 

In manner fitting to his state. 

The gods, obedient to his call, 

Assemble in their council -hall ; 
When thus the sire : Companionless and sole, 
Thus far the. boundless universe I roll ; 
But numerous other offices there are, 
Of which I give to younger gods the care. 
I'm now forecasting for this cherished child, 
Whose countless altars are already piled ; 
To merit such regard from all below, 
All things the young immortal ought to know. 
No sooner had the Thunderer ended, 
Than each his godlike plan commended ; 

Nor did the boy too little yearn 

His lesson infinite to learn. 

Said fiery Mars, I take the part 

To make him master of the art 

Whereby so many heroes high 

Have won the honors of the sky. 

To teach him music be my care, 

Apollo said, the wise and fair ; 

And mine, that mighty god replied, 

In the Nemsean lion's hide, 



494 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

To teach him to subdue 

The vices, an envenomed crew, 
Like Hydras springing ever new. 
The foe of weakening luxury, 
The boy divine will learn from me 
Those rugged paths, so little trod, 
That, lead to glory man and god. 
Said Cupid, when it came his turn, 
All things from me the boy may learn. 

Well spoke the god of love. 
What feat of Mars, or Hercules, 

Or bright Apollo, lies above 
Wit, winged by a desire to please ? 



THE DOG THAT DROPPED THE SUBSTANCE FOR 
THE SHADOW. 

This world is full of shadow-chasers, 

Most easily deceived. 
Should I enumerate these racers, 

I should not be believed. 
I send them all to iEsop's dog, 
Which, crossing water on a log, 
Espied the meat he bore, below; 
To seize its image, let it go ; 
Plunged in ; to reach the shore was glad, 
With neither what he hoped, nor what he'd had. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 495 



THE OLD MAN AND THE THREE YOUNG ONES. 

A man was planting at fourscore. 
Three striplings, who their satchels wore, 
In building, cried, the sense were more ; 
But then to plant young trees at that age ! 
The man is surely in his dotage. 

Pray, in the name of common sense, 
What fruit can he expect to gather 

Of all this labor and expense ? 
Why, he must live like Lamech's father ! 
What use for thee, gray-headed man, 
To load the remnant of thy span 
With care for days that never can be thine ? 
Thyself to thought of errors past resign. 
Long-growing hope, and lofty plan, 
Leave thou to us, to whom such things belong. 
To you ! replied the old man hale and strong ; 
I dare pronounce you altogether wrong. 
The settled part of man's estate 
Is very brief, and comes full late. 
To those pale, gaming sisters trine, 
Your lives are stakes as well as mine. 
While so uncertain is the sequel, 
Our terms of future life are equal ; 



496 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For none can tell who last shall close his eyes 
Upon the glories of these azure skies; 
Nor any moment give us, ere it flies, 
Assurance that another such shall rise. 
But my descendants, whosoe'er they be. 
Shall owe these cooling fruits and shades to me. 
Do you acquit yourselves, in wisdom's sight, 
From ministering to other hearts delight ? 
Why, boys, this is the fruit I gather now ; 
And sweeter never blushed on bended bough. 
Of this, to-morrow I may take my fill ; 
Indeed, I may enjoy its sweetness till 
I see full many mornings chase the glooms 
From off the marble of your youthful tombs. 
The gray-beard man was right. One of the three. 
Embarking, foreign lands to see, 
Was drowned within the very port. 
In quest of dignity at court, 
Another met his country's foe, 
And perished by a random blow. 
The third was killed by falling from a tree 
Which he himself would graft. The three 
Were mourned by him of hoary head, 
Who chiseled on each monument — 
On doing good intent — 
The things which we have said. 




THE COUNCIL HELD BY THE RATS. 



Old Rodilard, a certain cat, 

Such havoc of the rats had made, 
Twas difficult to find a rat 

With nature's debt unpaid. 
The few that did remain, 

To leave their holes afraid, 
From usual food abstain, 

Not eating half their fill. 

And wonder no one will, 
That one who made on rats his revel, 
With rats passed not for cat, but devil. 
Now, on a day, this dread rat-eater, 
Who had a wife, went out to meet her; 
And while he held his caterwauling, 
The unkilled rats, their chapter calling, 
Discussed the point, in grave debate, 
How they might shuu impending fate. 

Their dean, a prudent rat. 
Thought best, and better soon than late, 

To bell the fatal cat ; 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

That, when he took his hunting round, 
The rats, well cautioned by the sound, 
Might hide in safety under ground ; 

Indeed he knew no other means. 
And all the rest 
At once confessed 

Their minds were with the dean ? s. 
No better plan, they all believed, 
Could possibly have been conceived. 
No doubt the thing would work right well, 
If any one would hang the bell. 

But, one by one, said every rat, 

I'm not so big a fool as that. 
The plan, knocked up in this respect, 
The council closed without effect. 
And many a council I have seen, 
Or reverend chapter with its dean, 

That, thus resolving wisely, 

Fell through like this precisely. 

To argue or refute 

Wise counsellors abound , 

The man to execute 
Is harder to be found. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE EAGLE AND THE BEETLE. 



John Rabbit, by Dame Eagle chased, 
Was making for his hole in haste, 
When, on his way, he met a beetle's burrow. 
I leave you all to think 
If such a little chink 
Could to a rabbit give protection thorough. 
But, since no better could be got, 
John Rabbit there was fain to squat. 
Of course, in an asylum so absurd, 
John felt ere long the talons of the bird. 
But first, the beetle, interceding, cried, 
Great queen of birds, it cannot be denied, 
That, maugre my protection, you can bear 
My trembling guest, John Rabbit, through the air. 
But do not give me such affront, I pray ; 
And since he craves your grace, 
In pity of his case, 
Grant him his life, or take us both away ; 



500 L A FONTAINE'S FABLES. 

For he's my gossip, friend, and neighbor. 
In vain the beetle's friendly labor ; 
The eagle clutched her prey without reply, 
And as she flapped her vasty wings to fly, 
Struck down our orator and stilled him ; 
The wonder is she hadn't killed him. 
The beetle soon, of sweet revenge in quest, 

Flew to the old, gnarled mountain oak 
Which proudly bore that haughty eagle's nest. 
And while the bird was gone, 
Her eggs, her cherished eggs, he broke, 
Not sparing one. 
Returning from her flight, the eagle's cry, 
Of rage and bitter anguish, filled the sky. 
But, by excess of passion blind, 
Her enemy she failed to find. 
Her wrath in vain, that year it was her fate 
To live a mourning mother, desolate. 
The next, she built a loftier nest ; 'twas vain ; 
The beetle found and dashed her eggs again. 

John Rabbit's death was thus revenged anew. 
The second mourning for her murdered brood 
Was such, that through the giant mountain wood. 
For six long months, the sleepless echo flew. 
The bird, once Ganymede, now made 
Her prayer to Jupiter for aid ; 
And, laying them within his godship's lap, 
She thought her eggs now safe from all mishap ; 
The god his own could not but make them — 
No wretch would venture there to break them. 



LA FONTAINE'S FABLES 501 

And no one did. Their enemy, this time, 
Upsoaring to a place sublime, 
Let fall upon his royal robes some dirt, 
Which Jove just shaking, with a sudden flirt, 
Threw out the eggs, no one knows whither. 
When Jupiter informed her how th' event 
Occurred by purest accident, 
The eagle raved ; there was no reasoning with her 
She gave out threats of leaving court, 
To make the desert her resort, 
And other braveries of this sort. 
Poor Jupiter in silence heard 
The uproar of his favorite bird. 
Before his throne the beetle now appeared. 
And by a clear complaint the mystery cleared. 
The god pronounced the eagle in the wrong. 
But still, their hatred was so old and strong, 
These enemies could not be reconciled ; 
And, that the general peace might not be spoiled, — 
The best that he could do, — the god arranged, 
That thence the eagle's pairing should be changed, 
To come when beetle folks are only found 
Concealed and dormant under ground. 



502 LA FONTAINE'S FABLES. 



THE JAY IN THE FEATHERS OF THE PEACOCK. 

A peacock moulted : soon a jay was seen 

Bedecked with Argus tail of gold and green, 

High strutting, with elated crest, 

As much a peacock as the rest. 

His trick was recognized and bruited, 
His person jeered at, hissed, and hooted. 
The peacock gentry flocked together, 
And plucked the fool of every feather. 
Nay more, when back he sneaked to join his race, 

They shut their portals in his face. 

There is another sort of jay, 
The number of its legs the same, 
Which makes of borrowed plumes display, 
And plagiary is its name. 

But hush ! the tribe I'll not offend ; 

'Tis not my work their ways to mend. 



iSEKI&CSX&WIB 



Here check we our career. 

Long books I greatly fear. 
I would not quite exhaust my stuff, 
The flower of subjects is enough. 
To me, the time is come, it. seems, 
To draw my breath for other themes 
Love, tyrant of my life, commands 
That other work be on my hands. 

1 dare not disobey. 
Once more shall Psyche be my lay. 
I'm called by Damon to portray 
Her sorrows and her joys. 
I yield : perhaps, while she employs, 
My muse will catch a richer glow ; 

And well if this my labored strain 

Shall be the last and only pain 
Her spouse shall cause me here below. 



INDEX. 



A. 

Acorn and Pumpkin, 155. 
Against the hard to suit, 281. 
Animal in the Moon, 50. 
Animals sending Tribute, etc., 

439. 
Animals sick of the Plague, 7. 
Ape, The, 260. 
Arbiter, Almoner, and Hermit, 

293. 
Ass and Dog, 94. 
Ass and his Masters, 484. 
Ass and Little Dog, 427. 
Ass bearing Relics, 442. 
Ass in Lion's Skin, 340. 
Ass loaded with Sponges, etc. , 

380. 
Astrologer who fell into a Well, 

382. 

B. 

Bat and Two Weasels, 374. 
Bat, Bush, and Duck, 272. 
Battle of Rats and Weasels, 429. 
Bear and Gardener, 73. 
Bear and Two Companions, 473. 
Bird wounded by an Arrow, 311. 
Bitch and her Friend, 450. 
Boy and Schoolmaster, 363. 
Burier and his Comrade, 199. 



Camel and Floating Sticks, 417. 

Cartman in the Mire, 334. 

Cat and Fox, 162. 

Cat and Old Rat, 184. 

Cat and Rat, 112. 

Cat and Two Sparrows, 261. 

Cat metamorphosed to a Woman, 



Cat, Weasel, and Little Rabbit, 

46. 
Charlatan, 486. 

City Rat and Country Rat, 346. 
Coach and Fly, 25. 
Cobbler and Financier, 60. 
Cock and Fox, 388. 
Cock and Pearl, 268. 
Cockerel, Cat, and Mouse, 130. 
Companions of Ulysses, 329. 
Council held by Rats, 497. 
Countryman and Serpent, 231. 
Court of the Lion, 21. 
Curate and Corpse, 32. 



D. 

Dairy Woman and Pot of Milk, 
30. 

Daphnis and Alcimadure, 336. 

Death and the Dying, 57. 

Death and the Unfortunate, 357. 

Death and Woodchopper, 358. 

Democritus and the PeoDle of 
Abdera, 121. 

Discord, 463. 

Doctors, 193. 

Dog carrying his Master's Din- 
ner, 67. 

Dog who lost the Substance for 
the Shadow, 494. 

Dog with his Ears cut off, 488. 

Dove and Ant, 312. 

Dragon of Many Heads, etc., 351. 

Drunkard and his Wife, 418. 



Earthen Pot and Iron Pot, 270. 
Eagle and Beetle, 499. 
Eagle and Magpie, 286. 
Eagle and Owl, 470. 

505 



INDEX. 



Eagle, Wild Sow, and Cat, 415. 
Ears of the Hare, 438. 
Education, 115. 
Elephant and Ape of Jupiter, 

315. 
English Fox, 320. 
Eye of the Master, 453. 



Faithless Depositary, 101. 
Falcon and Capon, 109. 
Farmer, Dog, and Fox, 239. 
Fishes and Cormorant, 196. 
Fishes and Shepherd who played 

the Flute, 214. 
Fly and Ant, 422. 
Fool and Sage, 319. 
Fool who sold Wisdom, 151. 
Fortune and the Boy, 301. 
Fortune-Tellers, 43. 
Fowler, Hawk, and Lark, 233. 
Fox and Bust, 309. 
Fox and Goat, 413. 
Fox and Grapes, 111. 
Fox and Stork, 361. 
Fox and Turkeys, 317. 
Fox, Flies, and Hedgehog, 297. 
Fox, Monkey, and Animals, 132. 
Fox with his Tail cut off, 462. 
Fox, Wolf, and Horse, 310. 
Frog and Rat, 436. 
Frogs asking a King, 411. 
Frog who would he as hig as the 

Ox, 84. 
Funeral of the Lioness, 87. 



G. 

Gardener and Lord, 424. 

Gods wishing to educate a Sou 

of Jupiter, 492. 
Gout and Spider, 420. 
Grasshopper and Ant, 443. 



Hare and Frogs, 384. 
Hare and Partridge, 468. 



Hare and Tortoise, 482. 

Head and Tail of the Serpent, 

48. 
Heifer, Sheep, Goat, and Lion, 

491. 
Hen with Golden Eggs, 459. 
Heron, 16. 

Hog, Goat, and Sheep, 78. 
Hornets and Honey-Bees, 365. 
Horoscope, 90. 
Horse and Ass, 489. 
Horse and Stag, 85. 
Horse and Wolf, 465. 
Husband, Wife, and Thief, 169. 



Ill-Married, 11. 

Ingratitude of Men to Fortune, 
41. 



Jay and Peacocks, 502. 
Joker and Fishes, 69. 
Jupiter and Farmer, 477. 
Jupiter and Thunders, 106. 
Jupiter and Passenger, 160. 



Kite and Nightingale, 164. 
King, Kite, and Falconer, 288. 



L. 

Lark and her Young Ones, 455. 

League of the Rats, 326. 

Lion, 205. 

Lion and Ass hunting, 397. 

Lion and Gnat, 378. 

Lion and Hunter, 364. 

Lion and Rat, 373. 

Lion beaten by Man, 182. 

Lion, Court of the, 21. 

Lioness and Bear, 219. 

Lion going to War, 472. 

Lion grown old, 276. 

Lion in Love, 139. 



INDEX. 



507 



Lion, Monkey, and Two Asses, 

236. 
Lion, Wolf, and Fox, 63. 
Little Fish and Fisher, 458. 
Lobster and Daughter, 284. 
Love and Folly, 299. 



M. 

Maid, 18. 

Man and Adder, 189. 

Man and Flea, 118. 

Man and Image, 349. 

Man and Two Mistresses, 359. 

Man and Wooden God, 434. 

Man who ran after Fortune, etc., 

35. 
Members and Belly, 406. 
Merchant, Shepherd, Gentleman, 

and King's Son, 228. 
Miller, Son, and Ass, 165. 
Mice and Owl, 258. 
Miser and Monkey, 263. 
Miser who had lost his Treasure, 

391. 
Mogul's Dream, 234. 
Monkey and Cat, 173. 
Monkey and Dolphin, 432. 
Monkey and Leopard, 153. 
Mountain in Labor, 280. 
Mouse metamorphosed into a 

Maid, 146. 
Mule boasting of his Genealogy, 

20. 

N. 
Nothing too Much, 157. 



O. 

Oak and Reed, 367. 

Old Cat and Young Mouse, 269. 

Old Man and Ass, 34. 

Old Man and his Sons, 451. 

Old Man and Three Young Ones, 

495. 
Old Woman and Two Servants, 

460. 
Oracle and the Atheist, 390. 
Oyster and Litigants, 150. 



Partridge and Cocks, 210. 
Pashaw and Merchant, 96. 
Peacock complaining to Juno, 

395. 
Peasant of the Danube, 242. 
Philomel and Progne, 180. 
Phoebus and Boreas, 475. 
Plowman and his Sons, 467. 



Quarrel of the Dogs and Cats, 
etc., 274. 

R. 

Rabbits, 224. 
Rat and Elephant, 55. 
Rat and Oyster, 71. 
Rat retired from the World, 14. 
Raven and Eagle, 393. 
Raven and Fox, 341. 
Raven, Tortoise, Gazelle, and 
Rat, 302. 



Satyr and Traveler, 480. 

School-Boy, Pedant, and Gar- 
dener, 142. 

Sculptor and Statue of Jupiter, 
144. 

Scythian Philosopher, 313. 

Serpent and File, 138. 

Shepherd and his Flock, 175. 

Shepherd and King, 211. 

Shepherd and Lion, 403. 

Shepherd and Sea, 187. 

Sick Lion and Fox, 232. 

Simonides preserved by the 
Gods, 353. 

Spider and Swallow, 208. 

Stag and Vine, 481. 

Stag seeing himself in Water, 
479. 

Sick Stag, 445. 

Sun and Frogs, 296, 324. 

Swallow and Little Birds, 343. 

Swan and Cook, 177. 



508 



INDEX. 



T. 

Thieves and Ass, 356. 

Tliyrsis and Amaranth, 80. 

To Duke de Bourgoyne, 267. 

To Monseigneur the Dauphin, 3. 

Tortoise and Two Ducks, 194. 

Torrent and River, 54. 

Treasure and Two Men, 171. 

Two Adventurers and the Talis- 
man, 221. 

Two Bulls and Frog, 435. 

Two Cocks, 39. 

Two Dogs and Dead Ass, 116. 

Two Doves, 134. 

Two Friends, 76. 

Two Goats, 265. 

Two Mules, 312. 

Two Parrots, the King and his 
Son, 216. 

Two Rats, Fox, and Egg, 247. 

U. 

Use of Knowledge. 99. 



Vultures and Pigeons, 23. 



VV. 

Wallet, 119. 
Wax Candle, 159. 
Weasel in a Granarv, 183. 
Will explained bv iEsop. 399. 
Wolf and Dos:, 27. 
Wolf and Fox, 277. 
Wolf and Fox at the Well, 240. 
Wolf and Fox before the Mon- 
key, 29. 
Wolf and Hunter, 124. 
Wolf and Lamb, 347. 
Wolf and Lean Dog, 376. 
Wolf and Shepherds, 201. 
Wolf and Stork, 129. 
Wolf, Goat, and Kid, 446. 
Wolf, Mother, and Child, 448. 
Wolf turned Shepherd, 409. 
Wolves and Sheep, 178. 
Woman Drowned, 181. 
Women and the Secret, 65. 
Woodman and Forest, 308. 
Woodman and Mercury, 369. 
Words of Socrates, 298. 



Young Widow, 127. 






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