Jean de La Fontaine Fables
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To Madame De Montespan 
The apologue is from the immortal gods;
 Here commences the second collection of La Fontaine's Fables, comprising
Books 7. to 11. This collection was published in 1678-9, ten years after the publication of
the foregoing six Books. See Translator's Preface.
 Madame de Montespan.Francoise-Athenais de Rochechouart de Mortemart,
Marquise de Montespan, born 1641, died 1707. She became one of the mistresses of the "Grand
Monarque," Louis XIV, in 1668.
 The apologue.Here, as in the opening fable of Books 5. and 6, and
elsewhere, La Fontaine defines Fable and defends the art of the Fabulist.
 Madame de Montespan.Francoise-Athenais de Rochechouart de Mortemart, Marquise de Montespan, born 1641, died 1707. She became one of the mistresses of the "Grand Monarque," Louis XIV, in 1668.
 The apologue.Here, as in the opening fable of Books 5. and 6, and elsewhere, La Fontaine defines Fable and defends the art of the Fabulist.
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.
They died not all, but all were sick:
No hunting now, by force or trick,
To save what might so soon expire.
No food excited their desire;
Nor wolf nor fox now watched 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 flatter,
But make clean conscience in the matter.
For me, my appetite has played the glutton
Too much and often on mutton.
What harm had ever my victims done?
I answer, truly, None.
Perhaps, sometimes, by hunger pressed,
I have eat the shepherd with the rest.
I yield myself, if need there be;
And yet I think, in equity,
Each should confess his sins with me;
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 honour to their race.
And as to shepherds, one may swear,
The fate your majesty describes,
Is recompense less full than fair
For such usurpers over our tribes."
Thus Renard glibly spoke,
The ass, confessing in his turn,
On this, a hue and cry arose,
Thus human courts acquit the strong,
 One of the most original as well as one of the most beautiful of the
poet's fables, yet much of the groundwork of its story may be traced in the Fables of
Bidpai and other collections. See also note to Fable 22, Book 1.
Than beauty in this planet fair,
There would be then less need of care
About the contracts Hymen closes.
But beauty often is the bait
To love that only ends in hate;
And many hence repent too late
Of wedding thorns from wooing roses.
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,
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
On 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 I thought,
And thus their hatred quickly bought;
For which I do not carenot I."
"Ah, madam," did her spouse reply,
"If still your 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 badinage of La Fontaine having been misunderstood, the translator has
altered the introduction to this fable. The intention of the fable is to recommend prudence
and good nature, not celibacy. So the peerless Granville understands it, for his pencil
tells us that the hero of the fable did finally recall his wife, notwithstanding his fearful
imprecation. It seems that even she was better than none.Translator; (in his sixth
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,
Both 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,
For some small aid, for they
To foreign parts were on their way,
For succour 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 succour 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 I use this niggard rat?
To paint a monk? No, but a dervise.
A monk, I think, however fat,
Must be more bountiful than that.
 God's blessing, etc.So the rat himself professed to consider
A long-legged heron chanced to fare
By a certain river's brink,
With his long, sharp beak
Helved on his slender neck;
It was 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,
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!
I 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 never 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 often 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.
It's not for the herons I put this case,
You featherless people, of human race.
List to another tale as true,
And you'll hear the lesson brought home to you.
 The lesson brought home to you. The two last lines refer the reader to the next
 The lesson brought home to you. The two last lines refer the reader to the next fable.
A husband thought to find
Exactly to her mind
Well-formed and young, genteel in air,
Not cold nor jealous;mark this well.
Whoever would wed this dainty belle
Must have, besides rank, wealth, and wit,
And all good qualities to fit
A man it were 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 I 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.
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 then an open door.
"They think me much in haste to part
With independence! God be thanked
My lonely nights bring no regret;
Nor shall 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 ever takes place.
Her daintiness now changed its tune;
Her mirror told her, "Marry soon!"
So did a certain wish within,
With more of secrecy than sin,
A wish that dwells with even prudes,
This maiden's choice was past belief,
She soothing down her restless grief,
And smoothing it of every ripple,
By marrying a cripple.
 This fable should be read in conjunction with the foregoing
Familiar sprites of much domestic use:
They sweep the house, and take a tidy care
Of equipage, nor garden work refuse;
But, if you meddle with their toil,
The whole, at once, you're sure to spoil.
One, near the mighty Ganges flood,
The garden of a burgher good
Worked noiselessly and well;
To master, mistress, garden, bore
A love that time and toil outwore,
And bound him like a spell.
Did friendly zephyrs blow,
The demon's pains to aid?
(For so they do, it's said.)
I own I do not know.
But for himself he rested not,
And richly blessed his master's lot.
What marked his strength of love,
He lived a fixture on the place,
In spite of tendency to rove
So natural to his race.
But brother sprites conspiring
With importunity untiring,
So teased their goblin chief, that he,
Of his caprice, or policy,
Our sprite commanded to attend
A house in Norway's farther end,
Whose roof was snow-clad through the year,
And sheltered human kind with deer.
Before departing to his hosts
Thus spake this best of busy ghosts:
"To foreign parts I'm forced to go!
For what sad fault I do not know;
But go I must; a month's delay,
Or week's perhaps, and I'm away.
Seize time; three wishes make at will;
For three I'm able to fulfil
No more." Quick at their easy task,
Abundance first these wishers ask
Abundance, with her stores unlocked
Barns, coffers, cellars, larder, stocked
Corn, cattle, wine, and money,
The overflow of milk and honey.
But what to do with all this wealth!
What inventories, cares, and worry!
What wear of temper and of health!
Both lived in constant, slavish hurry.
Thieves took by plot, and lords by loan;
The king by tax, the poor by tone.
Thus felt the curses which
Arise from being rich,
"Remove this affluence!" they pray;
The poor are happier than they
Whose riches make them slaves.
"Go, treasures, to the winds and waves;
Come, goddess of the quiet breast,
Who sweet'nest toil with rest,
Dear Mediocrity, return!"
The prayer was granted as we learn.
Two wishes thus expended,
Had simply ended
In bringing them exactly where,
When they set out they were.
So, usually, it fares
With those who waste in such vain prayers
The time required by their affairs.
The goblin laughed, and so did they.
However, before he went away,
To profit by his offer kind,
They asked for wisdom, wealth of mind,
A treasure void of care and sorrow
A treasure fearless of the morrow,
Let who will steal, or beg, or borrow.
What bestial tribes were subject to his sway.
He therefore gave his vassals all,
By deputies a call,
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
From danger thus withdrawn,
 Phaedrus. 4. 13.
 The Normans are proverbial among the French for the oracular noncommittal of their
responses.Un Normand, says the proverb, a son dit et son
 The Normans are proverbial among the French for the oracular noncommittal of their responses.Un Normand, says the proverb, a son dit et son detit.Translator.
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 bowers,
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, it's said,
Had to this civil carnage led.
Blood rained on the swarded green,
And valiant deeds were done, I hope.
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.
It was sport to see the battle rage,
And valiant hawk with hawk engage;
It was 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 stanch 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
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 whilehe knew It was so
He made the team and carriage go,
On carriage-pole sometimes alighting
Or driver's noseand biting.
And when the whole did get in motion,
Confirmed and settled in the notion,
He took, himself, the total glory,
Flew back and forth in wondrous hurry,
And, as he buzz'd 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 songsnot greatly needed!
Thus in their ears he sharply sang,
And notes of indignation ran,
Notes, after all, not greatly heeded.
Erelong the coach was on the top:
"Now," said the fly, "my hearties, stop
And breathe;I have 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
 Aesop; also Phaedrus, 3, 6.
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,
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 builds not, sometimes, in air
 This and the following fable should be read together. See note to next
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 changelessIt's 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 Cabbagepate
Watched over 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!
His rich, parishioner in lead
Drew on the priest the doom
Of riding with him to the tomb!
The Pot of Milk, and fate
 This fable is founded on a fact, which is related by Madame de Sevigne
in her Letters under date Feb. 26, 1672, as follows: "M. Boufflers has killed a man
since his death: the circumstance was this: they were carrying him about a league from
Boufflers to inter him; the corpse was on a bier in a coach; his own curate attended it;
the coach overset, and the bier falling on the curate's neck choaked him." M. de Boufflers
had fallen down dead a few days before. He was the eldest brother of the Duke de Boufflers.
In another Letter, March 3, 1672, Madame de Sevigne says: "Here is Fontaine's fable
too, on the adventure of M. de Boufflers' curate, who was killed in the coach by his dead
patron. There was something very extraordinary in the affair itself: the fable is pretty;
but not to be compared to the one that follows it: I do not understand the Milk-pot."
 This allusion to the preceding fable must be the "milk-pot" which Madame de Sevigne
did "not understand" (vide last note); Madame can hardly have meant the "milk-pot"
fable, which is easily understood. She often saw La Fontaine's work before it was
published, and the date of her letter quoted at p. 161 shows that she must so have seen the
"Curate and the Corpse," and that, perhaps, without so seeing the "Dairywoman and the Pot
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, over 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 cabbagesand now he's pope.
Don't we deserve as rich a prize?"
Ay, richer? But, has 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?
It's rarely Fortune's favourites
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
 See note to preceding fable, for Madame de Sevigne's opinion.
A war was kindled by a hen.
O love, you bane of Troy! It was 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 over the neighbourhood,
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.
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 on 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!
It's thus that Fortune loves to flee
The insolent by victory.
We should mistrust her when we beat,
Lest triumph lead us to defeat.
Freight after freight the winds in favour 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 goodstobacco, 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 wherever 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?
I 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,
Overcame, and bore it off a prize.
A third, arriving at its port,
Had failed to sell its merchandize,
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;
 On this favourite subject with the easy-going La Fontaineman's ungracious
treatment of Fortunesee also the two preceding fables, and some neighbouring
 On this favourite subject with the easy-going La Fontaineman's ungracious treatment of Fortunesee also the two preceding fables, and some neighbouring ones.
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
All shopmen know the force of signs,
 Pythoness.The Pythoness was the priestess who gave out the
oracles at Delphi.
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 on 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.
"You 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 had like to know what will
Could grant to John perpetual reign,
The son of Peter or of Bill,
More than to Paul, or even me."
John Rabbit spokegreat 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 anything.
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
 Fables of Bidpai, "The Rat and the Cat." In Knatchbull's English
edition it will be found at p. 275. Also in the Lokman Collection.
 Raminagrobis.This name occurs in Rabelais (Book 3, ch. 21), where,
however, it is not the name of a cat, but of a poetunderstood to be meant for
Guillaume Cretin, who lived in the times of Kings Charles 8, Louis 12, and Francis 1. See
note to Bohn's edition of Rabelais.
 Raminagrobis.This name occurs in Rabelais (Book 3, ch. 21), where, however, it is not the name of a cat, but of a poetunderstood to be meant for Guillaume Cretin, who lived in the times of Kings Charles 8, Louis 12, and Francis 1. See note to Bohn's edition of Rabelais.
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
The first had always gone ahead;
The tail had been for ever led;
And now to Heaven it prayed,
"O, many and many a league,
Dragged on in sore fatigue,
Behind his back I go.
Shall he for ever 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,
I'm just as good as he:
A poison dwells in me
As virulent as does
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
 Plutarch's Lives, Agis, "The fable of the servant, enforcing the
moral that you cannot have the same man both for your governor and your slave."
 An ancient mistake in natural history.Translator.
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 whenever
On mere senses we rely.
But when we wisely rectify
The raw report of eye or ear,
By distance, medium, circumstance,
In real knowledge we advance.
These things has 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,
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;
I 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 never 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 Reasonfoe 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;
So that, besides the human face,
All sorts of creatures one might trace.
Indeed, a living beast, I believe,
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 over 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.
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 valour, working sword in hand,
To bring his sea-encircled land
To share the fight it only sees today.
Yet, could he but this quarrel quell,
What incense-clouds would grateful swell!
What deed more worthy of his fame!
Augustus, Juliuspray, 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 is founded on a fact which occurred in the experience of the
astronomer Sir Paul Neal, a member of the Royal Society of London.Translator. Sir
Paul Neal, whose lapsus suggested this fable, thought he had discovered an animal in
the moon. Unluckily, however, after having made his "discovery" known, it was found that
the ground of it was simply the accidental presence of a mouse in the object-glass of his
telescope. Samuel Butler, the author of "Hudibras," has also made fun of this otherwise
rather tragical episode in the early history of the Royal Society of London, vide
his "Elephant in the Moon."
 One philosopher.Democritus, the so-called "laughing (or scoffing)
philosopher." He lived B.C. about 400 years. Fable XXVI., Book 8, is devoted to him and how
he was treated by his contemporaries.
 Another.Epicurus, founder of the Epicurean philosophy. He lived B. C.
about 300 years.
 Water crooks a stick.An allusion to the bent appearance which a stick
has in water, consequent on the refraction of light.
 The wars.This fable appears to have been composed about the beginning
of the year 1677. The European powers then found themselves exhausted by wars, 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 2,
however, felt himself exceedingly embarrassed by his secret connections with Louis XIV.,
which made him desire to prescribe conditions favourable to that monarch; while, on the
other hand, he feared the people of England, if, treacherous to her interests, he should
fail to favour the nations allied and combined against France.Translator. Vide
Hume: who also says that the English king "had actually in secret sold his neutrality to
France, and he received remittances of 1,000,000 livres a year, which was afterwards
increased to 2,000,000 livres; a considerable sum in the embarrassed state of his revenue."
Hume's Hist. England, Bell's edit., 1854, vol. 6, p. 242.
 Augustus, Julius.Augustus Caesar was eminent for his pacific policy, as
Julius Caesar was eminent for his warlike policy.
 One philosopher.Democritus, the so-called "laughing (or scoffing) philosopher." He lived B.C. about 400 years. Fable XXVI., Book 8, is devoted to him and how he was treated by his contemporaries.
 Another.Epicurus, founder of the Epicurean philosophy. He lived B. C. about 300 years.
 Water crooks a stick.An allusion to the bent appearance which a stick has in water, consequent on the refraction of light.
 The wars.This fable appears to have been composed about the beginning of the year 1677. The European powers then found themselves exhausted by wars, 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 2, however, felt himself exceedingly embarrassed by his secret connections with Louis XIV., which made him desire to prescribe conditions favourable to that monarch; while, on the other hand, he feared the people of England, if, treacherous to her interests, he should fail to favour the nations allied and combined against France.Translator. Vide Hume: who also says that the English king "had actually in secret sold his neutrality to France, and he received remittances of 1,000,000 livres a year, which was afterwards increased to 2,000,000 livres; a considerable sum in the embarrassed state of his revenue." Hume's Hist. England, Bell's edit., 1854, vol. 6, p. 242.
 Augustus, Julius.Augustus Caesar was eminent for his pacific policy, as Julius Caesar was eminent for his warlike policy.
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