[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]

From Fables of Babrius, in Two Parts, translated into English Verse from the text of Sir G. C. Lewis, by the Rev. John Davies, M.A., London: Lockwood & Co.,1860; pp. 163 to 202.




Translated into English verse from the text of Sir G. C. Lewis.




Part II.

[Fables 40-79]



(P. F. 255.)

A lion sick within his cave reclined;
Then came each beast of all the savage kind
To visit and enquire for their king.
Beyond the rest the fox kept loitering.
Now, the wolf fixt on this auspicious time
Slily to charge the fox with treason’s crime,
“Since she alone with negligence did treat
The king of brutes, to which the earth is meat,
When she to ease his sufferings should be near,
As wise in counsel, and in judgment clear:” — 
Up came the fox, as the wolf closed his speech,
And his last words chanc’d Reynard’s ears to reach,
The lion shook his mane in angry mood,
To see the fox into his cave intrude;
But the sagacious fox was nowise cowed,
And only pray’d for right of speech allowed,
’Twas granted. Then said she (the wolf stood near):
164 “Now who, my liege, of beasts assembled here,
Hath render’d thee such loyal aid as I?
I have the country traversed low and high,
And question’d every leech concerning thee,
In hopes some one might point a remedy;
Aye and I’ve found, nor vainly sought, the way:
Physicians learnèd by experience say,
That hence the patient certain ease shall win,
If from a living wolf he strip the skin,
And this, yet warm, around his body wrap.”
He said. Forthwith the wolf, that plann’d a trap,
Lay dead; and thus the debt of malice paid.
O wolf, ill-fated!” Reynard laughing said,
’Twas better that thou shouldst not counsel ill
The lion, but guide right his kindly will:
For whoso against other brings about
Evil, the same shall turn and find him out.”



(P. F. 261.)

The lion urged it as a constant charge
Against Prometheus, that while fine and large
He made him, and with teeth had arm’d his jaw,
Fencing withal each foot with horny claw,
And rank’d from first of brutes for valour’s praise,
“Such though I am, the cock my soul dismays,”
Quoth he. Prometheus made him this reply:
“Pray, why on me should idle censure lie?
All I could give thou hast, as it was fit;
But if at times thy spirit quells a whit,
No marvel! In nought else thou fallest short.”
So when Prometheus gave him this retort,
The lion bitterly his fate bemoan’d,
And his own cowardice, condemning, own’d.
He cared no more to live in such disgrace,
But, in this mind, encounter’d face to face
166 An elephant, with which to talk he stay’d.
Seeing its ears were hither thither sway’d,
He asked, “Why thus in motion keep your ears?
What beast, good sir, so dread to you appears,
As thus your hearing-organs to confound?”
It chanced a gnat buzz’d presently around:
“Seest thou yon buzzing mite?” the huge beast said,
Let it once pierce mine ear, and I am dead.”
The lion hearing this, took heart to cry,
“Why should I any more desire to die,
Since better far than elephants am I?
And as much better in my lot have fared,
As cock beats gnat, when both have been compared.”

None are unblest, save by comparison:
This is a wise saw, and an ancient one.


Fab. XLI. 6. — Pliny, in his Natural History, x. 24, says of the cock, “that it is an object of terror even to lions, the noblest of the brute kind.” The elephant seems to be very sensitive of the attacks of insects, frequently rolling itself in mud, contracting his skin, and so crushing them between its wrinkles, or gathering boughs with his trunk to brush them away, or, if these artifices fail, collecting dust with his trunk, and strewing it over the most sensible parts of his body. See Encycl. Britann. Art. Mammalia, vol. 12, pp. 469, 70.



(P. F. 297. Compare Part I. LXV.)

The fine-helm’d peacock and the Libyan crane
Were wont to pasture on one grassy plain,
Long time in mutual amity they passed,
But dire contention made them foes at last,
And golden plumage strove with ashen hue,
To which a good complexion’s meed was due.
Jibes at the crane the grinning peacock throws,
And mocks its colour with uplifted nose;
Claiming his own “to be the perfect wing
Of gold and purple, worthy of a king.”
To whom the crane a fitting answer made:
“And yet ’tis I who could-capp’d heights pervade;
Nighest the shining stars my notes are heard,
While you are but a weak and slow-paced bird,
That skim the ground, nor ever upward go;
But, like a bantam-cock, mid chickens crow.”
168 Fame, tho’ I threadbare went, I’d covet most;
Riches, with name unknown, on me were lost.


Fab. XLII. — Compare Fab. LXV in Part I. and LXXXV. Part II. Avianus, Fab. 15, says, “Threiciam volucrem fertur Junonius ales,” &c., and Ælian notes that the crane migrates in the autumn to Libya and Ægypt, N. A. II. 1, III. 13. Compare Aristoph. Aves. 710. The epimyth here and at Fable LXV. in the first part are very similar.


(P. F. 281.)

A wolf, whom fellow wolves to lead them chose,
Would fain to all an equal law propose,
That whatsoe’er each took in foraging,
To share amongst his fellows he should bring.
An ass heard this, and bristling up his mane,
To the fair dealer spoke in laughing strain:
“Well have you said, intending laws to frame
To govern wolves. But tell me how you came
In a sly corner of your lair to lay
A part the feast, which you stole yesterday?”



(P. F. 280.)

In desert spots a wolf had chanced to roam,
And, when the day-star near’d its western home,
Seeing his shadow long and tall appear,
Said, “Being larger, need I lions fear?
Sure, to a hundred feet in measure grown,
I shall be lord of all, not brutes alone!”
Upon the’ exulting wolf a lion sprung,
And seized and ate him. The confession wrung
From his last utterance was, ‘My cause of doom
Is, that on self-opinion I presume.”



(P. F. 285.)

Bitten by dogs, a wolf lay sick and sore,
And of a passing sheep began to implore
Relief for thirst. A spring of water flow’d
Hard by. Then said he, “Were there but bestow’d
By thee a draught of this, my thirst to slake,
To furnish mine own meat I’d undertake.”
“I give thee drink! then I should be thy meat!”
The sheep replied.
                                Fly foes that use deceit.



(P. F. 201.)

A daw in size his fellows much surpass’d,
So on his tribe a scornful glance he cast,
And chose to be a tribesman of the crows.
He therefore sought their presence, to propose
Dwelling with them, and clubbing for his food.
His form they neither knew, nor understood
His accents, with his race in unison;
So, beating him, they made him quick begone.
Driven from these, he sought his own again;
But they, at his desertion in disdain —
Because they thought his conduct insolent — 
To take him back by no means would consent.
An outlaw’d, homeless daw was he from thence.

None will attain with strangers influence.



(P. F. 293.)

On honey in a storeroom spilt, some flies
Began to feast in gathering companies.
The sweet repast their lingering wills detain’d,
And as their feet were by its pow’r constrain’d,
Upon the wing no longer could they rise;
Then, as they choke, each one to other cries,
“Alas! poor creatures, down our lives we lay,
Most sadly by brief pleasure led astray.”


(P. F. 389.)

The moon her lady mother once besought,
That a close-fitting tunic might be wrought
For her. To whom her mother, smiling, said,
“How shall a dress be wrought or measurèd
173 For thy uncertain figure? over-great
Now, near the full; and then in bursting state;
Gibbous and crescent-shaped thou wilt be soon.
All through the month come changes of the moon.”


(P. F. 298.)

A field-mouse to a frog, by evil lot,
Became a friend, and hence destruction got;
For with the field-mouse first they came to eat,
And then resorted to the frog’s retreat.
But evil soon became the frog’s design.
He tied his friend’s foot to him with a line,
And dragg’d him to the margin of a lake,
A bath within its marshy depths to take:
Drown’d by the waters thus, the mouse was choked,
And perish’d, to a frog by being yoked.
Its corpse then as the eddying surface bore,
A hawk with eager talons upward tore,
174 With it was dragg’d the frog, to which ’twas tied:
Doom’d for the hawk two banquets to provide,
He learn’d what wages want of thought betide.


(P. F. 304.)

To a young spendthrift but one garb was left,
Of all but this by reckless waste bereft.
He saw a swallow, out of season, fly
Near him, and heard its twittering cry.
Thinking at once that the spring-tide was near,
Of parting with his coat he had no fear;
And so he took and sold it, like the rest:
But soon, when winter storms about her prest,
And suddenly the strong wind round her roll’d,
Alas! the wretched swallow died of cold.
Her for a while the young man looked upon,
And said, “Poor bird, much evil hast thou done!
175 Appearing ere the spring-tide, thou hast wrought
Ruin to me, and to thyself, for nought.

Evil is wastefulness and want-of-thought.


See Part I. 128.


See Part I. 124.


Fab. LII. — Compare above, Fab. XXXI. Part II.


(P. F. 317. Compare Fragment I, Part I.)

A sheep one day address’d its shepherd thus:
“You shear our fleece, and keep it, shorn, from us;
You drain our milk, and press it, if you choose:
Our young to swell your flock we ne’er refuse.
176 For us nought else you do, but simply lead
To pasture. All the grass, on which we feed,
Is found for you by kind, all-nursing earth.
E’en on the hills a fruitful soil gives birth
For you, without your help, to venture new,
Beneath moist air, and soft descending dew.
Yet while such profit from us you derive,
Still you would have your dog among us thrive,
Feeding it, as yourself, on best of food.”
The dog was near and heard. These words ensued:
“O, thou that bleatest foolish-minded talk,
Were it not that I oft amidst you walk,
Abundant herbage you no more would eat,
But be to brutes, that roam the hills, a treat.
Now running all around you, timid sheep
From busy thief, and ravening wolf I keep.”

To thankless men this fable is addrest,
Who benefactors with ill-names molest.


Fab. LIII. LIV. — Compare Fragm. I. in Part I. The translation is made up of a comparison of both.



See Part I. 125.


Fab. LIII. LIV. — Compare Fable CXXV. in Part I. The translation is made up of a comparison of both. The Maltese dog is mentioned by Aristot. H. A. X. 6; Probl. X. 12.


(P. F. 325.)

An ass was fond of eating prickly food,
And grinning Reynard ask’d, when this she view’d,
“With tongue so soft, how is it, best of brutes,
That on hard food you live, and thorny fruits?
How can your tongue from prickly wounds escape?”

To babblers well this fable thou may’st shape.



(P. F. 333.)

In lion’s skin an ass once went about,
And threw the brute creation into rout;
They thought him a true lion, not an ass:
He therefore tried, when Reynard chanced to pass,
If, like the rest, a fox would yield to fright.
But when he met that wily creature’s sight
(Now she, by chance, that moment heard him bray),
Quoth she to him, “Be sure of what I say,
Had I not just now mark’d you when you bray’d,
I, like my fellow-brutes, had been afraid.”



(P. F. 324.)

A countryman had placed upon his ass
An image; and, in driving, made him pass
Right through a village. All men homage paid
Unto the idol. Then the ass betray’d
Elation, thought himself a god, and felt
That ’twas to his divinity they knelt.
Pricking his ears, with an astounding bray,
He presently declined the onward way:
At seeing which his driver angry grew,
And with a stick compell’d him to pursue
His journey. “Thou art but an ass,” said he,
“Though on thy back there rides divinity.”



(P. F. 340.)

A bird-catcher, while he his springes set,
Was by a lark, that saw him, quickly met.
“What dost thou here, so busy on the ground?”
Quoth he, “A first-rate city this, I found!”
He went and hid himself when this was said.
Straight came the lark, by his false words misled,
In haste at once to plant its colony:
And in the toils was caught unwittingly.
Up ran the bird-catcher to seize his prey;
Then did the captive to its captor say,
“If cities such as these, good sir, you plant,
The list of dwellers in them will be scant.”

Cities and homes are most made desolate,
When evil heads have care of their estate.



(P. F. 344.)

A serpent’s tail once claim’d the lead to take,
And drag the other members in its wake.
Then did the body it, as mad, oppose:
“How wilt thou lead us without eyes or nose?
Unlike the rest of bests, that roam a-field.”
In vain. The thinking limbs were forced to yield.
So the tail led the rest with senseless sway,
And blindly dragg’d the body every way.
It fell at last into a cleft of rock,
Whence back, head, body, met a fearful shock.
Then fawningly it did the head beseech:
“Save, mistress, save me, pray, from danger’s reach,
For of bad judgment now I reap the fruit.”

This fable to a commons best will suit
Which, frensied and perverted, fain would rise
And hold dominion over men more wise.


Fab. LIX. — In the application of the fable of the Belly and its Members, as related by Shakespeare, (Coriolanus, Act. I. Scene 1,) Menenius calls one of the citizens, “the great toe of the assembly,”

“For that being one of the lowest, basest, poorest,
Of his most wise rebellion, thou goest forward.”

The fables are wholly dissimilar in purpose, but these words of Shakespeare are a parallel to the description of the tail in this fable of Babrius.



(P. F. 96.)

A snake that by a farmer’s door did hide,
Stung his child’s foot, and so the infant died.
Great was the sorrow which the parents bore.
And the sire, smitten by a blow so sore,
Taking a stone, approach’d the serpent’s den,
Waiting to kill it coming forth again.
Out from its hole it came to hunt for prey:
Up ran in eager haste the sire straightway,
And at it with main force he cast a stone,
Which lack’d success, to little purpose thrown;
His aim to hurt the murderous snake did fail,
Further than at its end, to bruise its tail.
Then fearful lest the reptile him should slay,
And thus the fracture of that tail repay,
Honey and meal and water he procured,
And thus his foe to be at peace adjured.
183 But then the monster, hissing from its hole
(To which, when wounded, it for shelter stole),
Some such defiance at the father threw:
“Till you the tomb, the stone I cease to view,
“There never can be peace betwixt us two.”


(P. F. 350.)

To gather locusts forth a lad had gone,
He caught a host, ere he set eyes upon
A scorpion. Thinking this a locust, he
Hollow’d his hand, and stretch’d it eagerly
To grasp his prize. The reptile saw the lad
Was guileless, and with him this converse had:
“Boy, get thee gone, nor hands upon me lay!
For, catching me, thou’lt cast thine all away.”



(P. F. 351.)

A boy from school purloin’d a comrade’s slate,
And to his mother bore his prize, elate.
She took it, did not say his act was wrong,
Or warn his hands from what did not belong
To them. Ere long the youth had learn’d to thieve,
And would not, untouched, things more precious leave.
The wonted habit soon became a trade:
Then, in the act of sacrilege way-laid
And caught, with hand behind him bound he went
The road the lawless are with hangmen sent.
With tears and moans his mother went behind,
And her son begg’d the hangmen to be kind.
And to him this one favour to accord,
To breathe within her ear some latest word.
Ready to list, she near her offspring drew,
Who violently bit her ear in two.
185 When she deplored such treatment from her child,
And the bystanders’ language was not mild
In blame of one whose acts so impious proved
Toward her that bare him; “Surely it behoved
Her, first and foremost,” said he, “to deter
My youth from theft. I owe my wreck to her.
’Twas she who welcomed first the stolen slate.
’Tis she conducts me now to Pluto’s gate.”


(P. F. 214.)

A-roasting cockles, said a farmer’s son,
When they to hiss and bubble had begun,
“Ye senseless creatures, that, with homes on fire,
Strike up a tuneful strain, and join in choir.”




(P. F. 383.)

Prometheus erst, when Jove the order spake,
Proceeded men and brutes, ’tis said, to make.
But when Jove saw that beasts outnumbered men,
He bade him mix some of the brutes again,
And fashion them into the human mould.
The brutes into a lump Prometheus rolled,
And form’d men of it, e’en as Jove desired.
But, as for those so moulded, it transpired
That in the change they gained a human shape,
Yet did not from their earlier mind escape;
But kept that to the end, which they began
By sharing with the brutes and not with man.


Fab. LXIV. — Simonides of Amorgos, in his poem περὶ γυναὶκῶν, represents Jove as having formed women out of brutes, availing himself of the nature of each, e.g. the craft of the fox, or the cleverness of the ape, in moulding the nature and character of each woman. For Prometheus, and his part in the fable, Cf. Horace, Od. I. xvi. 13 “Fertur Prometheus,” &c. Fulgent. Mythol. III. De Peleo, and see Ovid Met. I. 82-8. See also above, Part I. Fab. LXVI. note.



(P. F. 357.)

A thirsty pigeon on a sign-board spied
A cup of water, at mid summer-tide.
Taking the picture for the actual thing,
She bore down on it with a rustling wing.
Unwittingly against the board she dash’d,
And fell to earth with wings and feathers smash’d;
The cat at once an easy prey secured.

Rush upon nought, with purpose unmatured,
If passion guides, quick ruin is ensured.



(P. F. 356.)

A sportsman in his net a partridge caught,
To sup on which immediately he thought:
But for her life entreating mournfully
She cried, “Oh spare, and do not slaughter me,
And I for thee a crowd of birds will get,
Decoying ready victims to thy net.”
Said he, “Thou silly partridge, stay thy cry;
It is for this cause chiefly thou shalt die,
That never more thou may’st betray thy friends.”

Evil design’d for others ever tends
To thine own hurt. And so doth ev’ry plan
Thy malice plots against a fellow-man.



(P. F. 307.)

That foe to every feathered fowl, the cat,
Caught, as it lay upon the ground, a bat;
Which, fearing instant doom without delay,
Endeavour’d thus with pray’rs her fate to stay:
“Oh, do not slaughter me, good cat,” said she,
“No living thing hath e’er found hurt from me.
I in the daylight never quit my nest:
When beasts go out to hunt, I take my rest,
But forth at moonless dusk I always fare,
To get my food in dew-encumber’d air.”
The cat then answer’d thus: “As I’m a foe
To birds in general, can I let thee go?”
“I am no bird,” was next the bat’s reply:
“Four-footed, fed on bloodless food am I.”
On hearing this the cat its prey resign’d.
‘’Twas saved from no small peril, soon to find
190 Another captor of the feline brood,
Which thought to take it, like a mouse, for food.
But then she pray’d and said, “No mouse was
For she had wings, and wing’d no mouse could
Thus came she out of double danger free.


Fab. LXVII. — The reading ξηρὴν instead of θήρην in v. 14 has been adopted for translation.


(P. F. 420.)

To shy hare the tortoise smiling spoke,
When he about her feet began to joke:
“I’ll pass thee by, though fleeter than the gale.”
“Pooh!” said the hare, “I don’t believe thy tale.”
“Try but one course, and thou my speed shalt
“Who’ll fix the prize, and whither we shall go?”
191 Of the fleet-footed hare the tortoise asked.
To whom he answer’d, “Reynard shall be tasked
With this; that subtle fox, whom thou dost see.”
The tortoise then (no hesitater she!)
Kept jogging on, but earliest reached the post;
The hare, relying on his fleetness, lost
Space, during sleep, he thought he could recover
When he awoke. But then the race was over;
The tortoise gain’d her aim, and slept her sleep.

From negligence doth care the vantage reap.


(P. F. 384.)

An amaranth had sprung up near a rose,
And said, “Than thee no flower more comely grows,
Long’d for by Gods, and dear to man, as well.
I count thee blest both for thy fragrant smell,
192 And lovely beauty.” Then the rose replied,
“Good amaranth, ’tis vain the truth to hide:
For me the threads of life are quick outspun;
For if not pluck’d, I soon am all undone
By withering. But thou dost always bloom,
And living, ever-green, escape the tomb.”

May a fixt lot (no matter small or great)
Be rather mine, than high but changeful state.


(P. F. 374.)

A wolf’s young cub was by a shepherd caught,
This, with his dogs to nurture, home he brought.
In time it grew up, in the sheepfold rear’d,
Where if so be another wolf appear’d,
Intent to rob of lamb or kid the fold,
First rank among the dogs would this one hold,
21 Quickest the daring robber to pursue.
But if the dogs of chasing weary grew,
And toward the sheepcot, failing to o’ertake
The spoiler, chanced their backward road to make.
Not, as in chase, the tame wolf onward went,
But for a share fell in by accident.
Or, should no other wolf, to steal a sheep,
Chance from outside into the fold to leap,
Then with the dogs he made a sly repast
On one. The shepherd caught the rogue at last,
And from a tree, to kill him, let him swing.

Good habits do not from ill natures spring.



(P. F. 124.)

Olive and Fig-tree strove for beauty’s prize.
“At no time,” said the first, “my foliage dies,
But the fig’s bloom is put forth, once for all,
At one set season, and is then but small.”
So then to her the fig-tree made reply:
“Nay! but when snows fall from the wintry sky,
And settle in thy leaves, still in their bloom,
Thy beauteous freshness doth but bring thee doom.
Whereas, on finding me of foliage quit,
Snow falls to earth. I am unhurt by it.”

To man’s disgrace tends beauty void of wit.


Fab. LXXI. — See note in Kitto’s Bible on Psalm lii. 8, respecting the greenness and long life of the olive tree.



(P. F. 42.)

Once did a spotted pard to boast begin
Of all the brute-kind the most various skin,
To whom said Reynard: “Be it so! Yet I
Possess a mind of more variety
Than thy skin or thy mind.”

                                                   Each magnifies
That which within his own possession lies.


Fab. LXXII. — Avianus (Fab. 40) has a version of this fable, the concluding lines of which are,  —

Vade, ait, et pictæ nimium confie figuræ,
Dum mihi consilium pulchrius esse queat,
Miremurque magis quos munera mentis adornant,
Quam qui corporeis enituere bonis.


(P. F. 36. Aristot. Rhet. II. 20)

Æsop in Samos to a chief, his friend,
Upon his trial, wishing aid to lend — 
This chief was of the wealthiest in the isle — 
With this apt fable did the mob beguile.
196 Crossing a rapid stream a fox one day
By the tide’s violence was borne away
Into the deep gorge of a rocky hole,
There falling down she lay, poor fainting soul,
Wholly unable from her place to move,
And long with her sad plight but feebly strove.
Then upon her a swarm of dog-ticks burst,
Craving for food, to suck her blood athirst.
But a stray hedgehog spied her troubled state,
And, to her sufferings compassionate,
Ask’d, runs the story, “If her wish would be
The dog-ticks’ slaughter?” “By no means,” said she,
I pray you by the Nymphs, this swarm disperse.”
“Why would you not be rid of such a curse?”
The hedgehog asked again. “Because e’en now
These in each vein are full of blood, I trow!”
Replied sly Reynard, “what they drain is slight.
Get rid of these when full, and you invite
Others to come, a famine-wasted force,
And wholly suck my blood without remorse.”


Fab. LXXIII. — Compare Aristotle, Rhet. II. 20, where, however, a demagogue, not a rich man, is represented as on his trial. Tiberius used this fable, a little altered, as a reason for not often changing governors of provinces, or appointing successors, unless in case of a governor’s death. See Whiston’s Josephus, Antiq. Jews, Book XVIII. c. vi. note 5.



(P. F. 409.)

The sow and bitch betwixt them held dispute
Which was best breeder. Said he sow, “No brute
With four legs bearest more quick than I, you’ll find.”
“Yes,” said the bitch, “but then your whelps are


(P. F. 408.)

A sow and bitch each other did revile.
The first, by her who guards Cythera’s isle,
Sware with her teeth the other’s bones to break.
The bitch then mock’d the thought a sow should take
An oath by Venus, as her favourite.
“That thou shouldst swear by Venus, sure, is fit!
198 For thou, ’tis plain, by her art most beloved,
Seeing that she hath from her fane removed
Farthest the men that make a meal of pork.”
Then grunts the sow, whose wits were all at work:
“Learn thou that it from this is chiefly seen,
How much beloved I am by beauty’s queen;
For hating him that seeks to do me hurt,
Or dares to kill me, him she doth avert.
But thou hast an ill-savour, live or dead.”

A man of sense converts whate’er is said
By evil speakers, mockery to raise,
Through skilful handling into real praise.



(P. F. 1.)

Evils once thrust the blessings all away
From their free sojourn midst the sons of clay.
For hosts of evils had the earth possest.
Then did the blessings soar to Heaven, in quest
Of satisfaction on th’ usurping race,
Nor deign’d with such to tarry in one place.
In blending with them Nature had been to blame!
How could they mix, if, evermore the same,
Jarring and quick-to-clash are man’s affairs?
To fix their rule, to Jove they lift their pray’rs.
Jove’s fiat was: “Let ills be mixt below.
Singly among men be it yours to go!”

Hence then it is, that ills in numbers run:
For they are join’d, and go not one by one.
But all good things come down from Jove to men,
Each to but one or two, and slowly then.



(P. F. 184.)

Grudging a bull its horns the camel went,
Pray’rs for the like at Jove’ throne to present.
Jove in disgust, because she wish’d for more,
Though she had a fine, stalwart frame before,
Not only gives no horns, but also shears,
To check her grasping, somewhat from her ears.

To seek what fate omits, unmeet appears.


(P. F. 360.)

To teach some apes bethought him Egypt’s king
The Pyrrhic dance. Of every living thing
Apes are most imitative. What men do
Under their notice, they will copy too.
201 Dress’d then in bright and elegant array,
These famous maskers set about their play,
With many looking on. Most gracefully
Awhile they acted: till a stander-by,
A fine smart fellow, from his vest let drop
Handfuls of nuts, and brought them to a stop.
These, spilt around, the apes no sooner view,
Than they cease dancing, tear their robes in two,
Smash all their masks, and rush on these amain,
Making their monkey-breeding vastly plain.

To change one’s nature is but toil in vain.


Fab. LXXVIII. — Compare with this fable, illustrative of the force of nature, Part I. Fab. XXXII. It is given also by Lucian; Piscator, c. 36, who likewise tells it of a king of Egypt. See also Lucian’s Apology, c.v. where the monkeys are said to have been the property of Cleopatra.


(P. F. 45.)

A goat athirst, when it beheld a pool,
Descended a deep gorge, its heat to cool.
He drank, ere he discover’d how unwise
Was his descent. Alone he could not rise
202 From out the pit. He paused, look’d up, and sought
Assistance. Thirst had just then Reynard brought
To pass the opening. She the goat espied,
And ask’d him, if the stream a draught supplied.
“Ay! and as clear as crystal!” answered he,
“But the hole’s steep, its outlet hard to see.”
The Fox then to the broad-beard made reply:
“Faint not at that: I look’d down from on high,
And judg’d that thence ’twas easy to ascend.
Come, make thine horns against the pit side bend,”
Thus said the Fox, “that I may come down so:
Then running up I’ll drag thee from below.”
She came down, drank, and went up from the pit,
Yet, after all, help’d not the goat a bit.
And when he blamed her base ingratitude,
Then the fox made this observation rude:
“Nay! if of sense you’d had as large a share,
As you can boast a wavy head of hair,
Not without egress had you been down there.”

[Back] [Blueprint] [Next]