Prologue.WHAT from the founder Esop fell,
In neat familiar verse I tell:
Twofold's the genius of the page,
To make you smile and make you sage.
But if the critics we displease,
By wrangling brutes and talking trees,
Let them remember, ere they blame,
We're working neither sin nor shame;
'Tis but a play to form the youth
By fiction, in the cause of truth.
The Wolf and the LambBY thirst incited; to the brook
The Wolf and Lamb themselves betook.
The Wolf high up the current drank,
The Lamb far lower down the bank.
Then, bent his ravenous maw to cram,
The Wolf took umbrage at the Lamb.
"How dare you trouble all the flood,
And mingle my good drink with mud?"
"Sir," says the Lambkin, sore afraid,
"How should I act, as you upbraid?
The thing you mention cannot be,
The stream descends from you to me."
Abash'd by facts, says he, " I know
'Tis now exact six months ago
You strove my honest fame to blot"-
"Six months ago, sir, I was not."
"Then 'twas th' old ram thy sire," he cried,
And so he tore him, till he died.
To those this fable I address
Who are determined to oppress,
And trump up any false pretence,
But they will injure innocence.
The Frogs Desiring a KingWith equal laws when Athens throve,
The petulance of freedom drove
Their state to license, which overthrew
Those just restraints of old they knew.
Hence, as a factious discontent
Through every rank and order went,
Pisistratus the tyrant form'd
A party, and the fort he storm'd:
Which yoke, while all bemoaned in grief
(Not that he was a cruel chief,
But they unused to be controlled)
Then Esop thus his fable told:
The Frogs, a freeborn people made,
From out their marsh with clamor pray'd
That Jove a monarch would assign
With power their manners to refine.
The sovereign smiled, and on their bog
Bent his petitioners a log,
Which, as it dash'd upon the place,
At first alarm'd the tim'rous race.
But ere it long had lain to cool,
One slily peep'd out of the pool,
And finding it a king in jest,
He boldly summoned all the rest.
Now, void of fear, the tribe advance,
And on the timber leap'd and danced,
And having let their fury loose,
In gross affronts and rank abuse,
Of Jove they sought another king,
For useless was this wooden thing.
Then he a water-snake empower'd,
Who one by one their race devoured.
They try to make escape in vain,
Nor, dumb through fear, can they complain.
By stealth they Mercury depute,
That Jove would once more hear their suit,
And send their sinking state to save;
But he in wrath this answer gave:
"You scorn'd the good king that you had,
And therefore you shall bear the bad."
Ye likewise, 0 Athenian friends,
Convinced to what impatience tends,
Though slavery be no common curse,
Be still, for fear of worse and worse.
The Vain JackdawLest any one himself should plume,
And on his neighbour's worth presume;
But still let Nature's garb prevail-
Esop has left this little tale:
A Daw, ambitious and absurd,
Pick'd up the quills of Juno's bird;
And, with the gorgeous spoil adorn'd,
All his own sable brethren scorn'd,
And join'd the peacocks-who in scoff
Stripp'd the bold thief; and drove him off
The Daw, thus roughly handled, went
To his own kind in discontent:
But they in turn contemn the spark,
And brand with many a shameful mark.
Then one he formerly disdain'd,
"Had you," said he, "at home remain'd--
Content with Nature's ways and will,
You had not felt the peacock's bill;
Nor 'mongst the birds of your own dress
Had been deserted in distress."
The Dog in the River.The churl that wants another's fare
Deserves at least to lose his share.
As through the stream a Dog convey'd
A piece of meat, he spied his shade
In the clear mirror of the flood,
And thinking it was flesh and blood,
Snapp'd to deprive him of the treat:-
But mark the glutton's self-defeat,
Miss'd both another's and his own,
Both shade and substance, beef and bone.
The Heifer, Goat, Sheep, and Lion.A partnership with men in power
We cannot build upon an hour.
This Fable proves the fact too true:
An Heifer, Goat, and harmless Ewe,
Were with the Lion as allies,
To raise in desert woods supplies.
There, when they jointly had the luck
To take a most enormous buck,
The Lion first the parts disposed,
And then his royal will disclosed.
" The first, as Lion hight, I crave;
The next you yield to me, as brave;
The third is my peculiar due,
As being stronger far than you;
The fourth you likewise will renounce,
For him that touches, I shall trounce."
Thus rank unrighteousness and force
Seized all the prey without remorse.
The Frogs and SunWhen Esop saw, with inward grief,
The nuptials of a neighboring thief,
He thus his narrative begun:
Of old 'twas rumor'd that the Sun
Would take a wife: with hideous cries
The quer'lous Frogs alarm'd the skies.
Moved at their murmurs, Jove inquired
What was the thing that they desired?
When thus a tenant of the lake,
In terror, for his brethren spake:
"Ev'n now one Sun too much is found,
And dries up all the pools around,
Till we thy creatures perish here;
But oh, how dreadfully severe,
Should he at length be made a sire,
And propagate a race of fire !"
The Fox and the Tragic MaskA Fox beheld a Mask- "0 rare
The headpiece, if but brains were there !"
This holds-whene'er the Fates dispense
Pomp, pow'r, and everything but sense.
The Wolf and CraneWho for his merit seeks a price
From men of violence and vice,
Is twice a fool-first so declared,
As for the worthless he has cared;
Then after all, his honest aim
Must end in punishment and shame.
A bone the Wolf devoured in haste,
Stuck in his greedy throat so fast,
That, tortured with the pain, he roar'd,
And ev'ry beast around implored,
That who a remedy could find
Should have a premium to his mind.
A Crane was wrought upon to trust
His oath at length-and down she thrust
Her neck into his throat impure,
And so perform'd a desp'rate cure.
At which, when she desired her fee,
"You base, ungrateful minx," says he,
"Whom I so kind forbore to kill,
And now, forsooth, you'd bring your bill!"
The Hare and the SparrowStill to give cautions, as a friend,
And not one's own affairs attend,
Is but impertinent and vain,
As these few verses will explain.
A Sparrow taunted at a Hare
Caught by an eagle high in air,
And screaming loud-- "Where now," says she,
" Is your renown'd velocity ?
Why loiter'd your much boasted speed?"
Just as she spake, an hungry glede
Did on th' injurious railer fall,
Nor could her cries avail at all.
The Hare, with its expiring breath,
Thus said: " See comfort ev'n in death!
She that derided my distress
Must now deplore her own no less."
The Wolf and Fox, with the Ape for JudgeWhoe'er by practice indiscreet
Has pass'd for a notorious cheat,
Will shortly find his credit fail,
Though he speak truth, says Esop's tale.
The Wolf the Fox for theft arraigned;
The Fox her innocence maintained:
The Ape, as umpire, takes his seat;
Each pleads his cause with skill and heat.
Then thus the Ape, with aspect grave,
The sentence from the hustings gave:
"For you, Sir Wolf, I do descry
That all your losses are a lie-
And you, with negatives so stout,
0 Fox! have stolen the goods no doubt."
The Ass and the Lion HuntingA coward, full of pompous speech,
The ignorant may overreach;
But is the laughing-stock of those
Who know how far his valor goes.
Once on a time it came to pass,
The Lion hunted with the Ass,
Whom hiding in the thickest shade
He there proposed should lend him aid,
By trumpeting so strange a bray,
That all the beasts he should dismay,
And drive them o'er the desert heath
Into the lurking Lion's teeth.
Proud of the task, the long-ear'd loon
Struck up such an outrageous tune,
That 'twas a miracle to hear-
The beasts forsake their haunts with fear,
And in the Lion's fangs expired:
Who, being now with slaughter tired,
Call'd out the Ass, whose noise he stops.
The Ass, parading from the copse,
Cried out with most conceited scoff,
"How did my music-piece go off?
So well-were not thy courage known,
Their terror had been all my own!"
The Stag at the FountainFULL often what you now despise
Proves better than the things you prize;
Let Esop's narrative decide:
A Stag beheld, with conscious pride,
(As at the fountain-head he stood)
His image in the silver flood,
And there extols his branching horns,
While his poor spindle-shanks he scorns-
But, lo! he hears the hunter's cries,
And, frightened, o'er the champaign flies--
His swiftness baffles the pursuit:
At length a wood receives the brute,
And by his horns entangled there,
The pack began his flesh to tear:
Then dying thus he wail'd his fate:
"Unhappy me! and wise too late!
How useful what I did disdain!
How grievous that which made me vain!
The Fox and the CrowHis folly in repentance ends,
Who, to a flatt'ring knave attends.
A Crow, her hanger to appease,
Had from a window stolen some cheese,
And sitting on a lofty pine
In state, was just about to dine.
This, when a Fox observed below,
He thus harangued the foolish Crow:
" Lady, how beauteous to the view
Those glossy plumes of sable hue!
Thy features how divinely fair!
With what a shape, and what an air!
Could you but frame your voice to sing,
You'd have no rival on the wing.'
But she, now willing to display
Her talents in the vocal way,
Let go the cheese of luscious taste,
Which Renard seized with greedy haste.
The grudging dupe now sees at last
That for her folly she must fast.
The Cobbler Turned DoctorA bankrupt Cobbler, poor and lean,
(No bungler e'er was half so mean)
Went to a foreign place, and there
Began his med'cines to prepare;
But one of more especial note
He call'd his sovereign antidote;
And by his technical bombast
Contrived to raise a name at last.
It happen'd that the king was sick,
Who, willing to detect the trick,
Call'd for some water in an ewer,
Poison in which he feign'd to pour
The antidote was likewise mix'd;
He then upon th' empiric fix'd
To take the medicated cup,
And, for a premium, drink it up
The quack, through dread of death, confessed
That he was of no skill possessed;
But all this great and glorious job
Was made of nonsense and the mob.
Then did the king his peers convoke,
And thus unto th' assembly spoke:
" My lords and gentlemen, I rate
Your folly as inordinate,
Who trust your heads into his hand,
Where no one had his heels japann'd."--
This story their attention craves
Whose weakness is the prey of knaves.
The Sapient AssIn all the changes of a state,
The poor are the most fortunate,
Who, save the name of him they call
Their king, can find no odds at all.
The truth of this you now may read-
A fearful old man in a mead,
While leading of his Ass about,
Was startled at the sudden shout
Of enemies approaching nigh.
He then advised the Ass to fly,
"Lest we be taken in the place:"
But loth at all to mend his pace,
"Pray, will the conqueror," quoth Jack,
"With double panniers load my back ?"
"No," says the man. "If that's the thing,"
Cries he, "I care not who is king."
The Sheep, the Stag, and the WolfWhen one rogue would another get
For surety in a case of debt,
'Tis not the thing t' accept the terms,
But dread th' event-the tale affirms.
A Stag approached the Sheep, to treat
For one good bushel of her wheat.
"The honest Wolf will give his bond."
At which, beginning to despond,
"The Wolf (cries she) 's a vagrant bite,
And you are quickly out of sight;
Where shall I find or him or you
Upon the day the debt is due ?"
The Sheep, the Dog, and the Wolf.Liars are liable to rue
The mischief they 're so prone to do.
The Sheep a Dog unjustly dunn'd
One loaf directly to refund,
Which he the Dog to the said Sheep
Had given in confidence to keep.
The Wolf was summoned, and he swore
It was not one, but ten or more.
The Sheep was therefore cast at law
To pay for things she never saw.
But, lo! ere many days ensued,
Dead in a ditch the Wolf she view'd:
"This, this," she cried, "is Heaven's decree
Of justice on a wretch like thee."
(mulier Parturiens)Not here translated.
The Bitch and Her PuppiesBad men have speeches smooth and fair,
Of which, that we should be aware,
And such designing villains thwart,
The underwritten lines exhort.
A Bitch besought one of her kin
For room to put her Puppies in:
She, loth to say her neighbour nay,
Directly lent both hole and hay.
But asking to be repossessed,
For longer time the former press'd,
Until her Puppies gathered strength,
Which second lease expired at length;
And when, abused at such a rate,
The lender grew importunate,
"The place," quoth she, " I will resign
When you 're a match for me and mine.'
The Hungry DogsA stupid plan that fools project,
Not only will not take effect,
ut proves destructive in the end
To those that bungle and pretend.
Some hungry Dogs beheld an hide
Deep sunk beneath the crystal tide,
Which, that they might extract for food,
They strove to drink up all the flood;
But bursten in the desp'rate deed,
They perish'd, ere they could succeed.
The Old LionWhoever, to his honor's cost,
His pristine dignity has lost,
Is the fool's jest and coward's scorn,
When once deserted and forlorn.
With years enfeebled and decay'd,
A Lion gasping hard was laid:
Then came, with furious tusk, a boar,
To vindicate his wrongs of yore:
The hull was next in hostile spite,
With goring horn his foe to smite:
At length the ass himself, secure
That now impunity was sure,
His blow too insolently deals,
And kicks his forehead with his heel.
Then thus the Lion, as he died:
"'Twas hard to bear the brave," he cried;
But to be trampled on by thee
Is Nature's last indignity;
And thou, 0 despicable thing,
Giv'st death at least a double sting."
The Man and the WeaselA Weasel, by a person caught,
And willing to get off; besought
The man to spare. "Be not severe
On him that keeps your pantry clear
"This were," says he, "a work of price,
Of those intolerable mice."
If done entirely for my sake,
And good had been the plea you make:
But since, with all these pains and care,
You seize yourself the dainty fare
On which those vermin used to fall,
And then devour the mice and all,
Urge not a benefit in vain."
This said, the miscreant was slain.
The satire here those chaps will own,
Who, useful to themselves alone,
And bustling for a private end,
Would boast the merit of a friend.
The Faithful House-dogA Man that's gen'rous all at once
May dupe a novice or a dunce;
But to no purpose are the snares
He for the knowing ones prepares.
When late at night a felon tried
To bribe a Dog with food, he cried,
"What ho ! do you attempt to stop
The mouth of him that guards the shop?
You're mightily mistaken, sir,
For this strange kindness is a spur,
To make me double all my din,
Lest such a scoundrel should come in."
The Proud FrogWhen poor men to expenses run,
And ape their betters, they 're undone.
An Ox the Frog a-grazing view'd,
And envying his magnitude,
She puffs her wrinkled skin, and tries
To vie with his enormous size:
Then asks her young to own at least
That she was bigger than the beast.
They answer, No. With might and main
She swells and strains, and swells again.
"Now for it, who has got the day ?"
The Ox is larger still, they say.
At length, with more and more ado,
She raged and puffed, and burst in two.
The Dog and the CrocodileWho give bad precepts to the wise,
And cautious men with guile advise,
Not only lose their toil and time,
But slip into sarcastic rhyme.
The dogs that are about the Nile,
Through terror of the Crocodile,
Are therefore said to drink and run.
It happen'd on a day, that one,
As scamp'ring by the river side,
Was by the Crocodile espied:
"Sir, at your leisure drink, nor fear
The least design or treach'ry here."
"That," says the Dog, "ma'm, would I do
With all my heart, and thank you too,
But as you can on dog's flesh dine,
You shall not taste a bit of mine."
The Fox and the StorkOne should do injury to none;
But he that has th' assault begun,
Ought, says the fabulist, to find
The dread of being served in kind,
A Fox, to sup within his cave
The Stork an invitation gave,
Where, in a shallow dish, was pour'd
Some broth, which he himself devoured;
While the poor hungry Stork was fain
Inevitably to abstain.
The Stork, in turn, the Fox invites,
And brings her liver and her lights
Ina ta 11 flagon, finely minced,
And thrusting in her beak, convinced
The Fox that he in grief must fast,
While she enjoy'd the rich repast.
Then, as in vain he lick'd the neck,
The Stork was heard her guest to check, -
' That every one the fruits should bear
Of their example, is but fair."
The Dog, Treasure, and Vulture.A Dog, while scratching up the ground,
'Mongst human bones a treasure found;
But as his sacrilege was great,
To covet riches was his fate,
And punishment of his offence;
He therefore never stirr'd from thence,
But both in hunger and the cold,
With anxious care he watch'd the gold,
Till wholly negligent of food,
A ling'ring death at length ensued.
Upon his corse a Vulture stood,
And thus descanted :-" It is good,
O Dog, that there thou liest bereaved
Who in the highway wast conceived,
And on a scurvy dunghill bred,
Hadst royal riches in thy head."
The Fox and EagleHowe'er exalted in your sphere,
There's something from the mean to fear
For, if their property you wrong,
The poor's revenge is quick and strong
When on a time an Eagle stole
The cubs from out a Fox's hole,
And bore them to her young away,
That they might feast upon the prey
The dam pursues the winged thief,
And deprecates so great a grief;
But safe upon the lofty tree,
The Eagle scorn'd the Fox's plea.
With that the Fox perceived at hand
An altar, whence she snatched a brand,
And compassing with flames the wood,
Put her in terror for her brood.
She therefore, lest her house should burn,
Submissive did the cubs return.
The Donkey and the BoarNot here translated
The Frogs and BullsMen of low life are in distress
When great ones enmity profess.
There was a Bull-fight in the fen,
A Frog cried out in trouble then,
"Oh, what perdition on our race!"
"How," says another, "can the case
Be quite so desp'rate as you've said?
For they're contending who is head,
And lead a life from us disjoin'd,
Of sep'rate station, diverse kind."-
" But he, who worsted shall retire,
Will come into this lowland mire,
And with his hoof dash out our brains
Wherefore their rage to us pertains."
The Kite and the DovesHe that would have the wicked reign,
Instead of help will find his bane.
The Doves had oft escaped the Kite,
By their celerity of flight;
The ruffian then to coz'nage stoop'd,
And thus the tim'rous race he duped:
"Why do you lead a life of fear,
Rather than my proposals hear ?
Elect me for your king, and I
Will all your race indemnify."
They foolishly the Kite believed,
Who having now the pow'r received,
Began upon the Doves to prey,
And exercise tyrannic sway.
"Justly," says one who yet remain'd,
" We die the death ourselves ordained."