Jean de La Fontaine Fables
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Dear prince, a special favourite of the skies,
Prince, I had wished for you a theme to choose,
 Duke de Bourgogne.Louis Duke de Bourgogne (Burgundy),
grandson of Louis XIV. He was the son of Louis de Bourbon, the Dauphin, to whom La Fontaine
had dedicated the first collection of his Fables. (See note, Dedication of Book 1. ) He was
born in 1682, and at the time of this dedication was about twelve years of age, and the
pupil of Fenelon.
 In war a hero.Louis, the Dauphin, father of the prince addressed. The
Dauphin was then in command of the army in Germany.
 This fable was first printed in the Mercure Galant, December, 1690, where it
had a few additional lines, which the author cut out on republication in his XIIth
 In war a hero.Louis, the Dauphin, father of the prince addressed. The Dauphin was then in command of the army in Germany.
 This fable was first printed in the Mercure Galant, December, 1690, where it had a few additional lines, which the author cut out on republication in his XIIth Book.
Contemporary with a sparrow tame
 The story of this fable seems to come from a fable by Furetiere, titled
"The Dog and the Cat." Antony Furetiere was more famous as a lexicographer, and through his
angry contention with the French Academy on the subject of his Dictionary, than as a poet.
He lived between 1620 and 1688.
Does 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,
But very great in his, he there
On 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
Between the monkey's and the miser's pleasure
Derived from that devoted treasure.
With some, Don Bertrand, would the honour 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 often 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
 The story is traced to the episode in Tristan L'Hermite's romance titled
"Le Page disgracie," treating of "The Monkey and Master Robert." L'Hermite lived
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,
It's there they cut their capers free:
There's nothing can stop these dames, I 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 confessed,
Two weasels scarce could go abreast.
And then the torrent, foaming white,
As down it tumbled from the height,
Might well those Amazons affright.
But maugre such a fearful rapid,
Both took the bridge, the goats intrepid!
I seem to see our Louis Grand
And Philip 4. advance
To the Isle of Conference,
That lies "between 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 Amalthaea,
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.
 This and several others of the fables in the XIIth Book are taken from
the "Themes" of the Duke de Bourgogne, afterwards published in Robert's "Fables Inedites."
These "Themes," were the joint composition of Fenelon, his pupil the infant Duke de
Bourgogne, and La Fontaine, and were first used in the education of the Duke. Fenelon
suggested the story, the pupil put it into prose, and La Fontaine versified it. La Fontaine
is eulogistic of the young Duke's "wit" in putting these "Themes" into prose in Fable 9,
 Louis Grand.Louis XIV. See note to Epilogue of Book 11.
 The Isle of Conference.The Pheasants' Isle in the river Bidassoa, which
separates France and Spain. It is called the Isle of Conference on account of several of the
Conferences, leading to Treaties, etc., between the two countries, having been held
 The Cyclop gave to Galataea.Polyphemus and Galataea: vide
Theocritus, Idyl 11.
 Amalthaea.Another story is that Amalthaea was not a goat, but a nymph
of Crete, who fed the infant Jupiter with goat's milk.
 In the original the last lines differ from those in the version of La Fontaine's
"Oeuvres Posthumes," published in 1696, the year after the poet's death. Indeed, variations
of text are common to most of the fables of the XIIth Book, on making the same comparison,
viz., of the first edition, 1694, and the edition in the "Oeuvres Posthumes."
 Louis Grand.Louis XIV. See note to Epilogue of Book 11.
 The Isle of Conference.The Pheasants' Isle in the river Bidassoa, which separates France and Spain. It is called the Isle of Conference on account of several of the Conferences, leading to Treaties, etc., between the two countries, having been held there.
 The Cyclop gave to Galataea.Polyphemus and Galataea: vide Theocritus, Idyl 11.
 Amalthaea.Another story is that Amalthaea was not a goat, but a nymph of Crete, who fed the infant Jupiter with goat's milk.
 In the original the last lines differ from those in the version of La Fontaine's "Oeuvres Posthumes," published in 1696, the year after the poet's death. Indeed, variations of text are common to most of the fables of the XIIth Book, on making the same comparison, viz., of the first edition, 1694, and the edition in the "Oeuvres Posthumes."
To please a youthful prince, whom Fame
Shall I for theme a king select
A young and inexperienced mouse
 The story is from Abstemius.
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.
 "The Gazelle" in Lokman's Fables.
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 ledgers, 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.
No money nor credit, It was plain to be seen
Their heads were now threatened with bonnets of green;
And, the facts of the case being everywhere known,
No mortal would open his purse with a loan.
Debts, bailiffs, and lawsuits, and creditors gruff,
At the crack of day knocking,
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,
 With bonnets of green.Such as insolvent debtors were anciently required
to wear, in France, after making cession of their effects, in order to escape
imprisonment.Translator. The custom also prevailed in Italy.
 With bonnets of green.Such as insolvent debtors were anciently required to wear, in France, after making cession of their effects, in order to escape imprisonment.Translator. The custom also prevailed in Italy.
Has 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 has 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 labours,
And threatened quarrels with the whip,
That, living in sweet cousinship,
They edified their wondering neighbours.
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 favours 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 on 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
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.
I marvel that a prince is able,
The traits which in his work we meet,
My mind but little does aspire
"Dear wolf," complained a hungry fox,
Young prince, to your unrivalled wit
 A prince.The infant Duke de Bourgogne. See Note to Table 4, Book
12. The context shows that La Fontaine was over seventy when this fable was written.
 Patroclus.In the Trojan war, when Achilles, on his difference with
Agamemnon, remained inactive in his tent, Patroclus, his friend, put on Achilles' "armour
dread," and so caused dire alarm to the Trojans, who thought that Achilles had at last
taken the field.
 Patroclus.In the Trojan war, when Achilles, on his difference with Agamemnon, remained inactive in his tent, Patroclus, his friend, put on Achilles' "armour dread," and so caused dire alarm to the Trojans, who thought that Achilles had at last taken the field.
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 fame 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.
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 I 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.
 Aesop; also in Avianus.
 Louis.Louis XIV.
 Louis.Louis XIV.
And one far different, I believe,
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 often in need of recreation,
Who rules the world,right well may I,
Who serve him in that high relation:
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
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 the 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.
It's far less easy than it seems
The gods, for that themselves are good,
A kite, possessor of a nest antique,
 Prince de Conti.This was Francis-Louis, Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon and
de Conti, another of La Fontaine's great friends at court. He was born in Paris, 1664, and
died in 1709.
 Would Hymen dwell.An allusion to the marriage of the Prince with
Marie-Theresa de Bourbon (Mdlle. de Blois, the daughter of the King and La Valliere), which
took place in 1688.
 Prince de Conti.This was Francis-Louis, Prince de la Roche-sur-Yon and de Conti, another of La Fontaine's great friends at court. He was born in Paris, 1664, and died in 1709.
 Would Hymen dwell.An allusion to the marriage of the Prince with Marie-Theresa de Bourbon (Mdlle. de Blois, the daughter of the King and La Valliere), which took place in 1688.
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 you, greedy reprobate!
And suck your 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 neighbour fox," said he,
My quills these rascals shall empale,
And ease your torments without fail."
"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.
 Aesop; also Philibert Hegemon, and others.
His arrows, quiver, torch, and infancy:
It's not a trifling work to sound
A sea of science so profound:
And, hence, explain it all today
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 has 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 it 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.
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 extort.
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:
Poor Folly was condemned at last,
By judgment of the court above,
To serve for aye as guide to Love.
 It is thought that La Fontaine owed somewhat of his idea of this fable
to one of the poems of Louise Labbe, "the beautiful ropemaker," as she was called, who
lived between 1526 and 1566.
 This fable was first published in the collection of the "Works in Prose, and Verse
of the Sieurs Maucroix and La Fontaine," issued by the joint authors in 1685. See, for M.
de Maucroix, note to Fable 1, Book 3.
 This fable was first published in the collection of the "Works in Prose, and Verse of the Sieurs Maucroix and La Fontaine," issued by the joint authors in 1685. See, for M. de Maucroix, note to Fable 1, Book 3.
A temple I reserved you in my rhyme:
Rat, raven, tortoise, and gazelle,
 Madame de la Sabliere.See note to Fable 1, Book 10. : also Translator's
 Some mortals kneeling at her feet.In allusion to the distinguished
company which assembled at the house of Madame de la Sabliere. See notes on John Sobieski
(King John 3, of Poland), etc., Fable 1, Book 10.
 Such a fool.In allusion to Fable XIX., Book 1.
 This fable was also first published in the "Works" of De Maucroix and La Fontaine,
1685. The text of the later issue is slightly abridged.
 Madame de la Sabliere.See note to Fable 1, Book 10. : also Translator's Preface.
 Some mortals kneeling at her feet.In allusion to the distinguished company which assembled at the house of Madame de la Sabliere. See notes on John Sobieski (King John 3, of Poland), etc., Fable 1, Book 10.  Such a fool.In allusion to Fable XIX., Book 1.  This fable was also first published in the "Works" of De Maucroix and La Fontaine, 1685. The text of the later issue is slightly abridged.
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 loana 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 nothing 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,
 First published in 1685, in the "Works" of De Maucroix and La Fontaine;
a statement applying also to several of the remaining fables.
Had seen a horse, the first he ever saw:
"Ho! neighbour wolf," said he to one quite green,
"A creature in our 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?"
The wolf demanded, eagerly;
"Some picture of him let me see."
"If I could paint," said fox, "I should delight
T" 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 has writ the same."
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 your jaws this animal has writ,
"All unknown things the wise mistrust.""
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.
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,
To which was given a wife:
Like many a one that marries,
This ape, in brutal strife,
Soon beat her out of life.
Their infant cries,perhaps not fed,
But cries, I believe, 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 anything that's good, you need not look
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 everywhere,
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,
"I humbly crave your pardon, sir;
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 neighbours
To imitate his pruning labours.
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 I set beside
"Between elephant and beast of horned nose
A sage, who said, "My friend, well done!
Receive this guinea for your pains;
They well deserve far higher gains.
The workman's worthy of his hire,
It's said. There comes a wealthy squire,
Who has wherewith your works to pay;
To him direct your gifts, and they
Shall gain their proper recompense."
Urged by the hope of gain,
On the wealthy citizen
The fool repeated the offence.
His pay this time was not in gold.
On 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.
 Phaedrus, 3, 4; also Aesop.
Sound reason and a tender heart
With mind to match the outward case,
The rogue would try the trick again.
 Madame Harvey.An English lady (nee Montagu), the widow of an
officer of Charles 2. (of England) who is said to have died at Constantinople. She was a
visitor at the English embassy in Paris, and moved in the highest circles generally of that
city; a circumstance which enabled La Fontaine to make her acquaintance and secure her as
one of his best friends and patrons. She died in 1702.
 Your Prince.Charles 2. of England.
 Cytherea's isle.Where Venus was worshipped.
 Goddess Mazarin.The Duchess de Mazarin, niece to the Cardinal. She was
at this time in England, where she died (at Chelsea) in 1699. She married the Duke de la
Meilleraie, but it was stipulated that she should adopt the name and arms of
 Madame Harvey.An English lady (nee Montagu), the widow of an officer of Charles 2. (of England) who is said to have died at Constantinople. She was a visitor at the English embassy in Paris, and moved in the highest circles generally of that city; a circumstance which enabled La Fontaine to make her acquaintance and secure her as one of his best friends and patrons. She died in 1702.
 Your Prince.Charles 2. of England.
 Cytherea's isle.Where Venus was worshipped.
 Goddess Mazarin.The Duchess de Mazarin, niece to the Cardinal. She was at this time in England, where she died (at Chelsea) in 1699. She married the Duke de la Meilleraie, but it was stipulated that she should adopt the name and arms of Mazarin.
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 swampsI 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 clamours, 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.
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 on this whirling ball,
Of men and things, was left at stake
On 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.
 Phaedrus, 1, 6. Fable 12, Book 6, gives another version of the same
 The sun.This fable has reference to the current troubles between France
and the Dutch. Louis XIV. is the sun. He had adopted the sun as his emblem.
 The sun.This fable has reference to the current troubles between France and the Dutch. Louis XIV. is the sun. He had adopted the sun as his emblem.
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 neighbour of a higher race,
Whose lordshipI should say his ratship
Lay in a great hotel;
And who had boasted often, it's 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 court'sy dropped,
And off the hero scampered quick,
Nor till he reached the buttery stopped,
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 feasters says,
"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!" they cry and call.
Some ratties by their fears
Were melted even to tears.
It mattered not a whisk,
Nor checked the valour brisk.
Each took on 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
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.
Offspring of her to whom, today,
A blooming miracle of yore
He would have added, but his heart
 Theocritus, Idyl 23.
 Madame de la Mesangere.This lady was the daughter of Madame de la
Sabliere.Translator. She was the lady termed La Marquise with whom Fontenelle
sustained his imaginary "conversation" in the "Plurality of Worlds," a book which became
very popular both in France and England.
 Dido's faithless guest.Aeneas, with whom Dido, according to Virgil and
Ovid, was in love, but who loved not, and sailed away.
 Madame de la Mesangere.This lady was the daughter of Madame de la Sabliere.Translator. She was the lady termed La Marquise with whom Fontenelle sustained his imaginary "conversation" in the "Plurality of Worlds," a book which became very popular both in France and England.
 Dido's faithless guest.Aeneas, with whom Dido, according to Virgil and Ovid, was in love, but who loved not, and sailed away.
Pursued, with hearts alike most zealous,
By routes diverse, their common aim.
All 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.
The sickfor 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 favourites are such and such;
With them he watches over-much,
And lets us die," they say,
Such sore complaints from day to day
Were nothing 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
Such was the hermit's answer brief;
But business, still, from life must not be stricken
 This fable was first printed in the "Recueil de vers choisis du P. Bouhours," published in 1693, and afterwards given as the last of La Fontaine's Book 12.
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